I love planning trips. Local transportation is one aspect of a trip I always budget and plan for. Uber or car rental? This decision can be simple if visiting a rural town or a remote location that does not offer other transportation options. However, when visiting a city with several options, this decision requires some number crunching and research.

While I love to walk a city, I also like day trips to nearby sights. Depending on the city I am traveling to, I do a comparative analysis between a car rental and ride sharing service like Uber. Car rentals can provide tremendous flexibility in terms of mobility but usually come with a hefty price tag, rental fee and multiple days of parking fees. Whereas, planned use of Uber (UberX to be precice) can help save hundreds of dollars in a trip.

Uber vs Car Rental: Los Angeles

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I decided to be car-less and use Uber exclusively to cut costs. I was surprised how cheap Uber turned out to be during my 5-day trip.

A 5-day car rental in LA was pricing at ~$270 (5 passenger intermediate, unlimited mileage). I was staying at the Andaz West Hollywood 🙂 and the cheapest overnight parking in that neighbourhood, with in/out privileges, was $30/day. Including street parking costs, I was looking at ~$200 just for parking! $470 to have a car in LA was out of the question.

Using the fare estimate feature on the Uber website and the Taxi Fare Finder website, I determined that I could easily get by for much less. Even my most generous estimates were pricing at ~$250 in Uber costs. Below is what I ended up using:

Total Cost of Uber rides in LA = $143.29

Total Cost of Uber rides in LA = $143.29

Total cost of UberX for 5 days was $143.29, a 70% saving compared to the car rental (plus parking) option. The convenient location of the hotel allowed me take several ~$5 rides to the neighbourhoods I wanted to visit. In a travel party of three, it was easy to justify not paying $1.75 bus fares per person, one way, endure poorly laid out public transportation network. Take UberX instead. We walked a lot and when tired, hopped into an Uber and headed back to the hotel. It was perfect for our needs.

A 40-50 minute Uber ride to Venice Beach and back cost $20 each way, while the ride from Andaz West Hollywood to LAX cost $21. Hard to beat the value.

Take Away

Always do your research. Make sure you account for parking costs when considering car rentals. While car rental can be convenient, it is often the more expensive option. If a day trip from the city is in the plans, consider cheap one day rentals and avoid overnight parking. UberX offers great value and can help save hundreds of dollars. Did I mention no stress of driving in a new city or the hassle of parking?

Do you prefer one over the other? Please leave a comment below.