Tired of Driving in These 9 Cities? Uber Has You Covered With Flat Fares

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Tired of Driving in These 9 Cities? Uber Has You Covered With Flat Fares
James and Nancy Rottger of Buffalo, NY take an Uber ride with Edwin Patrick Young on Nov. 18, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Sharon Steinmann / The Penny Hoarder

Spend a lot of time — and money — letting Uber drive you around?

A new flat-fare program may help you save.

Uber’s Flat Fare Ride Package is available in nine major cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

To access cheaper-than-usual rides, you pay an activation fee of $10 for 20 flat-fare rides or $20 for 40 flat-fare rides.

The flat fares vary by city, but overall, they’re dirt cheap. UberPool rides start at just $1.99, and UberX rides start at $3.99.

How Cheap Are Uber’s Flat Fares?

A few restrictions apply: You must choose a city in which to activate your flat-fare deal, so don’t sign up for your home city and then expect to get the special fares on vacation in another (unless you sign up for both cities!). Also, your rides must stay within your city’s designated zone, and some airports are excluded from those areas.

You’ll pay your activation fee immediately, but your special pricing will stay active for 30 days (or until you use all your rides).

Here’s the full list of fares. Don’t forget to add that activation fee of either $10 or $20 when doing your own math:

Boston: $1.99 UberPool rides, $4.99 UberX rides

Chicago: $2.49 UberPool rides, $4.49 UberX rides

Los Angeles: $1.99 UberPool rides, $3.99 UberX rides

Miami: $1.99 UberPool rides, $4.99 UberX rides

New York City: $2.99 UberPool rides, $5.99 UberX rides

San Diego: $2.99 UberPool rides, $4.99 UberX rides

San Francisco: $2.49 UberPool rides, $4.99 UberX rides

Seattle: $2.49 UberPool rides, $4.49 UberX rides

Washington, D.C.: $2.49 UberPool rides, $4.49 UberX rides

Is it Worth Paying Upfront for Cheap Uber Rides?

How much do you have to take Uber to make this flat-fare offer worth it?

I dug into the Washington, D.C. map since that’s the Uber territory I’m most familiar with. The designated flat-fare zone is wide — wider than the Beltway that loops around the city and surrounding area.

Oh, what places could I go? In the D.C. area, both National and Dulles airports are excluded, which knocks out any of the $20-a-pop rides I used to take from downtown to Reagan National Airport in Arlington.

Beyond my low-level jet-set life, most of my rides took place between the late-night cookie shop and my house with little attention to surge pricing.

But I recalled trips I used to take from Capitol Hill in D.C. to to a friend’s house in Alexandria, Virginia. The 8-mile trip usually took about 20 minutes and cost approximately $13. That trip is well within the flat-fare zone, meaning that for my usual $13, I could take the same route almost three times for the flat-fare price of $4.49 per ride (after taking into account my activation fee).

Examining your own Uber spending can help you figure out if it’s worth it. I spent $45.26 on four rides in the Tampa Bay area in January alone, putting me in “almost worth it” territory.

But don’t take my word for it; do your own math. So many deals we see land in “almost worth it” territory; you owe it to yourself to be ruthless.

Uber’s Rough Few Weeks

Uber tested a similar program last summer, offering a flat price for a pack of rides plus a $2 per ride fee.

How can it offer rides so cheaply?

“For Uber, profit matters less than providing competition for every other mass transportation system,” Chris Mills of BGR noted in August 2016.

The brand came under fire after last week’s executive order restricting individuals from certain Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. The order resulted in massive protests at airports and in cities; in solidarity with protesters, New York City taxi drivers said they wouldn’t pick up passengers at Kennedy airport for one hour.

Shortly after that taxi strike ended, Uber announced it would turn off its surge pricing. Some thought was an attempt to boost its business at the travel hub, but Uber said it was simply notifying customers. A #DeleteUber campaign took off on Twitter urging Uber users to delete the app to protest the move.

Later in the week, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced his resignation from a panel of business types advising President Trump on economic matters.

Before he stepped down from the committee, Kalanick posted to Uber’s blog that the company would provide legal support for drivers experiencing difficulty returning to the United States due to the travel ban, compensate those drivers for lost earnings and create a legal defense fund to assist drivers navigating immigration difficulties.

Your Turn: Is Uber’s flat-fare package worth it for your transportation needs?

Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. Editorial intern Haley Gonzalez contributed to this post.