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How I Save Hundreds On Uber With Ride Pass

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while and have read any of my Money Diaries, you’ll know I take Uber all the time. When I first moved from New York to San Francisco, the first thing I noticed was the difference in the availability of public transit. Unlike New York, the bus, rail, and subway systems in San Francisco have longer wait times, are further apart, and never seem to totally go where you need it to without at least 1 transfer. Not to mention it’s pricey, and there are no flat rate passes that go everywhere. It was like transit culture shock when I moved here.

So I asked my friend the second day I was here “How do you get around here?” He said, “You just Uber/Lyft everywhere.” He was dead serious.

I looked at my budget’s transportation category and it had blown up since moving to the Bay Area. Especially after I moved to Oakland, which is across the bay, I was regularly spending over $200 a month on Uber/Lyft! I live about a 30 minute walk from the BART, but I do live near 3 bus lines. I quickly learned that 2/3 bus lines actually stop running after 7, and the 3rd bus left every 30 minutes after 8pm. This 3rd bus left from the Transbay Terminal which was always at least a 20 min BART/other bus away from where I happened to be in San Francisco.

Then one day, I was talking to my coworker who also happens to live across the bay, and he told me about this too-good-to-be-true thing called the Uber Ride Pass. I had never heard of it before! It almost sounded like an urban legend. He told me the Uber Ride Pass allowed him to consistently pay $2.99 for uberPools and $6.50 for Ubers.

I asked him how he had heard about it, and he said he had gotten some email invitation to buy one. I searched my email but came up with nothing, and I asked him to forward me the invitation. When I clicked through the button to buy one, it said that all the ride passes had sold out, but I could sign up to be notified when they were available again. One day, I happened to see the email from Uber about signing up for one and immediately snatched one up.

The Way It Works

Uber gives you the option to pay up front for the ride pass, as of October 2017 when I bought my last flat rate pass, I paid $12 up front for a pass that lasted 28 days.

This pass gives me $3.49 uberPools (shared Uber rides with riders going to similar destinations) covering up to $15 of a normal uberPool fare, and it gives me $6.99 uberXs (the lowest tier private car) covering up to $20 of a normal uberX fare. If my fare is higher than the amount covered by the pass, Uber will charge me the difference.

After your first ride pass purchase, you’ll see a new Ride Pass menu item in your app where you can renew your pass, see your savings, as well as see the Ride Pass coverage map. The Ride Pass applies to a targeted area, so there won’t be flat rate rides if you are traveling out of the area, for example.

What Is It Good For?

For me, the pass is great for commuting from SF to Oakland late at night because the majority of the time, it ends up being just a few dollars more than the BART + Transbay Bus combination. It also saves me so much time not waiting for each leg of a public transit trip. Lately, the uberPools from SF to Oakland have been within the $15 Ride Pass limit, so it actually only costs $3.49 to go across the bay. The Transbay Bus fare is $4.50! The price of a non ride pass regular uberPool can range from $12-$20 on a weeknight.

The ride pass has also been amazing for sharing rides. UberPools allow you to take 1 extra person with you, but without the ride pass, the fare is usually a little higher when you request a Pool for 2 people. With the Ride Pass, even tacking on an extra rider ends up being the same price! Split between 2 people, taking a Pool with the Ride Pass is actually cheaper than taking BART or the bus.

With the Ride Pass, you can also go farther for the same price. Usually, the rate Uber charges is based on how far you’re going and how many riders are in the areas you’re traveling to/from. The more people requesting Ubers from one area, the higher the price. If I take an uberPool without the Ride Pass, I can generally pay $4-5 to go somewhere a 30 minute walk away from me, but if I want to go somewhere just a little further, it can quickly bump up the fare to $10-$12! The Ride Pass pretty much guarantees I can go wherever I’d like for the same price.

Who Is It Not Good For?

The Ride Pass wouldn’t be great for someone who doesn’t frequently take Uber and has tons of other affordable public transit options (or owns a car). Since you have to pay up front for the pass, there’s definitely more savings if you use it more, decreasing the average cost per ride.

The Ride Pass also wouldn’t work well if the rides you generally take aren’t very long distances or expensive. I take uberPools back to Oakland 1-2 times a week, which would cost me at least $12 each time (usually more), so it’s completely worth it in a reduced high fare case. You want to make sure the Ride Pass is covering rides that would normally cost close to $10 at least.

How Do I Get One?

After doing some research, I’ve discovered that the Ride Passes are a pretty limited release, and it’s only available to a limited set of riders in certain cities. I met a woman who worked at Uber last week, and she had actually never even met anyone who had one!

But the easiest way to try and get one would be to sign up to be notified for one. I’ve attempted to track down all the sign up links here!

  1. San Francisco
  2. New York
  3. Los Angeles
  4. San Diego
  5. Boston
  6. Chicago
  7. Miami
  8. Seattle
  9. Washington D.C.
  10. Denver
  11. Dallas
  12. Houston
  13. Atlanta
  14. Phoenix
  15. Austin
  16. New Orleans

Look out for an email like the one below. These emails usually go to the Promotions tab of Gmail, so make sure you’re looking for it. When I signed up, flat rate uberPools were $2.99:

Have you been able to get your hands on an elusive Ride Pass, and has it been a good buy? Let me know if you have any other questions about the Ride Pass below!

Jing is currently a software engineer based in Oakland, CA. She left her job in New York, moved to San Francisco unemployed, and more than doubled her salary in 4 months.

9 thoughts on “How I Save Hundreds On Uber With Ride Pass

  1. Excellent article! I’ve been offered ride passes here in Miami, but unfortunately live right outside the coverage area. In any case, Uber has been great for me in that my wife and I only have one car because of Uber and Lyft. We spend up to $250 per month on ride sharing, which is still much less than owning a second car.

    1. Thanks Miguel! I’ve always wondered about the coverage area as well. It’s definitely worth ride sharing without a car. At least for me, in most cases, I wouldn’t have my car with me even if I owned one, so I could still see myself ride sharing even being a car owner.

  2. Wow, this seems like an amazing benefit! I always wondered how the heck your Uber rides are so cheap! I’ll have to look at my husband’s Uber history and see if it could be worth it, if we ever end up being eligible for a pass like this.

    How long is a car ride from SF to Oakland? I remember visiting SF and being kind of shocked how long it took to get to places!

    1. Of course right after I post about this, they “ran out” of ride passes for the month and I couldn’t renew mine :'( I’ve shaved off so much from my uber budget by gettingit!

      The car ride is about 30 minutes without another passenger stop, so $3.50 for a 30 minute ride? I’ll take that! I think it is cheaper here than in NY. I remember taking a couple of ubers there for what seemed like not a very far distance, and it was pricey!

  3. That Uber ride pass sounds like a great option and cuts down on price when taking the Uberpool instead of the regular UberX. Can the ride pass be used for getting dropped off at either airports(SFO or Oakland)?
    Yeah the public transit system here is pretty crazy. You have Bart, Muni, AC transit, Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans, and the ones in the South Bay. It feels like its too many, the fare costs are really high and the wait times are kind of long with the exception to Bart.
    After visiting NYC and Chicago a few times, I think the Bay Area should have a simpler transit system like those two cities where the subway takes you everywhere. Bart is capable of doing that!

    1. I’m not sure if it includes airports now because I looked at the most recent coverage area map and it looks like its inside the boundary. But I did take a ride to the airport recently, and it was not included which was a bummer.

      Yeah the transit system here is so political it’s kind of crazy! I’m sure there are infrastructure reasons too why merging would be more difficult than it seems, but still, it seems that each transit system is just silo-d. It also makes it so difficult as a rider to know which to take and when :'(

  4. Thanks for the info! I’ve been using Ride Pass on and off in LA for the past year or so. My roommate also uses it but sometimes he will be offered lower priced rides than me. Also sometimes he will be offered Ride Pass and I will not. Im not sure if this is because his rating is a 4.9 and mines a 4.8 or if it’s some other mysterious factor.

    1. I’ve wondered how they decide the renewals too. I just lost mine this month, and I wasn’t offered one the month before last. Maybe it has to do when different people’s expires? I haven’t been able to figure it out either, but at this point I don’t think my Uber rating will be going up because I’ve taken so many rides that moving my average up would be super difficult!

  5. My friend has one and she uses it all around Seattle. It’s $2.50 here per ride was what she said. Which is awesome! I haven’t been able to land my paws on one yet. I need to get to a nearby city about 7-9 miles away and I’m wondering what the fine print for that is.

    SF has pretty good transportation to me but I grew up there haha. Seattle has all the shiny pieces but whoever planned the routes was prettuyyy sloppy. I always find myself having to transfer.

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