These 9 Quick Tips Can Help You Save Money on Your Next Uber Ride

interior shot from back seat of uber driver
Lisa Gilmore drives for Uber on Nov. 10, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder
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It’s the weekend, and there’s no guarantee what I’ll be doing.

I mean, you could catch me binging my favorite podcasts, cross-stitching or even reading.


However, here’s one guarantee: I’ll use Uber at some point.

Last weekend, the ride-sharing service was my sober ride to and from a food-truck festival. Then, I placed a Saturday morning UberEats order for donut sandwiches. (You’re wondering: Is that what I think it is? Yes. Yes, it is. It’s a wonderful thing.)

And I have plans to use it again this weekend — to get to and from the airport so I can avoid exorbitant parking rates.

Uber is, well, uber convenient. But the cost adds up quickly.

In fact, I panicked when my budgeting app said I spent $28 on an Uber. What?! It was those doughnut sandwiches, hand-delivered to my front door.

Ugh. The cost of convenience.

Uber is one of those services in my life that’s so valuable I don’t mind paying for it. Like utilities. I just settle because it’s worth it.

But I should have known better. After doing some research, I found some easy ways to save on Uber’s services.

Here’s How to Save Money on Uber

1. Maximize Your Cash-Back Rewards

My editor and I frequently brag to each other about the ways we’ve saved money. A few weeks ago, he showed me Drop, an app that rewards you for spending money.

I stopped what I was writing and took advantage of the free download.

Here’s how it works: You sign up and connect your most-used debit or credit card. Then, choose five of your favorite, most-frequented retailers from a list of options. I selected Lyft, Trader Joe’s, Target, Starbucks and, you guessed it, Uber.

Now, when I spend money on an Uber — or with UberEats — Drop rewards me in points, which I can then exchange for gift cards.

That $28 UberEats order? I earned 280 points. Once I earn enough, I can exchange them for a gift card. For example, 10,000 points equates to a $10 Amazon gift card.

The app is a passive form of income — I really don’t have to do anything. I can hop in a few months from now and find a nice heap of points. Or I can be more active and check for special bonuses, which recently snagged me 200 points just for spending at least $15 at CVS.

(But saving money at CVS is another story.)

2. I Botta Uber… Through Ibotta

Here’s another strategy I’ve already employed to save money on Uber: Request a ride through Ibotta.

Ibotta, a cash-back app, is straightforward. First, download it for free, then see what kind of deals it has going with Uber.

Right now (and quite often), it has an offer for $1 back per Uber ride. Just click “Shop,” and the app will open Uber for you. Now, request your ride like you would any other night. Once the ride is over, Uber will let you know it’ll deposit that dollar into your account ASAP. (It’s usually immediately for me.)

Keep an eye out on other offers. Sometimes, if you take three rides through Ibotta, it’ll grant you a $5 coupon code.

If you’re new, there’s an added perk. Complete your first cash-back opportunity and pocket a $10 bonus.

3. Research the New Uber Credit Card

Another credit card?! (*shivers*)

I wouldn’t normally harp on a credit card, but this one looks pretty sweet. (I even sent it to my boyfriend, who researches the crap out of credit cards, and he was impressed.)

Released Nov. 2, the Uber Visa Card offers some solid rewards in actually relevant categories:

  • 4% back on dining. This includes restaurants, takeout, bars and UberEats orders.
  • 3% back on hotels and airfare. This includes vacation-home rentals.
  • 2% back on online purchases. This includes Uber rides, online shopping and video- and music-streaming services.
  • 1% back on everything else.

Better yet? There’s no annual fee. And if you spend $500 in the first 90 days, you’ll snag a $100 bonus.

Redeem your points for cash back — or for Uber ride credits.

Before taking advantage of the deal, we recommend doing your research. And making sure you know how to responsibly use a credit card.

4. Make More Friends

Live by the mantra “No New Friends”? Then skip this tip.

If you’re OK with meeting people, then great. Send ’em your invitation code so you can get $5. They’ll get a free ride, too. Win-win.

To find that invitation code, go to the menu bar (top right corner of the app), and click “Free Rides.” It’s hiding in there.

Bonus: Uber likes to initiate some healthy competition, so if you refer the most friends (new riders!) in one week, you could win $1,000. Second place gets $600, and third place takes $400.

Not bad, right? The only thing is you have to have at least five successful ride referrals within a week. The more you refer, the better your chances.

You can find all the details on Uber’s site.

5. Don’t Hesitate to Complain…

…says me, the person who never has the audacity to complain.

But the best part about this is you don’t have to do it face-to-face or after sitting on hold for 20 hours.

If you truly have a negative Uber experience — say your driver takes the LONGEST way ever, or you were charged unfairly with a cancellation fee — you can submit a complaint.

One driver recently told me to never hesitate to file a complaint because, after all, you’re spending money on the service. She also said Uber is super good about responding to complaints.

6. Check the Facebook Messenger Promo

If you request an Uber through Facebook Messenger, you could score a $20 ride credit.

Do note, we first wrote about this tip back in 2015. Now, this money-saving technique isn’t app-wide, so you’ll want to see if it’s available in your area.

In order to bank the $20 ride credit (or see if you’re eligible), you’ll need to order an Uber through Facebook Messenger. Here’s what you do:

  • Open your Facebook Messenger app and create a new message.
  • Start a conversation with Uber, and find the car icon. Or open up any other message and find the “…” icon. Select “Transportation.”
  • Now, you’ll be able to request, view and pay for your ride via Messenger. This first ride’s free — up to $20.

If you’re not seeing that car icon, you’re not crazy. I couldn’t find it either. I reached out to Uber and asked about the promotion.

A representative told me the promotion was not currently available but that it’s possible it’ll come back. They suggested I keep tabs on email updates or the website to see if and when it’s valid again.

You betcha I’ll be checking in on this offer every now and then. Never say never — especially to $20.

7. Beat The Surge

Ever go to a concert and end up paying $53.33 for a 20-minute Uber ride? I don’t want to say I have… but I have.

Yes, I was tired and just wanted to go home, so I did it. I bit the surge bullet. Next time, though? I’ll employ a few of these moves to save on surge.

And nope! None of the tips say, “Leave Concert Early.” Because you never want to be that person.

8. Pay With a Discounted Gift Card

This one will be hit or miss, but it’s always worth checking.

See if you can find a discounted gift card on an online gift-card marketplace like Raise.

Right now, the deals don’t look so hot — the best one is 2% off, making a $25 Uber gift card $24.50. But you can set alerts so you don’t miss anything good.

9. Utilize Uber’s In-App Features

My last tip? Take some time to familiarize yourself with Uber’s various features.

For example, if you’re traveling with someone, consider using Uber’s “Split Fare” feature. This makes life simple, and you don’t have to worry about that awkward “Request Money” Venmo the next day.

Also, if you’re not in a rush and if it’s an option, use the carpool feature. It’ll likely take a little more time to get to your destination, but you can save quite a bit of money. And, heck, sometimes it ends up being just you.

Finally, some places, including the Tampa Bay area, have partnered with public transit. So you can request an Uber to your destination, and it’ll suggest the closest bus stop. You’ll then Uber to the stop and hop on the bus.

Just from looking at my own recent destinations, this option isn’t much cheaper, but it’s worth consideration depending on where you live and where you’re going.

How ya feelin’? Ready to tackle the weekend — and save money on your next Uber?

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She earned $3 back on Uber rides this past weekend through Ibotta. She counts that as a win!