Lyft vs. Uber: Which Rideshare Service Saves You More Money at the Airport?

Discover which rideshare giant leaves more cash in your pocket.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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Air travel these days is anything but easy. When you finally land, you face one final decision — how will you get from the airport to your ultimate destination?

Rideshare services Lyft and Uber have become go-to options for many travelers. Yet, the question remains: which one lets you keep more cash in your pocket after your airport ride?

Our team delved into the data, comparing the costs of Lyft and Uber rides from major U.S. airports to popular tourist areas in each city. Here's what we found and some tips to help you save on your next rideshare adventure.

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Key findings: The dollars and cents of airport rideshares

Tada Images/Adobe portland airport pick up areas

On average, rideshares from airports into major cities set passengers back around $30.48 across the United States. Surprisingly, Lyft and Uber have almost the same average cost: $ 30.60 for Lyft and $ 30.36 for Uber.

However, don't let these seemingly minor differences fool you — costs can vary significantly between the services in specific cities.

Most expensive airports for rideshares

Sundry Photography/Adobe uber lyft stickers on rear windshield

JFK International in New York City takes the crown for the most expensive rides into the city, with an average cost of $79.96 for the 17.3-mile journey into Manhattan.

On the other hand, San Diego International clinches the title for the most expensive rides per mile driven, with Uber and Lyft setting you back $7.56 for each mile to its city center.

Most affordable airport ride

Tada Images/Adobe ridesharing app icons on iPhone

If you're looking to save some serious cash, consider starting your journey from San José Mineta International Airport in San Jose, California. The 4.4-mile ride to the city's Plaza de Cesar Chavez averages just $15.21.

Meanwhile, the second-least expensive ride, at $15.47, takes you from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to the National Mall in the heart of the nation's capital.

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Uber vs. Lyft: A fare showdown

eqroy/Adobe uber lyft stickers on car windshield

Differences in pricing systems and rider availability between Uber and Lyft mean that choosing the right app can significantly impact the fare you pay.

Our analysis revealed that in the majority of airports evaluated, Uber emerged as the more affordable option at 21 locations, including 10 where users could save at least $3.

Uber's big wins

robert/Adobe rideshare pick up zone sign

The most substantial savings for Uber users were found at JFK International in New York, where rides to Times Square cost a staggering $13.98 less compared to Lyft.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport came in second, with Uber users saving $11.03 on rides.

Lyft's victory lap

jetcityimage/Adobe woman sitting in a car with a lot of Lyft banners

Lyft, however, claimed victory at 23 major airports, offering savings of at least $3 in 11 of them.

Denver International Airport stood out as the place where Lyft saved passengers the most money. A ride to downtown Colorado cost $12.05 less than Uber's.

Tips for maximizing savings on rideshares

AntonioDiaz/Adobe attractive driver working on a rideshare app

In the ongoing debate between Lyft and Uber, the answer to which is more cost-effective largely depends on your location.

While Uber may be the winner in some cities, Lyft could be the money-saving champion in others. Here are some tips to help you choose between the ridesharing services for your next airport ride.

Compare prices

DimaBerlin/Adobe man calling taxi at airport terminal

Before confirming your ride, check the prices on both Lyft and Uber. As our data revealed, the cost difference can be significant. If you run the potential route on each app then you can find out which one is more affordable in the moment you need a ride. 

Consider alternatives

Mego-studio/Adobe man driving his car

Explore other rideshare options, local services, or even traditional taxis. Depending on your location and circumstances, they might offer more budget-friendly choices.

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Time your travel

Snapic.PhotoProduct/Adobe female uber driver driving passenger

Rideshare prices can fluctuate throughout the day due to demand. Consider traveling during off-peak hours to snag a more affordable ride.

Use promo codes and rewards

Prostock-studio/Adobe girl using her smartphone

Both Lyft and Uber offer promotional codes and loyalty programs. Look for discounts or rewards that can help you save on your next ride.

Using one of the best credit cards for Uber or best credit cards for Lyft could help you save more and earn rewards on your rides.

Optimize your route

Diego/Adobe girl inside car holding smartphone

To keep your fare down, choose routes with fewer tolls or avoid peak traffic times. By avoiding high-demand periods, you’ll also reduce the impact of surge pricing, which often occurs during peak times.

Bottom line

Proxima Studio/Adobe uber driver holding smartphone in car

Remember that comparing, exploring, and choosing the right rideshare service is one of the most overlooked ways to save on travel. Prices change frequently, so it's important to run your own analysis before committing to a ride. 

If you'd like to explore the data in more detail, here's the full data study on airport Uber and Lyft costs

Editor’s note: Generative AI tools helped write this story.

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Tracy Odell

Tracy leads the editorial team at FinanceBuzz. Prior to joining the company in 2019, Tracy held leadership roles at Student Loan Hero, LendingTree, Meredith Corporation, and CafeMedia. She has over 20 years of content and brand experience across the personal finance, lifestyle, and parenting verticals.