How to Avoid Uber Surge Pricing

Uber is one of the best things to happen to travel in recent years. It’s cheap and is offered in most major cities worldwide. The problem with Uber can be the surge pricing multiplier which Uber hits you with during peak hours. So how can you avoid Uber surge pricing?


avoid uber surge

Confirmation Screens for Uber Surge


Uber uses a surge pricing algorithm that automatically increases fares in order to incentivize more drivers to drive during times of high demand. A ride that was only $5-6 before can now be north of $15. I’ve read several horror stories of people who were a partying a little too hard and ended up ordering an Uber and ignoring the Uber surge notification. Their fares were as high as $352! I think we can avoid that.


There are two ways to avoid Uber surge pricing

  1. Wait until the surge pricing disappears
  2. Walk to a different location


The Waiting Game

This is the easiest way to avoid Uber surge pricing. Uber will notify you when the surge subsides by a notification in the app. A Northwestern study stated that most surge events typically only last 5-10 minutes, and surge pricing is updated every 5 minutes. Be patient, waiting can save you a lot of coin.


Change Location

Surge pricing is based on your location. Each city is broken out into surge zones. To get a lower fare you may be able to walk a couple blocks to get to a different surge zone. This works best in large, densely populated cities such as New York or San Francisco, which have many surge zones. Smaller cities will have fewer surge zones so your best bet may be to wait.

There’s a great iPhone app called SurgeProtector which uses Uber’s API to find the closest location where you can avoid surge pricing. It’s really slick and free.


avoid uber surge

Surge location by the purple pin and location without surge identified by the red pin. (SurgeProtector app)


Thrifty Tip: If you are in a city that has UberPool as an option, you can use it to share a ride in the same direction. You don’t always pick someone up, but you still pay less than a normal ride. UberPool is on the regular selection menu as UberX, etc.


Bottom Line

Uber is one of our favorite ways to get around town and sure beats getting ripped off by a taxi. One of my few gripes about the product is that dang multiplier. Use the tips and tricks we covered to help you save coin and avoid Uber surge pricing. Never used Uber before? Get $20 towards your first Uber ride!


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