Car Ownership or Ride-sharing

  • February 11, 2017
  • By: Greenpath Financial Wellness

It makes sense to look at your transportation options when planning for financial wellness. So which is better car ownership or ride-sharing?

Transportation accounts for 17% of an average American’s spending. This is inconsistent with what financial counselors typically recommend, which is to limit transportation costs to 15% of one’s income, max.

And it’s only getting worse: in 2016 the average monthly payment on a new car surpassed $500 per month for the first time in history. Additionally, the average length of a car loan was recorded at 68 months—the longest ever reported.

There are major changes to the transportation sector already in motion, so how you choose to get from point A to point B could have a big impact on your financial wellness over the long-term. With the rise of ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft, many Americans are asking if it’s time to go car-free, and rely solely on car sharing services.

The ridesharing industry has not been shy about its ambitions to make car-ownership a thing of the past. Lyft CEO John Zimmer said that he envisions a future where you subscribe to Lyft for a monthly fee, comparable to Netflix.

So we decided to check out how these options are currently stacking up. Is it time to ditch the car, and jump head-first into the sharing economy?

Not exactly.

When it comes to owning a car, it’s important to remember that the cost is more than just the monthly payment. It’s also gas, parking, repairs, oil changes, insurance, and tickets. So you may not have a firm picture of how much you spend on average per month.

However, with an average Uber fare of $13.36 per ride and the average Lyft fare of $12.53 per ride, plus surcharges things can add up quickly. Between commuting, errands, entertainment, and weekend rides, the cost of ridesharing transportation can skyrocket.

We crunched the numbers to compare the monthly cost of Uber and Lyft so you can make an informed decision:

  • Uber Commuting (40 rides per month) $534.40
  • Lyft Commuting (40 rides per month) $501.20
  • Uber Errands and Entertainment (16 rides per month) $217.60
  • Lyft Errands and Entertainment (16 rides per month) $200.48
  • Uber Weekend Rides (16 rides per month) $217.60
  • Lyft Weekend Rides (16 rides per month) $200.48
  • Uber Total Monthly: $969.60
  • Lyft Total Monthly: $902.16

*Totals based on national average cost per ride

There are some ways to reduce your car-sharing costs, such as utilizing the UberPool option, although this is only available in select cities. If you live in an area with good public transportation, or in a walkable or bike-friendly community, you may be able to reduce the number of trips you have to take via Uber or Lyft.

Our verdict: Car ownership, even with all of the additional costs, is still more economical for most Americans than relying solely on ride-sharing services. However, relying on ride-sharing may make sense in urban areas and inner-ring suburbs. Keep your eye out for new innovations in car-sharing and autonomous vehicles that could drive the cost of ride-sharing down even further and make them a competitive option for all Americans.