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Uber vs. taxi

The cheapest option depends on where — and when — you need a ride.

Updated

Fact checked

An Uber is cheaper than a taxi in most cases. Plus, it allows you to save your payment options and choose whether you want to carpool, ride in a private sedan or pay a bit more for a luxury car.

But taxis still have their place. They can be more convenient in big cities, and in some locations they remain the cheapest option.

Uber vs. taxi features

FeatureUberTaxiWinner
Where is it available?Major cities, many suburbs and some rural areasMajor cities, some suburbs and some rural areasUber
What types of cars can I book?
  • Sedans
  • SUVs
  • Vans
  • Sedans
  • SUVs
  • Vans
Tie
Does it take cash?Only in select locationsYesTaxi
Does it take cards?YesYesTie
Does it take PayPal?YesSometimesUber
Does it deliver food?Yes, through Uber EatsNoUber
Does it take dogs?Assistance animals are permitted. The driver can choose whether to accept other dogs and pets.Pet-friendly taxis are available and should be requested when bookingTie
Do you get a price estimate before accepting a ride?YesNoUber
Does it provide child seats?Only in NYCNoTie
How do I book?Download and use the Uber appHail off the streetTie

Which offers the best price?

When it comes to cost, Uber usually wins out — but not always. In some cities, taxis can be cheaper.

Fares also fluctuate based on the time of day. Taxis charge by the minute when you’re stuck in traffic, but Uber’s surge pricing also drives up costs during rush hour.

To get a better idea of which option offers the most bang for your buck, we compared fares on three different rides.

Which one is easier?

It depends on where you’re at.

In major cities like NYC, cabs are everywhere. You can hail one off the street in less than a minute, making taxis the fastest and most convenient option.

But in the suburbs and in cities where cabs are less prevalent, Uber wins out. You can call a car in the app in less than a minute, and you can save your payment information so you don’t have to enter it each time.

Availability

Uber is available in all 50 states, including most major cities and larger suburbs. But it’s not yet available in all rural areas and smaller towns.

Likewise, taxis are available in most major cities, but only some suburbs and smaller towns have a local taxi service.

When it comes to availability, the winner will depend on where you live. To find out if Uber is available in your area, download the app and request a ride. You can also find a list of cities where Uber is available on its site.

Accessibility

Uber wins when it comes to accessibility. Here’s why:

  • Assistive technology. Vibrating alerts mean that passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing can use the app independently. Riders can communicate by typing a destination and sending messages to their driver, rather than speaking out loud.
  • Cashless payments. The payment process is straightforward and automatic, so riders don’t need to worry about counting or handing over bills.
  • Share location feature. Riders can send their location and ETA through the Uber app for friends and loved ones to track their progess.
  • WAV models in major cities. It partners with MV transportation to offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs for short) in cities including NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The goal is that individuals in wheelchairs can order an Uber and get picked up in 15 minutes or less, in fully certified WAVs.

Still, independent taxi companies who want to compete with Uber may build accessibility tools of their own, so it could be worth researching taxis in your area to see what they have to offer.

  • Good to know: Uber requires all drivers to welcome service animals aboard. Likewise, taxis should allow service animals to accompany their handlers.

Compare ridesharing services

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Earning structure Signing bonus Insurance support Locations
Uber
  • Earn base fare plus amounts for time and distance
  • Earn tips
  • Surge pricing
  • Earn more for long-distance pickups
No
Yes
All 50 states
The more you drive, the higher your earnings.
Via
Via
  • Earn base fare plus amounts for time and distance
  • Earn tips
  • Earn bonuses
Yes
No
New York City
Chicago
Los Angeles
Washington, DC
Arlington, Texas
West Sacramento, California
King County, Washington
Newton, Massachusetts
Salt Lake County, Utah
Cupertino, California
Birmingham, Alabama
Pickups and dropoffs are always on a street corner.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Uber wins overall, but taxis do have some advantages. While there are some exceptions, Ubers are generally cheaper and knowing the price of the fare up front should give you more certainty. The rating system also helps maintain a high standard for drivers, meaning the passenger experience is likely to be more pleasant than a taxi.

There are also these apps like Uber to consider as ridesharing alternatives.

But the ability to hail a cab off the street is a definite plus in busy cities. If you’re downtown and in a hurry, a taxi is generally the fastest option.

For more information on what to expect when ordering an Uber, check out our guide to Uber.

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