Can I Splurge on a Rideshare to Work Today?

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Ridesharing apps make it easy to get around if you don’t have a car or when driving isn’t an option. If you’re pressed for time, or if you’d rather not work up a sweat walking or biking to work, or if you just don’t want to take a crowded bus or train today, the convenience of commuting comfortably in someone else’s car is appealing.

The caveat: You’ll spend more — like $15 or $20 more — for that convenience.

Like ice cream and IPAs, ridesharing is best enjoyed in moderation. Otherwise, it can snowball into a habit that drives up your monthly spending and potentially eats into your vacation fund.

Money app Empower studied rideshare transactions from its San Francisco users and found that they were spending an average of $110 per month on Uber and $89 per month on Lyft. Whether you spend more or less than that, here are some things to consider before you book your next ride.

» MORE: It’s OK to spend money on yourself: A guide to smart splurging

Is rideshare the best option?

There are no hard and fast rules about when it’s OK to splurge on a rideshare, but some situations are more easily justified than others. If you need to head to the airport at an odd hour, move a heavy item to your apartment or catch an important meeting, you should probably go for it.

If you’re not in a hurry or have a convenient alternative, like when you’re going to a friend’s house for game night or heading to a restaurant just a few blocks away, maybe take public transportation, bike or walk instead.

Don’t let ridesharing become a reflex. The apps are designed to be effortless for a reason. Create some friction by moving them into a separate folder on your phone, or even delete them for a few days at a time to force yourself out of the habit.

Also give yourself little incentives to pick the cheaper commute: Bring a book, download a new podcast or look forward to the endorphins you’ll get from walking.

Save on (or get rewarded by) your rideshare

Unless your new year’s resolution is to quit ridesharing cold turkey, you’ll probably still use one from time to time. Follow these tips when you do:

  • Actually share your rideshare. If you’re not already using the most economical options — UberPool and Lyft Shared Saver — consider doing so. Yes, it could add more time and a few extra stops, but the savings are meaningful.
  • If possible, ride at off-peak times. During peak hours — that’s weekends and evenings in most cities — you’ll likely pay more because of surge pricing. A good rule for your wallet is to stick with other types of commuting when ridesharing is most in demand.
  • Earn rewards for your rides. With the right credit card, you can get points or cash back on rideshares. Once you get one, don’t forget to link it to your accounts. If you’re an avid Uber rider, look into the Uber Credit Card to see if it’s a good fit; it offers 5% back in the form of Uber Cash on all Uber purchases, including rides.

» MORE: All the ways riding Lyft can earn you travel rewards

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