How To: Get Cheaper Uber Rides During Peak "Surge Pricing" Times

Get Cheaper Uber Rides During Peak "Surge Pricing" Times

This past Halloween, 26-year-old Gabrielle Wathen learned the hard way about Uber's ridiculously expensive surge prices. After a night out and an Uber ride home, she learned that the 20-minute drive cost her more than $360.

If you're unfamiliar with Uber's surge pricing, it basically works like this: during busy times of the year (mostly holidays), Uber increases their rates to "maximize the number of Uber cars on the system." That means riders can be charged 2x, 7x, and even up to 9x over what the usual fare would cost.

Wathen's infamous Uber bill for Halloween night. Image via Business Insider

The thing is, these horror stories are not uncommon. You can find hundreds of online accounts of riders being charged absurd amounts of money for short rides—$539 for an 18-mile ride, $814 for a 25-mile ride, and $160 for a 3.8-mile ride. And these only cover the most recent Halloween.

Now before you reach for that pitchfork, be aware that Uber does notify the person of the surge price when they order the ride, but this often goes overlooked, as many of the people that take an Uber are in a hurry or are in various degrees of inebriation.

Protect Yourself from Surge Pricing

SurgeProtector, an iPhone app from developer Thomas Schmidt, finds the location nearest to you that doesn't fall into surge pricing.

Wait until it says "No surge!" at the top, select the type of Uber car you want, then order it. You'll then be redirected to the Uber app where you can confirm your ride, all without any crazy-high prices.

Sometimes walking a few blocks from your initial location is enough to kill off surged fares. Downtown areas and busy streets packed with bars have lots of people looking for Uber rides, so it makes sense that it should be cheaper away from these areas.

So pay attention to your locations and the time of day or night you're ordering, but no matter what, SurgeProtector should be on your iPhone the next time you go out. No one wants to wake up to a hundred dollar Uber tab for a 2-mile ride.

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