Automotive Research

Ride-hailing vs. vehicle ownership: Which is cheaper?

A man hails a ride-hailing car with a phone

The rise of ride-hailing services like Uber has made it easier than ever to get around in urban areas—so easy that some people are forgoing car ownership and using ride-hailing exclusively.

A new AAA analysis has found that for the average driver in an urban area, however, traveling solely via ride-hail would cost $20,118 annually—more than twice the cost of owning a vehicle. How do they compare, and how much do ride-hailing costs vary between cities?


Owning a car is cheaper, even with fuel, parking, & insurance

AAA's analysis began with the fact that vehicle owners who live in the city drive an average of 10,481 miles a year. Adding in the costs of fuel, insurance, and the purchase of  the vehicle (but excluding parking costs), AAA found that the average cost for an urban driver of a mid-sized sedan is $7,321 per year.

Parking expenses vary widely by city; AAA looked at 20 urban areas and found that the average cost of parking was $2,728 annually, making the full cost of vehicle ownership $10,049 per year. The lowest average annual cost for flat-rate parking was in Phoenix ($706) and the highest was in New York City ($8,088).

The average cost, time, & distance of a ride-hail trip

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6.6 miles

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15.1 minutes

The cost to travel exclusively via ride-hail for a year









San Francisco


New York City









Los Angeles








Ways to help minimize the cost of car ownership

Buy (gently) used: The single biggest cost of car ownership isn't gas, maintenance, or insurance—it's depreciation, a car's loss in value over time as it gains age and mileage. Buying a pre-owned vehicle means avoiding some of that depreciation cost. Safe, reliable used vehicles are available at most price points. Find out how AAA can help in your search for a new, or new-to-you, car.

Don't skimp on maintenance: It's counter-intuitive, but regularly spending a little money to keep your vehicle in good working order may save you in the long run by helping to prevent larger, more expensive repairs. Not comfortable doing the maintenance at home? Bring your car to a AAA approved facility.


Slow down: AAA research has shown that driving at high speeds has a profoundly negative impact on fuel economy. When gas is expensive, slowing down can save money. Learn more about the impact of driving habits on fuel economy.
Don't overspend on gas: If your car doesn't specifically require premium or mid-grade gasoline, don't spend extra to get them: there's no benefit. Learn more about what premium and mid-grade gas are (and aren't), and which vehicles need them.


Looking for a new or used car?

AAA Car Buying Service has you covered. You can find the car you want and feel confident in the price you’re paying.1

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