Ride-Share vs. Rental: How to Decide for Your Next Trip

Rideshare vs. Rental

You’re traveling to a new city for a well-earned vacation – or maybe a business trip that leaves you with some time for yourself. You’ll need a reliable way to get around town. Having a car at your command is a passport to all the sights and sounds of the city and the region around it. A road trip to see natural wonders is one possibility; a visit to see a beloved local sports team is another.

Getting a car is key to picking your own agenda, and you have a few options when finding a ride in a new city. You can go the classic route and rent a car, or you can turn to a ride-hailing app, such as Uber or Lyft, paying for each ride instead of driving yourself. Determining which of these methods will suit you best will likely come down to what your needs are during the trip. If you’re staying in a small area or you’re only going to be in town for a day, then a couple of Uber rides might be enough to get you where you’re going. But when your plans take a more ambitious turn, renting might be the better option.

Uber vs. Rental Car: Compare the Convenience

The main question to ask yourself is how often you’ll need a car, and in what situations. While it might seem convenient to simply hail a ride on a mobile app to get you from the airport to your hotel, this strategy doesn’t hold up if you’re interested in sights and sounds farther from the city. Traveling to a park or hiking trail is more easily accomplished if you have your own transportation. Finding a driver and paying for the long trip both ways is a sharp contrast to simply hopping in your rented car and heading off.

Availability of ride-hailing vehicles is a constant concern, especially during rush hour and periods of high demand. If you’re on a business trip, you don’t want your arrival time at an important meeting to be dictated by your Uber or Lyft driver’s schedule. And if you’re on vacation, trying to find a ride to each new destination can break the flow of your trip. Since leading rental providers also offer vehicles in other countries, even international travel can go smoothly in a rented car.

Compare the Costs

In addition to car availability, think about cost. Not knowing how much your next ride-hailing trip will cost is just part of the deal with these apps. Will you be part of a “pool” car with more passengers and discounted rates? Maybe, if one is available. Has the service activated surge pricing due to heavy demand? You’ll be forced to make a tough choice: wait, or pay the higher rate? This is one area where the cost of a rental car provides a simple contrast. The rate is the rate for the whole day or days that car is yours to drive where you want.

If you’re traveling for business, one rental car bill is much easier to claim as an expense than a disconnected series of ride-hailing trips. Vacation planning also becomes easier when you know what your car expenses will be. Taking an unexpected detour to try a fun local restaurant or follow the signs to a nearby landmark is easy when you’re driving a rental car; just make the turn. When you’re going everywhere via Uber or Lyft, that means racking up a new bill to go see the sights – and another to get back.

Choose the Right Provider

If you’ve decided that a rental car is the right choice for your next trip, your choices aren’t quite finished. Make sure you’re getting a car from an established and trustworthy rental partner. When you fly into a new city, it’s reassuring to pick up your car directly from the airport. To get that kind of service,choose a rental company with a location right on the premises. A new generation of car-sharing apps are attempting to enter the rental car market but can’t promise the same kind of convenient service that comes from traditional rental companies.

Car-sharing apps often argue that they are legally technology companies, instead of rental providers. This claim has led to disputes with state regulations with New York and conflict regarding the apps’ ability to offer cars for pick-up at airports. Add this to the fact that traditional rental firms offer fleets of inspected, nearly new vehicles rather than the mixture provided by sharing users, and it’s easy to see that licensed rental companies can offer a higher level of certainty for your next trip.

Pick up your Car and Go

While there are some scenarios where using Uber or Lyft make sense, and others where you’ll be fine relying solely on public transportation, longer vacations and long-distance drives call for a car rental. When you return home after a lengthy trip powered entirely by ride-hailing, the total cost may make you wish you had rented a car. It’s better to think ahead and make the call in advance: Will a rental car get you where you’re going?

Part of the fun of any trip is exploration, whether that means heading out into the countryside or simply finding interesting new routes between the airport, a hotel and your business meetings. With a rental car, your journey is in your hands. Instead of breaking down the journey into a series of potentially expensive Uber rides, it’s all covered in one simple, predictable bill. Business travelers and pleasure seekers alike will agree that this is the way to go.

You should get started on checking out the different features available for rental cars in your destination city. Looking at the vehicles on offer can provide new inspiration. Maybe that all-wheel-drive SUV is just right for a trip to a national park. Perhaps a sporty coupe could take you all around the downtown area of a fun new city. Be sure to pick something that fits your travel needs – the next step is up to you.