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Tired of spending half your salary on taxi fares or jostling for space on crowded public transport? Rideshare apps offer a tech-forward way to reduce the cost and increase the comfort of your journey; and if you opt for a carpooling service, you’ll be helping to reduce traffic and emissions as well.
There are many apps to choose from. Some operate around the world, others nationally, and certain ones focus on specific states. In addition, the services target various markets: Some are aimed at commuters, while others are uniquely for parents. Here we've rounded up the best rideshare apps.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Uber
Why We Chose It: We selected Uber as our best overall pick because of its status as the largest and most popular rideshare app in the world. We particularly like the app’s focus on rider and driver safety.
Operates in more than 10,000 cities
Stringent safety measures lend peace of mind
Can schedule a ride in advance
Prices are not confirmed before you accept a ride
Surge pricing makes rides more expensive at peak times
Trips may be canceled if you aren’t at the pick-up on time
Launched in San Francisco in 2009, Uber has since become the biggest player in the rideshare game with a presence in more than 10,000 cities worldwide.
Create an account by downloading the app from the App Store or Google Play. Then request a ride and be matched with a nearby driver. You’ll receive a price estimate before your trip and can pay with cash, a card, or your Uber Cash balance. Uber also allows you to schedule a ride up to 30 days in advance, and, if you're looking to request a ride for a friend, you can add up to two extra stops to your journey.
All drivers and vehicles go through independent screening before joining the platform, and a long list of safety features from the service include GPS tracking, the ability to share your ride with someone else, emergency help available through the app, and a two-way rating system. Request a luxury car through Uber Exec or a large car for up to six passengers through Uber XL.
Best Runner-Up: Lyft
Why We Chose It: We chose Lyft because of its wide network across America and diverse range of ways to travel, including by bike or scooter for the environmentally conscious.
Extensive coverage across the United States
10 different ways to ride
All drivers undergo a criminal record check
Only operates in the United States and Canada
Fares may change according to traffic delays, tolls, etc.
Scheduled rides are not available in all regions
Lyft is Uber’s biggest rival in North America, boasting impressive coverage across the United States and services in a handful of Canadian cities as well.
The app allows users to request rides on-demand. When paired with a nearby driver you will receive a price estimate, and at the end of the ride, you can pay directly via the app. In addition to its standard service, Lyft offers premium rides via Lyft Lux and rides for up to six passengers via Lyft XL.
If you’re looking for the cheapest rate you can share a ride, or select the Wait & Save option if you’re not in a hurry. Lyft for Business lets you sync your calendar, automatically expense business rides, and charge to a corporate card. Safety features include ride-matching, the ability to share your route with friends, and the ability to request emergency help through the app. And, most importantly, all drivers undergo a criminal record check. As of February 2021, rides are individual and sharing is suspended until further notice.
Lyft also offers bike and scooter rentals and schedules for public transit.
Best for Carpooling: Via
Why We Chose It: We chose Via because of its presence in key cities throughout the United States and its focus on delivering a service that runs on time.
Cheapest way to rideshare
Cuts down on emissions and congestion
Real-time customer support
Not a door-to-door service
Drivers wait at the pick-up spot for just 30 seconds
No option to schedule a ride in advance
Via is a great rideshare app, especially if you live in New York City or Washington D.C., where it operates independently. Otherwise, Via works through municipal partnerships in Los Angeles, Seattle, Arlington, and West Sacramento, and in more than 20 other countries around the world.
The concept is simple: Request a ride via the app by selecting your pick-up and drop-off location. Then, the algorithm will connect you with a Via driver who is going your way. You will share your ride with other commuters and be picked up on a nearby corner so that the car doesn’t have to detour from its route.
The driver will wait at the designated pick-up spot for just 30 seconds. That way, the service is kept streamlined and on time. You can pay directly through the app. And, even better? Using this service is a way to reduce the carbon footprint and congestion.
Best for Commuters: Scoop
Why We Chose It: Scoop made our list because of its innovative algorithm that helps co-workers within a trusted network to schedule reliable, cost-effective carpools.
Drivers can earn money while commuting
Easy scheduling for reliable shared rides
Lyft rides offered as backup if carpool fails
Need to remember to schedule before deadline
No option for arranging round trips
Can’t guarantee who you will ride with
Scoop offers the same benefits as Via in terms of reduced carbon footprint and congestion, as well as low transport costs.
The difference is that this app is designed to be used by a trusted network of co-workers who routinely travel the same way to work, creating a reliable carpool that takes you from door-to-door. You can register as a rider, or, if you have your own car, as a driver. Drivers are automatically reimbursed through the app for each rider they accept and can therefore offset their costs considerably.
Separate trips are scheduled for the morning and evening commutes. You must register your requirements for a morning trip before 9 p.m. the previous evening, and for an evening trip by 2 p.m. You will receive details of your carpool shortly after these deadlines. If plans change, riders are offered a backup option via a partnership with Lyft built directly into the app. Drivers must pass a motor vehicle history check, and all participants must submit a profile with a photo for easy identification.
As of February 2021, Scoop is available in San Francisco Bay Area, CA, the Seattle Metro Area, WA, Portland, OR, the Detroit Metro Area, MI, Tempe, AZ, Phoenix, AZ, Reno, NV, and Los Angeles, CA.
Best in Texas: Hitch
Why We Chose It: Pre-determined routes, consistent scheduling, and flexible plans make Hitch the best ridesharing option in Texas. Our opinion is backed by the app’s excellent user reviews.
Consistently great reviews prove reliability
Set routes and meeting points for simplicity
Can upgrade to Premier service for door-to-door rides
Not available outside Texas and Oklahoma City
More expensive than some competitors
Standard service is not door-to-door
App Store and Google Play app Hitch is a lifesaver for those living in Texas and Oklahoma City. It connects riders and drivers on set city-to-city routes, with more than 11 destinations covered including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.
Opt for a private ride or save costs with a shared one, and meet your driver at a pre-determined meeting point near you. Rates for the standard service start at around $15, and if you sign up to be a driver, you can earn up to roughly $130 for a journey you would have taken anyway.
Hitch also offers a luxury service called Hitch Premier. Rides start from approximately $79 and are undertaken in premium cars with highly-rated drivers. Premier rides are always private and offer a door-to-door service (making them a lot like a taxi, with the added bonus of being able to request your ride and pay for it through your phone).
Uniquely, you can also send goods to your loved ones via Hitch. Simply schedule a collection for same-day delivery, or up to 60 days in advance.
Best International: Bolt
Why We Chose It: We chose Bolt as our favorite solution outside of the United States because of its excellent coverage, even in remote areas of Africa and Asia.
Great coverage, especially in cities not served by Uber
95% of drivers are rated 4.9 out of 5 or higher
Solutions for businesses and food delivery
Not available in the United States
Price estimate sometimes changes significantly
Scooter rental is only available in Europe
Bolt may not be a familiar name for those living in the United States, but it’s one of the leading rideshare options for citizens and visitors in more than 150 cities across South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
It works in much the same way as Uber. Use the Android or iOS app to request a private ride, see a price estimate before you confirm, pay securely, and leave a rating for your driver. A real-time map provides GPS tracking for your ride, both before it arrives and during your journey.
Bolt also offers several products beyond its standard rideshare service. Bolt Business allows employers to manage commutes, airport transfers, and courtesy rides from a single dashboard, then provides a monthly summary of rides and expenses.
Scooter rentals are offered in many European cities (where all car rides are also carbon neutral), while Bolt Food enables delivery from your favorite restaurants. Bolt drivers also get paid more as a result of lower commission rates.
The best rideshare app depends on your priorities. Want a service with the widest coverage and the largest number of vehicles in America? Uber is the app for you. Want the same in Africa or Asia? Try Bolt. Hitch is our favorite regional rideshare provider for those that live in Texas, while Scoop provides specialized services for commuters. If you live outside the United States, you may want to consider apps that aren’t on this list including Ola for those in India, Australia, and New Zealand, and BlaBlaCar for carpoolers in Europe.
What Does a Rideshare App Do?
Rideshare apps provide an alternative method of transportation to taxis and public transit for those who don’t have their own car. Some, like Uber and Lyft, offer private rides with professional drivers while others, like Via and Scoop, are carpooling services.
Which Is the Cheapest Rideshare App?
Rideshare apps that let you share your journey with other riders are the cheapest since you’ll split the cost between passengers. Via is the best carpool app in New York City and Washington D.C., while Hitch is our top choice for those living in Texas and Oklahoma City.
Which Rideshare Apps Can I Use on Vacation?
If you’re traveling outside the United States, services like Lyft won’t be able to help you. Some destinations are covered by Uber but the rideshare app with the greatest international coverage is Bolt.
How We Chose the Best Rideshare Apps
Choosing the best rideshare apps is a tricky process because companies are constantly suspending services, adding new ones, or merging with each other. To provide the most up-to-date selection possible, we researched the services and costs of apps that fit our chosen categories and then compared them with the most recent independent user reviews. We focused on rideshare apps that operate in the United States, and gave a preference to those with stringent safety measures and a commitment to reducing or neutralizing their carbon footprint in the near future.