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Which is Cheapest: Rental Cars, Taxis or Uber?

Rental car, taxi or Uber: which is cheapest?

Here’s a question which should grab the attention of every traveller: which is the most cost-effective way to travel once you step off the airplane? Your choices today include a rental car, an Uber (or similar) or a traditional metered taxi. So which is cheapest?

GO Rentals has researched Uber prices, Taxi prices and worldwide Rental Car rates to come up with the answer, depending on where you are in the world. “There are multiple variables which must be considered when choosing how to get around and which will influence the final cost and convenience,” notes GO Rentals General Manager, James Dalglish. “And more than that, the absolute cost also depends quite strongly on just precisely where in the world you are.”

For example, if you are travelling on your own and only need to go from one place to another (and you know precisely between which two places you will travel), then an Uber or a taxi are the obvious first choices. If you need transport, but aren’t sure of the times, places or areas to which you will travel, a rental car is the better option (Ubers and metered taxis tend to operate in densely populated areas – you won’t find them venturing into the sticks very often!)

Dalglish says that aside from those considerations – and others, such as travelling with small children or large families, or bulky luggage like sports equipment – the cost comparisons come down to simple dollars and cents. Or Euros, Swiss francs, British pounds, or Thai baht.

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“Actually, that’s not entirely true; we’ve analysed 85 cities around the world from Adelaide to Zurich and everywhere in between to work out whether it’s cheaper to rent a car, get an Uber or jump in a taxi to the City Centre from the Airport. And we’ve sorted the comparison in Kiwi dollars to make it easy to see for yourself which option is best before embarking on that overseas jaunt.”

The comparisons are revealing. Italian city Milan is the best place to rent a car as a return taxi ride will set you back $243.50 (€151.32) compared to a rental car which costs $40.74* (€25.31) for a day.

Arrivals in New Zealand are similarly advised to consider a rental car: Auckland is ranked 2nd in the list, with that taxi journey costing $89.70 compared with a daily rental at $37.00. This figure has climbed since GO Rentals first conducted the same research three years ago.

Then there’s Uber (and other car sharing services such as Lyft, BlaBlaCar, or locally, Zoomy) which provide an additional dimension. While only Uber, considered the leader in this space with its international footprint, was analysed for this research, it has proven a highly viable and cost-effective alternative to a taxi or, in some cases, a rental (again, depending on your travel needs).

Uber is significantly cheaper than taxis in most cities around the world. For example, it costs 163 percent more to take a taxi from the airport to the city in Birmingham in the UK than it is to take an Uber ($78.31 in a taxi vs $29.76 in an Uber, one way). Again, Milan is an outlier, along with Rome, as one of the few cities in the world where taking an Uber will cost slightly more than taking a taxi.

And, unless travelling solely from the airport to the city, or in the other direction, a rental car will almost always work out considerably cheaper than either Uber or metered taxi – in most cases by several hundred percent.

Check out GO Rental’s table to see where various cities around the world rank in the cost of getting from the Airport to the City Centre.

*The cost of renting a car considers only the cheapest, basic ‘per day’ cost and doesn’t include factors such as petrol, insurance, rental car company etc. All data was taken from rentalcars.com on a specific date and looks at the cost of a rental car on a specific date.


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