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Ride-hailing vs. car ownership: Here’s which really costs more

Key Points
  • The average cost to own a car in urban areas is $10,049 per year including parking, according to new research from travel organization AAA.
  • In contrast, ride-hailing services cost $20,118 per year to cover the same distance.
Uber, the popular ride-sharing service.
Andrew Caballero Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

If you live in a big city, you've probably heard this question: Why own a car when you can just use a ride-hailing service?

It turns out that thinking you can save money that way may be another urban legend.

New research from travel organization AAA, which advocates for individual motorists, found that ride-hailing services actually cost more per year than owning a car.

AAA compared how much you will pay for both in 20 U.S. cities.

It turns out that the average cost to own a car is $7,321 per year not including parking charges, or $10,049 with parking charges.

Those tallies are based on owning a medium sedan, plus additional costs like gas and insurance. The calculation was also based on driving 10,841 miles annually.

By contrast, ride-hailing services cost $20,118 per year to cover that same distance. That calculation includes the usage of a rental car for longer trips. The average driver takes 2.1 road trips per year, according to AAA.

Those costs do vary by city. Here is a breakdown of how much you stand to pay for ride-hailing based on where you live.

Ride hailing costs by city

Atlanta"$17,741 "
Austin"$19,821 "
Baltimore"$19,917 "
Boston"$27,545 "
Chicago"$22,020 "
Cleveland"$20,091 "
Dallas"$16,944 "
Denver"$20,434 "
Los Angeles"$17,951 "
Miami"$17,339 "
Nashville"$26,397 "
New York"$21,279 "
Philadelphia"$23,201 "
Phoenix"$17,436 "
Pittsburgh"$18,940 "
Salt Lake City"$18,866 "
San Diego"$17,316 "
San Francisco"$21,972 "
Seattle"$23,951 "
"Washington D.C.""$21,093 "