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

  • 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
Uber, the popular ride-sharing service.

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

City Annual costs
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
Source: AAA