Plan Ahead: Ride-sharing services reminding riders of surge pricing on New Year’s Eve

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016 file photo, a driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a passenger in downtown Los Angeles, Calif. Passengers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport will be allowed to leave in an UberX car starting Thursday, Jan. 21. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – On a night like New Year’s Eve, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are reminding riders that surge pricing will be in effect.

“They will increase their pricing two times, three times, four times because there is so much demand,” said Justin Cupler, Savings Expert with The Penny Hoarder.

Surge pricing is the way Uber and Lyft try to encourage more drivers to take to the roads when rides are in high demand. It doesn’t just happen on New Year’s Eve, but also other holidays, during sporting events or bad weather.

Prices can vary by neighborhood or time.

What this means is the more popular area you are in at a busy time, the higher the surge charge will be.

Cupler says that’s why it is important to plan.

“Plan your trip accordingly. Surge pricing only comes into play at certain times. When the demand is low, surge pricing can disappear or lower. The best times we found are just after midnight. Right after the ball drops, pick up that app and get the Uber on its way, or after 3 a.m., after everyone has vacated the whole party,” he said.

Cupler adds the importance of shopping around.

“Play the system, there are a zillion of these ride-sharing apps. Download as many as you can. Uber, Lyft, Get, VIA, things like that, and flip through them all when you need a ride to see which one has the best price,” said Cupler.

If you find yourself calling a ride at a busy time, walking a few blocks could save you big.

“Surge pricing is in zones. So if you walk a few blocks away, you can save yourself a ton of money,” said Cupler.

8 On Your Side has learned that apps like Surcharge Protector will allow you to find out right from your smartphone where the “hot spots” are and where you can walk to avoid the extra fee all together.

Uber suggests using uberPOOL, its carpooling option, which is less expensive than uberX, or splitting cars with friends to keep the costs low.

Lyft suggests using their carpooling option, Lyft Line, or scheduling a ride in advance.