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The most affordable e-hailing options in South Africa

(Image credit: Uber)

Uber and Bolt are South Africa's pre-eminent e-hailing services and as such their pricing and product offerings are a direct response to certain moves that their competition makes.

Around the middle of 2020, Bolt launched a new offer called Bolt Go – a more affordable ride option that utilised smaller cars (hatchbacks) and could cost up to 20 percent less than regular bolt rides. 

Eventually, Uber responded and launched its own affordable option, UberNAM in October 2020. It is. initially available in a limited number of areas but will be accessible across the country in time. 

The services both enjoy sizeable customer bases and driver pools and most people who frequently use e-hailing services tend to make use of both services – comparing the prices for various trips before selecting a service.

But how do these budget options stack up against each other?

Both, BoltGo and UberNAM allow current drivers, who drive sedans and other more traditional e-hailing vehicles, to opt-in to the service during quiet periods – and when you consider that a variety of hatchback vehicles that previously did not qualify to be used for these services are now allowed to operate it means that the overall transportation pool has increased.

The affordable options significantly lower the barriers to entry and means that more commuters are able to access these services.

For example, in Cape Town, a trip from the Cape Town International Convention Centre to Camps Bay Beach will cost R80 if you take an UberX and R68 if you opt for a regular Bolt ride.

If you opt for the budget option from each of these services it will cost you R59 (UberNAM) and R49 (Bolt Go).

While this may be a negligible price difference for some, it represents a significant saving for others and needlessly to say, in the long run, you'll end up saving hundreds or thousands of Rands on your trips.

At present, UberNAM limits its trips to three passengers, while Bolt Go has no such limitation in place.

The differences between the e-hailing services themselves remain pretty consistent, with Uber being pricier than Bolt in most instances. However, many are prepared to dish out the extra cash, as Uber is perceived as a safer option.

Bolt recently partnered with South African safety platform, Namola to launch an emergency response button to ensure their driver and passenger's safety.

Your mileage may vary [pun intended], but these services are very similar and neither is better than the other, it all depends on your preference and the best way to get the deal is to weigh up the options on either app before confirming your trip.