How to Save Money in Europe by Using BlaBlaCar, a Ride-Sharing Service

Mar 25, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Have you ever heard of BlaBlaCar? Probably not — most Americans I know haven’t — but I just took the carpooling service for a spin during my last trip to Europe and ended up saving a ton on transportation.

Currently available in 17 European countries, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico and India, BlaBlaCar is centered around the the idea of connecting people who need to go somewhere with drivers who have empty seats, making it a fun way to get around while also meeting your fellow travelers. Thinking of giving it a try? Here’s how to have the best experience while using this ride-sharing service.

Set up Your Account Before You Go

The first thing you’ll need to do is sign up for a free account through BlaBlaCar’s website and create a profile. While including a photo of yourself with a brief description will go a long way and are technically enough to get you started, I recommend filling in all the blanks and making your account as detailed as possible so people have a better chance to get to know you before you meet in person.

It’s important that you create your account while you have access to a mobile phone — and regular service, which can sometimes be difficult when you’re on the road — since you’ll need to obtain the security code via text message. Once everything’s set up, you’ll be able to communicate through the BlaBlaCar app or website via Wi-Fi, and if you have a working mobile number with data, you’ll have a much easier time when it comes to communicating with the driver.

Shop Around

Prices are set entirely by the driver, so if you see 20 different drivers offering the same route, it’s up to you to sort through them and decide which one matches your preferences best. Do you want to be packed into a minivan, kick back in a luxury sedan or ride shotgun in a convertible? It’s up to you.

Always consider where the pick-up and drop-off locations are, because every driver chooses a different meeting point and drop-off spot. Experienced drivers will typically pick a central location, but I’ve seen a few that are located outside the city center.

One of the biggest factors in determining price is the driver’s reputation. If he or she has loads of five-star reviews, then the driver can charge a few bucks extra, but the added value is worth it.

Choose the Best Route

Pay close attention to which routes the driver has planned. In Spain, for example, many drivers will avoid highways because of the tolls, so if you see a big difference in prices, it’s typically because the driver is either new and without many reviews or because he or she is taking back roads to avoid hefty tariffs. If you aren’t racing against the clock, I recommend taking the scenic route — it’s a great way to see the countryside.

Taking the scenic route often pays off. Image courtesy of Peter Zelei Images via Getty Images.
Taking the scenic route often pays off. Image courtesy of Peter Zelei Images via Getty Images.

Don’t Be Late

This is extremely important. Once you have your trip booked, it’s your responsibility to arrive at the meeting point on time. Chances are you’ll be in a new city that you’re not entirely familiar with, so plan ahead and leave extra early to avoid delays. If the driver warns you she’s leaving with or without you after the agreed-upon meeting time, he or she can and will, and you won’t be able to do anything about it. It’s discourteous to the driver and any other passengers who are trying to stay on schedule. There’s an extra benefit for you, too: Arriving early also allows you to have first choice on seating.

Set Your Carpooling Preferences

There are four carpooling preferences you can select in your profile to help make your ride more enjoyable. Choosing your level of chattiness is actually the backbone of the company name. When you create your profile, indicate how much you want to talk during a ride, from “Bla” (watch the scenery go by), “BlaBla” (can be chatty) to “BlaBlaBla” (won’t keep quiet). Make sure you also select your smoking, pets and music preferences prior to booking your first trip, which are displayed as little icons next to the trip details, so if you don’t want to travel with someone who smokes or if you hate dogs, be sure to check off those boxes.

Have Fun With It!

I highly recommend using BlaBlaCar whenever and wherever available for more reasons than just saving money. You’ll get recommendations from a local, have a chance to practice the native language and make friends along the way. Take advantage of this adventurous opportunity and have fun with it.

Have you ever used BlaBlaCar in Europe? Tell us about your experiences.

Featured image courtesy of sturti via Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.