JFK To Manhattan: Quick Hack To Uber Rides For Less

by Chris Dong

There’s a technique to getting an Uber at JFK? Yes, and it can save you up to 50% off.

Side note: we’ve already waded through the various options for you to get from JFK to Manhattan (other airport guides coming soon).

But let’s first add another JFK tip to the list. Hear us out. If you already take Uber, this one can legitimately save you up to 50% off your ride to Manhattan. Instead of taking an Uber directly from a JFK terminal, take the AirTrain to Jamaica Station, and Uber from there to Manhattan. 

How I Got To Manhattan From JFK Before…

I used to rarely take a car or Uber from JFK to Manhattan. I thought it was expensive, and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) option doesn’t take much more time during high traffic times.

However, there’s no doubt taking an Uber is more comfortable and convenient if your final Manhattan destination isn’t near the LIRR or a subway station. I would consider taking an Uber if it was more affordable….

Uber Trick From JFK To Manhattan

If you take UberPool, this Uber hack to Manhattan from JFK can legitimately save you $20 or more easily (up to 50% off). And it would be only add slightly more time to your trip.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Exit your JFK terminal and find signs for the AirTrain.
  2. Be sure to take the AirTrain to Jamaica Station, and not Howard Beach Station.
  3. Pay for the AirTrain after you get off. It costs $5 with a Metrocard. If you don’t have a Metrocard, that would cost an additional $1.
  4. Take the Uber you would’ve taken from the terminal. The biggest savings are for UberPool riders.

Here’s what it would cost to take an Uber from JFK Terminal 8 (Uber charges the same amount for any terminal) to midtown Manhattan.


And here’s what it would cost to take an Uber from the Jamaica Station AirTrain stop to the same exact location in midtown Manhattan.


Cost Savings By Using This JFK Uber Trick

(Let’s ignore the 30% targeted offer I received from Uber.) With an UberPool, it would cost $50.04 to get from JFK to midtown Manhattan if I took it directly from the terminal. Compare that to $22.76 for the same ride from the Jamaica Station AirTrain. That’s a difference of $27.28. 

Keep in mind that the AirTrain costs $5 and if you don’t own a Metrocard, that’s an additional $1. Still, with those fees, you’re still saving more than $20 on an UberPool. This is a nice way to use The Platinum Card by American Express that comes with $200 in Uber credit each year.

All the ridesharing apps have dynamic pricing so these prices aren’t always the same, but I checked for several other days and times and savings were similar.

However, the savings are definitely more slim if you’re taking an UberX so it might not be worth it there.

Won’t This Take A Lot More Time Compared To An Uber Directly From JFK?

Depending on time of day, probably not a lot. The AirTrain to Jamaica can take as little as 10-15 minutes if you’re getting on at Terminal 8. Tack on a few more minutes if you’re coming from other terminals.

Pro-Tip: If you’re coming from Terminal 1 or 2, it might make more sense to take the airport terminals only AirTrain to Terminal 8 and then switch over to the Jamaica Station-bound AirTrain to save time.


The AirTrain map. Your end goal is Jamaica Station.

There’s this issue of traffic leaving JFK if you were in an Uber directly from the terminal. The roadway from JFK (the Van Wyck Expressway) is notoriously congested, even during non-rush hour time periods. The AirTrain to Jamaica runs directly on top of this highway.

Let’s say the AirTrain experience takes 30 minutes (between waiting for the train, riding it, and buying a Metrocard). You’ll likely be sitting in traffic for at least some of that time if you were to Uber directly from the terminal anyway. Why not save a few bucks instead?

The Upshot

If you are intent on taking a car directly from the terminal, and don’t want to haul bags anywhere near public transit, then this Uber tip isn’t for you. However, for the rest of us who don’t mind the minor schlep to save money for New York bagels, then this is a great option to still ride Uber for the majority of your journey.


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.


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Cat S March 9, 2019 - 2:30 pm

I take the JFK Airtrain all the time to Jamaica LIRR and then take an Uber home. This is a great way to save time and money. Traffic can be pretty brutal on the Van Wyck.

Mak March 9, 2019 - 4:01 pm

I’ve pretty much entirely given up on taking taxis/Ubers between JFK and Manhattan as the traffic is just too brutal, almost without regard to when you are traveling. The AirTrain/E Train combo is slow, but at least its steady, and I know I’ll make it in 1:30 hours from downtown. For me it’s also more comfortable to sit (or stand) in the E Train than to sit in the back of an often smelly cab in stop and go traffic. The cost savings is just the bonus. Sticking it to the taxi cartel is a double bonus.

Joey March 9, 2019 - 10:00 pm

I never knew this trick! I go to JFK several times a year and normally take the E train and Airtrain combo to JFK and then an uber to get myself back home. If you go to JFK a good number of times a year, I suggest getting the aitrain 10-trip MTA card (10 trips for $25… so essentially it is $2.50 per trip rather than $5.00 … yup 50% off)

bostonbali March 10, 2019 - 8:25 pm

What’s the benefit of taking the Airtrain all the way to Jamaica station and paying $5 per person to exit there?
Why not just take it to an intermediate station such as Lefferts boulevard or Federal Circle and grab an Uber from there?

Chris Dong March 10, 2019 - 9:04 pm

The Uber discount doesn’t work for Federal Circle (assume it’s because it’s still on JFK’s grounds). I haven’t tried with Lefferts Blvd, but it could be similar to the Jamaica station discount.

Lara January 18, 2020 - 12:54 am

Hiii thank you for the tip!! How do si get the Uber discount?? Thank you!!

Lose $2800 on a delay, hidden Delta values, rental hacks and more March 16, 2019 - 4:18 pm

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John March 26, 2019 - 12:42 am

Was excited when I saw the headline but this is too much work to save $20. Why not save even more and just take the E train, or even an airport bus or Super Shuttle if you don’t want to deal with transfers?

Chris Dong March 26, 2019 - 7:30 am

Hey John — I would not recommend the Super Shuttle. It’s basically a much slower version of UberPool and from experiences I’ve heard, often runs late. The AirTrain is only a 15 minute ride + sitting in your Uber, while the E train can take upwards of 1 hour+ all without a seat during busier times. It’s definitely cheaper though at just $7.75 ($5 AirTrain + $2.75 subway).


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