Taking a Grab vs. Buying-and-Driving a Car

Let's compare taking a Grab to purchasing and buying one's own car.


  • Amortization is based on ₱500k car, this is a very cheap option, but is available these days. We assume 10 years in the hopes of fully utilizing the purchase.
  • Repairs and Maintenance, and insurance are estimates and will of course vary due to model.
  • Finally, parking is assumed at ₱40 per day, which is an underestimate.

Back-and-Forth to Work

If a single passenger were to take a Grab to and from work, it would cost him ₱500 per day. ₱250 captures at most crossing 2 cities, so think Pasig to BGC. This is possibly cheaper, if timed to non-surge windows. Monthly, this is ₱15k, and over 10 years, this amounts to ₱1.8M.

Driving one’s own car, gas would come up, for the same trip, ₱250 per day, or half that of Grab’s. We add the assumptions for amortization, repairs and maintenance, insurance, and parking. This total ₱14,289 per month, and the majority of this is gas, at ₱7.5k. Over 10 years, this amounts to ₱1.7M.

Given the estimates, this tells us that taking a Grab and driving one’s own car are on par with each other. For example, repairs and maintenance toward the last 5 years may be higher than the first 5 years, while we assume it is the same. Parking is also underestimated in the own-and-drive a car scenario.


We can possibly cut down costs by sharing a Grab or car pooling.

In this assumption, Grab costs are cut by 2, assuming you can share with a friend. For the carpooling, you would be splitting the gas, while most other expenses stay the same. In this case, splitting a Grab, at  ₱900k, costs less carpooling, which is at ₱1.3M.

Longer Rides or More Trips

Things change however when we assume that either the round trip to work is twice as long (think a trip for Quezon City to BGC), or simply that the care is used for more trips. Simplistically, this modifies our calculation by multiplying daily Grab costs by 2, and gas by 2 as well.

Under the Grab scenario, it would cost ₱1,000 daily. Monthly this is ₱30k, and this is ₱3.6M for 10 years.

Driving one’s own car, gas is multiplied by 2, now at ₱500 per day. Monthly this is ₱21.8k, and this is ₱2.6M for 10 years.

Here it becomes clear that owning a car is more cost effective. From the previous scenarios, the Grab case gets multiplied by 2, whereas in the drive-and-own-a-car, only gas gets multiplied by 2. This is essentially what allows owning a car to come out less expensive. What it captures is that in the shorter trip scenario, the cost of buying and maintaining a car is under-utilized. This is characteristic of most buy or rent scenarios: it’s when you are able to fully utilize the buy that it becomes cheaper.

Other Considerations

  • Taking a Grab is convenient because you don’t need to drive, but you can’t underestimate the wait times. Especially during rush hour, you might end up waiting an hour before getting a ride. You also don’t have the convenience of having one’s trunk storage.
  • Owning a car on the other hand is a big set of responsibility. We outlined the costs, but note that insurance, repairs and maintenance, and registration all take a time. Parking, as noted, is underestimated, but also consider that it takes time to find parking as well.

Final Thoughts

In summary, when you have a single short round trip to work, the two options are basically on par with each other. In this case, the other consideration might tip for one over the other. However, when you are able to more fully utilize the purchase, think a longer trip, or even just more trips, buying and driving one's own car is cheaper.

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