At times, I get confused. Say, movie tickets.

At some multiplexes, the ticket __________ are very high (rates/prices)

Another example...

No, we won't go to that restaurant. Their ___________ are very high (prices/rates)

Note: I have heard both. But which one you all prefer?

Any rule for selecting 'price' over 'rate'?

Though I'm clear about charges in this context, I'd appreciate if you include this as well in your answer.


For what we could clearly define as a product, "rates" just doesn't work for me. I really favour "prices" in both your examples. "Ticket prices" is a perfect collocation as are "restaurant prices". I think if you receive a physical item in return for money, we have to describe what you paid as the "price". (I appreciate that the restaurant example is a bit more complex, since there is also a service along with the food). If you are buying a service, "rates" seems to be the preferred option, since we are often not buying a single thing, but rather somebody's time or ongoing service.

That plumber's rates are way higher than the other one.

Prices would sound a bit clunky in this example.

A good lawyer should still charge a fair rate.

Another example of a service.

I also think that "prices" can be used reasonably well across all the examples in my answer and your question, leading us to think that "prices" works fairly well globally, whilst "rates" is somewhat restricted to services.

"Charge" works best as a verb.

Can you believe they charged me twice for their inadequate service?!

When used as a noun, it is used to describe "being asked for money", such as on a bank statement, or when handed a receipt. For example, if a customer in a restaurant had not eaten a green salad, they may question an erroneous item on their bill/receipt like so:

Excuse me, there is a charge here for a green salad which none of us ordered.

You certainly couldn't use "price" or "rate" in my last example.

  • 1
    "Rates" are used for other charges that are computed as continuous functions, or where the charge is for the use of something -- without the thing actually being sold. For example, interest rates, tax rates, hourly rates, hotel room "rack rates", and royalty rates. In these contexts, the word "price" might incorrectly imply that the base item is being sold, instead of "rented".
    – Jasper
    Jan 17 '15 at 20:02
  • Good point. That helps OP and my points above.
    – JMB
    Jan 18 '15 at 15:46
  • And "rates" can apply to things not even monetary (literacy rate, failure rate) If they are monetary, "rates" are often a schedule of charges that apply in different conditions, as in the examples of interest rates and tax rates. [One hopes that] prices in a restaurant won't depend on your health or income! Jul 6 '15 at 8:23

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