Driving for Uber vs Lyft: What’s Similar and Different?

If you’re looking to earn extra cash, you may have considered driving for Uber or Lyft. Both platforms offer flexible schedules, the chance to work for yourself, and compelling earning opportunities. But how exactly do the two platforms differ? Are there any meaningful differences, and is it better to drive for one or the other?

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the similarities and differences between Uber and Lyft. Overall, the similarities outnumber the differences, but the differences can make an impact in what it’s like to drive for one platform vs the other.

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Driving for Uber Pros and Cons

When you’re looking for a rideshare app to drive for, it’s important to consider its pros and cons. To start things off, here’s a look at the pros and cons of driving for Uber.

Driving for Uber Pros

There are many positive aspects to driving for Uber. To start, you get to set your own schedule. This is a major appeal for anyone who’s used to a 9 to 5 job. If you prefer to work late at night, then you’re free to do so. If you only want to work on the weekends, that’s fine. As long as you’re giving rides on a somewhat regular basis, Uber doesn’t care when you work.

Another benefit of driving for Uber is that you’re your own boss. No one is bossing you around, yelling at you for taking breaks, or accusing you of wasting time. You’re in control of your earnings and work.

Uber drivers also have the benefit of being able to earn tips. These are in addition to the base rate that Uber pays you. You keep 100 percent of the tips you earn, and you can work to increase your tips through providing excellent customer service.

A final pro of driving for Uber is that the company has a large presence throughout the world. If you live in pretty much any developed country, you can get an Uber ride or be an Uber driver. This is appealing to know if you ever need to move — you can keep on driving in your new location (assuming you meet local requirements, of course).

Driving for Uber Cons

Not everything about driving for Uber is great. Working for the service does have its downsides. To start, Uber drivers don’t receive benefits like insurance or retirement plans. All drivers are independent contractors, which means that Uber isn’t required to give them employee benefits.

In the same vein, another downside of driving for Uber is that you have to pay for all your own expenses. You don’t receive reimbursement for gas, vehicle maintenance, or mileage driven in the way an employee would.

We mentioned earlier that one of the pros of driving for Uber is that you don’t have a boss, but this can also be a con in some cases. While bosses can be annoying, they’re also a source of motivation who ensure you come to work each day and get your work done. With Uber, there is no boss. It’s up to you to drive during the most profitable times (even if that means getting up early or staying up late). And it’s up to you to motivate yourself to drive at all.

A final con of driving for Uber is that the company takes a large percentage of your earnings in the form of fees and service charges. The precise amount varies (and Uber won’t disclose any official figures), but the result is that the amount a passenger pays is not what you earn. This can be frustrating, especially if you get passengers who don’t tip (which is unfortunately common).

Driving for Lyft Pros and Cons

Moving on to Lyft, the service has its own set of pros and cons. In many cases, these are similar to those of driving for Uber, but there are some differences.

Driving for Lyft Pros

As with Uber, Lyft drivers have the benefit of a flexible schedule. This is a major benefit of working for any ridesharing service or other independent contractor job. As long as you get the work done, no one cares when you do it. This is the case for Lyft, though of course in practice, some times of the day are better for giving rides than others.

Lyft drivers also have the benefit of not having a boss to deal with. You’re the boss when you drive for Lyft. This doesn’t give you the right to do whatever you want (you still have to provide excellent service to passengers and adhere to Lyft’s community guidelines). But it does mean you take as many breaks as you want, decide to go home early to beat traffic, and eat lunch at a time that makes sense for your body clock.

Lyft drivers earn tips in the same way as Uber drivers. Lyft also places more of an emphasis on tipping than Uber does due to the way they design the Lyft passenger app (more info on this below). You still have to work for the tips, but they are something passengers can give you.

A final pro of working for Lyft is that the company has excellent driver support. If you ever need anything, you’ll find a team of helpful, thorough support reps available to assist you. They really take time to understand your problem and advise you on how to solve it. You won’t find any canned responses.

Driving for Lyft Cons

Being a Lyft driver does have its downsides. For one, Lyft drivers are still independent contractors, which means they don’t receive insurance, retirement plans, or other employee benefits. You have to take care of these costs on your own.

And regular employee benefits aren’t the only costs you’ll have to cover as a Lyft driver. You’ll also need to pay for your gas, vehicle maintenance, and insurance. Lyft doesn’t reimburse you for any of this.

Lyft drivers don’t have bosses, which can be a wonderful thing most of the time. Sometimes, however, it would be nice to have a boss to tell you to get up early to catch the airport rides or stay late to get people headed home from the bar. But you don’t have a boss with Lyft, so you have to motivate yourself.

Finally, Lyft has the downside of a smaller global presence than Uber. While Lyft is still available in all major U.S. cities, it doesn’t have an international presence aside from limited operations in Canada. This smaller size means that people are less aware of Lyft than Uber, which can translate into fewer ride requests in some cities.

Uber vs Lyft: 6 Key Aspects Compared

Driving for Uber vs Lyft: What’s Similar and Different?

As you can see from the pros and cons, driving for Uber and Lyft is fairly similar. But how do the two companies compare when you dig into the specifics? Let’s take a look as we compare eight key aspects of the ridesharing companies.

1. Uber vs Lyft Pay

Let’s start with the reason you became a rideshare driver: to make money. In general, Lyft drivers report making more than Uber drivers on average. We emphasize the “average” part, because there are many factors that can influence pay.

Some cities, for instance, have a greater demand for either Uber or Lyft drivers. If you’re in a city where Uber is more popular, then you’re probably going to earn more driving for Uber overall simply due to the greater volume of rides you give.

One crucial factor, however, is that Lyft takes a smaller percentage of driver earnings than Lyft. Neither company will say precisely how much they take as a commission, but anecdotal evidence from drivers suggests that Lyft takes a smaller percentage. When it comes to pay, then, it’s better to drive for Lyft overall. To learn more about how much rideshare drivers take home after fees, check out our recent survey.

2. Uber vs Lyft Driver Apps

When it comes to the driver apps, Uber and Lyft are very similar. Each time one company comes out with a new feature, the other one copies it. This constant arms race means that one driver app isn’t really better than the other.

One important difference, however, is in the way the passenger apps work. The Lyft app makes tipping far more visible to passengers than the Uber app. While the Uber app asks passengers to leave a rating before showing the tipping screen, Lyft shows the tipping screen first.

This means that, on average, Lyft riders will be more likely to leave a tip simply because it’s visible to them. Some Uber riders may not even know that tipping is an option, and Uber does not go out of their way to show this.

3. Uber vs Lyft Passengers

Historically, Lyft tended to attract more of a laid-back, casual crowd, while Uber was all about business and functioned more like a traditional car service. While this image does persist to a degree (especially with Uber offering special business ride services), the reality is that most riders have both apps and will compare the two to get the best price.

Rather than “Lyft vs Uber customers,” the more accurate dichotomy would be “Rideshare users vs non-rideshare users.” So when it comes to passengers, the two services are virtually identical.

4. Uber vs Lyft Driver Support

On paper, Uber and Lyft driver support are very similar. Both offer the same contact methods, and both claim to be there 24/7 to help drivers. In practice, many drivers report having a better experience with Lyft support.

They claim that they’re more responsive, provide more personalized attention, and take time to help drivers. Uber support, in contrast, can often seem overworked, rushed, and frequently use canned responses instead of listening to driver concerns.

Overall, then, Lyft wins when it comes to driver support.

5. Uber vs Lyft Ride Types

Historically, Uber differentiated itself from Lyft by offering a greater variety of ride types, particularly more luxury rides. Now, however, Lyft has largely caught up. For UberPOOL, there’s Lyft Shared. For UberBLACK, there’s Lyft Lux. For UberX, there’s the regular Lyft service.

Still, Uber does continue to offer some ride types that Lyft does not. To start, there’s UberWAV, which guarantees a driver with a wheelchair or scooter accessible vehicle. There’s also UberESPAÑOL, which lets riders get a Spanish-speaking driver.

There’s also the case of Uber Eats. While it’s technically a separate food delivery service and doesn’t involve transporting passengers, Uber drivers can accept both Uber Eats and passenger requests during the same shift. This means more opportunities to earn money. Lyft, in contrast, does not have an equivalent delivery service.

Overall, then, Uber still wins when it comes to the variety of ride types it offers.

6. Uber vs Lyft Cities

For the final point of comparison, let’s look at the cities where Uber and Lyft operate. The first thing that we should note is that both companies operate in all major U.S. cities. If you’re somewhere like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York City, you can drive for both Uber and Lyft.

Beyond the big cities, however, there are some important differences. Uber has a much larger presence overall, particularly in that they operate in almost all developed countries. Lyft, in contrast, only operates in the U.S. and Canada. As a driver in the United States, this probably doesn’t affect you much. Lyft and Uber are more than likely available in your market.

However, you should consider which company has a greater presence. People tend to be more aware of Uber than Lyft on average. Uber is bigger and, for better or for worse, has become synonymous with ridesharing (to the point that “to Uber” has become a verb). For this reason, it’s best to drive for both Uber and Lyft in order to compensate for one app being more popular than the other in your market.

Driving for Uber vs Lyft FAQ

Driving for Uber vs Lyft: What’s Similar and Different

To conclude this guide, let’s answer some common questions about driving for Uber vs Lyft.

1. Can you drive for Uber and Lyft?

Yes, you can. While each company would prefer that you drive exclusively for them, your status as an independent contractor means that are free to drive for both platforms. To learn how to do this efficiently, check out our guide.

2. Do Uber and Lyft have the same vehicle requirements?

Overall, yes. Both companies have to abide by the same local laws that govern ridesharing vehicles. This means their requirements will be more or less the same for the basic services. The requirements can differ, however, when it comes to specialized ride types. To learn more, consult our guides to Lyft vehicle requirements and Uber vehicle requirements.

3. Do Uber and Lyft have the same driver requirements?

Yes, they do. Both require you to be at least 21, pass a background check and DMV check, and have a valid driver’s license. If you’re eligible for one platform, you’re eligible for the other. The reverse is also true, so it’s probably not a good use of your time to try to get accepted for one platform if the other has already rejected you due to failing a background check.

To get more details, read our guides to the Uber driver requirements and Lyft driver requirements.

4. Do Uber and Lyft both have surge pricing?

Yes, both companies have a form of dynamic pricing that increases when the demand for rides exceeds the number of available drivers. Uber calls it “surge pricing” and Lyft calls it “Prime Time,” but both work the same way: A high demand for rides means higher ride fares.

5. Do Uber and Lyft both have sign-up bonuses?

Yes, both companies offer some sort of sign-up bonus to new drivers. You can learn more about them in our guides to Lyft sign-up bonuses and Uber sign-up bonuses. Note that the specific Lyft offers and Uber offers will vary based on your city.

Uber vs Lyft: Which Is Better for Drivers?

We truly live in amazing times, when someone can someone a ride to their pickup location with just a couple taps and pay for the ride without even having to touch their credit card. But in this brave new world, which rideshare service is better for drivers?

Looking at our comparison, Lyft is the winner. It pulls ahead due to its superior customer service, encouraging passengers to tip, and lower commissions on driver earnings. Having said that, we still maintain that driving for both platforms is the best option for maximizing your rideshare earnings.

This is especially true if you plan to drive full-time, when every trip you take counts. If you’re just driving a bit on the weekends or after work, then you could stick with only Lyft and be fine (assuming Lyft is available in your city).