Uber & Lyft Car Options: Are You Picking the RIGHT Driving Option?


Driving for higher level services – like XL and Black can really boost your income.

Uber and Lyft both have higher service levels than their basic X car (as Uber calls it) or “Lyft” (as Lyft calls it).  The two companies offer exactly the same services, usually at the exact same prices as well – but they call them different names (obviously).  For our purposes, we’ll use the Uber names, which are:

uberX = Lyft
uberXL = Lyft Plus
uberSELECT = Lyft Premier
uberBLACK = Lyft Lux
uberSUV = Lyft SUV

Drivers Can Potentially Make More Money with Higher End Cars

In the screenshot below, Sam illustrates the different prices charged by the Uber’s and Lyft’s different service levels.  The screenshot you see here gives Lyft’s prices for Sam’s location in Minneapolis, to the Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) Airport.

The screenshot is taken from the Lyft passenger app and it shows the prices the customer would pay for each of Lyft’s service levels.  The lowest level of service, which Lyft simply calls, “Lyft” (or the Uber equivalent which is, uberX) would cost the passenger $24.78.  Lyft Lux would be $71.40 and Lux SUV would be $88.65.

If you’re a driver, this shows you the difference in what you could make if you drove for one of the higher level services.   In this case if you had a vehicle that qualified for the Lux or Black levels of service, you would make $54 on this trip from downtown Minneapolis to MSP.  But if you do the same trip in a Lyft or X vehicle, you’re only going to make $18.  That’s a hugged difference!  The luxury car rate is almost exactly three times higher than the regular price!  That means you’d have to do three airport trips from this location to make the same as you would from one airport trip in a Black or Lux vehicle.  Black car and SUV drivers know that they can easily make more in one trip than X and Lyft drivers can make in five or six hours.  But those high end drivers may only get one or two Black or SUV trips in five or six hours!

But before you rush out to upgrade your car – consider this.  The number of trips drivers in the higher categories get is far lower than the number of trips you get in the lower categories.  So, you could well do three X trips in the time it would take a Black car or SUV driver to do one trip.  In the end, the final earnings figures for high end vehicles and low end vehicles can be quite similar.  It’s just the that higher end drivers made the same money by putting a lot fewer miles – which also means they’ll have a smaller tax deduction!

On the upside though, if the higher end drivers get one early morning trip where they make $100 and then do regular Lyft and uberX trips for the next few hours and then they get one more $100 luxury trip at the end of the day – they’ll easily triple what a Lyft or X driver could make – in the same period of time.  But they will have to do a lot of regular Lyft and X trips to get there.

The Uber App is Quite Different in the Way it Displays the Various Service Levels

In the screenshot below, you can see that Uber takes a very different approach.  Lyft, very helpfully, presents customers with all their options – right upfront on the home screen.

Uber, however, has decided in its great wisdom, that it’s best to hide the higher end options and try to force people into the lower end.  Why – no one knows!  It’s a source of endless frustration for Black car and SUV drivers.  To get to the highest end, Black Car and SUV options on the Uber passenger app, a passenger first has to know they’re there.  Then, they have to know that in order to get to them they have to swipe the bottom part of the screen to the left to see them.

I’ve talked to a lot of passengers who didn’t even know Uber had Black car and SUV options.  But you’ll find far fewer Lyft passengers who are not aware of those options with Lyft.


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So, if you’re considering getting a vehicle that would qualify under the Black Car or SUV options, this is something you should keep in mind.  Just know that Uber is doing nothing to help promote those levels of service.  And that’s part of the reason you can sit empty for so many hours – waiting for a trip.

Differences between how Uber and Lyft Handle Surges for Different Vehicle Categories

Lyft and Uber also handle surges for the different vehicle categories, quite differently.  But it’s hard to say who the advantage should go to on this.  If regular Lyft, meaning the lowest cost category of Lyft vehicles is surging, then Lyft applies that surge to all categories of Lyft vehicles  So, if regular Lyft is surging by 150% – then Lyft Lux and Lyft SUV will also surge by 150%.

In the screenshot above, of the Uber passenger app, you can see that uberSELECT is only 1.3x more expensive than uberX.  And it’s cheaper than uberXL!  But, uberSELECT is actually more expensive than XL and it’s more than 1.3x more expensive than uberX.  So, what’s going on there?

What’s going on is that uberX and XL, in this example, are surging.  But uberSELECT isn’t.  If this were the Lyft app, uberSELECT would be a lot more expensive than the $46 Uber is charging because Lyft would apply the regular Lyft surge to all its categories of cars.

The reason we say it’s not easy to determine which company should get the advantage on this – from the driver’s point of view, is because Uber’s higher level of services are already far more expensive than uberX.  So, if you put a surge on them that the supply and demand doesn’t really justify – you’re just making it far less likely that anyone will order those cars during that time.  Which means a lot more high-end drivers sitting around twiddling their thumbs!

Differences in how Uber and Lyft Distribute Surge Calls to Drivers

In most markets, uberBLACK rates are pretty close to double uberX rates.  So, most Black drivers would be happy to take 2.0x uberX trips.  But, to get them they first have to know uberX is surging 2.0x then they have to go into the driver app and reset it so that they can accept Black and X calls.  However, doing this leaves them open to the risk of getting X calls at the regular price.

Lyft, on the other hand, will automatically send X (or Lyft regular) calls to Black car drivers if the X surge gets pretty close to the Black car (or Lux) price.  So Lyft Lux drivers don’t have to worry about flipping back and forth and signing into one service and trying to make sure they sign out of it before the price goes too low.  Lyft will automatically send them regular calls – when the surge puts the regular price close to the premium price.

That works out great for drivers and passengers.  For passengers, it means when they’re paying a higher price they’re likely to get a better car and driver!  For drivers, it means more trips and more opportunities to earn at prices their vehicle justifies.


Video Transcription:

In this short video, I want to follow up from the previous one that broke apart the difference in kind of cars you can drive for Lyft and Uber. Now, I want to show you the power of having a higher platform and the immense amount of income boost you can have.

Now, this is a ride from my location right now to Terminal 1. I’m just going to use Lyft at first because it’s really clear to see the different price structure. If you click on the car, you can now see the different options with Lyft: Plus, Premier, Lux, Lux SUV. Now, look at the difference. It’s a $24.78 ride just to the airport as a passenger, and remember 25% commission, so we are not seeing all that, not including tip.

But if I were to take Lux SUV, $88.65. Look at the difference of that. That’s huge. And so let’s say that Lux SUV takes [fewer] rides, however with that one ride, it’s going to be equaling close to four regular Lyft rides.

That’s not including maybe bigger tips and options for other clients in the future, because these people who would take Lux SUV, they may want you again if you are fantastic, and hopefully, with the scores, you would be elite and they would want you again.

Now, let’s look at Uber. Uber is similar, but Uber doesn’t have [it] nicely broken apart like Lyft does. So let’s say we are going to MSP, [which is the] same thing. Uber has broken apart where you have to swipe to the left to see the other options. Okay? Not very helpful.

And if you’re in a different market, a larger market than the Twin Cities, you’re going to have other options if you swipe to the left, like handicap and so forth, okay? So same thing.

Now, Uber because it’s surging right now, it’s $33. And check this out, SUV is $70. Now, notice, SUV is $70 but Lyft was more, here’s why. Uber…this is something to know.

Uber searches different platforms at different rates while Lyft increases all of them at the same time. Okay? So that’s a huge tip to remember. But overall I wanted to show you the video to show you the power of the differences of price and also how you can use your passenger app to learn quite a bit.



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