When you need a ride but don’t have your own car, there’s a good chance your solution is just a few taps away. Rideshare services are available in almost every major city in the United States these days, making transportation more accessible than ever. The only decision you need to make is choosing Uber vs. Lyft.
Both Uber and Lyft are strong competitors in the ridesharing industry and have quickly become household names. Just looking at the surface-level differences, Uber is known to hold a significantly higher market share — nearly 70% of the U.S. market, compared to Lyft’s nearly 30% — and has a significantly larger international coverage map than its competitor.
On the other hand, Lyft has maintained a far cleaner reputation than Uber, which was plagued with scandal after scandal since the #DeleteUber backlash of 2017.
Beyond these notable differences, the two rideshare giants do offer extremely similar services, particularly in the United States and Canada.
Their customer acquisition marketing strategies are quite similar. When Lyft introduces a new driver promotion, Uber does the same. When Lyft offers new users huge amounts of free ride credit, Uber also gives their riders account credit on the house.
When choosing between Uber and Lyft for your next ride, the smaller differences may have a big influence on your decision. This article will compare Uber vs. Lyft in seven major categories, so you can decide for yourself which rideshare app is for you.
- Uber vs. Lyft Services
- Driver Earnings
- Uber vs. Lyft Safety
- The App
- Customer Support
- Alternatives to Uber and Lyft
The next sections will compare and contrast Uber and Lyft in detail. This is aimed to help vest you with all the important information you need to pick the rideshare app that exactly suits your transportation needs.
1. Uber vs. Lyft Services
When taking a look at the battle between Uber and Lyft, one of the biggest factors that set the two services apart is the vehicle options available to passengers.
In many cities across the U.S. and Canada, Uber and Lyft services may seem practically identical. For example, these are direct equivalents that can commonly be found:
- UberX and the original Lyft
- UberXL and Lyft XL
- UberPool and Lyft Shared
- Uber Express Pool and Lyft Shared Saver
- Uber Black and Lyft Lux Black
Uber caters to businesspeople and professionals and has a broad range of vehicles to choose from.[su_table]
|UberPOOL||This is the cheapest ride option available. Riders share rides going the same route.|
|UberX||Another budget option, an everyday car with room for up to 4 people will come and pick you up.|
|UberXL||An SUV with seating for up to 6 people will come and pick you up.|
|UberSELECT||This is a 4 door luxury sedan with seating for up to 4 passengers.|
|UberBLACK||Uber’s original car service, these rides feature high-end luxury vehicles with seating for up to 4 passengers.|
|UberSUV||The most expensive service Uber offers, a high-end SUV with seating for up to 6 passengers will pick you up.|
Lyft, on the other hand, offers fewer vehicle options than Uber.[su_table] [su_table]
|Lyft Line||Riders share rides going the same route. The cheapest option available to riders.|
|Lyft||The budget option of the group, an everyday car with room for 4 passengers comes to get you.|
|Lyft Plus||This is also a regular vehicle to get you, but with room for up to 6 passengers.|
|Lyft Premier||These are rides in higher quality vehicles than the other Lyft options. Seating up to 4 passengers.|
Aside from the vehicle options, there is a noticeable difference between the rider experiences.
Since Uber leans towards businesspeople, the drivers are professional, concise, and do the best to simply get you from point A to point B. Lyft drivers, on the other hand, live up to their slogan “Your Friend With a Car”. Lyft drivers tend to be friendly, open to conversation, and more fun than Uber drivers. Lyft riders are encouraged to sit in the front seat and interact with the driver.
If you’re looking for a quiet ride or a few minutes to focus on an upcoming presentation while riding from point A to point B, then Uber is the company for you. The Uber driver is going to be dressed a bit more professionally. The driver is going to open the door for you and provide you with a more business-like ride to your destination.
However, while Uber provides an alternative to basically every Lyft service, Lyft does fall a bit short on its service offerings. In addition to highly unique, limited location services like Uber Copter and Uber Car Seat, the company is well-known for its extensive luxury options.
This includes Uber Lux, which takes high-end to a whole new level with Rolls-Royce cars and Maserati models. Most of these luxury options are also driven by professional drivers who are commercially licensed and highly rated.
Uber also offers affordable services that act as slight upgrades between the standard Lyft and Uber tiers. For example, Uber Comfort offers more leg room without requiring an upgrade to UberXL. UberWAV is a convenient way to access wheelchair-friendly vehicles through the Uber app. Internationally and in some U.S. cities, Uber also has traditional taxis available that can be booked through the rideshare app.
No matter which service you choose on either service, all vehicle types are fully inspected once per year by law in the U.S. Uber drivers and Lyft drivers always complete background checks to keep riders as safe as possible.
I use Lyft a lot, especially in times of high demand or when there is a driver close by and I need a ride in a hurry. However, I like the selection of vehicles that Uber offers.
If I need a cheap ride, UberPOOL has my back. If I’m on a business trip and want to impress a client, UberBLACK it is. I have to go with Uber on this one because there are way more types of rides available.
Drivers can expect a higher earning potential by becoming an Uber partner since there are more ride options available. Services like UberBLACK cost much more than regular Lyft rides, so drivers will see more money in their pockets driving for the higher end services. That said, Lyft riders tend to tip more, especially if they make you stop en route to run quick errands.
2. Uber vs. Lyft Pricing
One of the biggest similarities between Uber and Lyft are its local rates. While there may be cost disparities between cities, Lyft and Uber rates within the same city are almost always extremely similar. This is because both companies are in tight competition with each other to provide riders with the most competitive rates, while still offering drivers attractive pay.
Both companies also similarly charge based on your selected service, as well as the estimated time and distance to be traveled. Base fares and service fees are also typical of both Uber and Lyft, so to actually figure out the most affordable standard price in your area, you can use our price estimator tools for Uber and Lyft respectively.
Both companies charge around $1.00 to start a ride and then charge $1.50 per mile, around .25 cents per minute. When we think about the average cost per mile, it lands at about $2.00 per mile which is much more cost-effective when compared to a taxi.
Of course, rideshare costs don’t always stay steady at their standard prices. When demand outweighs supply, which often occurs during rush hour and busy events, Uber surge pricing and Lyft Prime Time pricing kick in. This is what can cause rideshare costs to greatly differ.
Uber surge pricing multiplies time, distance, and base fares during its busy hours, displaying the amount of surge as the given multiple (for example, 1.5x or 2x). This surge pricing has been known to multiply fares by as much as seven or eight times.
Lyft instead uses percentages to represent how much is added to base fares (time and distance fees remain unaffected). For example, if Prime Time pricing is at 100% and base fares are $10, the Prime Time fares would be $20. While Lyft has eliminated its maximum threshold for Prime Time, the company is less frequently known to have extreme multipliers, which can make the ridesharing service more affordable during busy times.
When the two companies compete on price, passengers come out ahead. Since Lyft typically doesn’t hit the high multiples that Uber riders have come to dread, many riders will choose Lyft, especially in times of high demand.
However, when drivers become dissatisfied with their income, passengers take the hit. Thankfully, drivers that provide poor service will eventually be weeded out by the rating systems that the two companies have put in place, maintaining a high quality driver pool.
3. Lyft vs Uber: Driver Earnings
Uber and Lyft compete heavily for market share, resulting in no really big difference on price. So it makes sense that drivers earn about the same for both services.
In our 2018 Independent Driver Earnings Survey that polled over 2,600 drivers to measure both satisfaction and earnings, our team found that the average rideshare driver was making about $13.70 per hour. If you factor tips into the equation, the median income rises only slightly to $14.73 per hour.
Overall, drivers gave a failing grade when asked about the amount of money they’re making when driving.
Uber’s signup bonuses are massive, but the buck stops there. Along with Prime Time, Lyft also has other rush hour opportunities where drivers can earn more. Power Zones is one such example.
Uber’s take on commission fees is outrageous, and now with their new upfront pricing strategy, it’s even worse. Take a look at the comment sections on our posts and you’ll see that drivers are very displeased.
I wish drivers made more money for the effort they put into driving. Most riders don’t realize that drivers are using their own car, paying for their own expenses, and sacrifice a lot of personal time to drive. However, Uber and Lyft are so big that they’re able to charge whatever they want and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
4. Uber vs Lyft Safety
Safety is a hot topic when it comes to ridesharing these days, with a significant amount of sexual assault cases and other crime-related issues making headlines throughout the years. Just in recent months, Uber’s safety report recognized that over 3,000 sexual assaults were reported in their rides in 2019 (in the U.S. alone). Lyft hasn’t gotten off scot-free either, having been hit with a massive lawsuit from a handful of sexual assault victims.
Luckily, Uber and Lyft take driver and passenger safety seriously, taking proactive measures to keep riders as safe as possible. This manifests itself in a variety of features and policies that each platform has.
To start with, all Uber drivers and Lyft drivers must undergo a variety of driver screening processes. The first part of this is a criminal history background check, which ensures that drivers don’t have convictions for felonies, sexual offenses, or violent crimes. Potential drivers also have to pass a driving history check, have a valid driver’s license, and possess valid liability insurance.
Vehicles must also meet year requirements set by each state and be inspected every year. And only newer vehicles are allowed on the platforms in general, so you know you won’t be riding in a car that doesn’t have airbags or other standard, modern safety features.
On both apps, you’ll always see your driver’s name, vehicle model, vehicle color, ratings, and license plate number before you get in the car.
During your trip, Uber and Lyft drivers are both covered by liability insurance. Due to high demand, both companies have also installed in-app emergency or panic buttons in most major U.S. markets. These allow you to dial 911 from your app and get your ride information automatically shared.[su_note]
- Pass a background check with no violent, sexual, or drug-related offenses
- Pass a DMV record check with no major moving violations in the past three years
- Have a valid driver’s license and Social Security number
- Have valid car insurance and vehicle registration
- Are at least 21 years old with at least one year of licensed driving experience
Uber and Lyft App Safety Features
When you’re using either platform, the app contains additional features to help keep you safe.
To start, both apps show you an image of the driver’s vehicle, a photograph of the driver, and the vehicle’s license plate number. These features are helpful when you’re getting picked up in a crowded area full of lots of drivers, but they also help you ensure you’re getting in the vehicle of an actual rideshare driver (as opposed to a stranger pretending to be one). You can also use this information to hold the driver accountable for any unsafe things they do.
Location Sharing and ETA
If you’re worried about riding in a vehicle with a stranger alone (which is understandable), both apps also have a feature that allows you to update family members or other trusted contacts with your current location and ETA.
To share your status in an Uber ride, follow these steps:
- When you request a ride and a driver accepts, you can swipe up on your app screen and tap Send Status.
- This shares your trip details with friends or family. They’ll receive a notification.
- Opening this notification displays your driver’s first name, vehicle info, and your map location in real-time.
- To pre-select up to 5 contacts to receive your status, select “Settings” from your app menu. You can also add more contacts manually when sending your trip status.
For Lyft, the process is similar:
- Tap “Send ETA” after requesting a ride to send your friend or family member a text message with an in-app link to your current route and location.
- They’ll be able to see see your progress toward the destination, a photo of the driver, and the vehicle color, make, model, and license plate number.
Driver and Passenger Rating Systems
One of the simplest ways to keep passengers and drivers safe is the rating system that Uber and Lyft both use. This allows passengers and drivers to rate each other on a scale of 1–5 stars.
In addition to the rating, both parties have the option to leave feedback explaining what went well (and what could have gone better). If either a driver or a passenger conducts themselves in an unsafe manner, you can mention it after the ride. Feedback is anonymous to both parties in order to prevent retaliatory feedback.
While both companies’ safety regulations are about the same, Uber does pull ahead just a bit. Due to the availability of more luxury services, riders do have more opportunities to get matched to commercially licensed professional drivers, each of which have high star ratings and commercial insurance. Still, Lyft does provide a unique color-matching system for an extra layer of identity verification, which we’ll further describe in the section below.
5. Uber App vs. Lyft App
Both companies developed their apps around the same time, and while they may slightly differ in their user interface and how they go about presenting their features, they do the same thing: connect riders with drivers.
The Uber app tends to allow the consumer to have a better idea of the total cost of his/her ride up front. Lyft is improving their app to be more transparent, but it’s still not quite there yet.
That said, the Uber app is now getting packed with features and is slowly becoming less user-friendly than it used to be. While they recently pushed an upgrade that now allows users to tip their drivers, there’s also a lot of cross-promotion to other services like Uber Eats and their delivery services, which is quite obtrusive when riders just want to request a ride.
Booking a ride is easy in both apps. They both require riders to input their destination address and current location into the app. Since they rely on location-based data, you need to have access to the internet. Both apps calculate the fare based on distance, time, and service and show the driver’s estimated arrival time.
Uber provides you with an estimated arrival time BEFORE you book a ride; with Lyft, you have to request a ride first to get an ETA.
Lyft allows passengers to add a stop along the route. This means that they can pick a friend up on the way or drop something off at the library or the dry cleaners’. Both Uber and Lyft store your credit card information within the app, so you don’t have to worry about paying the fare with cash. Once you arrive at your destination, the fare is automatically charged on your card; all you have to do is leave a review and a tip if you wish.
Once you’ve actually requested a vehicle, it’s actually quite difficult to tell whether you’re taking an Uber or Lyft ride. This is because many rideshare drivers actually drive for Uber and Lyft (as well as Uber Eats) at the same time, making the general atmosphere extremely similar. Drivers seeking great ratings and tips may offer you free water bottles, mints, and a smartphone charging station, and accommodate your air conditioning and music requests.
The biggest difference is, some Lyft drivers have electronic dashboard signs installed that display your name and a color that matches with your Lyft app. This not only adds a layer of safety when you use Lyft — you always know you’re entering the right car — but also creates a more personalized user experience.
If your in-app experience matters a lot to you, you may also want to consider a key difference in the two platforms. The Lyft app will likely feel much more familiar to Google Maps users, as the navigation platform is integrated into the app. The Uber app, on the other hand, uses custom, branded navigation that offers a unique in-app experience that you may prefer. Of course, this is all a matter of preference, since the apps are both simple to navigate otherwise.
I really don’t see a significant difference between the two rideshare apps, other than small aesthetic differences. When riding, it seems like most riders typically choose the service that has a closer car.
6. Uber vs. Lyft Customer Support
As a passenger, your options for contacting Uber and Lyft customer support are quite similar. Both ride-hailing app companies allow you to reach them via social media with ease. The San Francisco-based companies also offer robust help centers and emergency hotlines for all users to use before, during, or after their Lyft or Uber rides.
Riders and drivers can get in touch through:
- in-app support
- website support
- critical response lines
However, Lyft does offer one extra perk for riders: a general contact form. While Uber requires users to fill out topic-specific forms to get a response from an Uber team member, Lyft customer service can be reached via email for general issues when you click the “Contact Support” button on this help page.
The quality of support of both companies has declined in recent years as the companies have grown. I personally like working with Lyft’s customer support much more than with Uber’s.
Lyft representatives are friendly, while Uber reps seem to be constantly overwhelmed. This leads to an abundance of canned responses readily available on their Help center, while Lyft actually takes time to answer questions.
For customer service questions, I recommend you check out the following posts on our site:
7. Alternatives to Uber and Lyft
While Uber and Lyft are the main contenders in the rideshare world, they are by no means the only options out there. The ridesharing boom has inspired dozens of competitors to appear throughout the United States and beyond, some with their own unique niches. Here are three popular alternatives you can use instead of Uber and Lyft:
Via rideshare is a shared car service that helps users connect to drivers and other passengers along the same route. It essentially provides the same service as UberPool and Lyft Shared, keeping costs low in cities like Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. It’s one of the few widely known competitors to the rideshare giants’ true shared ride services.
If safety and scheduled rides are your priority, Wingz is a great alternative for you. This rideshare service can get you to flights, important meetings, and other places right on time with rides scheduled up to two months in advance. Even better, Wingz drivers attend a formal training and have even more record checks than the standard Uber or Lyft driver.
Wingz is currently available in 15 U.S. cities, including Austin, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco.
3. MyTaxi (FREE NOW)
Some consumers still prefer taking taxis due to the fact that drivers are fully licensed and well-regulated by cities around the world. MyTaxi (now FREE NOW) is an excellent solution for riders who want the taxi experience in Europe with the convenience of Uber and Lyft. By using this app, you can hail a trusted ride easily, track it in real time, and make your transactions cashless.
Which App Should I Use?
Comparing Uber vs. Lyft can be a hard task, as neither rideshare service consistently comes out on top. If you need access to more service options in more cities — especially those abroad — Uber is a clear winner. However, Lyft has many smaller triumphs, including a slightly better high-demand pricing reputation and a more convenient support channel.
Overall, your choice depends on what you’re looking for, what city you’re located in, and more. If price matters the most to you, it may even depend on the exact time of day. Of course, you always have the option to use both services, or choose another one entirely.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.