Uber vs Lyft: A Comprehensive Comparison

Ride-hailing apps are getting lots of people around these days. Two of the most popular rideshare apps – Uber and Lyft – have exploded in growth over the last few years. It’s an exciting time for riders, drivers and, to write for a rideshare blog!

This article will provide an in-depth comparison of these two companies based on 7 different criterion:

  1. Pricing
  2. Driver Earnings
  3. The App
  4. Vehicle Types/Options
  5. Customer Support
  6. Coverage Areas
  7. Innovation
  8. Brand Image

Before getting into the specifics that will help passengers make the best-informed decision, let’s quickly look at the basic similarities and differences between the two companies.

Lyft vs Uber: Overview

First, both of these companies allow a person to hail a ride from their phone.

Secondly, the prices for some of the most basic services appear to be roughly the same.

Third, 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.

As far as differences go, Uber is the bigger company, which means that Uber is available in many more states (and countries) than Lyft.

Lyft strives to create a personable and friendly culture and encourages passengers to ride shotgun to facilitate engagement with the drivers. Uber’s mission and value, on the other hand, seems to be more business-centric. Uber drivers communicate less with their passengers.

Finally, Uber has many more upscale options for people who want something more luxurious and spacious.

Video Summary:

The In-Depth Breakdown

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 Pricing

Uber and Lyft compete heavily on pricing, attempting to lure customers away from each other by constantly undercutting on price.

However, when we take a more in-depth look, we find that for the most part, the companies charge about the same rates, although prices can vary from city to city.

You can see for yourself by calculating your next fare before you take it. We created a tool that lets you estimate a fare for either service using real data from Uber and Lyft.

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.

Both companies use some form of price surging – meaning fare prices go up during times when rider demand is greater than normal.

Uber calls it Surge, and Lyft calls it Prime Time. Let’s look at each of these in a bit more depth.

Surge Pricing for Uber

Whenever the ride demand increases, Uber adds a surge rate multiplier on standard fares. The surge multiplier changes based on location, and come up to 1.3x or 2.1x to the base, time, and distance fare.

Prime Time for Lyft

Lyft, on the other hand, charges the extra fee in form of a percentage that gets added to the base ride amount. So, if a Prime Time is 50%, then a ride that would normally cost $10, would go up to $15 during Prime Time.

Surge charges increase Uber fares about 7X or 8X, while Lyft has been known to increase their prices at least 2X.

What this means for riders:

Many riders will choose Lyft, especially in times of high demand, since Lyft typically doesn’t hit the high multiples that Uber riders have come to dread.

What this means for drivers:

Low rates mean most Uber drivers make $13.70 per hour, and Lyft driver drivers will average $17.50 per hour.

From a driver’s perspective, Lyft takes a smaller cut than Uber. 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.

During the start of a week, they send selected drivers an email notifying them about the Power Zones that will be happening in their city. Giving rides to passengers within the specified Zone at the mentioned time can help drivers earn much more than standard base fares. The Power Zone earnings are capped at $195 per ride.

The cool thing about Power Zones is that its predetermined by Lyft, and do not fluctuate like Peak Hours or Uber’s surge.

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.

My Take

Since both companies charge about the same on a normal day, I use whichever service is closer and can pick me up first. During high-demand times, however, I almost never use Uber.

Winner: Lyft

2. 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.

What this means for riders:

When the two companies compete on price, passengers come out ahead. 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

My Take:

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.


3. Uber App vs. Lyft App

Schedule list on mobile phone, hand touch selecting task on smartphone organizer application. Flat icon modern design style vector illustration concept.

image via boomua / 123rf.com

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.

What this means for riders:

A lot of the riders I talk to don’t have a preference either way. They typically choose the service that has an available ride nearest to them.

What this means for drivers:

Most rideshare riders use both services and bounce back and forth to find the closer ride. As a result, many rideshare drivers will drive for both Uber and Lyft at the same time, and take whichever ride comes up first. This minimizes downtime between ride requests and is one of the easiest ways to increase earnings.

My Take:

I really don’t see a significant difference between the two rideshare apps, other than small aesthetic differences. When riding, I choose the service that has a closer car. When driving, I operate both apps and take whichever ride request comes up first.

Winner: Tie

4. Vehicle Types/Options

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.

Uber caters to businesspeople and professionals and has a broad range of vehicles to choose from.

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.

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.

Lyft drivers dress their cars up in creative days, wherein the rides are spruced up based on around themes like sports or karaoke. The whole experience is intended to inspire engagement and be fun and memorable.

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.

Both companies hire drivers who have undergone thorough background checks.

What this means for riders:

Uber is geared more towards business riders and people who value quality and image, while Lyft is geared towards more relaxed users looking for a friendly ride.

Ride with Uber for a simple and professional drive. Ride with Lyft for something a bit more fun.

What this means for drivers:

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.

My Take:

I use Lyft a lot, especially in times of high demand or when there is a driver closeby 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.

Winner: Uber

5. Uber vs. Lyft Customer Support

Riders and drivers can get in touch through:

  • email
  • in-app support
  • website support
  • critical response lines

The quality of support of both companies has declined in recent years as the companies have grown. After digging around the forums and comment sections of various websites, it appears that Lyft is a bit more helpful in solving problems than Uber.

Uber gives a bunch of canned responses readily available on their Help center, while Lyft actually takes time to answer questions.

From my experience, Lyft reps seem to care and go out of their way to try to solve your problems.

What this means for riders:

If you have a generic question about Uber or Lyft, take a look at their help sections before you ask, otherwise, you will waste a lot of time. Both companies will likely give you a canned response, but Lyft provides more detail.

For more critical matters, both companies have a critical response line that provides near-instant support to resolve issues like accidents, bad behavior from drivers, etc.

What this means for drivers:

Driver incidents are far more likely to occur than passenger incidents, and drivers have reported that the Uber customer service number is the easiest way to solve these issues.

Like passenger requests, immediate issues will be solved quickly, but stock responses will likely be given for responses that can be generic and general.

Uber support offers canned responses, and Lyft support typically dives a little deeper into the issue.

My Take

I 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. Lyft takes the cake for this category.

Winner: Lyft


– How to Contact Uber

– How to Contact Lyft

6. Uber vs. Lyft Coverage Areas

Uber has more investors and a much larger war chest, so it’s grown more popular throughout the nation and beyond. Uber has more drivers, riders, and is available in more cities than Lyft. Uber has also gained traction in more countries. They’ve struck the right partnerships, expanded at the right times, and seized opportunities.

Uber is in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide. Lyft, although aggressively expanding, is only available in roughly 46 states in the United States and in Canada.

Both companies offer rides 24/7 but passengers might have trouble requesting one at night if they live in a small town with not many drivers available. But if you live in a bigger location like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York you should have no problems catching a ride any time of the day or night.

What this means for riders:

Riders can expect to get quick, reliable rides from Uber pretty much anywhere they go. Lyft has a large foothold in most US cities, but when traveling abroad, riders will likely be taking an Uber.

What this means for drivers:

Uber offers many more positions than Lyft, in many more cities. They have a greater selection of vehicles in a greater selection of cities.

My Take:

I think Uber has a much more reliable coverage area than Lyft. Lyft has done a great job of expanding in the United States to close this gap, but the divide is still very evident.

Winner: Uber

7. Uber vs. Lyft Innovation

As Uber and Lyft expand, both companies are striking new partnerships to break into new areas.

Both companies are fierce competitors, competing heavily on price, but also scrambling to create the latest automotive innovations. These types of innovations help cut operation costs and ride fares, leading to greater passenger demand and higher profits and valuations.

Uber offers the following key innovations:

  • (1) A tiered approach meaning that if the consumer wants a ride beyond the average, he/she can request “semi-luxury” or even “luxury”.
  • (2) a rigorous driver rating system.
  • (3) a surge pricing system that always encourages drivers to be available during high-demand.
  • (4) a built-in tipping feature.

Lyft offers its consumers the ability to participate in what the company calls, “Lyft Line.” This means that consumers who are riding along the same routes can ride together and split the cost.

Additionally, Lyft offers what they call, “Lyft Plus” meaning groups of six passengers or more riding together. Lyft also offers the ability for the consumer to tip the driver.

Both companies are trying to implement self-driving cars but these aren’t ready, especially since the deadly crash involving a self-driving Uber SUV in Arizona that killed a pedestrian.

What this means for riders:

As innovation advances, so do the economies of scale. In the future, riders can expect prices to drop and rides to get cheaper.

What this means for drivers:

Uber and Lyft have assured drivers that with the rise of autonomous cars, their jobs will still be safe. But these are likely empty promises.

My Take:

Both companies are making incredibly large investments in new technologies. I think Uber’s acquisition of Otto puts them one step ahead of Lyft. If they can move on past the lawsuit with Waymo, they’ll advance their technology enough to be even more of a powerhouse.

Winner: Uber

8. Uber and Lyft Brand Image

Uber has been involved in countless scandals, harassment claims, lawsuits, and bad PR. It seems like they just can’t catch a break.

On the contrary, you rarely hear bad PR about Lyft, and when you do, they own their mistakes and move forward.

What this means for riders:

As Uber scandals pile on, many riders are deactivating their accounts and switching to Lyft. Riders will see more incentives and positive marketing campaigns from Uber to lure those ex-passengers back, so riders should be on a lookout for these cool incentives as time goes on.

What this means for drivers:

Lyft drivers are seeing a strong flow of riders coming from Uber- thereby increasing the demand and inflating prices. Lyft drivers should enjoy this increase while it lasts because I think it’s only temporary.

My Take:

Lyft trumps Uber in this one, as they’ve been able to fly under the radar and for the most part stay out of the negative spotlight. Uber clearly has a brand image problem which they need to work through.

Winner: Lyft

Bonus: The rapid growth and rise of the rideshare industry (Infographic)

Our friends over at rideshareapps.com created an infographic to show how quickly large rideshare behemoths like Lyft and Uber have taken over the transportation industry and practically shut other conventional transportation methods like taxi cabs out.

It is definitely an interesting read. Check it out:


Uber vs Lyft FAQs

Is Lyft the same as Uber?

No, Lyft is not the same as Uber. While the two companies offer very similar services, there are key differences in the customer experience and the driver experience. Drivers report earning slightly more with Lyft. The cost for passengers varies, both Uber and Lyft offer competitive pricing.

What pays more LYFT or Uber?

Lyft generally takes a smaller cut than Uber. But Uber’s signup bonus is often bigger. In general, drivers report making more money per hour driving with Lyft due to increased tips, better Prime Time pricing, and the smaller cut compared to Uber.

Can you do Lyft and Uber at the same time?

Yes, drivers can work for both apps at the same time. Drivers cannot pick-up multiple passengers at the same time, but they can switch between Uber and Lyft. Drivers who work for both apps can make more money by locating the closest pick-up locations and by capitalizing on Surge and Prime Time pricing.

Do you tip an Uber driver?

Tipping is optional for Uber and Lyft. When Uber was first introduced, it did not have an in-app tipping function, this has since changed to align more with Lyft. Passengers should absolutely tip their Uber driver if the service was acceptable. Many drivers depend on tips to make a living. Tips can be given either in cash or through the app. Drivers receive 100% of tips received through the app.

Can you pay cash for Lyft or Uber

No. Uber and Lyft are not designed with cash in mind. Before a rider books a trip with Uber or Lyft, they must input a payment method (debit or credit card). When a trip is completed, passengers are automatically charged using the selected payment method. Drivers are allowed to accept cash tips from passengers.


Uber vs Lyft: Who Wins?

Uber beats Lyft on vehicle options, coverage areas, and innovation. On the other hand, Lyft wins on pricing, customer support, and brand image.

At the end of the day, the battle boils down to who you are, what features you’re looking for, and your value system. I use Uber for some things, but Lyft for others.

What service do you prefer? Which do you drive for, and which is more profitable? Start a discussion by letting us know in the comment section below!

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