Uber vs Lyft: Which Should You Drive For?
If you read my guide on How to Save Money Before You Travel, you might have seen that I recommended driving for Lyft or Uber to make some extra money if having a car is necessary for you. Not being one to give advice without first trying it myself, I signed up for both services to compare the two.
Uber is the company that started the whole ride share movement and stands as the leader in the field by far. Their name is even synonymous with the ride share industry as a whole. In fact, most people refer to any sort of ride sharing as “ubering”. While typically associated with luxury black cars, any newer car in good condition can sign up to drive for Uber X; a less expensive option on the Uber app.
Lyft, on the other hand, has built its reputation on being less of a hired private driver, and more of “your buddy with a car giving you a ride”. Where Uber strives for an executive level experience, Lyft embraces more of a quirky, fun vibe; choosing a bright pink mustache as their logo.
Before we get in to their differences, let’s look at what these two companies have in common and how they stack up in my Uber vs Lyft head to head comparison.
Let’s start with what matters most: your money. Both Uber and Lyft take a cut of each fare you collect. For Uber, this is 20%, whereas Lyft takes 25%. On the surface, Uber has the clear upper hand. However, where Uber’s rate is a fixed amount, Lyft’s commission is on a sliding scale based off of your driver rating and how much you drive per week.
If you meet or exceed the “Power Driver” goals which Lyft sets for you, their commission percentage will shrink with each tier, ultimately allowing you to keep up to 100% of the fares if you reach the top level goal.
As far as when you’ll get paid, both apps will also pay you weekly via direct deposit, but again, Lyft takes the advantage here by allowing you to get paid ahead of schedule at any time you’d like for just a 50 cent fee.
Both apps work off of a very similar GPS map interface. They also both show you in which areas users are requesting the most rides so that you can maximize your efficiency. There’s not much to differentiate the two aside from color schemes, but overall, I’ve found Uber’s interface to be a bit more straightforward and easy to use.
Both Uber and Lyft offer a carpool service; Uber Pool and Lyft Line, which allows you to pick up several different passengers all heading in the same direction. Each passenger receives a discounted fare for sharing the ride, and you can make more money than you would have by driving just one person. At least that’s how it works in theory. From my (albeit limited) experience, you almost never come across additional passengers and the end result is a lot less money for you. However, of the two, Uber Pool seemed to work a bit better.
Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve seen how they compare on common ground, let’s take a look at what sets these two apart.
Uber’s strong name recognition means you will have no shortage of passengers requesting rides. Obviously, the more rides you give, the more money you make, so this works out well.
Signing up to drive with Uber was easy, and a much quicker process than with Lyft. Basically, you send a photo of your license, registration and insurance info, after which Uber will perform a background check. Once that clears (usually just a few days), you’re ready to start driving! It really couldn’t be much simpler.
Peace and Quiet
Maybe it’s because of luxury branding that uber worked hard to cultivate when they first started, but I’ve noticed that Uber passengers tend to be less talkative and typically play on their phones until they reach their destination. If you’re not feeling particularly chatty, this could be the right choice for you.
Lack of Incentives
As I mentioned above, while Lyft initially charges a higher base commission, if you reach their rather easily attainable ride goals, their rate gets smaller and smaller. With Uber, however, you’re not really incentivized to drive more. No matter how much you drive in a given week, Uber will still be taking 20% at the end of it.
The End of Surge Pricing
If you’ve ever ridden in an Uber as a passenger, you’re probably familiar with surge pricing, where you are charged an additional percentage for riding during peak hours. While annoying as a rider, as a driver, this extra money a great little bonus. Well don’t get too excited. Uber is currently in the process of doing away with surge pricing, so no matter whether you’re driving at 2PM or or taking drunken party-goers home at 11PM, the rates you earn will be the same.
In addition to your cut of the fare, passengers are also able to leave you a tip; 100% of which goes to you. If you have good people skills, this could mean quite a bit of extra money for you.
Though I haven’t driven for either service all that long, I did find that Lyft passengers tended to be a bit more laid-back and friendly. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying Uber passengers are standoffish, but I think the “Your Private Driver” mentality of Uber creates a bit of an unspoken divide between driver and passenger. I didn’t feel that with Lyft, and tended to have really great conversations with the majority of people I met.
Sliding Commission Rate
As I mentioned above, though Lyft does charge a higher base commission rate, the more you drive for them in a given week, the higher percentage of the fare you get to keep, up to 100%. While this may not mean much to someone who only drives a few hours on the weekend, if you’re looking to make this more of a full-time gig, it goes a long way.
Higher Base Commission
Yes, I know I just said their sliding commission rate is a pro, but if you are one of those drivers who works a full-time job and only does Lyft here and there when they have free time, you might be better off going with Uber’s lower base commission percentage.
Longer Signup Process
As compared to Uber, Lyft’s signup process takes a much longer time. In addition to sending your documents and performing a background check, Lyft also requires you to schedule an appointment with an experienced driver to have what they refer to as a “mentor session”. After setting up a time and place to meet, your mentor will photograph both you and your car, inspect the vehicle, and ask you to take them on a short drive.
After this, you will need to wait for them to submit their review to Lyft before they can look it over and ultimately decide whether or not to accept you. In total, the process took just under two weeks for me as opposed to the few days I waited for Uber to let me know I was approved.
In the end, the answer to whether you should drive for Uber or Lyft comes down to your personal style and goals. For me, I chose Lyft. I used to bartend, so I’m no stranger to chatting up people I’ve only just met. Because of it, I found that even with the less frequent fares and Lyft taking a higher commission, I still make more money on average than I did with Uber due to passenger tips.
I also like that I can be a bit more laid-back and genuine with people as opposed to putting on the airs of luxury and sophistication. So if you have the personality for it, Lyft could be right for you.
That being said, if you don’t feel like having conversations with everyone that gets in your car and prefer to just shut up and drive, I’d recommend giving Uber a shot. Even without the tips, the higher passenger frequency should make you a good deal of money, only without the expectation to be buddies with every passenger you pick up.