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Driving for Lyft vs Uber: Which Lane Should You Drive In?

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Highway at night: Driving for Uber vs LyftLooking to make some extra cash in your free time? Many people are becoming Lyft and Uber drivers to make ends meet or if they just want to have some extra spending cash. Either way, these ride-sharing services offer wages that can put some money in your pocket. And the best part is you can make a dime on your own time and be your own boss. But with so many ride-sharing programs, which lane should you drive in? Uber and Lyft are the two most popular services, so we’ll compare them against one other including Lyft vs Uber driver’s pay, payouts and more. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines and read on, so you can decide which is a better fit.

Making Money From Lyft

Lyft logo

Lyft, founded in 2007, has been successfully getting riders from place to place since 2012. One perk that Lyft offers drivers is “Express Drive” that allows you to rent a car from them, thus cutting down on some of the hidden costs like car payments, insurance and maintenance. The cost is based on how often you drive and the more frequent, the less you pay. In fact, if you give 75 rides a week then you get a car for free! (Cue Oprah “you get a car, you get a car!”) But you will be paying $0.25/mile if driving for personal use but still a good deal considering alternatives. If you drive more frequently, you can qualify for their Accelerate program that has three levels of incentives for drivers including discounts on gas, cell phones, tax support, healthcare and retirement plans, roadside assistance and more.

Pros

Cons

  • 60% of riders leave an additional tip, and you get to keep the entire amount (no tipping in Uber)
  • Get a free car (or rent one inexpensively) from them to save on your costs
  • VIP rewards for frequent drivers
  • Lyft has what they call Prime Time, which is peak hours where you can make even more money
  • If rider cancels within a period of time, you still get paid (as they incur a penalty)
  • Payout is less frequent than Uber
  • Fewer car types than Uber, so less opportunity for higher fares for nicer vehicles

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make?

Lyft states that drivers can make up to $35/hour driving your own car. (According to Glassdoor, drivers make an average of $20/hour but wages range from $8-$40.) A driver’s wage is determined by 80% of ride fees from your passengers. (So if you give a ride that costs $10 you get to keep $8.) So, if the minimum amount of money a Lyft driver can make per hour is $8 and the maximum is $35 and they work 40 hours/week, a Lyft driver’s salary can range from $16,640-$72,800. Get up to a $500 bonus if you use the link below to sign up.

Click Here to Apply to Become a Lyft Driver

Driving for Uber

Uber logo

More well known in the marketplace, Uber has been giving rides to passengers since 2009 (under the name UberCab). Since then they’ve quickly dominated the world with their ride-sharing app and employ over 6,000 people (not including drivers). One thing that sets Uber apart from Lyft is their pricing structure is based on the type of car, so the better and bigger your vehicle the more potential you can make per ride. They also offer services like UberEats giving you more options than just driving people around (in case you are concerned about safety or are anti-social). Similar to Lyft they allow you to buy, rent or lease a car for a discount and offer perks like free music streaming in their driver app. We love that you have the option to get paid right away.

Pros

Cons

  • Use Instant Pay to get paid up to five times per day
  • More fare types and potential to earn more per ride
  • Other driving options including delivery services of food and items (not just transporting people)
  • Riders can’t tip on top of their fee for exceptional service
  • Not paid for all canceled trips

How Much Do Uber Drivers Make?

How much you make  as an Uber driver depends on the fare, which can vary based on several factors including the type of Uber service you provide (UberX, UberBlack, etc.), the time of ride and distance of the trip. Which city you drive in and if it’s during peak or off-peak hours (when surge pricing applies) also factor in to the cost of a ride. Some cities have additional fees and taxes but those are usually passed through to the rider. All fares have a base amount, so you’ll at least be guaranteed a little something even if you’re only going a short distance.

Overall, Uber doesn’t list as much public information as Lyft does in regards to paying drivers and, unfortunately, Uber does not allow us to list any rates in this article. In our research we have found that their compensation is generally less than Lyft. Uber does offer a sign on bonus, but that amount can vary based on your location. Use the link below to find your bonus opportunity.

Click Here to Apply to Become an Uber Driver

Uber vs Lyft Payouts

Lyft: The money you make is deposited into your bank account once a week. They offer express pay to get earnings prior to your weekly deposit, but it can still take a few hours or days depending on your bank’s processing time.

Uber: You can get paid instantly up to five times a day if you qualify (have had at least 25 rides under your belt – other conditions may apply).

The Hidden Costs of Driving for Uber & Lyft

Even though Uber & Lyft claim you’ll make the amount above, this doesn’t include all of your out of pocket expenses which include:

  • Gas – There is no gas allowance from Uber or Lyft, so gas money spent to get to a rider or between rides will come out of your pocket. (Hint: don’t use the expensive gas if you don’t have to, and fill up at cheaper places when you can.) Or better yet, get a hybrid or car with higher gas mileage, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.
  • Gas to and from picking up riders – For example if a driver goes three miles to pick up the rider, drives the rider five miles, then drives three miles back to the next rider – their real cost is 11 miles. However, the wage is based on the five miles the rider was in the vehicle instead of the 11 miles the trip was total for the driver. For that reason, drivers in larger cities often make more money because of more dense populations, so miles driven between riders is typically shorter.
  • Insurance – Uber and Lyft have insurance policies but they only cover the injuries to passengers and others you may be liable for. You’re required to have insurance to have a car, but your policy probably is personal and not commercial, so that could cost you extra.
  • Taxes – Because you are a 1099 classification as a “contractor” with Uber and Lyft they do not withhold taxes, so you’ll be responsible for paying your state’s income tax as well as federal taxes.
  • Perks – Some drivers offer water, hand sanitizer, candy and other items to riders to improve their customer service, but it’s not required.
  • Phone and Data Plan – You must have a smartphone to drive (which can be upwards of $500) and a larger data plan to use the app to find riders, and GPS to get you to destinations.
  • Other equipment – Including a phone holster for safety and pepper spray (if you’re concerned about safety).
  • Depreciation of Car Value – Driving for Lyft or Uber can add miles onto your vehicle depreciating it’s value.

Car payments, oil changes and ongoing maintenance are not listed above since you would be paying those regardless of whether or not you were a ride-sharing driver, but you should still consider factoring those expenses into your total income.

If you are required to pay tolls, airport taxes and/or other fees that are specific to your situation and location, those are passed through to your rider, so you won’t be on the hook (thankfully).

Driving Tips

This driver explains some of the hidden costs mentioned above as well as some additional tips to keep in mind once you become a driver to help create a pleasant driver experience, boost your ratings (and thus keep your job).

Driver Testimonials

Below are some reviews from drivers for Lyft and Uber (one good and one bad for each so you can get both perspectives).

Lyft Driver Reviews

Being a Ride-share driver has many great perks, one has to be good at navigating while talking to your passenger and not skipping an exit, because one can get wrapped up in good conversation. Know the cool spots and great food recommendations, an occasional night club or cafe recommendations are also good to know. Being sharp and proficient with knowing the grid system in Chicago is recommended. As a driver I enjoy the flexibility Lyft’s gives you to be able to log on to the platform to make money at what ever time of the day. -Current Driver in Chicago, Indeed 2/26/2015

I just started working for Lyft. It doesn’t seem possible to make a living or a profit when you consider time, gas, maintenance, car note and insurance. I was surprised to see what the customer pays and there is nothing extra if you have 4 people in your car. I contacted Lyft because I think you should make more if 2 or more people are in your car or get a gratuity. They responded that Lyft encourages socializing, wow at my expense? I had 4 young guys get in my car and I’m a woman and they hassled me wanting to play misogynistic rap in my car. They changed my music and keep wanting to turn the music up loud. I didn’t feel safe. I suggested that Lyft let you know when you have multiple riders for safety reasons. When I have contacted Lyft the response feels like it’s coming from a non experienced kid. I don’t feel like the driver’s safety is a priority. There doesn’t seem to be much respect for the driver. -Former Driver in Chicago, Indeed 1/2/2016

Uber Driver Reviews

I really enjoy the flexibility that this company offers. The down side is that they don’t take taxes out for those that are driving for Uber due to being an independent contractor. Read up on this topic here. As far as a typical day at work, you make your own schedule. When you drive, you get to choose where you go to work, and wait for Uber to alert you to the next client that needs a ride. You start and stop the ride on your phone, and rely on a GPS map to get you to your client, and where they desire getting dropped off at. What I learned was a little more about the independent contracting issue and taxes, and keeping great records for what mileage, gas, and other related expenses for your personal vehicle. There is self management besides the surge hours of when people use Uber the most during the day. Co-workers, I never met any except the person that I referred to drive with me. The hardest part of the job would be dealing with a lot of out of people with all different walks of life. Some can be really cool, and appreciative, yet there are the ones who are hard to please, and you’ll see the result on the grading scale they have you use. It goes both ways, you grade the rider, and they grade you. They also don’t put you with clients that you have rated lower than 3 stars. Which is really nice. -Current Driver in Colorado, Indeed 2/14/2015

I have been driving for a year now mostly in the Bay Area of Northern California. I found that most of the passengers are great and keep me doing this. What I don’t like is Uber management and lack of concern for their drivers. We are treated like second class citizens. Getting a hold of Uber for help is only done by email and can take a long time for a response. Email responses are cut and paste answers. Navigation is done by air miles when notified of a call but the road miles will always be longer where it doesn’t make sense to take the call. Every time I work in a hilly area I get an email the next day telling I am turning down too many calls and threatened to be deactivated. I would like the CEO or any managers to drive for a month and to see how it really is!! We are constantly being threatened of subtly reminders that we can be deactivated. No immediate help is available. Rates are lowered with no warning and if you want to make good money you have to work late at night on weekends. Uber will change auto requirements with no warning. Many a driver had been left holding a car that he has to pay for that management decided for no good reason it is not good enough for their business. I am talking about cars like a Lincoln Town Car. It is good for working when you want and where you want but sometimes where you want to work has very little business. Feast or famine pay. No benefits, no job security, very little future. Some days I make [redacted] (very rare), and some days I make [redacted]. All and all I make an average of [redacted] an hour but then you have wear and tear on your car. You make the decision if you think it is for you. I also drive Lyft at the same time because Uber won’t keep me busy enough. -Current Driver California, Indeed 4/22/2015

Is It Better to Drive For Uber or Lyft?

Become a Lyft Driver | Become an Uber Driver

If you’re strictly basing your decision off of the amount of money you can make, then Lyft is the better option from the numbers we crunched. However, Uber is pretty “hush hush” when it comes to the average Uber driver salary and wages, which makes it difficult to compare vs. Lyft. But, you don’t have to pick one because, as of the time of publishing, you can drive for both (and many drivers do). Feel free to give them each a try and see which you like best and/or switch between services depending on the time of day, demand, etc.

Either way you go, a majority of drivers are making close to minimum wage (drivers in larger cities make more). Take your foot off the break and get to driving! You can also learn more on this topic including how to become a Lyft driver or how to become an Uber driver or if you’re ready to sign up visit their websites (links above) to start earning today.

Do you drive for Lyft or Uber and if so are you happy with your earnings?

Kimberly is always up for an adventure. She’s used to living out of a suitcase and travels consistently. Her first time out of the country was to Thailand, where she spent 4 1/2 months traveling throughout southeast Asia. Kimberly enjoys exploring new places and diving into new cultures. While Kimberly isn’t traveling you can find her trying a new recipe in the kitchen, spending time outside or just lounging at home.

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3 Comments on "Driving for Lyft vs Uber: Which Lane Should You Drive In?"

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Gary E
Gary E

I just heard on the radio that Lyft is offering a “tip” option for riders. As a rider, I’ve only ever used Uber. But now that I’m thinking about driving, it seems like being a driver for Lyft could lead to a lot more money with the tipping option. I wonder if Uber will roll out this option soon?

disqustang
disqustang

Maybe taxis aren’t overpriced after all.

DesignatedDriverDan
DesignatedDriverDan

I heard recently that Uber dropped its rate for customers and thus the payout for drivers will go down. More reason to drive for Lyft (plus they don’t take $1 a ride like Uber does). I don’t drink and am always driving my friends home fro bars, so figured this might be a good way to earn a little extra income while doing something I already enjoy doing (helping people get home safely).

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