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Lyft vs Uber for Passengers: Who Wins the Rideshare Race?

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Woman waiting for cab with cell phone in hand: Lyft vs UberTired of trying to hail a cab but need a ride on the fly? Don’t live in an area where it’s easy to catch a cab? Looking for an alternative to driving for a night out on the town? Try Uber or Lyft, the two most popular ride-sharing services that are both excellent alternatives to a traditional taxi. The ease of using Uber and Lyft is almost too good to be true. But times are changing, folks — so much so that taxi services are feeling the market squeezed by these services. Uber and Lyft dominate the market for easy, on-demand rides. You simply beckon with a mere click on your smartphone. But which one is better for riders? Here, we compare and review Lyft vs Uber so you can decide which service is best for you.

What to Expect as a Passenger

Before we get to our reviews, a quick guide about how these services work. Both Uber and Lyft are mobile app-based services that make it easy to find and summon a nearby available driver, as well as pay for your ride, all through your smartphone. Drivers hired by Uber and Lyft must undergo background and driving record checks, and in most cases they use their own cars, which are held to a high standard of upkeep and cleanliness. (Check our article, Driving for Lyft vs Uber, if you’re interested in becoming a driver.)

Lyft Review

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Lyft launched in 2012, and after just four years in business, it’s starting to give ride-hailing giant Uber a run for its money. Lyft has expanded quickly into more than 200 cities and 31 states in the U.S. Lyft has its devoted followers, who are typically looking for a more casual, quick ride to their destination. Lyft doesn’t offer the kind of high-end rides, like Town Cars, that Uber is known for.

With Lyft you have three choices:

  • Lyft, up to 4 passengers
  • Lyft Plus, up to 6 passengers
  • Lyft Line, which is like Uber’s Pool service where the driver can pick up other Lyft riders along your route

It’s more basic than Uber, but it gets you where you’re going.



  • Competitive rates (similar to Uber) during non-peak times
  • Only charges three times base rate during peak times (much cheaper than Uber)
  • Easy to use mobile app for iOS and Android
  • Generally higher customer reviews than Uber (57% five-star ratings on TrustPilot)
  • Payment options include credit/debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet
  • Driver tipping is not required but is an option
  • Relatively smaller presence than Uber in U.S. and not global (but they’re expanding fast)
  • Only three types of ride-sharing to choose from


The following are Washington, D.C. rates as of Jan. 26, 2016, for Lyft’s most basic service; however, rates change fairly frequently.

  • Base fare: $0.75
  • Cost per mile: $1.04
  • Cost per minute: $0.18
  • Safe ride fee: $1.65
  • Minimum fare: $5.00
  • Cancellation: $5.00


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Uber Review

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Since its inception in 2009, Uber has dominated the independent transportation/ride-sharing market. Uber is located in 68 countries around the world and has a huge presence in North America — nearly 200 larger to medium-sized cities and locations where there are large university campuses.

Uber offers a wider variety of ride choices compared to Lyft (although not all options are available in all of their locations). But in larger cities, your choices include:

  • UberX, which accommodates up to 4 passengers
  • UberXL, a larger car for groups up to 6 (often an SUV)
  • Black Car — a more professional set of wheels, similar to hiring a high-end town car with a professional driver
  • Pool, where the driver picks up other Uber riders along your route.
  • In some locations Uber also offers Uber Events, where you can hire their services for your event guests.



  • Larger U.S. and global presence
  • Wider variety of types of cars and ride-sharing
  • Competitive rates (similar to Lyft) during non-peak times
  • Easy to use mobile app for iOS and Android
  • Payment options include credit/debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet
  • Driver tipping is not required (or even available)
  • Charges up to eight times the base rate during peak hours (much more expensive than Lyft)
  • Customer reviews not quite as high as Lyft (44.8% five-star ratings on TrustPilot)


The following are Washington, D.C. rates as of Jan. 26, 2016, for Uber’s most basic service, UberX; however, rates change fairly frequently.

  • Base fare: $1.15
  • Cost per mile: $1.02
  • Cost per minute: $0.17
  • Safe ride fee: $1.35
  • Minimum fare: $5.00
  • Cancellation: $5.00


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How Does Uber Work?

For passengers, Uber and Lyft work in pretty similar ways via their smartphone apps. Check out this video by Uber to see how easy it is to find a ride on the fly.

Which Comes Out on Top? Lyft vs Uber


Lyft and Uber are pretty comparable in a majority of categories including customer service, off-peak pricing, ease of use and app performance. Lyft has less geographical coverage, but they’ll also save you money during peak driving times.

Ride Experience

One of the biggest differences between Uber and Lyft is the ride experience. If you’re looking for a more casual, sit-up-front, chatty kind of ride, Lyft is for you. It’s not that you can’t find friendly Uber drivers, but overall the Uber ride experience and company vibe is more professional. For some people, this could be perfect; for others it could be too stuffy.

Company Mission

While both Lyft and Uber are committed to providing an alternative transportation option, Lyft’s mission is geared more toward the positive environmental impact that results from ride sharing, according to Lyft CMO Kira Wampler as quoted in a National Public Radio article. Fewer cars means a reduced footprint on our planet. This focus may be enough to sway some potential riders to go with Lyft.

Who Wins the Race?

As you can see, there’s no clear winner in the Uber vs Lyft showdown. Each has its pros and cons, and it really comes down to availability in your location and what kind of ride you’re looking for. We highly recommend both Uber and Lyft for the would-be rider.

If you’ve tried both Lyft and Uber, do you prefer one service over the other? 

About Sally Jones
An international traveler since she was under 10 years old, Sally loves exploring the world’s mysteries first hand. Her favorite destinations? Greece and the British Virgin Islands. She grew up learning to question, explore, and discover new things and ideas — it’s probably why she went into journalism as a career! She loves what the Internet has brought to research and exploration, but she still hits the ground to travel whenever she gets the chance.

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2 Comments on "Lyft vs Uber for Passengers: Who Wins the Rideshare Race?"

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Thanks Sally for the insight into both companies, I am considering making a little extra money on nights and weekends and just got a new car so figured this would be a good way to pay it off. On Lyft, you say “Driver tipping is not required but is an option” do you make money purely off the base fare then? Hoping that Uber riders who aren’t used to tipping don’t accidentally not tip. Also, you mentioned a $5 cancellation fee, is that charged to the driver if they cancel? Didn’t realize there was a cost for that!

Sally Jones
Sally Jones

Thanks for your questions! This article is geared toward Lyft and Uber passengers. Please see our Lyft vs Uber article for potential drivers. Here’s the link: https://www.exploringlifesmysteries.com/int/driving-for-lyft-vs-uber/. This article will answer your questions about pay and give you more information about becoming a driver for either service. Also, the $5 cancellation fee is charged to the passenger, not the driver. Good luck! It can be a great way to earn extra money!


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