Do Drivers Make More Money With Lyft or Uber?

Drive with Uber 1

Lyft’s announcement on Monday that they would be bringing back commissions was big news in the rideshare world.  Obviously there are a lot of upset Lyft drivers out there but that’s why it’s more important than ever to drive for multiple platforms.  I’m not happy with the commission increase but we knew it had to come back at some point.  Businesses can’t just lose money forever.

Since I drive for both Uber and Lyft, I’m always concerned with how much each platform is paying.  In the past, it’s actually been pretty tough to keep up with the ongoing price-war between Lyft and Uber.  There have been times where I honestly didn’t know how much I was getting paid.  Some fare reductions would be covered by Lyft and Uber and others were covered by me!

Do Drivers Make More With Lyft or Uber?

The one thing that remained constant though was Lyft’s 0% commission.  For many months, Lyft has been the cheaper option for passengers and the higher grossing option for drivers.  Obviously things swing drastically towards Uber during surge/PT but during regular hours Lyft always had the upper hand.

Related Article: Guess How Much I Made Over The July 4 Weekend (Podcast)

Uber vs Lyft

I mentioned on Facebook the other day after Lyft’s announcement that Uber would now be the best option for most drivers.  One of my followers actually commented and let me know that in Denver, Lyft was still the higher grossing option even with the 20% commission.  Sure enough, he was right.

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I did a little research and discovered that pricing can vary wildly from city to city.  That discovery also inspired me to make a simple spreadsheet that allows for a few inputs and will tell you what service you should be driving for to maximize your earnings potential.  No more guessing and hoping that you’re making more with one service over the other.

Do Drivers Make More Money With Lyft or Uber?

At the end of the day, the most important thing to drivers is how much money we make.  I see people on the brink of insanity in the Facebook groups when their pay statement is late so obviously pay is an important topic.

For those of you who have been following this blog from the beginning, you know that I love to create spreadsheets.  I’ve done an Uber/Lyft fare analysis in the past and I maintain a list of every active rideshare company in the world but I think this latest one might be my most useful spreadsheet to date.

Over the past couple days, I pulled in all the Lyft and Uber pricing data from every city in the US that has both platforms.  I also collaborated with Sherpa to get average trip length (miles and minutes) for major cities across the US.  With those inputs and the pricing data, you’ll be able to compare Lyft and Uber payouts in every city across the US that has both platforms.

Related Article: Get Free Driver Analytics With Sherpa (Referral Link)

The spreadsheet is hosted on Google Docs so in order to edit it, you will need to download a copy onto your hard drive (as an excel file) or you can save it to your own Google Drive and edit it there.  Take a look at the results and then come back for some more discussion:

Lyft vs Uber Fare Calculations For All US Cities (Spreadsheet)

Spoiler alert, Uber is the big time winner.  I used inputs of 4.54 miles and 12.5 minutes based off data I got from Sherpa and Uber came out on top in 41 out of 54 cities.  This means Lyft is still the cheaper option for passengers in most cities but for drivers you will make more with Uber on average.  Lyft was the higher grossing TNC in 10 of the 54 cities we looked at while Uber and Lyft were tied in three cities.

I used an input of 10 hours drive time because I usually drive that much (or less) every week.  The tipping point occurs at 30 hours, that is the point where Lyft beats Uber in a majority of cities.  The most important thing for you though is to figure out which service pays more in your home city and go from there.

You can play around with the miles and time inputs but they won’t change the results much.  The biggest impact to earnings come from driving 30 hours or more.  I think these lower commissions are going to be a big boon for full time Lyft drivers since a lot of part time drivers like me will opt for Uber.  I never drive more than 10 hours a week so why would I drive for Lyft now if I can get enough Uber rides?

Money is definitely a big part of the Uber vs Lyft decision but it isn’t the only thing to consider.  In a future article, I’ll take a look at all of the fringe benefits of driving for Uber and Lyft: tips, quality of passengers, quantity of ride requests and more.  Stay tuned and if you’d like to be notified when this post or any new post is live, please subscribe to our e-mai list.

Readers, what do you think about the Lyft vs Uber Fare Calculation spreadsheet I’ve created?  Was the information useful or did you pretty much already know who to drive for?

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I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.
  • Pedro G Velez

    Thanks for your efforts Harry. We can never have enough data. I’m looking forward to playing around with the numbers.

    • No problem Pedro, this spreadsheet should be a lot easier to use but still provide some good insight for a lot of people.

      • Pedro G Velez

        Hey Harry, I know you’ve talked/written about Sherpa before. Any chance of a more detailed post or podcast on interpreting the info. It seems clear but there are 1or 2 features/metrics that I’m confused about.

        • Nothing in the works, but I can definitely work on something in the future. Just shoot me an e-mail with the questions you have or alternatively you can probably contact Sherpa directly. I know they just had a Q&A session with the founders a couple weeks ago and I’m sure they’ll have another one soon.

          • Pedro G Velez

            Thanks Harry.

  • Waleed Hamdan

    Don’t forget Lyft rounds down on fares, so drivers are losing out on those cents. Those add up

    • Waleed Hamdan

      So in Denver, Uber wins if both only take 20%. Drivers don’t keep T&S fee or SR fee, so the dollar is subtracted out before commission. So without the T&S fee for LYFT:$9.66(round down)=$9*80%= $7.20 driver’s earnings. Without SR fee for UBER:$9.13*80%=$7.30 driver’s earnings.

    • Hey Waleed, thanks for commenting. You’re right about the rounding down, I forgot about that.

      But the T&S/SR fees are currently negated by the spring pricing $1 bonus and the rider fee respectively for Lyft/Uber. So the numbers should be correct.

  • Frank Dubuy

    I’m in LA Ca, and Uber in addition to the 20% for their commission, they are going to begin charging $10 a week for the I-Phone, begining 8-31-14. Granted the turn by turn directions are nice, as is the improved GPS function. But where does all this stop? Who knows what they will start charging for next…..and just valueded @ 18Billon?

    • Hey Frank, yea the $10/week fee is pretty stupid IMO. You can get turn by turn, GPS, etc with a regular smart phone so why should you pay for a crappy iPhone 4?

      Honestly the cuts are getting a little ridiculous and unfortunately the only way to really show Uber that you’re not ok with it is to not drive as much. Talk is cheap, but if there aren’t enough drivers on the road and Uber pax have to pay high surge prices or can’t get a ride, that is the ONLY way Uber will make changes.

      One of the reasons why I started this site was so that I could be a voice for all the drivers out there. I’m hoping to keep on growing so that we can have someone to represent us and have some real power. So keep on sharing the site with all the drivers you know and hopefully we’ll get to that point sooner rather than later.

  • Scott Van Maldegiam

    We just got the announcement today from Uber on their changes for Chicago. They are permanently reducing fares by 15% and increasing their commission to 20% from 15%. Also, they are adding a $10 a week fee. All this starts 8/15. Don’t forget, the T&S $1 fee rebate ends at the end of August, as well for Uber in Chicago. This is a huge hit to Chicago Drivers. By September, the cut in pay will be significant assuming no change in surge pricing. Take my average fare of 11.19 (not including the T&S $1 fee). This means, I had been making $10.51 on this fare (11.19*.85 +1). With the changes, I will now be making $11.19*.85*.8 or $7.61. This is a whopping cut in pay of 27.6%!! On the bright side, with a mileage deduction of 0.55 per mile this year, at least I won’t have to pay Uncle Sam as much.

    Starting to wonder if this makes sense to driver for UberX at these rates.

    • Hey Scott, I actually just found out today that some cities (like Chicago/SF) only charge 15% and during our discussion, one of the guys got this e-mail, weird.. Anyways, I’m with you, these pay cuts are too much.

      I have been busy getting married and on my honeymoon for the past month so I haven’t had time to drive but to be honest, I’m not even looking forward to getting back out there. I’ll be lucky to clear $20/hr after expenses if it’s not surging.

      It’s definitely possible to still make decent money but more than ever you’re going to have to cherry pick your hours and really figure out ways to maximize your earnings. If I was doing this full time, I honestly think that I’d have to look for a different line of work at this point.

      • Scott Van Maldegiam

        I got a prepared response back from Uber. How do I know it was prepared before hand? Because it came back lightning fast. He did not even respond to the suggestions of adding a pickup radius to reduce gas/mileage costs as well as matching Lyft’s commission sliding scale in order to reward committed and loyal drivers. I am really thinking about adding Lyft as a ride share partner and see if that works better for me. Here is the response:

        Hi Scott,

        We take the matter of driver earnings very seriously, and do not make pricing decisions or cuts until we are positive that drivers’ well-being is intact. To this end, Uber paid the 25% summer price cut difference for two months so that we could ensure driver earnings would stay the same or even increase before we made the price cut permanent.

        Additionally, with this price cut we fully expect demand to continue to rise and driver earnings to increase. September is the beginning of the highest demand season on Uber and business will be at an all time high as we keep up with the new riders wanting to try the Uber system!

        In short, don’t be surprised if you find earnings match or even go above those of the summer as the year goes on.

        If you have any other questions, please let me know or check out our FAQ.

        Best,

        Adam G.
        Uber Chicago
        Partner Support Site

        Adam G.
        Uber Support

        • I wouldn’t expect much more from Lyft, they are accomplices in this whole racket but it’s ALWAYS a good idea to diversify your income. I might have to sign up for Postmates! haha

      • Scott Van Maldegiam

        Also, just so everyone understands why Chicago drivers will be screaming the loudest… Our trips are now based on… get this… 90 cents a mile and 20 cents a minute. I am pretty sure that is the lowest in the country. I have decided not to drive on Friday and Saturday in protest. Anyone want to join me?

        • Honestly I do think there is going to need to be some type of protest against these guys to make them realize they can’t just push us around.

          • Marc

            i stopped driving too, Scott. I let them know my frustrations and they don’t seem to care. I guess they will still find the drivers to do it for crappy money – however, eventually those drivers will turn off riders because they will have crappy cars and crappier attitudes.

          • It’s a tough situation to be in because there are always going to be people (new drivers) who are willing to come in and do the same job as you for less. I think the price cuts are temporary and pay will go back up but we’ll see what happens in a month or two.

        • Dee C

          Just started driving in Chicago and, the struggle is real !! (in between jobs- luckily won’t have to full time for much longer)

          I posted my earnings for this week, crunched the numbers and I’m not clearing $13 an hour with either – link below – Uber however is getting more mileage out of me for its buck. uber is no bueno.

          http://diydinero.com/2015/08/uber-vs-lyft-detailed-comparison-which-is-better-for-drivers-which-is-better-for-consumers/

      • Scott Van Maldegiam

        One more suggestion I passed along to Uber… Why don’t they offer us an option to buy out the phone? Heck, a brand new iPhone 4s is $450 on Verizon’s website. That is a heck of a lot less than paying $520 over the next year and beyond.

        • The $10/week isn’t for the phone, it’s for the data. The phone is a total POS that is probably worth less than $50 on the open market.

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  • Frank Fingerman

    FYI.. Your numbers for Uber Dallas are not correct in the spread sheet, As of 08/15 the$1.90 base rate has been eliminated and minimum fare is $5. Recalculate and you will see that Lyft gets the advantage with the new bonus plan.

    • Thanks Frank, you’re right. As I eluded to in an earlier comment, Uber just lowered their fares the day after I released my spreadsheet so I’ll need to update it this week when I get some time.

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  • Elizabeth Dobson

    I love what a little analyst you are! I am curious as well to see if Lyft is the winner for drivers since Uber undercut Lyft after you created this. Those bastards. I saw you following Rob’s page as well. I applied to be an ambassador and am going to see for myself if promotions are a better way to make money than driving. No gas, except for getting to and from wherever I’m promoting, no insurance issues, and I still get to meet awesome people. We will see!

    • Haha double whammy for me since I put all this work into the spreadsheet so I was pissed about that and I obviously wasn’t happy that they lowered fares but I’ll update it again this week when i get some time. And thanks, finally I get to put my Excel skills from my day job to some real work 🙂

      I’m actually working on a podcast that is going to have some great info on strategies for promoting to new drivers. I’ve been experimenting a lot over the past couple weeks and things have gone pretty well. I figured that guy Rob would be a good interview but he never got back to me so life moves on..

  • Great use of Sherpa data. Although I am a bit curious – Sherpa seems to have a limited number of drivers on the platform, which suggests to me that it may not be offering a complete picture (yet) of the realities of driving in any given city.

    • Thanks Dave, yes it definitely is limited data but I think for cities like SF with a ton of Sherpa drivers it should be somewhat accurate.

      I am collaborating with Ryder from Sherpa as we speak in order to get some more data on Uber vs. Lyft trip lengths. Like I mentioned in my latest article, if you get paid the same for Uber/Lyft but you are averaging 1 mile longer per Uber ride that is huge and really valuable data. That is the kind of stuff I want to know and share with all my readers.

      http://therideshareguy.com/should-i-drive-for-uber-or-lyft/

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  • Tyler Garrison

    Hi can you e-mail me the spreadsheet?

    • You should be able to open the spreadsheet in Google Docs and then save to your G Drive or download a copy as an excel sheet. Lmk if you’re having problems with that.

  • Robert Clark Lau

    Hey! Other than the fee these companies charge per ride, what other fees are charged? I am looking to start driving part time 10-15 hours a week.

    I know uber charges for the phone, does lyft do the same? How does that affect where I will make more money?

    • Uber now allows drivers to dl the driver app on their iphones, android app is on the way. No other fees than the standard commissions on every fare. Part time is the best way to go right now 🙂

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  • Dario

    I just joined Lyft using your link, is the $250 bonus still going on? Thanks!

  • Hey Harry, is it true Lift is giving a 5k bonus to NYC drivers with commercial licenses? seems like NY is the only place that requires the CL.

    • Hey RJ, yea I saw that Lyft is offering a $500 bonus for NY drivers with a commercial license after 20 rides and they guarantee you $5k for the first month if you drive 40 hours/week and $10k for the first month if you drive 60 hours/week.

      I think this offer was floating around in some e-mails so you may want to get it in writing or if you already have a license it can’t hurt to sign up and see how it goes since the sign up process should be free. Good luck my friend and please report back on your experience 🙂 You could also try tweeting them for a faster response. @lyft

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  • Di

    Hi ! I am looking at the Los Angeles tab, and can’t seem to find why passenger and trip costs are different for Uber and Lift when all fees/charges are the same?

    • Lyft used to round down so that’s why there’s a difference. I’ll be updating this spreadsheet shortly.

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  • Uber began telling riders tips were included but have changed and now simply state “no tipping required”!

  • I drive for both and I seems to make more money with Uber than Lyft.

  • I finally washed up with Uber due to unfair rating system.

  • jchasko

    You mention a zero Lyft commission. In Sac. We have a 20% commission which is bonused back at 50 hours a week, or half back at 30 hrs, if you drive most of the peak hours.
    Uber looks to have 25%, with no bonus, is that right? Is that for all cities?

    • Uber is 20% for most cities, but there are a few like SF where new drivers pay a 25% commission.

  • jchasko

    Are the spreadsheet fares after commission?

  • tnt

    Hey there. Does anyone know if I need to get a tlc license if I already have a cdl license with passenger endorsement to drive for uber or left?

  • Sinful blessing

    I live in Snellville ga. I’m really considering joining one of these companies. Any suggestions

    • Yea if you already have the car and the phone, might as well try it out 🙂

  • Dee C

    Thanks for the post! I’m new to ridesharing and am just learning how to track my earnings and time. Definitely going to download sherpa!

    I like the way you broke the numbers down, it is very different from the way I did mine. I might try to incorporate sherpa data to my next earnings breakdown. Check out my post about uber vs lyft in chicago, if you’ve got some time.

    http://diydinero.com/2015/08/uber-vs-lyft-detailed-comparison-which-is-better-for-drivers-which-is-better-for-consumers/

  • wp

    This “Go To” article needs a heavy overhaul. With all the changes Uber has done; upping commisions, Safe Ride fees, the game has completely changed. Is there an update coming?

    • I update the spreadsheet regularly, what aspects would you like to see overhauled? We’ve likely covered a lot of it already in recent articles – we release 4 per week…

      • wp

        I sampled a few on the spreadsheet. It is not an apples to apples comparison. Case in point – Sacramento. It appears you’re using UberBlack rates. In no way is that an equal comparison to Lyft rates.

        Ubers tactics and taking advantage of drivers is of chief concern. Most specifically how it’s being ignored and overlooked on a site dedicated to ridesharing. The latest fare hike to SRF is THE #1 issue affecting Uber drivers and upends the entire commision structure yet no mention or article discussing it. It lends credence to think collusion.

        • Yea that’s a mistake, I’ll fix that. Good suggestion for an article..probably not the best way to ask for it but I’ll see if I can get to it.

          • wp

            Apologies if it seemed I was rude, amongst other feel good stories the one concerning a drivers take home pay percentage per trip VS greater and greater commisions going straight to Uber seems like a no brainer headline story to me. The drivers need to know, badly. So many are in the dark. The new fee structure has been live for 2 weeks or more at this point.

            Forgive my frustration at the silence.

  • Neil Suri Sr

    i have cricket service on my iphone i am not getting the verification code from lyft after i have filled out application….can i use cricket for lyft it works fine with uber

    • Yea don’t see why not, keep requesting the code and hopefully it will go through. Otherwise, you could also try a google voice #.

      • Neil Suri Sr

        if i get the code on google voice then can i use lyft app on my iphone… what is the best service for using both uber and lyft

        • I’ve never heard of a carrier having problems with uber/lyft to be honest.

  • Gregory

    Fascinating! On its face, Lyft is the clear winner in Denver … the minimum gross pay to me for a small ride here is $2.40 for Uber! Can barely put the key in the car for that. The same number of Lyft is $3.40. Likewise, here where I drove most, in Boulder, the numbers are $3.20 Uber / $4.00 Lyft.

    (No matter the platform, the bigger rides are still my lifeblood.)