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9 min read

    9 min read

    Like Lyft more than Uber? You’re not alone! This week, we’ve challenged senior RSG contributors Jay Cradeur and Christian Perea to explain why they like Lyft (Jay) and Uber (Christian) more than the other service. Don’t agree with Jay today? Stay tuned for Wednesday, when Christian explains why he likes Uber more than Lyft.

    Want to be a Lyft/Uber driver? Click here to sign up to drive for Lyft or Uber.

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    Lyft vs Uber: Which is Better to Drive for?

    On Monday, I took my blue Prius to the local Firestone for the recommended monthly minor service. From there, I took several Uber trips around the city running errands and back to Firestone.

    I had three conversations with Uber drivers about their thoughts on Lyft vs Uber, and each one of them told me they drove exclusively for Uber. They presented some sound rationale for their driving decision. And still, after hearing all their well thought out reasons, I choose to drive primarily for Lyft.  While each driver will have his or her individual desires, wants and needs, mine lead me straight ahead toward Lyft as my primary rideshare company.

    Lyft Vs Uber

    Lyft Vs Uber

    Lyft and Uber: Always Sign Up for Both Apps

    While I drive almost exclusively for Lyft, I am also an active driver for Uber. It is important to have both companies available to you. You never know when one service will go down, such as what happened to Uber for a few hours back in 2016.

    Watch: How Can You Drive for Both Apps Safely? By Using This App

    In addition, you can’t prepare for when one of the services will deactivate you, such as what happened to me when Uber deactivated me for 6 weeks based on a technical glitch.  You could also be sidelined for paperwork deficiencies. Sometimes, it may be so darn slow out there that having both apps working for you to get you a ride will reduce wait time and increase your profits.

    Related article: Essential gear every Uber and Lyft driver should have

    Which Pays More in Bonuses, Lyft vs. Uber?

    Surge (Uber) versus Prime Time (Lyft)

    We have seen some big changes here.  In my market, the traditional surge Uber has offered for the past two years has changed.  Instead of offering a multiplier, for example, 2.5X, we are seeing a fixed amount of extra revenue added to a ride.   

    Another big change is you don’t need to have the ride come from a specific area. Instead, the surge is determined by where you, the driver, are located.  It is guaranteed. As long as you are in the surge area, you will get the surge amount on your next ride.

    In the first screenshot, you can see I have some driving to do to get to very high surge values.  It rained heavily on this morning and I was stuck in traffic returning from the airport. In the third screenshot, you can see that just by being at the airport, no matter where I get my next pickup, $13 will be added to my pay.  You will get to keep 100% of the surge values. Now let’s look at Lyft.

    By contrast, Lyft in San Francisco still pays a multiplier. In the first screenshot, we can see that if I am in the area and I can secure a passenger who originates from an area in the dark pink area, I could garner a 200% increase in my fare.  However, I could also get a passenger who is just outside of the area and get nothing.

    But that is only part of the story. If the passenger has a short ride, then the prime time value won’t be too high.  But if the passenger is both in the right area, and is going to the airport, suddenly a $25 fare becomes a $75 fare. Therefore, Lyft is more of a gamble with the potential for a big payout. Uber gives the driver more control with no potential for a big payout.  

    It is unclear whether one actually pays out more over time. Regardless, I will give Lyft the advantage here because I am an old timer and I love the opportunity to make a huge fare on a long ride. I want to ride the unicorn. 

    Other Bonuses

    This topic has to be a draw. Every market and every driver seems to get different bonuses. In San Francisco, four weeks ago, I was offered a Quest bonus, a Fair Car Rental bonus, and twice daily consecutive trip bonuses.  Now I am only offered the car bonus.

    If you drive for Lyft, you may be offered the Weekly Ride Challenge bonus. Your amounts will certainly be different than another driver in the same city.  Algorithms based on who knows what determine the bonus amounts which can change week to week. Lyft told me that bonuses were “randomly” assigned. That is doublespeak for BS! It is unfortunate that neither Uber nor Lyft offer a level playing field for all drivers to excel and be rewarded for doing so.  

    Besides bonuses and surges, there’s other ways to make money too. Check out our making more money and Freebird app review articles for tips on how to make more money.

    Being a Lyft Driver vs. an Uber Driver

    Lyft vs Uber: Rate of Pay

    Uber and Lyft walk hand in hand when it comes to changing the pay scale.  Just last week, Uber dramatically cut the per mile rate for drivers in Los Angeles, while increasing the per minute rate.  I have not done an analysis on what Uber calls “rate balancing” in Los Angeles. However, I am sure Lyft will follow suit.

    The same thing happened here in the San Francisco market.  Uber cut the per mile rate and increased the per minute rate and just a few weeks later, Lyft did the same thing. In my analysis of that rate rebalancing, I saw a net $30 cut per week on a 50-hour week, or a cut of 60 cents per hour.   If you take more long trips you will see a bigger cut. If you do more city driving, you won’t see much impact. Bottom line, we are seeing pay cuts from both Uber and Lyft, but they are not as dramatic as some would want you to believe.  In this case, this comes out as a draw between both companies.

    The App

    Both apps are amazing.  We can drive around, get a ping, follow GPS guided prompts, arrive, pickup, get more GPS guided prompts, drop off our passenger, see how much we just made, and even instantaneously pay ourselves.  We could even go to an ATM and pull out the cash if we wanted to. Mind-blowing!

    lyft vs uber

    I will give Lyft a slight advantage over Uber for two features.  First, it is much easier to screen rides with Lyft. This allows me to more easily control my work day and avoid long rides when I don’t want them.  Second, Lyft seamlessly integrates with Google Maps. I would prefer seamless integration with Waze, but I’m OK with Google Maps. With Uber, I have to push the Navigate button to initiate WAZE.  With Lyft, Google Maps fires up automatically. At 20 rides in a day, that is quite a bit less button pushing.

    The Passengers

    When passengers hear that I drive almost exclusively for Lyft, they ask me “Why?”  I answer: “Cats and Dogs.”  I explain that Uber passengers are more like cats. Quiet (probably one reason Uber introduced Quiet mode!).  Non-responsive. They are content to sit in the back and play with the smartphone.

    Uber Passengers

    Uber Passengers

    Lyft passengers are more like dogs. Dogs are friendly.  They want to engage.  They are enthusiastic and playful.

    Lyft Passengers

    Lyft Passengers

    While this is a gross generalization, it does ring true. The majority of Lyft passengers have, for one reason or another, rejected Uber.  They had a bad experience of some sort. Or they simply don’t vibe with Uber’s internal politics, or de-crowned CEO.

    Most Lyft passengers have chosen Lyft and seem happy about it. Lyft feels more like a little club and passengers and drivers are equals. Uber passengers seem to view drivers as the hired help. I choose dogs every time.

    Customer Service

    In my opinion, both are satisfactory at best.  I have had issues with both companies. Neither has an exemplary record.  While Uber is a bit more robotic, I have been able to get issues resolved with Uber.  Lyft, on the other hand, has stymied me on three different occasions. Rarely have I been so frustrated as trying to work things out with Lyft.  Lyft’s customer service has been terrible. Uber is actually better in this case!

    Destination Filters

    This is a huge topic since those destination filters can be used to manage your day in such a profound way.  Up until last week, Uber allowed you two uses per day and Lyft six uses per day. Last week, Uber removed the DF in New York and Dallas.  In some markets, Uber cut the DF rates by 30%. Uber also throttles the DF usage during busy driving times. I find that when I really want and need the Uber destination filter, it is not available.  This chart summarizes the differences.

    destination filter comparison lyft vs uber

    Since Lyft gives you 3X the uses, this one is a hands down winner for Lyft.  

    Who’s Better in the Battle Between Lyft vs. Uber?

    Lyft wins. Why?

    • The app is better
    • The destination filters are better
    • The bonus programs are, in general, better

    However, in your market, things may be completely different.  Your bonus structure could tip the scales toward Uber. Lyft may not even be in your market yet.  

    In the end, we all must evaluate our individual situation. This article points you to the main determinants for each company.  It is prudent to reevaluate your rideshare partners every year or so, or as major changes take place.

    Even though I will write here that Lyft is better, I drive for Uber because of the remarkable value of the Fair Car Rental program and bonuses.  It makes sense financially for me.


    Want to be a Lyft/Uber driver? Click here to sign up to drive for Lyft or Uber.

    Want to be a passenger and ride Uber or Lyft? Click here to sign up for Uber and get free ride credit. Click here to sign up for Lyft and get free ride credit.

    Do you prefer Lyft vs Uber, like Jay? 

    Read next: Essential gear every Uber and Lyft driver should have

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    -Jay @ RSG

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur, a graduate of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, is a full-time driver with over 26,000 rides. Jay has a driver-focused podcast: Rideshare Dojo with Jay Cradeur. When Jay isn’t writing articles or making videos, he is traveling the world. You can see what Jay is up to at www.nomadjay.com.