Lyft vs Uber

Uber vs Lyft Shootout

By February 11, 2015February 10th, 20209 Comments


    Although Uber is the top dog in the rideshare wars, many drivers still find themselves gravitating towards other services like Lyft and Sidecar to maximize their earning potential.  Today, RSG contributor, Scott Van Maldegiam takes a look at Uber vs. Lyft (vs Sidecar) and compares everything from earning potential to quality of passengers.

    As we say in Chicago, if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.  In that respect, the rideshare industry is pretty much the same way.  Between promotions, rate changes, bonuses, and guarantees, there is a lot to keep track of.  Today, I’m going to bring it all together though.  I will focus on Uber and Lyft since they are the most widely available across the country, but I will also throw in some Sidecar stuff too.

    Fetch App

    Where Will I Make the Most Money?

    That, of course, is the million dollar question.  This answer won’t be the same for every market or even every driver within a market, but I’m going to do my best to help you figure it out.  I will break down the different elements that will affect how much you make and which service wins in each money-making category.

    Total Amount of Fares – Winner –> Uber

    A big component of how much you make is what your gross fare is.  But even this needs to be broken down into a few different categories.

    Number of Rides Per Hour – Winner –> Uber

    This metric involves two things: how long between ride requests and how long it takes to get to your next ride request.  Uber wins this category since it has the most riders and drivers (even though Uber riders make drivers wait for a longer time than Lyft and Sidecar riders).

    A driver will spend more time with a passenger using the Uber platform than on any of the other platforms.  This is what Uber has been trying to get across to drivers.  If this were the only metric, I would agree with Uber, but it isn’t the only metric that determines the total amount of fares.

    Rates – Winner –> Lyft

    Unless you have been living in a hole, Uber is pushing rates downward.  But it’s refreshing to see that Lyft and Sidecar have not followed suit… not yet at least.  With the latest rate changes, Uber is now the least expensive in most markets across the country.

    In fact, Lyft is actually the higher paying option in 38 markets, Uber is the highest in 8 markets and Sidecar is the highest in 5 markets with 3 markets being a tie.  Of course, these statistics are all based on a typical ride and doesn’t take into account that Sidecar still rounds to the nearest dollar.

    So, on a ride to ride comparison, Lyft’s fare will be higher than Uber and Sidecar in most markets.  Check out our updated Lyft vs Uber vs Sidecar rate spreadsheet to see the details for your market.

    Surge/PT – Winner –> Uber

    When it is busy, both Uber and Lyft will increase their rates through Surge or PT, respectively.  Most of the time, Uber’s surge will be higher than Lyft’s PT.

    With that being said, as more and more people become aware of Lyft and Sidecar, they have been avoiding Uber during surge times and opting for Lyft or Sidecar.  Uber also has a feature to notify riders when surge ends and more and more riders seem to be utilizing this option.  I give the slight edge to Uber.

    Commissions – Winner –> Lyft

    In this area, both services have seemed to settle into a 20% commission rate (although Uber has started to take a 25% commission in some markets for new drivers).  But if you drive over 30 hours for Lyft with 10 hours being peak qualifying hours, Lyft will actually rebate back half of the 20% commission.

    Lyft has said they were going to discontinue the Power Driver Bonus at the end of January, but going into February, they are still referring to the bonus in communications on The Hub, so evidently, it still exists.  And with the Power Driver Bonus, Lyft has the advantage.

    Alternatively, Sidecar has actually been doing some cool promotions for drivers recently.  They have had a “no commission” promotion the past few weeks and it’s been very lucrative for drivers like me.

    Tips – Winner –> Lyft

    This one has already been beaten to death but let’s do it again.  For now, Uber won’t change its app to allow tips and discourages riders from giving tips.  Lyft on the other hand encourages tips and allows riders to tip in the app very easily.  The bottom line is that drivers receive more tips when driving for Lyft but get a majority of rides on Uber.

    Related ArticleShould Uber Passengers Tip Their Drivers?

    I have to give credit to drivers for being persistent though in trying to get Uber to add a tipping feature.  From submitting online petitions to asking riders to submit feedback asking for the tip function, drivers have tried just about everything.

    But Uber has proven through its actions that it pays no attention to drivers’ or riders’ opinions for now.  All it looks at is data and is willing to try everything as long as it involves lowering fares.  Except for adding a tip function to the app, of course.  I am waiting for Uber to find an Irish charity to donate to for St. Patty’s day.  Ugh!  Needless to say, advantage Lyft.

    Ride Start – Winner –> Lyft

    With Uber, the actual ride starts when the driver says the ride starts.  The driver is supposed to start the ride when the rider enters the vehicle.  With Lyft, the ride starts 60 seconds after the driver presses the “arrive” button.  Lyft riders tend to come out faster than Uber riders anyways though and this feature only emphasizes that.

    With Sidecar, the ride starts when the driver presses the button that the rider is in the car.  Sidecar provides a timer in the app after the driver hits the arrive button.  Once this timer runs out, the driver can “no show” the rider.  A cancellation fee always accompanies the no show with Sidecar.


    While we all drive so we can make some money, there are other factors that can make us want to drive for one platform over another.


    Drivers like guarantees.  It is good to know that if demand is less than expected, you aren’t wasting your time.  These vary by market and by platform though.  They also differ in their implementation.  For example, Uber gives a “fare” guarantee.  After commission though, the actual guarantee is much less.

    On a a $27/hr Uber guarantee, a driver is taking home only $20 after the 20% commission and safe rides fee.

    Sidecar, on the other hand, gives an income guarantee so you take home the entire amount of the guarantee.  When deciding who to drive for, make sure you understand how the guarantee is being calculated so you can compare the guarantees accurately.  While guarantees are great, keep in mind that there is no guarantee they will stick around.

    Related Article: Earn More By Working Less: Uber’s Fare Guarantees Hacked

    Quality of Rider

    In my experience Lyft has the friendliest passengers.  I think this is in part due to Uber going mainstream, it may also have something to do with how they market their service.  Riders are not going to treat their “private driver” (Uber) as well as their “friend with a car” (Lyft).


    Sidecar is a different animal completely from Lyft and Uber.  Right now, they offer shared rides in most markets and provide the full fare to the rider prior to the ride.  When riders know about Sidecar and understand the benefit, they use it.

    Sidecar is also rolling out product deliveries to all their markets over the next few months.  This will help to grow the number of drivers by keeping them busy.  This will put more drivers on the road and lower pickup times for riders requesting rides.

    In the month of January, they were offering guarantees of $30 during peak drive times.  They have continued doing this in February through a more complex process (hey are using the When I Work app).  A driver needs to select the shifts they want to work in order to receive the hourly guarantees and there are only a certain number of shifts available.

    Sidecar is also generating a lot of demand by currently subsidizing shared rides.  This is their competitive advantage for now.  And on top of that, Sidecar is providing a bonus above the fare.  This bonus has varied from zero to 25% over the past few weeks.

    Tipping is also an option in the Sidecar app.  So far, I am averaging 7% in tips.  Sidecar provides this metric in the app.  It is hard to compare Sidecar to Uber and Lyft, but I am experimenting with Sidecar and, so far, it is paying off through the guarantees.

    One major disadvantage of Sidecar is when a rider doesn’t pay.  When a rider doesn’t pay, a driver has to wait 2 weeks before that payment is available to be collected by the driver.  So far, I have seen that this happens about two percent of rides.

    There is a certain amount of “coolness” factor for Sidecar too since it is less known than the others.  Riders are proud that they are using Sidecar because they feel like they are smarter than their friends.

    We’ve updated our Lyft vs Uber vs Sidecar Fare Calculator.  Take a look for yourself and compare the driver payouts in your city!

    Drivers, what do you think about our Lyft vs Uber vs Sidecar analysis?  Is Uber still the top dog or do you see Lyft and Sidecar taking more market share in 2015?

    Drive for Sidecar And Get $100

    SidecarNew Sidecar drivers get $100 when you use my referral code (SCOTT800) and sign up here.

    -Scott @ The Rideshare Guy

    Scott Van Maldegiam

    Scott Van Maldegiam

    I'm Scott, a full time health benefits consultant and rideshare driver. I spent 11 years working for Motorola and Tellabs using my EE degree and MBA before transitioning into the mortgage industry where I spent 6 years. I then spent 5 years in the cycling industry before transitioning into health insurance.