Want to make extra money rideshare driving? Which is better for drivers: Uber vs. Lyft?

Uber and Lyft offer side hustlers an easy and low-commitment way to make a buck. As long as you have a newish car, a smartphone, and a little extra time, then you can likely sign up to drive.

Overall, Uber and Lyft are incredibly similar companies, but subtle differences might encourage you to drive for one over the other. This comparison will break down what Uber and Lyft have to offer drivers, looking especially at driver pay, and exploring other factors like the sign-up process and using the app to drive.

Uber vs. Lyft: Getting to Know These Rideshare Giants

These days you can say the word “Uber” or “Lyft” and people know exactly what you’re talking about. Uber was founded in 2009 and has since grown to operate in over 900 cities worldwide. Lyft launched in 2012, first as Zimride, and it now operates in nearly 700 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Besides the reputation, name recognition, and reach, these two companies share many similarities that make it difficult to decide which one to drive for.

Uber and Lyft both:

  • Have 24/7 availability, meaning flexible hours available for any kind of side hustle schedule
  • Let drivers long into the app and pick up fares whenever they have the time to make extra money
  • Have drive and vehicle requirements that must be met before you can start working
  • Do a criminal background check and vehicle history check for each driver
  • Use a formula to calculate driver pay that includes time of day, mile driven, and type of vehicle on top of base pay
  • Let riders add a tip at the end of their ride — Uber and Lyft drivers keep 100% of tips
  • Offer drivers bonus pay when they drive during busy times
  • Have rental car options for people who want to drive for Uber or Lyft but don’t have a vehicle of their own

On the surface, it appears that Uber and Lyft are nearly identical, but these companies aren’t the same. Lyft, for example, has more of a fun, friendly, and whimsical brand identity. Uber has curated a more professional and business-friendly look through it’s high-end UberBlack service.

There are also differences in how much drivers make, and that’s key if you’re interested in driving for Uber or Lyft. Let’s get into driver pay next because it can be a major deciding factor.

Who Pays Better, Uber or Lyft?

That’s the question would-be Uber or Lyft driver want the answer to more than anything. And it makes sense. If you choose one of two very similar companies, you want the one that pays the best.

Several factors go into how much Uber and Lyft drivers make, including which city you’re driving in and when. Survey data suggests that Uber drivers earn around $2 more per hour than Lyft drivers despite those factors.

I want to clarify that rideshare drivers aren’t paid hourly wages, but you can calculate hourly pay with the dollar amount made per week / total number of hours worked per week.

You get a much better idea of your hourly pay if you use the entire week because there are certain days and times when riders are paying more per ride, which increases your driver pay. It’s also essential to use the full number of hours you dedicated to rideshare driving for the week, not just the number of hours you were literally driving.

Those who drive with both Uber and Lyft report that approximately $6 of their hourly pay goes towards driver expenses, including rideshare insurance, vehicle maintenance, car payments, gas, etc.

While Uber drivers report higher hourly pay, Uber actually takes more in driver commissions than Lyft. Here’s the commission that each company reports to take from each rider’s fare:

  • Uber takes a 25% commission
  • Lyft takes a 20% commission

However, the reality is that both companies end up taking a higher commission, anywhere from 30% to 40% of each fare. The 20% and 25% commission is on miles and time, and that’s true for both companies. But both companies may take more for things like a safety fee or airport fee. That’s where the commission gets closer to 30-40%.

Generally, the shorter the ride, the higher the commission. Keep that in mind when you start driving!

Uber vs. Lyft: Driver Sign-Up

The sign-up process for each company is straightforward. Both companies consistently hire new drivers, so it shouldn’t be difficult for you to start driving soon.

Before you try to sign-up, you will want to make sure you meet specific driver and vehicle requirements.

Looking for a flexible side hustle?

Delivering with Uber Eats is a great option for anyone who wants to choose their own hours and make money in their spare time. 

Uber driver requirements:

  • Meet the minimum age to drive in your city
  • Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you are under the age of 23)
  • Have a valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Have an eligible 4-door vehicle (not older than 15 years old, not salvaged, and no body damage)

If you meet those requirements,

The next step is submitting the following documents to Uber:

  • Valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Proof of residency in your city, state, or province
  • Proof of vehicle insurance
  • A driver photo

Uber will run a driver screening to review your driving record and criminal history. You can check the status of your application online or in the Uber driver app. The background check takes around 5 to 7 days.

Lyft driver requirements:

  • Meet the minimum age to drive in your city
  • Have a valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Have an eligible 4-door vehicle (not older than 15 years old; not salvaged; no body damage; minimum of five seatbelts, maximum of eight seatbelts; and no more than 350,000 miles on the vehicle)

If you meet those requirements,

The next step is submitting the following documents to Lyft:

  • Valid U.S. driver’s license
  • License plate number
  • Proof of residency in your city, state, or province
  • Proof of vehicle insurance
  • A driver photo

Lyft also runs a driver screening to check your driving record and criminal history, and it takes about seven days to complete. As of 2019, all Lyft drivers must go through a Community Safety Education Program before driving, and it explains how to deal with dangerous or difficult situations so everyone can feel comfortable during rides.

Uber and Lyft will waitlist applications if there are too many drivers in your area, and they do this to ensure that there are enough rides to go around for drivers to earn a decent amount of money.

What It’s Like Driving for Uber vs. Lyft

As a driver for each company, you will rely heavily on the driver apps. The app is where you log in to start driving for the day, pick up fares, get directions, get paid, etc. Overall, both Uber and Lyft’s driver apps are incredibly intuitive.

Driving for Uber

Uber starts new drivers off by going through some tutorials so you know how to use the app. There’s also an online help center if you have any questions.

You will log into the app and click the “Go” button, and the app starts looking for requests from riders in your area. The app pings when there’s a request, and you can see the destination and estimated fare upfront.

Drivers can accept or decline fares, and you want to accept them as quickly as possible. If you don’t, the fare will go to another driver, and it counts as if you declined the ride. Uber rewards drivers who accept more fares — it’s how you earn certain incentives that increase your pay.

The Uber driver app tells you exactly where to go, but you can take directions from the rider if you want.

Once the ride is over, the passenger can add a tip if they want, and they’ll rate you. Uber didn’t always encourage tips, but they do now, and Uber drivers keep 100% of tips.

Driving for Lyft

Lyft gives drivers a digital Lyft Driver Guidebook to start that includes many tutorials to help them get started. The tutorials walk you through key parts of using the app so you feel comfortable starting to drive. Some tutorials are mandatory and others are only suggested.

When you’re ready, log into the app, and you’ll get a ping with the passenger’s picture and star rating. Like Uber, you can accept or decline. But Lyft will contact you with a warning if you decline too many rides.

The Lyft driver app gives you directions to pick up the rider — you’ll be able to contact the rider in the app if you’re struggling to find them or have any issues with the pick-up location.

After picking up the passenger, you’ll need to verify that by clicking or swiping in the app. From there, the app will pull up directions to their destination.

You will have to end the ride in the app once the passenger is dropped off. They can add a tip and will rate you in the app. You’ll also need to rate your passenger. Lyft drivers also keep 100% of their tips.

Incentives, Bonuses, and Rewards for Uber and Lyft

Here’s where you have the opportunity to make the most money driving for either company. Bonus, incentives, and rewards can supplement your earnings, and they’re more common during the busiest times in the busiest locations.

Lyft driver promotions

Lyft has real-time and scheduled bonuses. Real-time bonuses pop up suddenly in the driver app because there’s a sudden high demand. Scheduled incentives appear in the app at the beginning of the week, and they can help you plan your hours.

Here are Lyft’s driver bonuses:

  • Personal Power Zone: These appear in the app when more passengers are available than drivers in your specific location. These pay a flat rate bonus per ride, like $1.50 to $3.50+. Sometimes they happen in real-time, but Lyft may schedule them before large events.
  • Ride Streaks: This is a multiple-ride bonus you can earn for accepting back-to-back ride during busy hours. Ride Streaks are scheduled during weekday commute hours and busy holidays like New Year’s Eve. St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween, for example.
  • Earnings Guarantee: If you can commit to completing a certain number of rides in a set amount of time, Lyft will guarantee a dollar amount for your pay. Lyft covers the difference between your actual earnings and guaranteed earnings if your fare is less.
  • Ride Challenges: This is a multi-ride bonus you can earn for completing so many rides within a set timeframe. New Ride Challenges are put in the app every Monday, and they might be something like “Complete 10 rides between Monday and Friday to earn an extra $25.”

Lyft also has a three-tiered rewards program that incentivizes drivers to drive during busy hours and keep their ratings high. The highest level, Platinum, comes with free 24/7 roadside assistance from Allstate and free Self-Employed TurboTax.

Uber driver promotions

Overall, Uber has fewer driver promotions than Lyft, but the ones they offer can boost your overall pay. Uber bases its promotions on market factors like rider demand and driver availability.

Here are Uber’s driver bonuses:

  • Consecutive Trips: This promotion pays drivers an extra dollar for completing a set number of consecutive trips during busy times of the day. For example, you might earn an extra $15 for completing 4 trips in a row during rush hour traffic.
  • Quest: The Quest Promotion is when you complete a certain number of trips over multiple days. This could be something like an additional $75 for completing 25 trips over 3 days.

Then there is Uber Pro, which is a rewards program to encourage drivers to accept more rides and maintain a high rating. Your level is determined based on ratings and points earned over a 3-month period.

Uber Pro comes with perks like 5% cash back at gas stations with your Uber Visa Debit Card, discounts on auto maintenance, and free dent repairs. The coolest reward is that you can receive 100% free college tuition for Arizona State University’s online degree program, which extends to your family as well.

Looking for a flexible side hustle?

Delivering with Uber Eats is a great option for anyone who wants to choose their own hours and make money in their spare time. 

Is It Better to Drive for Uber or Lyft?

Uber and Lyft are both legit ways to make extra money, and they can be a solid side hustle for many people. Uber drivers typically make a little more on average, approximately $2 an hour more. But Lyft offers drivers more promotions, which only increase their earnings.

The reality is that you don’t have to pick one — you can drive with both Uber, and Lyft as many drivers do.

Drivers who work for both companies will keep both apps, sometimes on two separate phones, and accept the rides with the best fares. The danger is that not accepting rides can hurt your ratings, and both Uber and Lyft have programs that reward drivers with high ratings.

You can try out both and see if one service is more popular in your area, and you can also see if the ratings reward programs are worth it or not. Some drivers may find that going with the higher fare is a better choice financially.

FAQs

Can you drive for both Uber and Lyft?

Yes, and many drivers do this to increase their chances of earning. Many drivers even keep both apps open at the same time to make sure they’re available for as many rides as possible.

Can I be a food delivery driver and rideshare driver?

Yes, and Uber has their Uber Eats program that you can drive for at the same time. The Uber app makes it easy to switch back and forth between rideshare and food delivery. Lyft doesn’t have a dedicated food delivery service, but you can still deliver for Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash, Instacart etc.

Can you earn tips?

Yes! Drivers for both Uber and Lyft keep 100% of their tips. If you offer a sweet ride and stellar service, you’ll increase your chances. I’ve experienced drivers going out of their way to earn tips, from offering mints to having phone chargers ready and plugged in.

What if you don’t have a car and still want to drive?

One option is to rent a car from a HyreCar, which is a peer-to-peer car rental platform where people can rent out their car to rideshare and food delivery drivers. HyreCar costs around $24-$40/day.

Uber drivers can rent cars through the Uber Vehicle Marketplace, and they estimate that it costs $214/week on average to rent a car with them.

Having the option to rent is great, but it will seriously eat into your take home pay, so I would be wary of renting on a full-time basis. HyreCar and Uber’s Vehicle Marketplace are better options if something happens to your car and you want to keep driving while it’s fixed.

Do I need special insurance to drive with Uber and Lyft?

Yes and no. Uber and Lyft have special rideshare insurance that covers you while you have the app on and you’re waiting for a fare, but it’s liability only. Once a passenger is in your car, you’ll also be covered by comprehensive and collision insurance.

But, your car insurance company is unlikely to cover you during that first phase, and they may even cancel your policy if they find out you’re driving for money. This is why special rideshare insurance is recommended.

GEICO, Allstate, Progressive, and State Farm are a few of the insurance companies offering rideshare-specific coverage. You can expect to pay around $15/month for coverage.