It used to be that if you needed a ride – getting home after a night out or getting to the airport – you’d need to either call the local taxi service operating in your area or, if you live in a heavily trafficked city, hail a cab on the street.

The transportation landscape has changed drastically over the years. With the ubiquitousness of smartphones and the apps they power, competition for your ride dollar has flooded the marketplace. Increase in competition brings an increase in the quality of service and a decrease in cost for the consumer. But the consumer is also faced with a dilemma – which app is going to provide the best service at the best price?

Let’s take a look at the differences in the two companies, then based on the information your can decide which is better for your own needs. Thay way, you can make a more informed decision about which app you use to get you where you need to go.

The History

The story of Lyft dates back to 2007 as a side project for Zimrides – a rideshare matching platform for people looking to carpool long distances. Lyft launched its app in 2012. By that time Uber had already been on the market for nearly 3 years and was making quite a name for itself.

Uber was founded in San Francisco in 2009. The Uber app was developed in 2010. And in 2011, Uber expanded to New York City and Paris. So, while Lyft may have come up with and started developing the concept first, Uber was quicker to put it into practice.

Branding

Uber has focused its brand image on trying to attract business people. They put an emphasis on the more high-end and prestigious cars they can propose. And they encourage their drivers to act in a professional, business-like manner. Depending on the city and on the time of the pick-up, Uber rides can often feature a well-dressed professional driver who will get out of the car, help with your bags, and open the door for you.

On the other hand, Lyft tries to present itself as a more casual, friendly ride-hailing company. This is reflected in their slogan, “Your Friend With a Car.” 

In recent years, Uber has been the subject of a number of scandals and lawsuits, some involving their users being assaulted by the drivers. Lyft, for the most part, has managed to avoid that kind of negative attention. However, both companies have taken steps to try and address the problem, including easy access to emergency services from their respective apps.

It is worth noting, that there are far more people using Uber than Lyft – not to mention that Uber is worldwide while Lyft only operates in North America. So while the few negative stories that have come out about Uber are unfortunate and tragic, statistically they are no worse than other rideshare services, including taxis.

Who’s Driving?

Many rideshare drivers who use these platforms are not exclusive to one or the other. While each individual driver may have his or her preference, in most cases drivers are registered with both apps. As a rider, you may take an Uber one week, then the next week go on a Lyft ride and find yourself in the same car, taking the same route with the same driver behind the wheel.

Drivers for both Uber and Lyft are considered contract workers, meaning they work for themselves and are not technically employees of the respective companies. However, this status is continually being challenged. In 2020, for example, a court in California issued an injunction preventing these apps from qualifying their drivers as independent contractors. But that injunction was later superseded by California voters in Proposition 22.

Uber and Lyft are merely apps that connect drivers with people in need of a ride. They provide customer support, logistical support, and they facilitate payment. To date, they do not employ drivers, and, by extension, they attempt to distance themselves from tax obligations, employee insurance, and potential liabilities.

The two services are easy to sign up for. However, rideshare drivers who have signed up for both report that Lyft was much quicker in accepting their application.

Both Uber and Lyft, however, conduct background checks on the drivers who use their apps. The standards applied vary from state to state or region to region.

Requirements to drive for Uber

Minimum age – To be an Uber driver, you must meet the legal age requirement of the city you drive in. Beyond that, Uber doesn’t have a strict age minimum.

Driving history – You must have a minimum of one year of licensed driving experience – or 3 years if you are under 23 years old.

Background check – Convictions for or pending charges of violent offenses, sexual offenses, or terrorism-related offenses will disqualify an applicant for working with Uber.

Requirements to drive for Lyft

Minimum age – The minimum age requirement to drive with Lyft ranges from 21–25 years old, depending on the state.

Driving history – Some states require additional years of driving history, especially for younger drivers, but overall to be eligible to drive for Lyft you must have had your license for at least 1 year.

Background check – You may be not eligible to drive for Lyft if you have been convicted of driving under the influence within the past 7 years; if you have been convicted of a violent crime or sexual offense; or have been convicted of a fraud-related offense, a drug-related offense, or a property-damage related offense within a given timeframe that varies according to regional jurisdictions.

To compare Uber with Lyft from the perspective of a driver, check out this thorough article on driving for both Uber and Lyft.

What Are They Driving?

Both Lyft and Uber have requirements for the kinds of vehicles drivers use. Additionally, they offer their clients different ride experience options which have their own vehicle standards to meet as well.

Vehicle requirements for Uber

To drive for Uber, your vehicle must have at least 4 doors and be able to transport a minimum of 4 passengers. The vehicle must not be any older than 15 years and cannot have any cosmetic damage such as large dents or missing pieces, and it cannot have any commercial branding or advertising paint jobs.

While most drivers use their everyday car, other drivers prefer to use a car that they do not own- for example, by renting a car with HyreCar. This helps them avoid the cost of depreciation of the car’s value with the extra usage. But to implement this strategy, you must be listed as an insured driver on the vehicle’s insurance policy or hold an insurance policy that covers you when driving the rental car.

Depending on the city you are driving in, there may be additional requirements to meet.

Depending on your vehicle, you could be eligible for one or several of Uber’s other products:

Uber XL – SUVs that seat up to 6 people

UberSELECT – 4-door luxury sedans that seat up to 4 passengers

UberBLACKhigh-end luxury vehicles that seat up to 4 passengers

UberSUV – high-end SUVs that seat up to 6 passengers

Vehicle requirements for Lyft

To drive for Lyft, your vehicle must have four doors and a minimum of five seat belts – including the front seat. The age and condition of the vehicle vary from state to state.

Lyft does not allow certain subcompact models. Check out this article for a list of subcompact vehicles Lyft does not allow.

Additionally, Lyft has their own car rental platform that operates in a similar way as HyreCar, but they do not allow for competition and, thus, require all cars to be rented through their rental agency.

Depending on your vehicle, you could be eligible for one or several of Lyft’s other products:

Lyft XL – any vehicle that seats up to 6 passengers

Lyft Premier – high-end luxury vehicles that seat up to 4 passengers

How the Uber App and Lyft App Work for Drivers?

When you sign up to be a driver with the Lyft app, once you’ve passed the background check and your application has been approved, you will be sent a welcome kit that should arrive in 1 to 2 weeks. The kit includes a Lyft emblem that should be displayed in the bottom-right corner of your windshield, as well as a ‘getting started’ manual.

When you are ready to start giving rides, you simply log in to the app and slide the steering wheel icon to the right to start receiving ride requests. When a ride request comes in, you’ll get a notification with the client’s name, pickup time, and ride type. You’ll have 15 seconds to accept the request before it is sent to another driver.

The Uber app works in much the same way. You go online when you want to receive ride requests. You are sent requests and can accept or decline them as you wish. It’s worth noting that having a low request acceptance rate could impact you getting requests in the future, and it could limit your eligibility for bonuses.

Both Uber and Lyft are constantly looking for new ways to improve the experience for their drivers. Uber has recently taken measures to make tipping easier and a more prominent feature for the rider, and they have adjusted their pay scale which has resulted in a reported increase in drivers’ earnings.

Though Uber has made several rate cuts, the increase in earnings could be due to an increase in usage of the app. So, while a driver may not make as much for one fare as they did 3 years ago, their overall earnings have gone up due, in part, to an increase in rides and an increase in bonuses and surge pricing for operating in times of high demand.

Despite the increase in earnings over the last few years, in a recent survey on driver satisfaction working with Uber and Lyft, many drivers for both Uber and Lyft have expressed concerns. Among reasons for their dissatisfaction, they cite being constantly overwhelmed and the desire to earn more money.

How the App Works for Riders

Both Lyft riders and Uber riders report a similar positive user experience. The respective apps are simple and easy to use. You simply enter your starting point or pickup location and your destination and you are given driver options, their expected time of arrival and estimated price. Once you have confirmed your choice, the app will notify you when the driver is a minute away.

Payment is done automatically through the ride-hailing app so there is never a need to exchange money with the driver.

While both ride-hailing apps are quite similar and offer essentially the same service, there are a few small to major differences.

Uber caters more to business people. Their app is more intuitive when it comes to scheduled rides and they offer a few more options in terms of the type of car they can provide.

Lyft is more transparent and straightforward in terms of its pricing. Understanding how Uber comes up with its price can be challenging at times. On top of the minimum fare, they factor in prime time pricing, rush hour, distance, and other factors that Lyft also takes into consideration. However, Uber manages to do it in a way that is often a bit confusing.

Which App Offers the Cheapest Ride Option?

The average cost varies from city to city, what kind of car, how many drivers are currently working, and, especially, when the ride is requested. There are too many variables to give a clear and definitive answer. But when users from the same city are polled and the data is collected, there isn’t much difference in price – and, if there is one, it seems to be minimal.

Most riders use both apps and make their selection according to the nearby drivers and the options that are available to them at that specific time. Uber passengers are also Lyft passengers, and vice-versa.

In general, on both apps, you can expect to pay $1 to start a ride, $2 per mile, and $0.25 per minute of the ride. Of course, if you ride during peak hours or in high-cost cities like New York, Seattle, and San Francisco, you can expect to pay slightly more.

Frequent Rides-Rider Subscription Plans

Uber Pass

Uber offers its loyal customers a special subscription plan known as Uber Pass. For $25 a month, users with this subscription plan benefit from priority airport pickups, a 10% reduction on certain economy rides and a 15% reduction on certain premium rides, free deliveries on orders that meet a certain minimum, and other perks.

With so many caveats to the subscription plan’s benefits, it’s difficult to tell if you actually save money or benefit much in the long run. But if you plan to make many Uber calls, it might be worth looking into.

Lyft Pink

Lyft offers its frequent riders a special subscription plan known as Lyft Pink. It’s designed for users who take at least 3 rides per week – or 2 rides plus a shared ride. The subscription plan only costs $20 a month. It gives users a 15% discount on all rides and complimentary scooter rides among other perks.

Takeaway

While some users prefer Lyft services and others prefer Uber, the overwhelming majority of users use both, depending on the availability and options at a given time. There is quite a lot of competition in this relatively new company, and both companies are constantly tweaking their product and their service to gain an edge over their competitors.

If you’re looking to compare Uber vs Lyft, your best bet is to use them both. That way you’ll have more options and, especially during peak usage times, there can be quite a difference in price.