Lyft vs. Uber: Which Rideshare App Is Best for Drivers?
By now, you probably know the gist of driving with ride-sharing services: You use an app to connect with people who need rides. You drive them somewhere in your own car, and they pay automatically through the app.
The two biggest players in the space — Uber and Lyft — continue an intense rivalry, despite offering pretty much the same service and neither riders nor drivers usually knowing why they choose one or the other.
If you’re thinking about joining the ranks of rideshare drivers, which app should you use?
Lyft vs. Uber: What Both Apps Offer Drivers
How each app works for drivers is fundamentally the same. You can sign up to drive online or through the app.
You log in when you want to work, wait for a notification that means someone’s hailed a ride, then pick them up and drop them off at their destination.
You earn money based on how many rides you take, and you automatically get paid each week (or more often, if you choose) through direct deposit. Same for each.
Both apps also offer robust in-app support for drivers so you can easily contact customer service if you run into any issues.
Driver Requirements for Uber and Lyft
Meet min. age/city
Meet age rule/region
1 year driving experience (or 3 years if you’re under 25)
1 year driving experience
Valid U.S. driver’s license
Valid U.S. driver’s license
Criminal/DMV background check
Proof of insurance
Proof of insurance
Proof of state residency
iPhone or Android phone
Vehicle requirements vary based on state or local regulations. They’re similar for both services, with a couple small differences.
Vehicle Requirements for Uber and Lyft
|Uber Vehicle Requirements
|Lyft Vehicle Requirements
Meet city age rules
Meet region age rules
Seatbelts for 4 passengers
Seatbelts for 4 to 7 passengers
Good condition/2007 or newer
Pass safety inspection
No commercial branding
If you don’t have a car that meets the requirements, each company offers rental options or discounts to buy in some cities:
- Uber’s Vehicle Solutions lets you rent a vehicle by the hour or the week and apply for a flexible lease with unlimited mileage. Payments are deducted from your Uber earnings.
- With Lyft’s Express Drive rental option, you can rent partner Lyft vehicles with a flexible lease and no long-term commitment.
You can even use the car you rent as your everyday car, regardless of how much you drive it with Uber or Lyft.
How Much Can You Earn With Lyft vs. Uber?
Like any other sharing-economy gig or freelance work, Uber and Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors in all 50 states.
That means your earnings are largely based on how much you want to work, how you manage your time and how much you earn per ride. (Here’s a snapshot of how Lyft drivers made $1,000 a week or more recently.)
Driver earnings for both apps are similar. Riders pay a base rate plus extra cost per minute and per mile.
As a driver, you earn based on how many rides you take, and how far you drive for each. You’ll get an earnings boost when you drive during high-demand times — like rush hour or during a local special event — called “surge pricing” with Uber and “peak hours” with Lyft.
Surge pricing can really help boost your Uber earnings. During the busiest times, it’s not uncommon to find an Uber ride boosted by three or four times the regular price, according to Ridestar.com, a site dedicated to ride sharing apps.
Both Lyft and Uber offer tips, which drivers get to keep 100%.
How Much Does Uber Pay?
The average salary for Uber drivers across the U.S. is just over $63,000 a year, or $19.18 per hour, according to Indeed. However, drivers’ exact earnings will depend on where they live, distance driven and tips.
How Much Does Lyft Pay?
The average salary for Lyft drivers across the U.S. is $72,952 a year, or $22.05 an hour, according to Indeed, but that can vary widely by location. The majority of your earnings are based on the time and distance driven, according to Lyft. But tips and bonuses add to your earnings.
What Lyft Offers That Uber Doesn’t
Lyft operates in all 50 states (and three Canadian provinces), offering full coverage in 40 states. Drivers can pick up anywhere in those states, instead of being restricted to a metro area. According to Lyft, this means the platform covers more than 94% of the U.S.
Lyft also offers Amp, a nifty device that makes it easier for drivers to connect with riders at busy spots — and for drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing to stay on top of new rides.
What Uber Offers That Lyft Doesn’t
For years, Uber had one huge advantage over Lyft: It was in more places. But now both services are available in all 50 states and in most areas within those states.
Now Uber’s main advantage is that more riders are likely to know about it. Many people outside of coastal cities may only have heard of Lyft in the past few years as it’s expanded to their areas, and they might just prefer Uber because they knew it first.
The company also offers a few services that Lyft does not, including Uber Pet, which can net you a higher ride fare (so long as you’re OK with Uber riders bringing their animal along for the trip).
Delivery With Uber Eats
Uber’s 2014 expansion into package and food delivery gave it a boost over Lyft for some drivers, too.
If it’s available in your city, Uber Eats gives you a way to earn money when you don’t have (or don’t want) passengers. It also has less strict requirements: The minimum age may be lower in some cities, and your car only needs two doors.
In some cities, you can even make deliveries on your bike or scooter if you don’t have a car — you only have to be 19 years old to deliver by scooter and 18 to deliver by bicycle.
Lyft Services vs. Uber Services
Depending on where you live and what you drive, you might find you’re a better fit for either Uber or Lyft because of the services available in each app. Here’s a comparison of the services riders can order through each app. Remember: Services can vary by city.
Lyft Services vs. Uber Services
Standard Lyft (up to 3 riders)
UberX (up to 4 riders)
Lyft Lux (luxury car up to 3 passengers)
Uber Black (luxury car with professional driver)
Lux Black (premium black car service up to 3 riders)
Uber Comfort (newer cars)
Lyft XL (SUV with up to 5 passengers)
Uber XL (up to 6 riders)
Lux Black XL (luxury SUV up to 5 riders)
Uber Black SUV (luxury)
Shared (shared with Lyft riders headed in same direction)
Uber Pool (shared ride service, same as Lyft)
Priority Pickup (faster service, higher price)
Uber Reserve in advance
Wait & Save (lower price, longer wait)
UberX Saver (like Lyft)
Preferred (rider can request quiet and adjust vehicle temperature)
Hourly (multiple stops)
Uber and Lyft both offer package delivery services (Uber Connect and Lyft Delivery). Instead of picking up passengers, you pick up packages and drive items to their specified drop-off location.
Legislative Updates for Lyft and Uber Drivers
Uber and Lyft have been around for years. But the legislative and legal ecosystem surrounding these gig app powerhouses is constantly evolving.
California Gig Worker Guarantees
The state of California kicked off a push toward reclassifying rideshare drivers and delivery drivers as employees in 2020 with a state appeals court ruling followed by a reversal at the polls with the approval of Proposition 22 in November 2020.
Under Prop 22, California rideshare drivers are still contractors, but you’re guaranteed 120% of the local minimum wage per hour you’re engaged, 30 cents per mile in expenses and a health insurance stipend if you average more than 15 hours per week.
Also under Prop 22, you can’t work more than 12 hours a day without a break of at least six hours. (Lyft now sets this limit for drivers across the board, while Uber drive time limits vary by state.)
Prop 22 has remained controversial. In 2021, a group of drivers challenged the proposition, and a judge ruled the measure as unconstitutional.
However, in March 2023, a Calirfornia appeals court overturned that ruling, allowing Prop 22 to remain in effect.
Upstate New York Uber Drivers Can Collect Unemployment
An unemployment lawsuit in upstate New York in 2021 classified rideshare Uber drivers in particular as employees for the purpose of collecting unemployment, according to the National Law Review.
The decision doesn’t apply to all of New York (it doesn’t reach New York City). It may not even apply to Lyft drivers, as the suit was solely against Uber Technologies Inc. And its ramifications beyond unemployment aren’t clear.
Later in 2021, a statewide move for legislation that would let rideshare drivers unionize failed to pass, reaffirming drivers’ status as contractors.
In March 2023, drivers netted a victory after the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to approve a pay increase of about 2.25% for rideshare drivers. This follows a raise of more than 6% that Uber and Lyft implemented in February.
Rumblings Around the Country
After small shifts in California and New York, analysts expect the push to reclassify drivers as employees to continue and spread to other states in the coming years, which could cause a seismic shift in what it means to be a rideshare driver.
In September 2022, Uber agreed to pay New Jersey $100 million in back taxes after the state accused the ride-hailing company of misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors. In a statement, Uber officials said drivers in New Jersey and across the country are still independent contractors.
In October 2022, the U.S Labor Department proposed a rule that could make it harder to classify gig workers as independent contractors. The rule is not final and it’s not clear what immediate impact the decision would have on rideshare drivers, even if it passes.
In June 2023, the National Labor Relations Board issued a new ruling that makes it easier for Uber and Lyft drivers to organize and join unions.
Lyft or Uber: Who Wins?
The bottom line is there’s probably no clear winner. Lyft versus Uber is a bit like a Mac versus PC debate. You have to pick what works for your lifestyle, finances and location.
Because each company offers some clear advantages, many drivers work with both in cities where both are available.
This strategy lets you maximize the riders you can connect with and earn money with less downtime. The companies don’t love competing for drivers though, so keep an eye out for restrictions or policies that limit how easily you can switch between apps while you’re working.
Dana Sitar is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance who has been writing and editing since 2011. She is a former staffer at The Penny Hoarder. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, CNBC and more.
Rachel Christian, senior writer at The Penny Hoarder, contributed to this story.