Uber vs. Lyft: Who Pays Drivers the Most Money

Uber vs. Lyft: Which car-riding service pays drivers more? We have the data and surveys to answer this question, along with analysis for potential drivers.

uber vs. Lyft

The gig economy has created unique ways to earn a living. One way is to drive for Uber or Lyft. But which of these companies is better for drivers, and how does the pay compare?

While Uber and Lyft have similarities, differences between the two companies abound. Let’s take a look at what to expect when working for either company, and which pays drivers more money.

Uber Versus Lyft

These two ride-sharing companies are similar in many ways. This can make it hard to decide which company a new driver should choose to work for (though, many choose to drive with both!).

Here are some key similarities:

  • Both services are app-based, allowing users to request a ride, pay drivers, and schedule trips from their phone.
  • Both services are available 24/7.
  • Lyft and Uber both offer various vehicle options, depending on your party’s size, whether you want a black car experience, or are seeking the cheapest option (like the ability to “pool” with other riders going in the same direction).
  • Both offer estimated pricing before scheduling.
  • Both companies are now offering food delivery services in certain markets.

These make both Uber and Lyft enticing for riders, allowing them many options for their next trip. But what about from a driver’s perspective? What are the similarities?

  • Both services allow drivers to log into the app whenever they are ready and available to drive, picking up riders of their choice.
  • Both calculate prices using a base rate, miles traveled, time of day, and the type of vehicle requested.
  • Uber and Lyft both allow riders to add a tip at the end of their ride.
  • Both have periods of time where drivers will earn multiples of their usual fare, based on rider demand (called “surge pricing” or “prime time”).
  • Both companies offer options to drivers for buying or renting vehicles, if you want to become a driver but don’t already have a car.

With this said, there are also a few big differences. For instance, Lyft is just now beginning its foray into international service, beginning with Toronto, Ontario. Uber, on the other hand, has been offering its app-based rides worldwide for quite some time, operating in 83 countries currently.

Also, tipping through Uber is fairly new (and was originally discouraged). While Lyft has given riders access to a driver gratuity option since its inception, Uber just introduced a tipping option in mid-2017. Since it’s a newer concept through the app, many drivers report that it hasn’t quite caught on. As a result, drivers don’t make as much in tips (on average) through Uber as they do driving for Lyft.

One more difference between the two companies is the ride environment. Lyft has developed a reputation for being a “fun and friendly” ride option, whereas Uber prides itself on offering a more professional, business-friendly. It even offers a high-end black car service to its riders (complete with a professional driver).

Lyft has grown up a bit over the years–a far jump from when cars used to arrive with fluffy, pink mustaches on the grill. However, if you are looking for a ride to your next business lunch or are traveling with a big client, UberBlack is probably the most suitable option.

Who Pays More?

If you’re asking whether you can make more driving for Lyft or Uber, you won’t get a clear answer. The amount you can earn is really contingent on a number of factors, including how often you drive, the type of vehicle you have, when you drive (and whether you earn surge pricing/prime time rates), and your operating expenses.

If you’re looking at a baseline, just wanting to know which company takes more in driver commissions, the answer is that Uber takes more. The company takes 25% of the rider’s charged fare, which includes both the distance traveled and the time spent on the trip. Lyft, on the other hand, only takes 20% of the fare.

Uber Lyft
Commission taken from each rider’s fare 25% 20%

However, this isn’t the whole story.

Booking Fees

When a rider pays for a trip through either Uber or Lyft, they may not realize that they are paying both a fare for their travel and a booking fee. This booking fee goes directly to the company to cover operating costs as well as safety and regulatory expenses. The driver never sees a penny of this charged amount.

The cost of the Uber booking fee varies by city. It tends to range between $1.85 and $2.45. This fee increased last year, which means that riders are paying more for their trip, but the driver isn’t seeing more money. This, of course, also means that the effective percentage of the total trip that Uber takes (versus what the driver earns) has risen.

For Lyft, this is called a “Pickup” fee. It also varies from city-to-city, with the fee ranging from about $1 to $2. As with Uber, the driver sees no percentage from this fee, but the rider pays more than their base fare. And, as with Uber, this also means that the effective percentage that Lyft takes is higher than the 20% that the company advertises.

So, if a rider takes a quick ride with Uber in San Antonio, amounting to a $12 total, $2.45 of that will go directly to Uber for the booking fee. Of the remaining $9.55 fare, Uber will also take another $2.39 in commission, for a company cut of $4.84. This is a total percentage of 40.33–far higher than the “25%” that they advertise to drivers.

What if a rider takes a longer ride in a different city (maybe Alexandria, VA, where the booking fee is $1.85)? Let’s say that their total ride cost is $32, of which $30.15 is fare. This means that Uber will take $9.39 in the end ($1.85 booking fee plus $7.54 commission), which makes up a 29.3% total cut.

While this is lower than the first scenario, it’s still notably higher than the 25% that many drivers expect to lose. Booking fees are a point of contention for drivers on both platforms. As they raise the price for riders but not raising earnings.

What Real Drivers Are Actually Making

If you ask Uber or Lyft directly, you’ll get an enticing answer to this question. Over the years, claims have been make that drivers regularly earn anywhere from $20 to $30 (or more!) an hour driving for the ride-sharing service. However, actual drivers would beg to differ.

One driver who started his own Uber- and Lyft-based website, TheRideShareGuy, conducted a recent survey of drivers. Questions involved driver satisfaction, the reason behind becoming a driver for either platform, and how much folks are really making at the end of the day. The answers were surprising.

He found that of the 1,150 drivers surveyed, only a quarter of them made $20 an hour or more–and that’s before factoring in expenses like gas, maintenance, or tires! The majority of respondents (32.1%) made between $10-$14.99 an hour, with 17% of drivers making between $0-$9.99 an hour.

Source: TheRideShareGuy

In this survey, the average earned by Uber drivers was $15.68 per hour. The actual take-home is lower, of course, once the cost of gas and other expenses is factored in.

For Lyft drivers, this average was a bit higher at $17.50. Again, Lyft drivers are responsible for their own expenses, so the amount pocketed will be less.

One other interesting tidbit was that this survey found a strong correlation between the age of the driver and the amount they earned per hour. In fact, drivers age 61+ reported making an average of $3 per hour less than their 18-30 year-old counterparts!

Other studies have surveyed drivers across the country throughout the years, attempting to lock in that overall “average earnings” number. It’s difficult to do, since so many regional and personal factors are involved, but the general consensus is that you aren’t likely to make the $25-30 an hour that is often touted.

At least, not on a consistent basis.

Factoring In Expenses

Of course, these numbers mentioned are an overall average, taking into account drivers from across the country. A different BuzzFeed News study, however, took a look at specific cities to see how drivers there fared after expenses and taxes were factored in.

For example, Houston drivers make an average of $10.75 an hour, far below the national average reported. And if you’re in Detroit, my apologies: your average is $8.77 an hour. This accounts for taxes taken out as an independent contractor, as well as average driving expenses.

Of course, these expenses can also vary widely depending on the age, condition, and fuel efficiency of the vehicle you own. If you drive a brand new Prius, you’ll net much more than someone driving around in a years-old SUV.

Either way, it’s easy to see how, based on expenses and how much you gross, you could actually wind up making less than minimum wage in the end.

Rewards and Bonuses

Drivers for both platforms are able to receive tips through the app or in cash, of which the company takes no cut. However, as mentioned earlier, Lyft drivers report receiving higher tips on average than their Uber counterparts. Which may or may not be due to the fact that tipping was unavailable (and even discouraged) through the app for years.

Both companies offer various incentives, rewards, and even bonuses for their drivers. These range from fuel rewards to frequent driver bonuses and even weekly promotions.

Here are some of the most popular:

  • Lyft: $250 for fuel: Earn $1 in fuel rewards for every five rides you give, up to 50 rides in the first 30 days.
  • Lyft: Accelerate premium driver rewards: Earn your rank as a driver based on the number of rides given. Different levels offer different perks like cell phone discounts, fuel rewards, and roadside assistance.
  • Uber: Boost: Boosted areas offer promotional multiples of fares in that area during certain times; these can be combined with Surge pricing (when available) for an even higher earning per ride.
  • Uber: Quest: Complete a specific number of rides in a certain period of time to earn a promotional bonus (i.e.: give 10 rides this weekend to earn an extra $50).
  • Uber: New Driver Guarantee/Bonus: If you sign up to be a new driver using available promotional links, you will receive guaranteed income minimums for a specific period of time. One such promotion is that if your earnings for your first 200 trips* (not including fees, tips, or commissions) do not reach $1,600, Uber will credit you the difference. *Trips must be given in the first 90 days.

Which Is Better?

So, if you’re looking to drive for one of the ride-sharing companies, which one will pay you more? Is Uber better than Lyft, or vice versa?

If you’re simply looking at which company’s drivers make more, Lyft’s hourly average of $17.50 is higher than Uber’s average of $15.68. Lyft also boasts better driver satisfaction. When asked whether they were happy driving for the company, 75.8% of Lyft’s drivers said yes. That’s astounding, especially when compared to the results from the same question posed to Uber drivers–where the response was that only 49.4% of drivers were satisfied.

However, even though Lyft drivers seem to make more and are happier driving for the company, there is one interesting find. Of the drivers surveyed by RSG, 46.6% said that they actually still preferred driving for Uber (versus 41.7% who preferred Lyft).

So, why the discrepancy? If Lyft drivers are happier, higher rated, and make more money, why wouldn’t drivers prefer driving for them over Uber?

We can’t be sure of the answer, but it may have something to do with the volume of riders on the platform, the company atmosphere, or even the availability of service across the country (and internationally). Perhaps it’s a combination of all factors.

If you’re considering driving for Uber or Lyft, you need to do some research. Talk to drivers in your area to see how satisfied they are with their experience. Do the math on how much your vehicle costs to fuel and maintain. Then figure out how much you need to gross in order to make what you consider to be good money.

You should also look at bonuses available, to take advantage of any new driver promotions that may net you some extra cash. Lastly, it may even be wise to try driving for both companies in the beginning. That way, you can see who earns you the most cash before committing to only one platform.

Want to learn more about driving as a side hustle?

Topics: Earn Extra Income

22 Responses to “Uber vs. Lyft: Who Pays Drivers the Most Money”

  1. Edward Veronin

    Uber or Lyft? I drive a pristine Tahoe LTZ.Seats 6 comfortably.Which category will make me the most money? Is there a demand for such category?Without getting different license and increasing insurance coverage.Do you get requests from repeat customers?Having said vehicle is it to my advantage to only accept fares for multiple customers with a further destination?

    • Devil Dog

      No way in heck do you want to drive an SUV or even a 6 Cylinder vehicle. The cheaper the car, the better. I have a 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid I bought for $10k. Gets 40MPG. Use to drive a v6 honda accord and drained gas.

      That said, you habe to be insane to drive any personal vehicle you care about. Cars domt appreciate but can quickly depreciate. Any given weekend driving for 6-8 hrs, you will put on 500+ miles. Drive for 4 days and your pushing 1,000 miles. Do that for a year and you are at 50,000 miles.

      I drive my Uber/Lyft car which I keep super clean and I guarantee no one driving a nicer car is makimg more money as am Uber X. Suburban and Lexus stay at home.

  2. I drivr for lyft part time and I am really confused about the platform fees. Some time they take morethan what I earn. For exaple , I was taking passangervto airport and flight canceled to back the person as a different trip. The first time platform fee was $18 , service fee $2 . I got about $12. Second (going back) platform fee $1.5 service fee $2 , I got $10 so not sure how it works but platform fee sometimes is way higher than earning

  3. I went on the site to review options for both lyft and Uber. And my search for a second, part time job this seems like a strong option . I have signed up for both of them and will probably do both at first and continue to read reviews before I make a decision of whether this is profitable and which service is better

  4. Michelle Frost

    I use Lyft as extra income and 2nd job.. after intense review for me( my situation)
    Is not beneficial to work for Lyft.
    They pay NO compinsation for my 60 miles commute
    I can only work very part time hrs. I receive only .05¢ off on fuel which the offer is the same for general public non employees.anyone is offered this.. no perks there..
    4 HR shift gas cost 25$
    Detail cost vehicle 15$ 40$ intant out of pocket and Lyft takes about 1/2 of total cost ride

    If I make $50 $40 instant taken out might make 10$ profit for the day. .doesn’t work ..
    They need to have perks for limited partime drivers ..
    I am not finding no benefit at all to drive for Lyft.. plus losing major sleep..for nothing .. nope

  5. Any one using the Mystro app to hustle both simultaneously? And if so, has it been worth it? I would imagine it would pay off but I’d like to learn firsthand from someone who has tried it. I’ll have to buy an Android device especially for this.

    • Rebekah M.

      I use Mystro and I feel it’s worth the money. I have safer rides and I don’t have to que up at the airport after I drop someone off (I usually get a ride immediately after dropping someone off…otherwise, I have to wait in the Driver Lot with a que of usually 70 cars ahead of me. The only thing I don’t like is that it seems to “prefer” Uber requests. You can go into the app and request to put one company in the lead position. In the Denver area, there are just a lot more Uber riders, and I always prefer to go with Lyft. On the otherhand, the app allows me to pretty much be hands free and get rides. For me, worth it.

  6. Mike Smith

    I have given around 4000 rides on both the Lyft and Uber platforms combined. It’s really simple,
    both companies are predatory businesses that take advantage of desperate people in need of work. It’s a shameful practice and should be illegal. Kudos to the drivers in Seattle for effectively organizing and the Seattle city council for allowing drivers to collective bargain/unionize as its the only way for drivers to force a fair and equitable arrangement. All drivers in all cities should follow suit. Note that Uber spends millions to try to protect their unscrupulous practice of gouging drivers. They are also known for a host of other extremely base illegal behaviors. Don’t believe the hype behind Ubers new CEO changing the economic situation for drivers. Zero has and will change on this front. As the article accurately points out both companies deliberately deceive drivers concerning the actual rate/%
    they take from the overall fair.
    Lyft and Uber riders should become aware that by utilizing theses services they are supporting businesses that severely exploit workers. It’s really sickening to see the corporate media parade around and celebrate the new CEO of Uber as if hes some kind of golden boy hero and never and I mean never give voice to the hundreds of thousands of miserable drivers who are the backbone of the company and from whose backs they profit handsomely.
    All riders would have to tip an additional 50% in order to make driving for one of these companies even remotely feasible from a financial aspect. Until these companies are forced to lower their percentages and significantly raise their per mile/per minute rates so the drivers make a fare wage ($25-$35hr.) They should be shunned by anyone who considers themselves to be democratic and civilized.

  7. Stephie

    I had worked for UBER only 10 days and I am very disappointed, the support never resolve problems, their system many times give you address correctly, they pay nothing, $ 3-5 for ride. after 15 minutes driving for deliveries or rides. I will try with LYft to see if really works better

  8. Also. Your hourly rate should only br computed from ride acceptance to ride completion and ride time added up at end of day divided into earnings will give you the true hourly pay. When I’m sitting in my car with the apps on drinking coffee watching you tube or sleeping that is NOT work time

  9. You are wrong on both of there percentage. My first ride with lyft 2/16/18 I earned $6.03 off of a fare of $11.08 paid by the rider. That’s 46%. It shouldoild be 25% of the fare less tax and tips if any and then they can make there complicated calculation on there 25% instead of ROBBING the driver of the advertised come on to join their driver ranks. Only a boycott will make them adjust there ways to honor their 25%

  10. Jacquelyn Swartz

    I drive for both companies. Although I prefer Lyft over Uber, there is not near as high a demand for Lyft. Lyft offered me a sign on bonus of $500 if I made 150 trips in 60 days. I did and received my bonus. Yet only at the last few days of the 60 days. Wheras I hit my 150 rides in about a month. There was no sign on bonus with Uber… The wear and tear on my vehicle is a concern as I average 300+ miles a day. Oil changes for synthetic oil are much higher then your average oil change. Gas Had skyrocked since starting this and is as the drivers have seen no increase for the”cost of living” shall we say. All in all I enjoy what I do. It keeps me afloat until I go back to restaurant. Which is what I’ve done for 33 years.

  11. Does lyft have delivery service? I’ll sign up with Uber and give feedback later. In Houston, Lyft does not care about their drivers. I went to their hub and saw how they tried to enroll a Spanish speaking driver to lyft with a translator app. The woman there could barely speak Spanish and probably made more confusion. The Spanish speaker was smart enough to use common sense and went on his way. Honestly I hope the guy is doing ok.

    What lyft takes is posted on their website you just have to look it up. As for how much you can make depends on the time and day. You can be anywhere in the city at different times and expect an average of $8-$25 per hour, before your expenses. I just don’t think it’s fair to the driver how much they take from you as opposed to how much they give back. You get up to .07 per gallon on shell only and need a rewards card. You get 15% off maintenance and up to 50% off an oil change with bad quality oils at select garages. You will use atleast 75% of your car wear and tear on passenger fares. Personally, I don’t see how anyone would do this part time regardless of what vehicle you drive. Considering what lyft takes from you and your routine expenses gas detailing supplies water bottles gum tissue multiple car washes vacuum tolls(because lyft does not pay you to return home after a 2 hour drive out of town with tolls) external and internal wear n tear oil change battery spark plugs basically all car maintenance that somehow gets ignored because HQ doesn’t care what car you drive to calculate your expenses. You’re making about minimum wage or less driving for lyft. How would Uber be better if they charge drivers more than Lyft does? Perhaps a delivery service is a much better option and if you’re comparing the two Uber is better.

    Btw, the lyft app needs a ton of improvement. How do you support new vehicles and not allow a hud option? How do you make the way drivers see their fares and driving history more complicated as opposed to “easier”? Why do you allow under aged students to continue riding? Why don’t you have an option to let the driver know that the rider is calling a ride for someone else? There’s so many things that can be done to avoid problems and make things a lot easier for the driver. That is why I wouldn’t recommend lyft. I honestly feel they don’t give a damn about their drivers.

    • Lyft doesn’t officially have delivery, but you can set a pickup and a destination, and call the driver after they accept your hail and tell them you need this thing picked up from the pickup location (not a person, but, say, an auto part from a part store that is waiting for you) and the destination is where you will meet them.

      This isn’t officially sanctioned by Lyft but it essentially makes it act as an on-demand delivery service. It’s just instead of “andy” being in the car when you pick “him” up, it’s an object instead.

  12. Michael H

    I think overall most people prefer to drive for Lyft only but the demand for rides does not keep the drivers as busy as they would like so they add in Uber also. Lyft is gaining ground though in popularity where I live with all the Uber issues in the news and I see much less Uber drivers compared to Lyft. I have talked to a lot of passengers who have switched to Lyft only because of some experiences they had with Uber rides. I drive Lyft only and feel the company really cares about us drivers.

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