Should I Drive for Uber or Lyft… or Neither… or Both?

For those looking to earn money as rideshare drivers, there are certainly plenty of options available. If anything, it can seem like there are too many options, and that selecting the right service is tricky. Even if you narrow it down to the two big competitors, Uber and Lyft, the work of comparing and contrasting these very similar but not identical services can be daunting.

Of course, there’s not really a “right” answer here. That’s the thing we should note from the outset. In some markets, Uber drivers make considerably more money than Lyft drivers, and vice versa. Plus, there is always the option of driving for both—but more on that in a moment.

There are some objective similarities and difference we can point out about Uber and Lyft, and that’s what we’ll do in the next few paragraphs.

Uber vs. Lyft

Driver Requirements

In terms of what it takes to become a driver, the two services are in pretty close alignment.

  • Both require drivers to be 21 years or older.
  • Both require you to have at least a year of driving experience under your belt.
  • Both require you to show a clean driving record and to pass a criminal background check.

The only real difference here is that Uber requires you to have a valid in-state driver’s license; for Lyft, any valid U.S. driver’s license is fine.

Vehicle Requirements

As for vehicle requirements, these can fluctuate a little bit depending on state and local regulations—but broadly speaking, these are the requirements.

  • Uber requires the vehicle to be 2000 or newer, though many states require 2005 or newer. Lyft requires 2005 or newer, but some cities require even newer than that.
  • Both services require the vehicle to have four doors and to pass a safety inspection.
  • Uber requires up-to-date in-state registration; for Lyft, any current U.S. registration is sufficient.
  • Similarly, Uber requires in-state insurance in your name. Lyft requires any insurance in your name.

Also note that, if your vehicle doesn’t meet the requirements, Uber and Lyft both offer some fixes. With Uber, you can rent a vehicle by the week, or you can apply to lease a vehicle and have payments deducted from your Uber earnings. Lyft, meanwhile, has a rental car option, where you can have flexible payments and you don’t have to make any kind of a long-term commitment.

Payment

Of course, the big question is how much money you can make. Understand that, with any gig economy position, you’re going to be an independent contractor. This means the pay isn’t necessarily going to be consistent or reliable. It also means you’re on the hook for various expenses, as well as tax liabilities.

As for revenues, that really comes down to how hard you want to work—and how good you are at it.

The earnings for both Uber and Lyft are calculated algorithmically, and the formula is pretty much the same: Passengers pay according to minutes and miles, then the service itself takes its cut before the driver gets the rest. The rates are similar, and in fact Lyft has famously mirrored the rate changes made by Uber. It’s also worth noting that both apps offer tipping, and both services will leave the driver responsible for costs such as gas, insurance, vehicle upkeep, etc.

The bottom line is, on paper, you’ll make about the same at either place—though in some markets, one service may be a lot more popular than the other. It’s worth your time poking around some forums to find out what local drivers have to say, as there may be a geographic advantage to one of these services over the other.

Culture

One of the main differences between Uber and Lyft is culture—admittedly, an esoteric concept. With that said, Lyft drivers often say that they feel more empowered to take charge of their business, while Uber places a greater emphasis on uniformity. A lot of drivers prefer the freedom of Lyft’s company culture, which is why we usually give it a slight edge over Uber—but only a slight one.

Can You Drive for Both?

We mentioned earlier that you can drive for both Uber and Lyft. That’s one way you can try to maximize profits, or eliminate the need to choose between them. You may need to have a couple of phones to do this, however, as you’ll need to stay connected with both apps to pick up new fares. Given how similar the platforms are, and how like the requirements, it’s actually a pretty easy step to simply enroll in both programs at the same time.

Should You Drive for Neither?

One more thing: Very few people make the equivalent of full-time paychecks driving for either company, so it’s smart to remember that there are other gigs out there—either to augment ride sharing, or to replace it altogether. Indeed, some of these can actually integrate quite well with Uber and Lyft. With VidoTek, for instance, you get to make money by driving around, and you can do your assignments between fares or during slow hours.

Additionally, for those who do not meet the requirements or driving for Uber or Lyft, there are other options—including Amazon Flex, GrubHub, and Postmates—that might be more lenient and accommodating.

Making a Decision About Uber vs. Lyft

To conclude, these services are not radically different, nor do they have to be mutually exclusive. The one thing we’ll stress is that it pays to research the local markets, and to determine whether drivers in your area have found one service to be more lucrative than the other.

All else being equal, we’d recommend starting with Lyft, but don’t hesitate to try Uber, too, if you feel it could be advantageous. And don’t forget to consider the other gig economy options out there, as well.

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