Lyft vs Uber: Which ride share service better?

If you live in a large city in the U.S., you probably use Uber and Lyft interchangeably. They are the two largest rideshare companies, with millions of drivers around the world.

We wanted to take a closer look at the difference between Uber and Lyft, though, so we examined a few key factors in choosing one over the other, such as worldwide availability and whether one has a consistently lower price. We also note that some of the best travel credit cards can actually give you big discounts, bonus points, and even free memberships with these rideshare companies.

Ahead, find five key metrics and the winner for each service. We’ll crown a winner at the end.

(Photo by Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock)

Which is more affordable?

When considering whether Uber or Lyft is cheaper, quite literally, your mileage may vary. In larger cities where both services are available, you may find that the cheapest option trades off on every trip you take. One day it might be Uber by a dollar or two, and the next day on the same route it may be Lyft. We tried to take a closer look at any patterns these two services show in pricing, though. 

We took a look at a trip to LaGuardia Airport in New York City from within Brooklyn on a Sunday afternoon to compare the cost breakdown on both Uber and Lyft. These are the specifics to take note of:

  • Base fare: This is the starting point on each service. It’s $0 for both
  • Minimum fare: This is the absolute minimum cost on each service. Uber is $7.19, Lyft is $7.30
  • Per mile rate: This is what the services will charge per mile traveled. Uber is $1.47, Lyft is $1.48
  • Per minute rate: This is what the services will charge per minute on the ride. Uber and Lyft are both $0.67

As you can see, the price breakdowns are nearly identical. Where you’ll run into discrepancies are when one service has more drivers working or if one service has more drivers currently busy. If there are 20 Uber drivers and 10 Lyft drivers, requesting a Lyft is more in demand, so you may see a price surge. It’s for that reason that we recommend just always checking both apps if you’re in an area where both are available. 

Also, consider the credit cards and other travel services you have. Some of the best credit cards for Uber and Lyft offer discounts on rideshare services, and some frequent flyer programs partner with them as well. Chase credit cards offer 5% cash back or 5-10x points on Lyft, and Delta offers SkyMiles for Lyft rides. You can also earn and redeem Hilton Honors points when taking a Lyft.

Winner: Tie

Which is more accessible?

At this point, Lyft only operates in the United States and Canada, and the service in Canada is limited to a handful of cities. Uber, on the other hand, is fully international, with service in more than 80 countries. Uber reports that it has over 3 million drivers around the world and can be found in many more places than Lyft, which means you’re more likely to catch a ride with Uber no matter where you are, even in smaller metropolitan areas.

If you’re in a major U.S. city, you’ll most likely find a fairly even split between Uber and Lyft. Both companies operate a large fleet of drivers in the big cities. In smaller cities or even smaller towns, the options can vary between the two. Because Uber has more drivers, you’re more likely to find an Uber driver over a Lyft driver, but it’s worth noting that many rideshare drivers drive for both companies, which reinforces the idea that you’re likely to find close to the same number of drivers for both companies in most U.S. cities.

If you’re traveling internationally, Uber is your best bet. However, it’s important to note that when you’re abroad, even cities that have Uber may not use it to the extent that it’s used in the United States. Other metropolitan cities, like those in Europe, rely more heavily on local taxis and public transportation. Uber is there, though, if you’re traveling and need it.

Winner: Uber

Which has the better app interface?

Both Uber and Lyft have quality apps, though they differ a little bit in what they offer. Let’s take a look at the different types of rides you can get through each app first. 

  • Uber: You can request an UberX (standard Uber), Black (premium ride in a luxury car), UberXL (larger vehicle for up to five people), Pool (shared ride with at least one other person), Black SUV (luxury ride with up to five people and a professional driver)
  • Lyft: You can request a Lyft (standard Lyft), Lyft XL (larger vehicle for up to five people), Lux Black XL (luxury ride for up to five people), Lux Black (luxury ride), Lyft Line (shared ride)

As you can see, the car offerings are very similar, just under different names. Both services also allow you to request a car with a car seat and a car that’s handicap accessible.

As for what else the apps can do, both will allow you to change the route mid-ride, but only Uber will allow you to split a fare with a friend. Both apps will also let you share your location with friends and family, to practice safety, but Uber also allows you to contact emergency services from within the app should something go wrong. Lyft also allows you to donate money on each ride by rounding the fare up to the nearest dollar.

Uber and Lyft also both offer guides to use public transportation within the apps, should you choose to not hail a ride at all. And both operate bikes and scooters, so depending on where you’re looking for a ride, you might be able to book one of those within the app instead of a car.

Winner: Uber

Which has the better subscription service?

In 2019, Lyft launched Lyft Pink, a subscription service. For $19.99 a month, you get 15% off unlimited car rides, three free cancellations per month, priority airport pickups, three free 30-minute bike or scooter rides a month, no lost and found fee, and various other offers. 

Uber, on the other hand, has Uber Ride Pass. For $24.99 a month, you get protection from surge pricing and up to 30 minutes free use of bikes and scooters a day in select cities. Also, note the monthly subscription fee may vary based on where you’re located.

However, there are a couple ways to snag your subscriptions for free or for a notable discount. Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders are eligible for a free year of Lyft Pink and will also earn 10x points on Lyft purchases through March 2022. Those with The Platinum Card® from American Express are eligible for Uber credits, which can be used to offset the membership fee.

When considering which subscription service is better for you, consider where you live and what’s important. Uber Ride Pass offers fewer perks, but if you find that you’re usually hailing a car during rush hour in New York City, protection from surge pricing can be huge. But otherwise, Lyft may be a better deal for you because it’s a little cheaper per month for a nice, consistent discount. 

Winner: Lyft

Which has better customer support?

Both Uber and Lyft have 24/7 customer service that you are able to reach fairly easily. Both apps give you the option to contact customer support in the app after a ride if you’ve had an issue, but take care with the form you fill out on both apps. With Uber, when you want to submit a complaint, if you don’t select the proper combination of responses, you might not get your complaint into a person, and instead will be provided with an auto-generated answer saying they can’t do anything. (We’ve had this happen, unfortunately.)

Both Uber and Lyft are on social media readily, which provides an easy way to contact them, but keep in mind that both companies deal with a huge volume of customer service requests daily, so the answers you want may not come quickly. However, we’ve had issues resolved within 24 hours nearly every time something has come up (whether it was a fare dispute or an issue with a driver).

Find out more about how you can get assistance from Lyft here and Uber here.

Winner: Tie

Overall winner

Next time you ask yourself, “Should I use Uber or Lyft?” remember that they are nearly identical when you break down both services. What it comes to is personal preference. Some customers feel an allegiance toward one brand over the other, especially in a city where both are readily available. When looking at price, it fluctuates so often that both are winners. Uber is more widely used, so if we must declare a winner, we’d say Uber simply based on that. However, both are great options within the U.S.

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