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Car Wars: Lyft vs Uber

If you’ve opted out of owning a car because you live in a city with public transportation services (or you just don’t want a car), you might have used the Lyft or Uber apps. While the two companies perform a similar service, you might be surprised to find that there are some differences between them. Read on as we explore how Lyft and Uber stack up against each other.

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The Cost: Lyft vs Uber

Whether taking a Lyft or an Uber will be more expensive will depend on the route you’re taking and where you live. Both companies provide fare calculators online, so you can compare prices in advance.

UberX costs about the same as Lyft. When the demand for rides is high, Lyft’s surge prices can be as much as 400% higher than the regular price. Previously, Lyft capped its surge price increases at 200%. Uber’s surge prices can be as high as eight times the original fare, but the company reports that these prices are typically just 2.8 times higher.

Related Article: The Best Cities for Public Transportation

The Driver: Lyft vs Uber

Car Wars: Lyft vs Uber

The Uber website says that its driving requirements can differ by city and state. But generally, anyone who wants to become an Uber driver needs to have a driver’s license. Your car must have passed its vehicle inspection. You’ll also need to have vehicle registration documents, a clean background and proof of insurance.

Once you sign up to become an Uber driver, your vehicle will need to be checked. You’ll have to go through a background check that searches federal, state and local databases to find out whether interested drivers have criminal records or histories of reckless driving incidents.

Lyft has a similar process for vetting its drivers. Drivers must undergo a thorough background check and a driving record check. Lyft automatically disqualifies applicants who’ve committed certain offenses, like violent crimes and drug-related offenses.

Ride-Cancelling Penalties: Lyft vs Uber

Both Lyft and Uber have ride-cancelling penalties. If you order a car from Lyft and cancel your request after more than five minutes have passed (or your driver is within five minutes of arriving) you’ll have to pay a $5 fee. The cancellation fee costs $10 if you’re cancelling a ride in Boston or New York. You might also incur a fee if you’re cancelling at least two requests to use the Lyft Line service after it has already agreed to let you share a ride.

If you cancel your Uber car within two to five minutes after making your request, you may be able to avoid paying a fee. Otherwise, you’ll either pay $5 or $10 depending on where you are. If you’re sharing a ride through UberPOOL, you might have to pay a $2 fee for cancelling a ride request that a driver has already accepted.

Related Article: How to Become an Uber Driver

Payment Procedure: Lyft vs Uber

Both Uber and Lyft let customers pay for rides through their apps using their debit or credit cards. But there’s one key difference between the two services that matters to drivers.

Although both Uber and Lyft let passengers rate drivers (and drivers get to rate their passengers), Lyft gives passengers the option of tipping their drivers through the app. Uber doesn’t give its passengers that option and riders instead have to tip their drivers directly. That can be a bad thing for drivers and passengers who want to tip but don’t have enough cash on hand.

The Bottom Line

Car Wars: Lyft vs Uber

If you have a strong preference for using either Uber or Lyft, learning about the differences between the two companies probably won’t change your mind much one way or the other. You’ll likely continue using whatever app you’re accustomed to using. But if you’ve only tried one service so far, you might want to consider trying out the other one and comparing your experiences.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/PeopleImages, ©iStock.com/andresr, ©iStock.com/freemixer

Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher has been researching and writing about business and finance for years. She has worked for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and her work has appeared on Business Insider and Yahoo Finance. Sarah has a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and is from New York City. When she isn't writing finance articles, she dabbles in animation and graphic design.
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