Lyft or Uber: Comparing ride-share services as a source of income

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Lyft or Uber: Comparing ride-share services as a source of income
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ATLANTA — Consumer adviser Clark Howard said he is constantly asked if ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are a viable source of income.

He decided the best way to find out was to become a driver himself.

Clark’s Uber vs. Lyft driving experience

“I got out there as an Uber and a Lyft driver because I was challenged by a listener on the air,” Howard told WSB radio anchor, Scott Slade. “This person called up and told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about and until I drove, I shouldn’t be talking about it.”

Read more: New car leasing 101: A plain English explanation

The process of becoming a driver takes place online for both Uber and Lyft. Clark found one big difference.

“Lyft requires that you meet with a Lyft official. They inspect your car and they interview you,” Clark said. “Everything with Uber is done automated. So I thought that Lyft is more thorough in how they screen a potential driver.”

After completing the background check, which took several days for both companies, he was approved.

His first, and so far only, day as driver, Clark signed onto Lyft first. When, after several minutes, he didn’t get any rider request, he switched to Uber.

“I hear from other drivers that that’s why you are a member of both, because certain parts of town you get more money on Lyft and others get more money on Uber and others you’ll find passengers quicker going on Uber versus Lyft,” Clark said.

After getting zero hits on Uber and Lyft, Clark feared he was “going to go broke,” and moved a couple miles down the road.

Within minutes of moving, he had his first rider, and was dinged with another fare moments after reaching the destination. One key to making money as a driver is to head to the next pickup as soon as you drop off a customer.

Many times the fares are low, as in the case of Clark’s second rider, Shakevia Thomas. Lyft drew her in with a fare sale.

“It was half-off today for the ride. Yeah, it’s definitely worth it,” she said.

Throughout the day, fares remained low with the exception of a few areas offering surge pricing.

Clark noticed several areas with surge pricing in the early afternoon. His phone alerted him where surge pricing was going on.

When an area has more passengers than drivers, Uber implements surge pricing. Fares go up and drivers flood the area.

“On the map it shows it’s colored, and so right here I get 1 1/2 times the fare,” Clark said. “For the customer, it gets pretty painful, [but] for me it’s great.”

Both companies offer driver and passenger rating systems, but only Lyft riders have the option to leave a tip. Passengers are able to add a tip using the Lyft app up to 24 hours after the ride.

Uber does not have a tipping option, but riders can tip if they wish. In an effort to get some tips and a good rating, Clark pulled out all the stops.

‘I’ve got water, I’ve got sparkling water and I’ve got snacks.” Clark said, pointing to a cooler on the floor.

Some passengers said a driver’s attitude can really affect their ride experience.

“I feel like some drivers are either quiet or not as talkative. They don’t really make you feel like you want to be in the Uber or you want to be in the Lyft. I feel like he was pretty welcoming, so I feel like it was a pretty good ride,” Lyft rider Shakira Patterson said.

Even with snacks and a smile, Clark wasn’t left a single tip all day.

In total, Clark drove for 4 hours and 36 minutes, picked up nine riders and made $57.42. After deducting the standard mileage rate for businesses of 54 cents, his total earnings were $36.09.

Clark’s take

Providing ride-sharing services is a great way to supplement your income or, if you’re unemployed, bring in some cash. But he doesn’t see it as a career. For riders, Clark said, the services could be revolutionary.

“People who might have rented a car in the past, they don’t,” Clark said. “People who might have wanted to own a car, don’t feel the need anymore.”

Read more: Car wrapping makes a comeback

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