Uber and Lyft are nearly identical rideshare services. Many passengers have strong biases towards one or the other.
Some customers even claim Lyft is cheaper than Uber. Is Lyft actually less expensive, or is this a modern-day folk story? Read on for everything you need to know.
Table of Contents
Why Is Uber More Expensive Than Lyft?
The main reason Uber is more expensive than Lyft is that Uber adds ‘surge’ pricing. Surges happen when there’s a lot of demand in one area, resulting in more drivers and reliability. Surge prices benefit Uber drivers but cost the customer more.
Lyft Vs. Uber
Lyft and Uber have relatively similar prices and fees. However, Uber adds ‘surge’ pricing during peak hours and busy timeframes. Surge prices benefit Uber drivers and result in a more reliable service. However, surges can cause customers to pay a premium.
Surge prices are why most people associate Uber with being more expensive out of the two. Let’s take a closer look at the pricing differences between Lyft and Uber.
Lyft Fee Breakdown
You’ll receive an upfront fare estimate that covers a few changes when you order a Lyft. Lyft has a variety of charges that depend on the city, location, and car type. These fees include:
- Base fare
- Cost per minute
- Cost per mile
- Minimum fare
- Maximum fare
- Lyft platform fee
- Service fee
- Third-party fees
- Prime Time demand
Base Fare, Cost Per Minute, and Cost Per Mile
The base Lyft fare is a flat rate that depends on your city, location, and the requested vehicle. Lyft’s costs per minute fee depend on your trip’s estimated duration and can change based on the actual ride. The same goes for costs per mile but will depend on the estimated distance.
Minimum and Maximum Fares
Lyft’s minimum fares ensure that the driver and platform aren’t losing money. Maximum fares are in place to limit the cost of long-distance trips.
Platform Fee, Service Fee, and Third-Party Fees
Lyft charges a varying platform fee for each ride. This fee helps with app maintenance, updates, and promotions.
The service fee is another flat rate that varies depending on the region. The service fee covers Lyft’s operations like background screenings, logistical costs, and insurance.
Third-party fees can relate to venues, airports, and other special events. Third-party fees will vary depending on your location.
Uber Fee Breakdown
You’ll see the final cost of your trip when you book an Uber. All the Uber fees and charges work in tandem. Uber fees include:
- Base fare
- Distance rate
- Duration rate
- Service fee
- Booking fee
- Minimum fare
- Time rate
- Cancellation Fees
- Tolls and surcharges
- Surge pricing
Base Fare, Distance Rate, and Duration Rate
Uber’s base fare will vary on your location, city, and requested vehicle. The costs charged for duration and distance will also vary depending on location.
Booking Fees, Service Fees, and Minimum Fare
Uber’s service fee depends on the driver and will differ with each trip. The service fee is the difference between the rider’s fare and the driver’s earnings. The service fee also funds various software updates and promotions.
The booking fee is typically a flat fee. Some cities differ and charge based on the distance. The booking fee covers background screenings, insurance policies, guidelines, and operational fees.
Each city will have a minimum base fare to ensure drivers are earning a decent wage. There is no maximum Uber fee.
Cancellation Fees, Tolls, and Additional Fees
You may encounter additional fees during an Uber ride. These additional costs can come from toll roads, route changes, long wait times, cancellations, and more. Discounts and promotions can also affect your total Uber cost.
Uber Surge Pricing Explained
Surge prices are the main reason Uber can be more expensive than Lyft. Surge pricing multiplies costs when the demand for rides is higher than the number of drivers available. Surge prices are in place to strike a balance between supply and demand.
When surge prices activate in certain areas, say near a few bars, drivers are likely to head to that area to benefit from the higher earnings. This cycle creates a reliable service resulting in near 24/7 Uber availability.
How It Works
Surge prices are enabled during high-demand and peak hours. This model is in place to incentivize drivers to move to busy areas and handle rides accordingly. Surges can happen for a few reasons:
- Special celebrations and holidays
- Rush hour
- Harsh weather conditions
- Local sporting events, busy bars, etc.
Surge prices are calculated by Uber’s algorithm based on real-time demand. The algorithm takes into account how many customers need rides and how many drivers are available. That means the increased fees can vary every few minutes.
For instance, if the local base rate is $12 for an Uber ride and the surge pricing is 2, the fares will rise to $24.
Thoughts for Riders
Surge prices are the primary reason Uber is more expensive than Lyft. These prices aren’t going away anytime soon. Surge prices benefit passengers by increasing the supply of drivers during peak hours. This can make Uber a more reliable rideshare service compared to Lyft.
However, it will be up to you whether or not reliability is worth the additional fees and costs from Uber.
Is Lyft Cheaper Than Uber?
Lyft and Uber share similar costs and price structures. However, Uber incorporates surge prices which can significantly increase ride costs during peak hours. Surge pricing benefits Uber drivers and increases reliability but costs the passenger more.