Harry here. I always hear from new drivers who ask which service they should sign up with first. Today, RSG contributor Jon Knope gives us five good reasons why Lyft is the better choice for newbies.
If you’re just getting started with ridesharing, you’ve probably got a lot of things on your mind. Before you can hit the road, you need to clean and/or maintain your vehicle, sort out your insurance options, and even put some thought into how you’ll deal with an unruly passenger. But there’s another decision to make, too: Which service should you sign up for first?
1. Bigger Sign-Up Bonuses*
*As of this writing, Lyft bonuses in many cities are up to $500 right now. Some are even up to $750-$1,000. These vary by city, as does the number of trips you’ll need to do to earn the bonus (in most places, it’s between 25-100 rides). Often the Lyft sign-on bonus alone is reason enough to try out ridesharing, even if you don’t plan to stick with it very long.
Uber’s sign-up bonuses, on the other hand, have been in more of a decline and there are even some cities that don’t offer any bonus at all. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still cities where Uber is trying hard to recruit – but in most cases, Lyft’s bonuses are still just as high, if not higher. For the latest in sign-up bonuses, check out Harry’s most recent update here.
2. Less Busy
Once you’ve learned the ropes, fewer passengers is the last thing you want – but when you’re just starting out, going at a slower pace is much more forgiving. If you start out with Uber, you may start receiving requests back-to-back, especially if you find yourself working peak hours or special events.
By contrast, Lyft has a much smaller user base (although it’s definitely growing). The pings will come in at a much more relaxed pace – which is perfect for getting a feel for the system, and gives you a chance to take breaks between rides. Once you’ve worked out any issues with your pick-up/small talk/drop-off process, then you can move up to the more fast-paced world of Uber or even driving for both.
Another factor that plays into this is your rating. As you may have learned already, both Uber and Lyft have pretty strict requirements – you have to keep your rating above 4.6 to remain active on either platform. What many new drivers don’t know is how their rating gets calculated. On Lyft, only your last 100 rides count towards your rating; older ratings are forgotten. That’s great if you make some mistakes early on and get rated low, because those low ratings won’t count for too long. Uber, on the other hand, takes into account your last 500 – so if you mess up early on, it takes a long time for those bad ratings to fall off your record.
3. Better Company Culture
Lyft is nicer to their drivers. It’s that simple. With the Lyft app, passengers have the option to add a tip to your fare. Uber doesn’t offer that option. If you rate a Lyft passenger three stars or less, you won’t be matched with them again. And most importantly, Lyft offers the famous Power Driver Bonuses – if you complete a certain number of rides per week, you get to keep a bigger percentage of your fare (Lyft takes a smaller cut).
And for a $0.50 transaction fee, Lyft also allows you to cash out your fares on the same day that you earn them (as long as you’ve made at least $50). This is perfect if you encounter unexpected expenses or financial shortfalls. The feature is called Express Pay, and it’s something that Uber still doesn’t offer in most markets (although there are some alternatives for Uber drivers).
4. Lyft-to-Uber Bonus
If you get a good number of rides under your belt on Lyft first, you might be eligible for an even fatter bonus from Uber if you decide to sign up with them later on. Uber may not be offering too many big sign-on bonuses to brand new drivers, but their bonuses to lure drivers away from other rideshare companies are as high as ever – over $1,000 in some cities. Plus, you can still keep driving for Lyft (and work both apps) once you’ve signed up with Uber. There’s no exclusivity that you have to show or in other words this isn’t a marriage 🙂
The specific requirements and payouts for the Lyft-to-Uber bonus vary widely by city – most of the ones we’ve seen require you to have completed 45 Lyft trips in the last week, and complete another 75 Uber trips per week during 3 out of the 4 weeks after you sign on with them. Shoot a quick note to email@example.com and they’ll be happy to detail the requirements for the bonuses being offered in your area. Being strategic about when you sign up can result in some serious cash, so it’s definitely worth looking into.
5. Job Security
If you drive often or rely heavily on ridesharing for your income, having access to both platforms can pay off in unexpected ways. Both platforms occasionally go offline for one reason or another, and having the other available as a backup will allow you to keep working. In addition, both platforms have been known to deactivate drivers temporarily for one reason or another. Sometimes, this may be caused by a false or misleading review from a passenger, and your account may be put on hold while the claim is investigated – but having access to the other platform means you won’t be completely out of work.
Another example: If a passenger pukes during an Uber trip and you’re able to clean it yourself, you can still request a cleaning fee. If you do that, you can’t drive Uber for the rest of the night – otherwise Uber will assume that the damage wasn’t bad enough to warrant the fee. Staying active on Lyft will allow you to keep that Uber cleaning fee and keep driving.
Likewise, if you get into a minor accident during an Uber trip, you have to submit photographic evidence that all the damage has been repaired before you can keep driving on the platform. To be honest, most passengers don’t even notice minor dents or scratches. If you know the damage won’t prevent you from being a 5-star driver, it could be handy to have the ability to keep driving for Lyft while Uber and their insurance carrier sorts out the situation.
At the end of the day, it’s all about doing what’s best for you as a driver. Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, most drivers seem to prefer running both apps simultaneously to maximize their earnings. But when you’re just starting out, it’s clear that there are some serious benefits when you sign up for Lyft first, and sign up for Uber later.
Readers: Which platform do you like better? Which did you sign up for first? Share your thoughts below!
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Jonathan Knope is a freelance writer and rideshare driver hailing from Atlanta, GA. Over the past two years, he’s worked for many of the big names in the rideshare industry, including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Amazon Flex. Though he’s an avid tech enthusiast, Jonathan also enjoys cycling and backpacking excursions.