The Getaway
Lyft vs. Uber: The Ultimate Guide for Travelers

When you're traveling abroad, or even within your own country, chances are you'll find yourself in a new city without your own vehicle. While you might consider renting a car or relying on taxis to transport you throughout the city, getting around via rideshare services like Uber and Lyft is often the better and more economical choice. While these services are similar, each has its own set of pros and cons, especially when it comes to traveling in unfamiliar territory.


01 Availability: Where can you find them?

Over the shoulder view of young woman using rideshare mobile app on smartphone to order taxi service Oscar Wong / Getty Images

Uber and Lyft have extensive geographical reach, but Uber often boasts a wider international presence. While Lyft primarily operates in the U.S. and in a few Canadian Cities, Uber spans across multiple countries worldwide. This makes Uber the go-to choice for travelers seeking rides in international destinations. That said, Lyft offers robust domestic coverage, especially in urban areas, which ensures reliable services for those traveling within its footprint.


02 Pricing: Which is lighter on the wallet?

Passenger talking to cab driver and showing her the smartphone FG Trade / Getty Images

Both Uber and Lyft employ dynamic pricing models that include surge pricing during peak hours. That means that the price you pay for a ride can vary depending on location, time, and events happening within the area. That makes it challenging to definitively say which is cheaper. However, riders can benefit from promotions and discounts offered by both companies, including referral programs and loyalty rewards.


03 User interface: Navigating the apps

Close-up on a couple using the GPS while driving a car Hispanolistic / Getty Images

Both apps offer user-friendly interfaces, that feature an intuitive design and straightforward navigation. That being said, some travelers might find that Lyft's app is slightly more user-friendly due to its simpler layout, while Uber's app, while richer in features, can be more complicated to navigate for those who aren't tech-savvy.


04 Payment options: Cash or card?

Contactless payment for taxi during an illness epidemic. Taxi driver and his passenger wearing protective masks and gloves ArtMarie / Getty Images

Both Uber and Lyft primarily accept electronic payments through credit or debit cards, enhancing convenience and security. While Uber has experimented with cash payments in select markets, electronic transactions remain the standard for both services, ensuring hassle-free payment processes. With both services, riders make their payments through the app instead of paying the driver directly.


05 Ride options: From compact to luxury

Man getting into car Nisian Hughes / Getty Images

Both Uber and Lyft provide a range of ride options, including standard, XL, SUVs, and luxury vehicles, such as Uber's "Uber Black" service, which matches riders with professional limousine drivers. While both services offer similar categories, Uber may have a slight edge in terms of variety and availability, especially in larger cities.


06 Safety Measures: Peace of mind on the road

Man riding in the backseat of a taxi and using mobile phone fotostorm / Getty Images

Both Uber and Lyft conduct background checks on their drivers, ensuring a basic level of safety. Additionally, they offer in-app emergency services, enhancing passenger security, as well as the option to share live locations with an emergency contact for the duration of the trip. However, the effectiveness of these safety measures can vary by location, and passenger experiences may differ.


07 Wait times: How long until you're picked up?

Young man holding cell phone waiting for car Nisian Hughes / Getty Images

Wait times for Uber and Lyft can vary significantly depending on location, time of day, and demand. In general, Uber's driver network is larger, and that usually means the wait times with this service are significantly shorter, but when comparing Uber vs. Lyft in larger urban areas, the difference might not be substantial.


08 Customer service: When things go wrong

African woman talking to the taxi driver Anchiy / Getty Images

Both companies offer customer support through their apps, but the responsiveness and effectiveness of their customer service teams can vary. Uber has been known for more efficient responses in the past, but recent improvements by Lyft have closed the gap. It's fair to say that customer service provided by both rideshare companies is comparable.


09 Loyalty programs: Rewards for riding

Driver transporting a business man on a crowdsourced taxi andresr / Getty Images

Uber and Lyft have enticing loyalty programs to reward frequent riders. Uber's program, Uber Rewards, offers various perks, including discounts and priority support. Lyft's loyalty program, Lyft Rewards, provides ride credits and upgrades. Both programs enhance the value of your rides, so choose the one that aligns better with your ride frequency and preferences.


10 Transparency: No hidden fees

Young man holds a smart device while using Uber app S3studio / Getty Images

Both Uber and Lyft prioritize pricing transparency. Each service provides fare estimates before rides and detailed receipts afterward. However, be vigilant, as dynamic pricing during peak hours can lead to large discrepancies, and if you cause any mess or damage while riding, both services can automatically apply a surcharge to your credit card. It's crucial to review your receipts for accuracy and promptly address any issues with customer support.


11 Tipping etiquette: To tip or not to tip

human hand paying cash necati bahadir bermek / Getty Images

Tipping practices on both platforms are similar, with riders having the option to tip through the app at the end of their ride. It's customary to tip for good service, typically 15-20% of the fare. Your tip can significantly impact a driver's income and overall experience, so consider tipping generously when warranted.


12 Accessibility: Services for everyone

Smiling young woman sitting in wheelchair and opening car door Westend61 / Getty Images

Uber and Lyft are committed to accessibility, providing options for passengers with special needs. They offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles and accommodate service animals. These services ensure that transportation is inclusive and available to all, promoting equal access and convenience.


13 Carpooling options: Share the ride, share the cost

Man entering ride sharing car miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images

Both Uber and Lyft promote eco-friendly carpooling options. UberPool and Lyft Line enable riders to share rides with others traveling in the same direction, reducing costs and environmental impact. However, Uber may have broader availability in some regions, making it a more convenient choice for carpooling.


14 Environmental initiatives: Going green

ECO mode button. GAPred / Getty Images

Uber and Lyft are actively working towards sustainability. They introduce eco-friendly initiatives like electric vehicles and carpooling to reduce emissions. By choosing shared rides or electric options, you can contribute to a greener environment and reduce your own carbon footprint while using their services.


15 Which one should you choose?

Uber And Lyft Smith Collection/Gado / Getty Images

The choice between Uber and Lyft hinges on your specific needs and priorities. International travelers may favor Uber, while Lyft excels domestically. Consider factors like pricing, safety, loyalty programs, and sustainability in your decision-making process. Both services offer valuable options, ensuring you can find the ride that best suits your preferences and circumstances.


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