Rideshare vs. Food Delivery: Which is A Better Side Hustle?

Considering a side hustle?

You should be. The best way to improve your financial situation is to make more money. You can be frugal as you want, but if you don’t have a good income stream, financial independence will always be beyond reach.

Two popular side hustles are working as a rideshare driver or working as a delivery driver. Both have low levels of entry, meaning that you don’t need any special skills to do the work. You just need a vehicle and the willingness to put in the time and get the job done.

Today I’m comparing ridesharing and food delivery to see which is a better side hustle. I’ll discuss the various options available, what the day to day workload looks like, how much they pay and much more.

Rideshare vs. Delivery Options

There’s no question about it – there are many more delivery companies than there are rideshare companies. When it comes to rideshare, there are the big two: Uber and Lyft. Uber and Lyft are everywhere, but they aren’t the only ones. Juno and Via also provide ridesharing, but they’re much smaller than the big two. Via is only available in a handful of cities, and Juno is available in even less.

But when we talk about delivery services, it’s a whole different ball game. There are tons of options to choose from. For food and meal delivery, you have your pick of Postmates, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats. There’s also Caviar, Favor and a variety of smaller companies.

And let’s not forget about Instacart. What makes Instacart a little bit different is that they deliver groceries as opposed to meals.

And then there’s Amazon Flex, where you’ll deliver mostly packages.

The winner in this category is:

Food Delivery

Variety is great because each delivery company has their own perks and downfalls. Plus, many of them offer driver sign-up bonuses, so it’s worth it to give each of them a try to see which you like the most.

Rideshare vs. Delivery Vehicle Requirements

The vehicle requirements for rideshare and delivery vary quite a bit. Generally speaking, vehicle requirements for delivery are more relaxed than for rideshare. When someone gets into an Uber or a Lyft, they want a clean, pleasant ride. When they order food, they don’t care what type of vehicle brings it to them.

Most delivery services don’t care at all what kind of vehicle you drive. In some cities you don’t even need a car – you can use a scooter or a bike. Uber and Lyft, on the other hand, are very specific about the type of vehicle you drive. In many cases, it needs to be a newer vehicle with at least four doors. So if you’ve got an old junker or a small sports car with two doors, you can forget about driving for Uber or Lyft.

Uber and Lyft have a variety of service levels, and the one you can drive for depends on the type of vehicle you have. For example, if you have a standard 4 door car, you can drive for UberX. If you have a larger vehicle that can fit more passengers, you can drive for UberXL. And if you have a luxury sedan, you can drive for UberBlack.

With rideshare, the nicer your car, the more money you can make. With food delivery, you could drive an Aston Martin and still the same amount of money.

Check out this pages to see Uber vehicle requirements.

The winner in this category is:


This category is a tie for a few reasons. Food delivery has the advantage because the requirements are more relaxed – so if you don’t qualify for Uber or Lyft, you can always try delivery. Ridesharing has an advantage because there is higher earning potential if you drive a vehicle that can qualify for UberXL, LyftXL, UberBLACK or LyftLUX.

Rideshare vs. Delivery Work

Before you take on any new gig, you’ve got to know what it’s all about. What does the work entail? What do you actually have to do? What are your responsibilities?

Keep reading for a breakdown of what you can expect as a rideshare or delivery driver.

What to expect from ridesharing:

The job of a rideshare driver is simple. All you have to do is pick people up, drive to their destination, and drop them off. You’ll spend your days (or nights) driving from place to place without ever even having to get out of your car. For rideshare drivers, the busiest times include the morning rush hour, the evening rush hour, and Friday and Saturday nights (or any other time people are drinking). Drivers deal directly with their passengers, some of which are very talkative and some of which don’t want to talk at all. And if you’re driving late at night, you can expect to pick up your fair share of drunk people.

Uber and Lyft require that you keep your car clean at all times. It’s also a good idea to have some sort of music playing for your passengers – just be prepared to change the music depending on their personal taste.

One big distinction between rideshare and delivery is the hours.

The most lucrative hours for rideshare drivers are late at night when the bars close. Delivery drivers, on the other hand, are busiest during meal times such as lunch and dinner. In some cases, delivery drivers may find work in the late night hours as well.

What to expect when delivering:

Whether you’re delivering food, meals, or packages, the work is pretty much the same. You’ll have to drive to the store, Amazon delivery center, or restaurant to pick up an order. You’ll have to get out of your car, retrieve whatever it is that you’re delivering, and take it to the customer’s location.

It’s much more active and physical than ridesharing, as you’ll need to get in and out of your car frequently to do your pickups and drop-offs. You’re also expected to drop orders off directly at the customer’s door. This makes it a bit tricky for drivers in big cities. It can be challenging to find parking and gain entry into an apartment building in order to reach the customer’s door.

There’s one other factor that makes a big difference between delivery and rideshare. With deliveries, there is more downtime and waiting involved. On occasion, you’ll need to spend time at restaurants waiting for the food to be prepared.

With Uber or Lyft, if you arrive at a pickup location and the passenger isn’t there, you can cancel the ride. But if you deliver food, you can’t cancel the order simply because it’s not ready when you reach the restaurant. You’re not paid for the time you wait – so this is a big drawback for delivery.

The winner in this category is:


This category is a tie because it comes down to personal preference. If you are a night owl and a people person, ridesharing is definitely the way to go. If you want to avoid people and late nights, stick to delivery.

Rideshare vs. Delivery Pay

Ultimately, how much you earn as a rideshare driver or delivery driver depends on where and when you work. Uber and Lyft pay per pickup and factor in a combination of the time it takes and the distance you drive. Both offer bonuses in the form of Prime and Surge pricing, which is a great way to earn more money per ride. Unlike delivery, it is pretty easy to anticipate Prime and Surge. There are also different price levels based upon the type of vehicle you drive. Drivers with larger vehicles and luxury vehicles earn more per ride.

Most delivery companies, on the other hand, pay a flat fee for each delivery plus a per mile fee to account for how many miles each order requires you to drive. Some delivery apps offer bonus pricing during busy times, but those times are almost impossible to predict.

Both rideshare and delivery drivers have the ability to earn tips, though research shows that food delivery drivers tend to get more tips. The exception to this is Uber Eats, which has a very low tip percentage.

As for hourly wages, the typical earnings are pretty much the same. Depending on when and where you drive, most people earn between $8-18 per hour. Some services, like Amazon Flex, tend to pay a little more. UberBlack and LyftLux drivers have the potential to earn considerably more by providing a higher level of service.

Whether you drive for rideshare or delivery, you work as an independent contractor. That means you are required to cover all of your own expenses, including gas, vehicle maintenance, and anything else you need to do your job.

The winner in this category is:

It depends

Not the most exciting answer, I know, but let me explain. If you drive for a luxury service, you’ll make a lot more money than delivery. When it comes to delivery, Amazon Flex is one of the best paying gigs out there. The standard hourly rate for Amazon Flex is higher than most rideshare drivers.

Pros and Cons of Rideshare

Now that we’ve taken a look at the basics, let’s dig a little bit deeper to see if we can find a clear winner. There are pros and cons to any job, so you’ll have to weigh your options to know which side hustle is best for you.

Pros of Rideshare:

Surge and Primetime Pricing: If you learn to anticipate Prime and Surge pricing, you can make a ton of money as a rideshare driver. Pro tip: switch between both apps to maximize earnings.

No walking: You can be as lazy as you want when you’re driving for Uber or Lyft. You can sit in your car your entire shift and never have to get out (unless you want to).

No waiting at restaurants: You’ll never waste time waiting for food to be prepared at a restaurant. Yes, there may be times when you’re waiting for a ride request, but at least you can sit in the comfort of your car.

Cons of Rideshare:

Drunk passengers: You can be sure that you will have to deal with some drunk riders. They can be obnoxious and loud, and they might even make a mess that you’ll have to clean up.

You have to keep a clean car: You must keep your car clean at all times. In between each ride you should check to make sure that your backseat is clean for the next passenger.

Stricter vehicle requirements: Before you can drive for Uber or Lyft you’ll need to make sure your vehicle makes the cut.

Pros and Cons of Delivery

So what are the pros and cons of being a delivery driver? These are the main ones:

Pros of Delivery:

Limited interaction with customers: If you don’t want strangers in your car or don’t want to deal with drunk people, this is a big plus.

Lower vehicle requirements: It doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle you drive as long as it’s registered and insured. If your car doesn’t qualify for ridesharing, delivery is a good alternative.

No need to keep your car clean: As long as you make your deliveries within a timely fashion, no one cares what your car looks like inside or out.

Cons of Delivery:

The smell of food in your car: There’s no way around it – your car is going to smell like the food you’re delivering.

You can’t earn more with a nicer vehicle: The type of car you have is irrelevant. You’ll make the same amount of money with a Mercedes as you will with a Kia.

Getting into apartment buildings: This isn’t such a big deal for food deliveries where you expect the customer to be home. But it can be extremely tough for Amazon Flex drivers who are dropping off packages when the customer is away.

Parking: If you live in a big city, parking can be a nightmare. In some neighborhoods in some metro areas, it’s seemingly impossible.

Waiting at restaurants: You will experience downtime waiting for food at restaurants. And you won’t be paid for that time.

So What’s Better? Rideshare or Delivery

So what’s better, rideshare or delivery? It all depends on two factors: the car you drive and if you want to deal with people.

If your car doesn’t meet the vehicle requirements to drive for Uber or Lyft, the choice is simple –go with delivery. If you have a luxury vehicle, there’s no question about it – driving for UberBLACK or LyftLUX will make you the most money.

And if you have a car that qualifies for basic rides, like UberX or regular Lyft, then the choice is yours. Our suggestion? Bounce back and forth between both. Drive in the morning, during the evening rush, and late at night when people leave the bars. Deliver food and meals during the lunch and dinner rush.

No matter what hustle you pick, you’re moving in the right direction.


Brett Helling
Brett Helling
I’m a serial entrepreneur who specializes in building, growing, and maintaining successful websites. I’m probably best known as the owner of Ridester - a rideshare information site that provides expert insights on the gig economy to over 900,000 readers each month. When I'm not overseeing my team of writers, I spend as much time as possible reading, working out, or playing with my dog Baxter (insert Anchorman reference here). Looking to partner up to grow your website traffic or work on a new venture? Send me a message and we'll see how we can work together.

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