- Clarke Bowman
- All Uber and Lyft passengers are rated between 1 and 5 after their ride.
- I’ve been driving for Uber and Lyft for almost a year, and I can often judge what kind of rider you are based on your passenger rating.
- I’ve learned that a perfect 5.0 rating may not be what it seems, that a rating in the high 4.9s is the sweet spot, and that if you’re below a 4.6, you can forget about me ever picking you up.
- Here’s what Uber and Lyft drivers really think about you based on your rating.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
One of those things is learning what someone’s passenger rating really means.
Drivers for the ride-hailing apps use the rating system to signal to other drivers who’s a good passenger and who may be a bad one. We can rate passengers only after a trip – Uber drivers have to enter a rating before accepting the next ride, while Lyft automatically gives passengers a perfect rating unless the driver manually changes it.
You can check your Uber passenger rating in the top left corner of the app’s home screen, while Lyft passengers are unable to view their rating.
Though a rating can technically range from 1 to 5, almost all passenger ratings are between 4.5 and 5.0. I have never seen a rating below 4.5, and I have never heard of anyone, driver or passenger, having a rating below 4.0.
Nobody knows the exact formula for a passenger rating, but it seems to be heavily weighted toward five stars. For example, if a driver gives you five stars and the next driver gives you one star, your rating won’t suddenly be three stars. Drivers have their own theories about the formula – I recently heard one driver claim that every passenger starts out with 100 five-star ratings and that future ratings are factored in after that. But nobody knows for sure.
Regardless of how ratings are calculated, one thing that is for sure is that drivers often judge passengers by their ratings, as it’s one of the only pieces of information they get before they choose to accept or decline your ride request. Sometimes I misjudge people based on their rating, but more often than not my intuition is right.
I give most of my passengers five stars, unless they commit major violations of passenger etiquette. It’s worth noting that, according to Uber and Lyft, if a driver gives a passenger three stars or lower, they will supposedly never be matched in the future. And a low passenger rating means future drivers might be less likely to accept your ride request, which might result in a longer wait for you to be picked up.
Now, my experience driving and rating passengers is limited to my South Florida area, but I’ve talked with many drivers from all over the world, and it seems like opinions on passenger ratings are generally universal.
That said, here’s what your Uber or Lyft driver thinks about you based on your rating.
If you have a perfect 5.0 rating, you are either the perfect passenger or you’re brand new.
- Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Lyft
Five-point-oh: the elusive perfect rating. Five stars means perfection, no faults, and excellence. Or does it?
I remember when I first started driving for Lyft, an in-app notification told me to not be worried, as my first few ratings would not count against me. I’m sure lots of new drivers are nervous and might be poorly rated on those first few rides. I’ve always thought that maybe something like this also happens for new passengers.
I have accepted dozens of five-star passengers on Lyft, and then as I arrive I receive a notification that says “Make sure to welcome (person) as this is their first ride!”
I have also accepted many five-star passengers on Uber who get in the car and tell me, “This is my first time using Uber!” So I’m pretty sure new users start out with a perfect five-star rating.
I also had one guy tell me one day that he had been using Uber for years, had a perfect rating, and wanted to “keep it that way” as he handed me a $5 bill.
I’ve also given dozens of rides to five-star passengers who were just great, normal passengers. Some riders chatted happily and we had a great conversation, while others simply nodded and popped headphones in and were silent. I don’t judge people on whether they want to talk, and both of these types of people are great in my eyes.
If I see a 5.0 rating, chances are you are a good passenger. I am going to accept your ride, even though there’s a chance you’re just a first-time rider.
If your rating is between 4.94 and 4.99, you are a great passenger with lots of experience.
- Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft
For the longest time, my driver rating was a perfect 5.0 on both Uber and Lyft.
I was so proud of myself. As a passenger, I never had a five-star Uber or Lyft driver, so I knew that having a perfect rating was rare. I held on to that 5.0 like a shiny badge and told everyone who cared to know. It was the pinnacle of being a great driver and maintaining a clean car.
Then one day I checked my Uber driver profile, and my jaw dropped: 4.99.
I clicked on the ratings breakdown, and there it was: my first four-star rating (who rates someone four stars?!), a blemish on my perfect record. It was like staring at my first pimple in the middle of my forehead. I was honestly upset. I had no idea who rated me four stars, and the person who left that rating didn’t leave any feedback, so I’m not even sure what it was I did wrong.
Though since then I’ve gotten a couple more four-star ratings – never finding out why – I’m still rated a 4.99 on Uber and on Lyft. But in a way, to me, 4.99 is almost more impressive than 5.0, because now people know that you have experience to your name. People regularly comment on it and say, “Your rating is pretty high at 4.99. You must be pretty good.”
I can say the same about passengers when their rating is between 4.94 and 4.99. It means they are fantastic and they have lots of experience as riders.
Sure, they somehow got a four-star rating or two along the way, but they know the drill: They’re probably waiting at the curb, they’re probably pleasant, and they might even leave a good tip.
I have never had a passenger in this range who was remotely bad; all were wonderful people. The second I see a rating in this range on a ride request, I’m immediately tapping accept.
If your rating is between 4.80 and 4.93, you are still a good passenger, but you’ve gotten quite a few less-than-perfect ratings. Why?
- Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
I hand out five stars like candy to almost every passenger who rides in my Prius. You have to really do something wrong to earn less than five stars from me. I don’t really believe in handing out ratings of two, three, or four stars.
But I am not every driver out there, and some drivers are apparently very stingy with their five stars. A driver might give out less than five stars for any number of reasons: They think you slammed the door, or were rude, or talked too loud on the phone, or annoyed them, or took too long to arrive, or had a loud, drunk friend with you.
I have no idea why some drivers rate the way they rate, but some are like this. In my opinion, it’s not fair, and it’s not respectful, especially when there are cultural differences among many people of different ages and backgrounds.
If a person was decently polite, didn’t leave a mess, and didn’t really do anything wrong, then they should get five stars.
Whatever the reason is for your slightly lower rating, it’s still OK. You’re probably still a good passenger, and you should have no problem getting drivers to accept your ride. I have driven passengers who have ratings in this range, and all were perfectly fine.
Seriously, don’t sweat it.
If you’re between a 4.7 and 4.79, you’re a solid passenger, but you may have a slightly questionable history.
- Spencer Platt/Getty
All right, who made your past drivers upset?
Was it your drunk friend Alice? Was she yelling super loud again? Yeah, it was definitely Alice.
The mid-4.70s is where things start to get a little hmm. Chances are you’re probably a decent passenger, but you have done something in the past to earn a few poor ratings. It’s very likely you even received a three-star rating, since drivers know they won’t be matched in the future with a passenger they give three or fewer stars.
But even though you have gotten some lousy ratings, you still have had quite a few five-star ratings, so you’re still likely a good passenger.
I’ll let everyone in on a little secret: I love most riders in this rating range. Though these people have a lower-than-average rating, they’re perfectly normal. I have no idea why they have a lower rating, but whenever they’re in my car, they’re pretty good. Most tend to not talk too much, so it’s a nice break to take a quiet ride and listen to the music. The ones who do talk tend to talk a lot, but they often tell the best and craziest stories.
If I were in this rating range, I wouldn’t worry too much, but I would be trying to take steps to improve my rating – make sure you are always ready when the driver arrives, don’t eat in the car or make a mess, and consider tipping a few dollars in cash at the end of a ride. Some drivers won’t accept riders rated lower than 4.8, and this may mean it takes a while longer to find you a ride if it’s busy.
If you’re between a 4.6 and 4.69, I hate to say it, but you may be a bad passenger.
- Mario Tama/Getty Images
We are now reaching the bottom of the barrel in terms of ratings, as almost all ratings seem to be between 4.5 and 5.0.
If you’re in the 4.6 range, you might not know it, but you may be a bad passenger.
Do you slam doors? Do you ask your driver questions that are entirely too personal? Do you holler and scream? Are you dirty? Do you get in the car after the driver has been waiting for almost five minutes? Do you make a mess in the car?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be a bad passenger. If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, you might be a bad passenger.
That $12 Bluetooth speaker on Amazon didn’t earn a one-star review because it worked amazingly well. It earned a one-star review because it quit working, wouldn’t connect, and had poor sound quality.
You didn’t earn a rating somewhere in the 4.6 range because you’re a good passenger. You earned a poor rating because you have made quite a few drivers upset to the point where they purposely left you a bad review.
You for sure have earned a few threes so drivers would never get matched with you again, and you might even have a couple of ones mixed in there.
I don’t know what you did, but a lot of other drivers were clearly not OK with you, so why should I be?
I honestly don’t receive too many requests in this range, but when I do I tend to reject them, as it’s just not worth my headache.
Of course, I don’t always take my own advice.
I remember a few months ago it was very slow in the afternoon, and I don’t know why but I accepted a 4.6-ish rider ride on Lyft. A woman got in the car, and I immediately wanted her out. She hopped in the front seat in my Prius, pushed her seat all the way back, and started complaining about how small my car was. She smelled awful, like an old battery, which I didn’t even know was possible. I wanted to cancel the ride and tell her to get out, but she was acting crazy and I was honestly a little scared for my safety, or at least scared of her freaking out. Her destination was only 10 minutes away, so I decided to just deal with it.
So off we went down the road. Then mid-ride, without the woman telling me, my Lyft app notifies me we’ve changed destinations, and there are now two stops.
“Did you mean to change this?” I asked. She said yes. All right.
We arrive at a house, and another equally awful-smelling woman gets in the car. Two of them! Thankfully the next stop was only a short way away. The two started arguing loudly in a language I didn’t recognize. The arguing escalated into yelling, almost like it was a competition for who could get louder. I had no idea what was going on. It was like I didn’t even exist as these two were practically shouting at the top of their lungs.
A very long five minutes later, I dropped them off. The lady in the passenger seat turned to me and said, “Slow.” She slammed the door and left. I gave her a one-star rating and left a comment on the app describing her as “probably the rudest passenger I have ever had.”
And if your rating is somehow between 4.5 and 4.59, you are a bad passenger, and I will never, ever accept your ride request.
- Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock
A passenger in this low rating range is likely everything a 4.6-er is, but worse.
I will absolutely not accept a ride from a passenger in this range. Ever.
The rating scale is like the Richter scale for earthquakes, but in reverse: The lower the number, the exponentially worse a passenger is – ruder, louder, dirtier.
When I started, I accepted rides from almost anyone. It took only a few low-rated passengers to change my mind.
Passengers love to ask me, “Have you ever had anyone throw up in your car?” When I say no, some actually seem kind of upset that I don’t have a wild vomit story to tell.
The thought of vomit makes me squirm. It’s disgusting. Knock on wood, but I haven’t had any bad experiences with vomit in my car yet.
Part of the reason I believe I’ve had no one vomit in my vehicle is that I no longer accept low-rated passengers, especially late at night. I have rejected quite a few 4.5 and 4.6 passengers from 11 p.m. on, and I know other drivers do the same. The reason is simple: Bad ratings come from lots of one-star reports, and one-star reports most likely came from drivers who had to deal with a vomiting passenger.
The quickest way to make a driver leave a one-star review is to vomit in their vehicle. Not only is it plain disgusting, but they’re likely done driving for the night because their interior’s covered in vomit, right at the busiest time of night when they’re likely to make the most money.
There is no place to properly clean a vehicle late at night, so the driver likely has to clean it themselves or wait until the morning. Hopefully the pictures they take for Uber or Lyft support aren’t blurry, because they now have to begin the process of opening a support ticket with the companies to receive a cleaning fee. Sometimes the drivers are never reimbursed, because Uber and Lyft want a professional receipt, and if the driver cleaned their car themselves then they obviously won’t have one.
If your rating is in this range, do not be surprised if you have to wait a very long time for a ride, as drivers are probably consistently rejecting your requests. In fact, if your rating remains this low for too long, you might even be kicked off the platform.
One slow afternoon, I received a request from a passenger with a 4.55 rating, which is very low. I had to see how someone could have such a bad rating. I just had to. I accepted the ride.
I’ve written about this guy before, but here is what happened.
I pulled up to a restaurant in the middle of the afternoon. Almost immediately, I regretted accepting this ride. This behemoth of a man, walking like a giant in a kid’s movie, stumbled his way over to my car. Clearly drunk, he opened the door and said, “You the Uber?” I almost wanted to tell him no and cancel the ride, but I froze.
He got in, and I wanted out. He smelled like old cheese and old cabbage, and I hate cabbage.
We’re driving away, and he whips out a vape pen and asks me if he can smoke it. I tell him no.
Staring out the window, he asks me if I voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I tell him I don’t discuss politics.
He then aggressively tapped on my shoulder and said, “You seem cool. Are you a pepperoni-pizza or a pineapple-pizza kind of guy?” I said pepperoni, and to please not touch me. He replied, “Oh, cool,” and then started humming along loudly – and horribly off-beat – to a tune that sounded nothing like the song that was playing on the stereo, while simultaneously tapping on the window and rubbing his belly.
His shirt had food stains all over it, and every time he took a breath it sounded like he had sleep apnea. He would also randomly interrupt his humming to let out a loud burp.
After a 10-minute ride and what felt like an eternity, we arrived at his house. He got out and slammed my door. I turned around, and he had left such large sweat stains on my seat that it looked like someone was still sitting there.
Well, that’s what you get for accepting a 4.55 ride, I told myself.
And forget about passengers rated below 4.5 — they probably don’t exist.
- Robert Alexander/Getty Images
To date, I have never seen a rating lower than 4.5. When I do finally receive one of these requests, I am not going to find out how the passenger is rated so poorly.
Be courteous, respectful, and kind to keep your rating high. And remember that your drivers are people too.
- Carlos Jasso/Reuters
At the end of the day, a rating really is subjective.
People like and dislike all types of things. One driver may love your bubbly and talkative personality, while another having a bad day and a headache may not. One driver may love your perfume, while the strong scent makes another driver nauseous.
Your rating will change, and it will fluctuate. Your rating may drop even though you are a good person. I have taken only a few rides as a passenger, and each time I was quiet and respectful and left a tip. Regardless, my rating is a 4.94, meaning at least one driver left me four stars or fewer.
Chances are you will have a driver at some point who is very stingy with their stars.
If you receive mostly good ratings with only a few bad ratings, then the sporadic low ones are probably a problem with those specific drivers.
If you receive mostly bad ratings from almost all your drivers, then, to be honest, the problem probably lies with yourself.
To keep the best possible passengers in their vehicle, drivers tend to reject lower-rated passengers – especially late at night and when it’s busy – often leaving them waiting a long time for a ride.
Remember that the person behind the wheel is a human too, with their own thoughts, feelings, and loved ones at home. We deserve to be treated with respect as well.
Yes, we get paid to do this job, but give your driver a sincere “thank you” the next time you’re in a ride, since at least one of us is available almost 24/7 to help deliver you safely to your destination.