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The Best Times to Drive for Lyft [& Earn the Most]

Last updated: October 5, 2021
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vector graphic showing the best times to drive for lyft - on a grid map

If you are a new Lyft driver, we’re sure you’ve been asking yourself that burning question: “How do I make the most money?”

While there are many elements that go into finding the best times to drive for Lyft, one of the most vital elements to getting the most out of your new job is timing.

In this guide, we will dive into the best times to drive for Lyft.

The Factors That Heavily Impact Earnings and Demand

Several factors go into making the most extra cash while driving for Lyft.

It all boils down to a very simple concept: you have to be where the most riders are during the busiest times.

It seems obvious: you go where and when the customers need you.

So, how do you know when that is?

We’ll explain what to look for so that you can always be in the right place at the right time.

1. Location

The where is just as important as the when.

If you are in a densely populated area (like New York City or Chicago), the number of potential passengers waiting for you will be different than if you were in a small town in the Midwest.

Get to know your area and your customer base.

Rush hour may be different in a college town, for example, than in a vacation hot spot.

Therefore, surge pricing and passenger availability will vary!

2. Time of Year

As we previously mentioned, the cost of Lyft is different from city to city.

This is also impacted by the time of year.

If you’re driving in a beachy tourist destination, you’ll want to load up your schedule in the summers and be more strategic during the off-season.

When working near a ski resort, you will want to focus on popular times that vacationers need transportation in the winter.

You must know what the trends are in your area and when the most riders will need your services.

3. Passenger Type

Additionally, know your passenger!

Will you be driving businesspeople to and from the airport or college students back to their dorm after a night out?

If you live in a booming metro, it may be both!

The key is knowing where to be and when to be there.

The type of passenger you are driving can also affect your tips.

A broke college student may not be able to shell out as much as an executive.

While tips are not your primary source of income, choosing when to serve which demographic may benefit you.

With all of these variables, there are still some universal tips that will help you maximize your extra money.

We put together tried and tested methods to best know when to drive for Lyft.

These are general guidelines that usually apply across the board.

These tips typically apply regardless of location.

While deciding on a schedule, keep in mind the best times to drive.

The Best Times to Drive for Lyft

Look for Two Spots

Then finding the best times to drive for Lyft, it’s important to look for two spots.

1. Peak Hours

Lyft Peak Hours are when Lyft drivers earn their highest pay rate.

This is during the busiest, most popular times.

During these times, riders pay premium fares, which means more money for you.

Sometimes, you may choose not to drive during Peak Hours if they occur simultaneously with rush hour traffic.

It may take trial and error to decide.

2. Hot Spots

Hot Spots are part of a feature that Lyft includes on the map in Driver Mode.

It shows the rideshare driver where to go to maximize earnings by highlighting the busiest areas.

Hot Spots show you where people are requesting rides from Lyft.

Combining Peak Hours with Hot Spots will help you easily boost your income!

Times for Peak Hours and Hot Spots

While Peak Hours can vary depending on location, knowing the typical times for surge pricing will help you plan when to accept riders.

vector graphic showing the best times to drive for lyft - on a grid map

Early Mornings

Early in the morning is surprisingly one of the best times to drive for Lyft.

Starting work at 3:00 or 4:00 AM means that you are up against less competition; other drivers are still sleeping!

Why might someone need to use a rideshare app at 4:00 AM?

Perhaps they work an early shift, are heading home from an overnight job, or need to catch a 6:00 AM flight!

Around 5:00 and 6:00 AM, you may encounter commuters who utilize Lyft to get to work.

If you hit the road early, you can both maximize your fares by working during Peak Hours and avoid 8-and-9:00 AM rush hour!

Friday and Saturday Nights

Surge pricing also occurs during the evenings at the end of the week.

Positioning yourself near nightclubs, bars, theaters, and restaurants will give you plenty of opportunities to pick up passengers heading home after a night out.

If you have a nearby college, you can grab students on their way out for some fun.

The cons here are traffic and the possibility of inebriated passengers.

If that fact is not daunting to you, the extra pay and tips make this time worth it!

Daytime Weekends

Mid-day weekends are not prime times for airports or business traffic, so during these hours, you will likely see Hot Spots in residential areas.

Weekends are when people go to parks, beaches, lakes, amusement parks, and other attractions.

This is also when you will pick up riders running errands.

Special Events

It’s important to know what’s going on in your region.

Large concerts, rallies, conventions, political events, and other special affairs that draw large crowds will cause driver apps to explode with business.

During these times, make sure you are nearby to take advantage of peak pricing!

3. Other Areas to Look

While the times listed above are some of the best times to drive for Lyft, there are even more that you should consider.

Airport Rides

While early mornings are great for departures, keep an eye on your local airport’s schedule and know when planes arrive.

While you want to be farther away in the mornings to cash in on the longest rides to the airport, during busy arrival times you should be close by and ready to drive passengers home after their flight.

Lunch Breaks

Typically, business districts are busy during lunch hours.

These are between 11 AM and 2 PM.

Making sure that you are downtown when everybody is ready to catch a ride to lunch will help you maximize profits!

Best Tips to Make More as a Lyft Driver

While it is important to plan the best times to drive to make the most money, there are other significant factors to consider to put extra cash into your pocket.

We put together just a few tips to help you succeed as an independent contractor with Lyft.

Read carefully, because the tips below can help increase Lyft ratings, which means less chance of a driver deactivation.

Reduce Dead Miles

“Dead miles” refers to the time you spend driving with no passenger in the car.

This means that you are putting mileage and wear-and-tear on your vehicle, as well as using your gas and valuable time without compensation.

For example, if you accept long trips that take you out of your region or the area in which you prefer to work, they may pay more, but the rides back to your area with no rider are dead miles.

To reduce dead miles, strategically plan your day around common destinations where you know passengers are both coming and going.

This will ensure that you can easily pick up a customer soon after dropping one off.

Be Friendly

While driving in Hot Spots and during Peak Hours will increase your driver pay rate, remember that you also depend on tips.

If you are friendly and warm, they are more likely to show their appreciation with a tip through the Lyft app

Listen to Passengers

While conversations should be two-sided, remember that you are providing a service and that the rider is paying you!

When they talk, listen.

Do not dominate the conversation, and consider their requests.

They may want to listen to certain music, or they may request to ride in silence.

Whatever their whim, within reason, be accommodating.

It will pay off!

Maintain Your Vehicle

You are responsible for maintaining your car or SUV.

Lyft has driver requirements such as a background check, insurance specifications, and vehicle requirements.

Make sure that you pay attention to what Lyft requires of your vehicle.

You should make any repair as soon as possible.

This also applies to oil changes, window washer fluid, and window wiper blades.

Making sure that your vehicle is in good working order and is clean and pleasant ensures both your safety and the rider experience, leading to higher tips.

Maximize Tax Write-Offs

As an independent contractor and not an employee of Lyft, you are responsible for paying taxes.

This means that expenses can be written off when you file with the IRS.

Keep detailed records.

Gas, mileage, and wear-and-tear are all possible tax write-offs.

We recommend an app that tracks your mileage for your tax records to make this easier.

Suggested: Lyft Taxes: Documents, Checklists, & Essential Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about the best times to drive for Lyft?

Keep reading below for answers to your questions.

What time is Lyft most expensive?

Generally, peak pricing is most common during early mornings (6:00-9:00 AM) and evening rush hour traffic (5:00-7:00 PM).

What are the cheapest times for Lyft?

Lyft is the least expensive during off-peak times.

This can be weekday evenings or mid-day.

This will of course vary with location, weather, and current events just like peak pricing.

Should I count on Lyft rider tips, or should I treat those as a bonus?

While tipping is a standard practice in the United States, not all riders tip their drivers.

As a Lyft driver, you should never expect or count on tips.

Instead, focus on maximizing your driver payout and providing excellent service in the hopes that your passengers will tip you.

Treat it as a nice bonus for your hard work.

Wrapping Up

Driving for Lyft can be a lucrative side hustle in today’s gig economy.

As gig workers, we learn to maximize our earning potential so we can spend less time working and more time relaxing or with our family.

Because of this, it’s important to know the best times to drive for Lyft.

This will free you up to live your life how you see fit.

So, as you get out there to drive, remember to pay attention to location, time of year, time of day, special events, Peak Hours, and Hot Spots.

Use the tips in this guide to make as much extra money as you can.

Hopefully, you now have the knowledge you need to go out there and be the most successful Lyft driver you can be!

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