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How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make? Per Hour, Per Ride

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Key Takeaways

  • Lyft drivers make an average of $14.87 per hour, with $11.38 as base pay, $2.38 in bonuses, and $1.32 from tips.
  • At 40 hours a week, drivers can earn about $594.80 weekly and roughly $30,929.60 annually.
  • Cities like Seattle, New York, and Denver offer average hourly rates between $20.84 to $30.80. The earnings can be influenced by city demand and cost of living.
  • Location, hours worked, type of Lyft service, rider tips, surge pricing, and company bonuses can all impact a driver’s total income.

If you’re looking to make some extra cash, want to work on your own schedule, or simply love driving around your area, then Lyft driving could be the side hustle for you!

As with any gig, there are many factors to consider before taking it on, with potential income being one (or even the most) significant aspect.

In this article, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about Lyft income, based on our analysis of real-world earnings data from 60 of the largest cities across the United States.

We’ll also discuss factors that influence it such as location, how often you work, bonuses, and more.

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make Before Expenses?

Lyft drivers, on average, make $14.87 per hour in the top 60 cities across the United States in 2023. Of that hourly number, $11.38 is base pay, $2.38 is bonus pay, and $1.32 is tips.

When we exclude earnings data that was heavily impacted by the pandemic-related dip in rider demand in 2020, 2021, and 2022, we find that the numbers are fairly consistent to our findings in our 2018 RIDES survey, which found that Uber and Lyft drivers earned $14.73 after tips.

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make per Week?

The amount of money you make per week can depend on how much you drive. If you have a full-time schedule of 40 hours a week, you could make about $594.80 per week.

However, you’d need to have a passenger every minute of those 40 hours. You may experience downtime, especially if you drive when there aren’t many rides available. Income can fluctuate, even if your schedule stays the same.

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make per Year?

Using the $14.87 per hour figure and a full-time schedule, you can make about $30,929.60 a year. But, that doesn’t account for any days off or downtime during your work.

Salary.com reports that drivers make $36,603 per year on average. Drivers in the bottom 10% make about $24,758 in a year. In the top 10%, they can make $52,078 annually.

If you want to make more per year, you may want to work more in a day or take fewer days off. Consider if that extra income is worth it before you spend more time away from your home.

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make per Trip?

In my personal experience, it is nearly impossible to calculate how much a driver earns per trip, as per-trip earnings are heavily impacted by factors such as when you drive, where you drive, and what type of Lyft service you drive with.

Longer rides will pay more in the same city. But you can also earn more if you drive in a more expensive city. And driving at peak times may allow you to earn more with each trip.

One example of a driver’s pay per trip is $7.98. This driver picked up two passengers and drove them for about two miles.

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make in Tips?

Tips are an excellent way to increase your earnings as a Lyft driver.

The amount you make in tips can depend on how often you drive, but it can also depend on your passengers.

Sometimes, you may get a lot of generous passengers who tip you well. But you might also get passengers who don’t leave a tip or who leave a small tip.

The more you drive, though, the more you can make in tips overall.

If you want to increase your earnings from tips, aim to provide excellent service. Consider having snacks or accessories on hand. Don’t hesitate to ask your riders how you can make their experience better.

Top-Paying Cities for Lyft Drivers

The numbers above are based on data from Solo’s Marketplace Insights. We’ve taken the 15 top cities among the 60 in total that we analyzed:

CityAverage Hourly PayBase Pay per HourBonus Pay per HourTips per Hour
New York22.1919.701.231.26
St. Louis20.7817.072.481.23
San Francisco18.6213.962.671.99
Bay Area18.4513.603.071.78
Las Vegas17.9112.512.952.45
San Diego16.6912.132.482.08
New Orleans16.4213.451.141.83
Top 15 Averages18.9214.512.661.76

The top-paying cities for Lyft drivers may not surprise you because the cities have higher costs of living. But, when we analyze the best times to drive in each of the top cities, it becomes clear that pay really varies by city:

The Best Times to Drive In Those Cities

CityBest Days to WorkBest Hours To WorkAmounts Earned
SeattleSunday, Monday, Friday5.00 AM30.75
New YorkSunday, Monday, Saturday11.00 PM28.21
DenverMonday, Wednesday, Friday1.00 AM26.44
St. LouisSunday, Wednesday, Saturday11.00 PM28.32
San FranciscoSunday, Monday, Tuesday8.00 AM28.99
Bay AreaSunday, Friday, Saturday11.00 PM24.88
BuffaloSunday, Friday, Saturday3.00 PM24.71
Las VegasSunday, Friday, Saturday4.00 AM26.11
PittsburghSunday, Wednesday, Thursday3.00 AM25.37
CharlestonSunday, Friday, Saturday10.00 PM20.87
MinneapolisSunday, Thursday, Saturday6.00 AM28.19
San DiegoSunday, Monday, Saturday11.00 PM23.67
DetroitSunday, Friday, Saturday7.00 AM25.81
New OrleansSunday, Monday, Friday3.00 AM21.76
CincinnatiSunday, Wednesday, Thursday7.00 AM22.48
Top 15 Averages25.77

What Can Drivers Expect to Make (Numbers according to Lyft)

Lyft breaks down driver work stages into these 3 periods:

  • Period 1 — Driver signs into the app
  • Period 2 — Accepts a ride request
  • Period 3 — Drives passengers to their destination

During Period 2 and 3, Lyft reports median earnings to be $29.47 an hour nationally and $31.18 an hour in their top 25 city markets.

In Period 1, the driver might be online but not driving customers.

This waiting will drive down average wages, as it is time spent working with no clientele. The amount that it affects wages is highly variable — some days can be slow, others extremely busy with almost no downtime.

Lyft reports that the hourly earning estimate that includes all 3 periods is $18.83 an hour nationally and $21.08 an hour in their top 25 markets.

Lyft driver salary: Lyft chart

But expenses should be taken into account, too. Rideshare drivers incur many while driving, but typically these come out to be $3–$5 an hour. However, this can vary based on your market.

In more expensive cities such as Washington, D.C., Boston, or Seattle, for instance, your expenses could be higher (especially if gas is expensive). However, more expensive cities tend to come with higher base pay, which generally offsets the higher operating cost.

Again, Lyft drivers are independent contractors, so there is no guaranteed yearly or hourly salary. Let’s break down what goes into your pay.

Lyft Driver Earnings Breakdown: How You Are Paid as a Lyft Driver

There are many base factors that influence how much you are paid as a Lyft driver before even considering external factors.

Each ride you drive earns you money based on the set fare or base fare, the time it takes you to complete, and the distance you are driving.

For example, a long ride with a long distance would make you more than a short ride with a long distance (and vice versa). Time, distance, and base fares all influence how much you will be paid.

The Factors Influencing Lyft Driver Earnings

Other factors that heavily influence the amount of money you make are:

  • The location you live and drive in
  • How many hours you work
  • The type of service you can offer, depending on your vehicle
  • Tips from your riders
  • Increase in price in surges
  • Bonuses offered by the company
  • Total earnings vs. net earnings
  • Operational costs
  • Lyft commission and fees from the company

There’s a lot there and it may seem daunting, but once it’s broken down it becomes easier to see how you can maximize your hours around your schedule!

1. Location

The location in which you live and drive has a huge influence on the amount of demand there is for your service, and subsequently the hours of work and base fare.

Base fares can vary by location in larger cities where the demand for rideshare services is higher. Along with this, there may be more drivers looking for the same customers as you.

Your location is important for understanding how much you might make on a certain day, which can overall help with stabilizing an income that’s unpredictable by nature.

Along with this, some cities may have higher demand depending on the time of year and how many tourists are visiting. For this reason, you might make more money in the summertime and less in the winter.

2. Hours Worked

The amount of hours you work at any job has an influence on how much income you can generate. In general, the more you work – the more you will make!

However, with Lyft, time is a valuable and expensive asset. It’s all about striking a healthy balance between working the right hours for you and not staying on the roads when there isn’t demand for your service.

Also as previously mentioned, you are an independent contractor when working with Lyft, which means there’s no requirement for them to pay you even if you’re driving around but not getting rides.

Working out the right hours for you means factoring in your personal availability, times when you are more likely to get customers, and not overworking yourself when driving.

3. Vehicle Type

Lyft offers two types of services to their customers: Standard and Lyft Lux.

Lyft Lux is the higher, premium service, defined by vehicle type and amenities. Vehicles that drive Lyft Lux are typically luxurious and larger, such as BMW or Tesla.

Customers pay a higher price for these services, so if you have a more luxurious vehicle you may qualify for this service — therefore increasing your income.

4. Rider Tips

As with many other rideshare services, customers can tip you on the app after the ride has finished.

As there is a big tipping culture in the US, you’re likely to be tipped based on the level of service you provide.

Being professional and effective at your job is likely to bring in more tips, and therefore more income!

Tips are given to drivers in their entirety, as Lyft doesn’t take a cut here. As such, earning tips is a great incentive as offering great service could mean a big increase to your bottom line!

5. Surge Pricing

Surge pricing refers to the increase in the base fare for rides based on a certain time or location of a ride.

These typically involve peak times when the demand to get to certain places is much higher.

For example, if you’ve ever tried to call a car home on a night out, you’ve probably been flabbergasted at the $50 cost of a ride that’s usually $10!

This is surge pricing in action: the more demand there is for rides, the higher the price will be (and the more a driver will make).

Adapting your hours to be available in these times is a good (but not guaranteed way) to increase your earnings.

6. Bonuses and Incentives

Bonuses and incentives are yet another way to increase your earnings.

Many rideshare companies such as Lyft will offer bonuses if you achieve certain tasks as a driver. For example, you may receive a bonus for completing your first 10 rides after signing up for the company.

In-app challenges are a fun way to boost earnings; a common challenge is completing a certain amount of rides in a week, after which you are compensated for your high participation rate!

Gross Earnings vs. Net Earnings

This is where the deductions start to take place. Although you may have made a certain amount of money from driving, there are multiple other costs that need to be factored into your final earnings.

Again, Lyft drivers work as independent contractors, meaning the company doesn’t provide a vehicle or cover insurance, maintenance costs, or fuel costs.

Gross earnings reflect the total amount of money you’ll earn before any deductions, and net earnings are what you’ll actually receive in the bank after all the extra costs have been deducted.

1. Operational Costs

Operational costs refer to the money you’ll spend on keeping your car up and running.

The vehicle itself can be a significant expense, as there may be car loans or repayments that need to be made monthly or yearly in order for you to keep the car.

There are also car warrants that ensure your car is road-safe, as well as relevant registrations, maintenance costs, fuel, and insurance.

These are all things that could pull money from your earnings at any time. Emergency situations such as repairs and accidents can also happen out of nowhere, so it is crucial to have an emergency fund or insurance to cover these incidents.

Taking care of a car can be expensive, so staying on top of how much you might need will help you immensely in the long run.

2. Lyft Commissions and Fees

Lyft takes a certain percentage of money off of every ride you drive. This is a huge influencing factor in how much you will make overall.

Most sources indicate that this is between 20 to 25%, but some have found that as much as 33% is taken in their cut!

This is a large percentage by any measure, and it is important to consider whether or not you are making enough hourly for it to be worth your while.

3. Taxes

Taxes are yet another cost that takes away from your gross earnings.

As you are an independent contractor, it is your responsibility to file your taxes either yearly or quarterly, so be sure to set aside a certain amount from your earnings to account for this when tax season rolls along!

Lyft driver salary: Expenses infographic

Lyft Pay Reviews [Driver Video Testimonial]

Let’s look at a real-world example of what an active Lyft driver is actually earning.

The creator of this video runs a well-known YouTube channel called RideShare Tips.

A few things to note about the driver before watching the video:

  • He is a part-time driver only
  • He works in Los Angeles, which is one of the higher-paying cities for rideshare driving

Take a look:

A Google quick search on “How much do Lyft drivers make?” will display results of people dissatisfied with driving with Lyft.

Some claim that it is an unreliable source of income and that driving with Lyft incurs high vehicle maintenance costs. This is true.

On the other hand, working for Lyft offer drivers flexibility as to when to drive and offers weekly guarantees on earnings. Taking part in power driver bonuses and driving while surge pricing applies can boost driver earnings.

From this video, we learn that Lyft earnings are affected by the following:

  • Lyft cost tends to be higher than Uber’s
  • Lyft takes a smaller commission than Uber
  • Hidden costs like vehicle maintenance, insurance costs, vehicle depreciation, and fuel also eat up part of the earnings, and these costs are particularly higher for Uber drivers

Is Driving for Lyft Worth It?

Driving for Lyft may or may not be worth it, so consider your situation. If you can drive full-time, then it will probably be worth it. This is especially true if you drive during busier times.

On the other hand, if you only drive once per week, you may not make a lot of money. Most of your earnings might go toward taxes and driving expenses.

Before you join, be sure to consider maintenance costs and other expenses. Think about how much time you have to drive each week and if you’ll make good money in that time.

Wrapping Up

So, there you have it: everything you need to know about how much Lyft drivers earn and the important factors that can influence the outcome!

If you’re thinking of becoming a Lyft driver, make sure to weigh up all of these factors so that you can maximize your earnings for the amount of time you work.

Hopefully, you’ve now gained a better understanding and can make a confident decision about this potential side hustle. Happy driving, and good luck!

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