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How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make, Really? Factors That Eat Into Lyft Driver Salary

Over the last few years, there has been an ever-increasing interest in driving with Lyft. It’s a quick way to earn extra money and drive on your own schedule, that’s for sure, and this combination of easy money, minimal startup costs, and easy accessibility has driven many to drive for the Lyft platform. But how...

Over the last few years, there has been an ever-increasing interest in driving with Lyft. It’s a quick way to earn extra money and drive on your own schedule, that’s for sure, and this combination of easy money, minimal startup costs, and easy accessibility has driven many to drive for the Lyft platform. But how much can drivers really make?

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Disclosure: Ridester.com is supported by our users. We may recieve compensation from the companies whose products we write about, test, or review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

I’m pretty excited about what we’ve discovered, so let’s jump right in.

How Lyft Pays Drivers

While it’s understandable to ask questions about Lyft salaries, it’s important to understand that Lyft does not pay its drivers a salary. In fact, Lyft doesn’t even pay drivers an hourly rate or even minimum wage per se.

This is because Lyft drivers are independent contractors. They get paid a percentage of the fare that passengers pay when they take a Lyft ride. In addition to this, Lyft drivers also get to keep all tips they receive from passengers, as well as the occasional earnings guarantee incentive that Lyft will offer as an incentive to get drivers to put in hours during times of high demand.

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make?

In our 2018 Ridester Independent Drivers’ Earnings Survey, we polled over 2,600 drivers and found drivers averaging around $17.50 per hour – around $2 per hour more than Uber drivers.

These survey results contrast with earning data from Certify, which found that Uber drivers make an average of $25.73 per hour.

Lyft driver salary: A screenshot of hourly Lyft, Uber, and Taxi driver averages
An illustration from Certify’s infographic highlighting average hourly driver pay for Uber drivers, Lyft drivers, and taxi drivers.

Earnest, a lending company, reports median earnings of Lyft drivers at $210 per month, compared to $155 per month for Uber drivers.

Lyft and Uber earnings for drivers fall at approximately the same national average per month, but Lyft drivers earn more in tips. Interestingly, the drivers who work on both platforms earn more on Uber.

Related: How Much Do Uber Drivers Make?

Here’s the full list of average and median incomes for various gig economy workers, as reported by the Earnest study:

RankCompanyAverage/MonthMedian/Month
1Airbnb$924$440
2TaskRabbit$380$110
3Lyft$377$210
4Uber$364$155
5Doordash$229$100
6Postmates$174$70
7Etsy$151$40
8Fiverr$103$60
9Getaround$98$70
Overall$299$109

This study also looked at how many drivers fall into the different income categories:

Lyft driver salary: Income distribution
A graph illustrating the percentage breakdown of monthly income earned through popular on-demand platforms.

The graph above indicates that the majority of Lyft drivers either earned $0–$99 per month or $100–$500 per month. The study also reported that Lyft drivers were higher paid, higher rated, and tended to be more satisfied than drivers of similar rideshare companies.

Lyft Income Calculator



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

Lyft breaks down driver work stages into these 3 periods:

  1. Period 1 — Driver signs into the app
  2. Period 2 — Accepts a ride request
  3. 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 tovbe $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 costs.

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make? [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:


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

  1. Lyft ride rates tend to be higher than Uber’s
  2. Lyft takes a smaller commission than Uber
  3. 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

This infographic helps illustrate the most common Lyft driver expenses:

Lyft driver salary: Expenses infographic

Lyft Pay Reviews

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.

Here’s what one of the most experienced rideshare drivers in the industry has to say about making the most out of Lyft:

 

In summary: Driving for Uber and Lyft provides drivers with more money up front, but the high cost of car maintenance and other expenses will hit drivers later on.

There are also other things that tend to drive down driver earnings, like the time spent waiting around, which happens mostly in smaller cities.

The earnings also vary per state. Lyft drivers in cities like Los Angeles and New York may possibly earn closer to the maximum hourly rate of around $35 compared to drivers in places like Sanford, Florida and Plano, Texas.

It’s All About Putting In the Time

At the end of the day, Lyft driver earnings boil down to how drivers manage their time. Full-time earnings (driving from 45 to 50 hours a week) can reach around $800 per week with Lyft, after expenses. However, you have to be willing to put in the hours to reach those numbers.

If you’re just driving with Lyft part-time, then you shouldn’t expect your earnings to be quite so high, especially if you’re not driving during times of high demand when surge pricing can kick in and help you boost your income further.

Ready to start driving? Learn how to become a Lyft driver today!


How much do you make as a Lyft driver? Can you offer any advice to potential drivers, or other existing drivers on the road to increase Lyft driver income? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


Brett Helling

Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.

11 Comments

Been driving with Lyft and Uber for about 1 month and so far I love it. Its the perfect PT time job. I’m centrally located in the city I live so I sit in my living room and wait for a call which is usually within minutes. I made $500 so far working 2 to 4 hours a day, usually 4 days a week. I do have a full time job. No way would I do this full time. The only thing that I’m not happy with is the overwhelming majority of people don’t tip. My car is always clean and I provide multi phone charger. Doesn’t matter. Ppl know in advance that they are not gonna tip. You could provide them a foot massage and they still won’t tip. Just the way some ppl are. There are some generous ppl out there. Hope I get more of them..lol

Michael is absolutely correct, if you know how to work with numbers and primary math education and will to seat down and do the calculation, you will end up with something around 2 to 3.5 dollars net income per hour (my sample size was 2531 trips) and Postmates pays the LEAST with no doubt)
Unfortunately our society believes what it’s been told, (we are deeply dumb when it comes to propaganda, we believe everything we want to just gives us a little good feeling for a short amount of time) and of course they use us for almost free as they have been.

by the way first maintenance (like tire and break pads change) puts you in loss,,,,, literally drove people for free if not lose. and around apr 15 you need to pay tax as well. (and please do file it honestly, dont be a fool smart ass, the have so much information from sooooo many drivers)

DONT GET FOOLED BY THEIR ADS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE/DECIDING TO DRIVE IN LA!!!!!

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Eduardo Bernstein

well, I make consistently a lot more than 1 dollar and 40 cents per mile. I do drive and average of 200 miles per day 5 days a week. As I am getting better my dollar amount goes up and my miles go down. yes I do work lot of hour per day in order to keep my numbers. Some days I do start working at 7 am and I get home around 10 pm or later. Minus expenses.

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Eduardo Bernstein

well, I make consistently a lot more than 1 dollar and 40 cents per mile. I do drive and average of 200 miles per day 5 days a week. As I am getting better my dollar amount goes up and my miles go down. yes I do work lot of hour per day in order to keep my numbers. Some days I do start working at 7 am and I get home around 10 pm or later. Minus expenses.

Do the math……Lyft drivers in LA county get 72 cents per mile less car expenses (96 less % for lyft)…….car cost 53.5 cents per mile according to IRS, which is actually a good number, we need a standard, that will work…..this leaves about 19 cents per mile, before taxes and other expenses and time invested (car cleaning, data, etc.)..these are only payed miles, driving empty is all expense, no pay….actual net profit for Lyft drivers in Los Angels is about 2 to 3 dollars per hour…before taxes (assuming you even pay tax, many drivers do not, they will eventually get caught)…..this is based on my over 2100 rides……nobody wants to believe the truth, but there it is……..most drivers deceive themselves by taking equity out of their cars. The above applies to owner/operators. The profit per hour is only going down now (feb, 2018) due to driver saturation. Bottom line: LYFT IS A BAD FINANCIAL DECISION IN THE LONG RUN, YOU WILL ALWAYS LOSE COMPARED TO ANY OTHER JOB (even for part time, just with part time you lose at a slower rate).if you must drive with Lyft..do rental, get the sign up bonus and then get out…..never become dependent on Lyft…….this does not even take into account the nonstop bullshit lies from Lyft corporation and the total abusive driver policy..this also assumes no collision, which will instantly take away months of profit (Lyft has $2500 deductible, pay it or you are instantly de activated until you do)……also, no sick time, no vacation, no health insurance, no unemployment benefits, no nothing really…..go to a forum like uberpeople.net and read the posts from experienced drivers who make no money from recruiting other drivers…..the truth about LA rideshare is ugly….most people prefer to believe feel good lies.

Do the math……Lyft drivers in LA county get 72 cents per mile less car expenses (96 less % for lyft)…….car cost 53.5 cents per mile according to IRS, which is actually a good number, we need a standard, that will work…..this leaves about 19 cents per mile, before taxes and other expenses and time invested (car cleaning, data, etc.)..these are only payed miles, driving empty is all expense, no pay….actual net profit for Lyft drivers in Los Angels is about 2 to 3 dollars per hour…before taxes (assuming you even pay tax, many drivers do not, they will eventually get caught)…..this is based on my over 2100 rides……nobody wants to believe the truth, but there it is……..most drivers deceive themselves by taking equity out of their cars. The above applies to owner/operators. The profit per hour is only going down now (feb, 2018) due to driver saturation. Bottom line: LYFT IS A BAD FINANCIAL DECISION IN THE LONG RUN, YOU WILL ALWAYS LOSE COMPARED TO ANY OTHER JOB (even for part time, just with part time you lose at a slower rate).if you must drive with Lyft..do rental, get the sign up bonus and then get out…..never become dependent on Lyft…….this does not even take into account the nonstop bullshit lies from Lyft corporation and the total abusive driver policy..this also assumes no collision, which will instantly take away months of profit (Lyft has $2500 deductible, pay it or you are instantly de activated until you do)……also, no sick time, no vacation, no health insurance, no unemployment benefits, no nothing really…..go to a forum like uberpeople.net and read the posts from experienced drivers who make no money from recruiting other drivers…..the truth about LA rideshare is ugly….most people prefer to believe feel good lies.

I make 500 dollars a week with uber and lyft n the Baltimore are and i drive 4 to 6 hours a day. the tip I give to any driver is to drive for both.

I make 500 dollars a week with uber and lyft n the Baltimore are and i drive 4 to 6 hours a day. the tip I give to any driver is to drive for both.