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When you have somewhere to be, but no vehicle to get you there, Lyft is probably one of the first solutions that come to mind. But while Lyft rides are a step up from public transportation and long-distance walks, they’re definitely not free. Getting a Lyft estimate can help you avoid any surprise fees on your next ride.
Lyft, like many of its competitors, has a complex pricing structure filled with variable rates and set fees. In order to calculate the most accurate fare estimate possible, you need to get to know exactly how the pricing structure works — as well as what additional charges may arise later on.
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about how Lyft prices are calculated and give you a few free resources for getting your Lyft estimate.
- How Lyft Prices Are Calculated
- Finding Your Local Lyft Rates
- Free Lyft Estimate Tools
- How You’re Charged After Your Lyft Ride
- Frequently Asked Questions
Lyft Rates: How Lyft Prices Are Calculated
Before you can get started with calculating your Lyft estimate, you need to know what goes into the final cost of your ride in the first place. Every ride is calculated based on set local rates for each of the following factors:
- Base fare: A set charge for booking your ride.
- Cost per mile: A fee multiplied by the estimated amount of miles to be driven between the starting point and endpoint.
- Cost per minute: A fee multiplied by the estimated amount of time your trip will take.
- Service fee: A set charge that helps Lyft operate its service.
- Minimum fare: The minimum cost that you’ll need to pay, even if your ride would otherwise be cheaper
When calculating your estimated fares, you’ll also need to take into account the ride type you choose.
In addition to varying immensely by city, the rates you pay for each of the factors above can also vary greatly between Lyft services. For example, the base fare in San Francisco is only $2.24 for your standard Lyft ride (an economy service), but rises to $8 for Lux Black (a luxury black car service).
Average Lyft Rates
According to our internal Lyft pricing estimate tool, average Lyft fares are as follows:
|Initial Cost||Service Fee||Per Minute||Per Mile||Minimum Fare|
Not listed in the table above is Lyft Shared, which offers rides around 20% less than any other service option available to riders. This is the budget-friendly option that pairs riders with other riders going in a similar direction.
For more information about Lyft rates and cost, visit our Complete Guide to Lyft Rates and Cost.
Fees on Select Rides
While the variables above will affect every single Lyft ride, you may be subject to additional Lyft fees on select rides.
The most common situation in which this may occur is when the real-time demand in your area is high. When this happens, Lyft Prime Time (much like Uber’s surge pricing) will multiple your fares. The higher the demand compared to driver supply, the higher your fare multiplier will be.
Additional set charges may also be added for rides that start or end at specific destinations in your city. These location-based fees are most commonly added for rides to or from major events, airports, and venues. Less commonly, some markets (like Seattle) will actually charge a small fee for any ride starting or ending within the city limits.
In either of these situations, your extra fees will always be upfront, so you’ll know exactly what you’ll pay before you request.
Finding Your Local Lyft Rates
In order to calculate accurate Lyft estimates for your upcoming rides, you must know the exact rates in your area, broken down by ride type.
To pull up the current rates in your market, you’ll need to start by selecting your location from this Lyft cities listing.
Once you’re on your city page, scroll down to the “Fare Estimate” section and enter in any pick-up location and drop-off location within your city. Tap “Get Estimate.”
You should then see a list of estimates for the random trip you entered. Scroll down just past this list to tap “More,” located on the right hand side. This will open up a complete list of Lyft rates for your city, broken down by Lyft services, like the one pictured below.
To see special fees (including airport, venue, and event fees) that you should be aware of in your city, head back to your city page. Then, scroll all the way down to the small text directly above the footer to learn more about what costs you may run into.
Pictured below are special fees for users in Las Vegas, as an example.
Now that you have detailed information about the exact rates and fees in your city, you’ll be able to make a Lyft fare estimate at any time, and always know when you’re getting a fair price.
Free Lyft Estimate Tools
While knowing your local Lyft rates is helpful for making rough estimates, calculating exact Lyft fares does take time and can be subject to human error.
When you need the most accurate Lyft price estimate possible — for example, when you’re budgeting for a trip or your commute — free online fare estimator tools can get you the best results.
1. The Lyft Website
The first tool you can use is, of course, the Lyft Fare Estimate tool you already tried out when finding your city’s rates.
You can directly reach the ride calculator that works for all cities by heading to this page. Then, enter your pick-up and drop-off destinations, and tap “Get Estimate” to see Lyft estimates for all available ride types.
Another option for Lyft estimates is to use the Lyft website.
- Navigate to Lyft.com/cities.
- Enter your city into the box labeled “Find My City” or click on your city from the full list below.
- Add a pick-up location.
- Add a destination.
- Click the “Get estimate” button to reveal an approximate trip cost.
Enter the pick-up location and destination to get a Lyft quote from within their website.
Like using the Lyft app, the Lyft website’s fare estimator is fairly basic and doesn’t go into a great amount of detail about pricing or travel times. It’s great for basic quotes, but if you want the full data, use the app method below.
If you’re planning on requesting your ride soon, you may also want to take into account current Prime Time pricing.
In this case, you can simply pull up your Lyft app on your smartphone and enter your pick-up and drop-off destinations. You can then view real-time prices without requesting your ride quite yet.
2. The Lyft App
Riders can open the app and get a ride cost within the app before they take a ride.
Lyft added upfront pricing into the app recently, allowing riders to see exactly how much they will pay before they request the ride.
- Open the Lyft rider app and enter a pick-up location. Once “Set pickup” is tapped, your pick-up location will be locked in.
- Enter a destination for the quote by tapping “Add Destination” below the pick-up location.
- Once pick-up location and destination are entered, you’ll see a vehicle icon.
- Tapping the vehicle icon takes you to the different types of rides, and when each one is tapped, detailed ride pricing is revealed.
The steps to take to get a Lyft estimate within the rider app.
Using the Lyft app to estimate the cost of a Lyft ride is quick and easy, but it’s not as detailed as many users would like it to be.
If you’re on the road and need to quickly check the ride cost, this can be helpful, but if you would like more detailed information including map routes, city-specific pricing, or Prime Time alerts, stick to using our tool above.
3. Ridester Pricing Tool
Alternatively, you can get the best of both worlds with our Ridester Pricing Tool.
This tool can help you calculate Lyft estimates with real-time Prime Time pricing, like your Lyft app, but you’ll also be able to get a more detailed breakdown of how your local rates are affecting your total cost.
There are two ways to calculate a Lyft fare: the hard way and the easy way.
The hard way involves using pen and paper (or a spreadsheet), hunting through Lyft’s pricing formula, and manually figuring out what a fare would cost.
On the other hand, the easy way would be to use our nifty Lyft estimate calculator to do the math for you.
We told you it’s easy to use. Give it a try yourself.
Why Use Our Lyft Estimator Widget
We worked hard to pack as much as we could into our Lyft calculator. Here are some things it can do for you:
- Lyft fare estimates: Easily get accurate, real-time fare quotes calculated with data from the Lyft API. Your estimate will be as accurate as possible without using a crystal ball to see into the future.
- Lyft vehicle pricing: Get quotes that include pricing for the different types of Lyft vehicles in your city. Figure out how much it’ll cost to arrive in style.
- Prime Time updates: Our tool takes into account changes in Prime Time pricing, so you’re aware of price increases. Never get caught out with Prime Time pricing again.
- City-specific quotes: Don’t want to use pick-up and drop-off locations to calculate a ride? You can still get an estimate with our tool on a per-city basis. This is perfect whether you’re traveling in New York, San Francisco, or anywhere in between.
- Popular estimates: Find out what the most popular quotes users are calculating in real time.
On top of these, you can also share your route and estimate with others. This might be handy if you’re planning a conference or a work trip amongst colleagues.
This widget is constantly being updated and fine tuned based on user feedback, so check back regularly for more features.
How You’re Charged After Your Lyft Ride
Because demand is always changing, Lyft fare estimates don’t always get you the exact price you pay. You will always be charged based on the upfront fee that you see on your Lyft app right before requesting your ride. As soon as your ride ends, Lyft will charge your credit card or debit card with the price you read.
However, there are a handful of common situations — which no Lyft estimator will be able to anticipate — that may warrant additional charges on top of your upfront fee. These include:
- When you tip your driver: Tips are customary when ridesharing, but since it’s up to you to select your own gratuity amount after your ride, it won’t be included in any Lyft estimate. Gratuity will typically show up on your credit card statements as a separate charge from your upfront fee, since you have up to 72 hours to tip your Lyft driver.
- When you pass a toll: The exact cost of any tolls you pass will be charged to your account to reimburse your Lyft driver. You may be charged a return fee if passing a toll causes your driver to be outside of Lyft’s coverage area.
- If you leave a mess: A damage fee of $25 to $250 may be charged based on the severity of the mess you leave.
- If you leave behind an item and need it returned: A lost-and-found fee of $15 will be charged to compensate your driver for their return efforts.
Other voluntary fees that may arise and are not included in Lyft estimates include cancellation fees and fare adjustments (for any changes in destination or added stops). Both of these fees replace your upfront fee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you’re an active rider or an infrequent user, understanding how to calculate your Lyft estimates can help you stay on top of your finances.
To ensure you’re never surprised by any Lyft rates or fees, round out your reading with these FAQs:
1. Why am I unable to get a Lyft estimate for my desired trip?
If you get the message “Sorry! Fare estimate for this region is not available at this time.” when using the Lyft Fare Estimate tool, this means that your specific trip is not supported by Lyft.
This can occur because of a few reasons:
- Your trip would exceed maximum fares in your starting city (as can be found on your local rates page).
- Your trip starts outside of the Lyft coverage area.
- Your trip ends in a place where drop-offs are not allowed (like select airports and venues).
2. Will my fare change if I alter my destination during a ride?
Generally, yes. The estimates that Lyft shows you are based on the starting point and ending point you originally specify. If your destination changes during the ride, Lyft will adjust the ride charge accordingly.
3. Does Uber offer an official price estimator like the Lyft Fare Estimate tool?
Yes. You can head to the Uber price estimator page to calculate fares for any supported pick-up and drop-off destinations. Of course, you can always use your Uber app to get real-time prices, too.
4. Are there any reliable ways to save on Lyft?
If you aren’t satisfied with the prices you see on your Lyft estimates, the most reliable way to cut back on fees is by signing up for Lyft Pink, a subscription service that helps you get discounts on every ride, eliminate Prime Time multipliers on frequent routes, and cut back on post-ride fees.
We also recommend staying subscribed to Lyft emails and push notifications to be the first to know about Lyft promo codes that you qualify for.
Understand Your Lyft Estimates
When you know all the factors that go into your Lyft estimates, as well as additional fees that you may accrue after your ride is complete, you’ll never be surprised by how much you’re paying on the ridesharing app. Lyft makes it easy to break down your costs, so you’re not left in the dark about the fees you pay.
Are you a frequent Uber user too? Get to know how Uber rates work to best compare costs on both rideshare apps.
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.