How Much Can Lyft Drivers Make?

Lyft, the second most popular ride-sharing company, has been getting more press lately as a flexible way to earn cash. Drivers often look at Lyft as an alternative to competitor Uber. But how much do Lyft drivers make? And is it more or less than taxi drivers? On average, they can earn $11 to $25 per hour.

How Does Lyft Pay Drivers?

Lyft’s method for calculating driver pay is complicated. What drivers make will depend on a variety of factors, including the region you are working, time of day, total number of hours, and acceptance rate. To figure out what a Lyft driver will make, you should know what they charge for and won’t they don’t.

what Lyft drivers make

Lyft drivers get paid for wait times. Even if the rider does not show, as long as you tried to contact them and waited the full amount of time required, you will collect a no-show fee.

Ride fare is calculated based on the following:

Base fare + Cost per mile + Cost per Minute

Lyft drivers will make a minimum fare price, even if the ride is short. Base fare is included in this amount, and a service fee is not taken out for minimum fares. Alternatively, there is a maximum fare that drivers can charge. No matter how long a drive is, there is a maximum fee.

Additional things riders pay for include Prime Time fees (increase during peak hours), airport pickup/drop off fees, and tolls. Any tips or gratuities that a Lyft driver makes are for the driver to keep.

Costs Associated with Driving for Lyft

As with any ride-sharing service, there are costs to being a driver. In addition to the cost to maintain your vehicle, insurance, and gasoline, fees and commissions to Lyft take a bite out of every fare. Currently, Lyft charges 20 percent for each ride. Additional local taxes or fees may apply, limiting what Lyft drivers make.

Drivers who want to do better and become more efficient might invest in the cost of renting a new car. There is currently an Express Drive rental program in place through GM and Hertz to give discounted rentals to Lyft drivers who don’t have a car to drive. As the driver provides more rides, the cost goes down. (Lyft offers this program in select cities, but hopes to expand in the future.)

Guaranteed Pay Rate for Lyft Drivers

Unique to Lyft is its earnings guarantee. If certain conditions are met, Lyft drivers will make the hourly minimum for their region (usually $20-25 an hour). To be eligible, drivers must:

  • Opt-in for each week
  • Accept 90% of rides offered
  • Spend 50 minutes of each hour in driver mode
  • Complete a number of rides each hour

If all requirements are met, Lyft will calculate driver pay earned and supplement any gaps to help make up the guaranteed rate. Guaranteed rates are pre-commission.

There is also a weekly minimum for what Lyft drivers make for select cities, including Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, Orange County, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C.

The requirements to get the weekly minimum vary, but they require a 90% acceptance rate, opt-in to the program, and completion of benchmarks unique to each city that include hours in driver mode and completed rides.

How much do Lyft drivers make today?

What Lyft Drivers Make

With all the calculations, rules, and expenses, it can be very difficult to determine just what a driver will make with Lyft. Lyft’s own website offers some estimations based on location and hours worked. They provide the following examples:

  • $400 for 20 hours for Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, and Los Angeles
  • $700 for 20 hours for New York and San Francisco
20 Hours (per Lyft)
40 Hours (per Lyft)
Driver Reported Hourly wage (2 fares/hour)
Taxi Drivers hourly wage
Boston$400.00$800.00$25.52$12.92
Chicago$400.00$800.00$22.30$11.87
DC$400.00$800.00$27.90$13.10
Los Angeles$400.00$800.00$23.12$13.12
New York$700.00$1,400.00$57.24$15.17
San Francisco$700.00$1,400.00$26.84$13.72
*Wages Lyft drivers are gross and do not include expenses or commission fees.

Of course, Lyft’s website is rather general and can only assume the guaranteed wage. Detailed wages per hour show a different story. This SherpaShare report shows the following trip averages per region:

  • Boston: $12.76
  • Chicago: $11.15
  • Washington DC: $13.95
  • Los Angeles: $11.56
  • New York: $28.62
  • San Francisco: $13.42

Assume that drivers get two fares per hour. This means that the gross hourly rate for each city will be double the number above. Remember that all of these fares costs do not have the fees, Lyft commissions, or driver expenses taken out (which will cut into the final number by 20% or more.)