How Much Money Can You Really Make Driving For Uber Or Lyft?

Published by Maku Seun on

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Nine dollars an hour, give or take.

You’re curious, how much money can you really make driving for Uber or Lyft? This is where you find out the average amount rideshare drivers earn and how you can minimize cost to earn more money as a rideshare driver.

Being a driver for Uber or Lyft seems like a great side hustle. However, after the costs of driving strangers around town you might not earn as much as you’d think. We did the research to find out if being a rideshare driver is really worth your time.

Nine dollars an hour, give or take.

That’s the average amount you’ll make if you drive for Uber or Lyft.

According to ads, being a rideshare driver seems like an ideal side gig. But after doing some research, this is what has been found.

You might not make what the companies advertise

This largely depends on the city you live in, how many hours you drive and what your car insurance cost is, gas price in your area and so on.

Even without these factors, it is unlikely you’ll take home what these companies are promising you.

Now, Uber and Lyft, including the city you’re driving in, gets a cut. For example, in New York, Uber’s biggest market, Uber takes a portion of every fare:

  • 20 percent on UberX (the cheapest service)
  • 25 percent on UberBlack (black car service)
  • and 28 percent on UberSUV

Lyft takes 20 percent of each fare. From that fare, the city also takes a sales tax of 8.875 percent and the Black Car Fund takes a fee of 2.5 percent.

But these fees can change at any moment. When you sign up as a driver with Uber, for instance, you agree that Uber can raise the fees they charge drivers, and lower fares for customers, whenever they feel like it.

“Uber has instituted a number of temporary price cuts which then became permanent,” says Dave Sutton, spokesperson, ‘Who’s Driving You?’, a public safety initiative of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association. “So, people driving for Uber have no control over surprise cuts to their earnings.”

There are hidden costs to professional driving

From gas to insurance to self-employment taxes, your fees to Uber and Lyft might be the least of a rideshare driver’s worries.

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There are the other hidden costs associated with becoming a ridesharing driver, like:

  • gas
  • car washes and interior detailing
  • insurance
  • tolls
  • car payments
  • maintenance
  • self-employment taxes

One driver told Slate magazine that after factoring these costs, he really makes $12 an hour. Business Insider found one driver who was really only making $4.54 an hour.

And of course, driving a lot (and driving around drunk people who get sick in the back seat) means you’ll be taking your car to the mechanic more often.

“People who use their personal vehicles to drive professionally will be dismayed at the heavy wear and tear placed on their cars,” says Sutton. “Passengers can also ruin vehicles quickly. So, a ridesharing driver may find he has to replace his vehicle after just a few years of driving, much more quickly than he or she would imagine—a huge unanticipated cost.”

So can you make money driving with one of these services? Sure. But will it be a lot of money? Not unless you go about it just like any other business.

So, how much money can you really make driving for Uber or Lyft?

Below is the average amount and estimate you can earn driving a rideshare.

Pay Per Hour: $8.55 – $11.77

After paying all expenses, and after the app takes its cut, drivers for a service like Uber and Lyft average between $8.55 and $11.77 per hour. That’s quite a bit less than what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) has claimed is the average income. A midrange private sector worker earns $32.06 per hour.

Readers should note that many outlets continue to cite a study from MIT suggesting that drivers earn less than $4 per hour. This study was withdrawn for inaccuracies.

Pay Per Month

median of $155 per month and an average of $364 

Pay Per Year

An average of $36,525 for full-time drivers

Astute readers will notice that these numbers are all over the place. Even at $8 per hour, a month of rideshare driving would still come to a lot more than $155. If the average ride pays $11 and the average driver makes $8 per hour, do researchers want us to believe that most riders take trips in excess of 60 minutes?

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How can you earn more as an Uber/Lyft Driver?

As with any other business, Uber and Lyft drivers that think strategically will earn two or three times more money than the other drivers make.

For instance, the rideshare drivers that earn more money usually learn to minimize expenses, maximize their tax write-offs, and position themselves to take advantage of the surge pricing to triple their fare.

Think of ways you can maximize your rideshare earnings to be one of the highest earning rideshare drivers.

If anyone asks how much money can you really make driving for Uber or Lyft, you can direct them to this website or you can give them a rough estimate as you’ve seen above and tell them how to maximize their earnings.

Are you ready to start driving?

It’s pretty simple to get started as a rideshare driver. First, you’ll go through a few online steps to confirm a service is hiring in your area and that you and your car meet the minimum requirements. After a background check and some paperwork, you could be off to work!

  • Drive with Lyft: Learn more or sign up here. New drivers earn a $300 sign-up bonus after completing 100 rides in 30 days!
  • Drive with Uber: Learn more or sign up here.

Summary

Any side hustle is better than no side hustle. Rideshare driving is definitely an option to earn extra money on the side, but don’t think it’s easy money.

Expenses and taxes will take a big cut out of how much you can earn driving with Uber and Lyft, so if you want to earn more, you need to understand how to minimize expenses, optimize your taxes and find the most profitable rides.

If you have any way you think a rideshare driver can minimize expenses and raise their average earnings, share it with us in the comment section below.


Maku Seun

Maku Seun is a blogger, an entrepreneur and author of Charge Your Life currently on Amazon. He has started various online businesses and is well experienced in saving and managing his money. Follow to get more money saving tips.

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