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In 2017, Uber agreed to pay $20 million to settle an FTC lawsuit that accused the company of using inflated earnings claims to recruit potential drivers. Since then, Uber and its main competitor, Lyft, have provided only general salary estimates on their driver information pages.
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So if you’re considering signing with any company, how much money do you really expect to make? The answer GOBankingRates got from real-life scammers was nearly identical to what the two companies spelled out on their websites: it depends. Let’s explore the situation.
Estimated earnings data is everywhere
If you drive for Uber or Lyft, you’re either rich, nearly broke, or somewhere in between, according to top career and salary data sites.
Salary.com provides nearly the same annual revenue range for both ridesharing companies:
- Uber: The 10th percentile is $25,366, the 90th percentile is $53,259, and the median is $37,402
- Lyft: The 10th percentile is $25,367, the 90th percentile is $53,260, and the median is $37,403
Glassdoor gives an incredible average of over $75,000, roughly double the Salary.com median, and more than double the average quoted by Indeed of $32,645. It said the highest-paid drivers earned $185,000 a year. The average is more like $50,000, ZipRecruiter said.
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Many variables will determine your income
Both Uber and Lyft make it clear that earnings vary by a long list of variables. The drivers who can plan for these variables and use them to their advantage are the drivers who earn the most.
“As an Uber or Lyft driver, my earnings depend on many factors,” said RideFAQs founder Todd Bissell, who has driven for Uber and Lyft since 2018. “The most important factor is the number of rides I provide. Other factors include the time of day, the demand for the rides, and the length of the rides. If I average 10 rides per hour, I make about $20 per hour. According to By this estimate, I make about $160 a day, or $800 a week. Of course, these numbers vary based on the factors above.”
Location is the biggest personal factor
The extra $3,200 per month is a welcome increase for almost everyone, but two different drivers who work the same number of hours can earn vastly different wages depending on the type of rides they offer, most importantly Yes, where do they re-give them.
“As an Uber or Lyft driver, you can expect a decent salary,” Bissell said. “However, how much you can earn depends on many factors, including the city you drive to, how long you drive, and the number of tickets you buy.”
Rideshare driver assistant Gridwise uses data from its app to determine the cities where Uber and Lyft drivers earn the most. Its methods include gas and insurance costs, which have the biggest impact on net wages. So, despite being in the top five, San Francisco was dropped from the list because the cost of natural gas in California was too high.
Here are the metro areas with the highest hourly earnings in the U.S.:
- Pittsburgh: $26.44
- Chicago: $29.10
- Denver: $29.28
- Portland: $30.72
- Boston: $32.54
However, these cities are outliers.
“On average, Uber and Lyft drivers in big cities can earn $15-20 an hour,” Bissell said. “In smaller cities, incomes may be lower, but there are also fewer driving-related expenses, such as gas and parking.”
Savvy drivers always earn the most, no matter the city
Both Uber and Lyft have outlined strategies for earning the most money as a driver, such as using the app to work when and where demand is highest.
“As a driver, the best way to maximize your income is to drive during peak hours, such as rush hour or weekends,” Bissell said. “You can also earn more by buying multiple tickets in a short period of time.”
Smart drivers also pursue big events, holidays and other peak periods.
“On a high-traffic night like New Year’s Eve, I can make $300 an hour,” said Star Staubach, a life coach who drove for Lyft for a few years. “In order to earn a living wage, you have to be willing to put in the time and be strategic in your driving — hitting peak hours, driving crowds to concerts, NFL game days and holidays.”
Of course, no matter how much money you make, any job will be better if you enjoy what you do.
“Driving for Lyft and Uber is the greatest social experiment I’ve ever experienced,” Staubach said. “I met all kinds of life and loved it.”
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