Lyft Driver Payments: How Do They Work?


It started out so simple. When rideshare driving was new, you’d see a ride request, you’d accept it, and you’d take the passenger(s) to the appointed destination. Then you’d get paid. Ah, but that was then.

Now Lyft drivers have a wide array of possibilities when it comes to accepting and fulfilling ride requests and how they want to get paid for them. It could be a confusing morass, or a cornucopia of opportunity, depending on your point of view.

Making the most money in as little time as possible means that you want to know more about your payments, and how you can maximize them. You also need a savvy tool like Gridwise to keep you on top of your game and make sure you rake in the kind of cash you want.

In this post, we’ll address questions such as “How does Lyft pay drivers?” and “When do Lyft drivers get paid?” This information will, we hope, help you to see all the forms of Lyft driver payments for what they are: chances to earn. New and various payment opportunities are an answer to the many different issues Lyft drivers encounter on a daily basis. We’ll clear up any confusion you might have by covering the following:

  • Your Lyft payout: the forms it takes and how earnings are calculated
  • Special pay rates for different localities
  • The Lyft weekly payout and alternatives
  • More ways to maximize your Lyft earnings

Your Lyft payout: the forms it takes and how earnings are calculated

Let’s start with the  components of Lyft earnings. 

Basic Pay

Lyft rolled out an upfront pay feature to accommodate drivers’ need to know more about rides before agreeing to accept them. Lyft wants to offer transparency as well as choice to its drivers, and this is an effective way to do just that. With upfront pay, it’s possible for drivers to see

  • pickup and drop-off locations
  • estimated time and distance to complete the ride
  • a map view of the full ride
  • the fare

Upfront fares are calculated based on factors such as the supply of drivers and the demand for rides at a given location, as well as traffic conditions along the route. These factors make the estimated fare more accurate than if time and distance were the only considerations. Upfront pay is available to most Lyft drivers in many regions.

There are still some places where upfront pay is not available. In that case, Lyft pay is calculated by using the rate card system. You can view the rate card for any trip you make by looking at your ride history in the app. Rides that pay according to the rate card system are calculated based on

  • time
  • distance
  • base fare

Rate card fares may vary according to ride mode (economy, luxury, XL, etc.) and the region where the passenger is picked up.

Wait Time

It’s never a happy moment when you arrive at the pickup location and your rider is nowhere to be seen. Whether they’re finishing their sandwich or putting on that last dab of glitter blush, they’re using up your precious time.

Fortunately, Lyft pays drivers for waiting time. For all drivers, except Lux Black and Lux Black XL, here’s the deal: if you’re stuck waiting between two and five minutes, Lyft will pay you for your time. If the passenger doesn’t show up after five minutes, you have the option of canceling the ride. 

Lux Black and Lux Black XL Lyft drivers get paid for wait time after the first five minutes and can then cancel the ride after ten minutes of waiting.

Trip Changes

It happens all the time. In mid-trip, a passenger may decide to pick up a pal along the way, or stop for some coffee or a cold drink on route to the destination. There might even be times when a trip is longer or shorter than originally thought. If any of these events changes your trip substantially, your fare will change. 

Check your ride details and any adjustments that were made by doing the following in your app:

  1. Go to your account
  2. Tap “ride history”
  3. Tap the ride you want to know more about


Passengers can tip you through the app, and most often, they will. Many even offer tips in cash. You retain 100% of all your tip earnings. 

Bonuses and Incentives

Your willingness to drive at high demand times in busy areas will often qualify you for bonus pay. Here are the types of bonuses Lyft offers:

Real time 

These appear in the app when there’s a high demand for drivers in your area.


Every Friday morning, the app is updated with bonuses scheduled for your area.

Bonus zones 

Pink and purple highlights on your map in the app tell you where you can earn extra money, owing to especially high demand for drivers. 

Bonus zones vary from nearly one minute to the next. It pays to keep an eye out for them, though, because they offer a great way to make extra money.

EV Ride Challenge

Through 2024, drivers can receive a $150 bonus for every 50 rides completed while driving an EV. This offer, so far, is available in California only. The Lyft website has more information on qualifications.

Earnings Guarantee Promotions 

Lyft will guarantee a set amount of earnings within a given time period as a way to incentivize drivers, especially new ones. If you don’t earn the set amount before the time expires, Lyft pays you the difference between your actual earnings and the guaranteed amount. Read more about earnings guarantee promotions.

There are also incentives offered to drivers. These include


Drivers who persuade friends and family to join Lyft can earn substantial amounts of extra money. The new drivers will have to complete a certain number of rides in a given period. These parameters vary depending on driver demand. Read more about this referral program on the Lyft website.

Tiered Rewards Program 

Although these rewards are not a direct payout to drivers, they can help them save on gas, car maintenance, and other services. Drivers earn points by driving consistently during busy hours and keeping high star ratings. Lyft’s tiered rewards program is detailed on the Lyft website.

Special pay rates for different localities

You’ve probably heard that there are states and cities where drivers are guaranteed a minimum wage, or where they get extra help from rideshare companies. In California, as you can read in this Gridwise post, drivers receive minimum guaranteed earnings for their time on the road, as well as subsidies toward healthcare, among other items. For all rides picked up in California, drivers are guaranteed to earn 120% of the applicable minimum wage for booked time, plus $0.30 per mile.

In New York City, drivers receive a minimum wage based on mileage and time, and Seattle drivers pull in a minimum wage of $16.39 per hour. There are more cities and states, such as Minneapolis and Massachusetts, where laws instituting minimum wage requirements for drivers are being discussed. Obviously, Lyft must comply with any and all laws regarding these wage policies.

In addition to these special cases, Lyft has a certain class of payments called subregion rates, which apply to certain areas of cities and metropolitan areas. Rates in these areas will be specifically assigned. 

Rides from subregions within an area where an offer stands are still applied to bonuses such as streaks. Individual ride earnings may vary. They are usually higher. You can find out what the subregion rates are and if they apply to your location, by accessing your rate card through the app.

The Lyft weekly payout and alternatives

There are basic questions every driver has about being paid. After all, making money is what driving for Lyft is all about. Here are the answers to some common queries.

When does Lyft pay out, and how often does Lyft pay?

Lyft pay is calculated based on your earnings Sunday–Monday, and your pay will be deposited once per week on Tuesdays.

Is it possible to get paid sooner?

Definitely! There are two ways to get paid sooner:

  1. Express Pay allows you to instantly transfer earnings to your own debit card. There is a charge for this version of Lyft Express Pay. It’s $0.85 for each transfer you make. If you rent your car from Express Drive, you’ll have to make enough to cover the cost of your rental before funds can be sent to you.
  1. With Lyft Direct, you set up an account with Lyft (via Payfare), and receive a debit card that gives you access to your account. With Lyft Direct, you can make as many transactions as you like with no fee. You also will get mobile banking services and cashback rewards.

All the details that further address the question “When do Lyft drivers get paid?” can be found in this help article from Lyft. 

More ways to maximize your Lyft earnings

Now that you know how you get paid and how often Lyft pays out, plus ways to get your pay right away, here’s some advice about how to make sure you get paid more!

The first step is to have the best driver’s assistant available: Gridwise! With this mighty app, you can

  • strategize the best times to drive. See information about ride demand for Lyft and all the services you might drive for with the When to Drive feature.
  • position yourself for higher earnings with Where to Drive from Gridwise.
  • log all the miles you drive to, from, and between the rides you complete through your driving apps. Capturing all your miles means higher tax deductions and smaller tax bills!

Download the Gridwise app now!


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