How much do rideshare (Uber and Lyft) drivers make? [January 2021 update!]

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Curious how much Uber, Lyft (rideshare) drivers might make in 2021?

Well, in this report we’re going to cover how much rideshare drivers (Uber and Lyft drivers) make per hour, per mile, and per trip in more than 49 markets across the US in 2020.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. How much rideshare (Uber and Lyft drivers) make per hour
  2. How much rideshare (Uber and Lyft drivers) make per mile
  3. How much rideshare (Uber and Lyft drivers) make per trip
  4. Estimated rideshare driver expenses
  5. How rideshare drivers can earn more

Let’s not waste any time and dig in!

How much do Lyft, Uber, and other rideshare drivers make before expenses?

Rideshare drivers in the United States log 100,000+ miles per day and track $50,000+ per week using Gridwise. That gives us more than enough anonymized driving statistics to get a realistic picture of what it’s like for drivers in markets where we operate.

To get this full picture of driver earnings and mileage, we analyzed data from over 100,000 drivers in various markets across the United States.

Our data collecting methodology, and our earnings reports allow our results to be far more accurate than any driver earnings surveys available. Using Gridwise, drivers log their trips & earnings as they drive, multiple times per week. 

Our numbers are more accurate also because Gridwise drivers don’t cherry-pick their best or worse days to show us. This gives us the most straightforward view of how much drivers are really making over time.

Please note that the figures below represent rideshare drivers’ earnings AFTER the TNCs (Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via, etc.) take their share and BEFORE any expenses, including taxes, are deducted.

Rideshare (Uber/Lyft) driver hourly earnings by Marketing

MarketEarnings Per Hour MedianEarnings Per Mile MedianEarnings Per Trip Median
Austin$16.51$0.78$10.55
Baltimore$17.84$0.91$11.55
Bay Area$19.44$1.05$12.31
Boston$18.77$1.03$11.12
Charlotte$14.60$0.64$9.65
Chicago$17.24$0.93$10.71
Cincinnati$16.46$0.65$10.00
Cleveland$16.44$0.77$10.00
Columbus$14.79$0.80$9.57
Dallas-Ft. Worth$16.27$0.69$10.58
Denver$18.90$0.85$11.62
Detroit$18.35$0.76$11.62
El Paso$5.38$0.24$8.74
Fresno$25.65$0.84$10.48
Honolulu$6.33$0.49$14.00
Houston$14.57$0.63$10.33
Indianapolis$15.59$0.70$9.48
Jacksonville$14.59$0.59$9.38
Kansas City$16.42$0.69$10.82
Las Vegas$16.17$0.94$9.15
Los Angeles$17.24$0.85$10.25
Louisville$16.89$0.39$8.90
Memphis$15.87$0.66$8.89
Miami$14.03$0.74$9.18
Milwaukee$17.93$0.89$10.22
Minneapolis$21.73$0.82$10.93
Nashville$15.72$0.76$9.49
New Jersey$19.64$0.97$12.22
New Orleans$16.18$0.98$10.91
New York City$23.48$1.58$15.20
Oklahoma City$13.33$0.59$8.29
Omaha$12.29$0.62$8.85
Orlando$13.33$0.58$9.53
Philadelphia$19.38$1.09$11.14
Phoenix$17.90$0.73$10.32
Pittsburgh$19.05$1.00$11.88
Portland$19.90$0.98$11.38
Raleigh-Durham$14.77$0.61$9.25
Sacramento$19.33$0.84$11.98
Salt Lake City$16.04$0.71$9.96
San Antonio$14.65$0.66$9.35
San Diego$17.50$0.85$11.00
San Jose$20.06$0.95$12.58
Seattle$19.20$1.09$11.75
St. Louis$17.21$0.84$12.18
Tampa Bay$15.06$0.71$9.79
Tucson$14.81$0.70$10.42
Tulsa$13.72$0.61$10.17
Washington, D.C.$17.44$0.92$10.64

The graph below depicts how much rideshare drivers across the country made per month in 2020.

Considering the immense effect COVID-19 had on the general economy in 2020, it’s surprising to see that rideshare earnings stayed stable, for the most part, throughout the year. It’s true that figures from March and April reflect a decline in earnings, but some recovery is evident from May through July. During this time period, the companies were using surge pricing to bring more drivers out to work.

Drivers may have not have completed as many rides as they did in spring and summer months of previous years, but the rides they did have yielded more earnings due to the surge pricing. Later in the summer, companies stopped using the surge pricing, and median earnings declined slightly.

Some businesses re-opened in the early fall, and in some areas, they may have remained that way. A second wave of shutdowns did hit several major areas, though, and had a negative impact on the normally lucrative months of October, November, and December.

How much do rideshare (Uber and Lyft) drivers make per mile

Earnings per mile followed the patterns of earnings per hour rather closely. In the fall, once surge pricing waned, drivers experienced slight decreases in earnings per mile. One positive note: the decrease was not severe, and earnings seemed to stabilize by year’s end.

How much do rideshare (Uber and Lyft) drivers make per trip

Once again, the pattern for earnings per hour seems to have set the pace for earnings for trip. The surge prices in late spring and throughout the summer made it easier for drivers to make money with each trip. The hustle got a little harder in the fall, when the surge prices were removed from the picture.

How much are rideshare (Uber and Lyft) driver expenses?

Expenses for rideshare drivers can be broken down into six major categories. They are fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs, depreciation and taxes.

Fuel Costs

The cost of gas is the largest variable cost that rideshare drivers face and your cost will depend on your location and the vehicle that you’re driving. According to MIT’s 2018 report “The Economics of Ride-Hailing” rideshare drivers spend between $.05 and $.27 per mile on fuel costs. In 2020, the IRS slightly reduced the rates they allot for reimbursement, from $0.58 per mile to $57.5 per mile.

The slight reduction might reflect the decrease in gas prices during 2020. It could also be due to an increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road. The slight reduction in fuel costs, no matter the reason, would certainly be welcomed by rideshare drivers.

These graphs were taken from MIT’s working paper The Economics of Ride Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes

Insurance

Insurance costs for most rideshare drivers represent a minor fixed cost. Drivers can add rideshare coverage to their current coverage for as little as $20 per year depending on your location, driving record, and age. For the purposes of this report, we have combined the estimated cost per mile for insurance and maintenance/repairs. See the next section for that calculation.

Maintenance and Repairs

All too often rideshare drives overlook maintenance and repair costs. Little things like oil changes, car washes, and small repairs will quickly add up. Many drivers create a “Maintenance fund” for themselves which is simply a savings account that they pay into each month as an expense in an effort to evenly distribute maintenance costs throughout the year.

Edmunds offers a 5-year cost of ownership calculator that gives you an average cost of maintenance and repairs based on national averages. You can find your cost of ownership calculator here.

In MIT’s report “The Economics of Ride Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes” they estimate insurance, maintenance and repair costs have a median of approximately $0.13/mile.

These graphs were taken from MIT’s working paper The Economics of Ride Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes

Depreciation

Another overlooked cost is depreciation. As drivers, we simply ignore that depreciation is a cost because it isn’t a cash-based expense.

However, this is a real and tangible cost. To estimate your own vehicle depreciation, you can use Kelly Blue Book to calculate the estimated loss of value as a result of one month of use as a ride-hailing vehicle. You can find Kelly Blue Book’s calculator here.

Our friends at MIT have calculated that the median depreciation for a rideshare driver is $.05/mile.

So what’s our estimated cost per mile?

MIT calculated that the median cost per mile including fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs, depreciation is $.30 per mile.

Uber’s own Chief Economist then publically verified that this median expense figure was accurate when he analyzed MIT’s report in a later post on Medium, a blogging platform. So as a rideshare driver, you can assume that your cost per mile will be about $.30 per mile.

One more thing: COVID-related expenses

While the cost of the extras drivers might have to procure to comply with COVID-19 protocols may not be excessive, they are a part of driving during a pandemic. Extra cleaning and sanitization have to be to paid for, and some drivers might want to add dash cams or dividers to their vehicles to make themselves feel totally safe. All these items can be obtained at a relatively low cost, but they should still be considered when drivers are looking at their total costs of doing business in the COVID-19-impacted world.

FAQ’s

Does this report take sign-on bonuses into account?

This report does not include income that drivers make from sign-on bonuses from any platform.

Does this report include bonuses like Quests, Driver Bonuses, or Uber Pro Bonuses

This report does not include income from any incentive programs like Quests or Lyft Driver Bonuses.

Is this post expense income?

For the purposes of this report, we are only calculating revenue AFTER commissions from the rideshare companies but before expenses as expenses can vary widely by person.

Does this report take taxes into account?

This report does not attempt to calculate after-tax income as this number varies significantly from driver to driver.

How can drivers earn more?

As rideshare drivers, we need to be aggressive when it comes to finding ways to earn more, not passive. There are a few key ways that we can do this.

Perfect your driving strategy

So full transparency here, I’m going to plug Gridwise here. That’s because the smartest thing that a driver can do to earn more is to optimize their driving strategy, and using Gridwise is the best way to do that.

How?

Do airport trips the smart way

Not every rideshare driver is the type to wait in the airport queue, but every driver finds themselves driving passengers to the airport at least a few times a month. So when you find yourself at the airport, it MAY make sense to wait there for a ride that is likely going to be a long trip.

To find out if it’s worth your time to wait at the airport, take 15 seconds to open up Gridwise and see how many passengers are flying in and how many drivers in sitting in the queue.

If there is a peak in arrivals and not too many drivers in the queue, then it’s probably worth your time to wait at the airport.

Know Your Event Calendar

Every driver at one point on another finds themselves searching for riders.

It happens to the best of us.

You can minimize the times that you’re in these situations by simply knowing what’s going on in your city. That way, when things start to get dry, you know where there will be passengers.

Again, you can quickly check your free Gridwise app to understand what’s going on in your city.

This DOES NOT mean surge chasing, this means surge predicting.

Maximize your tax deduction

If you’re a rideshare driver, you CANNOT rely on Uber, Lyft, or any other rideshare company to give you your taxable mileage.

Why?

Because they could be missing 1000’s of miles that you should be deducting.

Even though they send you a log of trips that you make with passengers each year, they DO NOT capture the miles you drive between pickups which are 100% deductible.

Think of all the dead miles that you drive to go pick up a passenger or when you’re searching for a passenger…

That’s $1000’s in tax deductions that you could be missing out on if you solely depend on the reports that rideshare companies give you.

So use a mileage tracker, like Gridwise’s FREE tracker! (Ok so one more Gridwise Plug).

Leverage other sources of income

Rideshare drivers MUST understand how in demand we are.

That’s because there are dozens of companies that want to get their products in our hands and cars so they can market to the captive audience in our back seats.

And what do we say to companies that want to get in front of OUR captive audience?

There are multiple tactics that drivers can leverage to maximize earnings with in-car and out of car offers. Here are just a few.

PlayOctopus – With Play Octopus, drivers can add a game tablet to the back of their cars that passengers can play. This helps increase tip income and drivers can earn $100 per month from in-game advertising income

Cargo – With Cargo, drivers get paid to distribute free snacks to passengers. You literally get paid to give away free snacks.

Lit – With Lit, drivers can get paid to rent cell phone battery packs to passengers

We have a complete list of these Earnings Boosters in our app on the “Promos” tab.

You can also check out a few of these articles below that talk about driving strategy.

4 Highly Effective Strategies This Uber Driver is Using to Maximize Airport Earnings

[Update!] 6 Rideshare Driver Strategies & How They Can (or cannot) Work For You

How Rideshare Drivers are Maximizing Their Earnings Using Destination Filters

[Update 2018!] Rider Interaction Strategies for When You’re Stuck in Traffic

How This Full-Time Student and Soon to be Dad Became a Highly Profitable Rideshare Driver in Days. Not Months.

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