If you’ve ever contemplated the idea of becoming an Uber and/or Lyft driver, I’m about to give you a realistic look at how much you can expect to earn (figures are from the D.C. Metro area). As a side hustle / learning experience, I signed up to be an Uber and Lyft driver in the Northern Virginia / D.C. Metro area. I drove for a little less than 30 days on a very part-time basis. I’ve decided to end this side hustle now, but I may still drive occasionally just for fun.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
- Earnings from driving: $320.73 giving 40 rides in 23h 31m ($13.64/hr driving only)
- Earnings from bonuses*: $550
- Total Earnings as a Lyft Driver: $870.73 ($37.03/hr driving+bonus)
- Earnings from driving: $410.20 giving 58 rides in 24h 19m ($16.87/hr driving only)
- Earnings from bonuses*: $150
- Total Earnings as an Uber Driver: $560.20 ($23.04/hr driving+bonus)
Total Uber and Lyft earnings
- Earnings from driving: $730.93 giving 98 rides in 47h 50m ($15.28/hr driving only)
- Earnings from bonuses*: $700
- Total Earnings as a Lyft/Uber Driver: $1,430.93 ($29.91/hr driving+bonus)
*bonuses came either from referring another driver who met the requirement for a certain number of rides or from being referred by another driver and meeting the requirement for a certain number or rides. I got a $350 bonus for giving 40 rides in 30 days for Lyft when I was referred by another driver. I also got a $150 bonus from Uber and $200 from Lyft for referring another driver in the NY/NJ area who met the bonus requirements for both Uber and Lyft.
As you can see, the hourly rate for a ridesharing driver isn’t great. On top of that, you have to factor in the cost of gas, maintenance, and depreciation on your car. I earned about $3 more per hour driving for Uber than for Lyft, but Lyft had much more generous bonuses. Uber seems to be slightly more prevalent in the DC/NoVA area, so there will generally be more downtime between rides with Lyft. There are many strategies to increase earnings, and many drivers turn on both apps at the same time when waiting for a ride, but I won’t get into that now.
In the end, I earned a total of $1,430.93 while being in driver mode for about 48 hours. I drove mostly from about 9pm-1am on Thursday-Saturday nights. It was advantageous to drive closer to Arlington and D.C., but there were still plenty of people needing rides in the Fairfax area.
I met a lot of interesting people and a few shady people (dealing drugs on their phone in my back seat). I became a little bit more comfortable talking to strangers, and I had great conversations with some people. Financially speaking, it may be worth the time to drive enough to get a bonus, but it’s not so great after that.