You may be surprised to learn that one earnings question RSG regularly receives is ‘can an Uber and Lyft driver earn $100,000 a year driving rideshare?’ It seems like it’s the elusive goal – but is it attainable? Senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian breaks down the numbers to show if it’s even possible to get close to making $100,000 as a rideshare driver.
I am a six-year veteran, I have seen the good (2016-2017), the bad (2018-2019), and the ugly (2019-early 2020).
The good was really enjoyable, as I would consistently bring in $3000 week after week. Then the cuts of the base rates (in Los Angeles, Uber pays 60 cents a mile and 21 cents a minute; Lyft pays 80 cents a mile and 12 cents a minute) came fast and furious as well as the elimination of the Surge Multiplier.
By the time 2019 rolled around, my income was down by 40-50% due to oversaturation, lower Utilization Rate (UR), and lower Incentives (Quest, CRBs, Boost, etc.). That was the moment I decided to become a part-time driver and when the pandemic hit, I stopped driving for Uber/Lyft altogether.
I picked it up again on the weekends last August. I discovered that Los Angeles was short of drivers, my UR was back up to 95% and with all the Incentives, I was making the same amount of money per Online/Active hour that I was in 2017-2018, even though Uber/Lyft had not increased the base rates.
I was enjoying driving again! Where can someone make $60 an hour and clock out when they choose to do so?
However, while my earnings are good, are they $100,000 a year good? Keep reading below to see if you can make $100k a year as a rideshare driver!
Is it Possible for an Uber and Lyft Driver to Earn $100,000 a Year?
Mathematically, YES, especially in Los Angeles. Here is my breakdown of the numbers.
As all the Show me the money club (SMTMC) members know, I don’t drive unless Uber/Lyft “show me the money.” The only way I can still average $50-60 an hour is because I pick and choose my spots for a few hours during the weekends and make sure all the Incentives overlap.
In order to make $100,000 a year, a driver must average $2000 GROSS a week. This is week after week, people – is it doable for me personally? NO.
But assuming everything stays the way things are in Los Angeles at the moment, a young or very motivated person, with no back or health problems, can earn that type of cash week after week. Another assumption is that he/she is driving the right car. For this experiment, we’ll use a 10-year-old Prius or a used EV.
It will take at least 60-65 hours a week of driving full time using both apps, taking advantage of all the Incentives, CRBs, Boost, and definitely Surge in order to make $100,000 as a rideshare driver.
In Los Angeles, the picture above repeats itself day after day during weekday morning/afternoon rush hour and on the weekends.
We all know that, other than turning the apps on and off when we want, we are not in control of what we can earn; we’re at the mercy of the algorithms. Strategy will get you so far.
In order for our hero drivers to make $2000 a week for 52 weeks in a row, they must be on the good side of the Uber/Lyft algorithms in receiving decent bonuses. They also must know the city they are driving in extremely well. They must be familiar with the demand patterns of the city as well as apply the three Ps (Patience-Position-Planning) consistently.
It is a must for our driver to use both TNC’s applications. Without it, I don’t think it is possible to achieve the results below.
$2000 a week for 52 weeks ($2000X52=$104.000 a year)
$2000/65 hours a week ($2000/65=$30.75 per hour)
I gross almost double that amount but I am part-time. In today’s market conditions, a decent driver should earn at least $30 an hour without much strategy.
One thing humans can not change or adjust is how many hours are in a day. So out of the 24 hours we have in a day and 168 hours a week, I can easily come up with 65 hours that are the most profitable times of the day to drive passengers around.
The most profitable times of the day to drive as an Uber or Lyft driver are:
- 6-9 AM on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
- 3-8 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
- 11-12 hour days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday when the city is lit up with Surge
There are 65 hours where peak earning opportunities exist. This hero driver of mine will have plenty of time to work out, sleep well, take multiple breaks, etc. during the remaining 103 hours of the week.
But What About Expenses?
As I mentioned above, the car our hero drivers are using has a lot to do with how much of the $104,000 GROSS income they keep at the end of the year. A 10-year-old Prius with its 9-gallon tank, or better yet, a used EV such as a Chevy Bolt would be great for this task since the driver does not have to worry about depreciation that much.
With the Prius, assuming our driver is filling up every 450 miles (50 MPG – let’s say they drive 5000 miles a month), the driver has to fill up about 11 times a month.
That would be about 100 gallons of regular gas at today’s prices, roughly $550 a month (less if done at Costco). The 10-year-old Prius would need at least half a dozen oil changes, brakes, and a set of tires which would increase the cost over an EV, but it won’t break the bank of our hero.
For an EV, like a used Chevy Bolt with a 200-mile range, our driver has to charge it fully on a daily basis at home or at a fast charger available all over the city. No oil changes, most likely no brake jobs but maybe a set of tires, and that is the total expense, plus depreciation.
Other costs to consider would be rideshare insurance, car payments (preferably they own their car), and any other maintenance costs that could arise.
Takeaways: Can Drivers Really Earn $100,000 a Year Driving for Uber and Lyft?
Could this be really done? In Los Angeles, YES. In other parts of the country, probably NOT (although if you can prove me wrong, let me know!).
This will heavily depend on the driver’s will, physical, and mental health, and probably age. I don’t see why a driven, energetic person would not be able to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. I recommend they save most if not all of the money earned for one year of hard work in order to start their own business or further their education to land a job in a more lucrative field.
Even after expenses and depreciation, I think the Prius driver would net at least $90,000 and the Bolt driver would net $95,000 out of the $104,000 GROSS income if they owned the car outright without making payments.
I am going to take a chance and say that there are actually drivers earning at least $2500 for less than 60 hours a week in Los Angeles, but to do it week after week for a whole year will take a special human being.
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-Sergio @ RSG