Lyft Guarantees Dissected

I’ve been getting a ton of questions this week about Lyft’s guarantees from drivers who either a) weren’t paid at all or b) weren’t paid enough.  Today, RSG contributor, Scott Van Maldegiam takes a detailed look at how the Lyft guarantees work and what you need to know in order to get paid.

Being a rideshare driver, we all know fares are being cut left and right.  In order to keep drivers driving though, the TNCs have been offering various guarantees.  Most of the guarantees are only offered during peak hours and even then, the hours can vary by company and by market.  Today, we will dissect the Lyft guarantees.

Qualifying for the Guarantee

There is nothing worse than being offered a guarantee only to find out that you didn’t qualify and won’t receive payment.  Here are the few requirements you must meet in order to qualify for the Lyft guarantees.

Opt In

Well, duh!  Yes, for most guarantees, you now need to opt in.  And you will only qualify for the guarantee if it is emailed to you.  Be sure to use the “opt in” link in the email to sign up.  You can opt in any time during the week, so if you sign up for the guarantee on Sunday, it is retroactive back to the start of the week which is the previous Monday.

Acceptance Rate

This is where some drivers get into trouble.  The acceptance rate Lyft is evaluating is for the ENTIRE week, not just the hours where the guarantee is in effect.

Number of Minutes Online Per Hour

This is a major difference for Lyft compared to Uber’s guarantees.  As long as you are online for 50 minutes of an hour, then you qualify for the guarantee for that hour.  There is no prorating of time for Lyft.  You either qualify for an hour of time or you don’t.

Related Article: Uber’s Fare Guarantees Hacked

An hour is defined as x:00 to (x+1):00.  For example, 7:00 to 8:00 is considered an hour.  7:30 to 8:30 is not though.  The latter is considered as driving 30 minutes in each hour and if that was all you drove, you wouldn’t qualify for the guarantee in either hour.

Number of Rides

Every guarantee has a number of rides requirement.  I have seen this vary a bit.  In the latest Chicago guarantee, the number of rides required is two per hour.  Every hour is independent and the number of rides is not averaged over all the guarantee hours, which is different than the way Uber calculates their guarantees.  If you get two rides or more in the hour, then you qualify for that hour.

The time a ride request is accepted is the hour it counts toward.  Since our daily summary doesn’t give time stamps, drivers have to trust Lyft to calculate this requirement correctly since Lyft doesn’t provide us this data.  A couple other things to keep in mind:

  • Lyft Line rides only count as one ride even though there are two pickups and two dropoffs.
  • I like to send a pre-saved text message as soon as I accept every ride request.  This can also come in handy later if you want to double check your numbers against the guarantee requirements.

Calculation details

So, now that you fully understand how to qualify for the guarantee, let’s look at what goes into the calculation.

Included in Your Fare

This came as a bit of a surprise to me.  Included in your fare calculation is basic fare, Prime time (if applicable), and TIPS.  Yes, you heard that right.  The rider is helping Lyft lower the amount of the guarantee and isn’t actually helping the drivers make more money during guarantee hours.

On the bright side, at least they aren’t adding in the Rider Safety into the fare and thus lowering the guarantee payout even more.

An Example Is Worth a Thousand Words

Let’s look at a detailed example of 5 hours when Lyft offered a guarantee.  We will assume the number rides per hour needs to be two per hour and the guarantee is $40 per hour.  And since the acceptance rate requirement is over the entire week, we will assume that the acceptance rate is over 90% for the entire week.

Hour Minutes Online in the Hour Rides in the Hour Fares Tips
Monday, 7-8am 60 4 $20 $5
Monday, 8-9am 55 3 $30 $10
Tuesday, 7-8am 52 2 $15 $10
Thursday, 7-8am 49 3 $45 $10
Thursday, 8-9am 53 1 $20 $5

The hours in red don’t qualify for the guarantee because of either too few rides or too few minutes online during the hour.  For the remaining 3 hours, we have $65 in fares and $25 in tips.  So the total amount counted toward 3 hours in qualified guarantees is $90 ($20+$5, $30+$10, $15+$10).

This means that the average amount earned per hour is $30 so there is $10 per hour to be paid by the guarantee or a total of $30 for the week.

“I Didn’t Get Paid the Guarantee…”

Now that your eyes are completely glazed over from all this math, many of you may be wondering why you didn’t get paid the guarantee.  It is possible that Lyft made a mistake, but before you make that assumption,double check the following:

  • Opt In – If you didn’t sign up for the guarantee, you won’t receive it.  When I sign up for guarantees, I take screen shots on my phone of the sign up screen and the completion screen, just in case.
  • Acceptance Rate – If you didn’t receive a guarantee payment at all and you opted in, evaluate your acceptance rate.  If your acceptance rate isn’t 90% for the ENTIRE week of the guarantee, you won’t qualify for the guarantee.
  • Number of Rides Per Hour – If you received a guarantee payment but it was lower than what you thought it should be, this is what you should evaluate.  Remember, the number of rides per hour is NOT an average over the guarantee hours.  Each hour is evaluated independently.  You may have had an hour where you had only one ride in an hour because it was an especially long ride and it took you to an area where you weren’t going to pick up another ride.  If so, that hour won’t count toward the guarantee calculation.
  • EDIT:  Thank you to Jackie for bringing up a few more things.  Keep in mind boundaries of a guarantee.  This is especially important in markets where markets share boarders.  Guarantees don’t cross market borders.  Also, cancellations do not count as a ride.

Are There Guarantees This Week?

Harry has been receiving a lot of questions asking if there are any guarantees this week.  In Chicago, there were, but the hours were very limited.  I suspect that with all the new drivers that were going to be looking for their 30 rides to get their bonus, Lyft didn’t find it necessary to offer a guarantee in a bunch of markets this weekend.  So, if you didn’t receive an email or text declaring the guarantee, then there wasn’t a guarantee.  This will always be the case going forward, but is especially applicable to this weekend given the circumstances.

What Is the Best Way to Inquire About Your Guarantee Payment?

There has been quite a bit of chatter on the forums I read about the best way to get a response from Lyft.  The consensus seems to be that they are no longer responding to their direct e-mail address (  I am not stating this as fact, just from observations.

It seems Lyft wants all of us to use their help system before making an inquiry.  To make us do this, the best way to get a response is to go into their help system and submit a question there.  Here is the specific link to use:

You will then want to select either Acceptance Rate or Commision under “Specifically”.  Then go to the bottom and click “Contact Us” and type in your question.

I used this link this past week and I got a response in 3 days, although the problem I had was resolved in just a few hours.  While that response time for an email reply isn’t the best, I will give them a break with all they were dealing with this week even though all their wounds were self inflicted.

I hope this information helped clarify, in more detail, how the Lyft guarantee works.  I want to give Lyft credit for detailing how their guarantee works.  Neither Uber or Sidecar has disclosed their guarantee in a way that can be linked to and in such detail.  Here is the link from the Lyft website where I found the information.

I will be happy to take questions now.

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-Scott @ The Rideshare Guy