Can Ride-Sharing Provide an ‘Uber-Lyft’ to Your Income?

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Lyft

Lyft executives claim that the company is steadily stealing ride-share market from the behemoth Uber, according to a recent Forbes article.

If the company seems less present, it’s just that Lyft cars used to be identifiable by the big, pink mustaches drivers hung on the grill of their vehicles; in 2015 the company replaced the furry symbol with a tasteful dashboard magnet.

Lyft explains in detail how fares are calculated and driver pay is handled here. Like other ride-share companies, Lyft raises rates when and where demand is heaviest (known as surge pricing). Although the company takes a 20 to 25 percent commission from the total fare, it pays “power driver” bonuses to drivers who put in the most time on the road, allowing some drivers to recoup all or part of the commission.

According to the company site, here are the main requirements:

You must be at least 21 and own an iPhone or Android phone. As part of our approval process, you’ll undergo a DMV check, plus a national and county background check. This will require a Social Security number, in addition to an in-state driver’s license that is at least a year old.

See if Lyft is in your city.

You could also check out these up-and-coming ride-sharing companies:

Pay: Claims vs. reality

Company claims about driver pay don’t always pencil out. Financial writer Felix Salmon says Uber is a decent second job, but he estimates that a driver would have to work 58 hours a week to make $75,000 a year in San Francisco, one of the nation’s most expensive cities to live.

“If you have a Monday-to-Friday day job, but it’s not enough to make ends meet, then you could probably earn an extra $400 per week, net of gas, by working 16 hours a week on Friday and Saturday nights,” Salmon says. “That’s $20,800 per year.”

Lyft claims its drivers make $35 an hour. But when I used Lyft’s earnings calculator to estimate earnings for driving 20 hours a week in a few random cities, first trying Seattle, Los Angeles and Milwaukee, I was told: “You could make $400 a week!” That’s $20 an hour. In New York, finally, the calculator said I’d earn $700 a week — $35 an hour — driving 20 hours.

Learn more

It’s a very dynamic market, and if you look around, you will find that drivers are creating and sharing all kinds of strategies for making money through ride-sharing companies. So we leave you with this last piece of advice: Get on sites where you can ask questions, eavesdrop on conversation and complaints, and get a reality check. Here are few to get you started:

Would you consider driving for a ride-share service to earn extra money? What factors do you find most appealing or off-putting? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Kari Huus contributed to this post.

Stacy Johnson

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