How Many Fares Do I Need To Pick Up To Make A Living As An Uber Or Lyft Driver?

I don’t have a car (and I don’t feel like getting arrested) but if I did, what would it take for me to earn enough money as a driver for Uber (or Lyft or Sidecar) to pay the bills? To earn $50,000 a year, I’d have to pick up anywhere from 12 to 17 fares a day, depending on which service I drive for, according to one new report.

The folks at NerdWallet took a look at the costs for auto insurance and fares on Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar in more than a dozen markets around the country. They then used ownership and maintenance costs for a typical sedan (a 2014 Toyota Camry) to figure out just what it take to recoup your expenses and make a living as a full-time driver.

According to the report, drivers for Uber have to pick up fewer fares than those of Lyft. And on average, Uber drivers looking to make $50,000 a year in pre-tax income had to make around 60 pickups each week, more than 20 fewer than the Lyft weekly average of 83.76.

This disparity is even more pronounced in some markets, like Salt Lake City, where a Lyft driver would need more than 96 fares in a week while an Uber driver could make the same money with around 64. And that’s not the hardest place for a Lyft driver; that would be Dallas, where NerdWallet says it would take nearly 99 fares in a week to earn $50,000. The Uber number for Dallas (76/week) is also high, but still more than 20/week fewer.

According to NerdWallet, Lyft drivers in Dallas earn the least of all the markets in the report, averaging $9.73 per trip.

The one market where Uber and Lyft drivers face the same steep number of fares to meet the $50K threshold is Charlotte. A Charlotte Uber driver would be looking at around 81 pickups/week, just slightly less than the 84/week needed for a Lyft driver to make the same amount of money.

The earning thresholds for Sidecar, which is not available in all the markets in the NerdWallet study, vary greatly depending on where the driver works. For example, while both Uber and Lyft drivers in Charlotte must pick up more than 80 fares/week to earn $50K, a Sidecar driver in the same city only needs to average around 49 fares/week. But it’s a different story altogether in San Francisco, where the weekly average needed for Uber drivers (49/week) is significantly lower than both Lyft (81/week) and Sidecar (76/week).

Check out the full report with the market-by-market comparisons at

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