Here’s How Much You Need to Drive for Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to Cover Your Car Insurance, Other Costs

Auto Insurance, Insurance
Driving for Uber, Lyft or Sidecar? Here's How Much You Need to Drive Just to Cover Your Car Insurance, Other Costs

Ridesharing companies promise easy money, but how often do you have to drive for Uber or Lyft to pay for car ownership costs, such as rideshare insurance? For the more ambitious, how can you make $50,000, $75,000 or even $100,000?

To find out, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to see how many rides drivers for Uber, Lyft and Sidecar would have to provide to pay for their car ownership costs such as insurance, gas and repairs. We also calculated how many rides are required for drivers to make $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000 in gross income. Using data from SherpaShare, a service that helps drivers track ridesharing income and expenses, NerdWallet analyzed 14 of the country’s largest markets for Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

Key findings

  • On average, drivers make more per trip driving for Uber than they do with Lyft or Sidecar. The average fare for Uber is $15.97; average fares for Lyft and Sidecar are $11.48 and $13.35, respectively.
  • To make an annual income of $50,000, the average Uber driver needs to provide 60.21 rides each week, while those working for Lyft need to give 83.76 rides a week and Sidecar drivers would have to provide 72.03 rides in a week.
  • Lyft drivers in Dallas make the least, $9.73, per trip. Based on the city’s average annual insurance premium of $1,042.30, a driver would have to provide 97.65 rides before paying for a car insurance premium.

How many rides does it take to pay for insurance?

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How much will you make?

Based on the data, Uber drivers make more with each fare than with Lyft or Sidecar. Uber drivers earned eight of the 10 highest average trip fares in the markets we surveyed.

On average, Lyft drivers make less than Uber drivers, $11.48 compared with $15.97; and average trip lengths are relatively similar, 10.2 minutes per trip for Uber compared with 13.6 minutes for a Lyft trip.

But Sidecar seems to cater to a different market. The average Sidecar ride is 22.9 minutes, which is more than twice as long as the average Uber ride. According to SherpaShare, the longer fares can be attributed to Sidecar’s marketplace feature that lets drivers set their own prices. When drivers do their own commutes, they often lower the fare below market rates to pick up passengers going their way.

» COMPARE: Best auto insurance options for rideshare drivers

How can you make $50,000?

In short, it depends on where and when you drive. For example, “driver utilization” for New York City’s yellow cabs is about 50%, which means that for each hour drivers work, they are ferrying passengers 50% of the time. SherpaShare’s per trip fare data for Uber shows that the average driver would have to drive 20.47 hours each week to make $50,000 a year. However, from anecdotal evidence and investigative reports, it is likely that the average driver utilization for ridesharing is much less than 50%.

Number of trips needed to make $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000

Market Average annual insurance premium Annual car ownership costs for a 2014 Toyota Camry Ridesharing platform  Average trip fare Number of trips needed each week to pay for car insurance Number of trips needed each week to pay for car ownership costs Number of trips needed each week to make $50,000 Number of trips needed each week to make $75,000 Number of trips needed each week to make $100,000
Boston $1,174.50 $11,421.48 Uber $16.07 1.41 5.93 59.83 89.75 119.67
Lyft $11.22 2.01 8.49 85.70 128.55 171.40
Sidecar $12.39 1.82 7.69 77.61 116.41 155.21
Charlotte $815.00 $11,166.87 Uber $11.85 1.32 7.59 81.14 121.71 162.28
Lyft $11.49 1.36 7.83 83.68 125.53 167.37
Sidecar $19.66 0.80 4.57 48.91 73.36 97.82
Chicago $1,243.52 $11,981.90 Uber $12.73 1.88 8.23 75.53 113.30 151.07
Lyft $10.50 2.28 9.97 91.58 137.36 183.15
Sidecar $15.36 1.56 6.82 62.60 93.90 125.20
Dallas $1,157.10 $11,653.66 Uber $12.66 1.76 7.99 75.95 113.93 151.90
Lyft $9.73 2.29 10.40 98.82 148.23 197.64
Denver $1,042.30 $11,545.78 Uber $12.94 1.55 7.41 74.31 111.46 148.61
Lyft $10.36 1.93 9.25 92.81 139.22 185.63
Detroit $4,924.99 $15,608.04 Uber $16.13 5.87 10.64 59.61 89.42 119.22
Lyft $13.03 7.27 13.17 73.79 110.69 147.59
Los Angeles $1,175.61 $11,890.59 Uber $14.25 1.59 7.40 67.48 101.21 134.95
Lyft $11.59 1.95 9.09 82.96 124.44 165.93
Sidecar $14.14 1.60 7.45 68.00 102.00 136.00
Orange County $988.94 $12,092.12 Uber $16.07 1.18 6.86 59.83 89.75 119.67
Lyft $12.03 1.58 9.16 79.93 119.89 159.86
Sidecar $15.60 1.22 7.06 61.64 92.46 123.27
Phoenix $1,029.49 $11,854.45 Uber $16.31 1.21 6.24 58.95 88.43 117.91
Lyft $12.33 1.61 8.25 77.98 116.98 155.97
Salt Lake City $772.23 $11,372.23 Uber $15.07 0.99 5.96 63.80 95.71 127.61
Lyft $9.92 1.50 9.05 96.93 145.39 193.86
San Diego $818.08 $11,696.58 Uber $15.51 1.01 6.48 61.99 92.99 123.99
Lyft $11.40 1.38 8.82 84.35 126.52 168.69
Sidecar $15.58 1.01 6.45 61.72 92.57 123.43
San Francisco $1,013.90 $11,838.03 Uber $19.84 0.98 5.16 48.46 72.70 96.93
Lyft $11.92 1.64 8.58 80.67 121.00 161.33
Sidecar $12.63 1.54 8.10 76.13 114.20 152.26
Seattle $1,016.86 $11,822.71 Uber $16.59 1.18 6.15 57.96 86.94 115.92
Lyft $10.64 1.84 9.58 90.37 135.56 180.74
Sidecar $14.91 1.31 6.84 64.49 96.73 128.98
Washington, D.C. $1,390.88 $11,490.15 Uber $14.23 1.88 6.72 67.57 101.36 135.14
Lyft $12.31 2.17 7.77 78.11 117.17 156.22
Sidecar $12.69 2.11 7.54 75.77 113.66 151.54
National average $1,099.71 $11,772.68 Uber $15.97 1.32 6.11 60.21 90.31 120.42
Lyft $11.48 1.84 8.51 83.76 125.64 167.52
Sidecar $13.35 1.58 7.31 72.03 108.04 144.05

Methodology

Average trip fare, distance and time data are from SherpaShare users, who are only a fraction of those who drive for ridesharing services. SherpaShare provided gross income per fare data for each of the 14 markets surveyed.

Data sources used to calculate car ownership costs:

  • Depreciation, financing, taxes, fees, maintenance, estimated mpg and repairs from Edmunds True Cost to Own data for a 2014 Toyota Camry.
  • Insurance data from NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool.
  • Gas prices from the ACCRA Cost of Living Index.
  • Parking prices adjusted by city from NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator’s transportation costs index.
  • Average vehicle miles traveled per day from the Federal Highway Administration.
  • Average commute time from the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for a 2014 Toyota Camry from Toyota.

Driver image via Shutterstock.

Infographic by Brian Yee

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