Lyft Driver Guide
February 25, 2024

What are the Top-Paying Cities for Lyft Drivers?

Have you ever thought about working for Lyft, only to find yourself feeling a little confused by the different pay rates? There's a lot to consider when it comes to gig driving, and in many cases, the rate of pay is one of the first things most people want to consider. However, if you've been just about to get started with Lyft, it's worth considering what the top-paying cities are. Don't be dissuaded if you live in a low-paying city, though, because just stick with us ' we've also highlighted later on why this doesn't actually make much difference in the end. Indeed, if you integrate a specialist personal dispatch tool, even lower-paying cities can still give an excellent rate of pay!


Lyft pays its rideshare drivers based on several key factors. When combined together influence the final price paid for the ride. However, this also means that Lyft drivers receive a variable rate for each ride; shorter rides will usually be worth less, and longer rides more. This also means that the hourly rate will fluctuate somewhat. In addition, The four main factors that influence the price that Lyft pays its rideshare drivers are as follows:

  1. Pay per mile: One of the main payments you'll receive is the 'pay per mile,' which is based on the number of miles you travel for the journey. If you have to reroute due to an accident on the roads (etc.), this should hopefully be reflected in your pay per mile as an amendment ' but be sure to check you receive this pay! The pay per mile can vary significantly
  2. Pay per minute: In addition to the pay per mile, you'll also receive pay per minute ' in other words, for every minute that you have a rider in your vehicle, you'll receive additional pay. This ensures that, even when the traffic gets heavier, you still receive a good rate of pay for your work. However, it's worth noting that the cost per minute is around 1/10th the cost per mile, so going slowly to stretch out the payment isn't necessarily a good bet.
  3. Tips: In many cases, tips can boost your earnings with platforms like Lyft. Generally speaking, it's expected that rideshare users should leave a tip of around 10-20%; however, this may not always be the case. With that being said, many people leave tips of around $2 to $5 per ride, which can significantly increase your hourly earnings. In fact, assuming three rides per hour, that can easily be a boost of around $10 per hour from tips alone ' no small sum!
  4. Promotions and bonuses: In addition to tips, it's possible to boost your base income through bonuses and promotions. The most common and lucrative of these promotions are usually the surge pay promotion (known as Prime Time), which commonly occurs at rush hour. In other words, you're most likely to get a Prime Time bonus between 7 AM and 9 AM in the morning and 5 PM and 7 PM at night. However, it's worth considering that where the Lyft high demand area is can vary significantly from minute to minute ' e.g. around New Years Day.

It's important to remember here that all pay is based on the time your rider is actively in the car. As such, the time between locations won't be factored into your pay calculation. Therefore, you should always try to reduce the time between pickups to ensure your gig work remains profitable. The difference can be surprisingly substantial ' an extra three minutes between each trip, assuming you make three rides per hour, accounts for nine minutes of wasted unpaid time or around 14% of your time in total!

Two people in a carDescription automatically generated with medium confidence


By now, you might be wondering: who actually pays the higher rate? Is this paid by Lyft directly, or does this impact the price that the rider pays for their fare instead? Well, in higher-paying cities, riders have to pay more per mile and per minute for their ride.

In addition, riders are also responsible for paying the increased rate applied to surge (Prime Time) bonuses. The share that Lyft takes from each ride typically remains the same across different cities and during Prime Time bonuses. However, it's worth noting that Lyft doesn't publicly state how much this is worth, but it's estimated that Lyft takes around 25% of the final rate.


It's hard to say what city makes the most money with Lyft since this will depend on many factors. This includes the generosity of your riders and whether or not a Prime Time promotion is available.

For example, Seattle is considered the most generous city for tips, with Austin and Nashville closely after, which could significantly increase your earning potential. However, Seattle is not the highest-paying city for Lyft drivers based on the base pay-per-mile and pay-per-minute rate, so this is worth keeping in mind. As such, pay per hour may not always equate directly to the highest-paying cities.

Some of the highest-paying cities for ridesharing with Lyft include the following:

  • New York
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • St. Luis
  • San Jose
  • Boston
  • Birmingham
  • Portland
  • Pittsburgh
  • Philadelphia

Notably, cities with highly built-up regions tend to be much more likely to achieve a good rate when it comes to Lyft pay. Meanwhile, riders will usually have to pay much less for less developed cities. As such, if you are looking to become a Lyft rideshare driver in a less-developed region, looking for ways to streamline your earnings becomes more important than ever.

How Much Do Rideshare Prices Differ in the Main 5 High-Paying Cities

When it comes to outlining the differences in price between the five highest-paying cities for Lyft drivers, it's important to consider the rates that are charged. Typically, the maximum fare for Lyft rides will be roughly the same across the board. However, the cost per mile and per minute will typically vary per city.

The prices for the five biggest cities for Lyft drivers are as follows:

  • New York: $1.55 per mil / $0.71 per minute
  • Seattle: $1.60 per mile / $0.27 per minute
  • San Francisco: $0.93 per mile / $0.40 per minute
  • St. Luis: $1.34 per mile / $0.22 per minute
  • San Jose: $0.84 per mile / $0.36 per minute

From the above factors, it's easy to see that there's a very significant fluctuation in the overall price paid for different factors. For example, a Lyft driver working in Seattle will actually get a couple of percents more per mile than someone working in New York. However, a Lyft driver working in New York will get a far higher rate of pay per minute, which tends to inch the price up ' making New York the most lucrative city to drive in for Lyft gig drivers. Remember, though, that's only looking at the base pay!

What Do These Rates Look Like in Practice?

It's easy to compare the rates on paper ' but what do these differing per-mile and per-minute rates look like in practice? Well, the rates for Lyft drivers vary significantly between cities, and the easiest way to look at this is to consider an example drive.

Let's suppose that you have a ride offer with a fifteen-minute drive time and an 8-mile trip in total. Of course, this doesn't account for the time you spend getting to the destination. So this is important to also factor into your decision on whether a ride is worth the time!

Well, assuming a 15-minute drive and an 8-mile trip, this would equate to earnings of $12.40 for the basic per-mile pay and $10.65 for the time spent, representing a total earning of just over $23.

So, why is there such a significant difference between the cities? Well, the main difference here is that cities such as New York, San Francisco, and San Jose take far longer to get through (due to traffic). As such, the time spent driving may be much longer, meaning that your hourly rate may fall somewhat compared to this example. Still, there are huge earnings to be made in certain cities ' well worth considering.

But don't forget ' you'll need to take off 25% of Lyft's fees and taxes to determine how much take-home pay you'll get. Fortunately, when it comes to taxes, you can claim a tax deduction on your driving of around $0.60 per mile ' so long as you track your mileage use, of course!

Here's how you can earn $2000/week with Lyft>

A picture containing indoor, hand, closeDescription automatically generated


It's easy to focus exclusively on the base rate of pay when working with Lyft, but this isn't entirely the case. Indeed, while living in a top-paying city certainly makes it a little easier to make a good income with Lyft, this doesn't have to mean you're doomed if you live outside the big cities.

As such, it's well worth considering the different options available. Luckily, the Para app is ideal for making the most money with Lyft, regardless of your city.

What is the Para app? Para is a handy multiapping management tool that allows you to find the best gig jobs going. In doing so, regardless of where you live, you can drastically increase your earnings with ridesharing apps.

Some of the key features of the Para app that make it an excellent tool to help you earn more gig work, no matter which city you live in, include the following:

  • Auto decline makes it easy to quickly manage your rides without worrying about whether a job pays well. Set up your requirements directly within the Para app, and then the tool will automatically decline any jobs that match your preferences. This keeps you safer while on the road, as you won't be tempted to look at your phone!
  • Pay-per-mile estimates help ensure you clearly understand what you'll be paid for your time on the road as a rideshare driver. This helps ensure you're getting the best possible rate for your work ' after all, no rideshare driver should have to take on jobs that don't pay fairly!
  • The view passenger ratings feature allows you to check that your potential rider is known for giving fair tips and a pleasant driving experience. In turn, this makes it easier for you to find good riders who are likely to make your job as a rideshare driver a little easier. After all, why should you have to put up with difficult riders as part of your job?
  • Handy interface design guarantees that using the Para app is incredibly easy, no matter which app you're looking to use. You see all the information you actually need to know in one simple notification, making it easier to handle accordingly. Simply connect your accounts with Uber, Lyft, Uber Eats, and GrubHub to get started!
  • With ParaWorks - Para also offers new types of higher-paying gigs in your downtime! Shhh.. some gigs pay up to $45/hr (really!)

In short: Para is definitely one of the best ways to get into and succeed with work in the gig economy. However, if you're not sure where to begin, don't worry ' starting out is easier than ever! Simply download the app, make an account, connect Para to your gig apps, and you're good to go!

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "' para lyAt is now on Para Enjoy Earning!"


If you've been looking to work as a rideshare driver, it's well worth considering what city makes the most money with Lyft and whether your city pays well. However, with over 12.5 million riders at any one time, there's definitely a lot of potential to make money with Lyft.

Still, if you can streamline your income and time with Para, your gig HQ, it doesn't really matter where you live ' you can make a much better rate of pay! Para allows you to easily work on multiple apps to get a fairer rate for your time. So, if you live in a low-paying city for Lyft or would like to push a high pay rate even further, Para's the ideal tool for you.

More Articles

Lyft Driver Guide
January 5, 2023

How to earn $2000 a week with Lyft? Make More Money With Lyft

Have you ever wondered about how to make more money with Lyft? Working as a rideshare driver can offer countless amazing benefits ' if you know where to start, that is.

9 mins read

Lyft Driver Guide
January 27, 2023

How Much do Lyft Drivers Make?

Learn more about the Lyft pay rate per mile and how you can make good money as a side hustle or full-time job with Lyft.

9 mins read

Lyft Driver Guide
January 5, 2023

Beginner's Guide to Lyft (Part II)

Learn about "Understanding the Lyft Pay Structure", "How Much Does a Lyft Driver Get Per Hour?", "Does Lyft Pay Your Gas Bill?", "Does Lyft Have Life Insurance?", "Do Lyft Drivers Get 401k?", "Does Lyft Have Unlimited PTO?", "How Can I See How Much I Made Each Week?", and more!

8 mins read

All Articles
Arrow white right