4 Uber and Lyft drivers calculated how much they made after expenses. It ranged from $22 to $40 an hour, and an EV, tips, and tax incentives can make a big difference.

Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman, left, Jeff Hoenig, center, and Gabe Ets-Hokin.

Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman, Jeff Hoenig, Gabe Ets-Hokin

Many Americans are working as drivers for ride-hailing apps to boost their incomes.The nature of the job can make it difficult for workers to know how much they’ll earn.Four drivers calculated how much they made per hour after expenses such as gas and EV charging.

When you started your last job, you probably had a pretty good idea of how much money would flow into your bank account each month.

That’s not the case for many gig workers, such as Uber and Lyft drivers. Secretive platform algorithms and mercurial customer tipping habits make each day’s earnings a roll of the dice. And that’s before considering business expenses including gas, insurance, and vehicle maintenance.

A typical Uber driver earns $35 an active — or utilized — hour, which is the period between when a driver accepts a ride and completes a trip, according to the company’s February earnings call. A Lyft representative told Insider that, including tips and bonuses, the average US driver made close to $36 an active hour.

But the companies’ figures don’t account for drivers’ vehicle expenses, which take a cut out of their profits. Calculating these expenses can be complicated, and studies on ride-hailing hourly pay have come to varying conclusions. Sergio Avedian, an Uber driver who is a senior contributor to the gig-driver-advocacy blog and YouTube channel The Rideshare Guy, told Insider his research in Los Angeles found it cost the average driver between $5 and $7 an hour to run their car when all expenses were factored in.

Still, Americans continue to turn to these apps to earn some income. In fall, Lyft said it had its highest number of active drivers in over two years. Meanwhile, the number of Uber drivers hit a record-high 5 million last year, and more than 70% of new drivers cited inflation as a reason they joined the platform, the company reported. Some of these drivers hope their electric vehicles will save money on gas and make driving more profitable.

We spoke with four ride-hailing drivers — two with gas-powered vehicles and two with EVs — to learn how much they’re earning after expenses. Insider viewed their detailed calculations of expenses and hourly pay. The drivers also shared screenshots from the ride-hailing apps that showed their total income, trips, and miles driven over different periods. Rather than their active hours, the drivers said they used their online work hours — the time a driver has the ride-hailing app open — to determine their per-hour pay. They said this provided a more accurate reflection of their per-hour earnings.

Some drivers hope electric vehicles will help them earn more in the long run

Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman told Insider he began working part time as a ride-hailing driver in 2017. Last year, he earned roughly $12,000 in combined income driving for Uber and Lyft before vehicle expenses, according to both apps’ dashboards.

The Portland, Oregon, 38-year-old said he started driving full time in June and has worked over 500 hours and driven nearly 10,000 miles for Uber and Lyft in his electric vehicle. Hudson-Hartman shared a spreadsheet of income and expenses with Insider that showed between June and August, he calculated that he earned roughly $29 an hour.

Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman.

Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman

Based on his years of experience paying vehicle expenses, Hudson-Hartman estimated they came out to $0.34 a mile — accounting for costs including charging, insurance, and maintenance. That means his earnings fall to roughly $24 an hour. Excluding tips and ride bonuses, which Hudson-Hartman said varied significantly from ride to ride, he earned about $13 an hour in profits — tips and bonuses were roughly 36% of his earnings over the three months.

“Profits have most assuredly become less and less over the years with rates declining, costs increasing, and the market being flooded with drivers,” he said. “Nevertheless, I will continue driving.”

However, Hudson-Hartman said his electric vehicle, which he began driving in January, had already saved him thousands of dollars in gas and maintenance expenses and allowed him to avoid long lines at the gas pump. EVs generally don’t come cheap, but he said he’d fully paid off his 2023 Chevrolet Bolt.

“Driving an EV has greatly helped me reduce my costs,” he said.

Tips are an important part of a driver’s income

Jeff Hoenig, 63, is a part-time Uber and Lyft driver in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He said he’d completed about 12,000 rides since he began driving in 2018 and that he usually worked about 36 hours a week as a driver.

Jeff Hoenig.

Jeff Hoenig

Last year, his Uber dashboard showed, he earned about $37,000 driving for Uber before expenses. Including his Lyft income, he calculated that he earned roughly $27 an hour in 2022 before vehicle expenses. After accounting for an estimated $6,000 in ride-hailing-related gas costs, his per-hour earnings fell to $23 an hour. He said roughly 18% of his income came from tips.

“Some drivers think that Uber and Lyft owe them a living,” he said. “This is part-time work that some people do full time, not the other way around.”

Driving part time can be more profitable

Gabe Ets-Hokin in Oakland, California, said he began working as a ride-hailing driver in 2014. He used to drive full time but said he now worked between 15 to 20 hours a week in his electric vehicle — a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt — which he’s had since 2018. Last year, he earned about $34,000 driving for Uber and Lyft before vehicle expenses, according to his app information.

Ets-Hokin said his expenses, which include charging and maintenance, cost an estimated $0.23 a mile. In 2022, he calculated that he earned about $40 an hour driving part time after taking out expenses.

That’s an increase from the $25 to $35 an hour he calculated for previous years. Ets-Hokin said that cherry-picking higher-paying rides, driving only during busy hours — which he now has the flexibility to do given he’s part time — and capitalizing on bonuses and incentives had been key to boosting his earnings.

“I think making $30 to $50 an hour net is pretty sweet for a part-time job where I have no schedule and very little accountability to anyone but my passengers and my family,” he said. “I’ll do it as long as I can make $25 to $30 an hour.”

Certain tax deductions can cut down on costs

A 43-year-old Uber and Lyft driver in San Diego whose name has been excluded here because of concerns about professional repercussions told Insider he’d been a full-time driver for six years. In 2022, his Uber dashboard showed, he earned roughly $57,000 before vehicle expenses.

He calculated that the per-hour cost to operate and maintain his vehicle had varied between $4 and $8 an hour over his time as a driver. After his taxes and expenses, such as gas and maintenance, are accounted for, he estimated that he generally earned between $22 and $26 an hour. He said that over the years, tips usually made up between 10% and 20% of his income.

He added that understanding tax implications and having a good accountant could save drivers “thousands of dollars” annually. In 2022, he drove over 50,000 miles for ride-hailing services and said he used the IRS’s business-mileage deduction rate of roughly $0.66 a mile to greatly reduce his tax burden.

“Outside of the COVID years, I have always made as much or more money each year as I have the previous year,” he said. “This is a very profitable gig for people who pay attention to detail and put effort into their craft.”

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