If you’re someone who uses the Lyft app often, you may be confused about how the company determines the cost of a ride.
Fortunately, we’re here to help, providing you with everything you need to know about Lyft prices in the United States.
Obtaining a price estimate before you hail your next Lyft ride could help save you money.
It could also allow you to determine whether you’re better off calling a Lyft or Uber ride.
Below, you’ll find a complete guide to Lyft fare estimators.
How Does Lyft Calculate Prices?
Many factors go into calculating the price of your Lyft ride.
Below are the criteria the company uses when calculating its prices:
- Base Fare — You’re charged this flat rate when you begin your trip.
- Cost Per Mile — The company bases this charge on the total distance traveled during your trip.
- Cost Per Minute — The company bases this charge on the total time of your trip.
- Service Fee —This flat fee is not for the drivers. Instead, it goes to Lyft directly.
- Other Fees — This accounts for things such as tolls and airport pick-ups.
- Tip — This is an optional cost that goes to the driver after your ride is complete.
Lyft uses the following equation to determine the cost of the trip:
- Base fare + (cost per mile * distance traveled) + (cost per minute * ride time) + service fee + other fees + tip = Total fare
As we’ll detail more below, these costs are not standard throughout the United States.
Instead, they can fluctuate depending on the city you’re traveling in.
Where to Obtain a Lyft Fare Estimate
If you’re looking to obtain a Lyft fare estimate, there are a couple of methods you have at your disposal to do so.
One of the best places to receive a real-time estimate is in the Lyft app.
Upon opening the app, you’ll see a prompt that asks you to set the drop-off location for your trip.
You could then set various starting points to ensure you receive accurate upfront pricing.
You can also scroll through various options at the bottom of the “Results” page.
For instance, Lyft will tell you the cost of a Shared Ride for one to two people or the price of an entire car for four people.
Lyft offers different ride sizes to its customers, including:
- Lyft — Your personal ride. No matter if you’re traveling solo or with four other people, you’ll get the entire car to yourself.
- Shared — You’ll match with others who are going in the same direction as you. The company says that its Shared pricing is always fixed upfront and will not fluctuate based on things such as “Per Minute” costs. You’ll find the price of a Shared Ride cheaper than the cost of a Lyft.
- Lyft XL — If you need more than four seats, you’ll need a Lyft XL. A Lyft XL guarantees up to six seats.
- Lux Black — This black car service is sleek and luxurious. Lyft ensures that its top drivers are behind the wheel of all of its black cars.
- Lux Black XL — This is the same as a Lux Black, except that it can hold six people instead of four.
If you’re trying to plan the cost of a future trip, you may want to use the fare estimator located on the Lyft website.
The site allows you to pinpoint the price of a fare, no matter what city it’s in.
Once you select a city, you can enter the pick-up location and drop-off location in that area.
So, for instance, imagine you’re taking a trip to New York.
Before you go into the “Big Apple,” you want to know the cost of ordering a Lyft to take you from Madison Square Garden to the Empire State Building.
Lyft then provides a breakdown of the expected time and cost for any of its car options, as demonstrated in the picture below.
Determining the Cost of a Lyft
The cost of a Lyft depends on the type of ride that you order and the city that you’re in.
Shared Rides are typically cheaper, while XL and Lux rides are more expensive.
When using the Lyft website to secure a fare estimate, you can see relevant information for a given city, such as the Base Fare, Minimum Fare, and Maximum Fare.
Below, you’ll see a breakdown of Lyft pricing in New York City.
Whether you’re traveling for vacation or work, you should look up fare estimates before heading on your trip.
The cost of a Lyft can vary significantly from city to city.
Consider, for example, the price of a Lyft in Los Angeles compared to the cost of a Lyft in New York.
As the above graphics show, the cost per mile in New York is $1.46, while it’s $1.06 in Los Angeles.
Additionally, the NYC cost per minute is 66 cents while the cost in LA is 17 cents.
Such differences exist from city to city in the United States.
Fortunately, Lyft’s website provides the cost of hailing a ride in every American city.
With a little bit of research, you can quickly determine the price of a Lyft anywhere you travel.
Another thing that can factor in the cost of the Lyft is surge pricing, which Lyft calls Prime Time.
When demand is high, the company institutes Prime Time pricing in an attempt to get more Lyft drivers on the road. This is nearly identical to Uber’s SURGE pricing.
If this pricing is in effect, you’ll see a small lightning bolt in your app next to a price estimate.
Lyft typically increases the price by 25% increments.
The more demand for Lyfts, the higher the Prime Time pricing.
So, let’s say you saw a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.
When the show lets out, there are likely tens of thousands of people looking to secure a ride.
There are not nearly enough drivers to handle this sudden demand.
So, Lyft charges a premium and increases the cost of a trip through surge pricing.
Surge pricing can fluctuate in a matter of minutes.
If you’re looking for a cheaper ride, consider waiting a couple of minutes and then try to hail a Lyft driver again.
Unfortunately, surge pricing can be unpredictable.
If you’re looking for a real-time price estimate during Prime Time hours, your best bet is to use the Lyft app.
Tipping a Lyft Driver
Another component that could change the price of your Lyft is the tip that you leave your driver.
According to Lyft’s website, you have up to 72 hours after a ride to add a tip.
One option you have is to tip as soon as your ride is complete.
After the trip is over, the Lyft app will prompt you to rate your driver.
After rating your Lyft driver, you can choose a predetermined tip or enter a custom amount.
The other option you have is to add a tip after the fact when looking at the “Ride History” section in profile.
Your Ride History will display the various Lyft drivers who you’ve ridden with.
You can click on the driver and then select “Tip driver.”
Then, you can enter your tip amount.
Lastly, Lyft will email you a receipt of the ride.
In this email, the company will provide you with a link that you can use to tip your Lyft driver.
So, how much should you tip your Lyft driver? Diane Gottsman of the Protocol School of Texas told the Huffington Post, “There’s no set amount, but I think you should consider tipping like you would tip a taxi driver, which is about 15 to 25%.”
The Lyft app and website will not build a tip into the fare estimate.
Be sure to consider the tip that you’ll leave when securing your price estimate.
Use Lyft to Hail Your Next Ride
Now that you know how to obtain a price estimate, you can use Lyft to hail your next ride.
Be sure to look for various Lyft promo codes and offers when doing so.
By securing price estimates, using promo codes, and ordering when it’s not Prime Time, you can find yourself saving a lot of money the next time you use Lyft.
And who doesn’t love saving money?