Priority Mode has been a feature in the Lyft driver app since August 2020, but it briefly went away in many cities. Now, Priority Mode is back again and available in more cities than ever.
Here’s how it works: When you turn on Priority Mode, you’ll be prioritized to get more ride requests than other drivers who aren’t in Priority Mode.
But there’s a catch: You get paid a lower rate per ride while in Priority Mode. Lyft says that the increase in ride volume makes up for the lower pay per ride, but that may not be the experience for every driver.
And this time around, the option is only available to Platinum tier drivers, so you’ll only be able to try Priority Mode if you do lots of rides and meet the strict standards for Platinum.
Are you thinking about using Priority Mode? Read on to learn how it works, and see if drivers think it’s a good way to earn more or if it’s a trick to get you to accept lower pay.
How Priority Mode works
Priority Mode prioritizes you over other drivers for nearby ride requests. That means you will get more requests than other drivers and experience less downtime between rides.
Priority Mode is only an option after you reach the Platinum rewards tier, and it’s only available in this list of cities.
Each driver is assigned a limited number of Priority Mode hours each week. You can’t turn on Priority Mode after you use up your hours.
For example, you may get 5 Priority Mode hours in a week, and you can use them whenever you want as long as Priority Mode is available, typically during less busy times of day.
Lyft limits the number of drivers who can use Priority Mode at the same and disables the option when it’s too busy.
To turn on Priority Mode, tap the Priority Mode button at the bottom of the home screen.
Rides will have a Priority Mode ride label once you’ve enabled the option.
You earn less per ride in Priority Mode
There’s another catch to Priority Mode: You earn less per ride. For regions with a rate card, the per-mile and per-minute rates are lower for Priority Mode rides.
And the same goes for upfront markets: You will earn less per ride.
More Priority Mode features and rules
- It’s not available when it’s too busy or too many other drivers are using it
- It’s not available at airports. It will automatically turn off when you enter the airport queue
- It’s not available if you are using location filters like Arrive on time, Stay nearby, or Head to destination
- It’s only available for Standard rides. It doesn’t work with Extra Comfort or Black
Get an earnings adjustment if your earnings are lower than other drivers not using Priority Mode
In some areas, Priority Mode comes with a guarantee: If you earn less than other drivers who don’t use Priority Mode, you’ll get a bonus to match what you would have earned if you hadn’t used Priority Mode.
After you drive for 1 hour or more in Priority Mode, go to the Earnings tab to see your total earnings from Priority Mode and how they compare to earnings without Priority. You’ll automatically earn an adjustment if you earn less than non-priority drivers.
Below, a driver shared an earnings comparison after using Priority Mode. They only earned $1.76 more with priority mode! But because they earned more than non-priority drivers, no pay adjustment is needed.
Lyft says “most” drivers earn 15% more in Priority Mode
Lyft admits that you earn less per ride in Priority Mode, but they say that “Most drivers earn 15% more in Priority Mode.”
They claim you’ll have “more opportunities to earn,” which is another way to say that a high volume of lower-paying rides in Priority Mode can pay more than a low volume of higher-paying rides.
But some drivers say they earn less—and wait longer for rides without it
So far, drivers are mostly negative about the earnings outlook in Priority Mode. Many say that you get more rides, but the pay-per-ride is noticeably lower and it can reduce your request volume when you don’t use it.
More back-to-back rides means more miles to put on your vehicle, and staying constantly busy isn’t necessarily profitable if your earnings dip too far below $1/mile. It may feel productive to stay busy, but keep a close eye on your earnings and make sure they hit your target.
And there’s another downside: In markets with Priority Mode, drivers that don’t use it are seeing longer wait times than before. Instead of only benefiting Priority drivers, it’s harming other drivers. The new incentive is to grind up to Platinum and start using Priority Mode or risk going without rides.
What drivers say about Priority Mode
“I got a lot of rides but none of them met my earnings parameters”
“Priority mode has reduced my earnings by 25%”
“The lower pay is trash. Trip was 33 min total and the pay was $8.72”
“If I don’t use priority mode I’ll sit 15-20 minutes with no ride.”
“I really can’t get rides unless I switch on priority mode”
“You might get more rides when there are a lot of drivers, but it means pay is low”
“Never tried it because pay is low as it is. Time to go home if it’s that slow.”
“I use it when I have a high ride challenge to hit”
Can you earn more in Priority Mode? Should you try it?
In its current form, there are so many limitations with Priority Mode that most drivers won’t even be able to try it.
First, you have to be in the Platinum rewards tier. Most drivers will never reach Platinum because it requires a very high acceptance rate in a market environment where most drivers prefer to skip low-paying ride requests to wait for something better.
And aside from the Platinum requirement, you can’t use it at airports or with filters. For many drivers, filters are the best way to get a great ride, so they’d rather stick with filters.
And then there are the limited hours. You are only assigned a handful of hours each week—around 5—and won’t be able to use them if it’s too busy.
With all those limitations and the promise of lower-paying rides, most drivers may never even try Priority Mode.
One great use case: Completing ride Challenges
Suffering from low ride volume? Why not try it
There’s no harm in trying Priority Mode if you’re a Platinum driver and you aren’t getting a lot of rides.
You might find that you like getting back-to-back rides even though the pay is lower, or you might find that it’s better to wait for better-paying rides even if it means more downtime.
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