How to Become a Lyft Driver and Earn Money

How to Become a Lyft Driver and Earn Money

With Lyft’s rise in popularity as a ridesharing service, it’s now easier than ever for people to sign up to be a driver for the company. Whether you’re looking to drive for Lyft as a full-time job or to supplement your income, it could be a great option to fit your financial needs.

So, how do you become a Lyft driver and earn money? To become a Lyft driver, you apply on the website. You must then meet the requirements of the company, such as providing your identification and information on the make, model, and condition of your vehicle. As soon as Lyft determines that you and your car are suitable, you can start driving.

This article delves deeper into becoming a driver for Lyft, as well as the potential hurdles drivers may experience, the pay drivers can expect, and more. This article can be your one-stop guide to help decide whether becoming a Lyft driver is the best course of action for you.

How to Become a Lyft Driver

Becoming a Lyft driver may seem like a daunting prospect, but all you must do is apply. If you meet the requirements, you will be allowed to drive for Lyft. The car you drive will also be considered in Lyft’s decision whether to hire you, so you should be aware that not all vehicles are accepted to drive for Lyft.

Lyft Driver Requirements

Some requirements must be met to drive for Lyft. They include:

  • The age requirement for drivers is 21 in some cities and 25 in other cities
  • Own a smartphone running either iOS 11+ or Android 7+
  • Auto insurance for the vehicle with the potential driver’s name on the policy
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass a driving record check

These requirements are to ensure the safety of both drivers and riders and to adhere to the law.

Lyft Vehicle Requirements

Lyft is strict when it comes to the vehicles they allow to ensure a high level of safety and comfort for their customers.

Vehicle requirements for Lyft include:

  • A four-door vehicle with seating for four passengers.
  • Seatbelts for all passengers, as well as the driver
  • The car must be a 2000 or later model
  • Comply with vehicle regulations in your area
  • Complete a vehicle inspection that covers the mechanical and cosmetic condition

Which Cars are NOT Accepted?

Below is a list of cars that Lyft will not allow to be used by its drivers. No reason has been given aside from the company stating they will not be accepted into the program.

  • Chevrolet Aveo, Aveo 5, Metro, Volt
  • Daewoo Lanos
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Kia Rio, Rio 5-Door, Rio Cinco, Rio5
  • Mazda 2
  • Mini Cooper, Cooper Clubman, Cooper Countryman, Cooper Countryman Hybrid, Cooper Hardtop, Cooper S, Cooper S Clubman, Cooper S Countryman, Cooper S Countryman All4, Cooper S Countryman All4 Hybrid, Cooper S Countryman Hybrid, Cooper S Hardtop
  • Pontiac G3
  • Scion XD
  • Toyota Echo

Note: The above list of cars that are not accepted by Lyft is according to Lyft’s Help Center: Vehicle Requirements.

Lyft Vehicle Requirement FAQs

Q. Does the car have to be in pristine condition?

A. Lyft will only accept cars that are free of damage or major dents. The interior needs to be clean and presentable, as well as stain-free and odor-free. However, the company will not penalize cars that show wear and tear if they drive well and fall into the accepted vehicle category. 

Q. Does the vehicle have to be registered in the driver’s name?

A. No! Lyft understands that people share cars, and some people have cars in other people’s names. That’s why Lyft allows the vehicle to be in someone else’s name. The caveat here is that the driver needs to be named on the insurance policy. Cars with loans and under a lease can also be used for Lyft.

Q. What other options are available if you don’t have a car or the one you have is not suitable to drive for Lyft?

A. Lyft also has a rental program! This program allows drivers to rent a car from the company to drive. It is called the Lyft Express Drive program, and it makes driving for Lyft much more accessible. When you apply to be a Lyft driver, you can put in your application that you need a car to begin the process.

What is Lyft Express Drive?

Lyft Express Drive gives people who don’t own a car the ability to rent one to drive for the company. This program is the perfect entry into the world of rideshare driving, but there are many things you need to take into consideration, including:

  • You need to be 25 or older to qualify
  • The cost of cars varies from $200-250 per week
  • Avis, Flexdrive, and Hertz are among the companies that take part
  • Meeting Lyft driving requirements is a must
  • There is a refundable deposit of $250
  • Routine maintenance and insurance are included in the weekly cost
  • The rental cars include unlimited mileage
  • The weekly ride minimum is 20 (so in a week, the driver must complete 20 rides to continue to use the program)
  • Even though rentals can be reserved ahead of time, it is at a first-come-first-served basis, so make sure to plan
  • Two people cannot share a Lyft rental — even if both are Lyft drivers
  • Long term leases are not available.
  • All leases are renewed weekly, and unless the car needs service, you can usually keep the same one
  • The rental fee is paid weekly at a flat rate, plus taxes and fees. The payment is deducted from weekly earnings

Lyft Express Drive: Pros and Cons

Because the Lyft Express Drive plan will be a hit with many people, it’s worth looking at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Unlimited mileage
  • Included insurance
  • Good selection of cars available
  • Free maintenance

Cons:

  • Availability of rental cars can be limited
  • Insurance plan is different depending on which dealership you rent the vehicle from
  • If no rentals are available, you cannot work

This service may be a good thing for some, but it might not work for others. That’s why it’s always best to understand all of the policies so that you can know for sure if it will help or hinder your Lyft driving lifestyle.

Is Lyft Express Drive Worth It?

Yes! If it’s the only way you can become a driver for Lyft, it is a great way to get your foot in the door, but it works better for people who want to drive as a full-time source of income. The limitations make it hard to be lucrative for part-time drivers. 

Getting Paid as a Lyft Driver: A Guide

If you’re thinking about working for Lyft, then it is essential to know the process of getting paid, how fares are calculated, and how much you can earn.

When Does Lyft Pay?

Lyft drivers are paid weekly. The company starts the payroll process on Tuesdays at 5 AM. It takes about 2-3 business days for the payment to appear in your account.

If it takes longer, it usually means there is an issue with the bank details Lyft has on file for you.  It’s always best to make sure your banking details are up to date in the payment portal to avoid delays.

If there is an issue with your banking information, Lyft will attempt to pay once they are updated.  Alternatively, your pay date could be the following Tuesday. There is also an Express Pay option that can help you if you need a payout sooner.

What is Express Pay?

Express Pay allows drivers to cash out their earnings before the usual weekly deposit on Tuesday. The great thing about it is that payments can appear in your account within hours after the request. It is perfect if you need money quickly.

To qualify for Express Pay:

  • Your bank must support immediate transfers
  • The debit card on the account must be up to date
  • Address details need to be up to date
  • The bank account or card must be active

Not all earnings qualify for Express Pay. Here are the exclusions:

  • The passenger hasn’t submitted payment
  • The ride is under review — for example if there have been terms of service violations

How is a Lyft Fare Calculated?

Lyft fare consists of three components:

  • Base Fare: The amount the passenger pays to start a ride
  • Cost per mile: The amount the driver earns per mile in the city where the trip starts
  • Charge per minute: The amount the driver per minute in the region where the ride occurs

All Lyft fares will come with a minimum and maximum that the driver will earn from the ride, making it easier to pick rides.

How Much Do You Earn as a Lyft Driver?

There are no set earnings as a Lyft driver. That’s why many drivers budget their money and lowball what they will earn to help ensure their bills can be paid. The pay depends on how much you will work, as well as whether you use a strategy to get the most rides. Many factors determine how much you make as a Lyft driver. Some strategies can help boost your earnings considerably.

There are many strategies that you can employ to earn more money as a Lyft driver, such as:

  • Chasing surge pricing
  • Airport strategies
  • Event strategies
  • Late-night driver strategies

Surge pricing raises the price of rides. The prices rise when there is more demand for trips than available drivers. Ridesharing apps add surge prices during rush hour or after a big event when they know people will need transportation.  The feature has drawn much controversy for Lyft because other companies do not follow suit.

For instance, if you look at an airport, there could be 40 Lyft drivers waiting and multiple planes about to land. This situation pushes the price up because people will be requesting Lyft rides to get them to the next leg of their destination. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t a good thing for customers because it has been said that ridesharing companies know how to kick off an artificial surge. Sam Sweeney, with ABC7 News, reported that many drivers turn their applications off for a few minutes before the planes land to make it seem like there are fewer cars in the area. This practice makes the price of the ride even higher, maximizing the driver’s earnings.  

While the company does not want drivers to do this, it happens. Sometimes, it’s difficult to prevent because there’s no way of telling whether it is done on purpose. Nonetheless, this is well-known as one of the strategies to boost earnings.

Is Chasing the Surge a Bad Idea?

Yes! Many drivers think that chasing surges in busy parts of the city is an excellent idea to raise earnings. While getting a high-paying ride is a good thing, you need to consider the fact that you will also be stuck in traffic for a long time.

It’s better to plan around events or airport trips so that you know you will get steady work. By the time your first surge ride is over, the demand for rides could have diminished. Thus, you could have earned less from that one ride than what you would have made by completing multiple shorter trips in a less busy part of the town. 

Airport Strategy

Tracking flights via Flight Tracker is an advantageous thing to do, but that doesn’t let you know how many people are on the flights. In many instances, flights have a fraction of the seats sold, and it can mess up your strategy.

That’s why Gridwise is the better option here. The application is available for Android and iOS and predicts how many people will be on the plane. This information will allow you to determine whether staying at the airport is worth your time.

Another strategy is to check the outgoing flights on Gridwise to understand whether people will need to go to the airport and when they need to go. If you master this, you should be able to find people in the surrounding areas of the airport who are looking for rides to the airport.

Businesspeople usually leave hotels in the early hours of the morning, so check those flights. It might mean coming out around 4 AM to start work, but working for those few hours could potentially make up the bulk of your shift earnings.

Gridwise gives peak departure times, so hanging around the local area near hotels could also help get tourists who are looking to get to the airport quickly. If you get bored easily, then spend part of your day at the airport but use Gridwise or a similar application to make sure you are maximizing your time.

Is Chasing Airport Fare Worth It?

While many drivers typically like to avoid airports because they can be unpredictable, sometimes there is earning opportunity in the form of a longer ride that could bring in some much-needed cash. However, the trade-off here is that you might need to wait in a long queue.

If you miss out on a big ride, it could make your earnings take a hit, and the whole day could earn less than you anticipated. That’s why the airport is a more significant risk than other strategies.

If you live in a state with a city that is right next to the airport, the airport fares may not be much higher than they are in the city, so it may not be worth your time going to the airport. Surge prices can be higher at the airport, but there is still much to consider.

Waiting in a queue will decrease the number of rides you get, so if you’re okay with that, then it may work for you. Without a good airport strategy, it is probably not worth your time.

Events Strategy

If there is a big event going on, like a sporting event, a concert, or anything else that will have a large volume of people in a small place, it’s worth your time.  The best thing to do is to plan out which events are coming up and know which areas to work in so that you have a steady stream of riders.

If there is an event, there will be surge pricing. Even if you haven’t investigated an event in advance, look out for signs while you’re driving around. You may see a group of people gravitating towards one area of the city. This strategy requires you to know a fair bit of information about the city you are driving in.

Here are some more tips for mastering the event strategy:

  • Read newspapers
  • Pay attention to billboards
  • Check websites like Ticketmaster to know when to expect big concerts
  • Check sporting events in the area

Lyft Rush Hour Strategy

Another strategy to employ is rush hour, but this one can be frustrating.

The types of passengers you will probably come across during rush hour are:

  • Professionals on their way to work
  • Professionals going to and from the airport
  • Students going to class
  • Parents dropping kids off
  • Public transport riders who have had issues with their service

Rush hour can be a great thing, but it can also be frustrating if you get caught up in traffic. There is a small per minute payment while a passenger is in your car, but it is not nearly as lucrative as finishing a ride quickly and starting another. 

If you know your way around the city like the back of your hand, then rush hour could be for you. If not, use one of the other strategies.

Late-Night Driver Strategy

Late-night driving is not for everyone. There are many pros and cons for late-night driving.

Pros:

  • Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights will be busy
  • More chance of surge prices
  • Rides will be more consistent in city centers
  • Could be great for making money if part-time

Cons:

  • There can be troublesome passengers
  • Streets and roads will be busier

The clientele from late-night driving is mostly patrons from bars and restaurants. 10 PM to 3 AM will be the busiest times, but it takes a certain kind of Lyft driver to be able to handle these more difficult passengers.

Passengers under the influence of alcohol can be either friendly or nasty. It’s a risk most take when they work late nights, but the potential earnings are higher because the fares are higher during these periods.

Many people will be looking for transportation to and from clubs and bars, so there will be surge pricing since the demand for rides will surpass the number of drivers available.  The best late-night driver strategy is to be near the bars at the beginning and end of the night.

If you plan on taking breaks, make sure they are well before 2 AM because this is the time when bars will begin the process of shutting their doors in most cities.

Late-night driving is an excellent option for people who cannot work during the day or other days of the week. There is plenty of money to be made, and like other strategies, you need to know how to work this one to your advantage. 

Lyft Tips: Do’s and Don’ts

With Lyft, riders generally tip their drivers at the end of the trip. While everyone tips differently, here is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you maximize your tips.

Do:

  • Treat every customer like a high-paying tipper
  • Provide great service from the moment the rider gets in the vehicle until they exit
  • Show passengers their safety is important to you
  • Keep both hands on the wheel
  • Only chat with the customer if they are receptive to conversation

Don’t:

  • Let negative comments from previous rides affect future ones
  • Force conversation if the rider does not want to talk
  • Answer phone calls or get on your phone while driving

Finding a high-tipping rider can be difficult, but if you know that you did everything to make the rider feel safe and cared for while in your car, there’s not much else you can do. Even if the tip isn’t high, it’s nice to get a good review.

Does Lyft Offer Driver Bonuses?

Yes! The current Lyft bonus focuses on weekly ride challenges. Lyft tailors this to each driver, so not every driver will get the same bonus opportunity.  It depends on how you work as a driver and can vary.

For example, the weekly driver challenge for one person might be to complete ten rides between Monday at 5 AM and Friday at 6 AM to earn an extra $25. This incentive is designed to maximize the number of trips drivers complete while also giving a bonus.

The most popular bonus incentive, however, was the Lyft Power Bonus. It was phased out at the end of 2018 but was an excellent way to boost earnings. The company would set how many rides needed to be completed to achieve the bonus income.   

For example, there was a Lift Bonus for which the driver had to make 150 total rides in a week, with 60 of them during peak hours. In return, Lyft would payout 20% of the driver’s earnings for that week as a bonus, in addition to an extra $250.

In Conclusion

It’s clear there is much money to be made as a Lyft driver, but it isn’t easy. Many strategies come into play. You need to know the areas you’re driving in, as well as when things get busy. But it can be a rewarding experience knowing that your strategy is paying off and that you can make the money you want to.

Perseverance is a must because there will be dry spells, even when it is typically busy. It all comes down to the drivers’ ability to develop a strategy and execute it on a daily basis.

Furthermore, a continually changing bonus offer means that you get to make bonuses without being forced to do the same thing over and over. Sometimes, you’ll find your personal “gold mine” when trying to earn the bonus!

If you meet the requirements and wish to give it a try, you can earn a sign-up bonus here (Note: your bonus amount will vary based on your location).

Dan Ferrantelli

I'm Dan Ferrantelli. I discovered rideshare through my wife and daughter who used the service a full year before I decided to try it. Now I am a part-time Uber & Lyft driver and love sharing my experiences with others. I'm also an entrepreneur who has developed several businesses and I have a passion to write! I hope you enjoy the articles I post. Kind feedback is always welcome.

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