If you’re a driver who doesn’t have a car (or doesn’t want to use your own car) to drive for rideshare, both Lyft and Uber have car rental options available. Overall, the programs offer great short-term solutions for drivers.
Unfortunately, sometimes it goes a bit sideways.
Recently, a driver from Dallas/Ft. Worth reached out to us about the huge jump in weekly rental cost of his Lyft Express Drive vehicle. Is this typical for Lyft Express Drive costs? We look into what happened for driver Nick and what drivers nationwide can expect to pay for rental car costs.
Lyft Express Drive
At the start, the process was fairly straightforward and easy. Nick picked out his XL vehicle and the plan that suited him the best. He chose the plan that allowed him 325 personal miles per week and unlimited Lyft miles, at a rate of $284 for the week plus tax.
Nick said if he’d chosen an X vehicle (standard sedan), he’d have been paying less than $200 per week, but he’s 6’5” and needs the room, so he opted for the XL vehicle in the form of the Kia Sorento.
Since Nick was using the vehicle in place of his own while his regular one was in the shop, he wanted to have the higher personal miles option. Plus, if he decided to use the vehicle to drive for Uber or any other platform, those miles would be considered “personal” as well.
“When you’re using the vehicle on the Lyft platform, all miles are included,” said Nick. “If you come off of the Lyft platform, you get charged, I think it was $27 for every 50 miles. You get 100 free personal miles included.”
Nick went on to explain, “What was kind of interesting about that, which I had never really thought of was, let’s say that you drive a 40 minute ride way out of somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I get out there and I don’t want to pick up any more rides out there because I don’t want to daisy chain myself out to God’s country.
So what I would normally do would be I’d shut the app off and drive back to an area I want to work in. Well, when you do that, those miles are personal miles.”
Less Than a Month Into the Rental with Lyft Express Drive
Nick had the Kia Sorento for about three weeks when he received an email from Lyft stating his rates would be going up. And not just slightly.
“I got a notice,” said Nick, “saying that the rate on that car was going from $284 a week to $489 a week. It was a big jump. And the additional miles were $50.”
His rental fee was going up by more than $200 per week!
“Of course I returned the car,” said Nick. “My other car was ready anyway, so I didn’t need it. But I just thought it was interesting that at a time when they were short of drivers, supposedly, because they were offering all kinds of rideshare bonuses, that they would raise the rate on the car now.”
Nick continued, “The other thing is I did work the wheels off that car. The first week I did $1400 and the second week I did $1600. So, I don’t know if they look at how much you generate and say, ‘Well, let’s jack it up.’ But that’s what happened.”
Nick also explained that the Lyft rentals are done market by market and they are then able to change their prices whenever they see fit. “I don’t know if it makes more sense to them to rent a car to somebody who’s doing only 20 or 30 rides a week and uses the car minimally. Or whether it’s worth giving it to an experienced driver,” said Nick.
In all, Nick used Express Drive for a month.
Is Signing Up For Lyft Express Drive Worth It?
When signing up for the program, Nick said they were really specific about what he would be in charge of covering versus what they would cover for him. Basically any damage incurred would be up to Nick to cover. However, he did have an experience where the headlight went out on the vehicle.
“I was able to call Lyft Mobile Service and they sent a truck out with everything on it you’d ever want. He replaced the headlight, checked the oil, checked everything, the tires, at no charge,” explained Nick.
While the rates did go up astronomically, Nick did mention several times that it was a great program and that it was really handy. He just wouldn’t necessarily rent through them again if they were charging $400+ per week.
Nick enjoys the fact that you can use a Lyft Express Drive rental vehicle on any platform. You just have to be careful of how much you use it on other platforms because of the personal mileage stipulation.
Another thing Nick enjoyed about the program is that the payment for the vehicle went directly out of his earnings at the beginning of the week instead of charging a credit card. He said the app made it very clear that all of his earnings went toward the payment for the week until the rental was paid, then the rest was shown as his income.
When returning the vehicle, Nick said the only thing he had to keep in mind was the fact the offices where he returned the vehicle were closed on the weekend. He got his full deposit back since there was no damage done to the vehicle. However, it did take about 2 weeks after returning the vehicle to get his deposit returned.
“It was a pleasant experience,” said Nick. “If you’re prepared to put in the drive time, it’s not a bad deal.”
Are These Rates Typical?
While it’s clear the Lyft Express Drive program can work for some drivers who need it temporarily and are able to put in a lot of time to pay off the weekly vehicle charges and make a weekly profit, it’s clearly not for everyone.
Lyft has announced rate changes fairly regularly, beginning in 2018 when they first began raising rates incrementally. However, just as recently as 2019, the Los Angeles Times noted rates of $479 a week were common – in New York City. Nick is based out of Dallas, TX!
According to the Los Angeles Times, Lyft “blames its higher rental prices and lower mileage rates on the cost of insurance.” This is similar to the reason why Uber offloaded its Xchange rental car program a few years ago to Fair, citing a loss of $9,000 per car.
Uber and Lyft are trying to become profitable, and it’s clear the margins of profitability on rental cars are narrow. Therefore, Lyft has to raise rates (sometimes exorbitantly and quickly) in order to ‘encourage’ drivers to maximize their earnings (aka profit for Lyft.)
As Nick mentioned, Lyft Express Drive could be good in a pinch. However, there may be cheaper rental car options in your state, like HyreCar or Rideshare Rental. Find our full list of car rental options for rideshare drivers here.
Drivers, have you ever rented a car to drive for Uber or Lyft? How did it go?
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