Lyft is a ridesharing app that lets qualified drivers make money driving passengers to their destinations. It’s a popular app with over one million drivers.
Reading Lyft driver reviews may help you decide if it’s right for you.
What Is Lyft?
Lyft is a ridesharing app that brings together drivers and riders. Drivers can make money driving passengers to their destinations. You are in control of which rides you accept and when you work.
Lyft operates in all 50 states and is active in 656 cities. They make it easy for drivers and riders to use the app and either earn extra money or get a ride to their destination.
How Does Lyft Work?
Lyft is an app and is where riders and drivers communicate. Drivers set themselves to available when they want to pick up rides, and riders enter their pickup and dropoff locations to secure the rides.
Before driving for Lyft, you must prove you meet the requirements, including passing a background and driving history check. Lyft takes safety seriously and ensures all drivers are fit to work for them.
When you accept rides, all communication goes through the Lyft app, as does payment. This eliminates the risk of getting stiffed or not having a way to contact your rider should there be issues on your way to pick them up.
Lyft drivers are paid a flat fee per ride, but the amount varies based on many factors, including demand, distance, and time. Riders can also tip drivers; you get to keep 100% of those earnings.
Lyft transfers your earnings every Tuesday to your bank account, but it can take a couple of days to reach your account. Lyft also offers Express Pay, which allows you to cash out any posted earnings for a fee of $0.85 per transfer. The funds can take a couple of hours to deposit in your bank account, depending on your bank’s processing speed.
Lyft Driver Requirements
Lyft doesn’t let just anyone with a license drive for them. You must pass certain requirements to get approved and continually update your credentials to remain working as a Lyft driver.
Requirements for Drivers
Lyft has specific requirements for drivers, starting with your age. While Lyft allows drivers to work for them starting at age 21, each city/state has different requirements, and most don’t allow drivers to work for Lyft until they are 25 years old.
There are also Lyft specific vehicle requirements. Drivers must also have access to a reliable car. If you own a car, it must be a four-door car with at least five seatbelts (one for the driver) with a maximum of eight seatbelts in a car. In addition, the car must be the age required in your city/state and pass a vehicle inspection.
The vehicle inspection ensures the car is in good shape, is reliable, and doesn’t have major cosmetic damage. Drivers can have the inspection completed at a Lyft center or a partner mechanic; however, if it’s done somewhere other than Lyft, the driver is responsible for the cost.
Drivers must have a valid driver’s license, proof of registration, and current auto insurance. The car insurance must be in the driver’s name, whether you drive a car you own or a rental from Lyft Express Drive or HyreCar.
Lyft requires certain documentation to approve you to drive. This documentation includes the following:
- A valid driver’s license without restrictions
- A copy of your auto insurance card with your name on it or your insurance declaration page
- Proof of car registration
- Proof of passing a vehicle inspection
The Lyft Screening Process
In addition to the above documentation, drivers must pass a background screening and driving history check.
The background screening checks for any major issues in your background. Lyft must ensure that all drivers are safe and won’t risk their passengers’ safety. So they look for major issues such as a DUI or driving while high in the last seven years, acts of terror, sexual abuse, theft, or fraud.
On your driving record, they look for major issues, such as driving recklessly, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and hit-and-runs.
They also look at your driving history for the last three years. If you have over four moving violations within that time, or one major issue, such as reckless driving, you won’t be eligible to drive for Lyft.
Lyft continually monitors your driving and criminal record after you’re approved to drive to ensure that all drivers remain safe options for their clients.
Lyft doesn’t have a required schedule for its drivers. You can set the app to “available” whenever you want and shut it off when you no longer want to accept rides.
However, Lyft limits how much you can drive. This is to keep everyone safe. Lyft monitors the hours every driver is available, and once you are active on the app for twelve hours, they require you to take at least a six-hour break. The twelve-hour break is mandatory, and the six-hour break doesn’t have to be consecutive.
Beyond that, you can choose your hours, which means you can choose the hours with higher demand and/or peak pay. For example, if you live in an area with many commuters or near a major airport, you might find driving from 5 AM to 7 AM is the most rewarding. But if you live in a more remote area, you might drive at nighttime on the weekends when you can position yourself in a busier city setting.
Demand for Lyft
The demand for Lyft varies, like any service. If you live in a popular area, like New York City, you’ll likely see a high demand for Lyft drivers all day.
But if you live in a more remote area or a less crowded city, the demand may vary based on local events, the weather, and popular commuting hours.
The key is to get to know your area and position yourself in areas where the demand is the highest. You can use Lyft’s heat map to see the highest demand in real-time and position yourself there to maximize your earnings.
Lyft pays drivers a flat fee, plus you can keep 100% of tips. Lyft isn’t fully transparent about how they come up with the driver’s rate, but it takes into consideration the following:
- The per-minute rate in the area
- The distance of the ride
- Any bonuses or promotions
When you sign up for Lyft, you’ll receive a card that states your minimum base pay, so you know how much you’ll make for each ride without any additions.
Some of the additions you may earn include the following.
When the demand for Lyft rides is higher than the number of drivers, Lyft may charge (and pay) surge pricing. As a result, riders pay higher fares during this time, and drivers make more too.
Lyft often runs opportunities for promotions or bonuses. Typically this means they pay more if you run a certain number of rides or reach other specified goals. The bonus or promotional amount is stated in the promotion, so you know what to do to get it.
Lyft has several service tiers, including basic Lyft rides. The higher the tiers you qualify to drive for, the higher the fare you’ll earn. For example, if you have a black SUV with leather seats, you might qualify to drive for Lyft Black XL, a premier service for riders who want a black vehicle with room for five passengers.
Other Lyft tiers include:
- Luxury Lyft
- XL Lyft
- Lyft Access
Additional Driving Costs
Keep in mind that as a Lyft driver, you are an independent contractor. This means you’re responsible for all costs incurred, including taxes.
You must keep this in mind as you determine if driving for Lyft is worth it. You’ll incur many costs, including maintaining and repairing your car, gas, and insurance.
Cars require regular maintenance, and when you use your car to drive for Lyft, it will wear down faster and need more frequent maintenance.
Some of the most common maintenance and repair tasks include:
- Oil changes
- Tire rotation
- Changing brake pads
- New tires
Of course, you must keep your car in optimal condition, and with more use, you might need major repairs sooner than if you didn’t drive for Lyft.
In addition, you must keep up the vehicle’s appearance. This includes cleaning the interior and exterior of your car often. Riders rate drivers based on their customer service and the vehicle’s cleanliness.
Lyft requires its drivers to have personal auto insurance to drive for Lyft. You must cover the cost of the premiums and must carry at least your state’s liability insurance requirements. However, if you want access to Lyft’s comprehensive and collision insurance when you’re actively driving to a rider or with one, you must also carry comprehensive and collision insurance on your policy.
Lyft provides basic insurance coverage when you’re active on the app, but it’s often not enough. They have limited insurance coverage when you’re available on the app but haven’t accepted a rider. Plus, they offer $1,000,000 in coverage when driving to or with a rider.
Any other time, your personal insurance will be in effect, and it must include coverage for using your car for business. Some insurance companies offer a rideshare endorsement, or you may need a commercial insurance policy to drive for Lyft.
As a Lyft driver, you’re an independent contractor responsible for taxes. Therefore, you must pay the employee side of taxes and the self-employed taxes, which is 15.3% of your earnings and includes 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare.
You should consider filing your taxes quarterly and paying estimated taxes on your earnings. This helps you avoid paying underpayment penalties. If you estimate too high, you’ll receive a refund for the overpayment when you file your taxes for the year.
Lyft ratings may determine how many rides you get or which rides you’re offered. Riders and drivers can rate one another after the ride on a scale of 1 to 5, with five being the best.
One low rating may not hurt your ability to be offered rides, but consecutively receiving low ratings could hurt your chances of getting rides. Plus, if riders rate you with fewer than three stars, they won’t match you with them again.
To get the best ratings, you must provide top-notch customer service. While every area and driver is different, here are some ways to ensure your riders are happy:
- Friendly: When your rider enters the car, always greet them with a warm greeting. Next, read their body language. You’ll know immediately if they want to talk or have a quiet ride. Then, follow their lead to ensure you get a good rating.
- Take the Desired Route: Always ask your rider about the route you plan on taking. Sometimes they may prefer another course, or they might not know the area and trust your judgment. Take a few seconds to ask if your route is acceptable, as it can go a long way.
- Keep your Car Clean: No one wants to get into a dirty (inside or out) car. The cleaner your car is, the better impression riders will have of your service. Keep your vehicle free of clutter, and wash it often so riders have a good first impression when you arrive.
- Provide Extras: Show your riders that you go above and beyond what they’d expect. For example, have a spare phone charger available when riders’ batteries are low. Ask what type of music they like if they don’t have earphones in, and ask if the temperature you have the car set at is comfortable.
Pros and Cons of Driving for Lyft
Like any side gig, there are good and bad sides to driving for Lyft. Understanding both sides can help you determine if it’s right for you.
- You Work as Little or as Much as You Want: You decide how much you’ll work, making yourself available when you want to work, and shutting the app off when you don’t. The only restriction to how much you work is if you reach the 12-hour limit, you’ll have a mandatory six-hour break to ensure everyone’s safety.
- You Keep 100% Of the Tips Earned: While you can’t control how much Lyft pays you, providing great customer service and a clean vehicle may allow you to earn great tips. In addition, since you get to keep 100% of the tips, it’s a great way to increase your earnings.
- Lyft Provides Some Insurance: When you’re actively driving for Lyft (not waiting for a ride), they provide enough coverage to protect any third parties you hurt or property you damage. Plus, if you have personal collision and comprehensive insurance, they’ll cover your car and the people in it too, but it may be subject to a $2,500 deductible.
- You Get Paid Weekly: All Lyft drivers get paid weekly for the money earned the week before. But you can also access your funds instantly if you need them. You’ll pay a $0.85 fee per transfer, but it’s a nice feature.
- High Age Requirements: Lyft allows drivers to work for them at the age of 21, but most areas require Lyft drivers to be at least 25 years old.
- Wear and Tear on Your Car: If you use your car to drive for Lyft, you’ll likely have more frequent maintenance and repair costs. This can reduce your earnings and age your car prematurely.
- Competition: As long as you’re a good driver and don’t have a criminal history, you can be a Lyft driver. Because it’s easy to do, you might have a lot of competition, especially in busy areas. Finding the spot that’s the most profitable for you can take some trial and error without dealing with too much competition.
- The Income Isn’t Consistent: You can make a decent income when driving for Lyft, especially in popular areas, but there’s never a guarantee. For example, you might be in one popular area one night and then make nothing there the next night. It’s unpredictable.
Lyft Driver Support
Unfortunately, Lyft doesn’t have a customer support number, so you are limited to getting support online or through the app.
You can click on the ride in your app and follow the prompts if you’re with a rider and having an issue. Any other issues you may experience require either a message you send in the app under ‘Support and Safety’ or here. If you’re an active Twitter user, you can also send a tweet to Lyft.
Lyft’s help center also has the most frequently asked questions answered with articles and other resources to help you.
Lyft takes safety very seriously to protect its riders and drivers. You can rest assured that they do everything possible to keep you safe, including removing any riders that violate any Lyft policies.
Some of the safety features they provide include:
- Smart Trip Check-In: Lyft monitors your rides, and if something seems off, like it’s taking too long or you went off the typical course, they will check in to ensure you’re okay.
- Share Locations: You can add trusted people to your app so they can always see your location. This allows loved ones to check on you and ensure your safety.
- No Sharing of Phone Numbers: Lyft doesn’t share your phone number or any private information with drivers. Instead, all communication goes through the app and is kept private from riders.
- Ratings: Riders and drivers can rate one another, and if you or the rider rates below three stars, Lyft won’t match you again.
- Access to ADT Emergency Help: Directly from your app, you can contact an ADT security professional. They can alert authorities and instantly share your location to get help.
- Live Support: Lyft has emergency customer support professionals available 24/7 to help you by phone or chat, whichever feels safest.
Lyft Driver Reviews
Lyft driver reviews determine how many rides you get and how much you make.
Naturally, you want to strive for five-star service but don’t worry if you get the occasional bad review. A few negative reviews won’t hurt your driving status, but consistently receiving bad reviews could hurt your chances.
Viewing Your Reviews From Customers
Lyft drivers can see their reviews, but the information is shared anonymously. In other words, you won’t see which rider left specific remarks. However, you can use the reviews from riders to help you determine what you do right and what you can improve to earn higher tips.
Lyft Tips to Earn More as a Driver
Lyft pays a base fee for each ride, but there are ways to increase your earnings.
1. Position Yourself
Pay close attention to the Lyft heat map and position yourself in higher-demand areas. This may take a little trial and error, though, because if you put yourself in an area with too much competition, you may not make as much.
Try different areas, and pay attention to areas you can sit when you’re ready to drive home. Rather than having dead miles, try picking up a rider going the same direction, so you make a little money driving home.
2. Focus on Peak Driving Times and Surges
Most areas have times when the demand for Lyft is higher. This allows you the chance to get more rides, but you may also earn surge pricing, aka higher fares. This won’t happen all the time, but you’re better off giving a few hours during peak times than more during non-peak times when you may not make as much.
3. Know How to Avoid High Traffic Areas
Lyft pays a flat per-minute fee, but that doesn’t account for traffic. Instead, they base the fee on the typical time it takes to get from Point A to Point B. So if you’re stuck in traffic, your per-minute rate decreases. Try finding alternative routes, but always make sure your rider is comfortable with them before going that way.
4. Provide Top Notch Customer Service
You keep 100% of the customer tips, so do what you can to provide the best customer service. Keeping a clean and well-maintained car, offering warm greetings, and being courteous to the rider’s needs are all great ways to increase your tips.
5. Keep an Eye Out For Promotions
Lyft often runs promotions to help you earn more money. They do this to boost driver presence in certain areas or at certain times. Pay close attention to the promotions to take advantage of the chance to make more money.
Lyft drivers can make good side income, but they must know the best times to work and how to make the most of their driving time.
Where Can You Apply to Be a Lyft Driver?
You can apply to be a Lyft driver on their website or in the app. It takes a few minutes to complete the application, and you must upload the necessary documentation to prove you are eligible to drive for Lyft.
What Do Other Drivers Say About Driving for Lyft?
Most drivers enjoy driving for Lyft, but like any job, there are downsides. Most drivers complain about the hassle of dealing with unruly passengers, especially drunk passengers. They also complain about the lack of inconsistency in income, but that’s the case with any gig-sharing app.
Where Can You Drive for Lyft?
Lyft is present in all 50 states and 600+ cities. You’ll find them in all major cities and can see their exact locations here.
Can You Make a Good Living Driving for Lyft?
Most people use Lyft earnings as a side or supplemental income. But if you don’t have a job or need to make more money, you can make a living driving for Lyft, but it might be enough to live a basic lifestyle.
Can You Drive for Multiple Rideshare Companies?
If you’re organized, you can drive for multiple rideshare companies. There isn’t a rule stating you can’t. Just make sure you keep track of your rides, turn on the right app at the right time, and track your earnings.
How Do I Decide if Driving for Lyft Is Right for Me?
Driving for Lyft might be right for you if you don’t mind being an independent contractor and using your car to make money. On the other hand, it could be a fun gig if you love to drive, meet new people, and see different areas.
Should You Drive for Lyft
Lyft can be a great way to make more money. If you love driving and have the time to position yourself in popular areas, you may make money driving for Lyft. However, make sure you know the downsides and are prepared to handle them, including dealing with unruly passengers and putting more wear and tear on your car.