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12 min read

    12 min read

    Lyft is launching a new driver rewards program called Lyft Rewards. Will it be beneficial for drivers? Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur outlines the new Lyft Rewards plan, what the rewards are, and whether or not drivers will benefit from this new program.

    Lyft has just announced a new rewards/loyalty program called Lyft Rewards. Similar to Uber Pro, Lyft is offering drivers a rewards program based on a tier system.

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    Below, I will break out the details of this program and offer some analysis based on my experience driving for Lyft and Uber.  I will also draw a comparison to Uber’s program to determine if there are any substantial differences.  Finally, I will tell you if this program should sway you in your decision to drive for Lyft.

    Where Is Lyft Rewards Being Offered?

    Similar to Uber Pro, Lyft Rewards is not being launched across the United States.  If you are like me, this is disappointing because I drive for Lyft and would like to experience some additional benefits. In many industries, this is called a “tease.”

    I am also reminded that Uber Pro made a substantial change in their program between test markets and expanding across the country.  Uber Pro had offered up to a 6% pay increase in test markets, but then discontinued the valuable feature when expanding across the country. Will Lyft do the same thing?  Only time will tell.

    Suffice it to say that the program I will be describing is only available in the following 11 markets:

    • Nashville
    • Boston
    • Chicago
    • Washington DC
    • Denver
    • Minneapolis-St. Paul
    • New Orleans
    • Philadelphia
    • Pittsburgh
    • Austin
    • New Jersey

    What Are the New Lyft Rewards Tiers?

    There are three tiers

    • Silver (the lowest)
    • Gold (medium)
    • Platinum (the highest you can achieve)

    The tiers provide access to a variety of driver perks. To reach the Gold and Platinum Tiers, a driver will need a rating of 4.90+.

    How Do Drivers Qualify for the Lyft Rewards Tiers?

    To participate in the program, all a driver needs to do is drive during their market’s busy hours, which are found in the Lyft Driver app. Busy hours, the number of points drivers receive for every eligible dollar they earn, and the number of points needed to qualify for each tier will all vary by market. These can be found directly in the Lyft Driver app.

    Drivers get points for every eligible dollar earned during busy hours and can redeem them for credit to take Lyft rides — or cash.  Below is an example provided by Lyft on how drivers can earn points and cash them out:

    “Let’s say on Saturday, you drive six hours.  Five of those hours are during your market’s BUSY HOURS.  Your base fare and tips during those five busy hours is one hundred bucks.  In your market, you earn three points per eligible dollar, so a hundred times three points per dollar equals three hundred points.

    If you do this for five days, you’ll have fifteen hundred points.  If you’re Silver, then you can redeem those points for eighteen dollars in Lyft ride credits.  If you’re Gold or Platinum, those same points will still get you eighteen dollars in ride credits OR get you fifteen dollars in cash.  Redeeming points will NEVER impact your progress to the next tier. So use them!” 

    How Much Cash Can I Really Make With This New Rewards Program?

    Cash is king.  Since Uber Pro offered a 6% cash bonus on earnings at the highest tier, I am curious to see what Lyft is offering. From the example, $500 of earnings during busy times (busy times will vary by market) could net you an extra $15.

    Let’s say for demonstration purposes, you could earn $1,000 during busy hours in one week. That would earn you an extra $30 for the week, or a 3% pay increase during busy hours.  You will not earn any extra cash during times which Lyft does not consider “busy” time.  $30 does not really get my blood flowing.  Does it excite you?

    What Does Lyft Rewards Offer To Drivers?

    There are five basic things Lyft Rewards offers to drivers:

    • Cash bonuses at Gold and Platinum — and credit to take Lyft rides at all tiers
    • Up to 5% cash back on gas with the Lyft Direct debit card, which is also launching to the above 11 markets this week as well.
    • Discounts on tax services and roadside assistance (free at Platinum)
    • AT&T cell phone plan savings
    • Exclusive in-app features to let them see trip time and direction before accepting a ride (for Gold and Platinum drivers with a 90% or greater acceptance rate)

    Comparison to Uber Pro

    If you are happy driving for Uber, this program does not provide anything substantial that you can not get from Uber Pro. In the example provided by Lyft above, you could make an extra $30 or so if you are at the highest level (Platinum) and in a market which has ample “busy time” to rack up the points.

    The other items offered to Lyft drivers are also offered to Uber drivers through the Uber Pro program.  In addition, it is possible that the cash option may be taken off the table when this program goes nationwide since Lyft has a notorious history of mimicking Uber’s every move.

    What I Like About Lyft Rewards

    Since I drive for Lyft already, anything is better than nothing.  If I can make a few extra bucks, or earn a few extra Lyft rides, that would be great. I would also use the Lyft Debit Card to buy gas as long as I can use it anywhere that will accept the card. I already have a free towing plan with my vehicle so this benefit does not excite me.  On the other hand, I am an AT&T customer so I would be curious to see if I would be eligible for any discount.

    One thing I do like is the time and direction feature. I enjoyed it very much while I was an Uber Pro Platinum member.  However, you are limited to only canceling one out of every 10 rides, otherwise you will lose the feature.

    What I Don’t Like About Lyft Rewards

    In order to get many of these rewards, you will need to maintain a 4.9 or higher rating and a 90% or higher acceptance rate.  Those are some stringent requirements.

    You can find your current numbers by logging in to the Lyft app and going to the Dashboard. There you can see your acceptance rate (98%) and rating (4.93).  Are you at the required numbers to qualify for all of Lyft’s benefits?

    I will be curious to see how Lyft handles a rating that goes from 4.91 to 4.88 and then back up to 4.93 within a few days. If you are a professional driver, you should have little problem maintaining the acceptance rate and rating requirements.

    However, I don’t like the rigorous requirements because many drivers will fall below either one of those numbers and lose their benefits. It just takes a few ornery passengers to knock your rating down.  Some of the rating calculation is out of the drivers’ hands and depends a bit on luck. I have had bad passengers in my car and there is no way to get a 5 rating out of them. I still marvel that any passenger gives me a 1 rating.  But it happens!

    Key Takeaways

    It is good Lyft is offering a program for loyal drivers who drive during busy times of the day. For those drivers, it is a win-win. If you don’t like to drive during busy times of the day contending with traffic, then this program won’t do you much good.

    Lyft Rewards is a transparent program to move Lyft drivers to the busy times of the day when drivers are most in demand.  Are the rewards worth it for drivers to change their driving behavior?  Not for me. But it may be worth it for you. Drive safe out there.

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    FAQ for the Lyft Rewards Program

    These responses were provided by Lyft, and we will add more information to them as we are able to test out the program.

    Q: How do points work? What are eligible earnings?

    You’ll earn points for every eligible full dollar of earnings during busy hours. Eligible earnings are: your base fare, your time and distance rates, Shared Ride pickup earnings, and tips you receive. You’ll get at least 3 points for every full dollar of eligible earnings (or full dollar of tips) made during your market’s busy hours. Points you’ll earn per eligible dollar will vary depending on where you drive, so be sure to tap ‘Lyft Rewards’ in your Lyft Driver app for details on your market’s busy hours and the number of points you can make per eligible dollar during those times.

    Q:  How long does my tier last? What’s a qualifying period?

    Your tier at the launch of the program will be yours for the current qualifying period and the next qualifying period, as noted in your Lyft Driver app. After the date noted in your app, you’ll need to earn points to get status. Moving forward, once you get enough points to unlock a tier, you’ll keep it for the current qualifying period and the next qualifying period. You must maintain all eligibility requirements (including maintaining the minimum required driver rating) in order to keep your tier.

    Lyft Rewards qualifying periods are fixed 3-month periods:

    • Spring qualifying period: February 1 through April 30
    • Summer qualifying period: May 1 through July 31
    • Fall qualifying period: August 1 through October 31
    • Winter qualifying period: November 1 through January 31

    Tier-qualifying points, which are points that count toward your tier status, reset at the end of a qualifying period, so you’ll need to rebuild points before your status ends in order to keep your tier. Even though qualifying points reset, you still keep these points in your points bank as redeemable points, and you can cash them in at any time — for cash (at Gold and Platinum) or credit to take Lyft rides (at all levels). In the Lyft Driver app, you’ll find both the points you need to qualify for your next tier, as well as the points you’ve “banked”, which you can redeem at any time when your balance is at least 500 points.

    Q: How do I maintain my current tier?

    To keep your current tier, you must meet the minimum tier qualifying points. For Gold and Platinum tiers, you must also maintain at least a 4.90 driver rating. You can always track your current tier and progress to the next tier (and see your driver rating) in the Lyft Driver app.

    Q: When Lyft Rewards launches, do I get credit for recent driving?

    Definitely. When Lyft Rewards launches in your market, we’ll award you tier-qualifying points based on your recent driving in the current qualifying period. Those points will decide your tier status, but you will not be able to redeem them for cash or ride credit. If you’ve qualified for a tier based on your recent driving, we’ll let you know in your Lyft Driver app — and with an email. Your earned tier will be valid for the current fixed 3-month qualifying period and the next fixed, 3-month qualifying period. And when you have access to the program, you’ll start earning points during busy hours, which will count toward getting you to the next tier. And once you’ve earned enough points, you can redeem those points for rewards including cash and credit for Lyft rides. Redeeming points will never affect your tier standing.

    Q: How do I know if I’m included in the program?

    You’ll get an email from us letting you know that the program is available to you, what your current tier is, and how to get the most from Lyft Rewards. If you have access to the program, you’ll also be able to see ‘Lyft Rewards’ in the menu within your Lyft Driver app.

    Q: How does ‘seeing trip information before a ride’ work?

    This feature provides you with trip information, including cardinal direction and estimated trip duration in minutes, before you accept the ride. This feature is only available for Gold and Platinum Tier Drivers and requires a 90% or above ride acceptance rate.

    Q: How does the cash back on gas work?

    Cash back on gas is available through Lyft Direct, a debit card and no-fee bank account designed specifically for Lyft Drivers. Cardholders can earn cash back by using their Lyft Direct debit card for gas at any gas station that accepts a debit card. Silver drivers can earn 2% cash back on gas with their Lyft Direct debit card; Gold drivers can earn 4% cash back with their Lyft Direct debit card; and, Platinum drivers can earn 5% cash back on gas with their Lyft Direct debit card. The cash back appears in your Lyft Direct account after the transaction has been posted. Lyft Direct is a separate program from Lyft Rewards; the debit card is issued by Stride Bank, member FDIC. You must sign up for the Lyft Direct debit card and maintain your Lyft Rewards Tier in order to be eligible for this cash back. Terms and restrictions apply.

    Q: How do the AT&T discounts work?

    • Drivers who qualify for Platinum (will also need a rating of 4.90 or above):

      • AT&T Phone Plan: Platinum drivers may claim a monthly credit (see details in the Lyft Driver app) on Unlimited & More plans for up to 12 months or 22% off monthly for Mobile Share Plus plans.

    • Drivers who qualify for Gold (will also need a rating of 4.90 or above):

      • AT&T Phone Plan: Can redeem a one-time $50 AT&T bill credit on Unlimited & More plans or 22% off monthly for Mobile Share Plus plans (pay-by-the-gig).

    • Drivers who qualify for Silver:

      • AT&T Phone Plan: Can redeem a one-time $50 AT&T bill credit on Unlimited & More plans or 22% off monthly for Mobile Share Plus plans (pay-by-the-gig).

    Drivers, does the new Lyft Rewards program excite you? What are you looking forward to the most or the least?

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    -Jay @ RSG

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur, a graduate of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, is a full-time driver with over 26,000 rides. Jay has a driver-focused podcast: Rideshare Dojo with Jay Cradeur. When Jay isn’t writing articles or making videos, he is traveling the world. You can see what Jay is up to at www.nomadjay.com.

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