Lyft Driver Review – What You Need To Know Before You Drive
Lyft is the second largest rideshare company in the U.S., and working for Lyft has become a popular way to make extra money. Drivers average around $15-$25/hour before expenses, but after paying for gas, added maintenance, rideshare insurance, and accounting for wear and tear, drivers earn closer to $12-$21/hour. Fortunately, there are several ways you can ensure higher-than-average pay.
At a Glance
What we like
- Flexible schedule
- You don’t need to schedule your hours in advance
- Pay is decent
- It’s fun meeting new people
What Needs Work
- Driver expenses add up quickly
- You’re not your own boss
- Driver pay has been going down
- People looking for a flexible side hustle
- Anyone who wants a summer or weekend job
- People who are already working for Uber or a food delivery service
Ease of driver app
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Rideshare driving has become an incredibly popular way to make extra money because it’s so flexible. Lyft is the second largest rideshare business in the U.S., making it super easy for drivers to hop in their car, open the app, and start driving.
When it comes to side hustle, potential, flexibility, and straightforwardness are some excellent signs. But if you’re interested in working for Lyft, this Lyft driver review will explain the most important things you need to know about, including requirements for drivers, pay, and how to make more than average.
Lyft Driver Review | What You Need To Know Before You Drive
Lyft driver overview
Since it was launched in 2012, Lyft has become a rideshare giant. It grew out of a carpooling company called Zimride founded back in 2007, but founders sold Zimride in 2013 to focus on their expanding rideshare business.
Lyft now controls over a 30% market share and operates in all 50 states and Canada.
The company is known for having a funnier, not-so-serious attitude, and they had drivers put large pink furry mustaches on their cars and fist bump riders when they got in. But, don’t worry, neither one of those are requirements for Lyft drivers anymore!
Lyft drivers are independent contractors hired on by Lyft and can pick their hours and what day of the week they drive. Many drivers start working for Lyft because of that flexibility, making it a solid side hustle for all kinds of different people.
Driving for Lyft is a straightforward process. After you’ve applied and are accepted, you simply open the app and find fares — you don’t have to schedule your hours in advance.
The Lyft app tells you exactly where to pick up the rider, drop them off, the passenger’s name, etc. I don’t want to make it sound overly simple, but one of the things drivers like about Lyft is that it is so easy.
Lyft driver requirements
Before you think too much about working for Lyft, you need to know the requirements for applying. These are standards across rideshare companies and food delivery services like DoorDash and Postmates.
Lyft drivers must:
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Meet the minimum age to drive in your region
- Consent to a criminal background check and review of your driving history
- Have car registration and insurance (some areas require a car inspection)
- Have a 4-door working vehicle
Some states also require at least one year of licensed driving experience. They are California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.
As far as what will disqualify you in the background check, Lyft doesn’t hire drivers who have been convicted of a violent crime, sexual offense, DUI in the past seven years, drug-related crime, theft or property damage, or fraud. Some of these offenses depend on the time frame and where you live, so it’s still working checking.
Lyft may also disqualify drivers who have had four or more moving violations in the past four years, a single major moving violation in the past year, or any serious driving-related conviction in the past seven years.
Lyft driver pay
This is the big question: what do Lyft drivers actually make? It’s a fair question because you need to know if driving for Lyft is worth it for you, and many rideshare and food-delivery services advertise pay that is typically higher than what drivers are making.
Lyft drivers make $15-$25 per hour before expenses according to real Lyft driver reviews. That’s a wide pay range, and the city you’re driving in is what makes up most of that difference. For example, if you’re working for Lyft in the Bay Area, Seattle, New York City, and Boston you can expect to make over $20/hour.
Drivers aren’t paid an hourly rate, but you can calculate your hourly pay by dividing how much you make in one month divided by the number of hours you’ve driven that month. And it’s best to use a month because one week you might do well, and the next week will be one of your highest-paid weeks ever.
After expenses like gas, Lyft drivers make closer to $12 to $20 per hour. Expenses include rideshare insurance, taxes, gas, and the wear and tear on your car.
Remember, Lyft drivers are independent contractors — Lyft doesn’t reimburse you for gas, and you need to pay self-employment taxes.
How to make more than average
Earning more than the average Lyft driver is a combination of strategy and high-quality customer service. You’ve got to know where to look for customers and how to interact with them, and here’s how you do that:
Sign up for multiple services
Many Lyft drivers also work for Uber. They are competitors, but you can work for both because you’re an independent contractor. Drivers will typically keep both apps open at once — often using two phones — and then pick the best fare. You can also sign up to drive for services like DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart.
Be friendly and polite
Kindness always goes a long way. Ask your passengers how their day is going, say “Have a nice day” when you drop them off, etc. Small actions like that can pay off in tips, which is a good way to boost your pay.
Get good at reading people
While it’s good to say “hi” and ask how your customer’s day is going, but not everyone wants to chat with their driver. You need to understand when people want to talk and when they want silence. Having an overly talkative driver when you’re not in the mood is a major bummer for riders.
Offer a cell phone charger
So many Lyft driver reviews mention this one, and it might not be something you think of. Have a long charging cable on hand for iPhones and Androids, and don’t forget the three major phone adapters. Customers love this special touch, and it often leads to bigger tips.
Keep your car clean
This is a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning because it’s so important. Your car should have no visible dirt or stains, no pet hair on the back seat, no lint, etc. It shouldn’t just look clean — it should smell clean. That means no smoking in your car. You can throw a couple of dryer sheets under the front seats or have a nice air freshener, not one of those cheapie ones with a nauseating smell.
Don’t drive around looking for rides
Okay, you’ll need to drive around some, but some of the most successful Lyft drivers know the spots where customers will come to them. Think about where most of the rides will be coming from — bars and restaurants, sporting events, concert venues, etc. By not driving around looking for rides, you’re not cutting into your take-home pay by burning gas.
Keep a calendar
Some of the busiest times for drivers are during special events — think St. Patrick’s Day, baseball games, music festivals, etc. These are times when people don’t want to drive and worry about parking, or when they want to be safe and not drink and drive. You can look online to find a list of events happening near you. Put those dates on your calendar so you can plan to drive.
Use Destination Mode
Destination Mode is a setting you can turn on in the Lyft Driver app, and it lets you set a destination point or arrival time and then filters rides based on that information. It keeps you from logging too many dead miles where you’re burning through gas and time. You can use Destination Mode when you’re driving home after a shift, when you’re trying to get back to the busy spot you started from, or when you’re on a schedule and need to finish driving by a certain time.
Lyft driver review: Pros and cons
- Flexible schedule: Lyft drivers can set their own hours so you’re only working when you want. Some hours are busier than others, but you can legitimately drive any time of the day.
- Don’t need to schedule hours: You can open the Lyft app and drive whenever you have extra time.
- Pay is decent: Lyft drivers make $15-$25/hour before expenses
- Can be a fun job: If you enjoy meeting new people, driving for Lyft can be a lot of fun.
- Driver expenses add up: Lyft drivers are on the hook for gas, rideshare insurance, and any other expenses related to driving. These costs cut into your take-home pay.
- You’re not your own boss. Lyft is still in control of how much you make, and you can’t scale your work. They can also change the terms of service anytime, and that can affect your earnings.
- Driver pay has been going down. Because of how many people are interested in rideshare driving and how the company’s pay, most drivers make less now than in previous years.
The final word: Is working for Lyft worth it?
Driving for Lyft is a flexible side hustle that pays upwards of $20/hour or more in some markets. Some people drive for Lyft and Uber report that they typically make a little more driving for Uber, so keep that in mind. That’s in part because it’s more popular, but you can sign up and drive for both to maximize your earning potential.
Lyft pays drivers every Tuesday morning, and it typically takes about two days for money to hit your account. You can get paid even faster with Express Pay, which costs $0.50 to have money transferred to account anytime during the week.
Drivers who sign up for Lyft’s free debit card, Lyft Direct, have their earnings immediately sent to their debit card after completing a ride. The card comes with extra perks like no maintenance fees and cashback on gas, groceries, and dining.
It’s not unrealistic to make $100/day or more driving for Lyft. Drivers who earn that much or more are typically driving for 5-8 hours a day.
Drivers for both companies are treated pretty equally, and remember you’re an independent contractor, not an employee. One factor you can use here is how much of a percentage do they each take from your pay, and Uber takes 25% while Lyft only takes 20%. Based on that alone, you could say that Lyft treats drivers better.
But we can’t forget that Lyft once made drivers put a giant pink mustache on the grill of their cars.
This is one of the major bummers about rideshare or food delivery driving — wear and tear is an expense you’ll incur. Drivers will need to change their oil more often, replace tires and brake pads more frequently, etc.
Fortunately, you can write off driving-related expenses on your taxes. You do this by tracking your mileage and then taking a mileage deduction. Everlance is a popular tool for rideshare drivers because it tracks your mileage and helps prepare tax reports.
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About Millennial Money Man
Bobby Hoyt is a former band director who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in 18 months on his teaching salary and then left his job to run Millennial Money Man full-time. He helps other Millennials earn more through side hustles, save more through budgeting tools and apps, and pay off debt. He is a personal finance expert who has been seen on Forbes, Reuters, MarketWatch, CNBC, International Business Times, Business Insider, US News, Yahoo Finance, and many other personal finance and entrepreneurship media outlets.