Thinking about driving for Lyft to earn some extra cash? It’s one of the more lucrative side hustles. And depending on where you live, you could earn a nice sum of cash driving for the ridesharing service when it’s convenient for you. Or you could couple it with a few other side hustles and make a full-time living. Either way, the sooner you get started, the better. 

Read on to learn all there is to know about making money as a Lyft driver. Learn how to make money as an Uber driver as well.

Benefits of Driving for Lyft

Convenience

You can run your entire side gig as a Lyft driver through the mobile app. It’s where you’ll receive pings for rides, accept requests, rate passengers, get paid, initiate cash out requests, and much more. 

Earning Potential 

As a Lyft driver, you control how much you earn. In other words, Lyft doesn’t set a limit on how many rides you can give per month. If the work is there, you’re free to take advantage and watch your bank account increase until you meet your financial goal. 

Even better, the mobile app allows passengers to tip drivers who shine. If your car smells and you’re unpleasant to your passengers, don’t count on a tip or five-start rating.

How much can you expect to make with Lyft? It depends on your market and the demand, but most drivers average between $12 and $25 per hour. 

Driver Bonus Incentives

Beyond base pay, Lyft allows their drivers to earn even more money through: 

  • New Driver Bonus: New drivers can earn a $1,000 bonus for giving at least 125 rides in the first 30 days (use code LYFTMAX when signing up)
  • Referral Rewards: Receive cash bonuses for referring new drivers and passengers
  • Personal Power Zones: Receive cash bonuses by giving rides in high demand areas
  • Ride Challenges: Earn a cash bonus by completing a set number of rides within a certain timeframe
  • Ride Streaks: Amp up your earnings by accepting future ride requests within the streak bonus offer hour

Flexibility 

Another major benefit of driving for Lyft is the ability to set your hours. So if you only want to drive in the wee hours of the morning or during rush hour after leaving work, the choice is yours. 

Instant Payment and Cash Back Rewards with the Lyft Direct Debit Card

Some side gigs require you to wait a few days or weeks until you get paid. But with the Lyft direct debit card, the funds will be deposited into your online bank account and be immediately available for use as long as you’ve earned at least $5. Even better, there are no transfer fees and you’re free to cash out as often as needed. 

That means you won’t ever have to wait around for your funds. If you’re running low on dough and want to start accepting ride requests, you can cash out, grab gas and be on your way. You can also withdraw your hard-earned cash without paying a fee from over 20,000 ATMs throughout the US. 

And each time you swipe your card, you’ll also receive Mastercard Easy Savings rebates and cashback rewards, including:

  • 4 percent cash back on dining purchases at select establishments, including California Pizza Kitchen, Boston Market, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and Macaroni Grill
  • 2 percent cash back on gas purchases at over 19,000 locations throughout the US
  • 1 percent cash back on groceries

You should also know that this card is powered by Payfare and issued by Stride Bank, so you’re funds will be deposited into an online bank account until you decide to use them. That means deposits are guaranteed by up to $250,000, courtesy of the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation (FDIC). 

At the time of publication, the Lyft Direct debit card was available to select drivers in Atlanta, New York, Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC. however, the Lyft team is working to expand this incentive across all markets. 

Express Pay

Prefer to receive earnings directly to your bank account? With the Express Pay option, you can cash out anytime your earnings reach $5 or more. However, a $0.50 transfer fee applies. 

Exclusive Driver Discounts 

The team at Lyft understands how important it is to keep your car serviced and in the best condition possible for passengers. So they’ve partnered with the following companies to offer you exclusive driver discounts to ensure your vehicle rides smoothly while on the road: 

  • Jiffy Lube: $15 off Signature Service Oil Change and tire rotation
  • NTB and Tire Kingdom: $16 off Conventional Oil Change, $15 off Full Synthetic oil change, 5 percent off tires, and 10 percent off all other services
  • Pep Boys: 20 percent of services and retail items 

To take advantage of these exclusive driver discounts, you must show your Lyft driver card at the time of service. 

Discount Auto Insurance Coverage Through Geico

When you apply to drive for Lyft, you’ll be asked to provide proof of insurance that meets Lyft’s stringent requirements. This typically entails having coverage when driving to a passenger to complete a trip or once they are in your vehicle. 

But thanks to Geico, you can kill two birds with one stone by securing their Rideshare Policy. It serves as personal and rideshare policy coverage so you’ll be protected around the clock, even when you aren’t giving rides.

Geico offers competitive rates on this type of coverage so you won’t have to break your pockets. Even better, you may be able to secure a deductible as low as $250, and Lyft will pay you $0.25 per ride (limited to $500 every six months) simply for signing up. 

Getting Started as a Lyft Driver

Qualification Criteria 

To start driving with Lyft, you should meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a smartphone 
  • Have a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance
  • Have one or more years of experience under your belt as a driver
  • Possess a vehicle that’, has four doors, and five seatbelts (If your vehicle does not meet the mark, rental options are also available through Express Drive partners).

Quick note: your city may have own unique set of criteria for Lyft drivers. If so, that information will be presented to you upon completion of your application. You can also learn more about application requirements by state right over here.  

How to Sign Up to Drive for Lyft 

Here’s how to get started as a Lyft driver:

  • Step 1: Enter your mobile phone number on the homepage and select the button that reads “Apply to Drive”.
  • Step 2: Enter your name, email address, and the city you’ll drive on the next page, and select the button that reads “Submit”. If you have a promo or referral code, this is the place to enter it. 
  • Step 3: Lyft will send you a verification code. Enter it into the white box found on the page and select next. 
  • Step 4: Select your vehicle preference. You can either use your car or rent a car with Express Drive to accept gigs. If you select your vehicle, you’ll be asked to enter the year, make, and model, along with the number of seatbelts and doors. 
  • Step 5: Enter your Social Security number. (Note: this information is necessary for a background check. Lyft also uses this number as your Tax Identification Number to remit payment to you).
  • Step 6: Upload a photo of your driver’s license and certify that you have been driving for at least one year. 
  • Step 7: Consent to the background check. 
  • Step 8: Download the mobile app on your Android or iOS device to finish your Lyft Driver application. You can also do so online. During this phase, you’ll be asked to upload a copy of your registration, insurance, and headshot. 

Once your application is complete, a representative from Lyft will review all the contents and you’ll be notified by email and text when you’re all set to start driving. You can also check the status of your Lyft Driver application at any time online or via the mobile app. 

Quick note: be on the lookout for a welcome kit, which includes your Lyft emblem, in the mail. In the meantime, you can print out a temporary emblem and place it in your windshield so you can start accepting requests for rides. 

Bonus Tips for Success

Start Early

Ever heard the saying, “the early bird gets the worm?” This is especially the case for Lyft drivers who are willing to get up and get rolling when everyone else is still sound asleep. Remember, there’s always someone who needs to run a quick errand in the middle of the night or has an early morning flight to catch. And if there’s no one else around, you’ll be the lucky one to get their request. 

Accept Ride Requests During Peak Periods

Special event going on in your town? More than likely, there will be a spike in the number of ride requests. Therefore, rates will increase and you’ll make more money by giving rides. 

Another optimal time to put your app in “Driving Mode” is during rush hour, especially in big cities. Lyft factors time on the road and mileage into their compensation structure, so you’ll make even more if you’re forced to sit on the expressway for much longer than you desire to. And don’t forget about commuters that don’t have a vehicle and are trying to get from point a to point b in a jiffy without dealing with the public transit system. 

Hang Out at the Airport

Unless you live in a small town with a regional airport, chances are flights are arriving and departing throughout the day. This means constant work for you when passengers arrive and are looking for a ride to their destination, whether it be a hotel, meeting, or special event. When there’s a downturn in requests, simply hang out in the parking lot until requests pick back up again. 

Become a Lyft Lux Driver

Want to ramp up your earning potential? If you have a high-end vehicle, consider applying to become a Lyft Lux driver. The service is currently offered in 80 cities around the nation, and you can determine if it’s an option where you reside by clicking here

To qualify as a Lyft Lux Driver, you must also maintain a driver rating of 4.85 or higher at all times. 

There are three Lyft Lux tiers:

  • Lyft Lux – Four-seater models (2013 or newer)
  • Lyft Lux Black – Black car service only available if you have a luxury model (2015 or newer)
  • Lyft Lux Black XL – Black SUV services for parties of six or more (2015 or newer)

Not sure if your vehicle is eligible? View the comprehensive list to determine where you fall on the spectrum. 

Don’t Forget to Take Deductions At Tax Time

When you claim your Lyft earnings at tax time, you’ll also have an opportunity to deduct any related expenses, including: 

  • Maintenance and repairs 
  • Mileage and tolls 
  • Auto insurance

If you lease your ride, you may also be able to deduct a portion of the monthly payment. 

You may find that it’s a hassle to gather all this information when it’s time to file, so it’s a good idea to create a file system for your expenses along with a mileage log. That way, you’ll be organized and won’t have to be scrambling to recover receipts and driving data the next time April rolls around. 

The Bottom Line 

With their generous sign-on bonuses and low barriers to entry to get started, Lyft is definitely a side hustle worth considering. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet while out and about. One encounter with a Lyft passenger just might change your life for the better.

Author

Allison Martin is a syndicated financial writer, author, and Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI). She has written about personal finance for almost ten years and holds a master's degree in Accounting from the University of South Florida. Allison's work has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, ABC, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Fox Business, Credit.com, MoneyTalksNews, Investopedia, The Simple Dollar, and a host of other reputable publications. She also travels around the nation facilitating financial literacy and business workshops to individuals from all walks of life. In her spare time, Allison enjoys traveling, cuddling up with a good book, and spending time with family. She lives in Florida with her husband and two young sons.

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