Everyday there are hundreds of people signing up to drive for Lyft. Some people need a second job, some lost their first job, and many others can’t find or are looking for a job and decided they would try out Lyft to make some money in the mean time.
When you ask a Lyft Driver,”How good is the money?” You hear two sides of the spectrum. Some will tell you how they quit their first job and became a full-fledged Lyft driver because the money and freedom to work whenever was spectacular for them and they would recommend others to drive for Lyft too.
On the other side of the spectrum, you will hear drivers complain about how outrageously low the fares are but they have no choice to drive because there isn’t any other job they can find at the moment. They will say,”I’m driving for peanuts doing Lyft for a living.”
So the question would be, Is Driving for Lyft a Scam or a legitimate way to earn an income whether it’s part-time or full-time.
When you hear two sides of the spectrum it’s hard to determine which way to lean towards. I once was a driver for both Uber and Lyft so I have lot of personal insight to share on this matter. Today, I want to dive into how Lyft works as a driver, the money you can make, and how viable Lyft truly is.
This is article is long so for reference these are these are the sections we will be going over:
In Case you are unaware, Lyft is a rideshare platform that passengers and drivers use to get from point A to point B. It is a legitimate service much like a taxi but the rides are hailed through an app. When you go out for drinks it is not smart to drive yourself because of the dangers of a car accident. Too much to drink would make it illegal to operate your own vehicle as well.
So instead you will log in to your Lyft app, punch in your location and destination, then order a ride. Usually the closest driver to your proximity will receive the ping and come pick you up. You don’t have to worry about money transactions because the process is seamlessly done through the app charging your debit or credit card on file.
Requirements to Drive for Lyft
It’s a simple process to sign up to drive, but nonetheless, not everyone will get approved. Here’s a list of basic requirements in order to drive for Lyft.
You must be 21 years or older
You must have a valid driver’s license
You must have a clean driving record
You must pass a background check
Must have a vehicle that’s 2006 or newer (Varies by state and city)
Must have driver’s insurance
Must own an android or iPhone
You will also have to make sure your car is up to date with maintenance, including no cracked windshield, broken mirrors, working A/C and heating, etc…
If you are good to go with all of the above you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting approved to drive.
You will upload a few documents like your driver’s license, car insurance, a picture of yourself, and then get a vehicle inspection usually done by Lyft where you won’t have to pay for the inspection.
How Do You Get Paid with Lyft?
If you are approved then the last thing you have to do before you can make any money is link your bank account. Lyft pays weekly and doesn’t take out any income taxes so be sure to set a little extra aside so you don’t have to worry when tax season arrives.
If you have a debit card linked to your account you are able to receive instant payouts before the week is over so you don’t have to wait to receive your money. Each instant payout will cost 50 cents.
While cheap to get your money early, I recommend only using this feature if the money is a necessity and you can’t wait a few more days to receive your money. 50 cents will add up over time if you are doing this multiple times every week. That’s money that you could’ve received for being a little patient.
How Much Money Can You Make with Lyft?
This is the biggest question every prospect will ask before signing up to drive. But there is a lot of factors that will go into this so I can’t exactly give a straight answer.
How much you earn will vary by:
City you drive in
The type of car you use
Time of day you drive
How efficient you are as a driver
And the kind of strategies you use to maximize your earnings
Businesses have trends. Some seasons are busier than others. Some days of the week can be slower than other days. This is no different for Lyft. Somebody driving on the weekend will probably have a better hourly pay than someone that drives during the weekdays.
More people have days off on the weekend so you will go out to dinner, or have a few drinks with some friends.
I personally drove during the bar hours and felt this was the best time for me to drive. Less traffic, and lots of people drinking worked out great for me. Others liked driving during the rush hours when people are trying to go home or get to work.
California is a much more expensive place to live than a state like Tennessee. This will correlate with the cost of fares for customers. Lyft pays you 75% of the fare but if the fares in your area is much lower than other states and cities you will make less per ride than somebody in a different city taking the same ride.
Lyft wants drivers on the road at all times so people are capable of getting a ride within minutes. To help with this they will pay bonuses. Sometimes it’s a guaranteed hourly pay and other times you just need to reach a required amount of rides during the week and receive a bonus for hitting those goals.
The part I don’t like about this is not everyone will receive the same bonus, even if they are in the same city. You are told these are personalized bonuses to help everyone get more money but this also means some people have to work harder than others to receive the same payout.
The Expenses of Driving with Lyft
Like I stated earlier, your expenses will vary from somebody else. But let’s go over some of the expenses you will incur.
Gas is going to be one of your biggest expenses because this is how you get people around. No fuel equals no driving. So it’s a necessity. The amount you spend will vary depending on how often you drive, the type of gas you use, and the miles per gallon your car handles.
I’m not a fan of most Prius’s looks, but there is a reason why it’s a popular car. When you are driving 50 miles per gallon you save a ton of money every year on gas, plus maintenance is much cheaper versus a BMW that takes premium gas, has higher maintenance cost, and drives less miles per gallon.
Considering these factors will make a big difference on the net profit you are taking home.
As I just mentioned, car maintenance is going to make a difference too. If you are driving a car that has been problematic on a consistent basis, constantly in the shop, you might want to reconsider driving or buying a more reliable car.
While I made more money than I spent, I definitely bought the wrong vehicle and lost out on income I would’ve made.
No fault of my own, but my car engine died and was in the shop for a month. At the time, I was making anywhere from $800-$1,000 a week.
That’s close to four grand I lost out on! It came at bad time too as I didn’t have any savings and still had to pay for rent and all the other typical expenses of owning a car and renting an apartment cost.
And this was just one of the issues that came up. There was airbag issues, and a variety of other major recalls that I needed to go to the dealership to fix.
Thankfully I didn’t have to pay for any of these maintenance cost, but it was still a lot of lost income when I could’ve used the money to get ahead.
Then you have to include the regular cost like oil changes, getting your brakes changed, or changing the bald tires on your car. These are less expensive but are common expenses that can add up.
I’m not trying to scare anyone with cost, but you have to understand everything you’re getting into.
Not every state requires this, but while Lyft will cover your passenger with their insurance if an accident occurs, your insurance won’t cover you. The reason is because you’re driving commercially.
Lyft does cover you while you’re driving, but there is a gap when you are between passengers that Lyft won’t cover you for. Since you’re driving commercially your insurance won’t cover you either.
Rideshare Insurance is an add on that will cover the gap so you don’t have to worry about the cost if you got into an accident.
Admittedly, I started without rideshare insurance. But I had a few close calls because of other drivers on the road and eventually got ride insurance. It’s just better safe than sorry and I’m thankful nothing happened the entire time I drove.
It made my insurance about $20 more a month which I thought was pretty reasonable.
Most people already have a phone. So this won’t affect everyone. But, you are using more data constantly running the Lyft app and Google Maps.
I upgraded my phone data plan and downloaded offline maps to accommodate the extra data usage. This does add an extra expensive that you need to be aware of.
Of course, if you drive more part time this might not affect you at all.
Not everyone will have this expense, in my opinion it would be better to buy a used car versus a new car but both sides have there appeal. Personally I had a newer car. It was a 2012 Hyundai Sonata. Drove like my Camry, but was really comfortable. I had quite a few passengers falling asleep in the back.
On the downside, I had too many mechanical problems that caused a lot frustration. I told myself I wouldn’t buy another Hyundai. But, cars can improve. So we’ll see in the future.
Most people will be spending $300 a month on their car payment. So this can be a hefty expense for you. Which is why I suggest a used car that is OK to beat into the ground and reliable.
Tolls, License, Permit Fees
This will vary by city and state. In San Francisco I averaged $5 a toll. There were no permit fees when I started, but by the time I stopped driving, San Francisco was requiring drivers to pay for business licenses.
I don’t remember the cost but it was under $100 for the year. Other cities could ask for money or other fees for operating at the airports, for example.
So you’ll have to do your research to find out what kind of license and permit fees are required to drive legally in your area.
These are not a necessity, but could be a good option. Investing in a tip box, or providing candy and water will make customers happier. These are expenses, and it won’t raise the fares, but you might receive more or bigger tips which will increase your hourly pay.
I only played music, but supplying snacks is something I should’ve tried.
I also got car washes occasionally to keep my car clean looking. People aren’t impressed with dirty, smelly cars, So this isn’t only important for making more money, it can affect how people rate you. Crappy ratings mean you get kicked off the platform.
The Flexibility of Driving for Lyft
This is the biggest reason I drove for Lyft and Uber. While the money made varied on the hours you work, it didn’t matter to me. The main purpose of driving was so I had the flexibility of working on my own schedule. I never planned to drive long term. Honestly, three years was enough for me.
I enjoyed most of the people that I gave rides too. You meet a lot of interesting people with different backgrounds and it helped expand my understanding on many different subjects.
Choosing my own hours and how often I worked meant I could focus on other ventures. At the same time I started driving, I started learning about affiliate marketing and making money online.
Driving gave me the opportunity to earn money and pay for living expenses while I focused on what I like to call my Golden ticket to travel the world.
I wasn’t always driving so I could focus on affiliate marketing, but when I needed money I could drive for a few days to take care of my expenses.
I don’t think either rideshare company is perfect, but there are a lot of reasons why I’m thankful. I’m 24 and will never have a boss again. This stems from being able to learn how to build a website and make money from it during the time I was a driver.
Pros and Cons of Lyft
There’s a lot to appreciate and many things not to desire about Lyft. So let’s dive into the pros and cons of Lyft.
Possible to make good money (Varies by city)
You Control your schedule
Can work as often or as little as you want
Direct Deposit every week
Can Be fun to drive new people everyday
Can Become too costly to drive
Fares and bonuses are consistently cut every year meaning less money
It’s a dangerous job
Driving is exhausting and can cause medical problems like back pain
The Rating System
Drivers and Lyft Passengers are asked to rate each other one to five star after each ride. Five star being the best.
While as a passenger the rating doesn’t mean much. You might get a longer waiting time for rides since a poor rating can reflect an annoying or rude passenger.
On the driving side, ratings are much more important.
Your rating is based on the last 100 rides and if you can’t maintain a 4.8 rating or higher you could get kicked off the platform and get banned from driving for them.
This is the biggest fear drivers have and another reason drivers will give snacks, or play music to help maintain a high rating.
I think if you’re a decent person with a good attitude and are nice to your passengers you won’t have this issue. But like I mentioned earlier, a less appealing car is going to be rated more poorly.
Who is Lyft for?
I wouldn’t recommend Lyft for everyone. If you are to drive you should see how it goes and figure out your net income after expenses before diving full on.
If you are someone looking for a side hustle on the weekends or other days you’re available this could work for you.
I believe this can be a good option when you are in between jobs to help afford your monthly bills.
Personally I took advantage of the flexibility so I could build my own business when I’m not driving.
So there are a variety of people that this could be great for.
I wouldn’t tread to close if you are in a ton of debt. While you can make good money there’s always the chance things won’t work out. If you’re planning to buy a car solely to drive for Lyft. This isn’t a perfect idea.
If you have the kind of mechanical problems that I’ve had it could end up not being worth it anymore. Plus, you will still have your car payment to worry about.
I’m not going to say don’t drive for this reason, but figure out the expenses and the type of money you can make in your area before you make a major decision.
Do You Have Job Security with Lyft?
One of the biggest problems with Lyft is the job security. There are countless stories out there of drivers being deactivated for no real reason. It usually starts with some kind of issue that happened with a Lyft passenger.
It usually doesn’t matter what the issue is because lots of times the rider will fabricate the story or just blatantly make it up. The biggest and most likely issue for deactivation is passengers reporting that you were drunk or on drugs when it’s not true.
I understand the safety side of Lyft deactivating you immediately, but the process to get reactivated can be a nuisance, and is time and money lost during this process.
Of course, no job I would really call secure either. There’s always the possibility you can get fired. This is part of the reason I decided to create my own online business.
I’m a big believer in multiple income streams, and you don’t get that in a job. You know the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.
Is Lyft a Scam or Legitimate?
There’s a lot of appeal to being able to work flexible hours on your terms. You don’t have bosses breathing down your neck. You can spend time with friends and family when the occasion comes up.
It’s possible to make good money with Lyft and they run a legitimate service. Lyft is not a scam in my books.
But, it also isn’t feasible for everyone to make great money either. Somebody that lives in a rural area will make less and have to drive greater distances than driving around a big city.
It’s up to you to do your due diligence and figure out if Lyft is worth it in your area. There are people on both sides of the spectrum that will tell you how great or lame Lyft is.
Having the flexibility to build my online business on the side and making decent money with Lyft made me pretty satisfied driving for them. I would recommend them for this reason, but not everyone will have the same opinion.
Brandon is the founder of Lifeless Wallet. Created in 2015, Brandon built this website to save people money by exposing scams and to teach people how to make Real money online. On his free time, he enjoys sports, hiking, and traveling the world. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.