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Drive for Lyft: A driver looks out his window at a park

Drive for Lyft: Your Guide to Earning More With Ridesharing

Last updated: June 19, 2019
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If there’s one thing the sharing economy did, it was make earning money easier than ever.

For years on end, snagging a job was a process of applying, interviewing, and receiving an offer. Now, you can successfully be your own boss without managing a company, and begin your career with the tap of a button. In fact, you can earn by doing something you always do: driving. When you sign up to drive for Lyft or Uber, you can start your career quickly.

Lyft is one of a handful of companies that are changing the landscape for car passengers and drivers alike. In this article, we’ll discuss Lyft, its driver requirements, and the opportunities you have to earn on the platform.

What Is Lyft?

Drive for Lyft: a hand holding a phone with the Lyft app loading on the screen

Lyft is a ridesharing app that connects local drivers and their vehicles to passengers in need of rides. Lyft Inc. also offers services like scooter and bike shares, but if you’re looking for earning opportunities, the ridesharing aspect of the company is for you.

Using the Lyft driver app, normal community members are able to use their own cars and choose their own hours to earn. Much like its primary competitor and predecessor Uber, Lyft has helped transform transportation in our modern world.

How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make?

Drive for Lyft: Hands counting money

Lyft drivers aren’t rich, but most sources agree that they are richer than Uber drivers. In comparison to Uber drivers’ earnings of $14.73 per hour, including tip, Lyft drivers are making approximately $17.50 per hour. That’s nearly a $3 difference, which can make a huge impact on your weekly income, especially if you’re driving full-time.

With these numbers, it’s already a better deal to drive for Lyft than Uber on a typical day. Plus, if you ever want to earn extra money on top of your average fares, Lyft provides plenty of opportunities to do so. For example, driving during peak hours (especially in big cities like Chicago) will allow you to work on Prime Time. Prime Time multiplies your fares — though admittedly, not as much as Uber’s surge pricing — which helps you take home more.

You’re also bound to earn tips, so being extra hospitable can help you maximize your earnings every trip.

Lyft Driver Requirements

Drive for Lyft: a smartphone screen

Driver requirements for Lyft aren’t too different from those of any other ridesharing service. No matter which ride type you end up providing, you must meet Lyft’s minimum driver qualifications. Every driver must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Own a smartphone that’s compatible with the Lyft app
  • Have held a valid US or Canadaian driver’s license for at least one year
  • Have proof of coverage by an active car insurance policy
  • Have a clear photo of themselves for their driver profile

If you pass all of these qualifications, you must additionally pass two types of background checks. These will be your basic criminal history check and your DMV check. Lyft uses the former to weed out potentially violent drivers and the latter to determine whether you’ve received any major moving violations — ensuring that dangerous drivers never make it onto the platform.

Again, neither background check is unique to Lyft. Rather, they are safety precautions that plenty of companies in the gig economy use to reduce risks.

Vehicle Requirements to Drive for Lyft

Drive for Lyft: Hands holding a steering wheel

In addition to passing driver requirements, every Lyft driver must own an eligible vehicle to begin earning. At the very minimum, every vehicle must:

  • Have four standard doors
  • Seat four to seven passengers
  • Pass a vehicle inspection
  • Be covered by a car insurance policy under the driver’s name

Drivers should also pay attention to locally specific requirements. Vehicles must follow local regulations, which include year requirements that differ by state and sometimes even city. For example, New York requires vehicles to be 2005 models or newer, whereas California allows vehicles that range from 2003 to 2005 models or newer based on your location in the state.

Vehicle Options to Drive for Lyft

Drive for Lyft: a city street

Understanding these requirements will prepare you to make money driving Lyft’s basic economy services, which offer Lyft passengers affordable ways to get to their desired destinations. These basic services include:

  • Lyft: The company’s namesake service, this is your average four-door sedan that can seat at least four riders. The majority of drivers are registered as basic Lyft drivers.
  • Shared: Much like Uber Pool, Shared allows you to pick up multiple riders who are headed in the same direction, all in one trip. Though earnings from fares are lower for Shared than the standard Lyft service, you may see a higher volume of requests.
  • Shared Saver: Like Shared, this product will allow you to pick up multiple riders at once. The difference is, you’ll simply be driving on one route, and riders will wait for you at designated pick-up locations. When comparing to Uber, Shared Saver is essentially the equivalent of Express Pool.

If you truly want to rake in the extra cash, consider driving these additional ride types that come with a few additional requirements, but can offer significantly higher fares:

  • Lyft XL: While this is also an affordable service with minimal vehicle requirements, all Lyft XL drivers must have SUVs that seat at least six passengers instead of the basic four. Driving this option offers slightly higher fares.
  • Lyft Lux: This luxury service offers high-end vehicles that can seat at least four riders. These cars must have leather or leather-like interiors, and are comparable to Uber Select cars. Lyft lists the BMW X3, GMC Yukon Denali, and Lexus ES as primary examples of Lux vehicles. This ride type ups your earnings immensely, even as the most affordable luxury service.
  • Lux Black: This top-tier sedan service, boasting models from BMW and Cadillac, follows all Lux guidelines, while adding the requirement of black interiors and exteriors. This service is the equivalent of Black, Uber’s original black car service, and can grow your income in exchange for ultra professionalism.
  • Lux Black XL: Like Uber’s Black SUV, Lux Black XL provides riders with the experience of Lux Black, while increasing the passenger capacity to six. Essentially, this is the extra luxurious version of Lyft XL.

If you’re located in New York City and want to increase your volume of requests, you may be eligible to pick up passengers who select car seat mode for their ride type. To qualify, you must pass a test to prove you understand how to properly install and maintain the IMMI GO car seat, a forward-facing car seat that is also used by many Uber drivers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Drive for Lyft: a car driving away on a city street

Becoming a Lyft driver is a simple process, but when it comes to your career, the more clarifications the better. Here are a few frequently asked questions that may still be on your mind:

1. Can I drive for Lyft and Uber at the same time?

While both companies try to discourage this, you absolutely can drive for both apps and ensure constant ride requests by providing equivalent services. Lyft and Uber cannot actually regulate this behavior. Because drivers are independent contractors for these companies, their employment can’t truly be restricted.

Take a look at Ridester’s guide, which explains how you can switch between the platforms on the road.

2. Is there a limit on how many hours I can drive for Lyft?

Legally, drivers are required to take a six-hour break for every 14 hours they’re on the road. This regulation is supported by the Lyft driver app. Beyond this, the total amount of hours you want to spend on the road each week is up to you. Keep in mind that, due to your designation as an independent contractor, Lyft is not required to provide benefits for you, regardless of how many hours you work.

3. How can I contact Lyft if I need support?

Drivers have several options for receiving support. For the most direct support possible, visit your local Lyft Hub for in-person assistance. Phone support is available to drivers directly from your driver app. The company also assists drivers using their help page, in addition to their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Team members respond between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., Pacific time.

Enter Driver Mode and Start Earning

If you love getting behind the wheel and helping others get where they need to go, Lyft may be the perfect earning opportunity for you. Sign up to drive, and you’ll soon receive requests that will lead you toward profits, five-star ratings, and memorable conversations.

Do you also want to see what Uber has to offer before you make any decisions? Check out our guide to Uber driver requirements to get started.

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