Drive for Lyft: All Your Questions Answered

Driving for Lyft is a great way to earn extra money. The platform allows you to connect with riders and transport them to their final destination. In exchange, you earn ride fares plus tips, and you can do all of this on your own flexible schedule (with no boss or managers to worry about).

Driving for Lyft is a straightforward process, and the company has gone to great lengths to make it as accessible as possible. Still, it’s understandable that many questions remain, especially for new or prospective drivers. In this guide, we want to clear up some of the most-asked questions about driving for Lyft, ranging from the workings of the Lyft app to Lyft promo codes to the differences between driving for Uber and Lyft.

Jump to:

Drive for Lyft: The App You’ll Use

The history of the Lyft driver app is an interesting one. Originally, Lyft just had one app for both passengers and drivers. Drivers had access to additional features using their driver credentials, but the app was the same one that passengers used.

Recognizing that this could be confusing and create problems, Lyft has now launched a separate mobile app for drivers. For the moment, drivers can still give rides using the Lyft app that passengers use. Eventually (Lyft doesn’t state when), Lyft will require drivers to use the separate Lyft driver app.

You can download the Lyft driver app for both iPhone and Android. You’ll set the app up and activate your driver account after you’ve completed the Lyft application process (which we discuss below). While you can download the Lyft driver app at any time, you won’t be able to accept ride requests or enter Driver Mode until you’ve been approved to drive for Lyft.

For a full look at the features in the new dedicated Lyft driver app, check out our guide.

Requirements to Drive for Lyft

A super common question that potential drivers ask is, “What are the requirements to drive for Lyft?” The requirements aren’t really that complicated, and most people will be able to meet them. The reason there’s some confusion is that the requirements can vary based on your city and state.

The requirements to drive for Lyft break down into two subcategories: Lyft driver requirements (which relate to you as a person) and Lyft vehicle requirements (which have to do with the vehicle you use to drive for Lyft). Let’s address each in turn:

1. Lyft Driver Requirements

Lyft’s number one priority is safety. They want passengers to be safe, and they want drivers to be safe. To that end, they have certain driver requirements that aim to ensure all users of the Lyft platform are riding in safety.

All Lyft drivers must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have held a valid driver’s license for at least one year
  • Pass a criminal background check. Any of the following offenses will disqualify you from driving for Lyft:
    • Violent crimes
    • Sexual offenses
    • Disqualifying felony
    • Disqualifying drug-related offense
    • Disqualifying theft or property damage offense
  • Pass a driving record check (DMV check). Any of the following driving violations will disqualify you from driving for Lyft:
    • More than three moving violations in the past three years (like accidents or traffic light violations)
    • A major moving violation in the past three years (like driving on a suspended license or reckless driving)
    • A DUI or other drug-related driving violation in the last seven years
    • Driving-related convictions in the last seven years (like hit-and-run or felonies involving a vehicle)
  • Meet any additional state requirements and local requirements. For instance, drivers in New York City must have a license issued through the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).

2. Lyft Vehicle Requirements

Like the driver requirements, the vehicle requirements are designed to ensure that passengers and drivers are safe at all times while using Lyft. To be eligible for Lyft, your vehicle must meet these requirements:

  • 4 doors and a minimum of 5 seat belts (including the driver’s).
  • Cannot be a taxi or stretch limo.
  • Be in good condition and working order.
  • Meet the vehicle age requirement for your city (this varies, but the maximum allowed vehicle age for any city is 15 years; 10 is more common).
  • Have a valid license plate, registration, and insurance policy. You should always consult with your insurance company to make sure that your vehicle will be covered while you’re using it for ridesharing purposes. If not, then you should look into rideshare insurance.
  • Pass a vehicle inspection (if required in your city). This inspection will check your vehicle for key safety features like brakes and tire tread. Learn more about the Lyft vehicle inspection here.
  • Any additional state and local requirements.

Consult this guide for a look at the Lyft vehicle requirements for every state.

Apply to Drive for Lyft

Curious how the Lyft application process works? Here’s a look at what you need to do to become a driver.

1. Create a Lyft account

Drive for Lyft

The first step in applying is to create your account. You’ll start by entering your phone number and agreeing to Lyft’s Terms of Service. You can do this within the Lyft driver app or on the Lyft website. You’ll also need to indicate whether you have a car or are interested in renting one (something that Lyft can help with).

2. Fill out the rest of your personal information

Once you enter your phone number, you’ll see a screen that looks like the one below:

Drive for Lyft: All Your Qs Answered

Fill out all of the information above. Take special note of the promo/referral code. You can use this to earn a cash bonus during your first few weeks of driving, so be sure not to overlook it. Use the promo code RIDESTERLYFT to get a bonus that can range anywhere from $10 to $1,000, depending on your city. You can also click this link to have the code automatically applied.

3. Add your vehicle information

After entering all the above info, Lyft will ask you about your vehicle. You’ll need to provide its make, model, and year. This helps Lyft verify that the vehicle is eligible to use for their platform and meets all your city requirements.

4. Add your driver’s license information

Next, you’ll need to enter your driver’s license information (license number, expiration date, etc.). This info helps Lyft confirm your age, as well as check on your driving history and general eligibility to drive.

5. Enter your Social Security number and consent to a background check

We already mentioned that Lyft performs background checks on all applicants. In order for them to perform this check, you need to give them your Social Security number and consent to the check.

6. Get a vehicle inspection (if applicable)

While you’re waiting to hear about the results of your application, you can arrange to have your vehicle inspected. As we mentioned earlier, the necessity of this will vary based on your city. To learn more about how to get a Lyft vehicle inspection (including ways to save time and money), check out our guide.

7. Await the results of your application

This is the hardest part of applying to drive for Lyft. The background check can take up to several weeks to process due to the number of state and federal agencies that must be contacted.

Lyft has no control over how long this process takes, both because they don’t perform the background checks themselves (a third-party company does) and because government agencies aren’t know for being the most agile of organizations.

To check your application status, visit lyft.com/drive and log in using the same phone number you used to sign up.

Drive for Lyft Promo Code: Claim Your Signup Bonus

Lyft promo codes are a topic that far too few drivers understand. This is a shame, because properly using promo codes can help you earn more money in your first few weeks of Lyft driving without doing any additional work.

The specifics of Lyft driver promo codes vary, but they generally let you earn a guaranteed minimum amount per week or month during your first 30 days as a Lyft driver. The precise amount depends on your city. In general, the amount will be higher in markets where Lyft is new or looking to grow its operations (as they have fewer drivers and therefore need to offer higher incentives).

To get your sign up bonus, follow this link or enter the code RIDESTERLYFT when you sign up to drive. Make sure to enter the code when you apply, or you’ll never be able to use it. You cannot apply new driver referral codes retroactively.

Drive for Lyft vs Uber: The Main Differences

New drivers for Lyft often wonder what the main differences are between driving for Uber and Lyft. The truth is that there are far fewer differences today than there used to be. Many of the features that caused Uber drivers to switch to Lyft now also exist in Uber (due in large part to pressure for Uber to maintain its network of drivers in the face of Lyft’s new features).

Having said that, there are still some differences. One subtle but crucial difference is the way that the two apps handle tipping. While both apps allow riders to leave a tip, Lyft makes their tipping option far more prominent than Uber.

When a passenger finishes a ride, the first thing they see in the Lyft app is the option to leave a tip. If they choose to leave a tip, they’ll then be asked to rate the driver. In the Uber passenger app, it’s the opposite. After a drop off occurs, the passenger will see an option to rate their Uber driver. Only if they leave a rating will they see the option to leave a tip.

This seems like an insignificant difference, but it can make a big difference in how likely passengers are to tip. Remember, your passenger is going to do whatever is most convenient. This is especially true when they’ve just reached their destination and are going to take at most a couple seconds to leave a tip as they’re walking the final few steps.

Lyft also differs in the way it structures its surge pricing (which it calls Prime Time). The multiplier for Lyft’s Prime Time tends to be much lower than Uber, usually maxing out at around 2x. This contrasts with Uber, which can go much higher.

This means both that riders may be more likely to take Lyft in times of high demand (if they’re comparing the two apps), but it also means that you as a driver could lose out on some really high fares if you’re only driving for Lyft. This is why many drivers drive for both platforms at once.

The only other main difference is availability. While Lyft has a large, expanding presence in the United States, their coverage is still smaller than Uber’s. In some cities, as well, fewer people tend to use Lyft (as Uber is still more of a household name). This can mean that you can struggle to get rides as a driver. In any medium or large city, however, this isn’t a problem.

Lyft Driver Pay: How Much Can You Make?

This is a question that has been traditionally difficult to answer and subject to much speculation. In our case, however, we have ample data from a recent survey to help provide a more definitive answer. In our 2018 Independent Driver Earnings Survey, we analyzed 2,603 self-reported driver earnings declarations and determined that the median net earnings for a Lyft driver were $13.63 per hour ($14.73 per hour after tips).

We know this might be less than you expected. After all, Lyft regularly brags about how drivers can earn $25 per hour. While this is certainly possible (and not even uncommon in some cities), the gross hourly driver earnings are just the first part of the story.

Because Lyft drivers are independent contractors who don’t receive any form of reimbursement, you have to take into account driver expenses. There are hidden costs to rideshare driving like car wear and tear, as well as more obvious expenses like gas and taxes. These bring the net median earnings down considerably; our survey analysis accounts for this.

Before you get discouraged, however, keep a few things in mind. First, the net hourly amount that Lyft drivers make is still higher than the minimum wage in any U.S. city. This shows that it represents a solid job. It shows that rideshare driving is especially promising for part-time drivers looking to earn extra money. Compared to a minimum wage, hourly job with an inflexible schedule, ridesharing is an appealing alternative.

Second, $13.63 per hour is just the median net hourly earnings. The best drivers, then, are making a lot more. If you follow the advice on this site, you can certainly rise into the top rank of drivers who earn higher tips and higher fares through their understanding of the strategy behind giving Lyft rides. To get started, we recommend checking out our guide to 17 creative ways to make more money as an Uber driver (all the tips apply to Lyft as well).

Lyft Driver Calculator

Okay, so you saw the numbers above about how much a Lyft driver can expect to make on average. However, you’re curious to get an estimate of what you’d make in your particular situation. If you’d like to simulate this, we have a tool you can use. It’s our Driver Income Calculator. To use it, you’ll need to enter estimates of the following:

  • The number of hours you estimate you’ll work per week
  • The number of trips you’ll drive per hour
  • Average trip distance
  • Car Payment
  • Car Maintenance
  • Other Car Expenses
  • Meals while you’re working
  • Car Insurance
  • Gasoline
  • Phone Plan
  • Extras Costs

Here’s the widget for you to use:

Note that the numbers this tool will give you are only estimates. We can’t guarantee what you’ll earn with Lyft, and the only sure-fire way for you to find out what you’ll make is to sign up and start driving. Still, this tool can be helpful for showing you things like how you could make more money if you got a more fuel-efficient car or packed lunches instead of buying them while you’re out driving.

Drive for Lyft FAQ

Here are answers to a few common questions about driving for Lyft:

1. What is Lyft’s Express Drive program?

Express Drive is a program that Lyft created to help drivers who don’t own a vehicle get access to one to drive for Lyft. Through one of Lyft’s partners, you can arrange to rent or lease a vehicle for ridesharing purposes. To learn more, consult our guide to Lyft car rental.

2. What is Lyft Express Pay?

Lyft Express Pay is a way to withdraw your rideshare earnings instantly. Instead of having to wait for Lyft’s weekly payday, you can cash out your earnings to your bank account immediately. This is especially helpful for when you have bills due and can’t wait for your regular payment.

3. What is the Lyft Power Driver Bonus?

The Lyft Power Driver Bonus is a way for Lyft to increase the availability of Lyft drivers during times of high demand. Each week, the Lyft app will show eligible drivers information on the requirements for the week’s Power Driver Bonuses.

These involve giving a minimum number of rides in a given amount of time, and they can vary from week to week and region to region. To learn more, consult our guide to the Lyft Power Driver Bonus.

Drive for Lyft and Earn

We hope this guide has given you the answers to some common questions about driving for Lyft. While many questions may come up in your Lyft driver journey, don’t let them intimidate you or stop you from getting out there and driving. Sign up to drive today and start earning.