How Does Lyft Work? All Your Questions Answered

In case you haven’t been following the news, taxis are now a thing of the past. A new generation of ridesharing services is making it possible to get an on-demand ride with nothing but a few taps on your phone. Not only is this more convenient than a taxi, but it also tends to be cheaper.

One of the two major ridesharing services that’s making waves in the transportation market is Lyft. Whether you’re going out on the town with friends, catching a ride to the airport, or just don’t feel like driving, this ridesharing company is there to help you out. And if you’re looking to make some extra money, driving for Lyft can be a great way to do it.

In this guide, we’re going to give an overview of everything you need to know about Lyft. Whether you’re curious about taking a ride or want to find out how to drive for the service, you’ll find the information you need here.

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What Is Lyft?

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Launched in San Francisco in 2012, Lyft is an app that lets you get a ride from your phone. All you have to do is open the app, enter your destination, and request a ride. A driver will then be dispatched to your location to pick you up and take you to where you’re going.

In some ways, Lyft is similar to a traditional taxi service. The company provides on-demand rides 24/7, and they can take you basically anywhere as long as you’re willing to pay the fare.

Beyond these similarities, however, Lyft is different from taxis in many important ways. To start, drivers for the service use their personal vehicles to transport passengers. There are certain requirements that vehicles have to meet to eligible for use in the service, but beyond this, you could find yourself riding in a sedan, hatchback, van, or even pickup truck depending on the day.

Additionally, Lyft is far more tech-savvy than taxi services. You use your phone to request and pay for all rides with the service. This means no more sticking out your arm to hail a cab and no more fumbling with cash or sticking your credit card into an unfamiliar reader. Plus, you can rate your driver after each ride, ensuring that all drivers are accountable.

If all of this sounds exciting and you’re ready to take your first ride with Lyft, then keep reading to find out how.

How Does Lyft Work for Passengers?

We already briefly touched on this process above, but let’s take a closer look at how you can start riding with Lyft.

First, you’ll need to download the Lyft app. It’s available for both Android and iOS, and it will work with almost any current device.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll need to create an account. This process is quite simple, requiring you to enter the following:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Username
  • Password
  • Payment information
  • Photo (optional)

After you have all this set up, you’re ready to take your first ride. To start, open the app and enter your destination:

How does Lyft work? Step 1

From there, the app will show you a quote of the price based on your current location. You’ll pay this price unless you change your destination or route:

How does Lyft work? Step 2

The app will then ask you to confirm your pick-up location. Assuming everything looks correct, tap “Confirm pickup” to book your ride:

How does Lyft work? Step 3

After you’ve booked the ride, you’ll receive live updates on your driver’s location and ETA. When the driver arrives, they’ll ask you to confirm your name. You can also confirm the driver’s photo and license plate number using the information that the Lyft app will show you.

Once you’re in the ride, feel free to sit back, relax, and enjoy. The app will show you the ETA for your destination, and your live location will always be visible to the customer service team. This way, you can rest assured that you’re safe and headed to the right place.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, all you have to do is thank your driver and exit the car. After the driver has confirmed that they’ve dropped you off, you’ll have the option to rate your ride, leave comments, and (optionally) tip your driver.

Congrats! You just took your first Lyft ride.

How Does Lyft Work for Drivers?

We’ve covered how Lyft works for passengers, but what if you want to become a driver for the service? If so, you’ve made a great choice. Working as a Lyft driver is an excellent way to earn extra money while working on your own schedule.

As a Lyft driver, you’ll use the driver app to pick up and transport passengers in your personal vehicle. Don’t worry — you don’t have to have any special experience. As long as you have a driver’s license, valid registration and insurance, meet the vehicle requirements, and can pass a background check, you’re eligible to drive.

Lyft description for drivers

We know that all sounds like a lot of steps, but it’s actually quite simple. Lyft will walk you through the entire application process. And once you’re a driver, you’ll have 24/7 access to the company’s support team in case you ever have any questions.

One thing you should be aware of is that all Lyft drivers are independent contractors. This means that you aren’t an employee and won’t be paid per hour. Instead, you’ll earn a percentage of the fare for every ride that you give. You’ll also be responsible for covering your own vehicle expenses, as well as any other expenses you incur as part of driving for the ridesharing service

Having said all that, Lyft is a great option if you’re looking to make some extra money in addition to your full-time job. As a rideshare driver, you have complete flexibility to work as much as you want, whenever you want. This makes it perfect if you want to earn additional cash in the evenings or on weekends.

Curious to learn more and apply? Check out our complete guide to becoming a Lyft driver.

How Does Lyft Work FAQ

To conclude this guide, here are answers to some common questions drivers and passengers have about how Lyft works:

1. Where is Lyft available?

Lyft is available in all major U.S. cities, as well as select cities in Canada. Here are just a few of the many places where it’s currently available:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

To see if the service is available in your city, check out this list.

2. How can I get free Lyft rides?

With Lyft, there really is such a thing as a free ride. At least, there is if you know how to use Lyft promo codes and referral codes. To learn how to get your first ride free, check out this guide.

3. Does it cost anything to sign up for Lyft?

No, signing up is completely free, whether you’re a passenger or a driver. As a Lyft passenger, you’ll only pay for each ride you take — there are no monthly subscription fees.

4. How is Lyft different than Uber?

In many ways, the two companies are very similar. Indeed, once Lyft releases a new feature, Uber will copy it almost immediately (and vice versa). If you’re curious to learn more about the differences between Uber and Lyft (both for Uber drivers and passengers), check out this comprehensive comparison.

5. What payment methods does Lyft accept?

The service accepts all major credit and debit cards. You can also pay for rides with PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Lyft gift cards.

6. What is Lyft Prime Time?

Prime Time refers to when Lyft prices temporarily increase due to the demand for rides being higher than the number of available drivers. This is similar to Uber’s surge pricing. You can learn more about Prime Time here.

7. Is there any penalty for canceling a Lyft ride?

If you cancel a ride when your driver is less than two minutes away and set to arrive on time, you’ll be charged a cancellation fee. The fee varies based on your city, but it’s usually between $1 and $5. This fee policy exists to compensate drivers for the time they spend driving to pick you up.

Enjoy Driving and Riding

We hope this guide has given you an understanding of how Lyft works for both passengers and drivers. The app is an easy way to get around and a great way to earn some extra cash.

Whether you’re taking a ride or giving one, we wish you the best with your next trip!