Your Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming a Lyft Driver

One of the most liberating feelings in the world is being your own boss. Having the flexibility to set your own schedule and work for yourself seems too good to be true, right? As it turns out, it’s not. You can be your own boss while raking in the cash by driving with Lyft, and...

One of the most liberating feelings in the world is being your own boss.

Having the flexibility to set your own schedule and work for yourself seems too good to be true, right? As it turns out, it’s not. You can be your own boss while raking in the cash by driving with Lyft, and you can earn using nothing but a smartphone app and your car.

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As a rideshare driver, you have the liberty of setting your own hours, which tends to make work far less stressful. Maybe you drive a few hours in the morning and then spend time with your family in the afternoon. No matter how you set up your schedule, one thing rings true: Get ready to hustle.

Unfortunately, there are hurdles to getting started.

The first major one is that getting started as a rideshare driver can be a difficult process. The obstacles don’t stop there. New drivers often experience several months of low profitability until they learn the ridesharing ropes, adjust to the lifestyle, and then begin to earn more money.

To help you prepare for what is in store, we have created this informative guide. We’ll cover everything you need to know in order to become a rideshare driver. Plus, we’ll share a few insider tips on how to maximize your earning potential in the long run.

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Identify If Driving with Lyft Is Right for You

So, you are ready to become your own boss, make money, and enjoy occupational freedom. These amazing perks definitely make rideshare more appealing, but there are a few things you need to consider before joining the Lyft community of drivers.

For starters, you know yourself better than anyone else. Make sure you think about whether you are ready to commit to this type of job. If you’re the type of person that is incapable of holding yourself accountable, you might find rideshare difficult. Jumping into rideshare can leave you in a financial crisis if you’re not careful.

Another personality trait to consider is whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.

Successful rideshare drivers are friendly people who are very customer-centric, outgoing, and by all means extroverted. If you are an introvert or get anxious about strangers being in the car with you, this may not be the best job.

Finally, one last thing to consider is your location. Depending on the area you live in, your preferred working hours, and how many other drivers are working nearby, you may not have an opportunity to earn as much money as you’d like. It might be helpful to initially drive part-time to test the waters and see if you like rideshare.

What Should Lyft Drivers Expect to Earn?

Each paycheck is calculated using three different metrics.

The first is the base fare. This is what each passenger is charged for getting picked up. Next, a cost per minute and distance traveled is applied to the total. This means that the exact same ride can be more expensive if you have to sit in rush hour traffic as opposed to no traffic.

Lyft also offers passengers an “upfront price” as a way to help them guesstimate how much a ride will be. Keep in mind, the price passengers see before the ride will change according to the actual duration and distance of the ride.

Related: How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make?

Lyft starts calculating the duration of time one minute after a driver has confirmed that they have picked up a passenger. Be sure to confirm you’ve picked up your passenger(s) as soon as you can.

Fare Restrictions

As a layer of protection for drivers, Lyft has minimum and maximum fare restrictions in place. This means that no matter what, rideshare drivers will be paid a minimum fare regardless of how short the trip is. In contrast, a rider that needs to travel a long distance does not have to pay beyond the maximum fare.

To put that into perspective, if a ride lasts about two hours with no traffic, the maximum fare will cover the entire ride. Any time beyond that will not be covered. Due to this, if your passenger requests a longer distance, it makes more sense for you to cancel or end the ride before it begins.

Driver Incentives

Additionally, there are also incentive programs that may have an impact on your earnings, such as new driver earnings guarantees, Prime Time, Power Drive Bonus, and subregion prices. Prime Time is a sweet multiplier that can give drivers a big reward for driving during peak hours.

Power Drive Bonuses are issued based on the number of trips completed in an area. Subregion prices can increase or decrease your earnings based on your location, so be sure to check Lyft’s city page for more information. Keep in mind that where you’re driving will have an effect on how much money you can earn at any given time.

Drivers are paid every Tuesday around 5:00 a.m. This estimation varies based on location and bank. If any complications arise, Lyft tries to issue payments as soon as possible or on the following Tuesday at the latest. For more information on how much money you can earn as a rideshare driver, check out our Lyft fare estimator.

Questions to Ask Before You Start Driving

Am I comfortable driving for six or more hours per day?

One of the more challenging parts of driving with Lyft is the amount of time that you have to sit each day. Depending on how busy your city is and how much money you want to earn, you may find that you may be working long hours. Due to this, you’ll need to assess if you are physically capable of driving for that long.

Am I ready to be self-employed?

Being your own boss carries a lot of responsibilities, perks, and risks. For example, if you need to take a vacation there will be no PTO to pull from. Another thing to consider is illness. If you get sick or sustain an injury there is no sick pay. And you also have to consider that you’ll be using your own car, which means more wear and tear than if you were just using your car to commute.

Do I have the discipline to work on my own schedule?

When it is cold outside, it’s tempting to stay in bed rather than go out and face the elements. In times like these, if you lack the self-discipline to motivate yourself to work, you may see a smaller payout that week. Repeat this often enough and the consequences can be dire.

Lyft Vehicle and Driver Requirements

Lyft Driver: Man in driver's seat looking down at phone

New drivers who are interested in driving with Lyft must meet certain restrictions. Lyft drivers must be at least 21 years of age and have had a valid license for at least a year. This helps ensure that drivers are comfortable with driving as well as handling situations that may arise on the road.

Drivers are required to have a valid, in-state license. Those who don’t yet have an in-state license will need to visit the DMV before qualifying to drive with Lyft.

To become a driver you must pass a background check before you can complete the application process. Although this can delay the start of your rideshare career, this essential step protects you and other passengers.

In addition to these safety precautions, there are other mandatory regulations in place that drivers must abide by. Your vehicle must have a license plate with current tags and a valid registration. To maintain safety, you must have a car insurance policy (with state minimum liability coverage at the least, though collision insurance is also a good idea).

As for which vehicles are permitted, there are restrictions set in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers. These vehicle requirements vary based on state and city. However, your vehicle will need to meet each state’s vehicle age requirements, seating requirements, and other state requirements. To see if your vehicle will pass the inspection, check out the Lyft vehicle qualifications.

How to Start a Lyft Driver Application

If you made it this far, chances are that you feel comfortable with rideshare as a potential career move. So, now that you have a solid idea of what’s entailed to become a rideshare driver, it is time to discuss how to start the application process.

How to become a Lyft driver:

  1. Navigate to Lyft’s application requirements page
  2. Enter your phone number and verify it
  3. Add your vehicle information
  4. Add your driver’s license information
  5. Agree to a background check
  6. Take your vehicle in for an inspection
  7. Check on your application status

The final step is the longest part of the process. The time it takes for an application to clear can be a few days or a few weeks depending on many factors. Nevertheless, once you receive the all clear you may begin driving as a rideshare driver.

Running into issues? Visit the Lyft help center or read about the most effective ways to contact Lyft’s customer service team.

New drivers have the opportunity to earn a driver earnings guarantee through Lyft when signing up using a proper referral code. Don’t miss this opportunity to maximize your earnings during this crucial step.

Also, be sure to download the Lyft driver app. It’s available for both iPhone and Android from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. Note that this app is different from the regular Lyft app that passengers use.

Preparing for the Vehicle Inspection

The inspection process usually costs $20 when completed by a licensed mechanic. Make sure to check your car ahead of time to ensure that you will pass the Lyft vehicle inspection on the first try.

Here are some of the most important items to check before bringing your car in for an inspection:

  • Foot brakes
  • Windshield wipers
  • Tail lights
  • Brake lights
  • Seatbelts
  • Headlights
  • Muffler and exhaust system

What to Expect from the Lyft Background Check

Lyft runs a thorough background check on all of their drivers. This background check is broken into two segments:

Lyft’s Driving Record Check

Here, Lyft will run a full inspection to ensure that you have a clean driving record. As part of the process, Lyft will look for any history of reckless driving and other vehicle offenses. Having any of the following items on your record will disqualify you as a potential Lyft driver:

  • More than three moving violations over the past three years
  • Any major violations in the past three years
  • Any DUIs or other drug-related driving violations over the past seven years
  • Any vehicle-related felonies over the last seven years

Lyft’s Criminal Background Check Analysis

Lyft analyzes your records to learn about any previous criminal activity. Having any of the following convictions over the past seven years will disqualify you as a potential driver:

  • Sexual offenses
  • Violent crimes
  • Property damage
  • Felonies
  • Drug-related offenses
  • Theft

Maximizing Your Lyft Earnings

As with any new job, it takes time to get used to the routine. Once the initial pain points are addressed and solved, your focus will shift to your earnings. How can you make the most money as a rideshare driver? Here’s the scoop:

Making a lot of money with rideshare will take some time, especially as a new driver. To avoid this and hit the ground running, review the following articles. Each one offers insider tips, tricks, and recommendations that can help you get closer to your profit goal.

Other Lyft Tips & Tricks

Although the above articles have a lot of useful information, we understand the density of it. We have collected some of our favorite driver tips and tricks for your reading pleasure.

For starters, be sure to scope out your city before accepting a ride request. This will give you the opportunity to find heavy traffic locations or busy areas. Take note of the busiest times and where those places are. More than likely, these areas will have the highest demand for rideshare drivers.

In addition, be sure to apply to drive for Uber so you can maximize your driving opportunities and maximize your earnings.

Provide Exceptional Customer Service

Once you start driving, take the time to enhance each customers experience. Going the extra mile for your passengers is a great way to earn tips. Drivers that do well in this area may find that tips account for a large part of their income.

If you want to stake your claim in earning tips while driving, take care of your car. Make sure your car is clean, vacuumed, and smells pleasant.

Greet your customers when they get in your car. Offer your passengers complimentary items, such as water bottles, snacks, or gum to enhance their experience. These items combined with a clean vehicle can leave a positive impression on your riders.

Passengers that have a positive ride often tip more than those who do not. So treat each passenger in the same manner that you would like to be treated: with respect and courtesy.

Start Earning With Lyft Today

Working as a rideshare driver has many perks. If you are comfortable with the conditions that come with the industry, start your Lyft application today.

Once you figure out if you would like to turn rideshare driving into a primary source of income, you can start figuring out how to maximize your income.

What was your experience with the Lyft application process? Leave a comment below to share any additional tips and tricks to simplify the application process and help other drivers to get on the road.

Want to diversify your income and driver for Uber as well? Check out our guide to becoming an Uber driver.

Brett Helling

Brett Helling is the owner of He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.

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