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Every Feature of the Lyft App Explained

Last updated: September 2, 2021
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Lyft app: Man holding a cellphone

Requesting a Lyft ride on your smartphone may sound easy enough, but when you’re a first-time user, there are always features you can’t expect.

With a full understanding of the Lyft app and how it works, your entire rideshare experience will be as smooth as possible.

If you’ve ever used a rideshare app in the past, the basic functionality of the Lyft app is pretty similar.

However, the platform has unique features that even distinguish it from Uber, its closest and toughest competitor.

To help you successfully book and complete your first ride — as well as use the Lyft app to save money — we’ll guide you through the features and in-app processes you need to know.

How to Sign Up on the Lyft App

The Lyft sign-up process can be completed in a matter of minutes, so you’ll be able to breeze through this section within minutes.

To create your Lyft account, start by downloading the Lyft app from the Google Play store (for Android users) or from the App Store (for iPhone users). Then, open your app, tap “Sign up,” and enter your phone number in the space provided.

Lyft app: Entering your phone number

You should soon receive a verification code via text that you can enter on your app.

On the following screen, you’ll just need to type in your name and email address, as well as upload a photo of yourself, and your account is fully created.

Customizing Your Account

You now officially have access to the Lyft app, but you can make your rideshare experience even more enjoyable by further customizing your account. To do so, tap the menu icon on the upper left corner of your map screen, then tap “Settings.”

Lyft app: Customizing Your Account

This section of your app allows you to:

  • Create a business profile: Use Lyft for work by creating an in-app profile that’s connected to your work email or expensing system and a business credit card. You can request rides using this profile to better separate business and personal costs.
  • Opt for wheelchair-accessible rides: If you use a wheelchair, toggle on the “Wheelchair access” switch and you’ll be matched with an accessible vehicle with no extra cost each time you request a ride.
  • Add locations you frequent: Save your home address, work address, and other custom places to speed up the ride request process.
  • Manage your privacy: Tap “Privacy” to update your location-sharing and notifications preferences.

Setting Up Your Payment Method

Before you can request your first ride, you need to save your payment method on the Lyft app.

Open your menu back up and select the “Payment” tab, then tap “Add payment method.” You’ll be able to connect your credit card, debit card, PayPal account, bank account, or even a commuter benefit card.

Lyft app: Payment Method

The “Payment” section of your app is also where you can load up your account with Lyft Cash, which (like Uber Cash) is store credit that you can purchase ahead of time and use on any ride. This doesn’t provide any direct savings, but it can help you stick to a set rideshare budget.

How to Request a Lyft Ride

Now that you have a payment method saved in your account, you’re all set to request your first Lyft ride on the smartphone app.

Head back to your map screen and tap the “Search destination” bar to get started. You’ll then be able to confirm or update your pick-up location, as well as enter your destination. If you saved any frequented locations while customizing your account, they’ll show up as your first suggestions and you’ll be able to select any of them with a tap.

Once your pick-up and drop-off locations are set, the Lyft app will show you all the available vehicle types in your area, including both affordable ride options and luxury cars. You’ll also see real-time Lyft fares for your trip up front.

Requesting a Lyt Ride

Select the ride option that works best for you, then tap the purple “Select” button at the bottom of your screen to request your on-demand ride. Alternatively, you can tap “Schedule” right above the purple button to schedule your Lyft ride for later.

Navigating Pick-Ups and Drop-Offs

Soon after the Lyft app receives your request — or right on time, for scheduled rides — you’ll be matched with a nearby Lyft driver. As soon as you’re matched, you can track where they’re at on your trip screen, so you know when you need to meet them outside. If you requested a carpool-style Lyft Shared or Lyft Shared Saver ride, your trip screen will also tell you where you need to walk to for your driver to pick you up.

Your trip screen should also display your driver’s photo, name, car model, car color, rating, and license plate number. If your rideshare driver has a Lyft amp (which is a light-up sign) installed, you’ll also see what color to look out for on their dashboard.

Make sure to double check the license plate and your driver’s name before you get inside your ride. All Lyft drivers pass comprehensive background checks and DMV checks, but this is an important step on your part to ensure you’re getting in the right vehicle in the first place.

During your ride, you’ll be able to check your trip progress on your Lyft app, including extra stops for shared rides. You’ll also have access to an emergency assistance button, which is a new feature that allows you to call 911 from the app and instantly send your trip details, for total peace of mind.

Once your ride ends, your preferred payment method will be charged with your trip fares.

How to Rate and Tip Your Driver

While users are automatically charged with the cost of a ride once a trip ends, you’ll still need to go back into your app to tip your driver.

After your trip is over, your home screen should offer a pop-up where you can leave a star rating, then select your Lyft tip amount (15% or more is generally recommended). Alternatively, you can tip your driver in cash and leave a $0 tip in-app.

Getting Your Receipt

Getting Your Receipt

While Lyft will send you a receipt via email, you can also get a summary of your payment through your Lyft app. Just open up your app menu, tap “Ride history,” and select the trip you want to view a summary for.

This will pull up information about your pick-up and drop-off locations, what contributed to your final cost, and whether or not your payment method has been charged. However, you cannot pull up how much you tipped from your Lyft app.

4 Lyft App Features That Help You Save

As a Lyft rider, you don’t just have to spend on the rideshare app — you can also save. The Lyft app includes four helpful features that you can use to cut back on your transportation expenses.

1. Promos

The “Promos” tab of your Lyft app, which is accessible from your menu, is a must-know section for savvy savers. Whenever you have a Lyft promo code ready to use, this is where you’ll need to go to enter your code and look through any other discounts that you currently have activated.

If you’re a member of Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors, you can also head to your “Promos” section to link your account and rack up miles or loyalty points every time you request a Lyft ride.

2. Notifications

Receiving notifications

Your “Notifications” tab is also a great place to check out when you want to save. This section of your Lyft app frequently features ongoing promotions that you might have previously missed so you can maximize your savings.

3. Referral Code

Lyft has a great referral program that offers every user:

  • $5 in ride credit when they refer a friend who successfully completes a trip
  • $400 in ride credit when they refer a driver who successfully completes a set amount of trips in their first 30 days (offer and required trip amounts vary between markets)

The person you refer simply needs to sign up with your referral code, which you can find by selecting “Free rides” from your app menu.

Refer a friend to Lyft

In this section, you can even share your code with friends directly from your Lyft app.

4. Lyft Pink

One final way you can save is by signing up for Lyft Pink, the rideshare company’s subscription program, from the “Lyft Pink” section of your app (select it from your app menu). When you subscribe for $19.99 per month, you receive:

  • 15% off Lyft rides
  • Exclusive deals
  • Priority airport pickups
  • Waived lost and found fees
  • Three waived cancellation fees every month, when you rebook within 15 minutes
  • Three 30-minute classic bike and scooter rentals or discounted e-bike rentals every month, where available

This is perfect for any frequent Lyft passenger, as you would be able to save more than what you paid in no time.

If you want to sign up, just tap “Join now” from the “Lyft Pink” page of your app and follow the prompts to confirm your membership.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Lyft app is simple to navigate when you know exactly what to look for. To help you get to know the app further, here are a few FAQs about the platform:

1. Can I contact Lyft using the Lyft app?

For some issues, yes. You can resolve any issues using the Lyft app by tapping “Help” on your app menu, then selecting your issue.

When you select some situations — like Lyft accidents and denied service animals — you’ll instantly be able to contact Lyft customer service for support. For others, you’ll only have the option to submit a report or message Lyft, though Lyft support should be available 24/7. Sometimes, your issue will already be resolved through Lyft’s written answers, so you won’t need to contact Lyft at all.

2. What is the “Donate” tab on the Lyft app for?

A unique feature of the Lyft app is the ability to round up your payments and donate the extra cents to a charity of your choice. Through the “Donate” section, you can set this up by choosing your charity from a list — which includes United Way, The Y, Human Rights Campaign, The American Cancer Society, and more — and opting into the LyftUp program.

3. Can I use the Lyft app to book bikes or scooters?

If Lyft scooters or Citi Bikes are available in your market, you will see a bike or scooter icon on your map screen. Tapping on the icon allows you to find and book bikes or scooters in your area when you want a ridesharing alternative.

Request Rides With Ease

The Lyft app makes it easy and convenient to request rides, as well as take advantage of bikeshare and scooter share programs in select cities. When you know how the app works and what features can make your experience even better, every rideshare trip will be as enjoyable as possible.

Even if you love the Lyft app, you’re never limited to just one ridesharing option. If you want to consider another platform that you can use to access affordable shared rides, learn more about how the Via app works and what makes it unique.

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