You’ve probably seen them out there on the streets: ordinary cars with glowing pink signs in their windows that say “Lyft.” Maybe you’ve even ridden in one of these vehicles yourself, and you’re curious what it’s like to work on the driver’s side.
In this article, we’re going to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work as a Lyft driver. We’ll examine the best and worst parts of driving with Lyft, as well as the all-important issue of driver pay. By the end of this guide, you should have a firm idea of what it’s like to drive with Lyft and whether or not it’s something you’d like to try.
- Where Can You Be a Lyft Driver?
- 5 Best Parts of Being a Lyft Driver
- 5 Worst Parts of Being a Lyft Driver
Where Can You Be a Lyft Driver?
To start things off, we should mention some of the many places that you can work as a Lyft driver. Lyft is available in just about every major city in the United States, as well as select cities in Canada. Here are some of the top cities where Lyft currently operates:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York
This is by no means an exhaustive list, however. Lyft has an extensive presence, and it’s common for them to serve far-flung suburbs or small towns surrounding big cities. To view a full list of cities where Lyft is available, visit the company’s website.
5 Best Parts of Being a Lyft Driver
Assuming Lyft is available in your city, you’re probably wondering what it’s like. Let’s start our review with a look at the best parts of driving with Lyft. In no particular order, we think the following things make driving with Lyft a great experience:
1. A Flexible Schedule
This is one of the things that draws many drivers to Lyft. You can set your own schedule as a Lyft driver. You only work when you want to and for as little or as much time as you like. If you want to drive Lyft on the weekends to earn extra money, you can do that. If you want to drive full-time to replace your current job, that’s an option as well.
You can drive in the mornings if you like to get up early, in the afternoons if you want to earn some money on the way home from work, or late at night if you prefer to stay up late. And you can adjust your schedule to increase your earnings (by driving during times of higher demand or during special events).
2. Not Having a Boss
When you drive with Lyft, you’re an independent contractor. This means that you’re your own boss. If you’ve never worked for yourself before, this can be an exciting and refreshing change from having someone tell you when you can work, when you can take breaks, and when you can eat lunch.
This doesn’t mean you operate without accountability, of course. Lyft does monitor your performance based on the reviews that passengers leave. Furthermore, you can reach out to Lyft customer support for help if you run into any issues. In general, however, you get to work on your own and not worry about dealing with a boss you hate.
3. The Chance to Earn Tips
Lyft was ahead of Uber in introducing in-app tipping. With this, riders can leave you a tip after your ride to reward great customer service. With tips, you can boost your income way above what you would just by transporting passengers.
You can also use your creativity to boost your tips. Ideas include offering free bottled water or gum. If you’ve only worked in a profession where you get paid by the hour or year, then the chance to boost your income with tips can be a fun new experience.
Besides this, the median net hourly earnings for Lyft drivers are far higher than the federal minimum wage. You can earn good money working for Lyft, particularly if you work to increase your tips and take advantage of sign-up bonuses.
4. An Opportunity to Meet New People
driving with Lyft means encountering different people each ride. While it is possible to be matched with someone more than once, it’s unlikely for anyone operating in a city of even moderate size. This means that you never know whom you might meet.
We’re not guaranteeing that you’ll meet someone who will change the outcome of your life, but it could happen. At the very least, driving with Lyft is a chance to hone your conversational skills and talk about a variety of topics. Of course, you should never force a conversation if the passenger prefers not to talk, but you should talk to your passenger if they seem in the right mood.
5. A Way to Explore Your City
If you just commute to work every day and run errands in the evenings or on weekends, you probably see a very limited portion of your city. With Lyft, this will change completely. You’ll see areas you never would have visited.
And through talking to passengers about where they’re going, you can also learn about new bars, restaurants, and other fun things to do. Plus, since you never know where you’re taking a rider until you accept the ride, each trip is a new adventure.
5 Worst Parts of Being a Lyft Driver
Let’s be clear: While driving with Lyft has many great aspects, it’s not all fun. As with any job, there are downsides. Here are some of the worst parts of driving with Lyft:
1. Dealing With Drunk People
While not all Lyft passengers will be drunk, it is a popular service for people to use to get home after they’ve been out drinking at bars or clubs. Because of this, you’ll have to deal with drunk people if you drive in the evenings (particularly on weekends).
In most cases, drunk passengers will only be mildly obnoxious. The may be confused about where to meet your car or have a bit of trouble getting in and out of the vehicle. While this can be slightly annoying, it’s something you’ll get used to as you drive.
There can be extreme cases, however, in which passengers are drunk to the point that they’re belligerent, rude, or even vomit in your car. If you go to pick up a passenger and they look like they might have these issues, then you can choose not to let them ride with you. You’re under no obligation to do so, especially if you feel unsafe. If you do feel unsafe, you can always contact Lyft for help (or call 911 in an emergency).
2. Working Long Hours
While you don’t have to drive long hours, it can be necessary if you’re trying to earn a full-time living with Lyft. You may also have to work late at night or early in the morning when other people are asleep. This can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
You should never drive for so long that it would make your driving unsafe. Still, sometimes you’ll end up putting in long hours, and it’s a reality you should be aware of if you want to drive with Lyft full-time.
3. Increased Vehicle Expenses
When you’re working as a rideshare driver, you’re going to drive far more than the average person. This means that you’ll put more miles on your car, and this translates into more frequent oil changes and vehicle maintenance. It also means you won’t be able to drive your car for as long.
Furthermore, high gas prices can also hurt you more as a rideshare driver. You have to buy fuel for your car, and the increased amount of driving means you’ll need to do it more often. Lyft does offer a rewards program to help offset these costs, but at the end of the day, you’re responsible for covering them yourself. Since you’re an independent contractor, Lyft will not reimburse you.
4. Sitting for Long Periods of Time
When you drive with Lyft, you’re going to be sitting a lot. Ideally, you would take a break from sitting every 30 minutes to an hour, but this isn’t always practical if you’re driving during times of high demand. Sitting for this long can cause back pain and decreased circulation to your legs, as well as cramps and a general feeling of exhaustion.
You should do your best to take stretching breaks when you can (your lunch break or trips to the gas station are great for this). However, be aware that driving with Lyft will always involve lots of sitting. If you’re not prepared for that, then driving with Lyft may not be for you.
5. Paying Your Own Taxes
This is something that takes a lot of drivers by surprise. If you’ve never worked for yourself, then your employer has always been responsible for taking the taxes out of your paycheck and sending them to the IRS. When you drive with Lyft, you’re responsible for doing this. This is because you’re not an employee of Lyft; you’re an independent contractor.
To get help doing your self-employment taxes, consult our guide. We also recommend speaking to an accountant with any specific questions.
Is driving with Lyft Right for Me?
As you can now see, driving with Lyft has both its upsides and downsides. Overall, it’s a good way to earn extra money if you’re willing to deal with sitting for long periods of time, paying higher vehicle maintenance, and learning to file self-employment taxes. Besides the extra money, it’s also a lot more autonomous than a typical job and gives you the chance to meet new people.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. 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 Ridester.com 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.