Lyft Car Rental: Drive for Lyft Without Buying a Car [How To]

Driving for Lyft is an increasingly popular way to earn some extra money on a flexible schedule. You get to set your own hours, earn tips, and work wherever you like.

Yet for some prospective Lyft drivers, there’s a problem: You don’t have a vehicle. Maybe your vehicle is too old to meet the Lyft requirements. Or perhaps you’d rather not use your personal vehicle to pick up strangers. Maybe you don’t have a car at all but want to get in on the Lyft opportunity.

If any of these describe you, then you’re in luck. Lyft has a program called Express Drive that allows you to rent a car to drive for the service. In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about Lyft leasing, including the availability, costs, and sign-up process for Express Drive.

Why Rent a Vehicle to Drive for Lyft?

Lyft Leasing: How to Drive for Lyft Without Buying a Car

You might assume that renting a vehicle to drive for Lyft wouldn’t make financial sense. After all, you don’t rent a car for daily use — in that case, buying a car saves you money. And certainly, in many cases it does make better financial sense to buy a car to drive for Lyft (especially if it’s a newer used car).

However, there may still be cases when renting a car would make more sense. For example, if you have a very high-end vehicle that you don’t want to use to transport passengers (or put extra miles on), then it could make more sense to rent.

Or, perhaps you just want to test out the Lyft service to see if it’s for you. This could make sense if you’re thinking of buying a new car to use for Lyft, but want to give it a try before you commit to a new car purchase.

Whatever your reasons, we want to help you understand the details of how the Express Drive program works, so that you can make the best decision possible.

How Does the Express Drive Program Work?

Lyft Leasing: Driving for Lyft Without Buying a Car

The Lyft Express Drive program works much like the standard Lyft driver service. You use the app to accept passenger rides and earn money from the fare charged to passengers (minus the portion Lyft takes as a commission), plus any tips that passengers give you.

The main difference from the regular Lyft service is that you’re renting the car through one of Lyft’s partner rental agencies (either Hertz or Flexdrive, depending on your city). You pay a weekly rate that varies based on your city. If you give enough rides, your rental costs can be reduced or even completely paid by Lyft (see below for more details).

What Are the Express Drive Program Requirements?

The requirements to participate in the Express Drive program are much the same as the regular Lyft driver requirements. In brief, you need to have a valid driver’s license, pass a background and DMV check, and have a mobile device that can run the Lyft driver app.

The only requirements that differ are those related to age, insurance, and vehicle inspection. If you’re in a city that uses the Hertz rental program, then you must be at least 25 years of age (compared to the normal Lyft age requirement of 21 years old). In select cities where the Flexdrive program is available, you only have to be 21, however.

As far as insurance and vehicle inspection, you don’t need to worry about them with the Express Drive program. Because the program is through Lyft, all vehicles will meet their requirements. That being said, you are required to bring your rental vehicle in every 28 days to the location you rented it in order for it to receive an inspection.

Insurance is also included, just as it would be with a traditional car rental. You also don’t have to worry about maintenance, though you will still pay for gas.

Where Is the Express Drive Program Available?

The Express Drive program is currently available in over a dozen cities across the U.S. The program breaks down into three categories: the Hertz program, the Flexdrive program and the Avis program. The Hertz program is more widely available, but it does have the higher age requirement of 25. The Flexdrive program is available in a more limited range of cities, but it only requires drivers to be 21. The Avis program is available only in Chicago.

The Hertz program is available in the following cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Denver
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Nashville
  • New Orleans
  • Orange County
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Sacramento
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Seattle
  • Tampa Bay
  • Washington, D.C.

The Flexdrive program is currently available in these select cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Philadelphia
  • San Francisco

The Avis program is currently available only in Chigago.

How Much Does Lyft Express Drive Cost?

Lyft Leasing: How to Drive for Lyft and Not Buy a Car

An example weekly cost taken from Lyft’s Express Drive Application page. Actual weekly rental costs will vary based on your city and will only be visible once you start your application.

The cost of Express Drive varies depending on your city. All rentals are charged weekly to the credit card you have on file with Lyft. However, you do have the opportunity to reduce the cost of your rental if you give enough rides. Through a program called Rental Rewards, Lyft will offset the cost of your rental. You’ll need to do the following to qualify for Rental Rewards:

  1. Meet the ride count requirement. Each completed ride counts toward your total weekly ride requirement. A completed ride means that you successfully picked up and dropped off the passenger. If you’re driving for Lyft Line, each person you pick up and drop off on the route will count as one completed ride. For the purposes of Rental Rewards, the week goes from Monday at 5 a.m. through to the next Monday at 4:59 a.m.
  2. Meet the peak ride requirement. In addition to the general ride count requirement, there will also be a peak ride requirement. Peak rides are those given during Lyft’s busiest hours, when passenger demand is highest. These hours vary from market to market and even from week to week. You can view the requirements for peak rides (and the general ride count requirement) in your Driver Dashboard.
  3. Maintain a 90% acceptance rate. An accepted ride is any ride request that you don’t ignore or cancel. As long as you’re accepting the ride requests you receive, this number is easy to maintain. If you dip below a 90% acceptance rate for a given week, you’ll be ineligible for Rental Rewards.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Rental Rewards do not cover rental taxes. You’ll still be on the hook for these charges, even if you earn enough Rental Rewards to cover the rest of the rental cost. Therefore, while Lyft may claim that your weekly cost could be $0 after they apply Rental Rewards, the reality is that you will still pay something (just a reduced amount).

Learn more about the Rental Rewards program here.

How Do I Start Renting a Vehicle to Drive for Lyft?

Signing up for Express Drive isn’t much different from the regular Lyft driver application process. To start with, visit the Lyft Express Drive application page. You’ll need to enter your first name, last name, email address, city, and phone number. You can also enter a promo code or referral code if you have one. Feel free to use one from another driver or friend if they referred you, or use our promo code RIDESTERLYFT if you like.

Lyft Leasing: Drive for Lyft Without Buying a Car

Once you’ve done that, you’ll begin the application process. When Lyft asks for your vehicle info, tap or click “Rent Vehicle.” Note that vehicle availability is limited in certain markets, so you may have to try again another time if no vehicles are available to rent.

Assuming vehicles are available for rental in your market, your next step is to put down a refundable deposit. The amount of the deposit varies depending on your city; it will be no more than $250 according to Lyft’s website. The deposit is “used to cover any outstanding payment obligations like damages or failed charges once the vehicle is returned.”

Once you’ve put down your deposit, Lyft will send you an email confirming a pickup time for the vehicle. Then, all you have to do is go to the pickup location, get the keys, and begin driving.

Lyft Express Drive FAQ

Now that you have an overview of how Express Drive works, let’s examine a few common questions that new and prospective Express Drive users have:

Does Express Drive have a mileage limit?

No, it does not. All Express Drive rentals come with unlimited mileage.

How do I get my deposit back?

You’ll be able to get your deposit back in any of the following situations:

  • If you don’t pass the DMV/background check (once the 10-day contesting window has closed)
  • If you request to end the Express Drive program before picking up a rental car
  • When you stop using Express Drive and return your car, if your account is in good standing

For your account to be in good standing, the vehicle you rented must be undamaged, and you must have no other outstanding charges on your account. Note that even if there are outstanding charges, you may still receive a portion of your deposit back if the cost of the charges is less than the total deposit amount.

You’ll receive the refunded deposit in your account within two weeks of ending your participation in the Express Drive program (or failing to pass the DMV/background check).

Does Express Drive include maintenance costs?

Yes, Express Drive includes all vehicle maintenance costs. This is an advantage compared to driving for Lyft using your personal vehicle, in which case all repair and maintenance costs come out of your pocket.

Can I drive the car for personal use as well?

Yes, because Express Drive rentals include unlimited mileage, you’re free to use the car for both Lyft driving and personal use. Just make sure to turn off Driver Mode when you’re not accepting rides.

Are Express Drive renters eligible for Express Pay?

No, participants in the Express Drive program are not eligible for Express Pay (the program that allows Lyft drivers to instantly withdraw their earnings in exchange for a $0.50 fee). This applies even if you also use a personal vehicle for giving Lyft rides.

Are Express Drive users eligible for other Lyft driver bonuses?

Yes, they are. Participants in the Express Drive program are eligible to receive weekly guarantees and sign-up bonuses, just like regular Lyft drivers. You can also still earn bonuses for referring other drivers and passengers, and you’re eligible for Lyft’s Accelerate Rewards (a program that gives you special perks and discounts for giving a certain number of rides).

Can existing Lyft drivers sign up for Express Drive?

Yes, they can. To sign up for Express Drive if you already have a Lyft driver account, visit the “Vehicles” tab of your Driver Dashboard and then tap/click “Rent a Vehicle” to get started. You’ll still need to pay the deposit, and being a current driver will not guarantee that a vehicle is available for you to rent.

Note that participating in the Express Drive program will disqualify you from bonuses such as Express Pay, even if you already have a Lyft driver account and have participated in the program in the past while using your personal vehicle.

Start Accepting Rides Faster With Express Drive

Lyft Leasing: Driving for Lyft Without Buying a Car

We hope this guide has given you an understanding of the advantages of the Express Drive program, as well as how you can get started using it. As a reminder, you can apply for Express Drive here.

If you’re curious about how to take advantage of a similar program while driving for Uber, check out our Uber car rental guide. We also suggest you take a look at our comparison of renting, leasing, and buying a car for Uber and Lyft to determine if renting a car for ridesharing makes financial sense.

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