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Lyft Refunds: How They Work & What to Expect

Last updated: August 23, 2021
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image showing money pointing at a lyft app and going into a wallet to demonstrate a lyft refund

Lyft is normally a great experience, but like anything in life, sometimes problems go wrong when using the app.

Thankfully, the company gives passengers the possibility to request a Lyft refund in many instances.

You can get your money back if your driver never showed up or if you had a poor experience, but there are other situations where you won’t qualify for a refund or will still have to pay some fees.

Lyft Refund Policy

Lyft doesn’t charge your payment method on file until you reach your destination.

It means that you won’t have to request a full refund if you cancel your ride or if the driver never shows up.

Canceled rides are free as long as you tap on ‘edit ride’ and cancel the ride within the cancellation window.

However, you’ll have to pay a small cancellation fee if you cancel your ride within five minutes of the arrival time or if the cancellation window is over.

Lyft will also charge you a $2 fee if you cancel three rides or more within 15 minutes.

If you’re not present when a driver picks you up, Lyft will charge you a no-show fee to compensate the driver for their time, but you won’t have to pay for the entire ride.

Types of Lyft Refunds

If you contact Lyft customer service to ask for a ride adjustment, you’ll either get cashback or an account credit.

Cash Back

If Lyft issues a cashback refund, the app will refund the full fare to the debit, credit, prepaid, or stored value cards that you used to pay for the ride.

Note that you can’t use this option if you used Lyft Cash.

Account Credit

If the Lyft customer service representative who adjusts your refund request issues an account credit, you’ll get a refund that you can use on another ride in the future.

Common Reasons for a Lyft Refund

Why do Lyft passengers ask for refunds?

Let’s take a closer look at the most common situations where people ask for refunds.

Lyft Driver Cancels Ride

Lyft drivers can cancel a ride after accepting it if something comes up.

However, some drivers will cancel rides once they realize that the passenger is too far away.

In some cases, drivers can cancel rides because the passenger isn’t responding to text messages or calls.

You might have a driver cancel on you because another more profitable ride showed up.

In July 2021, many Uber and Lyft drivers went on strike in Los Angeles, creating a situation where the few drivers left on the roads could pick and choose the best rides.

If a driver cancels your ride, you won’t have to pay a cancelation fee, and Lyft will not charge your card.

Driver Never Showed Up

If a driver doesn’t show up, Lyft will not charge your card for the ride since you won’t reach your destination.

However, there are situations where someone else might step in and claim to be the person who requested the ride.

If your driver picks up someone else and Lyft charges your card for the ride, your best option is to contact customer support to ask for a refund for the unauthorized charge.

Lyft Driver Got Lost or Used a Poor Route

If a driver never makes it to you, Lyft won’t charge your card since the app will not indicate that the ride started.

However, Lyft might overcharge if your driver gets lost or takes unnecessary detours while taking you to your destination.

It’s something that can happen with new drivers.

Your best option is to contact customer service and ask for a fare adjustment.

Driver Was Unprofessional

Allegations of misconduct from Lyft and Uber drivers make the news once in a while.

If you run into a driver who isn’t professional, you can report them and contact customer service for a Lyft refund.

Lyft is taking steps to protect passengers by requiring drivers to undergo safety training designed to combat unprofessional behaviors.

The training session includes watching an educational video.

Note that the Lyft app also has a button you can use to alert 911 discreetly if you’re in an unsafe situation.

The Lyft safety team will share your location with law enforcement if you tap this button.

Special COVID-19 Rules

Lyft doesn’t require proof of vaccination, but the platform adopted strict health safety rules during COVID-19.

As a passenger, you can cancel your ride without any consequences if your driver isn’t wearing a mask.

Lyft drivers can also cancel the ride if the passenger isn’t wearing a mask or refuses to sit in the back.

Accessibility Issues

The American With Disabilities Act states that drivers should transport individuals who use foldable wheelchairs, walkers, and other collapsible mobility devices or face a civil penalty.

Lyft has a wheelchair policy that says drivers must accommodate passengers who use a collapsible wheelchair as long as they can fit the mobility device in the vehicle without obstructing their view while driving.

However, drivers can cancel the ride if the wheelchair doesn’t fit in their vehicle.

Lyft doesn’t require drivers to have wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

If a driver refuses to pick you up because of your wheelchair, they could be facing possible termination from the Lyft platform.

Things could escalate into a lawsuit, in which case the Justice Department would arbitrate a settlement agreement that should include a refund for the fare as well as reparations.

The Lyft Refund Process

image showing money pointing at a lyft app and going into a wallet to demonstrate a lyft refund

Report the Issue

Open the Lyft app and tap on the menu icon. Look for the Ride History tab and scroll through it to find the fare you want to be refunded.

Tap on this fare and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a ‘Get Help’ button.

This button will take you to a different screen where you can select what you need help with.

Tap on ‘Dispute the fare or charge.’

Enter the details of why you want a cancellation.

Refund Processed

Lyft customer service employees will review your request.

They might contact you to get more information about what happened.

Charge Dropped or Refund Received

If Lyft approves the refund request, you will get a refund on your credit or debit card, or a ride credit will show up in your Lyft account.

How to Request a Refund

The ‘Get Help’ button on the app is the easiest way to ask for a refund.

However, you can also cancel a charge by submitting a customer support ticket.

You can send in a customer support ticket if you don’t see the fare in your Ride History or if you’re contesting another type of charge.

These include Lyft fees like a cancellation fee, a toll fee, parking fee, or a damage fee to cover repairs if you damage a vehicle.

Lyft doesn’t have a phone line for customer service.

However, the Lyft website has a help section where you can select the categories of help.

Click on ‘I still need help’ after reading the short article Lyft recommends for your specific problem, and you’ll be able to fill out a form with your contact information and the details of what happened.

You can also contact @asklyft on Twitter.

How to Check the Status of a Lyft Refund

Unfortunately, the Lyft app doesn’t let you track the status of a refund or a Lyft phone number you can call.

You have the following options to check the status of a refund:

  • Wait until you get an email from Lyft that says whether they processed or denied the refund.
  • Contact customer support again to ask about the status of your refund.

How Long Do Lyft Refunds Take?

It depends on how busy the Lyft support team is and on how clear-cut your situation is.

Lyft might need to reach out to you or the driver to get more information, which would delay the refund.

Once Lyft approves a refund request, you should receive the funds within 3 to 5 business days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few other things to know about Lyft refunds.

When Lyft Processed a Refund, Do They Take Funds Away from Drivers?

No. Lyft doesn’t take money from drivers’ earnings, bonuses, incentives, referrals, or non-ride earnings when they refund a fare.

Do Lyft Drivers Know if You Report Them?

If you report a driver, Lyft will reach out to them to clarify or issue a warning.

The information Lyft shares with drivers are anonymous, so the driver won’t know for sure that you reported them.

However, details of the incident could make it easy for them to figure out who reported them.

Do I Get a Refund if I Cancel Lyft?

When you request a ride, Lyft obtains authorization from your bank to charge the card you have on file.

Your bank will hold those funds, so you don’t spend them, but transactions don’t go through until Lyft confirms that you got in the car and reached your destination.

If you cancel a ride, your bank will release the authorization on those funds, and Lyft won’t charge you.

Why Does Lyft Keep Charging Me?

You might see recurring charges from Lyft for a number of reasons.

You might see cancellation or no-show fees or pending payments for rides that you canceled.

You might also see fares that cost more than you thought due to prime-time charges.

Check your Ride History to see if the charges correspond to rides you booked.

Keep in mind that Lyft will usually charge you once a day for all the rides you took during that day.

Contact customer service if you see charges you didn’t authorize or don’t understand.

Do Refunds Affect Taxes for Lyft Drivers?

Lyft drivers are independent contractors.

Some of them report their earnings as self-employment income with the IRS, while others are the sole proprietor of a ride-sharing business and report their Lyft earnings as business profits.

Regardless of their taxation status, drivers have to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes on their earnings.

Some drivers also pay income taxes on their tax bill. Lyft sends form 1099-k or 1099-misc to drivers who earn more than a certain amount.

Because Lyft doesn’t deduct money from drivers when a rider requests a refund, refunds shouldn’t have any impact on a driver’s tax return and aren’t a valid deduction.

Anything earned while driving for Lyft counts as taxable income and should appear on the proper forms.

The Bottom Line

Lyft uses a payment system that prevents the app from charging your card until after you reach your destination, eliminating the need to ask for a refund if you cancel a ride.

If you see charges you didn’t authorize or run into another issue with your fare, request a refund via the ride receipt page or contact customer service by submitting a support ticket.

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