Why You Can’t Drive a Rental Car for Uber or Lyft

The interior of a dark car at night

Having a reliable vehicle is an essential part of being an Uber and Lyft driver. If your vehicle meets the vehicle requirements for Uber and Lyft, new drivers can apply and be on the road in no time.

But what if you don’t have a vehicle? Or what if your car doesn’t mean the requirements?

A lot of people who are eager to drive with Uber but don’t have a car might think that renting a vehicle is an easy option.

But it’s not so simple.

Uber is quite clear that rental cars are not allowed for drivers unless it is through one of Uber’s approved partners. In Uber’s Partner help section for vehicle requirements, they state:

rental vehicles – except those from an approved Uber lender – are not allowed.

In additional to Uber not allowing rental cars, most traditional rental car companies explicitly prohibit ridesharing while using a rental vehicle in their rental agreements.

For example, Enterprise Rental Car has this clause in their Rental Terms and Conditions document under section 4. “Limits on Use and Termination of Right to Use.”

(2) Vehicle shall not be used for transporting persons for hire; as a school bus; or for driver training.

 

But that does not mean you are completely out of luck! This article will quickly discuss why you CANNOT use a regular rental car for Uber. We will then jump into some of the options you do have.


Why Can’t You Use a Rental Car?

As we stated above, both Uber and traditional rental car companies are very clear that you cannot use a rental car for rideshare driving.

But why?

The first reason that this is not allowed is that of insurance. When you rent a car from a company, you accept their insurance policy terms. Rental companies are not expecting their drivers to be picking up passengers and driving all over town, so their insurance does not cover this type of thing. When you rent a car through one of Uber’s preferred partners, you pay slightly more for more insurance coverage. This protects you in the case of an accident.

If you decide to break the rules and drive a rental car for Uber, you are putting yourself at risk. Sure, they might not notice at first. But if you get into a car accident in your rental vehicle, you could be in big trouble. You will likely be removed as an Uber driver partner. You could also be held liable for all damages out of pocket. And on top of that, you could be hit with a fine from the rental car company or Uber for violated their terms and conditions.

Screenshot of Uber website

The second reason to consider is passenger convenience. If you are driving a new car every single day, it would be very confusing for passengers. Passengers have learned to look for the car attached to your Uber profile in the Uber app. If your car is different from your profile, this will look very sketchy.

Most passengers would be very quick to report a driver for operating a vehicle different from what is described in the app. And when this happens, expect your account to be frozen quickly.

Uber does make it possible to update your vehicle quickly in the driver app, but this should only be used if you purchase a new vehicle. Or if you are using one of Uber’s preferred rental partners.

The third reason to think about is money. It is obvious that Uber and Lyft are out to make money. So it makes perfect sense that they would restrict what kind of rental vehicles you can use. By partnering with a select number of rental companies, the rideshare giants ensure that they can get their cut of the profit.

 


How to Rent a Car with Uber

According to Uber, “Rental vehicles must be part of an approved partnership for drivers to be used on the Uber platform. Please note that the use of an unapproved rental car can result in permanent deactivation.”

That is a pretty severe consequence, so make sure you rent an approved ride.

Uber elaborates on how drivers can ensure that they are renting from an approved business. “Some cities where Uber operates offer vehicle solutions for driver-partners, including approved rental and leasing options. For a list of approved options available in your city, sign in to partners.uber.com and select Vehicle Solutions or Vehicle Marketplace from your menu.”

Drivers interested in renting via a specific Uber car rental can get started on the same day you inquire about to get a ride.

This process is available for as low as $130 per week. Also, maintenance and roadside assistance are included.

Plus, drivers do not have to keep track of their mileage during the rental period since there is no cap on miles per the Uber partnership agreement.

Now that we have the basics covered let’s go over which rental companies Uber drivers can choose from.

Getaround

First up is Getaround. This vehicle rental company offers short-term rentals, as in by the hour for $5. Although they provide the first 14 consecutive hours free of charge, drivers can only cash in on this deal if they live or work in the San Francisco Bay area.

Still, if you live in San Francisco, Getaround may be the low-commitment rental option you need.

There are no contracts or time restrictions. Meaning, if you need to rent a ride for half an hour, you got it!

Getaround’s easy to use pickup and drop-off system is an ideal solution for brand new drivers.

If you opt to rent via this company, you can book and pick up a vehicle in under 20 minutes. To do so, have a valid debit or credit card and a Facebook account.

Some things to look out for with Getaround, though, are their high insurance deductibles in case you’re in an accident.  You’ll have to pay a $750 deductible if there is any damage done to the car while it’s in your possession.

They also charge a $50 per hour late fee if you return the car late.

This could be a real risk for ride-hail drivers.  Let’s say your drop off time is 4:00 p.m. and you get one last passenger call at 3:10.  Due to heavy traffic and a fairly long-distance trip, there will be no way for you to drop the car off at 4:00.

Getaround says if you’re even one minute late, they’ll charge a $50 late fee per hour – on top of whatever you’re paying hourly for the car.  If you know you’re going to be late you can open the Getaround app and extend your rental period for another hour. But if you’re in the middle of a trip with a passenger that may not always be possible to do.

Another thing to be aware of is that Getaround doesn’t own their cars.  They are actually like the Uber of rental cars. Anyone who owns a car can rent their car out through Getaround.  So, there is no consistency in the quality of the cars you’ll get. You may get a great car one day and a not-so-great one the next.

Also, if you’re under 25 years old, they charge a higher rate.  The premium ranges from 75% of the original trip price for 19-year-olds to 10%  of the original price for 23-year-olds.

Getaround also charges a booking fee of 3% of the total trip price.

Hertz

Next up is Hertz. In case you are not familiar, this rental company only offers their rides at a weekly rate. Depending on your location, this can be about $214.

Keep in mind, that total is charged after providing a one-time deposit of $200. To-date, Hertz is available in the following locations:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New Orleans
  • Orange County
  • San Antonio
  • San Francisco Bay Area

One of the upsides to renting from Hertz is they make it easy to renew your rental from week-to-week.

Also, you can freely drive the rental during your time. To get a Hertz rental, drivers need to be 25 years or older, have a debit or credit card, and may require a credit check.

Fair

Another company we want to mention is Fair. This is another long-term rental company, so if you know you are going to need a rental for a while, consider checking them out.

Drivers can start renting for as low as $130 a week if they feel comfortable paying the non-refundable $500 Start Payment. Although this fee can be refunded if requested during the first three days, this fee may deter you.

Savvy drivers that want to save money on gas may be willing to fork over the payment.

Fair offers hybrid rentals as well as rides with a high mile per gallon features which can make the Start Payment worth it based on fuel prices alone.

Drivers that want to get in on this fuel-saving action also get routine maintenance and roadside assistance included. Fair even throws in a warranty and unlimited miles without needing you to sign a long-term contract, which can be ideal if you need to rent a ride for longer than ten weeks.

To take advantage of this offer, drivers must be 21 years old or older, have a bank account or credit card, submit to a credit check, and live in one of the following locations:

  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Inland Empire (CA)
  • Los Angeles
  • Nashville
  • Orange County
  • Philadelphia
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Seattle

How to Rent a Car for Lyft

Drivers hoping to rent a ride via one of the Lyft partnerships may be happy to learn that there are quite a few extra perks.

Lyft offers rideshare entrepreneurs with a rental-related program dubbed Lyft Express Drive. This unique system rewards drivers using a rental and may even result in the waived rental fee.

If you are starting out with Lyft and interested in finding out more information, be sure to follow this link. When you do, Lyft will ask you to verify your phone number then redirect you to a new page.

Once this area loads, select the ‘Rent with Express Drive’ option. By doing so, you will be able to begin your rental application.

Those who are currently already working for Lyft and want to find out about the Express Drive, visit the ‘Vehicles’ section of the rideshare app. It should be in the Driver Dashboard.

Here, drivers can tap ‘Rent with Express Drive’ and review the vehicles. Each listing has a drop-down menu where drivers can select a pick-up date and schedule a reservation.

Screenshot of the Lyft Express Drive Page

Bear in mind, if you try to do this, and no vehicles are available, check back at a later time. Otherwise, Lyft drivers can proceed with the reservation and rent a car.

These vehicles must be rented for a minimum of seven days, and you will be charged for that time, even if you return the car early.

Other requirements Lyft have in place are essential to review as well. For example, there is a ride requirement in effect. Anyone that rents a ride must accept and complete at least 20 trips each week.

Lyft renters that go through the rental company Flexdrive are required to perform preventative maintenance as well. Once a vehicle has driven so many miles, the company requests you to take the rental to an approved maintenance facility.

Although this can be a pain, this ensures that the car stays in good condition. In case you are worried about having to pay extra for this, outside of the gas it takes to get there, you do not.

All preventative maintenance performed on the ride is included in the rental fee.


Is Renting a Car Worth It?

The answer to this question depends on what makes sense for you. Drivers eager to start their rideshare operation despite not having their car may jump at the chance to rent one, even if it sets them back financially.

Renting a vehicle is a pretty big expense, even if you go through Uber and Lyft to do so, which is why we encourage you to make sure you can handle the price of a rental before you sign up.

If you are in a situation where you need to rent a vehicle, go ahead and do so. Just remember, you can’t rent a car from just any car rental agency.  Be sure that you are using an Uber/Lyft approved vendor.

Don’t try to rent a car outside of Uber and Lyft’s approved rental companies.  If you go to a regular car rental agency, you can’t just rent a car and start driving for Uber and Lyft.  One, it will be against the policies of the rental agency. And two, Uber and Lyft won’t accept it as an approved vehicle.

Those that choose to ignore this warning can have their account deactivated, so double check if you need to before agreeing to accept the rental.

Once you have identified which company you want to rent from, your next task is to figure out how much money it is going to cost.

Drivers that do not want to deal with the expenses of wear and tear may prefer to rent. Renting is also a great option for rideshare drivers who don’t want to make a long-term commitment or who just want to try it out before committing to buying their own vehicle. Renting is best for drivers who won’t be driving for long.

So, all in all, if you can afford to get a rental every week, go for it.

We should mention, there are also some third-party rental options for Uber and Lyft drivers, including Maven Gig, HyreCar, and several others. For a more detailed list of rental car options, check out this Rideshare Rental Car Guide.



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