What exactly does it take to become a Lyft driver? We’ll talk about Lyft driving requirements, income and bonus potential.
You’ve had the thought more than once sitting in the back of your own Lyft driver’s car. Can anyone drive for Lyft?
What are the requirements, and is it actually a good way to make some extra money?
Lyft is one of the leading companies offering gig economy jobs. Whether you’re trying to pay off your debt or just create some wiggle room in the budget, this side hustle can help.
5 Signs You Should Become a Lyft Driver
The items on this list aren’t requirements to drive for Lyft. However, if you fit any or all of the descriptions below, you may have just found your perfect side hustle.
1. You have a flexible schedule.
One of the major benefits of Lyft is that it is incredibly flexible in how it engages its drivers. There are no minimum or maximum number of hours to punch in and punch out.
They do offer bonuses for driving more (called a “Power Driver Bonus”), but there’s never a required amount.
If you can swing weekday flexibility, you are in a great position to drive during surge hours, which could skyrocket your hourly earnings.
College students looking to make money, freelancers, new entrepreneurs, retirees, and stay-at-home parents are a few examples of people who may fall into the “flexible schedule” category. Any time you’re free when most other people in your area are busy, there’s an opportunity to make money with this side hustle.
2. You live in a busy area.
As you consider if you want to become a Lyft driver, think about where you’re located relative to major event venues, transportation hubs, or special destinations.
A relative of mine lives in Houston, Texas. If they wanted to be a Lyft driver, I bet they’d do pretty well. Why? Houston is known for having insane traffic, which likely means surge rates are common.
This is a lousy reality as a rider, but ideal for a driver.
If you can be in the right places at the right times, you’re a superb candidate to become a Lyft driver. An interesting article came out recently (done with a Lyft competitor) that talked about male drivers earning more than female drivers, in part due to where they situate themselves to pick up riders.
The gist of the study is this: location is important. You’ll naturally make less money driving for Lyft in a rural area than a more metropolitan location.
3. You have professional driving experience.
You don’t need professional experience (beyond passing a driving test) to become a Lyft driver. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Speaking as a frequent rider, I strongly prefer someone experienced. Why? Experienced drivers:
- Are better with directions
- Familiar with common traffic issues and shortcuts
- Know local destinations
When I was in college, my part-time job was delivering pizza. That skill set would serve me well driving for Lyft because I know the streets in my area and can maneuver safely but swiftly in traffic. Just like with many service jobs, the better you are at what you do, the higher the tips.
4. You’re a people person.
With this side hustle, you’re going to be around a lot of people. There’s just no way to avoid it. But if you enjoy that face-to-face interaction and can provide a pleasant customer service experience, then driving for Lyft could be a great fit for you.
If your job involves sitting in an office alone all day and barely speaking to other humans, then it could also a great way to get paid for some much-needed social time.
Your tips influence earnings a great deal, so being a people person (or at least acting like one) can significantly impact your pay!
5. You’re organized.
Reports vary widely regarding the net earnings of Lyft drivers. After expenses, most drivers report their earnings at somewhere between $8-$25 an hour.
But there’s one thing that most drivers don’t realize they can do to maximize their income, and that’s taking advantage of the tax benefits.
Many of your expenses as a Lyft driver are tax-deductible, including:
- Vehicle maintenance
- Car washes
- Lease or car loan
- Vehicle insurance
- Other miscellaneous expenses
Ever had a driver offer you bottled water? That’s a deductible expense for them, which means they can subtract those expenses from their taxable income. The result — more money in the driver’s pocket.
Where does organization come in? Well, the better organized you are, the more likely you’ll keep up with your receipts. Tracking expenses is necessary in order to reap those benefits at tax time.
Even if you’re not the most organized, an app like Shoeboxed can help keep everything straight. Shoeboxed allows you to scan receipts, track your mileage, and organize your expenses in a single place. That means no running around frantically trying to collect receipts at tax time.
How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make?
So you’ve determined you’re a good candidate to become a Lyft driver. The next question on your mind: how much money can you actually make driving for Lyft?
The key takeaway from both of these reports: there is definitely money to be made. On top of regular driving fares, Lyft drivers can earn money in a variety of ways.
Lyft driver bonus/guarantee
Right now, Lyft is offering a $1,300 guarantee for new drivers who complete 125 rides in their first 30 days. That may sound like a lot, but think about it — that’s only five to six rides every weekday after work.
Lyft also offers a Power Driver Bonus to reward drivers who work during peak times. If you’re free during the times when demand is at its highest, you’ll earn higher rates and could be eligible for up to a 20% pay bump.
This goes back to the whole “people person” thing we talked about earlier. The friendlier and more personable you can be, the more likely riders are to leave a generous tip.
Lyft makes tipping drivers easy. When the ride is over, Lyft charges the passenger and gives them the opportunity to leave a tip straight from the app. As the driver, you get to keep the entire amount of your tips.
According to Lyft’s website, drivers have earned over $200 million to date in tips alone.
This isn’t a way to make extra money, just a really convenient perk of being a Lyft driver — you can cash out your earnings any time and get paid instantly. The only requirement is that you have at least $50 and pay a $0.50 transfer fee.
Instant pay makes driving for Lyft a great way to make money fast when you need it most.
Refer your friends
The final way to make money once you become a Lyft driver is by referring other drivers. Referral bonuses vary depending on your location, but if you can refer a couple of your friends to drive with Lyft, that’s an easy $100+ without having to get behind the wheel.
How to Become a Lyft Driver
Lifestyle: check. Pay: check. The only thing left is to actually become a Lyft driver. Here’s how to start earning money with Lyft.
Check out the Lyft driver requirements
Lyft may not require professional driving experience, but there are a few boxes you’ll need to check in order to land this gig:
- Age requirements (21+)
- DMV and background checks
- iPhone or Android smartphone
- State and local vehicle requirements
- Vehicle with four or more doors
- Five to eight seats (including the driver’s)
- Driver’s license, license plates, and insurance
If you meet those Lyft driver requirements, the next step is to apply!
Complete the Lyft driver application
The Lyft application process is fairly straightforward. Start the application by entering and verifying your phone number.
To complete your driver profile, enter your name and email, then add your vehicle information, license number, and agree to a background check. You’ll also need an up-to-date vehicle inspection if yours is currently expired.
Once you fill in your information, submit your application. You can check the status of your application any time using your phone number on Lyft’s website.
What to expect with the Lyft background check
Lyft’s background check comes in two parts: your driving record and your criminal history.
If you’ve never committed a serious crime, then you should have nothing to worry about. However, violent crimes, felonies, theft, and similar charges are likely a deal breaker.
Since this gig involves driving other people, you’ll also need a fairly clean driving record. As long as you’ve had no DUIs, fewer than three moving violations in three years, and no vehicle-related felonies, you should be in the clear.
A background check can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to process. If you haven’t heard back in a few days, be sure to check your application status online.
Should You Drive for Lyft?
At a possible rate of $17.50+ per hour, driving for Lyft can be a lucrative side hustle. It’s also a great way to socialize and meet new people if your day job doesn’t allow for that on a regular basis.
If you meet the vehicle requirements, can pass a background check, and don’t mind driving people around, then this might just be the perfect side hustle for you.