Side Hustle Series: Becoming a Lyft Driver


Why I Chose to Become a Lyft Driver Over Uber

I’ve really got nothing against Uber, but pink mustaches are just fun. It set the tone for a fun company culture. But I didn’t just pick a ridesharing app based on looks (I’m not that shallow). I also picked Lyft over Uber because there are fewer Lyft Drivers where I live. The fewer drivers there are the more opportunities for rides. It’s all about supply and demand.

While I had kind of figured there were fewer Lyft than Uber drivers in the area, I found out just how few during the application process. When I applied there were about 20 Lyft drivers in the Raliegh area.

Now you may be thinking part of this is because there wasn’t a lot of rider demand via Lyft. However, Lyft had actually been taking steps to grow their customer base in the area, like offering ride credits. If you are interested in trying out Lyft as a rider you can use my link to get $50 in free credit. So it resulted in some really good timing to become a Lyft driver.

The Application Process

I first filled out a form online, once through that basic screening (I had a car that qualified, had been licensed long enough etc.) I was asked to meet with a Mentor. The Mentor session involved meeting an experienced Lyft driver, who made sure my car was indeed qualifying and that I had the proper licensing and paperwork (insurance & registration).

Once the paperwork checked out, my Mentor took me on a practice ride. This practice ride serves as another screening test, my mentor said he only passes about 1/3 of the applicants he works with. Once I passed by demonstrating I was a safe driver and followed the rules of the road, we talked about the App.

The mentor walked me through using the app from the driver’s perspective and shared best practices. These were best practices not only for a good ride experience but what to do when a rider cancels too. It was a really helpful session. The only thing I wish could have happened is that it took place closer to when I was approved to drive.

I wasn’t approved to drive until 10 days later and didn’t give my first ride until two weeks after the mentor session, which meant I’d forgotten some of the practical tips I’d been given. I should explain that the extra 10-day wait was due to my background check being processed and eventually approved.

The First Few Rides

I was approved to drive with Lyft on August 3rd and have been driving each weekend since. I’ll be honest I really didn’t know what to expect, especially since I had only used ridesharing once, with a friend. What I found is that everyone is different, some folks like to sit up front, others in the back.

You get all sorts of people and it’s always really interesting talking to them (if they feel like talking). I ended up enjoying driving for Lyft much more than I thought I would. I think it is because I work from home so much which can be isolating. Driving for Lyft is a chance to work and actually, interact with people IRL.

Most everyone appreciates the offer of water and candy (especially late at night) even if they don’t take you up on the offer. Though I found it matters how you offer it, saying “I have candy if you want some” is a little too creepy person in a white van approach. Saying “there is candy and water, help yourself” goes over a lot better.

How You Make Money

The Basics

For new drivers Lyft takes 25% of the ride cost however, you keep 100% of your tips and of course any referral bonuses. Right now if you give 30 rides in your first 30 days you can qualify for a new driver bonus, in Raleigh that bonus is $50 though it might be more depending on your location.

Power Driver Bonuses

If your car is a 2011 model year or newer, you qualify to earn more via the Power Driver Bonus. The Power Driver Bonus allows you to earn some of what Lyft’s commission is back if you meet the ride requirements for the week.

The ride requirements vary by location, but as an example where I’m located, in Raleigh NC the Power Driver Bonus requirements are as follows: 10% Bonus (You=85%, Lyft =15%)

  • 90% Acceptance Rate of rides
  • 10 Peak Hour Rides (hours predetermined, this is different from surge pricing)
  • 30 Rides in total

20% Bonus (You=95%, Lyft =5%)

  • 90% Acceptance Rate
  • 15 Peak Hour Rides
  • 40 Rides in Total

The Power Driver Bonus is reset each week so in order to get the bonus, you would need to accomplish all of the requirements within the week. Given, that I only drive on Fridays and Saturdays, I’ve never actually gotten a Power Driver Bonus.

New Driver Bonus

While I have yet to achieve a Power Driver Bonus, I did manage to get a new driver bonus by giving 30 rides in my first 30 days. My new driver bonus was an extra $50 in my pocket. The new driver bonus will vary by location, but you’ll only qualify for it if you apply through a referral link. It just so happens I have one right here.

If you are already a driver and you refer a new driver that completes the new driver bonus (30 rides in 30 days) you will also receive a bonus. Again the amount varies by location. Start Driving for Lyft and Earn a New Driver Bonus for giving 30 Rides in 30 Days

New Rider Bonus

You can also earn some referral money for referring riders to Lyft. They get a $50 credit ($5 off each of their first 10 rides) and you earn $10 once they take their first ride. Want that $50 credit? I got you covered. Here is the link  for the $50 credit: Get $50 Lyft Credit for New Users

How Much I’ve Made

In three weekends of working as a Lyft driver for a total of 17 hours and 40 minutes, I’ve made $310.16 averaging out to $17.50 per hour. Which isn’t too bad, considering I’m still new at this.

Some things I’ve learned to make the most money for my time as a Lyft Driver:

  • Don’t accept rides that are more than 10 minutes away (you don’t get paid for driving to the rider)
  • Be ready to go, but don’t leave where ever you are (be it home or out) until you have a ride request, going out and driving around is a waste of fuel
  • Really do offer the candy and water, remember you keep 100% of your tips

How You Get Paid

As a Lyft driver, you get paid via direct deposit once a week, for me it is on a Wednesday, but it might vary by bank. My mentor said he gets paid on Tuesdays.

If you don’t want to wait until the usual payday and you’ve earned at least $50 (after the Lyft fees) you can get paid via Express Pay via push to debit. There is, however, a $0.50 transfer fee when you collect your earnings through Express Pay. Keep in mind that when the money becomes available is dependent upon your bank and their rules and processes.

Extra Perks

But wait, there’s more! I know it seems crazy that Lyft would offer you more than just making money through driving when you felt like it, but they do. They offer a Lyft Driver what they call accelerate rewards. There are three levels, Silver (0-19 rides/mo), Gold (20-199 rides/mo), and Platinum (200+ rides/mo).

Silver (0-19 rides per month)

  • Connect to Shell rewards and get a $.03/per gallon discount.
  • 50% QuickBooks Self-Employed for 6-month commitment (I’m doing a free trial right now)
  • Doctor on Demand
  • Help finding health insurance through eHealth Marketplace
  • Discounted Roadside Assistance from Allstate
  • Discount on Honest Dollar ($3/mo instead of $5/mo) -tool to help you prepare for retirement

Gold (20-199 rides per month)

Everything above and:

  • Instead of a $.03/gallon discount at Shell you get $.05/per gallon discount
  • 20% off online orders from Advanced Auto Parts
  • 30% of AMC and Regal Movie Tickets (I look forward to taking advantage of this one)
  • Up to 50% on Hotels and Travel

Platinum (200+ rides per month)

Everything above and:

  • Instead of a $.05/gallon discount at Shell you get $.07/per gallon discount
  • Free Roadside Assistance from Allstate Roadside Services

Other Lyft Perks

Lyft will also send out weekly deals, discounts on other fun stuff. Lyft is actually how I found out about Winc and ended up with some free wine. I like ordering a box of different wines to try from Winc every few months. The bottles average $13 a piece and delivery is free when you get at least 4 bottles (more wine please). If you want to check out Winc, you can get a free bottle of wine using my link. I’m very pro free wine.

Any questions about becoming a Lyft Driver? Let me know in the comments!

Side Hustle Alert

Driving with Lyft is a great way to earn some extra cash. I love how easy it is to just turn on an app when I feel like driving and make some money. I wrote an entire post about driving for Lyft. It includes what you can expect during the application process, what it’s like to actually drive and the many perks of driving with Lyft.  Get started driving for Lyft.

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  1. Orlando Williams says:

    This was a great article. Thank you so much for sharing. My mentor tried to explain to me about RDU airport pick ups/drop offs. It was very confusing. What has been your experience at RDU airport?

    1. I actually haven’t ended up with any rides to/from RDU but if you go to the Help Center in the app there is an Airport Info section and it includes the info on RDU regulations. Good luck!

  2. Does everyone have a mentor? Ridesharing starts here in upstate New York later this week and, although I have been approved, there has been no information whatsoever. I received my vehicle decals, but that is all.

    1. From what I understand you have to be approved by a mentor before you start driving, but perhaps since it’s new to the city there maybe they haven’t started to implement that yet.

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