Everything you need to know about making money with Lyft

Written by Emma Kansiz

Published 2022-07-05 / 4 min read

You’ve heard of Uber. But have you heard of Lyft? Lyft is one of Uber’s key competitors in Canada and the United States and it is a great ride-sharing option for those with a car and a desire to make some extra money. Lyft has been busy trying to lure away Uber drivers with signup perks. Will you be lured into becoming a Lyft driver? Read on and discover if Lyft is the right side gig for you!

What is Lyft?

Lyft was launched by Logan Green and John Zimmer in 2012. Lyft, like Uber, connects drivers with passengers and it also enables its drivers to deliver essential items and groceries to customer’s homes. Lyft offers a few different tiers of service, including Lyft XL, Lyft Lux, and Lyft Black.

Lyft’s aim is to make ridesharing intuitive, convenient, and safe and they take their protocols seriously in order to ensure that their driver’s are of the highest quality.

How does Lyft's earning structure work?

When the wages are broken down Lyft is compelling as a side gig, but is nothing spectacular. Similar to Uber, the average net pay can be as low as $5 and as high as $25 an hour depending on your city, hours worked, and perseverance. Glassdoor has estimated that the average take home pay is $17 but multiple online anecdotes suggest that this number is on the higher end of what driver’s can expect to earn on average across different dates and times. Lyft’s pay is based on the time and distance of any given ride. A 2015 study discovered that the average cost of a Lyft trip was $12.53 - which is not that long of a trip!  

All payments are made through the app on a weekly basis. They also allow their drivers to set up Express Pay so they can access their earnings whenever they need it.  

Lyft encourages its drivers to work during Prime Time, which is similar to Uber’s Surge pricing, and occurs during peak hours when there is unusually high demand. Lyft allows you to keep 100% of the tips you earn from the platform, incentivizing great service and building a rapport with your riders. In order to make a sustainable income with Lyft we recommend arranging your schedule so you can drive during Prime Time hours in the early morning, on weekend nights, and after work during the week.

Although Lyft doesn’t cover gas or vehicle upkeep costs, they will reimburse you for unforeseen damages to your car from passengers, such as vomit or spilled food or drinks. This might set your mind at ease if you’re looking to pick up customers from the bars on the weekends.

What is the time commitment for Lyft?

Lyft is a great option because of its sheer flexibility. There are no minimum hours and drivers can choose to spend as much or as little time driving per day as suits their needs. Lyft is a great option for students, freelancers, or workers who want to make some side income on the weekend or after their day job. 

Lyft is handy because you can set yourself as available whenever you have some time to spare. If you’re up early you can get a few hours of driving in before work or school. If your weekend plans fall through because of the weather, why not make the rain or wind work for you and make some extra coin?

Lyft encourages its drivers to work during peak hours and for special events so you can earn more money. But Lyft is also a low-risk option for workers who want to pick up a few hours here and a few hours there. It is not unheard of for drivers to sign up for Lyft so they can work once or twice a month for special events or concerts to make some quick and easy money.   

How to get started with Lyft?

Lyft’s signup process is fairly straightforward and takes a few days to a few weeks. For starters, Lyft requires you to set up a profile with your basic information like your address, phone number, and driver’s license details. 

After this has been completed you must arrange a vehicle inspection. Lyft can help you find a location near you where you can have an inspection completed. Concurrently to the vehicle inspection, Lyft will conduct a background check on you. They will assess your driving record and criminal record to see if there is anything that would preclude you from driving for them. Lyft uses a third-party company called Chekr to review your background record. Lyft does background checks on its drivers every year and will disqualify any drivers who have committed a crime, such as driving under the influence, at any time. When looking at your driving records, Lyft will disqualify you if you have more than eight demerit points on your record. 

Lyft adds successful applicants to a waitlist. The waitlist exists to ensure that there is a balance between drivers and passengers in any given region. 

Lyft requirements

Required Resources

Lyft drivers must have a car that is reliable and safe and meets their city’s vehicle age requirement. Lyft requires cars to be under seven years old.Your car must also meet certain requirements pertaining to size, make, and year. It must have four doors and have a minimum of five seatbelts. If your car is an older model or in poor working condition it won’t be approved. Lyft is hyper-focused on the safety of its passengers and this is reflected in the vehicles it approves for transporting its users. You must not have any commercial logos or affiliations on your vehicle and cannot be titled as salvage, non-repairable, or rebuilt. Your car is subject to an inspection before you can be approved as a driver. 

For prospective drivers who do not have a vehicle of their own - fear not! Lyft has set up an innovative Express Drive program which allows drivers to rent cars on a daily or weekly basis so they can make an income. Only rental cars organized through Express Drive are eligible for use with Lyft.

You must also have a smartphone which will be your point of contact with all things Lyft! Your phone is the hub for all activity while on shift. This includes confirming rides, coordinating pick-ups, and communicating with Lyft support.

Required Skills

All Lyft drivers must be over 21 years of age. In some regions drivers must be 22-25 so it is imperative that you read into your cities specific requirements for rideshare drivers. You must have had a valid driver’s license for at least one year and be legally eligible to drive in your area. Keep in mind that some areas, like Vancouver or Toronto, require drivers to have three years of driving history. 

Soft skills, like communication and patience, will also be of use when dealing with the different personalities you’ll be interacting with throughout the day. Having a warm demeanor, will by no means a requirement, will go a long way in helping you rake in tips.

Required Documents

In order to begin the sign-up process you must provide your social security number to ensure that you are legally able to work. You must also show proof of residency in your city, province, or state. You must have documentation that shows that you are legally eligible to drive in your country. You must show proof of vehicle registration and a valid car insurance policy. The car insurance coverage that Lyft requires will vary by state, province, and country.  

Lyft has a great feature on its website ( where you can check the specific requirements for your specific region. 

Other important details

Lyft has an insights feature that it offers its drivers so they can have a clearer idea of how to earn money using the app. Lyft offers hourly riding predictions for each day so its drivers can gain insight into where passengers might be needing rides and what times will be particularly busy. They will also mention special events that will be occurring in your respective area so you can plan accordingly for, say, sporting events and concerts.    

Like many similar apps, Lyft considers its drivers independent contractors. This means that you will be responsible for filing your own taxes and keeping track of your earnings and expenditures.  You must set aside money for income taxes, retirement, and medical costs. Currently, independent contractors are taxed at 15.3% of their income. A budgeting tool or spreadsheet will make your life that much easier as a Lyft driver. We recommend getting a CPA to help you file your taxes so you can sleep easy knowing everything is in order.

You will be driving more than an average office worker and your car will require more frequent maintenance, oil changes, and tune-ups by extension. Keep track of these expenses as you may be able to write some off as business expenses. It is also vital that you put aside an appropriate amount of money for these vehicle-related expenses so you are not out of pocket for any unexpected repairs!

Our review

The reality of driving for a ridesharing company might be inconvenient for workers who are used to more consistent pay. Lyft drivers only get paid while they are driving a fare and they get paid either by the minute or the distance. If it is a slower day you won’t be paid for the time spent waiting in your car. It is also vital to consider the price of gas. Lyft doesn’t pay the driver for their drive to pick up the fare. If your rider is ten minutes away, that is ten minutes worth of gas that you’ll be paying for without profit to show for it. Ditto for traffic jams where you’re spending a significant part of the ride stuck in traffic or idling. You must also factor in your phone plan as you will be going through data consistently to use the Lyft app while working. Testimonials from some drivers emphasize that in order to make a meaningful income with Lyft you must be willing to put in long hours.    

With that caveat in mind, Lyft is a stellar option for drivers who are willing to arrange their schedule so they can work primarily during Prime Time hours. That way you can maximize your hourly income and have riders requesting you consistently. Lyft is a great option for extroverts who love to talk and are motivated to make great tips, as Lyft doesn’t take a cut of any of the gratuities drivers earn. Given the fact that the hourly income from Lyft is nearly on par with minimum wage, and that rides are not guaranteed during working hours, we consider it to be a solid option for a side gig but not for a full-time job.  

Although Lyft does hold its drivers accountable to high standards via customer reviews and feedback, it provides its drivers with a taste of self-employment. It can be exhilarating to work on your own time on your own terms and for that reason alone joining Lyft can be an exciting opportunity. If it is the beginning of your side gig journey, Lyft can give you an idea of what the perks and responsibilities are of setting your own schedule. You might find the sense of freedom addictive. Good luck!