The Best Times to Drive for Lyft

These days it seems like just about everyone has a side hustle. And with ridesharing services such as Lyft quickly replacing traditional taxis, it’s no surprise that driving for Lyft is becoming a more and more popular side hustle.

Regardless of what the average Lyft driver is earning, either in your city or nationwide, there are a lot of things you can do to set yourself apart and make even more money.

One of the things you can do to increase your earnings is by driving during the most lucrative times. In this article, we’ll go over what Lyft is, how to become a Lyft driver, the best times to drive for Lyft, and other ways to make even more money by driving for Lyft.

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What is Lyft?

Before we dive into the best times to drive for Lyft and how to go about making the most money, let’s first dive into what exactly Lyft is.

Lyft is a ridesharing service that matches drivers with passengers who request a ride through the Lyft smartphone app. Passengers pay through the app, and drivers are paid on a per minute and per mile basis, in addition to keeping any tips they earn.

We’re definitely living in a sharing economy, especially for the younger generations. And transportation is one of the areas where we see this most often. This trend has really led the way to the rise in popularity for apps like Lyft.

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How to Become a Lyft Driver

We are increasingly moving toward what is referred to as a “gig economy”, where there’s a growing trend of employees taking on multiple sources of income rather than just one full-time job.

Whether you’re looking to become a Lyft driver as your full-time gig or are just hoping to make a bit of extra cash, the process to become a Lyft driver is the same.

You can apply to become a Lyft driver through either the website or the app. You’ll enter your name, phone number, and email address, as well as any information needed to ensure you meet their driver requirements.

There are a number of requirements you’ll have to meet to drive with Lyft, such as a background check, vehicle requirements, and any city and state-specific requirements.

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Driver Requirements

There are a number of requirements you have to meet before becoming a Lyft driver.

First of all, Lyft drivers must be at least 21 years of age, as well as complying with any state and local age requirements.

Drivers will also have to go through a driving record check. There are a number of things on your driving record that may disqualify you from being eligible as a Lyft driver. Here are some of the specific reasons noted on the Lyft website:

  • More than three moving violations in the past three years;
  • A major moving violation in the past three years;
  • A DUI or other drug-related driving violation in the past seven years;
  • Driving-related convictions in the past seven years.
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Lyft also indicates that they remain the right to turn down any potential drivers based on their record, even for incidents not included on the list above.

Potential Lyft drivers will also have to go through a background check by providing their social security number. The background check covers both criminal offenses and driving-related incidents, and drivers may be turned down based on the results of the background check.

Here are a few things Lyft states may make you ineligible to become a Lyft driver:

  • Violent crime;
  • Sexual offense;
  • Disqualifying felony;
  • A disqualifying drug-related offense;
  • Disqualifying theft or property damage offense.

Additionally, Lyft requires that you have a valid driver’s license, valid insurance with your name on the policy, and up-to-date registration. Here are some tips on finding the best insurance as a Lyft driver.

Finally, in addition to Lyft’s requirements, certain states and local governments may have their own requirements for this type of position.

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Car Requirements

In addition to the requirements, you personally must meet to drive for Lyft, there are also a number of requirements your vehicle must meet.

First of all, your car must be newer than a 2005 model. And as with the driver requirements, your car must meet any requirement set forth by your city or state. Depending on the state in which you live, this might mean undergoing a vehicle inspection by a mechanic.

Additionally, Lyft has limitations on the type of car that can be used for Lyft rides. Taxis and stretch limousines are not allowed. Also, all Lyft vehicles are required to have four doors and at least five seatbelts, including the driver’s seatbelt.

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How Much Money Can You Make With Lyft?

Driving for a ridesharing service such as Lyft has become a popular side hustle, or even career, over the past few years. But how lucrative is it really?

First of all, let’s talk about the sign-up bonus. Lyft has had different sign-up bonuses over the years. The current sign-up bonus guarantees that if you give 125 rides within your first 30 days, you will make $1,000. If you don’t make $1,000 from the rides you’ve given, Lyft will cover the cost difference.

But once you look past the sign-up bonus, how much are Lyft drivers really earning?

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Based on a 2018 rideshare driver survey, Lyft drivers report earning an average of $17.37 per hour. Even though Lyft drivers report higher satisfaction and pay than their competitors, most still report feeling underpaid.

Keep in mind that while more than $17 per hour might not seem terribly low, this is before you take into account expenses associated with being a Lyft driver. These expenses include gas, car washes, and wear and tear on their cars.

So no, you aren’t going to get rich driving for Lyft. And unless you live in a big city with heavy traffic, you may not be able to earn a full-time income driving for Lyft. But as a side-hustle, it’s a great option!

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The Best Times to Drive for Lyft

A big part of determining how much money you make as a Lyft driver is the times you choose to drive. Since Lyft drivers can work whatever hours they like, it’s really up to you to make sure you are working during the peak hours. There are definitely times of the day and of the week that can help you to earn even more extra money.

One way Lyft ensures their drivers are able to maximize their earnings is by offering Prime Time. This feature is automatically activated when the ride requests highly outnumber the number of drivers available. It adds a percentage to the ride totals so that drivers are making a higher rate for those rides as fare for riders increases.

So what times are likely to be lucrative for Lyft drivers?

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Friday and Saturday Nights

It’s probably no surprise that Friday and Saturday nights are likely to be big money-makers for rideshare drivers. People are often going out to parties, bars, etc. If it’s a place where alcohol is available, there’s a good chance lots of people will be catching a ride home via a rideshare app.

These busy hours are definitely likely to see Prime Time pricing.

Keep in mind Friday and Saturday “nights” typically start earlier in the evenings when people might be heading out. And the rush will likely last until the early hours of the morning when bars have closed and the last of the crowd is ready to head home.

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Early Mornings

Depending on your work schedule, early mornings can be a great time to make extra money. Many other drivers are probably either sleeping after having driven late at night, or they drive for Lyft as a side-hustle and in the morning they’re off to their full-time job.

Plenty of people have forgone car ownership and use public transportation or rideshare services to get to work, meaning you’ll be able to make money during the morning rush hour.


Special Events

Another great tip is to find out what the big entertainment venues are in your city and get to know the entertainment schedule!

Maybe your city has a great concert venue and regularly has big-name musicians in town. Or maybe there’s a popular sports team in town that draws a big crowd for games.

You can pretty much guarantee that any special events where parking is either scarce or expensive are going to be lucrative for Lyft drivers.

Additionally, since these events usually involve alcohol, plenty of people will opt to rideshare instead of drive so they can enjoy their evening safely.

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Check the Airport Schedule

If you have an airport in your city, there’s a huge potential right there for customers. Paying for parking at their airport is expensive, and travelers would rather not worry about the hassle. Especially if people are taking a long trip, taking a Lyft will be more affordable for the consumer.

You can use the airport website or an app to figure out when there will be a large flow of arriving flights.

Often this is going to be Monday when business travelers are heading off on their business trips, and Thursdays and Fridays when those business travelers are coming home.

Since the airport can be a lucrative source of Lyft customers, other drivers are going to have the same idea. One tip to try is to open the Lyft app as a rider, so you can see how many other drivers are nearby. If there’s a long line of drivers and not as many riders, it might not be worth your time.

Keep in mind that if you’re going to be giving Lyft rides to and from the airport, it’s definitely beneficial to get to know your local airport so you know how to get in and out and locate each terminal.

Finally, get to know the local regulations for your airport. The last thing you want is to end up in the part of an airport where you aren’t allowed or do something you aren’t allowed to do and end up facing fines.

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Other Ways to Boost Your Earnings

Drive for Multiple Rideshare Companies

There’s nothing that says you can’t drive for more than one rideshare company.

There might be times where Uber is in surge pricing and Lyft is not in Prime Time, or vice versa. In that case, it’s in your best interest to drive for the service that is going to make you the most money.

Some drivers also report keeping both apps open to search for riders, in the hopes of having less downtime between rides. The advice they shared is to make sure to close one app if you’ve accepted a ride request in the other.

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Drive a Fuel Efficient Vehicle

One of your biggest expenses as a Lyft driver is going to be the cost of gas. A great way to decrease your spending on gas and increase the money staying in your pocket is to drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle. You can visit our article here where we share the best cars to use as a rideshare driver.


Refer Other Drivers and Passengers

Another way to make some extra money from Lyft is by referring other drivers and passengers to Lyft.

If you refer a passenger to Lyft, you’ll receive $10 when they take their first ride.

The referral program for referring other drivers is even more lucrative. You can receive $750 after they’ve completed a certain number of rides.

You can share your referral with friends and family, or on your social media pages in order to get people to sign up.

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Keep Your Driver Rating Up

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that having a good rating will boost your chances of landing more Lyft rides in the future. According to Lyft, your driver rating is the average of your last 100 ratings. Or, if you have fewer than 100 ratings, it is the average of all of your ratings.

Per Lyft’s website, a great rating is anything 4.8 or above. They recommend that those with a rating of less than 4.8 work to improve it.

Low ratings might put you at risk of having your account deactivated. Additionally, a low rating might lead to riders canceling a ride to find a better-rated driver.

Driving for a rideshare company such as Lyft has obviously become a popular side hustle over the past few years. And for many, it has even become their main source of income.

Tips for Improving Your Driver Ratings

  • Get to know your city. If you’re driving other people around, it’s in your best interest to know your city very well. Especially get to know any downtown areas with a high concentration of bars and restaurants that you might be frequently dropping off and picking up at. Customers will be annoyed if you don’t know the city and have a hard time finding the right location.
  • Make sure your car is clean and presentable inside and you. Sometimes you’ll have to deal with riders leaving a mess in the backseat of your car, but don’t leave the mess there for the next rider.
  • Know how to read people. Some riders are going to be friendly and open to conversation with their Lyft driver. Others would prefer to sit quietly and scroll on their phone. Learn to differentiate.
  • Stay calm behind the wheel. An aggressive driver or one with road rage is sure to see a poor rating.
  • Pay attention to rider feedback. Riders have the opportunity to leave anonymous feedback after the ride. If someone shares constructive criticism, really take that into consideration as a way to improve moving forward.
  • Go above and beyond. If you really want to boost your ratings, consider adding a feature that can’t be found in just any Lyft ride. Some ideas might include:
    • Having charging cords on-hand for drivers who’s phone battery is low;
    • Have cold water bottles. This will be especially attractive to riders who are finishing up a night of drinking.
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Deduct Expenses on Your Taxes

One of the downsides of driving for Lyft is the number of expenses you’re taking on.

Here are some of the expenses you'll be looking at:

  • Car payment;
  • Insurance;
  • License, title, registration;
  • Gas;
  • Regular car washes;
  • Car maintenance.

You’ll be putting more wear and tear on your vehicle. This will increase your maintenance costs in the long-run as well.

The good news is that when it comes time to file your taxes, you’ll be able to write off many of those expenses. No, you aren’t making extra money here, but you are reducing your tax burden.

Keep in mind, you won’t be able to deduct the entire cost of your car-related expenses. But you’ll be able to use a formula to determine what percentage of the time your car is being used for business, and you can figure out what portion you’re allowed to deduct.

Being able to deduct business expenses means you need to be carefully tracking them throughout the year, including your mileage. Here are the best mileage tracking apps to use as a Lyft driver.

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Lyft or Uber?

Lyft is one of the more popular ridesharing apps on the market, but it certainly isn’t the only option available.

Uber is without a doubt the most popular and well-known Lyft alternative on the market. Uber was the pioneer of ridesharing apps in 2009, but Lyft has started to catch up in popularity over the past two years.

Even though Lyft is catching up, Uber still seems to be the more popular option. They still boast more daily rides, more revenue, and service in more cities and countries. Depending on where you live, Uber may be your only option. Additionally, the Uber app is still rated #1 in travel to Lyft’s #2 spot.

That being said, even though Uber may be more popular for riders, a 2018 survey shows that Lyft drivers report both higher satisfaction and higher pay than their Uber counterparts.

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In Conclusion

Driving for a rideshare company such as Lyft has obviously become a popular side hustle over the past few years. And for many, it has even become their main source of income.

Before taking on a new job or side hustle, it is important to do your research. You really want to know what you’re getting yourself into.

This article shares much of the information you’ll need to get started and really make money as a Lyft driver. You can also visit the Lyft website, where they share even more detailed information about the requirements for drivers, as well as advice on making increasing your earnings driving for Lyft.

Or maybe you’ve read this article and determined that becoming a Lyft driver is not the right side hustle for you. If that’s the case, make sure to check out our collection of articles on other side hustles you can try instead!

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