Lyft enlists freelance drivers to ferry passengers around town

Expected pay: $15 – $25 per hour

Husl$core: $$$

Commissions & fees: NA

Where: Most cities nationwide

Requirements: 21 or older; pass DMV and background checks; have a relatively late-model car; auto insurance; drivers license; smart phone

What is Lyft?

Lyft is a ride share company that enlists drivers to use their own cars to pick up passengers for pay.

(This post may contain affiliate links. You can read our full affiliate policy here.)

Lyft Review:

The second-largest ride share operator after Uber, Lyft offers roughly the same value-proposition to drivers. Depending on where you live and drive, you’ll get either a guaranteed payment for each ride — or you’ll be paid by time, distance and tip.

The site also offers driver bonuses, when you drive in busy areas during peak times. And it sometimes offers additional incentives when you take a set number of rides in a row.

But you are not paid for the time between rides — or for getting to a fare. You only get paid for the time when you have a rider in your car. To reduce downtime, most drivers use Lyft in combination with other ride share or delivery apps to increase the chance that you have a paying gig most of the time that you’re in the car.

How it works

If you want to drive for Lyft, you’ll need to be over the age of 21 (or older, in some areas); able to pass a background check; a DMV check; have a valid driver’s license; and, in some states, you’ll need at least a year of driving experience.

If you are using your own car, your car will need to have four doors and pass an inspection. You’ll also need the car’s registration and insurance.

Lyft has a rental program for drivers who don’t have their own vehicles called Express Drive. However, in addition to the additional rental expense, the site pays Express Drive drivers less than drivers who use their own cars. (More on this below, under Express Drive.)


Drivers generally know where they’re picking up a passenger; where the passenger is going and what that ride will pay before they’re asked to accept it. The app tracks your progress via GPS and is likely to add additional gigs, if it has them, when you near the drop-off point.

Although driver pay varies widely, based on where you drive, when you drive, and whether you qualify for bonuses, Indeed estimates that Lyft drivers earn an average of $21 per hour. But that doesn’t account for your expenses, such as gas, car payments and insurance.

Drivers are paid once weekly by direct deposit. However, if you want your pay quicker, you can apply for one of two options that can pay instantly.


You, however, have to pay your own expenses. This includes your car payment (or lease), insurance, gas, and maintenance. You also are responsible for paying both income and employment taxes. Most of these  expenses are deductible, but they can reduce your real earnings substantially.

Express Drive

If you don’t have a car to drive, Lyft partners with FlexDrive and Hertz to offer weekly car rentals at a discounted rate. These rentals come with qualifying insurance coverage. So, participating in this program eliminates the need for presenting your car for inspection and providing registration and insurance documents.

However, the cost of rentals varies and, naturally, adds to the expenses you’ll have when working with the ride share program. When we checked rates for Express Drive rentals in January of 2024, rates ranged from $74 to $319 a week. While you will have no maintenance expenses for a rented vehicle, you still must pay for gas. And, you could be subject to additional charges if you damage the vehicle, such as deductibles and penalties.

The big Express Drive catch

Notably, signing up with the Express Drive program obligates you to complete at least 20 rides per week. If you fail to, you can lose you rental.

And, Express Drive drivers EARN LESS than people who use their own cars. According to Lyft, you’ll earn roughly 17% less than a driver who uses his or her own car. But the percentage varies by market and is subject to change.


If you don’t own a car, don’t rent one to drive for Lyft. Renting a car to drive for these platforms is likely to double your expenses while simultaneously reducing your income. It’s an express lane to poverty.

Notably, you can get a driving job without a car, if you happen to live or work in a city where a company called Alto operates. Alto hires its drivers, pays $25 per hour and provides the car. You can learn more about Alto here.

When you have a car….

Assuming you do have your own car, the best way to earn more than minimum wage when driving for a living is to be highly strategic about what, when and how you drive. An electric or hybrid vehicle is pivotal to keeping gasoline expenses down, while driving a peak times is a key to getting better pay for each ride.

And if you sign up to drive for Lyft, it’s smart to also sign up for Uber, which has vastly more riders. (You can sign up with Uber here.) Also consider signing up with Uber Eats (sign up here), DoorDash (sign up here) and GrubHub, too. This allows you to accept the jobs that pay the most and that are closest to where you are.

You can sign up with Lyft here.

Other apps we’d recommend for people who like to drive: Amazon Flex and Wingz. Amazon Flex pays for package deliveries and by the hourly block. Wingz arranges rides to the airport.

If you have a clean background and experience with kids, you may also be able to drive kids around after school with Kango, and HopSkipDrive. These jobs generally involve shorter drives and generally pay more per hour, but you’ll need car seats.

You may also be able to get animal-driving gigs with Citizen Shipper.

What Lyft drivers say (from Indeed):

There are peak times and slow times. I would buy a second car for Lyft (aside from your Daily Car) in order to ensure pure profit after gas, maintenance, insurances, snacks, and casual wear and tear of the vehicle being used/driven for Lyft.

If you need cash now, it gives you the ability to gain currency quickly. However, it’s like working for the mob who run the transportation Administration. They’ll throw you crumbs while they take half. And it’s worse with a rental. In their rental, with a 40 hour work week, after Lyft takes their lion share, you will be making $6 an hour. With all your costs you don’t make much in rideshare now, but they pay themselves well enough to live in San Francisco don’t they? Nuff said. Don’t believe what they say, believe what the say when backed up with action, period.

Poor pay

I have been a driver for six years and it has only gone down hill for drivers and how we are treated. They make their money off the backs of drivers…Instead of giving them a fair wage they take 50 to 75% of passages fares off the top. Raise rates for passengers and give us even less money and that is fair.

Passenger fares have gone up and driver compensation has gone WAY down. It is no longer feasible to make money even with surge pricing and incentives.

Flexible, but…

Lyft is a great job if you like being independent and setting your own schedule. However to make a decent amount of money you basically have to live in your car. You have to work 50 plus hours a week to be able to make at least 100 dollars a day.

You can make good money if you drive all day everyday. Only. The mileage to the car is very intense & you will have to get a new car after a couple years.

Updated 12/31/2023

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