Make money with Lyft

Lyft driver pay

Lyft cars with pink mustaches

I’m truly impressed by the vast array of side hustles I hear about around the PF blog-o-sphere. It seems we’re a creative bunch. But today I’d like to tell you about a new side hustle idea that’s quite exciting. You can make money with Lyft by driving people around in your own car.

If you’re a resident of one of America’s larger cities, you’ve no doubt seen these cars with pink mustaches zooming around town. At first I thought it was just a new sort of hipster decoration for the grill of your car, like the dice hanging from your rear-view mirror.

But it’s so much more than an unfortunate decoration, it’s actually the beginning of what could be an industry changing idea. Lyft is a whole new model of what the taxi could be. Anyone that owns a car can join the service and start providing cheaper rides to people who’d otherwise be hopping in a taxi. It’s an incredible opportunity to start a side hustle to bring in a little extra income.

How does Lyft make money?

Instead of taxi drivers motoring around in yellow Crown Vic’s, Lyft drivers are just normal folks like you and me who’ve decided to use their personal vehicles to make a little money on the side.

All a potential fare has to do is download the app, and then hit the big “Request Lyft” button. They can see a map of where the closest drivers are, and exactly how long it will take for their selected driver to pick them up.

Once they see the pink mustache, they hop in the car and the lyft driver whisks them away to their desired destination. All Lyft driver payment is handled online so there’s no cash changing hands. It’s such a simple idea that I’d be worried if I were a traditional taxi company. Innovate or die.

Being a Lyft driver could pay off

The registration process is just rigid enough to ensure quality drivers, but it doesn’t look especially burdensome for people to be interested.

You submit a simple request online, orientation takes 1-2 weeks and then you’re good to go. There are no set places to times so you can do it wherever or whenever you’d like. It’s tough to find a part time job this flexible these days.

If you’ve got a car that’s reasonably old or cheap, the math can work out quite well since your cost/mile driven is quite low. You’re obviously making less than what taxis make (since the whole business model is meant to undercut taxis), but you get to keep 80% of the fees collected from your fare.

Lyft service a meritocracy

One of the main features of this service is that you don’t just get a ride, but you actually meet the driver and get to know them. Instead of hopping in the back seat like in a taxi, the standard is that you jump in the front passenger seat.

They’ve tried to make it more like your friend picking you up than a soulless taxi company providing you a service. The advantage you have as a potential Lyft driver is that you can make more money by being friendly.

If you love talking to new people, making them laugh, and pointing out interesting city landmarks, you’ll be able to seriously increase your income.

Even though they dread tipping taxi drivers, people love to tip funny tour guides. It’s all about making their day and turning their trip across town into an adventure. More knowledgeable and charismatic drivers will earn better tips in this new type of meritocracy.

Some concerns

Although I’m quite excited to see how this new service grows, there are some clear reasons for skepticism.

  • Payment method: It sounds like you only get paid through “donations”. And there’s not actually an obligation on the part of the rider to pay. You can suggest and amount, but they don’t necessarily have to pay it. I’m guessing they went with “donations” instead of actual payments to get around current taxi laws.
  • Legislation: Taxi companies represent a significant portion of the economy and they are not happy about companies like Lyft and Uber taking away some of their market share. There have been some lawsuits in the past, but more recent legislation looks positive.
  • Insurance: Lyft has $1M liability coverage for all of it’s drivers. So on the surface it sounds good, but you never really know how it will work until something happens.
  • Blocking the air intake on your car: This is the engineer in me talking, but it doesn’t feel right to put a big mustache in front of the main intake where air goes into your car to cool the engine. No one else seems upset about this, but I’m sure you’ll loose a little fuel efficiency.

Are you going to sign up?

You need to be 23 or older, have a car model year 2000 or newer, and pass their screening process. But other than that you just need to enjoy meeting new people and listen to your iphone give you directions.

Oh, and so far it’s only in these cities, but it seems to be spreading like wildfire.

Lyft Map

I haven’t taken the plunge yet, but I’m certainly considering it. You could probably make a killing on a Friday night driving around the bar areas offering Lyft Chicago.

Would you become a Lyft driver? Have you been Lyft-ed yet?

Photo Credit: Flickr Copyright: Bootleggersson

29 Comments
  1. Wow, hadn’t heard of that before. Pretty interesting concept. My first reaction was hesitance about getting into a car with a stranger, but how is that different from a taxi? The taxi drivers in Boston are on the whole incredibly bad drivers, so I can’t imagine this being much worse. It will definitely be interesting to see how this holds up against litigation. Those lobbies can be pretty powerful. But I like the idea.

  2. I’ve given rides to people using taskrabbit, and I always wondered how sane I was really doing that since honestly I think it’s pretty dangerous. I probably wouldn’t do it because of safety, and my fear of people doing crazy things like puking in my car if they were really drunk. I can totally see more adventurous people doing it though. Times can be tough and you gotta do what you gotta do.

    • I hadn’t even thought about people puking in your car. That’s a bitch to clean up…

      But you could always just do it on Sunday mornings if you wanted to, or in more suburban neighborhoods with less of a party area.

  3. Interesting concept, and I think I’ve seen that ‘stache before and just assumed it was someone being quirky. I don’t think I’d ever do it since I’m admittedly a bad driver with no internal compass, but it could become handy for lifts to/from the airport!

  4. What an interesting idea. I’d probably need some guarantees on payment before trying it out myself, but Phoenix doesn’t seem to be a city on the Lyft map just yet anyway.

    As for fuel economy, I’m wondering if blocking some of the air flow might actually increase the MPG, as blocking off some of the grill is a hypermilling technique (I believe getting the engine to run a little hotter increases MPG, but it has to be monitored carefully).

    • That’s an interesting concept. Under exactly the right circumstance I suppose it could work, but you’re really need a real time mpg monitor to get it to work.

      Do you have Uber in Pheonix yet? It’s essentially just a taxi app, but they send you actual taxis.

  5. This is an interesting idea. I would totally pay to use this service. Too bad we don’t have it in my city yet. I can see the pink mustache being a problem too. But I guess it would help to cushion against an accident or something :?

  6. As an insurance agent I see companies dropping any customers who would participate in this. It sounds like a good idea but I can’t help to think of it from an insurance stand point. 1Million might sound like a lot of liability coverage but you never know what will happen. I’ve seen insurance companies pay close to that to people who have sustained lifelong injuries. After the 1Mill is exceeded then the drivers insurance would have to pick up.

  7. I’m surprised they don’t have this in NYC…it would be a great side hustle. I’m pretty sure it is against the law or something. There was a big uproar when car service/livery cabs wanted to pick up street hails. The yellow cabs and their union are pretty strong here.

  8. Interesting! I wonder if they do anything like this in England, I must check it out! I’d be a bit worried about the donations side of it and the chance of not actually getting paid. But I think this is definitely one side hustle to watch out for!

  9. I became a Lyft driver about 3 weeks ago, as the service recently launched in Denver, and it’s been a very positive experience and easy extra income. I get nervous when I see a cab because I don’t want them to think I am competition. :) I feel like there is plenty of room for everyone, but who knows how it will pan out.

  10. I am a (commercial) insurance broker, and driving or riding in a Lyft (or Uber, or whatever) is monumentally stupid.

    I looked into it- I have a car in a big city that I pay too much for, and have some extra time. But a COMMERCIAL DRIVERS LICENSE is technically required to drive passengers between point A and point B for money.

    People don’t realize that their personal Auto policies specifically exclude coverage if you are using your car to make money (“Public or Livery Conveyance” under Exclusions on your policy- all forms are generally the same) Lyft will claim that the “donation” aspect gets them around this, but if there is an accident, I can guarantee that the insurance company will investigate, learn that the driver was planning on making money, (….’cause that’s the whole point- Lyft advertisements say, “Make $20/hr with your own car and have fun!”) and deny the claim- also, I’ve done TONS of research on the claim by Lyft of the $1M excess policy. I have seen multiple tales of denied requests to see it from potential drivers. In fact, I emailed the lyft main office myself a few months ago and asked to see it. No response.

    So please, Imagine: You are driving a Lyft car and taking a passenger from A to B. You get T-boned. Passenger is severely injured. Your insurance company says, “You were trying to use your car to make money! Denied.” Then, the passenger sues you for hospital bills, pain and suffering and damages. Now you are facing a very very pricey lawsuit. Not to mention that even IF you were somehow covered under this blanket excess policy, bad accidents can easily exceed $1M, so you’re still SOL.

    In short, (or long) I opted not to risk my entire financial future to make $10, and I would never ride as a passenger…I’m only posting this because: people are sheep, will read and believe whatever companies tell them, and: do your own research- call your auto insurer, and ask them if they would cover you in the event of an accident as a Lyft driver. See what THEY say…

    • @Emily T – I’ve been researching Lyft and have seen your posts (exact same posts) on multiple sites leading me to believe you’re either a troll or you work for the taxi industry. Based on that conclusion you should just shut the f*ck up already. Thank you.

      • Diane, you just made me LOL. Thanks, I needed it.

        I live in an area just outside of SF where cabs are nowhere to be seen. I have literally had to walk home over 2 miles at 2am in heels because every local cab company says they flat out do not have any cabs available in my area, at all. Not even a time quote. It’s a bad situation and promotes drunk driving.

        If people are willing to take this on, government and insurance companies should not be what keeps this from happening. Free enterprise, that’s patriotic, right? The only insurance argument I’ve heard is that the 1mil coverage could be exceeded in personal injury. Well guess what! Most vehicle insurance coverages only cover up to 30K per incident, up to 50K if you buy a bigger policy, so really, where is the argument here?

        This is especially true in this day when work is so hard to come by and cabs in the bay area flat out refuse to pick people up in certain areas, give false quotes and often times don’t show up anyway. I’d rather trust a service that offers guarantee, accountability and customer service.

        That’s my two cents.

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