Is it Worth Driving For Lyft?

I wanted to get back into being a rideshare driver earlier this year to make extra money when I quit my job. There was just one problem. Friends were telling me that there were way too many Uber drivers on the road. They said that it was saturated. I got scared for a bit because Uber driving was good for me back in 2016 but people were telling me that everyone is an Uber driver now.

One person said some guys are signing up for Lyft to make extra money as drivers. So what I did I do? I signed up for both to see where I could make the most money as a driver. The experience has been much better than I expected. Martin asked me to do a review of driving for Lyft in Toronto. Here’s my take on being a Lyft driver…

Should you drive for Lyft

So here’s a little background on me (Tomasz Gorecki)…

I wanted to focus on growing my side hustle, but my main job was keeping busy and I had no free time to work on my own projects. So I quit my job a few months ago. Now I make twice as much as I did at my last job. My goal is to pay off debt and save up $10K to invest for a food business (more on this in another article one day) that I want to start for 2019.

Your goal may be to add an extra $500, $1,000 or more of income each month. That’s cool. I enjoy being a rideshare driver for Lyft and Uber because I’m my own boss and I have a flexible schedule. I know that if I work longer hours, I’ll make more money.

This is how you can become a Lyft driver for extra cash…

You have to meet the criteria to sign up as a driver with Lyft, then you become a great driver, and then you figure out how to make the possible schedule to maximize your earnings so that you don’t waste your time.

Let’s break this all down…

Sign up to be a driver.

What’s the sign up process like?

The process is basically the same as with signing up to drive with Uber. The only exception (which is pretty significant) is the whole application can be done through the app or the website. When I signed up with Uber, once I submitted all the documents, I needed to visit their office to finish my application. The next steps would be a background check (takes about a week, and another week after that to get the PTC license). The Uber offices are really busy (I went to the one in Mississauga). I was there for over an hour (long lines).

The other thing to consider is new regulations came into effect July 2016. The new changes include needing a car that is 7 years or newer, background check, PTC license, HST number and a safety certificate.

Here’s what you need to have on you when you’re ready to sign up to be a driver:

  • Driver’s license.
  • Passport.
  • Vehicle ownership.
  • Vehicle Insurance (personal insurance is required but I recommend rideshare insurance).
  • Safety certificate (app. $80 @ Canadian Tire).
  • Background Check (no cost).
  • PTC License (Lyft applies and pays for the first 2 years).
  • HST number (call CRA).
  • Car ( 7 years or newer). The rideshare companies are strict on this stuff.

As you wait for your PTC license, you aren’t able to drive in Toronto, Mississauga and Oakville because those cities require the license but you can drive anywhere else.

Take your time reading all the information as you go through the process of signing up and learning how to use the app. You don’t want to rush into driving because 5 star ratings are key.

Be a passenger first to see what it’s like.

Martin previously suggested being a passenger to get a feel how to improve the experience for passengers by first being one. Also, if you use this referral code you’ll get $5 off your next 4 rides or $10 off your next 2 rides (the offer changes).

Use this free money to see what it’s like to be a passenger. Try to observe how you feel, what makes the ride enjoyable, what annoys you about the ride, and then apply everything that you notice to your own driving. You may find that your car really needs a good detailing or a better music setup.

Get ready to become the best driver possible.

Becoming a good driver is something that takes time. However, it’s important that you start off on a good note because you don’t want to get a low rating right after your first few drives.

How do you get five star reviews as a Lyft driver?

  • Greet passenger by name, and ask how are you? How’s your day going? Make small talk and then read the room. If the passenger doesn’t care to talk, then leave them alone.
  • Offer a bottle of water and/or gum. A bottle of water goes a long way. You can keep a case in the trunk.
  • Confirm the end destination just so that you don’t waste their time.
  • Thank the passenger and wish them a good day at end of trip.
  • Don’t be annoying.
  • Know the roads and drive safely.

Read up on how to become the best possible rideshare driver for more details.

What makes Lyft worth driving for?

Navigation is built into the Lyft App and it’s much better compared to the navigation on Uber.

What else do I like about driving for Lyft?

  1. “Tap to arrive” feature to let your passenger know you have arrived.
  2. Sign up process done through app/website (with Uber you have to go into their office to complete the application and it’s always very busy; I was there for over an hour).
  3. Power Zones (and schedules) & Bonuses (see images below).
  4. Lyft sends out daily text messages about ongoing Power Zones and bonuses for the day and for the next day. This enables you to plan when and where to be to maximize your earnings.

The images below are examples of what I’m talking about…

Should you drive for Lyft?

This is what the bonuses look like when you drive for Lyft…

Should you drive for Lyft?

How much money can you make driving for Lyft?

Here are some of my best days…

Friday June 15. $60 for 5 rides. 55 km in 1.5 hours.

Monday June 11. $62 for 5 rides. 58 km in 1.5hours.

Wednesday May 15. $80 for 7 rides. 68 km in 2 hours.

Please note: the time and distance above doesn’t include the time it takes to get from starting position to where the passenger pickup is. We can assume an average drive time of 5 minutes for each pickup which adds about 30 minutes to each of the days above, thus lowering the hourly rate to about $30.

Also, I was doing both Uber and Lyft on my phone. Which means whichever app pinged first, I took that ride. And in a few scenarios, I would choose between the rides for both apps and cancel one.

For example, once I just accepted a Lyft ride and I start driving to the passenger. I got a ping from Uber (and the ride request it was going to be a long trip 40+ minutes) so I dropped the Lyft passenger.

How do you set your schedule as a Lyft driver?

I find it important to set a schedule if you want to maximize your earnings.

My driving schedule is very different from majority of people out there and even other Lyft/Uber drivers. I quit my job a couple of months ago and work 40+ hours driving and make twice the income of what I made before. I feel ecstatic because I not only make great money but I have a flexible schedule, meet new people and hear interesting stories.

If I need to make more money I just turn on the app and go.

I drive in the mornings Monday through Friday 6am-3pm (sometimes I take a break at lunch or 2 pm and go back out for a few hours). The latest I work is 6pm and I don’t drive at night because I don’t feel safe driving that late nor do I want to deal with drunk people. This is just my preference. The earnings for late night driving are highly lucrative from what I’ve heard and even Martin has experienced himself in the past.

Recently, I’ve taken up driving on weekends in the morning hours 8-12pm which is a busy period (people going into work, people going home after a night out). This schedule isn’t for everyone especially for those working a 9-5 job.

There are lots of opportunities to earn an income (second, first, extra) and I suggest you find a system that works for you.

Lyft does a great job with providing the times and areas that you can make good income with. For example: if you work 9-5 you can use the Power Zone Schedule (on your account) or Power Zones (on the app) to find times that allow you to work outside of those hours and still make an income. There are many folks who need a ride in the evenings. 

Is it worth driving for Lyft?

I don’t suggest you rely solely on Lyft to earn money. I use Uber and Lyft but the majority of my earnings come from Uber. I’ll admit that I didn’t use the Power Zones (refer to screenshots above) on the app to maximize my earnings.

I initially didn’t really like Lyft because of the low fares and not many people are using it but it seems Lyft is going after a market that Uber left behind. I’d like to call this market “budget-friendly”.

Here’s the trick to making money with Lyft…

Don’t rely just on Lyft. Lyft is still relatively new to Toronto (and area) and it will take some time for them to increase their market share. Plus, maybe Lyft won’t grow because people love Uber and are so used to having it here for many years now.

If you’re an Uber driver, Lyft is a great back up for Uber to keep you busy.

If you want to maximize your potential with Lyft, I would suggest you follow their guides for the Power Zones and bonuses ($20 for 4 in a row) because those are the areas where they need drivers in during certain hours (morning rush 7-10am, 5-7pm, etc)

What about taxes and all of that stuff?

Yes, as a Lyft driver we are self employed and with the new regulations you have to file your taxes and you need an HST number. You need to call the CRA to get the HST number and you will need to file an HST return either annually or quarterly.

Also, talk to your accountant about what receipts and paperwork you need to keep track of for this. For example, your Lyft account is great for having the earnings (weekly) and mileage you have driven. Also, ask your accountant about what kind of expenses you are able to write off.

Here’s the bottom line: Yes you can make a full-time income with rideshare driving. It comes with sacrifices. If you’re not happy with where you are and want to make extra income, a secondary source then I highly recommend you sign up with Lyft (Uber too) and minimize that stress and be happier.

Don’t forget to use claim your free money with Lyft as a passenger. Driving isn’t for everyone, but we can’t argue that these ridesharing apps can bail us out when we need to get home.

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