How to Make More Money with Lyft

There’s no question about it – one of the best parts of working as a new driver for Lyft is getting to earn that awesome sign-on bonus. Don’t you wish you could earn another one now that you’re on the job?

Unfortunately, the sign-up bonuses are a one-time deal. But that’s not the only way to earn extra money from Lyft.

If you’re a Lyft driver, you already know that depending on when and where you work, hourly earnings can be close to minimum wage. So it’s no surprise that Lyft and Uber drivers are always looking for new ways to earn extra money.

Don’t get frustrated – the sign-on bonus is just the first of many other bonuses you can earn.

Keep reading to learn the 7 different ways you can increase your earnings while driving for Lyft.


  1. Prime Time
  2. Additional Promos
  3. Referral Codes
  4. Switch to Uber During Downtimes
  5. Increase Tips
  6. Food Delivery
  7. Tax Deducations

1. Schedule Driving Times Around Prime Time Pricing

As a Lyft driver, surely you know about Prime Time pricing, but do you really know what it means or how it works? Driving during Prime Time hours is the fastest way to increase earnings, and when you know what it’s all about, you can structure your day around Prime Time hours to maximize your hourly rate.

Prime Time pricing, just like Uber’s Surge Pricing, is a simple function of supply and demand. It kicks into effect when the demand for drivers is high, but the supply of drivers on the road is low.

Lyft doesn’t want passengers to get frustrated or take an Uber instead. They would rather pay their drivers more in order to make those passengers happy and keep Lyft as their first choice rideshare service. The passengers pay a little more to get their ride, and the drivers earn a little more for getting the passengers where they need to go.

There are certain busy times and certain days when you’re likely to see Prime Time pricing.

On the weekdays, morning and evening rush hours are the busiest times, as everyone is trying to get to work or get home at the end of the day.

Primetime map in Southern California

A beautiful Prime Time map from u/garthywoof on Reddit

On the weekends, Friday nights and Saturday nights are usually the busiest.

If you’ve ever driven on a weekend night you know there are lots of drunk people looking for a way to get home. Drunk people aren’t always the easiest to deal with, but if you drive late at night when the bars close, there’s a good chance that Prime Time pricing will kick in.

In reality, Prime Time pricing can occur at any time. Be aware of sporting events, concerts, festivals, and conventions going on in your city. Those are often Prime Time hot spots. If you know when a big event is letting out, be there when the flood of ride requests comes in.

When you make your schedule, focus on driving during Prime Times. Work weekend nights. Work the morning and evening rush hours. Take your breaks during the day when it’s slower or at the end of the night after the bars close. The more time you spend on the road during Prime Time, the more money you can make.

2. Take Advantage of Additional Promotions

Once you’ve earned your sign-up bonus, it’s easy to get discouraged by low hourly rates (unless you’re always hitting Prime Time).

That doesn’t have to be the case, Lyft sometimes offers weekly or hourly guarantees – and when they do, you should jump on them.

Lyft guarantees vary from weekends to weekdays, and the promotions themselves vary from day to day. The way it works is this:

Lyft sets a guaranteed amount that you’re promised to make as long as you complete a certain number of rides within a specific time frame.

For example, they might offer a $200 weekend guarantee if you complete 20 rides between Friday at 5 AM and Monday at 4:59 AM. If you do 20 rides and only earn $150, they’ll give you an additional $50 in order to reach the $200 earnings guarantee.

Sometimes they offer single-day guarantees. For example, if you do 5 rides on Wednesday you’re guaranteed to earn $100. If you earn $110 on those rides, you’ve exceeded the guarantee and you won’t earn any extra. But if you only earn $75 on those 5 rides, they’ll give you the $25 difference.

Streak Bonus Example

Examples of some streak bonuses from u/seaofluv

Guaranteed payments can put a lot of extra money in your pocket – especially when you do a lot of short, quick rides. You can double your earnings without having to do any extra work. And in some cases, you might even make more doing 5 rides with a guarantee than you would make doing 10 without one.

Lyft also offers Ride Challenges. A typical ride challenge might pay you an extra $25 if you do 10 rides in a given day or during a specified period. Keep in mind, Ride Challenges are tailored to individual drivers but are not available to all drivers.

There’s also something called a Streak Bonus. With a Streak Bonus, you can earn a small bonus by doing a certain amount of rides in a row without interruption or without declining any ride requests. The payout is usually something like $10 for doing 10 rides in a row.

3. Get New Drivers To Sign Up With Your Referral Code

Another good way to earn extra money is through referral bonuses.

If you can recruit new drivers to work for Lyft, you can make money for every person you sign up. Once they sign up, they’ll need to complete a certain amount of rides within a specified period. If they hit that goal, you’ll earn a cash bonus. The new driver also receives a bonus – so they will be motivated to do their part.

Mention to friends that you have a Lyft referral code. If they’re interested in driving, there’s no reason for them not to use it.

Here’s an example of a promo code:

promo car cash

Sign-on bonus for new Lyft drivers

Make $1,000 guaranteed in all cities - CLAIM THIS BONUS

Give 125 rides in your first 30 days to make $1,000 guaranteed.

We say refer your friends, but the truth is, you can refer anyone and still earn the bonus. We’ve seen some Lyft drivers print business cards with their referral code and leave them in the back of their car for passengers to take. We’ve also seen drivers blast their referral codes on social media.

As long as you don’t pay to promote a post that includes your code, it’s perfectly fine to share it with anyone and everyone who wants to use it.

If you have a large network, you can make really good money with bonuses.

4. Check Uber When There Are No Lyft Requests

Let’s be honest, Lyft probably doesn’t want you driving for Uber. Uber probably doesn’t want you driving for Lyft. They’re in direct competition and they want to keep all the best drivers for themselves.

But drivers are independent contractors, not employees, so neither company has total control over what you do.

That means that there’s no rule that you can’t drive for both.

Sign up to drive for both services and you’ll minimize downtime and make more money. For example, if you find yourself on a Lyft shift and there aren’t any ride requests coming through, check the Uber app. You might be able to pick up a ride request there. When Uber slows down, go back to Lyft.

Using both apps at the same time is a great way to put a passenger in your car as often as possible. And that’s the only way to make money as a driver.

You can actually run both apps at the same time on your phone – just make sure that if you accept a ride on one you log out of the other while you’re doing that ride.

Want to know the other benefit to signing up to drive for Uber? They also offer a sign-on bonus!

5. Increase Your Tips

A smile and a pleasant attitude go a long way. But providing snacks, bottles of water, and other amenities to your passengers is a great way to increase your chance of earning a tip.

Thankfully, Lyft offer’s in-app tipping, which makes it super easy for passengers to leave driver’s some extra cash.

Tips add up quickly – and they can seriously affect your hourly earnings. Not all passengers tip, but a lot do – if you give them a reason to. If you can manage to get a $1 or $2 trip on every other ride, you could increase your hourly earnings by over 50%!

Here are 5 ways to significantly increase your chances of getting a tip:

  1. Have snacks and bottled water available. Some drivers pay for these out of pocket. Other drivers get them for free with Cargo. Cargo is a completely free way for drivers to earn extra money. With a Cargo box in your car, you can provide free and paid items for customers, at no expense to you.
  2. Offer your passengers the option to charge their cell phone during the ride. By having one Android charger and one iPhone charger in your car, you can provide your passengers with an amenity that they’ll surely be grateful for. People are addicted to their phones and terrified of low batteries, if you can save their battery life you’re much more likely to get a tip.
  3. Maintain a clean, odor-free vehicle. Make sure the scent in your car is neutral, fresh-smelling, and not overpowering. Vacuum upholstery and floor mats regularly to provide your passengers with a pleasant experience. Let’s face it – no one wants to ride around in a dirty car.
  4. Text or call your passengers when you can’t locate them. Make sure you have a hands-free device in your car so you can reach out to riders if you’re having a hard time locating them at the pick-up spot.
  5. Know when to talk and when not to talk. Some passengers like to chat. Others prefer a quiet ride. You can make small talk at the start of your ride, but if your rider doesn’t seem like they want to engage, know when to stop. Over-talkative drivers are one of the biggest complaints from Lyft passengers. But if you can provide excellent conversation without annoying your passenger, your chances of getting a tip goes up.

6. Work for Food Delivery Apps When There are no Ride Requests

Not getting any Lyft ride requests? Nothing on Uber either? Consider driving for a food delivery app during rideshare downtimes.

Sign up for Uber Eats, Postmates, or DoorDash and deliver food during those times that you’re not getting ride requests. The only way to earn money is to stay busy. And the way to stay busy is to diversify your income by working through multiple apps.

Working for a food delivery app is a great way to earn extra money – especially during the mid-day hours when people are ordering lunch. It’s also smart to work for a delivery app during the dinner hours once riders are already home from the evening commute.

7. Get The Maximum Deduction on Your Taxes

As a Lyft driver, you work as an independent contractor, you are not an employee of Lyft. That means that they won’t withhold taxes or issue you a W2 at the end of the year.

Instead, you’ll receive a 1099 form that states your gross earnings for the year. What the 1099 won’t show is all of the expenses you incurred.

Why do those expenses matter? Because you’ll need to deduct them from your total earnings to determine your taxable income. The taxable income is the amount of money that you actually pay taxes on. The lower the taxable income, the less taxes you’ll have to pay.

Gas, insurance, mileage deductions, vehicle maintenance…all of these things are expenses. It can be hard for some drivers to keep good records of their expenses – so lots of drivers like using a 3rd party app to help them do so. Apps like SherpaShare are perfect for this.

With SherpaShare you can track all of your different expenses. And when you track expenses, you can identify where you need to cut back. For example, gas is a huge expense that all rideshare drivers have to deal with. You might want to consider switching to a more fuel-efficient car.

Stuck with the car you have? Try using an app like Gas Buddy to help you locate where gas prices are lowest in your area.

You can only collect your sign-on bonus once. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to earn extra money here and there. With these tips and tricks in mind, you can double your earnings with not much extra effort.

Try to do most of your driving during Prime Time when prices are higher. You’ll earn more per ride, and you’re more likely to enjoy a steady flow of ride requests.

Check the app regularly for weekly and hourly bonuses. Take advantage of Ride Challenges and Streak Bonuses whenever they arise.

Refer friends to earn extra bonuses and go above and beyond for your customers in order to earn better tips. Track expenses so you can identify where you can cut back and save money on your tax bill.

And lastly, consider also driving for Uber, Uber Eats, DoorDash, or other rideshare or food delivery services. If you can diversify your income, you can stay busy and put more and more money in your pocket every week.

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Brett HellingProfile Photo Brett Helling
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