Many of you who want to become a Lyft or Uber driver get stuck because you don’t have access to a qualifying car. There are several ways for you to get a car that qualifies (like the leases and loans I discuss here), and now Lyft has partnered with GM and Hertz to create rental options that might help you get started as a driver.
The car rental programs for Lyft drivers is called the Lyft Express Drive program, and it allows you to rent cars from Hertz and GM.
In a few of the larger US Lyft markets, you can now rent a car from either Hertz or GM to drive for Lyft, and it costs around $150 – $250/week. It’s not cheap, but if you want to try full-time driving without having to buy or lease a car, this could be a good option for you. Of all the ways to get a car for Uber and Lyft, this one has the lowest level of commitment because you’re only paying for a short rental period and there is no up-front deposit.
These rental programs are fairly new, and I’ve done my best to keep this information accurate and updated. If your experience renting a car was different, leave a comment with the details.
The Lyft Express Drive program allows you to rent a car to drive for Lyft
- For Lyft drivers age 21 and older
- $150 – $240/ week
- Drivers must meet Lyft driver requirements
- Refundable deposit of $150 – $250 that is returned when you turn in the car
- Insurance and routine maintenance are included
- Rental period is weekly. You can renew weekly from the app, but you have to go to the rental lot once per month
- Unlimited mileage. You can use the car for personal use at no extra charge
- You can reserve your rental ahead of time, but it’s first-come-first-served and availability is low
- Rental payments are deducted from your weekly earnings
- The rental can be free if you give enough rides and earn a 90% ride acceptance rating
What’s the difference between Lyft Hertz and Lyft GM rentals?
Lyft partnered with GM and Hertz to provide rental cars for Lyft drivers. Both companies have similar offerings, but there are a few differences that are worth mentioning.
- Each provides a different insurance plan, but both cover you and the vehicle you rent
- Hertz reservations are made on the Hertz site. GM reservations are done in the Lyft driver dashboard
- Vehicle renewals are more vague with the GM program. Lyft only says that they vary city by city
- Hertz gives you a paper rental agreement, GMs is inside the Lyft app
Upsides and Downsides of the Express drive rental program
Some big upsides are unlimited mileage, free routine maintenance, and included insurance. Some of the biggest costs for drivers are depreciation, maintenance, and insurance, so not having to deal with those is valuable. Especially if you drive enough to waive the rental fee.
Another upside is that you don’t have to do the Mentor Session if you rent a car through Express drive. Sometimes it’s hard to schedule a Mentor Session, so by skipping it altogether you’ll be able to get on the road faster.
One of the not-so-great things to me about this program is that the availability of rental cars is low, so it’s difficult to make a reservation. If Hertz doesn’t have a car available for you, you’re put on a waiting list. Most drivers are only able to get a car by repeatedly checking the app and hoping a reservation slot opens.
Another downside is that you can’t earn the Power Driver Bonus if you’re using a Lyft rental car. Instead, that bonus is applied to your rental fee but only if you qualify. So if you don’t qualify for the rental credit, you also won’t qualify for the Power Driver Bonus.
Getting started with the Lyft GM and Hertz rental programs
If you’re not already a Lyft driver, you’ll need to complete the application and pass the background check and driving record check. To get started with the Lyft + Hertz program, you’ll have to fill out an application for the Lyft/Hertz rental program and make an appointment to visit designated Hertz lots around the city. There, you’ll pay the weekly rate up front and Lyft reps will help you get your account cleared to begin.
How long can you keep a Lyft rental?
Lyft rentals from the Express Drive program are renewed weekly and you can keep them for an indefinite amount of time. Every 7 days, you can choose to renew the lease from inside the Lyft app. After 28 days, you’ll have to go in person to renew and extend the rental. That’s a bit inconvenient in my opinion, but also makes sense for cars that may be taking a beating.
Is there a long-term Lyft lease available?
Currently you can’t lease a car from Lyft Express Drive for a long period of time. You have to renew weekly.
Do you still have to do the Mentor Session?
Drivers who use their own car have to schedule and attend a Mentor Session to have their vehicle inspected. You won’t need to do the Mentor Session if you rent your car through Express Drive. After you pick up the rental you’ll be able to sign into the and drive.
What to do when there are no vehicles available
The Lyft rental programs have turned out to be a lot more popular than expected, and neither rental company has been able to keep up with demand. Frequently drivers log in to see messages like this: “There are no vehicles available. Would you like your deposit refunded?” It’s a disappointing message when you were hoping to get on the road and drive in a rental.
If there are no rentals available, you can choose to refund your deposit, or you can choose to wait. Currently there is no notification system available, and all rentals are first come first served. So the only option left is to sign in every day and check for availability. Even Lyft recommends logging back in and manually checking, “Although there is no set time or schedule for when vehicles become available, we strongly recommend to keep checking your Dashboard because new rental vehicles are constantly added.” It’s not a great solution, but until a better reservation and notification system comes out, it’s all you can do.
You can’t use your Lyft rental to drive for Uber
One of the first ideas most drivers has is to rent a car from Lyft and use it to drive for Uber. Unfortunately, Lyft told me that the Express Drive program prohibits this. You can’t use a Lyft rental to drive for Uber. That is a major disadvantage of the program because Uber’s Xchange lease and rentals program don’t always make the same prohibition. So if you want to rent a car and drive for both companies it may be a better idea to go with an Uber rental program.
As always, these rules vary market to market. If you want to use your Lyft rental to drive for Uber, contact Lyft and ask first.
Does renting a car to drive for Lyft make financial sense?
$180/week or more is expensive, and at current Lyft rates you’ll need to work around 10 – 18 hours just to pay off the rental. The price for these rentals is in line with Uber Xchange lease rates, which are also priced so high that they require full-time driving in a major market to make financial sense. But with Xchange and other leases, you pay a deposit and sign onto a lease that requires 2 weeks – 1 month of notice before you can cancel it. With these rentals, you can try it for just one week and decide whether to stay on or not.
The other upsides are that insurance is included in the price, mileage is unlimited, and you don’t have to pay for general upkeep like oil changes, brakes, tires, etc. Maintenance and depreciation are huge costs when you’re driving your own car, so it’s nice to avoid those with rentals and leases even if the cost exceeds what you might pay on your own vehicle.
It’s usually best to use the car you already own to drive for Lyft. Check the Lyft vehicle requirements to see if your car qualifies.
When it might make financial sense to rent a car to drive for Lyft
- You want to try driving without committing to a lease or a loan
- Your car is in the shop and you need a car for a week or two
- You want to drive full-time, and other options aren’t available to you
Lyft says renting a car is free if you get the maximum Power Driver Bonus
Lyft’s Power Driver Bonus can reach up to $200/week, which would effectively make your rental free. But beware: There are many qualifications that you’ll need to meet to get your bonus, so don’t totally rely on your Power Driver Bonus to pay for your rental.