What should you do when you want to drive for Uber or Lyft but you don’t have a car to use? Ideally you’ll already have your own car that qualifies for an Uber service, but many drivers will have to buy, lease, or rent a car to use for ridesharing jobs. What’s the best choice?
The good news is that you can be approved to drive for Uber or Lyft even if you don’t currently have access to a vehicle. You can apply and see if you pass the background screening before you go through the trouble of accessing a car. If you don’t have a car yet, apply to Uber or Lyft first and see the vehicle options they offer in your area. Those links are my referral links, so I may receive a commission for referring you.
When you decide to get a car to drive for Uber or Lyft, is it smarter to buy a car, rent a car, or lease one? And what companies currently offer rideshare rentals? This article covers all of your vehicle options for Uber and Lyft: Upsides, downsides and how to get started.
How Uber and Lyft drivers can get access to vehicles
- Use a car you already own
- Buy a car, typically a used hybrid or compact
- Rent a car for Uber through their Hertz or Enterprise programs
- Rent a car for Lyft through the Lyft Express Drive program
- Rent a car through HyreCar, a peer-to-peer service
What types of cars qualify for Uber and Lyft?
The first thing you need to do is learn which types of cars are accepted by Uber in your area. Generally, Uber requires vehicles to:
- Must have 4 doors and seat belts for 4 passengers
- 10 years old or newer (in most cities)
- Must pass a mechanical inspection and be in good cosmetic shape
- Read more about Uber vehicle requirements and Lyft vehicle requirements
Learn more about vehicle requirements for all of the Uber services. Six-passenger cars and entry-level luxury cars qualify for the more expensive Uber services, so some drivers looking to get a new car will try to find an affordable used minivan, SUV, or luxury car.
How to apply to drive for Uber or Lyft when you don’t have a car
Here’s a common dilemma: You want to drive for Uber or Lyft, but you don’t currently have a qualifying car and you’re not sure if you will pass the background check and driving record check. You want to see if you will be accepted as a driver before you go through the trouble of accessing a car.
If you don’t currently have access to a qualifying car, there is a special application that allows you to let Uber or Lyft know that you don’t have a car.
Apply to drive for Uber on this page and select “I need a car” to find out if Uber will hire you without having to provide vehicle information on the application.
Apply to drive for the Express Drive program with Lyft. That application assumes you will need a car and will allow you to proceed with the background check process.
Both of the above application like are my referral links. I may receive a bonus from Uber or Lyft if you sign up using my link.
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Best solution: Use the car you already own
This might seem like common sense, but if you already own a car that qualifies for Uber, use it! Your car payment, if you even have one, will almost always be lower than a lease or rental payment. With the rates that Uber is paying these days, buying a second car when your first car already qualifies is not usually the right financial decision. Even accounting for vehicle depreciation, it’s wise to use the car you already own.
The only exception to using your own car might be if you’re investing in an UberBlack vehicle and commercial registration and insurance. If you just want to drive for Uber X, XL, or Lyft XL or Premier, use what you already have.
- Uber vehicle requirements – See if your car qualifies for Uber
- Lyft vehicle requirements – See if your car qualifies for Lyft
Rent a car through Uber and Lyft vehicle rental programs
Both Uber and Lyft now partner with rental companies to provide weekly rental cars in select larger cities. You pay a weekly fee to rent a newer model car. Insurance and unlimited mileage are included. One caveat to remember is that you can drive your Uber rental car for Uber and Lyft, but you can’t drive your Lyft rental for Uber.
Upsides: You can try driving for Uber and Lyft without having to purchase your own car. Insurance is included, so you don’t need to have your own insurance. You can get approved for some rentals with no credit or bad credit.
Downsides: Very high weekly cost. Not available in most cities. Low availability, so it can be hard to get a car in busy cities.
How to rent a car for Uber: Uber’s rental car program
Uber currently partners with Hertz and Enterprise in many cities across the country to provide vehicles for Uber drivers.
- Cost of rentals for Uber is $180/week and up
- To qualify, you first need to sign up to drive and pass the background check
- Select “I need a car” when you sign up for Uber to begin the rental process
- $200 deposit that is returned after you turn in the car
- The rental fee is deducted from your weekly pay
- Insurance is included price of the rental
- Unlimited mileage. Personal use is allowed
- Routine maintenance is included
- You can’t always reserve your car in advance. First come first served
- You can only use your Uber rental to drive for Uber
Uber currently offers rentals through Hertz and Fair
Uber can connect you to vehicle rentals with Hertz or Fair. What are the main differences between the two offers?
- Hertz rentals for Uber: $200 refundable deposit, weekly rates around $200 per week.
- Fair rentals for Uber: $500 one-time fee, weekly rates as low as $130 per week. Up front cost is higher, but is cheaper if you plan to keep the rental for a long period
Start with Hertz if you’re not sure whether you want your rental long term or not. Rent with Fair if you plan to keep the rental for longer than a month.
Rent a car for Lyft: The Lyft rental car program
Lyft offers a rental vehicle program for drivers called Express Drive. Much like Uber, you pay a weekly fee that includes unlimited miles, insurance, and vehicle maintenance. Currently Lyft partners with Hertz and Flexdrive and the cost of Lyft rentals is around $180 – $240/week. You rent the car on a weekly basis, and renew the car each week or return it. You can only use your Lyft rental to drive for Lyft.
Can you use an Uber rental for Lyft, or a Lyft rental for Uber?
No. You can only use a rental from Uber to drive for Uber, and you can only use a rental from Lyft to drive for Lyft. The rental agreements for both Uber and Lyft strictly prohibit using the vehicle to drive for another platform. It is a major limitation of the vehicle rental programs because it’s often most profitable to drive for both companies.
If you want to use a rental that will work for more than one rideshare or delivery platform, consider a rental with Hyrecar or Maven Gig.
Lease or finance a car through Uber Xchange – No longer available
Uber Xchange is no longer offered by Uber as of October 2017. It was a leasing service that allowed drivers you to lease an Uber-approved car for around $600/month. It was sold to the Fair company after it became too unprofitable for Uber. Fair now offers rideshare rentals in many cities, but long term leasing is not available.
Rent a car using HyreCar, a peer-to-peer vehicle rental service
HyreCar is a vehicle marketplace that allows you to rent Uber-approved vehicles from private owners and use the car to drive for Uber. After you create a HyreCar account and show them that vou’re an approved driver, HyreCar gives you the registration and insurance information you need to add the rental car to your Uber account. They also provide insurance for you as soon as you take possession of the rental. It’s a good option if you want to try Uber before you buy a car, or if you need a car temporarily.
I am affiliated with HyreCar. I receive incentives to link to their service.
Rent a car through Maven Gig
Maven Gig is GM’s vehicle rental service for rideshare and delivery drivers that allows you to rent a car and use it on any platform you’d like. You can use it for Uber, Lyft, delivery apps, or any other on-demand app. Like other rental options, you pay a fairly high weekly fee that includes unlimited miles, insurance, and maintenance.
Rent a car with Getaround – Currently only available in San Francisco
Getaround is a peer-to-peer vehicle rental service that launched a program for rideshare drivers in San Francisco. With Getaround, private vehicle owners list their car for rent on Getaround, and renters can rent the vehicle for as little as one hour. Getaround uses technology that allows renters to find and get inside the car with a smartphone, so you never have to meet up with the vehicle owner to hand off car keys.
Getaround is currently only available for rideshare drivers in San Francisco. If you try Getaround, use promo code “RSD” to get $20 off your first rental. I am affiliate with Getaround, and I may receive a commission for referring you.
What’s the difference between Uber rentals, Lyft rentals, and other rideshare rentals?
Now that there are several rideshare rentals options, it’s hard to keep track of all the benefits and drawbacks of each service. The table below shows the features of each major rideshare rental service to help make it easier for you to see which one might work for you.
|Price||~$200 per week and up||~$200 per week and up||~$30/day and up, $200/week and up||~$189 per week and up|
|Deposit||$200 refundable for Hertz, $500 non refundable for Fair||$250 refundable||$200 refundable||None, rental fee is held on your car in advance|
|Rental Period||Weekly||Weekly||Daily, weekly, or monthly||Weekly, up to one month|
|Insurance||$1000 deductible||$2500 deductible||$2500 deductible||$1000 deductible|
|Use for other services?||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
Rent a car from another driver using Craigslist
You may have seen an offer on Craigslist like this — Uber drivers can rent another driver’s Uber-approved car for a period of time. The car will already be registered with Uber, and the driver who owns the car will have to list you on the insurance policy. The vehicles are typically owned by fleet owners looking to hire drivers. This is a common way to drive for Uber Black.
Here’s how renting or leasing from a private fleet works: The vehicle owner will ask you to sign a leasing agreement. The owner will then add you to both the vehicle’s insurance policy and their Uber driver account.
This is one way to get some experience with Uber without making a big investment in a new car or figuring out the complexities of becoming and Uber Black driver.
Buy your own car to drive for Uber & Lyft
Owning your own car to drive for Uber can be the cheapest option, with fewer restrictions than leases and weekly rentals. The car will be yours to do with as you want, and the monthly payment will almost always be cheaper than the monthly cost of rentals.
If you decide that buying your own car for Uber is the way to go, buy the type of car that can realistically make you money with current Uber rates: An older used car in great condition that costs $5,000–$15,000 will be nice enough to please your riders and won’t dig too deeply into your weekly ride earnings.
Always make sure to closely check Uber vehicle requirements before you purchase a car, and email Uber just to make sure your car qualifies, especially if you’re aiming to use your car for UberXL or Lyft XL/Select.
Good auto loans — If you decide to buy a car
If you decide that buying a car to drive for Uber is right for you, it’s worth taking a moment to compare a few different auto loan options. In my own search, I’ve found that these are a fast and easy way to get a sense for the kind of cars and loans you can qualify for.
The links above are my affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you sign up for those services.
Upside: You’ll own the vehicle, so you can use it as you wish, sell it whenever you want
Downside: If the vehicle is too expensive and Uber isn’t very lucrative in your area, you might get stuck with a car payment you can’t afford
Don’t buy or lease a car until you’re approved to drive!
Some readers have gone out and bought or leased a car before they were approved to drive for Uber. In a lot of cases, these people were confident they could pass the driving record check and background check, so they went ahead and got the car before Uber approved their application. Then something happened in the application process — delays, or a rejection — and now they’re stuck with a car payment that they may not be able to afford. Don’t put yourself in that position.
Get approved to drive before you get the car! The initial application process — providing your personal info and passing the background check — should only take a few days, or up to a week. Apply and find out if you’re approved to drive. Both companies now have a “I need a car” option when you sign up, so you won’t need to enter vehicle information to complete the application. You can figure out how to get the car after you’re approved.
Is it worth buying a car just to drive for Uber?
Buying a car exclusively to drive for Uber or Lyft is a big investment that may not pay off if your area isn’t busy with ride requests. According to my research about how much Uber drivers make, you should expect to make around $10–$20/hour after expenses. Many drivers are able to make money with an affordable used car ($10,000 or less), but other drivers who splurge on a more expensive model find that it can become a breakeven or a loss.
Try before you buy: If you’re new to Uber and you’re not sure how strong the local market is, try renting a car through HyreCar to see if the job is right for you.