Many potential Lyft drivers get stuck during the application process because they don’t have access to a qualifying car. The good news is that Lyft partners with rental agencies to provide rental options that give you a way to access a qualifying car without making a major financial commitment.
The vehicle rental programs for Lyft drivers is called the Lyft Express Drive program, and it offers weekly rentals that include insurance, unlimited miles, and routine maintenance. You can start driving with Lyft here, and select “I need a car” on the application page. That link is my referral link, and I may receive a bonus if you use it to apply.
Lyft rentals cost around $200 – $250/week. Rentals are not cheap, but if you want to try driving for Lyft without having to buy a car, this could be a good option for you. Of all the ways to get a car for Lyft, this one has the lowest level of commitment because you’re only paying for a short rental period.
What is the Lyft rental car program? All about the Express Drive program
- For Lyft drivers age 25 and older
- Express Drive rentals pricing starts at ~$200 per week
- Current participating rental companies are Hertz, Flexdrive, and Avis
- Drivers must meet Lyft driver requirements
- Refundable deposit (around $250) that is refunded when you return the car
- Insurance and routine maintenance are included
- Rental period is weekly, no maximum. Vehicle must be returned periodically for maintenance
- Unlimited mileage. You can use the car for personal use at no extra charge
- There are weekly ride minimums to stay in the program (around 20 rides)
- You can reserve rentals ahead of time, but it’s first-come-first-served and availability is low
- Rental payments are deducted from your weekly earnings
- Rental Rewards: Reduce the cost of a rental by hitting ride quotas
- Rate card is lower with Express driver in some states: You earn less per mile and minute
- Start driving with Lyft and select “I need a car” to apply to Express Drive – My referral link. I may receive a bonus for referring you to Lyft.
How much do Lyft rentals cost, and how does payment work?
Lyft rentals through Express Drive typically start around ~$200 per week for a midsize sedan. The cost of the rental depends on your market you’re in, and the vehicle you rent. Payments for a rental are deducted from your ride earnings each week. If your earnings don’t cover the full rental cost, your credit/debit card on file is charged.
There is a refundable deposit to access a Lyft Express Drive rental
All Express Drive users must pay a refundable deposit before accessing a rental car. The deposit is typically around $250, but the amount varies based on your market, the rental agency, and your driving record. You must use a credit or debit card in your name to make the deposit. Lyft does not accept pre-paid cards for the rental deposit.
When do you have to pay the rental deposit? You will be prompted to pay the deposit after you schedule a rental pickup.
Your rental deposit will be returned in these circumstances:
- If you fail the Lyft background screening process, your deposit is returned following the 10-day window to contest the results
- When you return your rental vehicle, the deposit is returned within 5 – 10 business days
- If you request to leave the Express Drive program without ever renting a vehicle, the deposit is returned in 2 – 5 business days
Insurance is included with all Express Drive rentals
A big benefit with Express Drive rentals is that insurance is included in the weekly cost of the rental. You don’t need a personal auto policy to qualify for Express Drive, and you’re fully covered once you pick up your rental. Lyft drivers who use their own vehicles must find insurance policies that allow ridesharing, or they run the risk of having a claim rejected in the event of an accident.
More detail about the insurance offered with Lyft Express Drive rentals
- Personal driving and rideshare driving are covered
- Collision deductible is $1,000 for Hertz, Flexdrive, and Avis
- $1,000,000 liability policy when you’re waiting for a request and when the ride is in progress. Liability also offered during personal driving at different levels that depend on your state
What’s the difference between Hertz, Flexdrive, and Avis Lyft rentals?
Lyft partners with Hertz, Flexdrive, and Avis 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
- Reservations for all services are made online in the Lyft driver dashboard
- Hertz gives you a paper rental agreement, Flexdrive and Avis are inside the Lyft app
- Maintenance procedures are slightly different between all three
Upsides and downsides of the Lyft Express Drive rental program
Upsides: Unlimited mileage, free routine maintenance, and included insurance. Some of the biggest costs when you use your own vehicle are depreciation, maintenance, and insurance, so not having to deal with those is valuable. Especially if you drive enough to significantly reduce the rental fee.
Downside: Availability of rentals can be low. In many cities the availability of rental cars is low, so it can be 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.
Downside: Express Drivers aren’t eligible for some Lyft driver promotions. You can’t earn many of the bonuses available to other Lyft drivers if you’re using a Lyft rental car, such as Ride Challenges. Instead, Express Drive renters are eligible for Rental Rewards, which are similar to other bonuses, but may not offer as large of a payoff. Rental Rewards offer fixed bonuses for completing ride requirements.
Downside: In some states, you earn a lower per mile and per minute rate with an Express Drive vehicle. Lyft pays Express Drive users around 10% less per mile and per minute than other Lyft drivers. Lyft says that the lower rates help to fund the higher insurance costs involved with Express Drivers.
Find the Cheapest Insurance Quotes in Your Area
Getting started with the Lyft Express Drive rental programs
If you’re not yet a Lyft driver, you can start driving with Lyft here, pass the background check and driving record check, and make the initial deposit. Once you pass the screening, you’ll be able reserve a vehicle and make an appointment to visit designated lots around your city to pick up the rental vehicle.
How to view the Lyft vehicle rental options available to you
If you’re already a Lyft driver, you can see the Express Drive options available to you either in the Lyft Driver app or at Lyft.com.
Inside the Lyft Driver app: Tap your profile icon in the upper left corner, then tap Vehicle. An Express Drive box will appear below your vehicle info if Express Drive is available to you. Tap on “Learn More” or “Rent a car” to begin the rental process. Next, you will be able to view nearby rental locations and schedule an appointment to pick up a vehicle.
At Lyft.com: Log in at Lyft.com/login and visit the Vehicles section of the driver dashboard. Scroll down to see if Express Drive rentals are present as an option. You’ll see a section called “Use an Express Drive rental” if the option is available in your city.
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. At certain mileage intervals, you will have to bring the car to branch where you picked it up to have maintenance and inspections performed. You will be reminded in the Lyft Driver app to bring the car in for maintenance.
The minimum rental period for a Lyft rental is 7 days.
Can you lease a car long-term through Lyft?
Long-term leases are not available with Lyft Express Drive. All rentals are on a weekly basis.
Can two people share the same Express Drive rental?
Lyft will not allow two people to share the same Express Drive rental. If you want to share your Express Drive vehicle with a spouse, significant other, or business partner, it is not allowed. Two people can share a personal vehicle as long as each driver is named on the personal insurance policy, but the same is not the case with Lyft rentals.
What can you do when there are no rental vehicles available?
The Lyft rental programs have turned out to be very popular, 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 until more rentals become available.. 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.
Lyft recommends logging back in and manually checking for new cars, saying, “If you tried to schedule a pickup reservation and no cars were available, keep checking back to try again.” It’s not a great solution, but until a better reservation and notification system comes out, it’s all you can do.
Rental Rewards: Weekly rental fees can be reduced if you do enough rides
A big perk of renting a car through the Express Drive program is that it makes you eligible for Rental Rewards that can significantly reduce the cost of the rental. Rental Rewards are typically offered by completing a certain number of rides each week.
If you complete the required number of rides, you’ll receive rental rewards at the end of the week that will reduce the weekly cost of the rental. The only catch is that Express Drive renters are not be eligible for some other Lyft bonuses, such as Ride Challenges.
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, the Express Drive program prohibits you from using your vehicle for any other service. You can’t use a Lyft rental to drive for Uber.
Rideshare rentals that can be used for more than one service
- HyreCar – Peer-to-peer rentals
- Maven Gig
- Need a car for Uber and Lyft? Should you buy, rent, or lease?
Does renting a car to drive for Lyft make financial sense?
$200/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 the cost of Uber rentals, which are also priced so high that they require full-time driving in a major market to make financial sense. But the upside is that 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 using your own car, so it’s nice to avoid those costs with rentals even if the cost exceeds what you might pay for 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 for Lyft without committing to buying a car
- 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
Overall, the Express Drive program is something worth looking into if you want to try Lyft but you don’t have access to a qualifying car.