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Lyft and Uber Quickstart Guide

Getting started driving for Uber or Lyft


Here are the basic steps, including driver and vehicle requirements, to become a rideshare driver for Lyft and Uber.  Whether you want to start driving for Uber or Lyft, the approval process generally takes less than a week.  However, it can take up to two weeks.

Both companies offer a sign up bonus if you use a sign up code. Visit our Lyft Sign Up Bonus page for information on the types of bonuses Lyft is currently offering. Click here for information about Uber sign up guarantees. If you would like to use our signup codes, our Lyft referral code is ridesharecentral, and our Uber referral code is i9tz1.

Is it better to start driving for Uber or Lyft first?

It depends.  I usually recommend signing up for both at the same time, because there’s no way to tell how long each company will take to approve you. However, it really depends on your specific situation and location. For more information on this topic, check out our post, Should I Drive For Uber Or Lyft.

Uber Application Lyft Application


How driving for Uber and Lyft Work

Riders request a ride throught the Uber or Lyft app. The closest available driver gets the call. On each ride, Lyft takes a booking fee ($1-$2 generally) + 25% of the fare. Uber now pays drivers by distance and time.

Uber and Lyft also offer cash bonuses if you complete a certain number of rides in a week. These bonuses can add $50 to $400 each week, in addition to your regular earnings.

Earnings vary by city, but in most markets the average is in the $15-$20 range. However, experienced drivers who know their way around tend to earn more as do drivers who only drive peak hours. Earnings are often higher in newer Lyft and Uber markets, because there are fewer drivers. So, if Lyft or Uber recently arrived in your neck of the woods, now is the time to sign up!

Differences between driving for Uber and Lyft

Lyft has always allowed riders to tip in the app. While Uber finally added in-app tipping last year, more riders still tip on Lyft. Overall, Lyft riders are more forgiving of mistakes by the driver. Lyft also has a reputation for treating drivers better. 75% of Lyft drivers are satisfied driving for Lyft. But only 49% of Uber drivers are satisfied driving for Uber.

However, Uber still has about three times as many users as Lyft.

Lyft and Uber driver requirements

  1. You have to be 21 years old and have had a driver’s license for at least 1 year. (In some cities, your license may need to be from in-state.)
  2. You must be able to pass a criminal background check.
  3. You must have in state personal auto insurance (your must be listed as a driver on the policy) for the vehicle you will be using.  I highly recommend supplementing or replacing your personal insurance with rideshare insurance coverage. However, you don’t need rideshare insurance coverage to be approved for the Uber and Lyft platforms.
  4. You must have a relatively clean driving record. (No DUI’s or reckless driving and very few moving violations over the last few years.)

Lyft and Uber vehicle requirements.

You do not need to own a vehicle to drive with Uber or Lyft. However, if you do, these are the requirements.

  1. The vehicle must have a valid registration and a clean title. However, the vehicle does not have to be in your name.
  2. The vehicle must have four doors and a minimum of five seatbelts.
  3. The vehicle must be in good working order. Lyft and Uber require vehicle inspections.
  4. The vehicle must be model year 2004 or newer for Lyft, and model year 2001 or newer for Uber (2002 starting in March).  In some cities, the requirements are more strict. For Lyft Premiere and Uber Select or Black, the requirements are also more strict, and vary by city.

Be sure to check the Uber or Lyft vehicle requirement pages for city specific information.

Lyft Vehicle Requirements

Uber Vehicle Requirements

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The Lyft and Uber Application Process: Documentation

You’ll need to upload the following items during the application.

  1. Driver’s License
  2. Insurance Certificate
  3. Vehicle Registration

If you have those items handy, you can click one of the buttons below to start your application.


Once you’ve filled out your application and uploaded your documents, Uber and Lyft will run a DMV and criminal background check. This is the part that usually takes a few days. While you’re waiting for your approval, we recommend taking the following steps.

The Lyft and Uber Application Process: Background Check

  1. Consult our Before You Drive guide for expert tips and advice on driving profitably.
  2. Browse through our Essential Products for Drivers, and consider picking up a phone mount.
  3. Visit Rideshare Central’s Insurance Marketplace to explore your rideshare insurance options.
  4. If you’re looking for a vehicle, visit our Vehicle Financing page to find the best options for purchasing or renting a vehicle for rideshare driving.

The Lyft and Uber Application Process: Approval and Vehicle Inspections

After approval, you will need to pass a vehicle inspection to get on the road. In certain markets, both Uber and Lyft have locations where you can get the inspection done for free. Alternatively, both companies also send out a list of locations where you can do your inspections. The cost of the vehicle inspection is usually around $20. You can usually have the inspection done at a Jiffy Lube or a Pep Boys. Alternatively, if you don’t want to go somewhere to have the inspection done, there are mobile inspection services. One company, Rideshare Mechanic, can even do your vehicle inspection over video chat!

Rideshare Mechanic – The Uber & Lyft Video Vehicle Inspection

Rideshare Mechanic is a new service that provides on demand vehicle inspections for Lyft and Uber over the phone. They charge the same price as Jiffy Lube or Pep Boys, but without the hassle of waiting in line. All you have to do is make an appointment on their site, and then a licensed mechanic calls you and performs the inspection over video chat.

Without a doubt, Rideshare Mechanic is definitely the most efficient way to complete your Uber or Lyft vehicle inspection. Click the button below to schedule your appointment


The Lyft and Uber Application Process: Activation

After you successfully complete your mentor session/vehicle inspection, you should be able to get on the road and start making money driving for Uber or Lyft, or both!



Lyft Driver Promos

Before You Start Driving

What should I do before I start driving for Lyft or Uber?

If you already own a vehicle, there are only three things you should do before you start driving for Lyft or Uber:

  1. Learn your way around your city.
  2. Get a few products that will come in handy on the road.
  3. Get Rideshare Insurance.

If you don’t currently have a car, be sure to check out our Vehicle Financing section.  There, you can learn about the different lease, rental and purchase options available to rideshare drivers.

Learning your way around your city.

The number one complaint of riders, by far, is drivers who don’t know their way around. So, before picking up your first passenger, become a bit familiar with your city. Check out your city on google maps. Take note of major highways and note the streets that seem wider than average. Those streets are likely the major roads in your city. If you can, hop in the car and drive around your city for a few hours, or even a whole day. Drive around the downtown area, head to the airports(s), the train station, and a few touristy destinations.

If you want to go further, determine what the address numbering system is for your city (google it) and learn it. That way, when someone is going to 600 North Main Street, you’ll know the general direction you’re going. Finally, if you haven’t already, you should take a short Lyft and Uber ride. That way, you’ll be familiar with what the rider experiences before you start doing pickups.
Driver in Front Seat - Rideshare Central

Products every Uber and Lyft driver should have.

The must have list is short. You’re going to want a good phone holder, a roll of paper towels, clorox wipes, a couple of plastic bags, and if you plan on driving weekend nights, vomit bags. Now, you probably will not need the last four items. I’ve been a rideshare driver since 2014, and haven’t needed those items. But if you are ever in a situtation where you do need them, you don’t want to be without them.

The should, or could have, list is longer. It really comes down to personal choice. You may want to consider a usb hub, an android charger, an iphone charger, some armor all type wipes, all weather floor mats, a tire pressure gauge, and possibly, some waters. For a complete list of products you should consider browsing through our Essential Products For Drivers.

Every driver should consider purchasing rideshare insurance.

For more information on rideshare insurance, please visit our Rideshare Insurance Marketplace, where you can find information on the types of rideshare insurance offered in your state.

Looking For The Best Rideshare Company To Sign Up With?

Sign up to drive with Lyft today and get a sign up bonus.

With Lyft, you can sign up to drive even if you don’t have a car!