Our roommates recently moved out leaving us with way too much space and an addition $1200 in rent to cover. As a Hamiltonian I can’t just sit in a newly emptied bedroom and let a dozen Franklins walk out the door. We considered Airbnb which I still think is a good idea, but I don’t foresee being here too long so we don’t want to pay money for a bed only to move and not recoup our costs. We do have one car and that seems to be the new way to make some extra money these days, especially if you’re a millennial.
On April 7 I read Lyft had a promotion for $750 bonus in my area after 75 rides within 30 days. That means you essentially get a $10 bonus on every ride you give, so I was willing to have my wife try it out. I previously signed up for Uber thinking there was a $500 bonus, but after contacting them it was only $100 for the driver so I didn’t complete the registration process. I would only recommend signing up during a period with a big bonus, think hundreds of dollars. Depending on your area amounts will vary, so when you see one and are ready jump on it.
Sign up process
Signing up was an easy process. You fill out your name, birthday, referral code, car information, and social security number so they can do a background check. They then give you a mentor who will come to you to inspect your car and give you tips from their experience. There was a law passed last week which will change this mentor process, but if you sign up before June things should be the same. This visit took about 45 minutes and involved checking out the car, license, insurance, taking a picture, and lots of talking. The mentor was great and should be the face of Lyft. He is an artist who loves not having a boss, working his own hours, and “connecting with people on a deeper level.” After that was done three days later my wife got an email that she was approved and could start driving.
As the 30 day clock started ticking, she started driving two days later and has done two to three rides per day. A fews days after beginning we received the welcome pack which had the placard which you must display while driving. So I think you are supposed to wait until that arrives, but looks like when I sign up I’ll be good to go. In order to get to the 75 rides I think some changes will have to be made which will be to spend more time (currently about 1.25 rides per hour) or do it during a more peak time.
Thoughts on driving
Lyft works on a whichever driver is closest basis, so driving around cost you money but will not make you more likely to get a passenger. The only exception is for airport pickup, those in the area longest will get priority. My wife finds Lyft driving pleasant, but wishes she could get more customers.
As a 1099 contractor you receive no benefits. However, you do get a glowstache that sits on your dashboard after 100 rides and have no boss. There actually is one huge tax benefit to being a contractor and that is that you can deduct your business expenses. You could track your expenses on gas and maintenance but the government makes it even easier for you. They allow you to deduct 54 cents per mile. If you drive 100 miles, make $120 after fees, then you can deduct $64.80, making less than half your earnings taxable!
Isn’t this dangerous?
Yeah, why do you think I’m not doing it. Just kidding, as with all things you can not be certain about safety, but I would say it is fairly safe. My wife sticks to driving during the day so we don’t have to worry about drunk people. Also, there must be some algorithm which gives my wife more female passengers because in her dozen rides she has had 75% women.
Having the $750 bonus will be sweet and I’m sure my wife will quit the moment it is satisfied and then it will be my turn. It gets better, because I was the one who referred my wife which means I will get $750 Lyft credit, so I won’t need our car for at least a month, probably even longer. If you are considering Lyft or Uber, I would recommend doing it for the bonus or during times which the prices are good for drivers. I don’t think driving is worth it as it is a lot of time for not much compensation. If you are unemployed it may be something to get you by, but I’d recommend trying to find something more stable and collecting the bonus.