I rarely drive for Uber or Lyft anymore, mainly due to the falling price of fares making it not very lucrative.
But I’m glad that I’m still an approved driver on both ridesharing platforms, and I keep my accounts active by giving a ride every few months.
Here are the 5 main reasons it pays to be a driver, even if you don’t give rides:
1. Referral bonuses
Uber and Lyft both offer insane driver sign-up bonuses from time to time, in order to keep their driver numbers high and ward off the surge pricing that so angers customers.
I once wrote about a $5K bonus from Lyft.
If you have a driver account, you can refer your friends to drive, and you’ll both get a bonus.
A friend and I once made $600 each, just because he signed up and completed 20 rides.
2. Making money on your commute
Uber and Lyft both have an in-app destination filter that allows you to enter your destination, and you’ll only receive ride requests from people who are heading in the same direction you are.
Last time I tried them, Uber’s worked great, and Lyft’s didn’t really work.
Navigation app Waze also currently has a feature that is supposed to match up commuters heading in the same direction, costing/earning the rider/driver a couple bucks, but I couldn’t get it to work as a rider or a driver.
3. Free food and discounts
Uber just sent me my second offer within a month for a free $20 to use on the food delivery app UberEATS. Yum!
Lyft offers drivers chances to snag free food at food truck rallies from time to time as well.
Drivers also have access to discounts on cell phone service, car maintenance and Uber rides.
4. Surge protection
Most people know it as Surge Pricing: When the demand for rides is high, and/or the supply of drivers is low, Uber and Lyft both raise their prices in order to get the supply and demand levels to meet (the one thing I remember from microeconomics).
Thing is, riders understandably hate surge pricing, and Uber/Lyft have both made it very difficult to know if/when surge pricing is in place.
Want to avoid it as a rider?
Whip out your driver app. Uber and Lyft both show drivers where and to what level surge pricing is in place at any given time.
Your driver app will show you if there’s surge pricing in your area, how much of a surge it is, and where you can walk to escape the surge.
Check it out (Uber on the left, Lyft on the right):
5. Class-action action
Both only a few years old, Uber and Lyft are still struggling to strike a balance between growing their businesses and staying on the right side of the law.
Because each locale has its own unique set of laws, Uber and Lyft are constantly getting sued, banned, and cease & desisted.
One major point of contention has been the employment status of drivers.
Uber swears they are simply providing technology to independent contractors (drivers).
Drivers swear Uber tells them when, where, and how to drive, thus making the case that drivers should be considered employees of Uber, entitled to all the benefits that status brings.
There’s been many class-action suits since I became a driver, meaning some day I could get a piece of a settlement.
Lyft is very close to having to pay California drivers $27M as a settlement in a class-action case.
Please feel free to comment with any questions or thoughts, and for more info about Uber or Lyft, check out my topics page.