You want to drive for Uber or Lyft, but you currently don’t have access to a qualifying car? There will be many drivers that will need to rent or buy a car to use for ridesharing jobs. That said, what’s the best choice?
The silver lining is that you can get approved to drive for Uber or Lyft even if you don’t currently have a vehicle to use. You can go online apply, pass the background check and get approved before you take the next steps and get a vehicle.
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? The goal of this post is to give you the vehicle options for Uber and Lyft.
How Uber and Lyft drivers can get qualifying vehicles
- Use a car you already own
- Buy a car, typically a used hybrid or compact
- Rent a car for Uber through their partnerships with rental agencies
- 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?
Both Uber and Lyft’s requirements vary among cities, however, these are the basic details.
- 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
Minivans, SUVs, and entry-level luxury cars qualify for more expensive Uber and Lyft services, so some drivers looking to get a new car may 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.
Uber and Lyft allow you to apply even if you don’t currently have access to a qualifying car.
Uber: Visit this application and select “I need a car” to find out if Uber will hire you without having to provide vehicle information on the application.
Lyft: Start driving with Lyft here. Select “I need a car” to apply with the Express Drive program. I may receive a bonus from Uber or Lyft if you sign up using my link.
Best solution for part-time drivers: Use the car you already own
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. Even accounting for vehicle depreciation, it can be wise to use the car you already own as long as you don’t drive full time.
For full-time drivers putting 1000+ miles on their car each week, rideshare rentals may be the best option. At that point, vehicle depreciation and maintenance become major expenses.
The only exception to using your own car might be if you’re investing in an Uber Black 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.
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 many cities. With an Uber or Lyft rental, you pay a weekly fee to rent a newer model car. Insurance and unlimited mileage are included in the weekly cost of the rental.
One limitation to remember is that you can’t use your Uber rental to drive for Lyft, or your Lyft rental to drive for Uber. Drivers who use a personal vehicle don’t have that limitation.
Upsides to renting: 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 to renting: Very high weekly cost. Not available in all cities. Rentals are in high demand, so it can be hard to get a car in busy cities.
How to rent a car for Uber: Uber rental programs
Uber currently partners with Hertz, Getaround, and Fair in many cities across the country to provide rental vehicles for Uber drivers. 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: $195 per week, $195 refundable deposit
- Getaround rentals for Uber: Rent cars by the hour via Getaround, a peer-to-peer vehicle rental network
Basic facts about Uber rentals
- 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
- A deposit is required, typically equal to one week’s rent
- The deposit is returned after you turn in the car
- The rental fee is deducted from your weekly pay
- Insurance is included in the 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
How to see which Uber rental options are available to you
Uber rental options aren’t the same in every city. To see what is available to you, open the Uber Driver app, tap on your profile image, then Account, then Vehicles. A button labeled “View Rental Options” should appear. Tap that button to see a list of all rental options in your area.
How to rent a car for Lyft: The Lyft rental car program
Lyft offers a vehicle rental 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 $200 – $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.
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.
Maven Gig: Rideshare & Delivery Rentals
Maven Gig is a 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 – Limited availability
Getaround is a peer-to-peer vehicle rental service that rents cars for rideshare drivers. 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 Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Portland.
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.
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.
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 or Lyft?
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.