If you’d like to drive for Lyft or Uber but don’t have a car, there are a lot of options to get you rolling. Rental agencies, finance companies and even carmakers are jumping into the game to supply cars to the growing number of people interested in rideshare driving.
Which option best matches your budget and lifestyle? Here are five to consider.
1. Buy a car
A car is no small purchase, so consider how much you can expect to earn. Rideshare drivers’ earnings vary widely but average around $15 an hour, according to Glassdoor.com.
With that income, a used vehicle in the $5,000 to $15,000 range gives you the best chance of paying for your car. This assumes you have good credit and a 36-month loan, drive about 20 hours a week and devote your rideshare earnings to your monthly car payment — and that you have a second income for other spending.
Vehicle standards are regional, so check the requirements for Uber and Lyft before you buy. In general, models like the 2013 Toyota Corolla or the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta will keep riders happy and can cost between $10,000 and $12,000.
Don’t make a huge financial decision solely for Uber or Lyft. But if you need a car anyway, buying could be the best option. You avoid weekly rental payments or an expensive lease, which can cost more than payments on a used car. Just factor in the expense of routine maintenance and rideshare insurance, which you may want for periods when you aren’t covered by the rideshare company’s policy.
2. Rent from Lyft’s Express Drive
Lyft has partnered with General Motors’ Maven and Hertz to provide rental cars through its Express Drive Program. Rentals include unlimited mileage, and you can drive them for personal use. Costs, which include insurance and maintenance, hover around $180 per week, before taxes and fees. Costs vary by city and rental car provider, so complete the Lyft driver application to check rates.
Drivers can also earn Rental Rewards to cover part or all of their weekly rental costs, not including taxes. Rewards are based on the number of rides given and maintenance of a 90% ride acceptance rate. Previously, Lyft has required 65 to 75 weekly rides to eliminate rental fees, but that may change weekly. Lyft drivers can click on the “earnings tab” of their driver dashboard to see current requirements.
You’d need to drive most of the week to bank 75 rides, so it’s best for people who are looking to test the full-time rideshare driver lifestyle but don’t want to commit to buying a car.
3. Rent from Hertz for Uber
Uber’s deal with Hertz starts at $214 per week, not including taxes or fees, for midsize sedans with a seven-day rental minimum. A 24-hour advance reservation is required.
As with Express Drive, there’s no mileage cap, and you’re free to drive the vehicle for personal use outside of rideshare driving. Rentals also include insurance coverage and maintenance. The maximum rental term is 28 days.
4. Rent from rideshare rental services
HyreCar is a peer-to-peer rental service for rideshare drivers. Drivers can connect with car owners to use their vehicles for Uber and Lyft for varying daily, weekly and monthly rates. Daily rates are around $25 to $40, and weekly rates float around $200. HyreCar requires a $200 refundable deposit, but there are no contracts or sign-up fees, and all rentals include insurance for $10 per day. Hyrecar is available in 10 cities.
Maven Gig — another one of GM’s Maven offerings — is a car-sharing service that rents Chevrolet vehicles specifically for rideshare driving. You can rent a compact sedan starting at $189 per week, before taxes and fees, for a minimum of seven days. Uber and Lyft provide rideshare insurance when you’re signed into their apps, and Maven provides coverage for personal use of your rental. The service is available in Boston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Both rental services are platform-agnostic, meaning you can drive for any other on-demand delivery services you want, such as DoorDash, Postmates and Grubhub. That makes HyreCar and Maven Gig good options if you want to be able to drive for multiple apps that let you make money with your car. They’re also good for trying out rideshare driving for short periods — especially Hyrecar, with its two-day minimum rental term.
5. Lease through Uber Xchange
Recent reports suggest that Uber may soon change or wind down its Xchange Leasing program, but at the moment you can get short-term leases from partnering car dealerships.
Drivers put down a security deposit to start and then make weekly payments for up to three years. Uber advertises that, “All credit levels are eligible to apply, even if you have poor credit or no credit history,” but it doesn’t list current lease rates.
Sample lease terms in 2016 showed monthly totals and interest rates that were higher than conventional financing. For example, a 2013 Toyota Corolla L leased through Uber Xchange could cost 156 weekly payments of $116, or $464 a month. Comparatively, as of publishing, you could lease a 2017 Corolla through a Toyota dealer for around $159 a month — though you’d need good credit and would have to pay $2,000 upfront.
Xchange saves drivers money by including maintenance, but this means full-time drivers are dependent on Uber’s servicing their cars quickly. Xchange also offers unlimited mileage, whereas traditional leases typically charge extra fees after 12,000 miles per year. Members can back out of a lease after 30 days after the first payment but must pay a $250 disposition fee.
Consider Xchange only if you’re driving 40-plus hours per week, want a car for personal use and can’t get other financing because of your credit. Some auto lenders may be able to help you buy a used car at a better price.
Your best option?
Don’t take big financial risks for rideshare driving, like quitting your current job or buying a car you can’t afford. These prices and promotions change frequently, so double-check all the rules of the program before committing. But if you’re in an active market like Chicago or New York and you need a car anyway, it’s possible to make it work financially.
Unsure of your market? Try renting for a few weeks. The costs will be much higher than loan payments in the short term, but you won’t be locked into a demanding financial obligation.
More from NerdWallet:
- What it takes to drive for Uber and Lyft
- Calculate your monthly car loan payment
- 9 new rideshare apps to try
Updated Sept. 27, 2017.