Gig Driver Guide: Renting a Car For Rideshare Or Delivery

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When drivers for Lyft, Uber, or any food delivery service initially look at car rental rates, the reaction is usually negative. Paying between $200 and $250 weekly for a car, or possibly as high as $300? That’s a lot of money.

It is, but it makes sense when you consider all that a rental car entails and compare that to the miles you are putting on your personal car, especially if you are a full-time driver.

Still, renting a vehicle for rideshare or food delivery is a fine line. It is a considerable expense. You need to determine what kind of driver you are and the details of your rental plan. It might make sense for you.

The topics covered in this blog post include

  • Why rent a car for Uber or Lyft? 
  • What about food or package delivery?
  • How do you rent a car for gig driving?
  • What should you look for in a rental car for rideshare?
  • A look at the Lyft car rental program.
  • A look at the Uber car rental program. 
  • General things to know when renting a car for gig driving. 

Why rent a car for Uber or Lyft?

You are working as a gig driver to earn a living or as a second income. As a full-time rideshare driver, depending on the market you drive in, it is possible to make $1,000 a week (see the Gridwise blog post How to Make $1,000 a Week with Uber and Lyft) and possibly as much as $1,200 or $1,300 if you hustle and are smart about it. In many markets, that is not possible, but in others, it is. See the Gridwise blog post from earlier this year, How to Earn More as a Rideshare Driver

A rideshare car rental costs you between $200 and $300 a week. Subtract that from your weekly income. It’s a chunk of change. 

But let’s take a closer look. To make $1,000 to $1,300 a week, you need to drive 250 to 300 miles a day, five days a week, (you also need to be in the right market). You drive fifty weeks out of the year (we’ll give you two weeks for vacation). That is 62,500 to 75,000 miles a year. Putting that kind of mileage on your personal car is a lot. It means at least a set of tires a year, two sets of brakes a year, and an oil change and tire rotation every month. 

But wait, there’s more. You have car registration. Given that rideshare cars need to be late-model cars, you likely pay a hefty car registration (these fees vary from state to state). 

It also means repairs because things on a car break down quicker when you put on that kind of mileage. Then there is depreciation. The more miles on the odometer, the less you get when you sell the car. 

Don’t forget insurance. The rental companies provide insurance, so that financial responsibility is also off your back (you should still verify with the rental company about the details of your car insurance and make sure you are covered). 

The other reason renting a car might work for you is you don’t own a car. Perhaps rideshare is your ticket to car ownership. Renting a car might make more sense. Check out this October 2021 Gridwise post, Renting a Car for Rideshare: What Drivers Should Know about Car Rentals. 

Now renting a car might make more sense. 

What about food or package delivery?

Renting a car for food delivery doesn’t make as much sense as rideshare unless you live in a fantastic market with generous tippers (see blog post on Walmart Spark). Renting a car becomes a bigger question because it takes up a larger percentage of your income. In many cases food delivery doesn’t put as many miles on your car, either, so the benefits of renting are not as great. But again, it depends on your personal situation. 

How do you rent a car for gig driving?

For Uber and Lyft, you arrange for a rental car through your app. On the Lyft driving app there is a section under your profile that lists the cars you’re approved to drive. At the bottom of this section, there is an option to rent a car. Press that, and you are taken to Lyft’s approved vendors. The app tells you what is available and the price. It’s an intuitive system and very easy to navigate. Once you select the car you want, the app gives you an appointment time and location to pay your deposit and pick up the car. 

Not all  the rental partners may be displayed on the app. Only those with cars available appear. Listings change constantly. 

Exploring car rental for food or package delivery? Check out the delivery driver apps. If there is no mechanism for rental, there at least might be information on what rental cars are acceptable if you select to rent privately (if that is permissible). 

What should you look for in a rental car for rideshare?

Lyft and Uber are clear in the requirements for a car: a four-door sedan or SUV that holds five passengers minimum, which includes the driver. It needs to be free of body damage, and it should be reliable. Horn, lights, and windshield wipers must be in working condition, as do seat belts and related equipment. This is what the rental car companies provide for you. All cars from the rental company have a safety certificate from the respective rideshare company. 

Gas prices, even when they were lower, have always been a concern for rideshare drivers. As such, most rideshare car rental companies offer cars that are fuel efficient. Expect to see makes and models such as the Toyota Camry and Prius; the Hyundai Sonata, Elantra, and Ioniq; the Honda CR-V and Civic; the Nissan Altima; and the Chevy Malibu. 

Some rental companies do not carry the larger SUVs needed for Lyft XL or Uber Luxe. Those might be a little more difficult to locate, and expect to pay more for those cars. 

Food delivery and package delivery cars don’t have to be four-door, but the extra doors will make it easier to get boxes and bags in and out of the car. A hatchback or an SUV is nice because they give you extra room, especially for the package delivery services such as Amazon Flex, UPS, and FedEx. 

A look at the Lyft car rental program

  • Lyft Express Drive offers three different rental programs: Hertz, Avis, and Flexdrive. The cost varies from $126 to $289 a week, plus tax. 
  • Options include standard midsize cars, hybrid models, and electric. The hybrid and electric models are in demand. If you do get one, expect to pay more for it.  
  • Other requirements include

–you must be at least 25 years old.

–you must possess a credit card or debit card in your name (no pre-paid cards).

–you must make a refundable security deposit between $100 and $300 (the amount depends on the type of car). 

A look at the Uber car rental program

  • Uber drivers can select from three rental programs: Avis, Getaround, and Zipcar. 
  • Options include midsize cars, hybrids, and electrics. 
  • Requirements include

–you must be licensed to drive in the US for one year (this is extended to three years if you are under 23). 

–you must have no major violations in the last three years, including a DUI or    reckless driving, and no more than two moving violations in the last three years.  

–you must be at least 25 years old.

–you must have an active credit card in your name. 

General things to know when renting a car for gig driving

There are other things to keep in mind if you rent a car for a gig driving job or if you are considering it. 

Check with the gig company you work with 

Most rideshare and food delivery companies have partnerships with specific rental companies. They require you to get your rental from their partners. Using other rental car sources to get your car can get you suspended from the app. 

Rental programs can vary from market to market

If you drive rideshare in Los Angeles and your brother-in-law drives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, don’t be surprised if there is a difference in programs—either in the rental agencies used, cars available, terms, or other fine print. These programs change from one market to another, even within the same rideshare company. 

A deposit is required

There is an upfront deposit between $100 and $300, which is returned to you at the end of the rental. This deposit covers you in the event you don’t work enough in a week to cover the rental of the car. This applies to almost all rental companies, but there are a few exceptions. 

The price listed on the app is not the full price

This is a little detail you discover when you sign the paperwork. Taxes and fees get added to the weekly charge. Don’t be surprised if state and local taxes and fees add up to as much as $50 extra on your weekly bill. These fees differ from one city to another, depending on the rental agency’s location. 

Rentals are usually open-ended

Most rideshare rental agreements roll over weekly. Rent a car for as long as you want, provided the rent is paid. You can turn the car in if you are going on vacation. No sense in paying the rent if you’re not driving. 

Don’t get attached to your rental car

Don’t give it a name. Don’t knit it a sweater. Rental cars come and go. If you turn the car in because you’re on vacation, you will not get that same car back. You get another one. If you get the same car, consider it a freak of nature. Also, if your rental car is getting into high mileage on the odometer, they may ask you to bring it in for an exchange. Rental companies make a good part of their income from selling their cars, and there is a sweet spot where it is the most profitable to sell. 

Make sure the car gets serviced

The rental agreement typically covers service, but it is your responsibility to ensure the car gets serviced. You get a message via email or on your app from the rental agency. They either ask you to come in and get the car serviced at their garage, or they refer you to a regional or national chain they contract with. If the car needs new tires or other maintenance, this is taken care of during service. Most rental agencies also have road services if the car breaks down. 

Payment for the rental car is taken out of your earnings

Suppose you contracted with an approved firm for a rental car for $229 a week. The first $229 you earn is applied to the rental payment. You will not see any personal earnings until you have paid the rental for that week. Smart drivers drive those first few days of the week and pay off the car as quickly as possible. Whatever they make the rest of the week is theirs. This also provides a cushion in case something comes up later in the week and you need to take a few days off, or if you get sick with whatever flu we are importing this year.

You can’t multi-app with a rental car

If you drive for Lyft and rent a car through them, you can’t drive for Uber in that car. The same applies to Uber. The rental companies provide insurance for the car. As you can imagine, a Lyft rental insurance company will not be happy about paying for an accident in their rental car when you were carrying an Uber passenger. Most rideshare rental agreements also prohibit you from doing food or package delivery in the rental car. Make sure you know what you can and cannot do. 

Beware of mileage caps

Most rideshare rental agreements don’t have a cap on miles as long as you are on the app, but some agreements limit the number of personal miles. For instance, you might be allowed 200 personal miles a week on the car. Many rental contracts allow you to purchase additional miles, but it costs money. 

Things Change

Nothing in business stays the same. Rental rates, restrictions, and other rules change all the time. You need to make sure you are aware of any changes. 

Gridwise is always there for you

Renting a car for rideshare or food and package delivery is a big decision. It is an expense, and you need to make sure you reap the maximum. 

Whether you use your personal car or a rental, make sure that the miles you drive are correctly attributed to the right vehicle. Gridwise’s free mileage tracker does just that and helps you maximize your tax deduction (and recoup some of those rental costs!).

Gridwise users also save as much as $50/month on gas through the Gridwise Gas program. There are other important features, such as  When to Drive and Where to Drive, and information on peak times at airports and event venues, which show you the best times and areas for driving.

Ready to earn more and save more?

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