First time using Lyft? Important things you need to know

Lyft iPhone app
Lyft iPhone app

Uber may be the king of ridesharing services, but Lyft is not far behind. As with Uber, Lyft allows me to request, track, and pay for a ride at the tip of my fingers. It’s such a simple yet brilliant idea that millions are now using. 

But with any new technology comes pros and cons. You hear stories on the news and from friends and family. Some swear by the service, while others avoid it at all costs. So what should you believe?

If you decide to ride Lyft for the first time or a repeat customer, you should know a few important things.

What is Lyft and how does it work?

Lyft is a ridesharing app connecting passengers looking for a ride with drivers with a car. It is a competitor to Uber and is similar to it.

You can request a ride after installing the Lyft app on your smartphone and creating an account. When you request a ride, a driver near you, based on your location, will be sent to pick you up. While your driver is on the way, you can use the Lyft app to track the driver and estimated arrival time.

After a ride the completion of a ride, Lyft fares are charged directly to a preloaded credit card, debit card, or PayPal account. The app allows you to add a tip for the driver after completing a ride (see below). Fares vary by type of service (Lyft, Lyft Shared, Lyft Plus, and Lyft Premier).  

Lyft is available in over 650 cities in the United States.

Lyft offers promo codes and referrals for free or discounted rides

When you sign up for Lyft, you will receive your own referral code, which you can share to earn free or discounted rides. 

To earn credits, share your code with friends, family, teachers, or anyone you want. If these people sign up using your code and take a ride, you will get a credit for your next Lyft ride.

Credits vary from $5 to $20.

To find your referral code, visit, click on Passenger Referrals and look for your code.

If you find this information helpful and want to use my referral code, then you can enter ANTHONY522536 when you sign up for Lyft. You will get $10 for your first rides if you enter this promo code into your Lyft app.

There are multiple types of Lyft vehicles with different prices

What is the difference between Lyft, Lyft Share, Lyft Plus, and Lyft Premier?  

Here is a breakdown of the different Lyft cars and services currently available:

Lyft: Lyft is what I use the most. Consider Lyft your own personal ride. Up to four passengers can fit in each car for the same price. With Lyft, expect everyday vehicles such as hybrids and compact cars. Lyft is usually cheaper than a regular taxi on the street.  

Lyft is similar to UberX.

Lyft Shared (discontinued): Originally known as Lyft Line, riders share trips with other passengers who are heading in the same general direction. Think of it as a carpool with strangers.  Lyft Shared rates are much cheaper than regular rides as riders split costs. All prices are displayed upfront before you request a ride.

So, what’s the downside of Lyft Line? Sometimes, you might be the only rider in the car, but other times, you may be paired up with two or three different riders.

You might have to make multiple stops depending on how many other riders are picked up. If you are in a rush or headed to the airport to catch a flight, there may be better options than taking Lyft Share.

Lyft Shared is only available in major cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco. You can view the complete list of available cities by visiting

Lyft Line is similar to UberPOOL.

Lyft Plus: The main difference between Lyft and Lyft Plus is the size of the vehicle. Lyft Plus is for passengers needing larger vehicles, such as SUVs that fit at least six people. Prices are higher than those of Lyft or Lyft Line, but when you split the cost by six people, the fare could be cheaper in the long run. 

Lyft Plus is similar to UberXL.

Lyft Premier: If you want to drive around in a luxury vehicle at an affordable rate, you will want to select Lyft Premier. Though this is the most expensive option, the cars are cool, and the service is usually better. Vehicles include such as BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes.  

Lyft Premier is similar to Uber Select.

Lyft drivers are insured and screened to be safe

I have used Lyft and other ridesharing apps countless times, and luckily, I have never had an issue or been in an accident.

If it’s your first time using Lyft, getting inside a random person’s car might seem strange. Rest assured that Lyft appears to care about safety.

Though Lyft drivers are independent contractors, the company claims to insure each driver with a $1 million commercial liability policy, which supersedes the driver’s personal insurance policy.

Lyft also ensures that its drivers are safe and responsible. All drivers must be 21 or older and have had a driver’s license for over one year. Drivers must be interviewed in person and pass criminal and Department of Motor Vehicle background checks.

You can get a price estimate before requesting a ride

If you are worried about the price of your Lyft ride, have no fear! As with Uber, Lyft will give you your estimated fare cost upfront before you accept the ride.

All you need to do is set your pickup location and destination. The app will then give you a price estimate. You do not need to accept a ride to see this estimate.

In my experience, the price estimate is pretty accurate, sometimes even overestimated.

Watch out for surge pricing, which Lyft calls Prime Time

During peak hours, Lyft implements a surge pricing algorithm known as Prime Time. Lyft claims surge pricing is needed to ensure cars are available during peak rush hours.

Prime Time adds a percentage to the ride subtotal. If the ride you want has a surge, you will notice a percentage added to your price estimate, such as +25% or +50%. The good thing is that the price estimate includes this surge price, so there will be no surprises when you reach your destination.

Riders can tip drivers

Unlike Uber, Lyft allows passengers to tip their driver using their app. Once your ride is complete, you can use the app to tip your driver $1, $2, $5, or a custom amount. You can also choose not to tip.

If you decide to tip, your total fare and tip will be charged to your form of payment. No money needs to exchange hands.

Tipping your driver is not required but is always appreciated, especially if you have a great experience. I usually tip 10%.

Lyft drivers are rated…and so are you

After completing a ride, you can use your Lyft smartphone app to rate your experience with your driver. These ratings help keep drivers at their best, which ensures an enjoyable and safe experience.

Drivers with low ratings may be suspended or removed from the Lyft program.

On the other hand, Lyft drivers can also rate you, the passenger. Lyft bans passengers who receive unusually low ratings. You should always try to be a respectful passenger when using Lyft.

What is the difference between Uber and Lyft?

The question I get asked the most is about Uber versus Lyft. What’s the difference? Which is better?

They are almost the same. You use an app to request a ride. They both do the same function.

But here are a few differences:

  • With Lyft, you can tip through the app. Uber you can’t
  • Uber is offered in many international locations. Lyft is not.
  • Uber has more car options, such as Uber LUX.

Some people choose to use Uber, and others prefer to use Lyft. It’s a personal choice.

Is Lyft or Uber cheaper?

Another question I get asked a lot. Which is cheaper, Uber or Lyft?

The simple answer: sometimes Uber is cheaper, and sometimes Lyft is more affordable.  

I usually check both apps for price estimates and choose the cheaper service at that moment. In my experience, Uber is generally more affordable, but this is not always the case.


Lyft is an excellent service and a strong competitor to Uber.

In my opinion, the difference between Uber and Lyft is negligible. Competition is always good for keeping pricing and quality at a certain level in check.

Uber vs Lyft should not be a question. Just use what you like or whatever is cheaper.

For $5 off your first few Lyft rides, use promo code ANTHONY522536.

Last Updated on April 26, 2024

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My name is Anthony and I am addicted to traveling all around the world experiencing new people, cultures, and foods. These are some of my stories.

10 thoughts on “First time using Lyft? Important things you need to know”

    • Lucy,

      You can estimate the cost of any Lyft ride by going to your Lyft app on your phone. Just enter your starting point address and your destination address, and the app will give you an estimate.

    • Grace,

      Lyft and Uber prices vary drastically by city, time, destination, etc. Sometimes Uber is cheaper and other times Lyft is cheaper. I always recommend checking the prices on both to see which is cheaper at the time.

  1. Is Lyft a round trip? Or 1 way? Can I ask my driver to make a stop along our ride, like the Cancer Society, to pick up supplies?

    • Melanie,

      Lyft is booked one-way but you can add a stop. If it is a quick stop, the driver might be willing to wait, but most won’t. The best option would be to book multiple one-way trips.

    • Adi,

      Yes, you can cancel a ride. If the driver is already on the way, after a certain amount of time, Lyft may charge a small cancel fee.


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