One of the easiest ways to earn some extra money as an Uber or Lyft driver is to take advantage of their sign-up bonus offers. Because these companies are focused on growth, they continue to offer a bonus to drivers simply for signing up to become drivers with their companies.
Pretty great, right?
Yes, but only if you really know what you’re doing. As with almost every company offering “free money,” it’s important to understand the fine print and know exactly how to ensure that you receive the bonus, both as a referring driver and as a new driver.
Whether you are already driving, or are considering venturing into a career of ridesharing, here’s everything you need to know about this incredibly profitable and important aspect of bonuses.
The Basics: How it Works
If you’re a new driver looking to sign up, the first thing you need to know – aside from the requirements for Uber and Lyft Drivers – is that a sign-up bonus is ONLY received through a referral from an existing driver. You cannot simply sign up as a new driver for Uber or Lyft and earn a sign-up bonus.
So how does this referral system work? If you’re already a driver, you’ve probably noticed that you receive emails and notifications from Uber reminding you to invite friends to become drivers in order to receive a bonus, and earn one for them as well.
Because Uber and Lyft want new drivers, they use this incentive to get the word out through existing drivers and encourage their friends to sign up. The existing driver takes their referral code, invites friends to sign up, and then both existing and new driver will receive a bonus as a result.
Existing Driver (Referer)
- Retrieve your referral code from your Partner Dashboard under “Invites.”
- Give the code to friends and tell them to enter it when they sign up as new drivers (you can also tweet or share the code as a link).
- Remind your friends to complete the process of signing up and completing the required number of rides*.
- A bonus** will automatically be credited to your account once they do this.
New Driver (Referee)
- Use the referral code you’ve received from a friend when you sign up as a new Uber or Lyft driver. If you use a referral link, it should automatically enter the code for you.
- Once you are active, you must complete the specified number of rides* within 30 days.
- The bonus** will automatically be credited to your account, once you’ve satisfied the ride number requirement.
*The number of rides required within the 30 day period to earn the bonus is typically between 50-100 rides, depending on your city
**The bonus amount is dependent upon the new driver’s city, not the existing driver’s.
How Much Can You Earn?
This is one of the things that can get pretty confusing for people, and often makes drivers angry. Lyft doesn’t actually list bonus amounts anymore, presumably for this very reason, that it got too confusing.
Here’s the basic gist:
Existing Drivers (Referers)
- When you refer new drivers, an amount will appear on that link page. That is the bonus amount for your city.
- A new driver (referee) will sign up using your link.
- If the new driver is in your city, the bonus amount listed for your city will be applied.
- If the new driver is NOT in your city, your bonus amount will be the amount offered in his/her city. It will not be the amount offered for your city.
New Drivers (Referees)
- When you click on a referral link, you will see a bonus amount offered. This is the amount offered in the referring driver’s city.
- Once you’ve used their sign up code and completed the required number of trips, the bonus amount you’ll actually receive is based on your city.
Here’s an example:
Say a new driver signs up using a link from an existing driver in Miami, and a $500* sign-up bonus is offered. If the new driver also happens to drive in Miami, the bonus amount will be $500 for both new and existing driver. However, if that new driver signs up in Cleveland, and the bonus amount for Cleveland is $300*, then both new and existing driver will receive $300.
Bonuses can range anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on where you sign up. So how do you find out how much you get for your city? Unfortunately, there’s not a list anywhere, and that information isn’t readily available. However, you can use Uber or Lyft’s help section, either online or in the app.
Simply send in a question, letting them know you’re interested in becoming a new driver, and would like to know what the sign-up bonus for your city is. This is really the only way to know for sure how much you’ll make when you use an existing driver’s referral code.
*Note: These amounts do not reflect actual bonus amounts offered in those cities.
What’s Your Activation Date?
Your activation date is the day you begin driving for Uber or Lyft. A common complaint has been that you can’t rely on an email or message letting you know you’re active. So once you’ve applied as a new driver, you’ll want to make sure you keep tabs on when you become eligible to go online and drive. If your application hasn’t been approved, you can use the help portal we just mentioned to check in on your status.
Knowing when you’re active is important for a couple of reasons. First, you don’t want to miss out on any time that you could be driving, as your bonus is contingent upon you completing a certain amount of rides. Second, you’ll need it’s information for retroactive referrals, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Get Your Referral Code
How do you get, and distribute, your referral code as an existing driver? Well, like we said, you’ll probably get regular reminders from Uber, encouraging you to refer others as new drivers. You can get that code by going to your partner dashboard, and from there you can opt to invite with your code, with gmail, or manually.
Your code is a combination of letters and numbers, which could be mis-typed if someone were to enter it manually when they sign-up. This would mean that you, the driver, wouldn’t get credit. Instead, you can either select “tweet” or “share,” or create your own embedded link, so that drivers are simply linking to you when they sign up, rather than entering a code.
Spread the Word
You can simply get your code to your friends or potential drivers you know. However, it doesn’t hurt to spread the word to as many people as possible. Spreading a wide net is an especially good idea with Uber and Lyft referrals, because not everyone will follow through, even once they’ve signed up. So, the more who use your code, the better chance of receiving bonuses.
Keep Track of Referrals
Once you’ve invited others to sign-up to receive a bonus, a great way to increase the likelihood of receiving those bonuses is to track your referrals and send encouragements and reminders. While Uber and Lyft want the drivers, it’s really up to you to close the deal.
You can go to the “track invites” tab of the app, or the partner dashboard (referral dashboard with Lyft) and simply click on the “remind button” of any given referee to encourage them to complete their required amount of rides and claim their bonus.
How Do Retroactive Referrals Work?
The sign-up bonus system works pretty similarly for Uber and Lyft, but this is the one area in which they differ. Uber offers retroactive referrals, Lyft does not. This means that if you either forget to use a referral code, or didn’t know you could use one, you still have a chance at earning that bonus.
Like we said earlier, it’s important to know your activation date for this retroactive referrals. Once you’ve signed up as a new driver, you have 15 days from your activation date to apply for a retroactive referral.
You’d go about this the same way you would with any question – contact Uber via the help portal. Let them know you’d like to enter a referral code retroactively, and make sure you include your date of activation, as well as the driver name and code you’d like to apply.
What’s the Difference Between Guarantees and Referrals?
This question caused no small amount of trouble back in 2016 when Uber decided to change their sign-up bonus approach without telling anyone, offering guarantees instead of straight-up bonuses. They’ve since fixed the problem, but we still want to make you aware that guarantees and referrals are not the same thing. Here’s the difference:
A guarantee says that you are guaranteed a certain amount of earnings with your first XX amount of rides. If you are under that amount at the end of achieving that number of rides, Uber will meet the difference. However, if you are at or above that amount, you won’t receive any extra.
A referral should, unless otherwise stated, guarantee that amount offered above and beyond your earnings. So, if your referral should earn you $200, that $200 should be added to your earnings at the end of the 30 day period, assuming you’ve met the criteria.
This is a good reason to read the fine print and make sure you ask Uber questions about what you are getting with your referral code.
It takes a bit of work, but driving for Uber or Lyft can be a pretty lucrative career if you’re willing to do that work. Earning money by driving is exciting, but what’s even more exciting is kick-starting that career with a bonus. Don’t miss out on your bonus! Become a driver today and make sure you use a referral code to earn extra money!