Lyft-Off: 2 Weeks of Free Rides in Pioneer Cities

Updated on March 16, 2015

50 Free Rides in New York City

Move aside UberLyft is taking NYC by storm!
 UPDATE: The 50 Free Rides is No Longer Available.  For more Lyft coupon promo codes, visit

Business Insider covered Lyft’s official launch in NYC last week, conceding to the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s requirement of only using TLC licensed vehicles.  Outside of NYC, most locations allow anyone to be a Lyft driver.  Nonetheless, the rocky but successful launch makes both the driver and the passenger think twice about using Uber.

Lyft is offering some very compelling reasons to become a driver.  This should be especially attractive to anyone who is unemployed or looking to make some extra money part time!

Incentives for Lyft Drivers:

  • Guaranteed minimum payout of $5,000 / month if a driver works 40hrs+ / week (that's $60k/yr)
  • Guaranteed minimum payout of $10,000 / month if a driver works 60hrs+ / week (that's $120k/yr)
  • During the first 2 weeks of Lyft launch, driver keeps 100% of commissions
    • After the 2 week launch, 80/20 split where the driver keeps 80% and Lyft keeps 20%
    • 8/7/14 Update: After speaking with several Lyft drivers yesterday, it appears Lyft will be extending the 100% commission past the 2 week launch period – end date unknown for now
    • 8/28/14 Update: Several drivers report that the 100% commission (0% Lyft commissions) ended Monday, August 25th
  • Driver keeps 100% of Prime Time tips (a.k.a “Surge Pricing” in Uber terms)  2/1/15 Update: Drivers no longer keep 100% of PT tips.
  • 2/26/15 Update: New incentives for Lyft drivers – scroll down to the bottom to find out more.
Incentives for Lyft Passengers:
  • 1 free Lyft ride (up to $25 ride): Enter Lyft credit code / promo code 15DAYS within the Lyft mobile App
    • Note the 1 free Lyft Ride (up to $50) with slickdeals has expired.  $25 is currently the highest available offer.
  • 50 Free Rides in NYC for New Members – it’s automatic when you are in NYC (you don't need a NYC address but need to be in NYC when you download the app according to Lyft Support)  – the 50 free rides is no longer available in NYC or NJ
    • If you do not see 50 free ride credits under PAYMENTS within the mobile app, send an email to to resolve the issue.  You need to physically be in NYC to see and use the 50 free rides.
    • Prime time tips are included in the $25 per ride limit.  For example, if the ride costs $10 and you ordered during $75% Prime Time, the $25 credit wipes out the entire $17.50 total.  Lyft will also cover an additional $3 tip on top of Prime Time tips – so if your fare comes in less than $25, don't be cheap, tip another $1-3 on top.  It's no out of pocket costs to you!
    • Unlike Uber, Lyft does not have the option to show an estimate of how much your intended ride will cost.
    • Tips for keeping it under $25 per ride: At 75% Prime Time, 3.3 miles ~ $24 – $25.  At no Prime Time, 7.0 miles ~ $24 – $25.  With these two data points, one can work out the distance at 25% and 50% Prime Time.
  • Refer friends and receive 1 free Lyft ride ($25 value) for yourself and your friend


Lyft Free Ride banner

2 Weeks of Free Rides in New Lyft Pioneer Cities:

If Lyft is not in your city yet, sign up for a Lyft account anyway.  Once Lyft reaches your city, you will automatically become a pioneer for that particular city.  Lyft pioneers receive 2 weeks of free rides (number of free rides given out to Pioneers will vary based on Lyft's discretion).  For reference, I signed up for Lyft several months ago before Lyft was available in NYC.  As soon as Lyft got the green light to run in NYC, I received a text from Lyft that my account was credited with 50 free rides ($25 each to be used in 15 days).  I suspect Lyft will offer less than 50 free rides in new pioneer cities.  There are recent reports (8/30/14) that new Virginia and NYC sign-ups receive 7 free rides  ($25 each to be used in 15 days).

Also keep in mind that Lyft may use capacity controls in determining whether new member sign-ups are pioneers or not (e.g. first 1,000 members to sign up in Virginia are pioneers; subsequent sign-ups are not).  If Lyft is not in your city yet, sign up for a Lyft account now to get first dibs at Pioneer status: You can also enter Lyft credit code / promo code 15DAYS within the Lyft mobile App under Payments.

9/23/14 Update: Boston and Chicago are new pioneer cities!  Word on the street is that new signups receive 10 free rides ($25 each) to be used in 15 days, in addition to the 1 free ride ($25 value) that never expires.  If you happen to live in Boston or Chicago, sign up for a Lyft account now and secure your extra 10 free rides while the offer is still available.

10/29/14 Update: Word on street is that new pioneer cities no longer receive additional bonus rides.  YMMV.

Warnings (don't lose your referral credits!)

There have been users who have been inappropriately taking advantage of the 50 free rides: requesting the Lyft driver to end the ride after a certain distance and restarting the ride as a new trip e.g. instead of it being charged as one $50 ride (where $25 is deducted by the Lyft promo), it gets charged as two (2) $25 rides (where both rides end up free because of the Lyft promo).

  • There have been numerous passenger accounts which have been permanently shut down – I DO NOT recommend this strategy!
  • Drivers have been warned by Lyft not to process such requests
  • One driver said he was still willing to process such requests if there was more than 1 Lyft passenger in the car – I guess to CYA since it would be plausible that one Lyft passenger’s destination is halfway towards the true destination and the second Lyft passenger’s pickup location coincidentally is where the first Lyft passenger was dropped off.  In any case, there is still a risk and I DO NOT recommend this strategy either!
  • 8/29/14 Update: To address the issue, the Lyft application no longer allows an account to order the same driver consecutively IF the first ride was completely covered using the $25 ride credit.  I have tested this myself on several occasions with my account which has more than 2 free ride credits of $25 each.  If the ride is under $25, the driver/car does not appear again in my Lyft app after the ride is complete.  On a separate Lyft account, the driver/car appears in the Lyft app.  If the ride was greater than $25, and the excess was charged to my credit card, the same driver/car appears in the Lyft app after the first ride ended.


Other considerations:

Guaranteed $10k / Month Payout – Why did I bother with college?!  Lyft drivers are guaranteed $120k/yr annual salary for working 60hrs / week.  That’s fewer hours than I worked and more money than I earned per year during my first 10 years out of college.  It’s a different world now.  One Lyft driver I had this past weekend chuckled at the $10k guarantee and bragged that he earned $1,000 / day with Lyft last weekend (Aug 1st / 2nd).  All the Lyft drivers I have spoken with so far said they worked for both Uber and Lyft, cramming in hours to hit the 60 hour target with Lyft, and then switching back to Uber for some hours (for fear of involuntary departure) despite warnings from Uber.

I can’t imagine there will be many yellow Taxis (~$30k / yr annual salary) around for long with Lyft taking over.

The Math Behind the Incentives – 50 free rides means maximum $1,250 worth of free rides to each passenger, with 100% of the revenues going to Lyft drivers.  Is Lyft taking a loss leader strategy to overtake Uber?  Maybe.  Keep in mind Lyft has spent close to nothing on advertisements.  Word of mouth (on the 50 free rides) is Lyft’s advertisement expense, at a hefty $1,250 / passenger assuming each passenger maxes out on the number of rides and “spends” at least $25 / ride.  In reality it's much less because your chance of actually finding a Lyft ride in a new market is very small as was the case during the launch in NYC and NJ.

50 Free Rides 2 Week Extension – Recognizing there is a shortage of Lyft drivers, Lyft is extending the 2 week period for the 50 free rides in NYC.  If you sign up today, your 2 week period begins today.  I cannot guarantee this will continue to be the case, especially since the passenger and driver base is increasing dramatically daily – if you contemplated signing up for Lyft in NYC, sign up today while the 50 free rides are still being offered!

Lyft Locations: (Use your Lyft promo codes / Lyft credit codes at these locations)


Inland Empire
Los Angeles
Napa and Sonoma County
Orange County
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Barbara
Silicon Valley

Colorado Springs

Fairfield County

Washington D.C.

Tampa Bay








Ann Arbor

Minneapolis-St. Paul

Kansas City
St. Louis


New Jersey


New York City



Oklahoma City




Corpus Christi
Dallas-Fort Worth
San Antonio

Salt Lake City

Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads






Community members are welcome to request a Lyft for a passenger other than themselves (though why not get a free ride yourself and give them a free ride as a new user?) Simply enter your friend's address into the app or move the pin to their location and hit request. We just ask that you call the driver to give them a heads-up that they'll be picking up your buddy. It's also advisable to enter the destination address as well, if you know where your friend is going.



Definitely! We are all about community, and your driver will be more than happy to drive you and your friends. There will be no difference in price if you fill up the car. Go ahead and have your friends pile in, grab a seat belt each, and enjoy the ride!

Since most drivers have cars which fit no more than 4 passengers, please request another car if you've got a group of 5 or more. Let's keep it safe and fun for everyone! You can even get a free ride if one of your friends is a new Lyft user.



Absolutely! We love seeing community members helping each other out and see running errands as a great part of the Lyft experience. Keep in mind that drivers are just like you and might have other plans for later in the day. If you’re going to be gone from the car for longer than 10 minutes, have the driver end the ride and request a new Lyft when you’re ready to dash off to your next destination.



We love your four-legged friends, but ask you to keep in mind that not all drivers are comfortable with having animals in their cars. If you want to bring your pet along with you on a Lyft, make sure to call the driver once they have accepted your request and inform them of your companions before they come and pick you up. Tons of our drivers are comfortable with Fido and Spot, but some may have allergies or concerns about their vehicles, so it's always best to check-in with them first!

If you are traveling with a service animal, see our policy here.



We're happy to give kids a ride as well as adults, as long as your children have the proper car seats that fit legal requirements according to state or city law. You should plan on providing your own car seat for children that require one. Note that in order to take a ride on their own, passengers must be at least 18 years of age. Anything under that, and they should be accompanied by a guardian or parent.




Lyft Pioneer is an exclusive honor for early Lyft community members in new and growing Lyft markets. We want passengers in new markets to get out in the Lyft community and meet as many wonderful drivers as possible. Lyft Pioneers receive up to $25 of credit per ride for 2 weeks. Share Lyft with friends and they’ll get free rides too! Keep in mind that the number of Pioneer Lyft rides may vary for future signups.

The Pioneer program is Lyft's way of introducing the pink ‘stache to your city, making sure that your community has the chance to try out a Lyft with some of our amazing drivers. When you first sign up for Lyft, depending on what the Pioneer status of your city is on that particular day, you can receive a limited amount of rides of up to $25 for free! Pioneer is a dynamic program, meaning that the amount of rides granted may change. When new passengers sign up in a qualifying region, they are sent an email specifying how many rides they've been granted.


How does the Lyft Pioneer program work?

It's simple! If you're in a selected Pioneer city, just download the Lyft app, create a free account, and you'll automatically receive complimentary rides for two weeks!


Is there a limit to the number of Lyfts I can take?

Pioneers will receive ride credits automatically when they sign up. You'll get a number of complimentary Lyfts to use within two weeks (up to $25 per ride). Keep in mind that the number of Pioneer Lyft rides may vary for future signups.


When does the Lyft Pioneer program end?

The program is available for a limited time only, and your ride credits will expire 2 weeks after you create your account or after you have used all of your ride credits (whichever comes first).


NEW $1,000 Sign-On Bonus (Updated 2/27 4PM)

Boston, Nashville, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

  • Apply on or after 12 p.m. PST (3 p.m. EST) on Friday, Feb. 27
  • Complete 30 rides on or before 11:59 p.m. local time, Mar. 8
  • SIGN UP HERE to receive the $1,000 bonus in 1-2 pay cycles


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