Lyft's new perks for drivers prove it's the kinder, gentler car-hailing app

Happier drivers might mean better service for Lyft users.

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Lyft built its reputation on friendliness. From pink mustaches and fist bumps when the ride-hailing app launched three years ago to carpooling and tipping today, the company wants everyone, both drivers and passengers, to be happy. Today, Lyft rolled out three perks for drivers that will make passengers feel good about using the service—or persuade them to work for Lyft themselves.

The company is partnering with Hertz to offer daily, weekly, and monthly car rental discounts to Lyft drivers who don’t have access to a car, whether it’s in need of repairs or they don’t own one at all. The company is piloting the partnership program in Las Vegas, where Lyft was finally allowed to launch just last month after a years-long stalemate.

Lyft is also partnering with Shell, which has 12,500 gas stations across the country, to offer gas discounts to drivers. Each Lyft driver will receive a pin number to enter as they’re fueling up, and discounts will be reflected in real-time. The company said the more rides drivers give, the bigger their discounts will be. Some drivers might pay nothing at the pump. Drivers in San Francisco and Boston will see discounts first, and Lyft will roll out the program at Shell stations nationwide by the end of the year.

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Lyft just rolled out a trio of perks to drivers to prove it's the nicest car-hailing app to work for.

The last perk lets drivers cash out their Lyft earnings in-app whenever they want, instead of waiting for weekly payments to roll in on Tuesdays. Drivers have to earn a minimum of $50 to use Express Pay, as the company calls it, and each instant deposit costs 50 cents.

The product announcements come just weeks after Lyft announced its partnership with China’s largest car-hailing company, Didi Kuaidi, which will let Americans in China hail Didi cars using Lyft, and vice versa.

“The partner ecosystem we’ve extended today is a big step forward in bringing people and communities together through better transportation,” the company said in a Thursday blog post. “We’re building the ultimate experience for fun, flexibility and empowerment where you can rent a car, fill it with discounted gas, meet new people, stop for a Starbucks coffee, and have your earnings deposited into your bank account all in the same day.”

In other words: Drivers have other options when it comes to car-hailing apps, but Lyft wants to make the case that it treats drivers better than any other company (or better than rival Uber). Lyft also allows users to tip their drivers in-app, which Uber doesn't, and the company said it has paid out $40 million in tips to drivers. Uber does, however, offer fuel discounts to drivers, including at Shell stations, and is piloting a program that allows drivers to rent UberX-eligible cars by the week in Atlanta, Dallas, and Nashville. Maybe driver perks won’t mean much to people hailing rides, but to get more drivers on the road and stay competitive with Uber, Lyft is doing everything it can to prove it cares the most.

This post has been updated to reflect that Uber also offers fuel discounts and is testing out weekly car rentals for drivers.

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