You may have more options than you think when it comes to getting your employer to foot the bill for your commute. Some commuter benefits packages include ride-share options, and both Lyft and Uber have hopped on board the trend.
Lyft and Uber commuter benefits can be used when riders select a shared Lyft ride or uberPOOL, the appsâ€™ carpooling options. If youâ€™re curious about this benefit and whether or not itâ€™s worth linking your Uber or Lyft account to your commuter benefit account, weâ€™ve got you covered.
Commuter benefits are an employer-provided benefits program that lets you set aside pre-tax dollars in an account to be used for your commute costs. Employees can use these benefits to pay for public transportation â€” trains, subways, buses, even parking passes â€” used on their daily commute with pre-tax dollars. The amount of money you set aside to pay for your commute doesnâ€™t count as income, so youâ€™re not taxed on it.
Each ride-hailing service has partnered with select benefits programs; there is significant overlap, though Lyft has a slightly more robust list of partners.
For example, if your companyâ€™s benefits package is with Zenefits, Wageworks, Igoe or Pension Dynamics, you can use your commuter benefits with Lyft as well as with Uber. On the other hand, if you use the Benny Prepaid Benefits Card, the Discovery Benefits Visa Prepaid Debit Card or the EBPA Benefits Debit MasterCard, you can only use Lyft.
Workers have to sign up for commuter benefits in order to receive them. When you sign up, you will be asked to select how much money you want to set aside from your paycheck each month to cover your transportation costs.
Once youâ€™re enrolled, you may receive a benefits card (it can be used like a regular debit or credit card) to make transportation purchases. Otherwise, you may be able to cover transportation expenses using your regular credit or debit card and then submit a claim to be reimbursed through your benefit provider.
Reach out to your employerâ€™s human resources department to find out how to take advantage of your commuter benefits program.
Depending on your current tax bracket, you could save as much as 37% on your commute by using commuter benefits. For example, if youâ€™re in the 35% tax bracket and contribute $200 each month to your commuter benefits account, youâ€™re getting an extra $70 to spend on your commute each month. Thatâ€™s an extra $840 per year.
But hereâ€™s the catch: Commuter benefits contributions are capped at $270 per month. So if you are already relying on your benefits to finance your monthly subway pass or parking garage expenses, you may not have much left over for Uber or Lyft commuter benefits.
To use commuter benefits to pay for Lyft or Uber rides, you have to select the appsâ€™ carpooling options â€” either Lyftâ€™s shared rides or uberPOOL.
Carpool vehicles seat six or more passengers, whether youâ€™re using Lyft or Uber. Both Uber and Lyft use algorithms to place riders going toward the same area in the car together. Because youâ€™re carpooling, however, you may or may not have a longer commute, depending on traffic in your city and how many other riders get picked up or dropped off during your trip.
Whether Lyft or Uber commuter benefits are available in your location depends on which rideshare option you want to use.
If you prefer Lyft, youâ€™re in luck: As long as the company offers shared rides in your area, you can use your commuter benefits to fund your rides, assuming, of course, your company uses a partner benefits program. Here is a full list of cities where Lyft offers shared rides.
Uber users, on the other hand, can use the commuter benefits everywhere that uberPOOL is available, with the exception of Nashville, Tenn. and Portland, Ore.
If youâ€™re interested in using commuter benefits on Lyft, hereâ€™s how to set it up:
Prefer to use Uber? Hereâ€™s how you can set up Uber commuter benefits: