How to Make Money Driving for Uber

women driving on the road

Uber Overview

The idea of Uber stemmed from a night out on the town – founder Garrett Camp and his friends spent $800 to hire a private driver on New Year’s Eve and Camp spent months afterward looking for a way to make the cost of premium car services more affordable. After connecting his big idea with co-founder Travis Kalanick, UberCar, as it was called at the time, was formed in 2009.

The early team officially changed the name of the app to Uber and launched their app in San Francisco in 2011 as a more affordable luxury car service. The app was a hit from the beginning: just two weeks after it launched in the App Store, the company’s drivers were doing more than 10 rides every weekend night. Just a year after that in 2012, Uber launched UberX which expanded the car service to include non-luxury vehicles.

The idea was revolutionary: with the tap of a button on their phone, anyone could order a ride and within minutes GPS directs a nearby driver to that location, automatically charges the card on the user’s account, and gets them wherever they want to go. Not only was the idea revolutionary, but it also resonated—by early 2013, Uber was operating in 35 U.S. cities. Now, Uber is one of the most popular ridesharing apps in the world.

Key Statistics:

  • Uber operates in 63 countries and more than 700 cities worldwide (Uber)
  • There are 91 million monthly active Uber riders in the world (Uber)
  • Uber employs 3.9 million drivers (Uber)
  • In 2019, Uber delivered 6.9 billion rides (Statista)
  • The global net revenue of Uber in 2019 was $14.1 billion (Statista)

Requirements to Drive for Uber

There’s no doubt that Uber has benefitted from the growth of the gig economy: employees are taking their work into their own hands by making their own hours and depending on their own hustle to make money. Becoming a driver for Uber is pretty straightforward, but there are some minimum requirements.

Uber Driver Minimum Requirements:

  • Must meet the minimum age to drive in your city
  • Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the US (3 years if you are under 23 years old)
  • Have a valid US driver’s license
  • Use an eligible 4-door vehicle

Uber Driver Required Documents:

  • A valid US driver’s license
  • Proof of residency in your city, state, or province
  • Proof of vehicle insurance if you plan to drive your own car
  • A driver profile photo
    • Must be a forward-facing, centered photo including the driver’s full face and top of shoulders, with no sunglasses
    • Must be a photo only of the driver with no other subject in the frame, well-lit, and in focus; it cannot be a driver’s license photo or other printed photograph

Uber Driver Screening:

After signing up, every driver is required to complete a screening online. The screening will review your driving record as well as your criminal history.

Uber Driver Insurance Requirements:

  • You must have comprehensive or third party property damage cover.
  • You must be listed as an insured driver on the policy, even if you are driving someone else’s car.
  • The insurance policy must list the vehicle make type, model, year, and registration
  • The insurance policy must display an effective and expiry date.

Check out this article for more info on what kind of insurance you need to drive with Uber

Uber Car Requirements:

The car requirements for Uber drivers differ from city to city based on the regulations and rules about ridesharing in that city. That being said, there are some basics:

  • Model year 2006 or newer unless otherwise stated (Some vehicle models have a higher minimum year requirement)
  • 4-door car or minivan
  • Seats and seatbelts for at least 4 passengers and a driver
  • Good condition with no cosmetic damage
  • No commercial branding

For more in-depth rules and regulations for your city, check out your Uber local vehicle requirements.

How to get started as an Uber driver

It’s pretty easy to get started as an Uber driver:

  1. Go to https://www.uber.com/drive/
  2. Go through the sign-up process and tell the company about yourself and your car
  3. Share the required documents Uber needs, including photos of your license, insurance, registration, and some additional information for a background check.
  4. Download the Uber app onto your phone
  5. Once your documents and background check are approved, you’re ready to drive!

Get Driving

  1. Download the app and create an account if you haven’t already
  2. Connect your payment method so you have somewhere to direct deposit your earnings.
  3. When you’re ready to start driving, switch the Uber app to show you’re online then wait for the rides to start rolling in! The app will notify you about passengers requesting a ride and show you a map with their location.
  4. Accept the ride and drive to their location.
  5. Pick up the passenger and start the ride
  6. Drive the passenger to their location
  7. Make sure to end the ride once you drop the passenger off
  8. You’ve completed your first Uber ride—rinse and repeat!

Note: Passengers can rate you after their ride, so make sure they feel comfortable and welcome!

Types of Uber Services

There are a few different types of Uber services you can participate in depending on what you want to do, what type of vehicle you have, and what’s available in your city. Here are the options:

UberPOOL

The lowest-cost option for riders, multiple people can be picked up from various locations who are all headed in the same direction so they can share the ride and cost.

UberX

The lowest individual ride, the affordable UberX is the simplest requirement for drivers to meet.

UberComfort 

Some cities have this service that requires drivers have a car that meets higher and consistent vehicle makes, models, and years with legroom requirements. These drivers also need to have a rating of 4.85 or higher to qualify.

UberXL

Vehicles that can carry more than 4 people (like SUVs or minivans) qualify to drive for UberXL, which gives you higher fares.

UberSELECT

Passengers who want a slightly more upscale ride can request SELECT, which requires that vehicles be mid-tier luxury sedans and gets drivers higher fares.

Uber Eats

You don’t just have to drive people around, you can also deliver their food! UberEATS is a great option for someone who doesn’t want to drive people around but would be willing to drive to restaurants to pick up people’s meals and deliver them.

Other options like UberGREEN, UberBLACK, UberSUV, and UberLUX are available in some cities.

What to expect as an Uber driver

Gig workers for Uber aren’t just driving people or deliveries for fun—they’re hustling for more money. Whether Uber is just a side hustle or a full-time gig, everyone wants to get paid. So, what does that look like with Uber?

How to Get Paid

Just as signing up for Uber is easy, it’s pretty simple to set up your income stream as well. There are two options for getting paid with Uber:

Instant Pay

For drivers who connect their payments with a debit card, Instant Pay is a great option. You can cash out up to 5 times daily and in most cases, you’ll receive your cash into your debit account right away. It does cost $0.50 per cashout, but for someone who needs cash in hand quickly, this could be worth it.

Bank Transfer 

If you’d prefer to have a big lump sum at the end of the week, you can set up Uber to direct deposit your money into your account every week. To add your bank account, go to the Payments in the app menu, and add your bank details. Once you do this, your earnings will be transferred to your account automatically by the end of the week.

What it Will Cost You

Uber’s Commission

Uber charges their drivers a 25% fee on all fares, and that’s the only cost that they take—there is no regular fee or subscription cost to be a driver.

Gas and Car Maintenance

Driving your own vehicle while working for Uber will leave some wear and tear on your car, and you are responsible for the gas and maintenance on your vehicle while driving for the service. That being said, you do have the option of deducting some of these expenses on your taxes, including mileage, portions of your car payment, license and registration, maintenance, insurance, gas, phone plan, parking fees, and tolls.

Income Tax

As an Uber driver, you’re considered self-employed. This means, instead of receiving a W2, you’ll receive a 1099-MISC that reports the income you’ve made through Uber. Taxes won’t be withheld from your paycheck, so you are responsible for paying your federal and state taxes yourself. Make sure to set aside enough to cover the taxes that are due and pay the IRS quarterly so you don’t get charged a penalty.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Other expenses you might have being a driver include regular car washes to keep your ride looking great, air fresheners, and anything you might provide your passengers like bottles of water or mints.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Flexible Schedule

You can make your own schedule and work whenever and however much you’d like.

Con: The Hustle

While you can work whenever you want, you are responsible for making money, so sometimes you have to work more than you’d like to get what you need.

Pro: Paid Instantly

You can get money quickly and when you need it with Uber’s Instant Pay option.

Con: Wear and Tear on your Car 

Constantly driving and putting mileage on your car can affect the longevity of it.

Pro: Work Wherever You Want

With Uber being available all over the world, you can pick up and go anywhere you’d like and still have a job as long as you have a car.

Con: Terms of Service Can Change at Any Time

Uber can change the terms of your agreement at any time including how much you make and the cut they get.

How much can you make driving for Uber?

How much an Uber driver makes can vary greatly for many different reasons. What city the driver is working in, what times the driver is working, how many hours they’re putting in can all affect earnings. That being said, according to loan company Earnest, Uber drivers make an average of $364 a month, which can be skewed by the fact that some people just drive as a side hustle. A better breakdown is to look at it like this: the average Uber driver earns about $15.60 per hour. Driving during peak hours can lift that number higher, and taking advantage of Uber’s surge pricing and promotions can kick those earnings up a notch as well.

Some promotions that Uber runs regularly:

Reach a set number of trips: For example, Uber will give a bonus if a driver completes a set number of trips within a certain amount of time.

Drive during busy times: Get paid extra for trips in certain areas during busy times.

Drive for special events: Drivers sometimes get requests to drive a little bit of a distance if there’s a special event happening, for example: if there was a music festival an hour outside of your city and there weren’t a lot of drivers in the area, Uber would send a message to get more drivers out there and give them a perk to do so.

How to make the most money with Uber

Tip #1: Track Your Mileage

Tax deductions could be the difference of hundreds of dollars in your bank account as an Uber driver, which is why tracking your mileage is crucial.

Tip #2: Consider Fuel Efficiency

If you haven’t purchased a car yet or are in the market and plan to drive for Uber, consider the most fuel-efficient car possible to get the biggest bang for your buck. Some drivers even have a car dedicated just for driving—this makes tracking tax deductions easier and reduces the wear and tear on your personal car

Tip #3: Opt Into Hourly Guarantees

Another promotion that Uber offers is what they call “Hourly Guarantees” at peak times when they want more drivers out on the road. If you opt into an hourly guarantee, you are guaranteed to get a certain amount per hour no matter the rate of the trips you take in that amount of time, as long as you meet the criteria. To qualify for guarantees, Uber usually sets criteria such as:

  • You must opt-in
  • You must maintain a 90% acceptance rate
  • You must maintain a 4.7 rating
  • You must complete a minimum number of rides within the time block
  • You must be in driver mode for a percentage of the time block

The guaranteed rate will show up as a bonus in your check, the amount difference from what you earned.

Tip #4: Take Advantage of Peak Hours and Surge Pricing

It’s beneficial for you as a driver to take advantage of the best times to drive, called “peak hours”. At these times, the most riders are out there looking for drivers, which means as a driver you will have the least amount of downtime between rides. Typical peak hours include:

Morning rush hour: 7 am – 9 am

Evening rush hour: 4pm – 7pm

Friday evenings: 7pm – 9pm

Friday evening – Saturday morning bar closing: midnight – 3 am

Weekend evenings: 7 pm – 9 pm

Weekend bar closing: midnight – 3 am

Not only are more people riding at these times, but usually these peak hours mean that pricing surges—rides cost more because there is higher demand. Higher cost rides mean more money in your pocket. While these are general peak hours, peaks may differ in your city—chat with other drivers in your area to see what the best times to drive are.

Tip #5: Stand Out from the Crowd

By now, people are used to the idea of having a driver easily take them where they need to go with the push of a button, so it’s not as much of a special occurrence. This means riders are less likely to tip. To get better tips, you have to show your riders that you’re making a better effort than other drivers out there. To do that, you can provide your passengers with something a little extra—mints, bottle of water, tissues, or even just a phone charger can make the difference between no tip or a generous one.

Tip #6: Drive When Others Aren’t Driving

One thing that is tried and true with Uber—wherever there is demand, that’s where the money is. Many Uber drivers mention that they drive through the night because there are fewer drivers. Some say holidays are gold mines. Even the pandemic can be beneficial to Uber drivers: while fewer people are riding, there are also a lot less drivers out there driving, so use that to your advantage (while strictly following all the safety protocols and procedures!).

Similar to Uber, Uber Eats has its own timing, including driving during meal times (especially dinner) or delivering food during nasty weather like a snowstorm. Not only does the app surge during these times, but people are more likely to tip because they feel guilty.

Uber FAQ

  • How long does it take to sign up to be an Uber driver?

Once you’ve completed the application online, Uber sends in your info for a background check. This usually takes a few days, so you can be up and driving within a week. In some rare cases, the background check takes a little longer, so just keep an eye out on your email for your confirmation.

  • Is Uber available in my area?

Uber is available in more than 700+ cities around the world, and it’s easy to check whether your city is one of them.

  • Can I drive for Uber and Lyft at the same time?

As a driver for both companies, you are self-employed, so it is very possible to drive for both at the same time. There are a few cautions: if you have both apps open at the same time, make sure to turn the other off as soon as you get a ride—your acceptance rate can go down if you miss rides because you’re actively driving in the other app.

  • What’s the difference between Uber and Uber Eats?

With Uber, you pick up and drop off riders in your car. With Uber Eats you pick up and deliver food.

On the Uber side, you don’t need to exit your vehicle at any time, but there are some vehicle requirements and safety requirements that are stricter than Uber Eats. On the Uber Eats side, the vehicle requirements are much less strict, but you do need to get out of your car to pick up and drop off food.

  • Is my car nice enough to drive for Uber?

In general, if your vehicle is 15-years old or newer, has 4-doors, is in good condition without cosmetic damage, has no commercial branding, and has working air conditioning, windows, and 5 seat belts it meets the standard requirements for driving for Uber. That being said, some cities have different requirements, so to be sure, visit: https://www.uber.com/us/en/drive

  • How do I reach Uber customer service?

As a driver, you have access to Uber support 24/7. All you need to do is open your driver app, tap the menu icon, tap “Help”, and tap “Call Support”.

For other support questions, visit: https://help.uber.com/

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