The Uber Destination Filter is a new feature that drivers have been anticipating a long time. It was actually first available on Sidecar’s app and then Lyft, but never worked that well on either app. There just weren’t enough people using Sidecar, and Lyft only matches you with Lyft Line rides headed in the same general direction, so the density there was never high enough. I think I tried setting a destination 20-30 times with Lyft and never got a match before I finally gave up on it.
But since Uber has such high volume of requests, and now requires passengers to enter their destination in most places, that means that their destination filter has the potential to work very well.
So What Does Destination Filter Do?
The Uber destination filter or ‘set a destination’ option allows drivers to set a destination, and then the Uber app will only send you rides headed in that general direction. It doesn’t match you with trips headed only from Point A to Point B, but instead it matches you with trips headed in the same general direction of Point A to Point B. I think it should really be called a direction filter since that’s a more accurate representation of how it works.
You’re allowed to use the feature twice a day, and if you set a destination but don’t get any rides, you can change the destination without using up one of your two destinations for the day. As soon as you get a ride while on destination filter though, one of your two destinations for the day has now been used. You can still continue to get rides headed towards that first destination though (so you could potentially get unlimited rides headed to that first destination).
It’s available in most major markets but may not work if you live far outside the county lines. But once you’re in county lines, you should see a clipboard icon, and when you tap that, you see the option to set a destination. After you set the destination, you should see a star inside of a circle to indicate your destination has been set and the top status bar says ‘finding matching trips’.
Limitations of the Destination Filter
Destination filter is now available in most major markets, but if you live in a smaller to mid-size market you may not have access to it. From testing, I’ve also found there is a ~75 mile limit as to how far of a destination you can set. I tested from my house in Long Beach, CA and was able to set a destination in Carlsbad, CA (70 miles) but couldn’t set a destination to Encinitas, CA (80 miles). However, once I moved further south, I was able to set a destination in Encinitas. So it appears it’s not a county to county type limit but instead a mileage limit.
An interesting note is that if you live somewhere like the Inland Empire (a suburb 60 miles outside of LA), you won’t have access to setting a destination in the Inland Empire. So if you normally commute to core LA, like RSG contributor Jim Miller, you won’t be able to set a destination at the beginning of your shift, since the Inland Empire is outside of the destination filter area. But you will be able to set a destination for home at the end of your shift, since even if you’re in core LA, it’s less than 75 miles to head back to the Inland Empire.
How Does the Destination Filter Work?
In most cases, the destination filter won’t get you long rides to your final destination, but it will give you a series of short rides headed in the general direction of your destination. So if you’re heading north to south for example, you won’t get rides headed north at all, but you could get rides headed from W to SW to S to SE to E. Even though you probably are only hoping for rides directly south or off by a few degrees (not 90!).
For now, I think the best way to use the destination filter is at the beginning or end of your shift. Many Uber drivers live in the suburbs, and since it’s more profitable to drive in the city near downtown, drivers often head 1 hour or more into the city to drive. If you live in a suburb, consider turning on the destination filter in the morning on your way in to the city. That way, you will be able to capitalize on all of the other commuters going to work or to the airport. Remember, destination filter works best when there are lots of requests coming in and you’re going with the flow of traffic.
And remember, if you’re like Jim and you live in a suburb that doesn’t have the destination filter available, try and figure out where it becomes available on your commute. You can use a GPS-spoofing app to test things or just keep an eye on your app and see when/where the clipboard icon pops up. That way, you can at least set a destination and get paid for part of the ride in to the city.
When you’re near the end of your shift, the destination filter can come in handy as it will get you rides headed home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out driving and taken one more ride with the hopes that it would end near my house. We all know that never works though! But now, when you’re getting ready to head home, set a destination for your home and you’ll only get rides headed in that direction.
Hidden Benefits of the Destination Filter
I’m still experimenting with the destination filter myself and talking to drivers about how they’re using it, but here are a cool few hidden benefits of the destination filter:
- Earn $$ on incidental trips: If you’re already going somewhere, why not turn the Uber destination filter on and see if you can get a ride? It might take some extra time, but if you’re going with traffic you’d be surprised how easy it is to get a ride. Read until the end to see how I made $20/hr using this method!
- Commuting miles are now 100% tax deductible: I deduct all the miles I drive from the second I leave my house to drive for rideshare to the second I get home, but not every CPA agrees with that. If you commute an hour in/out of the city every day, and you can now do rides along the way, I think almost every CPA would agree that those miles are now fully deductible.
- Start your shift: Turn Uber destination filter on before you start driving and wait until you get a request. Sort of like a jump start to your shift.
- Surge pricing: You DO still get surge pricing on destination filter rides if applicable.
Destination Ride Downsides
There are a couple situations where you won’t want to use the destination filter or won’t be able to:
- Destination Rides don’t count towards incentives: The big caveat with these destination filter rides is that they don’t count towards any type of promotions or incentives. So whether you’re going for guaranteed pay, Boost earnings or whatever, these trips all WON’T count towards that.
- Destination Rides aren’t allowed at airports: As you can see from the screenshot, you won’t be able to get destination filter rides while waiting in an airport queue.
My Experience With the Destination Filter
So far I’ve covered general information and strategies on the destination filter, but now I want to talk about a specific example where I used the destination filter to get home. A few weeks ago, I drove from Long Beach, CA to Pasadena, CA for a family brunch on Sunday morning. Once I was done, I decided to use the destination filter to get back home to Long Beach.
This route normally takes me around 60 minutes and 35.1 miles so that’s our baseline.
I set my destination for Long Beach, CA and went in to driver mode at 2 pm. I received my first request within a couple minutes. Here’s an overview of my entire route broken down by trip (I’ve slightly modified all the addresses for privacy reasons):
You can see from the map above that trip #3 was where I was able to make the most headway home. For trip #1, I actually had to drive 12 minutes to the pick-up destination (due south) and then the actual ride went more East than anything. Trip #2 brought me back west but really didn’t get me headed home. Trip #4 was a decent Pool ride but it actually took me further away from my final destination.
Once I ended trip #4, I was sort of stuck in-between Gardena, Torrance and Compton which is typically an area with very low volume of requests. And sure enough, I waited ten minutes before finally giving up and just driving the last 14 miles home unpaid.
How Much did I Make on These Rides?
After 2 hours of driving, I made $30.53 after Uber’s cut. But remember, I was still about 14 miles from my house and it took me 30 minutes (we’ll round up to keep the math simple) to get home so I was technically ‘working’ for 2.5 hours. So when all was said and done, I made $30.53 in 2.5 hours of driving and I drove 54 total miles (34 miles on Uber + 6 miles to pick up my passengers (not listed above) + 14 miles home).
If you calculate my earnings on an hourly rate, I made $12.21/hour, which isn’t that great. But remember since this trip would have taken me 60 minutes and 35 miles anyways, I can subtract those numbers since I would have had to do it anyways. Now I really made $30.53 in 1.5 hours of extra driving and 19 extra miles.
Which translates into an hourly rate of $20.35/hour. Not bad for a quick 1.5 hours worth of work and, since I only put an additional 19 miles on my car, my expenses are also going to be very low.
On this day, after I dropped of each of my passengers, I actually parked and waited for my next request but I think that was a mistake. In the future, I plan on waiting around in the drop-off area for 2-3 minutes and then I’ll start heading towards home. Since the odds of me getting a ride are the same whether I’m moving or sitting still, it makes sense to start heading home since that will mean I’ll get home faster. I guess if you don’t care about when you get home, you could just wait it out for a request.
Check out my Youtube video on Uber Destination Filter
Here’s a video I recorded right after my first experience with the Destination Filter. Oh, and if you haven’t subscribed to our Youtube channel, click here to do so! We release two new videos a week and have lots more great content for you there.
Drivers, what do you think about Uber’s new destination filter and what’s your experience been like with it so far?
-Harry @ RSG
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