Over the past couple weeks, I’ve received a bunch of promotions, bonuses and incentives from Uber offering a LOT of cash. And I’m not the only one. The promotions have varied wildly from city to city, but no matter where you’re driving, it’s a good bet you’ve seen something like this or you will be seeing something like this very soon.
It’s almost like Uber discovered a whole new bank account and has to spend all the money in it by the end of the month.
Either way, there’s a lot of money at stake for drivers right now, but there are definitely some caveats (as usual) that you’ll need to watch out for. Today we’re going to explore a couple of the offers Uber has been sending out so that if you get something similar, you’ll know what to do.
What’s Going On?
I’m not going to speculate too much, but what we do know is that after Uber cut fares in January, there were a lot of angry drivers, rightly so. I think a lot of drivers ‘quit’ working for Uber because of the lower fares, but I think an even larger number cut back on their hours. It’s actually pretty tough to quit driving for Uber since you can come back at any time.
Over the past couple months, we’ve seen the effects of fewer drivers on the roads. I’ve heard from drivers all over the country talking about inordinate amounts of surge at times/places that were never surging before fare cuts. Obviously every market is different, but based off the hundreds of drivers I’ve talked to, surge has been off the charts the past couple months since there have been less drivers on the road.
Related Video: Why Drivers Shouldn’t Chase The Surge!
I know that I personally have experienced this as a driver and passenger in LA. LA surges a lot in general but over the past couple months, it’s been surging during times/places that don’t normally surge.
So even though rates are lower, it wouldn’t surprise me if drivers were earning about the same amount of money, since there’s been so much surge. Seems pretty inefficient to me though, since psychologically passengers hate seeing surge. So a 1.3x fare today that was the same as a 1x fare before the rate cuts might cost the passenger the same amount (and the driver will make about the same amount) but the passenger will be angrier about having to pay surge.
$500 Bonus for Doing 75 Trips (St. Paddy’s Week)
The e-mail that started it all reached my inbox about a week ago and was titled, “Your $500 reward is waiting“. Kinda cryptic if you ask me, but I figured it had something to do with referral bonuses, and I didn’t even open it until someone e-mailed me about it later in the day. It turns out that Uber offered every single driver in Los Angeles during the week of 3/14-3/21 a $500 bonus if they were able to do 75 trips.
75 trips is a lot more than most drivers normally do but it is definitely achievable in a city like Los Angeles driving anywhere from 40-50 hours a week. Later on in the week though, Uber e-mailed drivers again saying that if you weren’t on track to hit 75 trips, you could still get a $150 bonus for doing 35 trips. A smaller bonus amount, but a much more manageable number of rides.
This Week’s Offer: $200/$300/$500 Bonuses After 50/75/100 Rides
This week (3/21-3/27) I got another e-mail from Uber with a new bonus structure for drivers in LA. This bonus structure has lower bonus amounts and different requirements.
Are These Bonuses Worth It?
On the surface, $500 or even $200 or $300 sounds great. However, there are a few stipulations you’ll have to watch out for. Even if you don’t drive in Los Angeles, I bet at some point, Uber will offer guarantees or bonuses in your city, and you’ll need to take into consideration a lot of the same factors.
How Many Drivers Got This Offer?
This isn’t something Uber will tell you, but it’s probably the most important stipulation of them all. The reason why is that when you look at Los Angeles for example, with it’s 50,000 drivers+, that is a TON of drivers! So you can imagine that the feeling of excitement that you got, when you saw that $500 bonus e-mail, was shared by a lot of your fellow drivers.
A lot of Uber’s promotions/guarantee offers are targeted, but when they aren’t, you need to think about whether increased competition will hurt your chances of meeting the terms of the promotion. In this case, I think 75 rides is still achievable but you have to be willing to do two things:
- Start early in the week: A lot of drivers I talked to waited until Wednesday or Thursday to start this promotion and there just weren’t enough rides to go around. If you’re going to go for one of these promos, don’t wait until the last minute. Start the very first day or hour possible and see how things are going.
- Drive times that others aren’t willing to work: Especially with a promo like this, where there are no requirements on when you have to drive (i.e. 25 rides during peak hours), you should be willing to go out and drive early mornings before rush hour, stay out late on the weekends when rides are abundant, etc.
Read, Re-read and Triple Read The Fine Print
The main reason why Uber has to have so many terms and conditions for these promotions is because of fraud. Unfortunately, if they just allowed drivers to do 50 trips for a $500 bonus, there would be a lot of people who would take advantage of the promotion. While I’m not happy about all the terms and conditions, I do understand why they exist. For this specific promotion, here were the terms they laid out:
- Length of Promotion: You’ll obviously want to note the duration of the promotion and for this one, it’s pretty clear that only rides given between Monday March 21, 206 at 4 am PDT and Monday March 28, 2016 at 4 am PDT will count.
- Trips Must Start in LA: This is another really important one since only trips that begin in core Los Angeles will count towards this requirement. Here’s the map for core Los Angeles, and you should also note that this map has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times (so that could also be another good indicator as to how many drivers are going after this promotion). I would advise everyone to print out a copy of this map and make sure that every request you take starts in this area. Honestly, if I got a trip that was heading very far outside this core area (more than 10-15 minutes), I would probably (nicely) tell the passenger that I was going to have to cancel the trip.
- Maintain a 90% Acceptance Rate: This one’s tough because Uber doesn’t have any way for you to check this metric on the app but I think a good strategy is to just accept every request that comes in. That way, your acceptance rate should be 100% and if something comes up, you can always ask the passenger to cancel after you’ve accepted the ride (as long as it’s within 5 minutes of the request they won’t be charged) or you can cancel the trip yourself and it won’t affect your acceptance rate.
- Maintain a 25% Completion Rate: This is a brand new term to me and according to Uber, “Your completion rate is calculated by taking your total number of completed trips in a given incentive period divided by the total number of trip requests that you received in the given incentive period.” Seems like it should be very easy to meet this.
- ‘X’ Number of Trips: It’s not in Uber’s terms, but cancellations do not count as trips. Matched UberPool rides though will count as two trips.
Keep Your Own Records/Logs
I think Uber has good intentions with a lot of these guarantees, but the way they set them up leaves a lot to be desired. It can sometimes feel like they’re setting drivers up for failure by not providing real-time tracking metrics (like Lyft does with Power Driver Bonus) to see if you are on pace to hit the guarantees (i.e. acceptance rate above 90%, how many trips in core LA, etc). Until they start doing a better job, it’s really up to drivers to track a lot of this info themselves.
It’s also good practice to do a few extra trips if you can. If the requirement is 50 trips, try to do 52-54 trips just to be safe. That way, if there was any type of small error, you’ll still get the bonus. Anecdotally, I have heard that Uber is still paying out bonuses if you missed the requirements by one trip or had an acceptance rate that was a couple percentage points too low, but that’s definitely YMMV and not something I’d count on.
Problems Getting Paid Your Bonus
For this week’s promotion (3/21-3/27), the terms state that the bonus will appear on your April 4th pay statement. You’ll have to wait two weeks basically until you see your bonus. If it doesn’t post for some reason, it’s possible that you didn’t meet one of the requirements. The best way to get this sorted out is going to be by e-mailing Uber support or heading in to local office hours.
Update (3/23/16): I have seen a few pay statements that showed the $500 bonus on the following week’s pay statement – so some drivers are receiving their $500 bonus on the pay statement immediately following the week in which they hit the rides needed for the bonus.
Increased Sign-Up Bonuses
In LA right now, Uber has recently increased the sign-up bonuses to $500 double sided after 75 trips. In many other markets across the country, Uber has also raised bonuses – most likely to match Lyft’s higher bonuses. So right now is a great time to either refer drivers or sign up for Uber since bonuses are so high.
You can sign up to drive for Uber here.
Here’s the offer I got, but note this is only for LA drivers. You’ll have to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to find out the bonus for new drivers in your city.
You can find a full listing of all the best sign-up bonuses in our monthly recap here: Best Rideshare Driver Sign-up Bonuses.
Uber Retroactive Referral Bonuses
If you signed up without a referral bonus, you actually have 15 days to add a referrer and still get the bonus. If you would like to add me as your referrer, please send me an e-mail.
“Give Us Info On Lyft Promotions”
Over the past year, Uber has sent me lots of e-mails asking for pay statements from other on demand economy companies that I was working for. Personally, I think my information is worth a lot more than $10 but if you get one of these e-mails, it’s really up to you whether to do it or not. Uber knows that lots of their drivers work for other companies, but it’s in their best interest to have you work primarily for Uber (according to my survey, 56% of drivers have done/do Uber and Lyft) so I suspect that they want these pay statements so that they can use that info to get you to work more for Uber.
I don’t think it’s anything malicious, like they will deactivate you for sending in a Lyft statement, since that would actually be illegal. But I do think your info is worth more than $10 🙂
$100 For Your
Soul Lyft Pay Statement
It seems like these types of campaigns are primarily to get info on Lyft, and this past week, they started sending some drivers like me a new offer:
OK Uber, now you have my attention! I don’t think I’d send in my Lyft info for only $10 but if you get an offer like this and have done 45 trips with Lyft or another company, I think it could be an easy $100 for you. I suspect you will have to fill out some kind of survey or talk to someone at the activation center, but seems like a quick and easy way to make $100.
If anything, it may be a good chance for you to express why you’re working with other platforms instead of Uber. It’s competitive out there for supply, and it’s clear from recent moves like Instant Pay and Power Driver Rewards in San Francisco that Uber is working hard to compete with Lyft for the limited supply of drivers.
Drivers, what do you think about the latest bonus offers from Uber? Have you gotten one that’s similar or are you still waiting?
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-Harry @ RSG
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