“Oh, come on. It’s been like 2 hours, and I haven’t even gotten a single ride request yet!” Does this sound familiar to you? Sounds like you picked the wrong time to drive for Uber!
Yes, there are “good” and “bad” times to drive for Uber but what are the best times to drive for Uber?
As Harry always says, rideshare driving isn’t rocket science, but if you’re new to driving, you might not know the best times to go out and actually earn money.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best times to drive in general, cover different reasons why some times are ‘better’ and talk about how you can improve your Uber driver earnings.
4 Best Times to Drive for Uber
As a quick disclaimer, this is going to be a generalization. This is not going to be specific because all markets are different.
You need to take this information and see how it’s going to apply to your specific market so then you know the best times to go out for you.
If you’re in a college town, that’s going to be a lot different from a business district, which is going to be a lot different from a tourist area, which is going to be a lot different from other areas.
However, you can take these generalizations and apply them to you so you have the best chance to make money instead of sitting around waiting for ride requests to come in.
1. Drive When There are Streaks and Bonuses
If you want to know your market specifically, the easiest thing you can do is if your area offers bonuses and promotions like streak bonuses during certain times of the day only, that’s when it’s probably going to be busier with fewer drivers on the road.
That’s why these companies are offering bonuses and promotions. So, make note of those times first because that’s when it’s likely to be busier; that’s why they are offering them.
High demand typically = surge pricing for drivers. Uber knows it will be busy, with lots of riders requesting drivers, and if there aren’t sufficient drivers on the road, Uber will start sending out promotions.
These times vary – they can happen during rush hour, after a big sporting event, or just completely randomly. The more you drive with Uber at various times of the day and week, the more you’ll start to see surge patterns.
Ready to drive for Uber? Get started here!
2. Drive During Peak Hours in Your Market
Finding Uber peak hours will take some testing on your end, as every market is different. However, as noted above, rush hour times (morning and night) and Thursday-Saturday nights will typically be the busiest times to drive.
But what about the weekends? While the weekdays start early in the morning, the weekends start a little bit later from what I’ve seen.
You get a lot of people who wake up around 8-10 AM and then that’s when rideshare demand starts picking up – around 10 or so. You have people running errands and going out and going to see and visit family, heading out to other jobs, etc.
On the weekends, this is when it’s going to pick up and stay pretty steady for the most part all the way through the day. It will remain fairly busy until you start hitting the afternoon time frame.
At that point, that’s when it’s really going to start picking up because people are going to go out to eat, people are going to go out to the bars and that’s when the nightlife happens again on a Saturday.
On a Sunday, you’re going to see much of the same thing. It’s going to be skewed a little bit later in the morning, so instead of maybe 10 AM, it might be 11 AM when things start picking up. And then it’s going to be kind of average throughout the day until nighttime. Then it’s going to get a little bit quieter.
3. Driving During Uber’s Peak Hours
What about Uber’s peak hours? Uber’s peak hours are typically Friday and Saturday nights. Yes, peak hours also occur on weekday mornings and during the evening rush hour, but those hard and fast rules are changing as more people flex their schedules and work from home.
From your afternoon rush around 3:00 pm, it’s going to pick up. It might taper off, but not a lot and you’re still going to get ride requests from 3 o’clock all the way through to the night, especially on Thursday and Friday nights.
It’s just going to be busier. More people are going out. More events are going on. That is something you can position yourself for.
If you like staying out as long as you can before nightfall, it’s going to be good on Thursday or Friday nights.
4. Swap to Uber Eats During Down Time
Starting around 4:00 am – 6:00 am, you’re going to get some rides coming in because people are going to want to go to the airport. People usually schedule earlier morning flights, so you’re going to have early morning rides going to the airports.
Then when about 6:30 am comes around, you’re going to start seeing the actual morning rush hour. You’re going to have people going to work and also still need to go to the airport at that time frame. That will go to about 9:30.
Once 9:30 am to 11:30 am, it’s going to get quiet. It’s going to be sporadic and you might sit there with no real rides coming in unless you know your market and can take advantage of where rides are probably going to be happening at that time.
This is a good time to turn on your Uber Eats or Instacart apps! People may be placing orders for lunch, grocery delivery, and more.
Then it’s going to quiet back down until you get to your afternoon rush. Once you hit your afternoon rush, it’s going to get busy again because everybody’s going from work to home or from work to happy hour, from work to a restaurant, whatever it might be.
Earning Potential: $15-$25 / hour
Taking advantage of incentives like Quest and Boost can make Uber Eats one of the best paying delivery jobs available.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Uber have a slow season?
Yes! Typically, the last weeks in December after Christmas and all of January are the slowest times of the year to drive for Uber. People are mainly at home, the weather is bad in a lot of parts of the country, and people are traveling… while you’d think this would be busy, most people are just not requesting rides this time of year!
What should you do to make extra cash during Uber’s slow season?
There is more than just driving and delivering out there. Think about other things you’re good at and enjoy doing. You can find many online jobs nowadays such as:
Why is Uber so slow right now?
If you’re asking this question, you may be in a market that’s having a lull right now! While I know we just mentioned above that late December and all of January are typically slow, it really depends on your market.
When we asked our audience about their thoughts on a ‘January slump’ several people said just because it’s cold doesn’t mean it’s slow. One driver, who drives in Park City, Utah said not only is ski season busy, but it’s also profitable, with passengers asking for Lux-only vehicles.
He shared that January and February are actually his most profitable months. Places with great, accessible ski resorts may be really busy. In addition, sunny southern states (including southern California and Arizona) typically see much higher demand than usual, thanks to outdoor events, sports tournaments, and more.
One driver in Phoenix, AZ said January begins to pick up for a typical bombshell February and March, thanks to all of the golfers, golf tournaments, and sports in general.
However, if you’re in a college town, watch out. One driver shared that the town dies right after fall graduation. There’s about a 3 week period where I don’t drive unless I’m in town for New Year’s Day. It then begins to pick up the week before school starts again.
Just remember, college students typically arrive back on campus around mid-January. Make sure to take a look at your local colleges’ schedules and park near the airport as the students return!
Takeaways for Uber Drivers
The best times to drive for Uber are highly dependent on where you live.
If you live somewhere like Orlando or Las Vegas where it’s very touristy if you live in Chicago where it’s kind of business/tourist everything rolled into one, obviously these things are going to be much different. You’ll likely be a lot busier at certain times of the year, or even year-round.
But when it comes to just a general sense of when it’s busier, when it’s quieter, and when things are going to be somewhat steady, follow the guidelines above when creating your rideshare driving schedule so you can position yourself best to earn the most.
The biggest takeaway for drivers here? Learn your market, learn when demand is highest in your city, and always take advantage of streak bonuses and promotions. Streak bonuses and promotions are basically Uber and Lyft telling you when it’s peak hours and when you should hit the road!