Government Shutdown & Driving for Uber – Quick-Start Guide

Are you affected, or know someone affected, by the government shutdown? Share this quick-start guide with them, or with anyone you know looking to make extra money in a short period of time, for some tips on how to get started quickly with rideshare driving for Uber and Lyft.

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Many drivers choose to sign up with Uber and/or Lyft because the job is flexible. You get in your car, turn on your app, and get going. But if you’ve never considered signing up with Uber and Lyft before, you might wonder what the process is like. Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur shares how you can quickly get on the road with Uber and Lyft.

The recent government shutdown, now entering its third week, has put an emphasis on people losing their ability to earn revenue.  At a minimum, 800,000 people are now negatively impacted because of a disagreement over a wall (hmmm, fence).

It is unfortunate and unexpected.  This is a perfect example of why it is good to have rideshare driving in your arsenal of revenue-generating activities.  Some work situations are unstable.  All of us can lose our job for a bevy of reasons.

Goodbye Thailand

I had to sideline my coaching career and leave Thailand after a glorious year due to an unforeseen illness in late 2015.  The unexpected is exactly that: unexpected.

If you suddenly find yourself out of work, or you want to cover your bases and have rideshare driving in your back pocket, this article will lay out the basic information you will need to get started.

You will most likely make more money doing this than trying dog walking for additional revenue. It’s also a bit better than putting up a GoFundMe page and hoping for donations.

How to Get Started Driving with Uber and Lyft

It is very easy to get started with rideshare driving.  You need to be a licensed driver in good standing.  In most cities, this means:

  • 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

You will have to complete an application and undergo a background check.  Make sure you sign up using a referral code so you can get any bonuses or guaranteed earnings for the driving you do. You can sign up with Uber here and Lyft here.

You will have to provide information about the car, your license/background and registration that you intend to use for rideshare driving. This includes:

  • A vehicle inspection
  • 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

Finally, your car will have to undergo a short inspection to verify it meets the standards of the rideshare company. Vehicle requirements differ depending on the city you’re in, but in San Diego, for example, your minimum vehicle requirements with Uber are:

  • 15-year-old vehicle or newer
  • 4-door vehicle
  • Good condition with no cosmetic damage
  • No commercial branding
  • No taxi/neon color paint jobs – yellow, orange, bright green, pink, etc.
  • No after market and manufacturer paint jobs and no decals

In some states, you can have your vehicle inspection done via video chat. Check out RideShare Mechanic for more information.

Lyft’s vehicle requirements are similar to Uber, and you’ll want to look up vehicle requirements for your specific city, as some cities are more strict about vehicle age than others.

In total, this process can take as little as 24 hours. If there are any issues with your DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) report or your background check, then your wait time will be longer.

I recommend signing up for one service first, get started, and then sign up for another service.  It is good to have at least two so you can have added flexibility given changing market conditions.

Earn A Sign-Up Bonus Or Guaranteed Earnings Figure

Depending on where you will be driving, you may be entitled to either a bonus or guaranteed minimum revenue for your initial trips.

In order to get these bonuses/guarantees, however, you have to sign up with a referral code.

You can sign up with our Uber referral code here.

You can sign up with our Lyft referral code here.

If you are entitled to a bonus, it will most often be a certain amount for a certain number of rides within a given window of time.  For example, you may earn $200 for driving 100 trips within your first 90 days.  This is what Lyft is currently offering in San Francisco in the example above.

If you are entitled to a minimum guaranteed figure as shown in the current Uber example above, it will also be within a given window of time.  For example, you may earn a guarantee of $775 for your first 100 rides within 90 days.  If you drive 100 trips and only earn $500, then you would get a bonus of $275 to move you to the minimum guaranteed figure.

If, however, you earned $800 in your first 100 trips, then you would not be entitled to any further bonus. You can read more about guaranteed earnings here.

Start Driving and Making Money

Let me share with you some quick tips so you don’t waste any of your valuable time, and so you can get started earning money right away:

  • Drive when it is busy.  Morning rush hour and afternoon rush hour will keep you busy.  People need to get to work, and then people need to get home from work.
  • Drive where there are people. In the morning, you want to focus on concentrated areas where people don’t drive as often, for example, around apartments and condos.  In the afternoon, the downtown area makes sense because folks need a ride home after work.
  • Decide if you want to drive at night.  Some drivers like to drive at night and ferry people from the bars to their homes.  If that does not sound like fun to you, don’t sweat it.  I don’t like night driving either.  You don’t have to drive at night to make money.  Day drivers can make a good living too.
  • Remember that this job is simple if you focus on the basics:  you are giving people a safe and secure ride from point A to point B.  No need to rush. No need to stress. Greet your passenger and drive.
  • Get familiar with the apps before you start driving passengers.  You need to know the rideshare app (Uber and Lyft), a GPS app (Waze or Google Maps), and I recommend a music app such as Spotify. You’ll also want to get a mileage tracking app for tax purposes.

What We Earn As Rideshare Drivers

Both Uber and Lyft pay you for each standard trip you take based on five factors:

  1. Base Rate
  2. Miles Driven
  3. Minutes Driven
  4. A Multiplier (Uber calls this Surge, Lyft calls it Prime Time)
  5. Tip

For example, here is a trip I took today in San Francisco which incorporates all five factors:

This was a long ride from downtown San Francisco to a restaurant near the San Francisco Airport.  The Prime Time value was 100%, which means the earnings would be double for this ride.  I also received a tip of $10 on this ride.

On the second screenshot, you can see where you can click to move to the rates screen (third screenshot).  The final screenshot shows you the exact rates paid on the ride.  I am paid $1.76 as a base rate.  Then I earn 72.8 cents per mile and 31.2 cents per minute.  All added together, this was a $60.62 ride.

How much will you make?  I suggest you check out our 2018 driver survey.  Over 60% of drivers earn in the range of $10 to $20 per hour.  Your rates will vary depending on the market in which you live and drive.  As you become a better driver and more knowledgeable, your per hour earnings will also increase.

How We Get Paid

Both Uber and Lyft give you the ability to get paid immediately.  Once you have set up your bank account, you can “Cash Out” once you have a minimum of $5 in your account.

In this example, I cashed out today.  My account shows earnings of $212.72 for the day.  I tapped on the Cash Out button and then was asked to confirm.  Once confirmed, you can see my new balance shows Zero.  Then within minutes, you will get an email confirming the transfer.

As you can see in this screenshot, those funds are now in my chosen account.

This feature costs an extra 50 cents per transaction.  I prefer to cash out each day and start each new day fresh.

The other option is to have Uber and Lyft pay you out once per week.  Those funds are released on Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week.

Is It Safe To Be A Rideshare Driver?

I get asked this question all the time.  The short answer is yes, it is remarkably safe to be an Uber or Lyft driver.  There are two factors that play in our favor.

First, we do not transact any money.  The paying for the ride is taken care of by the app, therefore we have nothing of value to be stolen.  Second, drivers and passengers are all subjected to a 5-star rating system.

If you are either a really bad driver or a really bad passenger, you will lose your privileges and get kicked off the network.  In my over 22,000 rides, I have only had two passengers ever raise their voice to me.  That’s it.

You certainly want to be aware of your surroundings, prepare yourself in case of trouble (I carry pepper spray), and treat all your passengers as valuable cargo.

I like to follow the golden rule.  I treat my passengers the way I would want to be treated, and then everyone in my car seems to be happy and content and devoid of trouble.

What Are You Waiting For?

Making money as a rideshare driver has never been easier.  Losing a job or getting laid off does not need to be the stressful life event it once was.   You can, right now, start the process of becoming a rideshare driver.

Go out, meet some people, drive them around, make some money and pay some bills.  And then when you get your job back, or you find a new job, you can still drive once in a while if you like.

Some people I know use rideshare driving as a way to supplement their car payment or save up for a fantastic vacation.  It is there if you need it.  Give it a shot!

Readers, have you signed up to drive for Uber or Lyft because of a job loss or unstable work situation?

-Jay @ RSG