One commonly asked question by new drivers is “what’s the best city to drive in?” This doesn’t typically mean the largest, the prettiest – no, drivers want to know where to go to earn the most money.
The truth is, almost any city can be great – if you know the tricks. Below, senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins highlights some top-earning cities based on driver interviews and feedback from RSG readers.
This post is sponsored by Uber but, as always, opinions are our own. Uber does not guarantee future earnings. Earnings can vary depending on many factors, including time spent driving with Uber, rider demand and other factors.
To be a top earner on any platform, you have to look beyond the base pay provided. To be a top earner, you have to know when to drive (and when to not bother), where to drive, and what bonuses are worth it.
We’ve talked to top Uber and Lyft earners around the U.S. who are making bank right now, so we can learn how they do it and any tips and tricks they have to share on their success.
Ready to sign up for Uber? You can get started here!
Dallas: $28-37/hr for Less Than Full-Time Driving!
Dallas driver Cory shared he is averaging $28-37 an hour, “sometimes $40”, for driving fewer than 40 hours a week with rideshare. (Note: The Rideshare Guy verified these claims).
According to Cory, his strategy is to drive downtown and plan ahead for airport pickups: “In Dallas I’m averaging $28-37/hr. Sometimes 40. Tips are still 8-10% which isn’t bad. I think it’s because I live in a large city and I particularly drove downtown and airports.”
Driver Veda in Honolulu is earning an average of $60 an hour!
The secret to his success?
“I have reinvested my money over 4 years and now drive a Q7 Audi. I practically never give X rides (I’m strictly Uber) and take full advantage of the 3 ride promotions. I also focus on the tourists who are extremely appreciative and my tips went from 8-10% average to about 20%. It seems more than ever they realize we are ‘essential workers’ as there is a driver shortage.”
Vuilnis, also from Honolulu, admits that times were tough in the area during the pandemic when there were no tourists, no bonuses and no one was tipping. However, in October 2020, tourists were allowed back in the area and his earnings shot up from almost nothing to $43/hour with Uber.
He works 8-12 hour days with a goal of at least $300 to $500 a day. Vuilnis said, “My strategies include being in surge areas during hours tourists leave their hotels, at the airport when clusters of flights arrive. I no longer do, or avoid rush hour (sometimes it can’t be helped). Having a luxury car certainly helps in staying fresh.”
Plus, Vuilnis said that people are tipping again. He mainly drives with Uber because he averages better earnings with them, the app is easier to use and they don’t tend to switch passengers when you’re on your way to a pickup.
Other ways he stays successful is by avoiding rush hour because it wastes too much gas and time, has a spreadsheet of when flight arrivals are expected so he knows when to head to the airport, doing only UberX runs and catching as many bonuses and quests as possible.
New Jersey: $30/Hour
Fred, a driver from New Jersey, was averaging right around $30 an hour at the end of 2020. In all of 2020, he netted about $63,500 over 2,100 hours for the year (RSG verified these earnings via email.)
“45 years ago, I was going to college and drove a medallion cab in NYC. If you didn’t take home 20% of the meter in tips (cash in your pockets), you were doing something wrong.
We were trained to provide SERVICE. Getting out of the car to grab a passenger’s suitcase at the airport was expected. No driver ever sat in his seat all day as I see some of my colleagues doing.
When I first started driving with Uber I would get very small tips. In part, I think it was because I didn’t know how to relate to people in my own car. Over the next two years, I have gotten a lot better at it. I use my charm and sense of humor.
I always get out of my car at the beginning and end of airport runs and I get much better tips on airport runs than on any other rides. In general, I track about 10% of the fares in tips.”
Fred also relayed to us that he’s seeing almost constant requests compared to when he first started out. He often gets his first request within 30 seconds of going online.
Fred also used to find that after about 10 am, the ride requests would disappear. Now, he says that he can go out at 5 am and be busy for the next 12 hours.
Adam, a Minneapolis/St. Paul driver, has been averaging about $35 an hour thanks to the bonuses and guarantees offered on both Uber and Lyft.
His strategy is to drive for whichever app has the best deal. If they are both offering incentives, he’ll focus on the one with the closest deadline first and the other after. If the market is slow on one platform, however, he goes online with the other to try to fill in any empty spaces.
However, even without promotions, Adam’s earning around $21 an hour.
With the Twin Cities being so spread out, Adam pretty much takes any ride that comes his way to keep busy all day long. Long-pickups aren’t out of the question. And, luckily, on Uber, he’s reimbursed for pickups that take longer than 11 minutes.
Adam really banks on this in the winter during snowstorms. Almost all of his fares during a snowstorm end up being long pickups and surges.
San Diego: $45/Hour
One of our Facebook followers posted that they have been earning $45+ an hour in San Diego since March.
They shared, “And since my car is fully depreciated at 165,000 miles, my costs are only gas, maintenance and tires. Then of course most of that money is also tax free, so you have to figure that in as well. I don’t know about other cities, but I’m killing it down here in San Diego since March.”
Las Vegas: $55/Hour
One poster on Reddit shared his earnings in Vegas recently. The OP shared 6 weeks’ worth of earnings, and on average, he was earning $55.49 an hour with Uber! Not including cash tips or any work he did on the Lyft app.
For 6 weeks of work, he earned a grand total of $20,064.89 before expenses! Though, like mentioned above, this does not include any cash tips or any work he did on any other app. This is just on Uber alone.
Here’s what one of his weeks looked like:
More recently, he showed:
Even with working fewer days, he still shows great earnings overall. He even shared some advice on Reddit:
“I pretty much don’t do a ride unless I drive through a surge zone prior. There are almost always surges in Vegas if you drive at the right times. I mix up my strategy to match the situation, when there are surges, I go with them, when they’re small I push for # of rides. And I basically never wait more than 5 minutes to get a ride, if needed I’ll switch on Comfort & get a ride quickly.”
He also added, “Also, always drive when there’s a 3 in a row bonus on. Nights, especially late nights in Vegas, you can get all 3 on almost every ride at the same time, but never take a ride that’s more than 7-8 minutes away, even for an XL ride.”
He also admitted that there’s always room for improvement and that he’s still learning all the time.
While delivery earnings increased at the start of the pandemic, it’s always been true that rideshare earnings generally beat out delivery earnings! Why is that? A few reasons: typically longer distances, and higher tips.
Of course, many drivers do not believe the hype when it comes to what drivers can earn on these platforms. As one of our Facebook followers stated:
“Yeah right if earning $40/hr was true there wouldn’t be a shortage. I work over 4 years and barely made $30/hr working in Las Vegas. Uber takes at least 60 percent or more of what the customer pays. Impossible to make a lot of money.”
Allison on Facebook iterated, “Whatever they “think” they are earning is good money…..it’s only TEMPORARY. It’s UBER!”
One thing RSG has always been upfront about is that big surges and earnings can disappear at any moment, given what’s going on in the country and what plans Uber and Lyft have internally. Any surges and bonuses may be temporary and not reflect permanent, steady earnings.
That said, we also always recommend that if the market is hot (like it is right now, especially in the above-mentioned cities), you should strike! Get out, take advantage of promotions, and hit the road to earn while the earning is good.
Ready to drive? Sign up to drive with Uber here!
Are you out driving right now? What kind of hourly earnings are you seeing?
-Paula @ RSG