Have you noticed weird things happening with your Uber referrals for new drivers? Several RSG readers reached out to us in the last few months to ask if Uber referrals had changed. We sent RSG contributor Paula Gibbins to check out if, and how, Uber referrals have changed.
Aside from your regular earnings, promotions and other typical earnings, Uber also gives you the opportunity to refer drivers for a little extra cash for you and the person you refer. Now, why should this matter to you? Well, the biggest upside is that it’s basically “free” money. All you do is refer friends and family and you have the potential of earning money without lifting a finger.
However, there are downsides also. There have been some RSG drivers who have found it difficult to receive their referral bonuses. Some drivers have even said that Uber is making drivers contact Uber in order to confirm they know the person who referred them before allowing the money to be made by each. And others say that it saturates the market with more drivers.
Here we’ll be taking a look at what driver referrals look like, what their new terms specify about how to receive your referrals and how to make the most out of giving referrals.
What are Uber Driver Referrals?
When you sign up for Uber as a driver, you automatically are assigned a referral code you can use to invite others to join the Uber team of drivers. Once a referred person signs up as a driver, successfully using your code, you’re notified via email or in the Uber app. You are then rewarded the referral money once the driver completes a certain number of rides (which varies based on location and current offerings). Here’s what that looks like for Minneapolis/St. Paul as of December 28, 2018:
And here’s a quick peek at the terms to better understand what that $2300 guarantee means:
One benefit of this for you as a driver is receiving “free money” with minimal effort. All you have to do is send off your referral code to family and friends, or even give them out to passengers — that’s how I signed up for Uber.
I was referred by a driver I had and used his code. Then, my husband used my code to sign up. He had to drive a certain number of rides during a set time frame in order for both of us to receive anything from it, and since we’re married, we got to reap the benefits times two.
The main thing drivers get from referrals is money. It’s deposited into your account just like your regular deposits once the person referred completes their trips in the allotted time. You’re able to contact people who have signed up under your code to see how things are going and encourage them to hit their goals so you both receive the money from the referral.
When you refer new drivers, I would point out that they are getting extra money instead of emphasizing that you’re getting something out of it, too. People want to know they are doing something good for themselves more so than hearing someone else is getting money based on their efforts.
My current referral reward looks like this:
Now, I do have a friend/coworker who is considering becoming an Uber driver over the weekends and potentially in the evenings. She will only be available to drive every two weeks and for two weeks at a time. So, I’m not 100% certain if she’d be able to get 50 trips in 90 days, but I am planning on giving her my referral code so that we each get a little something out of it if she does.
I’d also try to entice her by offering to take her out for dinner once she’s completed the 50 trips as a “thank you” for using my promo code and to see how things are going for her as far as driving goes. That way, if she has any questions or concerns after her first 50 trips, she has a comfortable space to ask them in, and of course, I would be happy to help her out along the way during the first 50 rides also.
Uber’s New Referral Terms
Uber has changed their terms for how you’re allowed to give out your referral code while meeting their standards. Follow these if you want your referrals to stick and actually count for something. The new terms have added language about how you’re allowed to give out your referral code. For instance, you’re not allowed to:
- “Try to get referees/invitees by spamming, bulk emailing, or sending large numbers of unsolicited emails”;
- “Create or register any (i) businesses, (ii) URLs, (iii) domain names, (iv) software application names or titles, or (v) social media handles or profiles that include the word “Uber” or any of Uber’s other trademarks or any words that are confusingly similar to Uber’s trademarks”;
- Or “Use automated systems or bots through any channel to distribute, post, or otherwise share your referral code” and so much more.
You can, and should, read the entire thing here if you intend to give out your referral code. Basically what it all boils down to is: you’re not allowed to annoy everyone on the planet to try to get them to use your code. Give it out to people you know, people you interact with regularly: friends, family, coworkers. Don’t spam everyone in your Facebook contacts and don’t buy advertising space to get your code out there.
Overall, the actual wordage sounds worse than it really is. It seems to be more meant for those who are looking to abuse the system versus those of us who are just looking to make an honest extra dollar or two.
So, what do you do if Uber denies your code and says that you don’t know the person who referred but you really do? In some cases, Uber won’t let the referrers know about this – they only contact the person who was referred. Thank you to reader Lily, who shared the following with us (below) – you’ll notice Uber decided to flag the referral code for ‘improper use’.
Not only did Lily (temporarily) lose out on her guaranteed referral earnings, but the referrer also could have lost out on money – and never even know about it!
If this happens to you and your referrer lets you know about it, you’ll first want to make sure to have the name and phone number of the person you referred. Then, contact Uber support as described in the RSG article “Top 6 Ways to Contact Uber When You Need Help”.
Be sure to emphasize that you know the person and you deserve to be paid for the referral. Be persistent and follow up if Uber continues to drag their feet about it. Uber will likely expect you to give up (which is what they would want so they don’t have to pay you for it) and that is not fair to you. You deserve your driver referral bonus, so don’t give up after the first try if the person at Uber is not helpful. Try again and go get that bonus!
What Does This Mean for Drivers?
One great way of making sure you’re receiving the referral money owed to you is checking in with the people you have referred. This is especially easy if you’re mostly referring friends and family members. Be sure to let them know you’re available to answer any questions. It may even be helpful to let them know a few of your first-hand experiences that you had in the beginning and how you handled those situations or what you would have done differently.
If you’re handing out your referral code to passengers or others that you don’t interact with on a regular basis, try to get some basic contact information so you can follow up with them. Also, keep your business card on hand to give out to them so they can contact you if they have any questions.
Write out your referral code on the business card so they are more likely to hang onto it and so they remember why they have it in the first place. My husband and I designed business cards that have his referral code on it for both passengers and drivers so he can just easily hand the card over to whomever is interested in it. Here’s what the front looks like (the back just shows his promo code):
We also have business cards on hand for our small business that we run that has our contact information, so the person can call or email us with any questions. We made the Uber promo business cards about a year and a half ago when we first started driving, so there are changes we would make to them if we were to print them off again.
For instance, at that time the bonus was different than the current guarantee-style earnings, so we’d change that wordage as well as not mentioning the amount the person could earn since Uber changes that quite frequently.
If you really take giving out your referral code seriously, keep track in a spreadsheet or other document so you know who you’ve given it to, who has signed up, if you need to follow up with anyone and other matters so you have a one-stop-shop for all the info you need to do your due diligence.
Should Drivers Pursue Referrals?
Drivers should pursue referrals, especially if people reach out to you and are interested. If you’re just giving your referral code to everybody and anybody, you won’t be able to keep track of it and you’ll be highly unlikely to actually get any referrals to go through. It all has to start with someone who is actually thinking about becoming a driver, and in some cases, someone who is driving for Uber but wants to give Lyft a try or vice versa.
Another challenge is the follow up. You need to be able to get ahold of these people in some form or other to see if they’re still interested or to answer any questions they may have. A lot of people won’t take a leap of faith into something new unless they’re able to get all their questions answered first. For some, it might be a complete change from what they are currently doing and that can be scary. You’re their go-to now that you’ve given them your referral code. You are the one promoting this as a valid way to earn money.
If you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be more likely to see the earnings, but don’t rely on referrals as a guaranteed amount of money each month. Also, follow the guidelines that Uber puts forth. Don’t be that person who pays for advertising space to give everyone in the world your referral code. They’ll probably catch onto you and it won’t be pretty.
Drivers, have you run into issues with referring friends/family or other new drivers? Let us know below.
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-Paula @ RSG
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