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    I have been an Uber driver for the last several years.  It has been a great job for me because it allows me to have plenty of freedom and flexibility to work when I want and play when I want.  I like to travel, so with my Uber work, I can push very hard and put in long hours and make some good money.  Then, when I am ready, I can jump on an airplane and go to places like Thailand, France and even Greece.

    In this article, I will cover how to become an Uber driver and answer important questions about the driving (and earning) process.

    How Do You Sign Up to Become an Uber Driver?

    Signing up for Uber is a very easy process.  When I signed up back in December 2015, it took me all of 24 hours to be on the road.  Let’s go over the steps.

    New York City drivers: Currently, Uber and Lyft aren’t accepting new drivers in New York City. But there’s a great alternative — driving for Via. Check out the generous Via driver bonus here. We’ve found Via sometimes pays more in their markets of NYC, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Uber and Lyft are not currently hiring drivers for New York City.

    Sign Up To Drive for Uber

    The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you have a referral code when you want to become an Uber driver. Without a referral code, you won’t be able to get bonuses or guarantees as a new driver. Learn more about the importance of an Uber sign up bonus for new drivers.

    The first thing to do is to go the the Uber website at Uber.com and click on “Sign Up To Drive.  You will need to provide basic information such as your name, address, SSN, profile picture, and where you want your earnings to be deposited.  Once you are a driver, then you will need to get your car all set up.

    Don’t forget to sign up with a referral code! You can use the Rideshare Guy referral code with this link.

    What Kind of Car Do You Need to Become an Uber Driver?

    I drive a Honda Accord Hybrid.  If you are going to be a full time driver, it behooves you to get a car that gets good gas mileage. For three years, I drove a Toyota Prius and loved its 50 MPG performance.

    You need a four door car that seats you and four passengers. The car can not be too old. Specific car requirements differ by city, and you can learn more about Uber car requirements here.

    Finally, of course, it must pass the vehicle inspection which means everything must work.

    Get Your Vehicle Approved

    These are screenshots from the Uber Driver app. The first shot is the home page. You will tap on your picture which will take you to the next page.  Here you will tap on the Account button and here (third screenshot) you will see my vehicle listed.

    You won’t have a vehicle yet, so you will need to add a vehicle.  Once you add the vehicle, you will need to provide all the documents, as you will see on the fourth screenshot.  You will need the vehicle registration, the insurance and a vehicle inspection.

    You can get the inspection at one of Uber’s hubs which are in most of the major markets where Uber has a strong presence. You can get an inspection done at any one of Uber’s Greenlight Hubs which can be found here: http://www.uber.com/us/en/drive/san-francisco/contact/. The inspection takes less than 30 minutes and you have to pay for it since Uber does not cover the costs of the inspection. Once you have uploaded all the documentation, then Uber will approve the documents and then you are all set to drive. In addition, you may also use passed inspection forms from other rideshare companies. 

    How to Become an Uber Driver When You Don’t Have a Car

    You may be thinking, “I can’t be an Uber driver because I don’t have a car.” But there are ways for you to get around that and still drive for Uber.

    Fair is one app that allows you to rent cars and they are official partners with Uber. With Fair, you can earn bonuses through Uber to cover most or all of your weekly payment for the vehicle. The Fair Car Rental Bonus pays $185 at 70 rides and a total of $305 at 120 rides. This would make it a much more affordable option than driving your own vehicle since for your car you’d have to pay for all repairs and maintenance on it. Learn more about how Fair works for Uber drivers.

    There are other options for renting or loaning out cars for the purposes of driving for Uber if Fair is not offered in your city yet or if you don’t like that as an option. You can try HyreCar, Turo, Rideshare Rental, Maven Gig or others that are offered in your area. Each have their own pluses and minuses. Check out our review of these options in our Vehicle Marketplace article.

    What Are Some Tips For Getting An Inspection?

    Here are some tips on getting the most out of your inspections process, including how to get free vehicle inspections and what to expect at your inspection.

    There are a few ways to get your vehicle inspected. One free way to do it is to take it to your local Greenlight Hub found through the help section on Uber’s website. Keep in mind, however, that not all Greenlight Hubs offer this service. If that’s not an option for you, be ready to spend between $20 and $30 to get it taken care of at an approved mechanic.

    It’s pretty simple to take your car into your local Hub. They have mechanics standing by specifically for this purpose. On a slow day it’ll take only a few minutes for them to digitally complete the paperwork and you’ll be on your way.

    How Much Do Uber Drivers Make?

    Everyone wants to know how much money Uber drivers make, but the answer is: it depends on where you live!

    I drive in San Francisco and still make an average of $35 per hour.  Some drivers in other markets may make significantly less.  Some drivers only drive surge in order to make $30 or more.

    According to a our Uber earnings survey, Uber drivers report earning $16.90 an hour, while Lyft drivers report making $17.37 an hour. In general, Lyft passengers usually tip more frequently than Uber drivers do, although both apps do allow in-app tipping. Just last week a rider tipped me $48 for a 7 mile ride! Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can get amazing tips like this from riders which can really make for a great shift to earn money.

    Let me explain how we are paid.  Most markets offer what is called a Base Fare.  My base fare in San Francisco is $1.86.  Then we are paid a fixed rate per mile and a fixed rate per minute.  These are known as “time and distance.”  Typically the distance or mileage earnings are much higher than the per minute earnings.  This is one reason why long trips on the open freeway are the most lucrative rides.  You can earn more per hour on the long trips when there is no traffic.  Let’s take a look at a screen shot:

    Here you see the Base Fare, the Distance, the Time and also a Tip.  Tips can be a big part of your earnings so it is smart to be very friendly and helpful with your passengers so you can get more and bigger tips.

    If you get a bonus opportunity to earn more as an Uber driver, be sure to take advantage of it.  Surge is a premium which you may earn on a specific trip.  When demand for drivers exceeds supply, you will see a Surge zone on your app.  You can drive into the zone and earn a Surge bonus on your next ride.

    Curious to see how your earnings change year over year? Here’s how to track Uber rate changes in your city:

    When you’re ready to become an Uber driver, make sure to sign up for Uber with a referral code.

    Other ways you can increase your income include maximizing your tips as an Uber driver, getting to know your city better as a driver, and sign up for companies that will pay you as you drive.

    In addition, you can earn more by driving for Uber Eats while driving for Uber, potentially stacking rides and deliveries on top of each other to earn more.

    What Should You Know Before Driving for Uber?

    First and foremost, you should know that driving can be a very stressful experience if you are not properly prepared.  You want to make sure your car is all set up properly.  You want to make sure you have all your trade dress properly presented on your car.

    Most importantly, you should be very familiar with the GPS app you will be using.  And, of course, you should be very familiar with the Uber app.  We have a very helpful video for you to watch which breaks down all aspects of the Uber app:

    The best thing you can do to learn what you need to know about driving is to go out and take an Uber ride.  Request an Uber and sit in the front seat.  You can get your first ride free with Uber using our referral code.

    Watch all the things that the driver does.  Notice what you feel the driver does well, and what you think can be improved upon.

    Take notes.  Do this a few times so you can experience a few drivers.  Which music do you like?  How do you want your car to smell?  How friendly do you want to be?  How helpful?  These are all aspects of being a driver.  The more you can prepare, the better a job you will do and the more you will earn.

    Related: Essential gear for rideshare drivers

    Ready to become an Uber driver? Sign up here!

    Uber Driver Requirements

    To be a driver for Uber, their requirements are pretty straight forward. You must be at least 21 years old and have at least three years of driving experience OR at least one year of driving experience if you’re at least 23 years old. There are minimum requirements to drive for Uber. You must meet the minimum age to drive in your city. The minimum age for California is 21 but certain cities in different states may be even lower than that. You also need at least one year of licensed driving experience in the US and you need 3 years of experience if you are under the age of 25.

    You also have to have a state issued driver’s license for the state in which you’ll be driving, along with auto insurance under your name for the vehicle you’ll be driving for Uber. And, of course, you’ll need to pass a background check and for that you’ll need your social security card.

    You will also need a driver profile photo which must be a forward-facing photo that is centered and contains the full face of the driver and the top of shoulders without any sunglasses. Additionally, the photo must only be of the driver with no other subject(s) in the frame. It has to be well-lit, focused, and must not be a printed photograph or driver’s license photo. 

    How Can I Maximize My Earnings as an Uber Driver?

    There are plenty of ways to maximize your earnings as an Uber driver, including:

    Drive Where The People Are.  If you are driving on the freeway and there are no houses around or shopping centers around, then you probably won’t be getting a ping.  Always be moving toward people. In the mornings, you want to be where people are leaving their houses or apartments and heading into work.  In the late afternoon, you want to be where people are working so you can pick them up and take them home.

    Get Long Rides When Traffic Is Light.  During midday and on the weekends, traffic tends to be lighter.  This is a great time to take long rides so you can rack up the mileage, and thereby boost your earnings.  At The Rideshare Guy, we should you how to use Uber destination filters to make more money.

    Shut Up And Drive. Don’t talk too much. Passengers don’t like chatty drivers. Most passengers prefer a calm and peaceful driving experience.  If a passenger does want to talk, then talk. Otherwise, be quiet and allow the passenger their preferred experience. You will get more tips this way.

    Always Help With Luggage.  This seems obvious, but I have been a passenger many times when the driver just pops the trunk. After a long airplane ride, I want some help. Lazy drivers get lousy tips and poor ratings. Don’t be that driver.

    Hire a Coach.  If you are really looking to do this full time, then you should hire a rideshare coach to guide you through the process.  A good coach can make the difference between you making OK money and making “crush it” money.  Look for someone with tons of experience, articles, YouTube videos and a strong desire to help people.  I always hire a coach because it saves me time and money in the long run.

    Pros and Cons of Driving for Uber Full time

    For years, people have considered driving for Uber as a flexible way to earn money. 

    Like many other gig work apps, Uber is not without its flaws so it’s important to consider the pros and cons before you sign up or before you start driving again if you’ve taken a break. 

    Depending on your goals, situation, and desired work environment, driving for Uber full time may or may not be the best option for you. 

    Here are some key pros and cons to consider. 

    Pros of Driving For Uber Full Time 

    Be Your Own Boss

    Uber drivers are in control of their schedule and decide when they want to drive. Being a full-time driver for Uber can help shift you from taking orders from a boss, to being in charge of your own hours and how often you work. 

    Full-time driving may be Monday through Friday for you. Or, it could look completely different and involve working early mornings, evenings, or late at night. Uber just prohibits drivers from working more than 12 consecutive hours in a day. 

    But you can also create a split shift schedule on days where you want to start early, then take a break before an evening shift.

    The best part about being your own boss is that you don’t have to worry about reporting to someone or asking for permission to take time off. If you want to take an hour-long lunch break or run some errands at 1 pm, there’s nothing stopping you from doing so as a full-time Uber driver.

    Exclusive Discounts 

    Uber has partnered with different companies over the years to help bring special offers to their drivers. Currently, the offers vary from discounts on vehicle maintenance and phone plans. 

    Uber also makes it easy to play music from your Pandora library through your Uber app. 

    Drivers have the option to look through health insurance plans through Stride Health, and even have financial management resources through Intuit and H&R Block as well. 

    Tax Deductions 

    As an independent contractor with Uber you can deduct certain expenses on your taxes including your mileage and car maintenance. 

    The expenses can be pretty heavy as a driver though, so you can use that to your advantage and write certain things off. This reduces your taxable income even though you’ll be responsible for paying taxes as a contractor. 

    When it’s time to file, you’ll have your 1040 and Schedule C. On your schedule C, you can calculate operating expenses like the cost for your:

    • Mileage tracking software
    • Passenger refreshments and snacks
    • PPE
    • Car accessories like charging cords and phone mounts
    • And more

    Additionally, you will also have to choose between standard mileage and actual expenses. 

    Option 1 includes mileage, tolls, and parking. In order to come up with the mileage, multiply your business miles driven by 56 cents (2021 standard mileage rate).

    Option 2 includes tracking your actual car expenses like vehicle depreciation, gas, and car maintenance, roadside assistance plans, insurance, lease payments, car washing, and more. 

    You have the option to use either but option 1 is more common, and easier. Most drivers are able to get a larger deduction using this method. 

    Cons of Driving For Uber Full Time 

    Vehicle Wear and Tear 

    The miles Uber drivers drive per week varies. Some easily drive hundreds of miles per day. Those miles can really add up and take a toll on the condition of your vehicle. 

    You should try to put some of your payments from Uber aside to help prepare for future trips to the mechanic. This can be a nice way to be ready for issues that might come up if Uber is your long-term answer to earning money. 

    However, just realize that your car repair and maintenance expenses can eat into your Uber profits.

    Increased Risk While on the Road 

    Driving for Uber opens you up to more risks such as altercations with passengers or even potential accidents. You deal with so many people coming in and out of your vehicle each day. Most of those interactions are safe and friendly, but there are still incidents that occur with Uber drivers occasionally. 

    Uber has made strides to make rides safer even including options like call 911, share location, and record audio for riders. Drivers can also get a dash cam to record footage while on the road to make things safer and deter passengers from bad behavior. 

    Higher Insurance Premiums

    As a full-time Uber driver, your regular car insurance policy won’t provide enough coverage to protect you from accidents on the road. Commercial car insurance and rideshare insurance are solid options to consider, but this will often cost you more money.

    Uber does provide insurance coverage to take care of you after an accident when you are on the way to pick someone up or if the passenger is in your car. 

    If you have your app on and are waiting to accept a trip, this isn’t covered under Uber’s insurance. That’s when rideshare insurance can step in. 

    If you try to get by without it and your insurance finds out that you’re not properly covered, they drop your coverage or worse, deny your claim after an accident. The Rideshare Guy provides a full guide on obtaining rideshare insurance along with how to estimate costs and any discounts you may be able to get as an Uber driver.

    Summary 

    Driving for Uber is a great way to earn a full-time income for the right person. If you enjoy setting your own schedule and talking to people during the day, this could be the right job for you. 

    Uber is no different from other jobs and has pros and cons. So be sure to carefully consider whether the pros outweigh the cons. Remember, you can always try out Uber for a few weeks part-time to see how you like it. 

    Be sure to check out some of our other articles to learn more about how to make the most out of rideshare driving and maximize your income. 

    Are You Ready to Become an Uber Driver?

    When you’re ready to become an Uber driver, make sure to sign up for Uber using a referral code.  Rideshare driving is a wonderful profession.  It feels good to help people get from point A to point B.

    You will have some truly remarkable conversations. Recently, I had a long ride to the airport with a doctor of psychiatry.  We talk about the different ways some drugs are being used to help our veteran with PTSD.  It was a great chat and I am sure you will have many chats just like it.

    I hope this article encourages you to become a driver.  I think you will enjoy it and make good money.  Be safe out there.

    If you have any questions, RSG is here for you! Make sure you sign up for the RSG newsletter, where we share the latest tips for maximizing your income and more.

    Ready to become a Lyft driver? Check out how to become a Lyft driver.

    -RSG team

    Harry Campbell

    Harry Campbell

    I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.