I have been an Uber driver for the last several years. For me, it’s been a great job because it allows me to have the freedom and flexibility to work when I want – and play when I want.
I like to travel, and with Uber, I can push very hard and put in the hours to make 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. The first thing to do is visit the Uber website and click “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. Don’t forget to sign up with a referral code in case you’re eligible to receive bonuses or guarantees as a new driver!
When I signed up back in December 2015, I was on the road and making money within 24 hours.
Uber Driver Requirements
To be a driver for Uber, their requirements are pretty straightforward. 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.
Additionally, 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 must also 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. For that, you’ll need your social security card.
You will need a driver profile photo which must be forward-facing, centered, and contain the full face of the driver and the top of the shoulders, without any sunglasses. Additionally, the photo must driver ONLY 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.
Once you are a driver, then you will need to get your car all set up.
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 would be wise 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.
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 your car. 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. The inspection takes less than 30 minutes and keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for it.
Once you have uploaded all the documentation, Uber will approve the documents and you are all set to drive.
In addition, you may also use passed inspection forms from other rideshare companies.
Car Inspection Tips for Uber Drivers
Here are some tips on getting the most out of your inspection 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 to 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 to Drive for Uber Without 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.
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.
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 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 passengers do, although both apps do allow in-app tipping. Just last week a rider tipped me $48 for a 7-mile ride! If you’re lucky, you can get amazing tips like this from riders which can really make for a great shift to earn money.
How are Uber Drivers 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 long trips when there is no traffic.
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’s smart to be very friendly and helpful with your passengers so you can earn 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 that 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.
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’ll show 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.
Best Cities to Drive for Uber
Another way you can increase your income is by getting to know your city better as a driver.
If you are looking to drive for Uber in a major city, check out the guides we have below:
- Driving for Uber in Miami
- Driving for Uber in Atlanta
- Driving for Uber in Boston
- Driving for Uber in Chicago
- Driving for Uber in Denver
- Driving for Uber in Los Angeles
- Driving for Uber in Nashville
- Driving for Uber in Portland, OR
- Driving for Uber in San Francisco
- Driving for Uber in Seattle
- Best Times to Drive for Uber (any city)
Pros and Cons of Driving for Uber
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.
Here are some key pros and cons to consider before going 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
- 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.
- Vehicle Wear and Tear
The miles Uber drivers drive per week vary. 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 calling 911, sharing location, and recording 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 these 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.
What To 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 you 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? 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.
Is Driving for Uber Worth It?
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?
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.
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