Harry here. Destination filters can be a powerful, useful feature for drivers, but they can be tricky to figure out at first. However, it’s worth figuring out how to use destination filters to work smarter, not harder – and make sure you get those much-needed bathroom breaks! Today, RSG contributor Will Preston discusses how to best use the destination filter to increase your earnings, along with tips on how to use destination filters when you’re ready to end your driving shift.
Destination filters are a feature in both Lyft and Uber that allow you to only get rides headed in a specific direction. Many people use them to get from the suburbs where they live into the city, where there are more rides. Harry covered Uber’s version of this in detail in a previous post.
Since using destination filters, my average weekend yield with Uber and Lyft has increased by about $100. Here’s how you can do the same.
However, keep in mind the rides you get on destination filter don’t count toward any bonuses or guarantees on Lyft. Uber just announced a change that their filters will apply towards bonuses and the like. Uber gives you two destination filters per 24 hour period, and Lyft gives you three, but the use of a filter only counts towards your daily total if you get a ride on that filter.
Related article: How to make more money driving for Uber and Lyft
How the Uber Destination Filter Works
The Uber destination filter will get you requests going anywhere inside a 180 degree arc that is created by drawing a line from where you are to where you set the filter for. Please note that the filter does not apply to where the ride starts, it only applies to where the rider is going.
This means you will sometimes be sent to pickup someone that is away from your chosen destination, but they will be going toward your chosen destination. And, yes, it sometimes means you will go several miles in the wrong direction, only to drop your rider one mile closer to your destination than where you started. It actually happened to me the first day I tried Uber’s filters. The good news it doesn’t happen often, and you are not under any obligation to accept a ride that requires you to travel in the wrong direction.
To really illustrate how the 180 degree arc works, I once got a trip to Valley View Casino from my house in Oceanside, when my filter was set to 40 miles south of there.
Update: Lyft’s filter is different
I thought an update to explain how Lyft’s filter works was in order. Lyft’s filter appears to be more restrictive than Uber’s. Lyft appears to only want to give you rides that you would get if you treated your trip to your destination like a Lyft Line request. It calculates your route to your destination, and it will give you rides that are a little off that route, but not very far off that route. And it doesn’t appear that it will give you rides that take a completely different route. Take a look at this Google Map of directions from where I live to the airport to see what I mean.
Lyft will quickly add the blue/orange route as your route, and give you rides along that route. That means I might get rides leaving from East Oceanside (where I live) going to Encinitas, Solana Beach, or La Jolla. But I’m not going to get rides going to Escondido or Poway. That’s not “along the route.” And I’m definitely not going to get rides to Valley View Casino like I explained earlier on the Uber filter. This is probably why I rarely get rides on a Lyft destination filter.
Other Destination Filter Differences: Uber Vs. Lyft
Assuming you haven’t yet received a ride on a given filter, Lyft allows you to go offline and back online and the filter will still be there. With Uber, if you go offline (even for a second) the filter goes away and you have to redo it. Minor annoyance.
Lyft’s destination filter will timeout if you go 15 minutes without a ride request. You’ll get a text and it will take you offline. The bad news is that if you’ve had a ride on that filter, then that counts towards your three filters. The good news is that I’ve never met anyone that actually used all three Lyft filters in a day, as Lyft’s filters seem much more restrictive than Uber’s.
The Uber destination filter has a time limit of “double the estimated time to reach your destination,” and the timer starts the moment you activate it. I personally think this is a really odd setting, as this includes all the time I spend picking up and dropping off passengers. But it’s still better than kicking me off because I went 15 minutes without a ride. I have sent this feedback to Uber, and I would urge you to do the same. I can tell you that at least three times I’ve had it send me a “Your destination filter has expired” message and kicked me offline!
Using the Destination Filter On Each Platform
Once you have received a single ride on a filter (Uber or Lyft), going offline for any reason will terminate that filter and it will count towards your total of two (Uber) or three (Lyft). This includes taking Lyft offline because you got a ride on Uber, or vice versa. It also includes going offline for five minutes for a bathroom break.
This is why I do not put Uber or Lyft offline for any reason once I’ve gotten a ride request on a filter. If I’ve had a ride request on my Uber destination filter, and I get a Lyft request, I do not go offline on Uber the way I normally would. I just leave it online.
If I get an Uber request while I’m on my Lyft run, I just ignore it. The same is true if I have received at least one ride request on my Lyft filter, and I get an Uber request on its filter. I do not put Lyft offline. If I have not yet received a ride request on a filter, though, there’s no reason not to go offline, and plenty reasons to go offline.
The good news is that unless things are really hopping, you have a much lower chance of getting dual ride requests because the filters really lower the number of requests you get. The bad news is that this may ding your acceptance rate for the week and foil any plans you had for a bonus, so make your own call.
Another Uber trick has to do with its timeout of twice the estimated time to your destination. Since the timer starts from the moment I go online with the filter, if I haven’t had a request for 15-20 minutes after starting the filter, I will reset the timer by deleting the filter and putting it back.
Another Uber trick is to set my filter past where I actually want to go to increase the estimated time that Uber gives me before it deactivates my filter. In San Diego, that means setting my destination to San Ysidro instead of the airport. That adds an additional 20 minutes to my estimated travel time, which adds 40 mins to the amount of time they give me before shutting off my filter. Of course, that means I may get a ride all the way to San Ysidro. That would be $60+, so there are worse things.
Example One: Starting Your Shift
I live in a suburb and prefer to work downtown. I usually turn on both Uber and Lyft filters and point them to the airport, and I sit tight until I get my first ride request. That way I maximize my profit per mile. But if I’m trying to make it downtown by a particular time, I’ll turn on my filters and start driving. Once I’ve finished a ride, I have to decide again whether or not to sit and wait or to keep driving. I usually keep driving.
My experience is that if I’m patient, I’ve got about a 50-75% chance of jump starting my night with $25-40 plus tips.
Example Two: In the Middle of Nowhere
How many time have you made it to your sweet spot, only to get a ride to the boonies? If I have a destination filter available, I’ll turn it on with the destination set to be back where I want to be, and I’ll start driving. I’ll still probably be deadheading all the way, but at least if I do get a ride, I know it’ll be going the right way.
Example Three: Time to End Your Shift and Go Home
I like to work downtown San Diego, but I like to finish up my night in Encinitas and Carlsbad. It’s still 15-20 minutes from my house, but there are plenty of bars and drunks to bring home. If I have a destination filter left in my 24-hour period, I’ll turn it on at 11:50 and start driving north. Even if I get rides after midnight, they count toward yesterday’s DF.
Example Four: Deducting “Commuting” Miles
The IRS says commuting miles are not deductible. Turn on a destination filter and set it to where you work and you are no longer commuting. You are driving for Uber/Lyft in a way that happens to take you closer to work. My CPA says those miles are now deductible. Get your own tax advice though as this seems to be a gray area depending on who you talk to.
Related article: Essential gear every rideshare driver should have
Destination filters are a valuable part of Uber and Lyft. Knowledge of how they work and how to use them can definitely increase how much money you make in a night. And maybe they’ll let you deduct more miles!
Readers, do you use the destination filter and, if so, how do you use it to maximize your earnings?
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-Will Preston @ RSG