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    Chicago is a busy city, where many people live out of town and commute in, and even more visit as a tourist destination. This can mean year-round profit for Chicago drivers, but how much can Chicago drivers really earn? Here’s everything you need to know about driving for Lyft and Uber in Chicago. 

    If you are looking for city driving guides, check out the guides we have below! Want to see your city listed? Email Harry (harry[at]therideshareguy.com) and let him know which cities you’d like to see covered.

    One of the most popular cities in the United States is Chicago. People come from all over the world to visit the Bean, the Willis Tower, Navy Pier and more. 

    This, along with hundreds of thousands of commuters around the city, is sure to keep rideshare drivers busy day and night. Learn the best times and areas to drive in Chicago and so much more directly from Chicago drivers themselves! 

    Live in Illinois and need rideshare insurance? Look into Stable, an insurance company that’s geared toward insuring rideshare drivers! Learn more about Stable here.

    Quick Summary: 

    • Whether you prefer downtown or the suburbs, you can find times to keep busy. 
    • Avoid traffic if you want to earn more; getting stuck in traffic will not make much money.
    • Be aware of your surroundings throughout all of Chicago, day and night. Stay safe! 

    How to sign up to Be a Lyft and Uber Driver in Chicago

    Signing up to drive for Uber in Chicago is straightforward – the application process is similar to many other cities. 

    Signing up to drive for Lyft is similar to driving for Uber as well. 

    You simply start by inputting your mobile phone number and continuing from there. 

    Vehicle Requirements* for Uber and Lyft

    The following are Lyft and Uber car requirements to use the platforms:

    • 15-year-old vehicle or newer (Uber and Lyft)
    • 4-door vehicle (Uber and Lyft)
    • 5-8 seats, including the driver’s (Lyft)
    • Valid license plate — Out-of-state plates are also acceptable (Lyft)
    • Good condition with no cosmetic damage (Uber)
    • No commercial branding (Uber)
    • Pass a vehicle inspection (Uber and Lyft)

    *Both may require all of these points, but the indications given are based on the general information given on their respective websites.

    Driver Requirements* for Uber and Lyft

    The following are the minimum Uber and Lyft driver requirements to be approved to drive on their platforms:

    • Valid driver’s license — Temporary or out-of-state licenses are also acceptable (Lyft); Have a valid US driver’s license (Uber)
    • 1 year of driving experience and be 25 or older (Lyft); Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the US (3 years if you are under 25 years old) (Uber)
    • Meet the minimum age to drive in your city (Uber)
    • Pass driver screening: reviews your driving history and criminal background check (Lyft)
    • Any smartphone that can download and run the Lyft Driver app (Lyft)
    • Use an eligible 4-door vehicle (Uber)

    *Both may require all of these points, but the indications given are based on the general information given on their respective websites.

    You will also need to make sure that you have the required vehicle insurance. We recommend you also look into rideshare insurance, which is an add-on that will protect you during all parts of your drive. 

    Sign Up Bonuses for Chicago Lyft and Uber Drivers

    Be sure to keep an eye out for any bonuses or guarantees that are being offered. As of the writing of this article, the offering for new Uber drivers in Chicago is “Earn at least $2,660 in Chicago when you complete 200 trips or deliveries.” 

    Button Texthttps://therideshareguy.com/go/uberdriver

    As of the writing of this article, the Lyft guarantee for new drivers depends on the city in which you live. Check out what you can make in your city using our Lyft referral code.

    Offers from Uber and Lyft vary, so be sure to check what’s available when you sign up and pay attention to the terms and conditions of any guarantees or bonuses. 

    How Much Do Lyft and Uber Drivers Make in Chicago?

    Lyft

    YipIt Data, a company that specializes in market research for the disruptive economy, found that weekday daytime volume is higher for Lyft than Uber, but weekday nighttime demand was higher for Uber than Lyft. YipIt research is based on public data from Chicago in March 2022.

    Weekend daytime volumes comprise a similar % of all volumes for both companies. However, Uber (20%) weekend nighttime volume was higher than for Lyft (17%), so if you’re wondering which company is busier, it may pay better to sign up for Uber!

    Your rideshare earnings are determined by five factors:

    • Base rate: You get paid a guaranteed fare for picking up passengers.
    • Distance rate: You get paid per mile, based on the city where your ride starts.
    • Time rate: You get paid per minute, based on the city where your ride starts.
    • Tips: Passengers tip you directly through the app – and you keep 100% of your tips. Always.
    • Bonuses: Opportunities to earn extra cash become available at the busiest times and places.

    Lyft’s rates may vary by city, region, and time.

    icon lockup of Pay, Time, Distance, Tips, Bonuses

    According to Indeed, “Average Lyft Driver yearly pay in Chicago is approximately $30,462.” It does not specify if this is with drivers who consider themselves to be full-time or part-time drivers.


    ZipRecruiter estimates Chicago rideshare drivers earn about $25/hour on average, or about $996/week. 

    Uber

    YipIt Data shows that Uber is overwhelmingly more popular than Lyft (Uber has 72% of ride volume market share) so if you’re not sure which company to sign up with first, it makes sense to try Uber! YipIt research is based on public data from Chicago in March 2022.

    Yipit research shows that Uber has 72% market share in Chicago, as of March 2022.

    After speaking with several Uber drivers in the Chicago area, I learned that a part-time driver can earn around $400 per week, which is the equivalent of giving about 20 rides per week for driver Keith. 

    Bilal said that with multi-apping and maximizing his time and earnings, he’s bringing in around $1,200 a week on average. David cited similar, saying that he aims for around $1,000 a week before expenses. 

    According to Glassdoor, drivers report hourly earnings ranging from $10-$21/hr driving for Uber.

    Both Lyft and Uber driver pay vary greatly by time of day, rider demand, and other factors. 

    5 Tips for Lyft and Uber Drivers in Chicago

    1. Safety first

    One common factor among the drivers I spoke with was safety. Chicago has been getting a less than stellar reputation lately due to carjackings and seemingly random acts of violence throughout the city. 

    As Bilal stated, even “good” areas are becoming dangerous. He and several others have completely stopped driving nights due to safety concerns, despite the fact that nights often come with surges, helping drivers earn more. But they feel it’s not worth the risk.

    Keith said that you’re “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” when it comes to safety in Chicago. He tends to stay in the suburbs instead of downtown so that he has some level of safety built into his day.

    Keep your eyes open and pay attention to your surroundings. If you’ve got your head buried in your phone and not paying attention to who is approaching your vehicle, you’re making yourself an easy target. 

    For more tips on staying safe as a driver, check out our article on driver safety.

    2. Know the traffic patterns

    Chicago is known for horrible traffic during rush hours, and sometimes even outside of that. Elijah said, “When there’s bad traffic, don’t take long trips.” 


    He said it’s just not worth the money for the amount of time you’ll be stuck in traffic. If the request comes through as a 90-minute fare from downtown to O’Hare Airport, he cancels. 

    3. Treat people the way you want to be treated

    Keith said, “I look at people and I treat them like I want to be treated myself. I give them a better ride as a result of that. Everybody deserves respect until they don’t…It’s the little things that we do for each other that make the biggest difference.” 

    4. Give Mondays a try

    Bilal said that he tends to drive on Mondays and can keep very busy. He says that Mondays are better than Sundays for him. The other drivers have put in a full, busy weekend so they take Mondays off. Bilal suggests taking Tuesday or Wednesday off instead as those are his slower days typically. 

    5. Utilize destination filters

    Driver David said that he uses his destination filters to be more strategic throughout his day. He says that staying downtown in the loop is the most profitable area for him, so he’ll use his destination filters to place himself there as much as possible. 

    Minimum Pay Law for Uber and Lyft Drivers in Chicago

    According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, in March 2022, a minimum pay law was proposed for Uber and Lyft drivers in the city of Chicago. The proposal should help protect the drivers’ pay by guaranteeing minimum earnings. 

    Companies like Uber and Lyft, and their supporters, are against the law, citing that these enforcements would hurt ridership because fares would have to increase to cover the minimum requirements. 

    As part of the proposal, drivers would have a minimum per mile and per minute amount they could earn, or a minimum trip amount of $5, whichever is higher. 

    The article states, “The starting minimum per minute would be 30 cents, and the minimum per mile would include a $2 base and a $1.20-per-mile rate. Each year, the per-minute and per-mile rates would be adjusted for inflation.”

    “Drivers would also receive at least 80% of what their rider paid, according to the proposed ordinance.”

    And finally, the ordinance would also give drivers some protection when it comes to deactivation or disciplinary action taken against them when a customer files a complaint. 

    As of now, there has been no movement on this proposal but make sure to bookmark this page for more updates!

    What Else are Chicago Uber and Lyft Drivers Saying?

    Red, the Rideshare Ginger, shares his insight from driving in Chicago here:

    YouTuber RonniespeTV highlighted a driver who earned over $2,000 in a week driving Uber in Chicago:

    The driver in the video utilized his destination filters to help maximize his earnings. He also mentioned that a driver should never sit at the airport in Chicago because it is a waste of time. 

    Driver Elijah said, “You have to think about it as a small business. Evaluate each decision. Do quick math in your head. If it’s not profitable, don’t take it. You don’t have to be desperate and take ones that are not profitable.” 

    Bilal also mentioned that he enjoys the tourism of Chicago. There are so many different cultures and it’s always busy, always something happening downtown. He concluded with “it’s a good place to drive.” 

    Resources for Chicago Rideshare Drivers

    Facebook groups

    LegalRideshare

    LegalRideshare can help drivers who have gotten into car accidents and have injury claims. 

    Harry has interviewed Bryant, and he’s also an excellent resource for drivers who have been injured while driving for rideshare or delivery companies:

    Stable Insurance

    Stable is an insurance company in Illinois that helps provide customized coverage that rideshare drivers need. They even offer dash cam rewards for drivers who take the extra step to have a dash cam in their vehicle. 

    Learn more about Stable Insurance with RSG’s podcast episode RSG210: A New Kind of Rideshare Insurance.

    Independent Drivers Guild – Illinois

    Illinois has a chapter of the Independent Drivers Guild, which is the “largest rideshare driver organization in the nation.” It is a driver-led advocacy group whose primary mission to “fight for the right to collective bargaining.”

    The Illinois chapter has accomplished the following:

    “Through organizing, the Illinois Drivers Guild has won valuable new benefits for drivers. Notably, we have secured mental health benefits for Illinois drivers as part of our pioneering Driver Wellness Program. Crucially, we also offer members free and affordable legal services to help to fight unfair tickets, and accident support.”

    Learn more about the Illinois Independent Drivers Guild and get involved here.

    Is it Worth it to Drive for Lyft and Uber in Chicago?

    Yes and no. Drivers in Chicago need to make up their own minds when it comes to the violence and safety issues plaguing the city. With little to no support from Uber and the city itself, drivers are taking their own lives into their hands. 

    However, as one of the drivers pointed out, anything can happen at any time, anywhere. It’s not specific to Chicago. Allowing strangers into your car is always a risk, so you have to be the one to decide if you’re comfortable with it or not. 

    Monetarily, it sounds like Chicago can be a profitable city as long as you’re willing to find the sweet spots that work best for you and your schedule, and put strategies to work, such as working on Mondays and/or sticking to the suburbs or downtown (whichever you find most beneficial). 

    Like most cities, you get out of the experience what you put into it. If you need some extra cash, driving for Uber and Lyft (and even delivery apps) in Chicago may be a great fit for you. Just get out and try it! 

    Uber Driver Alternatives in Chicago

    Don’t feel like driving around people in Chicago? You’re in luck with delivery company Relay! Relay Delivery is available in Chicago and focuses on food delivery. One big difference about Relay from Uber Eats? Relay drivers are paid hourly!

    Get started with Relay today.

    Do you drive in Chicago? What tips or strategies do you have for Chicago-area drivers?

    -Paula @ RSG

    Paula Lemar

    Paula Lemar

    Paula has been writing for the Rideshare Guy since the fall of 2018. The main focus of her articles has been breaking news, reviewing new apps, driver experiences and more. Prior to her time with the Rideshare Guy, Paula worked as a writer and editor for various publications including local newspapers, sporting goods catalogs, online merchandise and more. She currently has a full-time job editing for a top beauty company and enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in weekly trivia.