Since the pandemic started, I haven’t driven for any rideshare service. With the country opening back up and vaccines becoming more widely available, I had started considering getting back into the game. The thing that tipped the scales for me was the big offers that I saw coming through for me.
I decided to bite when Uber offered me $100 for taking 3 trips. That’s more than $33 EXTRA per trip. There were no specific zones I had to be in and I simply had to complete those three trips within the standard Uber week. In this case, I had to complete 3 trips between April 26 at 4 a.m. and May 10 at 4 a.m. in Los Angeles.
Now, I knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, but I also knew I had a few steps I needed to take to get ready to drive again. Like I said, it’s been a year since I’ve gone anywhere near driving for any of these apps.
Step one was figuring out which documents I needed to update/upload. One of them was my vehicle inspection. I used Rideshare Mechanic to quickly and easily get my car inspected. Best of all, they did the appointment virtually.
I set it up online and the inspection itself took about 15 minutes. After that, I was ready to get back on the road.
As I was logging in, there was one last step, and that was the Uber selfie to prove I am the same guy whose picture is on my profile.
Getting Back to the Uber Grind
To start off, I did a little test to see what demand was really like out there. Obviously, Uber thinks there is higher demand from passengers, or else they wouldn’t have offered such a relatively easy high-paying bonus.
Well, I’d say they were right. Within 4 minutes I had 8 requests.
All of them had some kind of surge price attached to them and showed an estimated range of pay I could expect for the trip. Keep in mind, these trip requests were coming through at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning.
Just to see how things were working on the passenger end, I decided to request a ride as well. I was canceled on 3 times and charged a cancellation fee twice.
Check out my full driving experience on my YouTube video:
Why Are Uber and Lyft Offering These Bonuses?
So, how did we get to this point? Why am I being offered $100 to complete only 3 rides? I believe there are several factors that have led us to this point.
One more obvious reason is the pandemic. Either drivers didn’t feel safe driving because they didn’t want to catch COVID, or they didn’t think there would be enough passengers to make driving worthwhile.
Some of those drivers are still not back on the road yet, making it difficult for Uber and Lyft to fill in gaps where passengers are requesting drivers and coming up short.
There are also a few reasons why those drivers might not be back on the road yet and one of those reasons is other sources of income. I’m not saying these drivers all went out and got other jobs. However, there is the PPP loan, EIDL, unemployment and the federal stimulus that drivers can or could earn throughout the past year making rideshare driving unnecessary for the time being.
Recent new updates to the PPP loan made it easier for drivers to be eligible when maybe they weren’t the first time around. A stipulation was that as long as you were in operation on or before February 15, 2020 and reported taxable earnings/income for 2019 or 2020, you can likely apply for PPP assistance.
If you collected unemployment, you just couldn’t “double dip” for that time period, so you’d simply have to go off unemployment for the approximately 8 weeks you’d be paying yourself with PPP money.
Going back to unemployment for a minute, this is something that gig workers are not typically eligible for, but it was made available to us because of COVID. Plus, the federal government has kicked in extra for almost the entirety of the pandemic so far. There’s currently an extra $300 bonus per week for those receiving unemployment, and that is not set to expire until September.
Lastly, there are some drivers who have simply moved on from ridesharing, leaving gaps in the bank of drivers Uber has around the U.S. It’s important to note that not all cities are offering these kinds of bonuses. Some are offering much more and some are offering none.
This isn’t going to last forever, so my advice is to take advantage while you can. I explained as much in a recent interview with Marketplace, stating, “When I, myself, first signed up to drive for Uber in 2014, they gave me a $500 bonus payment after just one ride, my first ride. In a weird way, the more these companies pay, the more bonuses they offer, the more drivers they get onto the road, the more flooded the streets are with Uber and Lyft drivers, and then that actually brings down your average earnings as a driver.”
More drivers on the road at one time is not very beneficial to the drivers, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t bank these bonuses while you have the opportunity.
I also mentioned in a Bloomberg article recently, “It definitely reminds me of the good old days,” you know, when we had great promotions and bonuses and rates.
Earn More By Driving for Multiple Apps
I always encourage people to sign up for more than one service to keep your driving and delivering as efficient and profitable as possible. Now is no different. Uber is not the only one offering incentives to get drivers on the road.
In the Minneapolis/St. Paul market, a dasher received an incentive to make 10 deliveries and earn an extra $200. There were some stipulations as to where you could start from, but it spread across most of the Twin Cities area, making it worthwhile.
Instacart has been incentivizing their drivers to get COVID vaccines by offering what they call a vaccine stipend.
In an Inquirer article, the Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta was quoted as saying, “Our goal with the introduction of our new vaccine support stipend is to ensure that, when the time comes, Instacart shoppers don’t have to choose between earning income as an essential service provider or getting vaccinated.”
Plus, with both Instacart and DoorDash, their delivery driver pool has increased dramatically over the last year because of higher demands during the pandemic.
We’ve also got HopSkipDrive that is a great option for people interested in driving kids and families. They are currently operating in northern and southern California, Colorado, Virginia/District of Columbia, Arizona, Texas, Washington, and Nevada. Find your city at this link and scroll down.
If you’re interested in a more employee-geared model, consider something like Alto, currently available in Dallas and Fort Worth. They provide their employees with late-model SUVs and cover all gas and maintenance costs.
Curri is another delivery option that is geared toward construction. In fact, they call themselves The Construction Courier™. As a driver for them you’d be in charge of delivering materials from supply stores to a jobsite or from branch to branch; wherever you are needed.
Get out there and give it your best shot. If you see a great incentive or bonus, why not get the money while it’s available?
-Harry @ RSG