Uber is one of the most popular gig economy apps, allowing people to make money driving people to their destinations. It’s a work-as-you-want app, so you can work when it is convenient for you, but is it worth it?
Here’s everything you need to know about driving for Uber.
What Is Uber
Uber is a ridesharing app that brings together passengers who need a ride with drivers willing to drive for a fee.
All drivers are independent contractors who work on their own schedules and are responsible for all expenses and taxes.
Uber handles all communication and is the middleman between riders and drivers. The app matches riders with drivers willing to take the trip they requested.
Rides are available 24/7, but there are peak hours when drivers make more money because of higher demand.
How Uber Works
To drive for Uber, you must meet their requirements and be able to handle picking up passengers and taking them safely to their destination.
When you sign up as an Uber driver, you set yourself as ‘available’ when you want to accept rides, but you still control which rides you take. You choose the rides you want to accept based on the factors provided.
All communication and payment go through Uber. This protects your safety, so you don’t have to divulge private information. There’s also no risk of getting stiffed because all payment goes through Uber before you start the drive.
Uber pays drivers a flat fee that varies by location, trip, and time, and drivers keep 100% of the tips earned. The better service you provide, the higher the tip you’ll earn.
Uber pays drivers weekly via bank transfer, but you also have the option for Instant Pay, which allows instant access to the funds you earned for a small fee. You can use Instant Pay up to five times per day.
Uber does everything it can to keep its drivers safe and includes many safety features within the app to send help immediately should you have trouble.
To be an Uber driver, you must meet the Uber driver and car requirements as follows.
To drive for Uber, you must be at least the minimum required age to drive in your city and have a valid (non-expired) driver’s license. You must also have at least one year of driving experience. However, if you are under 25, you must have three years of driving experience.
To prove you’re eligible to be an Uber driver, you must provide the following documentation:
- Valid driver’s license
- Proof of residency
- Proof of valid insurance
- Profile photo from the shoulders up, with nothing else in the photo but the driver
After providing the necessary documentation, you must pass an online screening. This screening includes a criminal background check and driving history.
The vehicle you intend to use must be a four-door vehicle. Each city has specific requirements regarding the qualifications the vehicle must meet.
In general, they must meet the following:
- Be a 4-door vehicle
- Be 15 years or newer
- The vehicle should be in decent condition with no physical damage
- No commercial wraps or branding on the vehicle
- The vehicle must pass a vehicle inspection
Uber drivers can set their own schedules. You don’t have to pre-schedule your driving times. If you find a few free hours in your day, you can set the app to be available and pick up rides. Some cities, however, have limits regarding how much an Uber driver can drive. If this is the case, the Uber app will tell you when you’re approaching your limit.
Uber is available in all 50 states, but the demand is higher in some areas than others. New York City has the highest need for Uber drivers, but other popular cities, including Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and Boston.
While each area differs, the highest demand for Uber drivers is on weekends starting at 5 PM and during the week from 6 AM to 8 AM.
How much you make with Uber depends on the demand in your city and how often you drive. Uber offers several types of fares:
- Standard trip fare – Uber pays a base fare plus money for the distance and/or time. Rates vary by city.
- Surge – Surge pricing is extra pricing when demand is high. This happens during special events, rush hour, or even bad weather when there are more riders than drivers. Uber increases prices to compensate drivers, or riders can wait longer and pay standard fares.
- Other fare options – Sometimes, you can increase your earnings by picking up additional riders in Pool or by making Uber’s minimum fare on short trips.
- Promos – Uber often offers promotions by paying a bonus for reaching a certain number of trips or driving during certain hours. The terms and conditions vary by location.
Uber ratings control how many rides an Uber driver may get. All reviews are anonymous but could directly impact your ability to take rides.
Having great reviews may open up more ride opportunities, higher fares, and the chance to enter higher Uber driver tiers.
Of course, Uber looks for 5-star ratings, and Uber may request more information from riders if they aren’t happy. Don’t worry; Uber doesn’t restrict you if you don’t have a perfect rating, but they will issue warnings if you hit 4.6/5 stars.
If you fall below the threshold, Uber may offer you fewer rides, and/or riders are more likely to request drivers with higher ratings than those with reported issues.
Uber doesn’t do it often, but they will restrict driving privileges from any driver they feel isn’t living up to the Uber requirements, especially if they threaten anyone’s safety.
If you wonder what Uber riders consider when rating Uber drivers, here are some tips:
- Conversations – Some riders love to talk, and others want to ride in silence. Try to read your riders to determine what they want, and always avoid topics that could cause issues, such as religion and politics.
- Driving habits – Riders will rate you on your driving if they feel you drove too fast or slow, took dangerous chances, or didn’t obey the law.
- Arriving late – If you don’t arrive as expected, riders may rate you lower. When they request a ride, the Uber app tells them when you should arrive. They may tip you less and rate you lower if you don’t.
- Other dangerous habits – If you talk on the phone, play loud music, or take a route other than determined in the app, riders may rate you lower.
Uber makes it easy to get support. In the Uber app, drivers can select ‘Support,’ and based on the issue, you’ll have various options to get in touch with a customer support specialist.
Many drivers complain about the lack of support provided by Uber. They recently implemented phone support, but most drivers claim it’s ‘fake’ and that there isn’t true support; that Uber wants drivers to rely on the automated answers to support questions provided in the app.
Driving for a rideshare company is typically safe, but like anything in life, there are risks. According to the U.S. Uber Safety Report, 99.9% of Uber rides end without incident.
However, it’s good to know how Uber protects its drivers.
- Emergency assistance button – Uber has an in-app emergency button drivers can use to call authorities. The app has your location and trip information, so it’s easy to tell authorities where you are and what you need.
- 24/7 incident support – If you have an incident that doesn’t require immediate police attention, you can call the 24/7 incident support line to get help.
- Follow My Ride – You can give friends and family access to your route so they know where you are at all times.
- Phone anonymization – Your phone number remains private if you must use it to call riders.
- GPS tracking – The Uber app keeps track of your rides if you need to report something and your whereabouts
- RideCheck – The app can detect if something has gone wrong, such as a crash or you’ve gone off course from the intended trip. Uber representatives will check in with you if this occurs.
- Contact Safety Agent – All Uber drivers can contact an ADT Safety Agent by clicking the safety shield within the app.
- 2-way ratings – Uber won’t allow riders with poor ratings to take rides, so you don’t have to worry if there was a previous incident with a rider.
Uber Driving Costs
Many new Uber drivers don’t consider the costs incurred to drive for Uber. Because you’re an independent contractor, not an employee, you’re responsible for all costs incurred.
You likely think of gas as your largest expense, but there are other expenses to consider, including the following:
When you use your car more, it will need more maintenance. Oil changes, tire rotations, new tires, and brake pads are just a few common car repairs your car may need more often. Your car is your ‘office,’ so you must maintain it if you want to continue driving for Uber.
You need insurance to drive, but did you know you might need rideshare insurance to use your car for Uber? It’s not an Uber requirement, but it might be a requirement of your insurance company.
A rideshare rider allows you to be covered if you are in an accident while working. If you don’t have rideshare coverage, your insurance company might deny the claim because you were working when it happened.
Taxes are another big factor in driving for Uber. You’re responsible for your own taxes. Uber won’t take taxes out of your pay, but you are responsible for paying taxes as you earn.
As an independent contractor, you must pay your estimated taxes quarterly to avoid getting behind on your tax liabilities and paying the penalty.
Pros & Cons of Driving for Uber
Driving for Uber has its pros and cons, and it’s important to weigh them to determine if driving for Uber is right for you:
- Flexible schedules – You don’t have to commit to a specific schedule. You can set the app to active whenever you have free time or leave it inactive for as long as you want. You’re in charge of how much you make and when you work.
- Fast payment – All drivers get paid weekly, but you also have the option for Instant Payment if you need the cash fast. There’s an $0.85 fee per transfer, and you can transfer funds up to five times daily.
- Opportunities to earn more – If you time your rides right, you may earn surge pricing or be able to take advantage of promotions. Making more than standard fares is easy, as long as you’re flexible about when you drive.
- Keep 100% of the tips – All drivers keep 100% of the tips earned from riders. Providing great service by showing up on time, being courteous, and getting riders safely to their destination may earn you higher tips.
- You need prior driving experience – If you’re younger than 25, you can’t drive for Uber until you have three years of driving experience. This can eliminate many potential Uber drivers who want to make extra money.
- The approval process takes a while – The approval process isn’t instant since you must pass a background and driving record check. It can take as long as ten days to get approved.
- You don’t get paid to wait – Rides aren’t guaranteed every time you log into the app. You might take one ride and then wait a few hours for another. You don’t get paid for the downtime like you would at a job that pays hourly.
Uber Driver Reviews
Like any app, there are positive and negative reviews from Uber drivers. Here’s what they say.
“Working for uber as a driver is not bad at all. Remember that location is very important. Find the right location and give it a try. Look for promotions.”
“Highly recommend working for Uber if you want to work on your own time and create your own schedule. They are always finding ways to compensate their workers.”
“Though Uber is great to help pay the extra bills. Having a work-life balance is difficult as the pay is low. You need to work till 2 AM every weekend to make real money.”
“Been driving almost a year. Benefits are below average. Support is awful; you can never understand them because they’re not in the same country. And the pay scale is below par for beating up your vehicle daily.”
Tips to Earn More with Uber
How much you earn with Uber depends on your location, when you drive, and how often. However, there are a few tricks to help increase your earnings.
1. Don’t Drive Around Looking for Rides
Rather than wasting money driving around looking for rides, find the most popular area people request rides and position yourself there. Driving around wastes money because it uses gas and puts more wear and tear on your vehicle. As you gain experience, you’ll see where most rides occur and can position yourself there to be one of the first offered the ride.
2. Provide Top Notch Customer Service
Provide the best customer service your riders could expect so you earn as much money as possible. You will earn higher tips when you provide great service and increase the chances of riders rating you higher. The better your ratings are, the more ride opportunities you’ll have.
3. Focus on Surge Times
Get to know the most popular surge times in your area and pay attention to local events. When there’s something big going on in the area, there’s a higher likelihood of more Uber rides which may mean surge pricing.
4. Watch for Promotions
Uber runs promotions quite often to get more rides completed. So watch for the promotions and create your schedule so that you can meet the promotion and earn higher pay.
5. Use the Uber Passenger App
The Uber passenger app can be a wealth of information for you. Rather than positioning yourself where there are many other drivers, another strategy is to find an area where there aren’t as many to decrease your competition.
This can be a little trial and error because you don’t want to spend time in an area with low demand, but you also don’t want to be where there’s too much competition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Driving for Uber may not pay the mortgage, but it can deliver a decent wage if you work the most popular hours. Here are the most common questions people have about driving for Uber.
Where can you sign up to be an Uber Driver?
Click here to sign up to be an Uber driver. You’ll provide your cell phone number, follow the prompts to download the app, and complete your profile. Next, you must provide Uber with the requested information and pass the background check to start driving.
How can you review your driver profile and reviews?
To see your driver ratings and reviews, open your driver’s app. Then, click on the menu and your profile photo. When you click on the ‘average rating,’ you’ll see more details on what people said about you.
All reviews are anonymous for drivers and riders for everyone’s safety, but you can see what riders say about you, so you know what to change or keep doing.
Can you make a living driving for Uber?
The average Uber driver in the United States makes $37,702 a year. This might be enough for a single person in a low-cost area, but for most people, Uber income is supplemental, not enough to live on. So if you want to survive on just rideshare income, you may need to drive for Uber and another rideshare company.
Can I drive for more than one rideshare service?
You can drive for multiple rideshare services, but you must be organized. Many drivers that drive for both have multiple phones to keep track of both platforms.
It may be worth trying both services in your area to see which has the higher demand and pays better.
Should You Drive for Uber?
Driving for Uber can be worth it if you don’t mind the wear and tear on your car and know how to find the ‘sweet spot’ to get the most rides.
The competition is fierce with Uber drivers, but if you find an area where the demand for rides is high but drivers haven’t flooded yet, you might make a decent living working your own schedule and driving people to their destinations.