Uber Eats is like any other gig delivery app – you get out of it what you put into it. The base pay is similar to what you’d earn from most other apps, but your strategy and level of customer service ensure top earnings.
There are lots of ways to maximize your earnings as an Uber Eats driver, whether it’s working the best zones or knowing how and when to take advantage of boosts and surge pricing.
To make the most money with Uber Eats, you’ll have to work smarter. Here are the best tips and tricks that you can implement to earn more money as a driver on Uber Eats.
11 Tips to Make More Money with Uber Eats
Increasing your Uber Eats earnings is easier than it sounds. If you turn on the app and take the occasional delivery, you will make less than the full potential. But with the right plan, you can make so much more.
1. Filter Deliveries Based on Payout and Distance
As an independent contractor, you can decide which deliveries you’ll accept. The key is to maximize your time and earnings while minimizing your expenses.
What does that mean when delivering food?
First, only accept orders that are close enough. Even if the longer distance deliveries are higher paying, consider your car expenses, including gas, commute time, and wear and tear. If you don’t have other orders in the area or on the way back, you decrease your hourly pay because it takes time to return to your original spot.
Next, consider traffic patterns in the area. Choosing orders that require you to sit in traffic for extended periods will decrease your hourly rate because you can only take so many orders. It may also reduce the tips you earn because you’ll have frustrated customers, even though it’s beyond your control.
Also, gaining experience will teach you which restaurants move the slowest. Again, this decreases your hourly wage because you waste time waiting for food that could be used for taking more orders and earning more money.
The key is calculating your hourly earnings based on the guaranteed rate Uber Eats offers and your estimated tip. Also, consider what else you could squeeze into that hour to know your true potential.
For example, you know an order that Uber Eats displays a guaranteed rate of $9 for will take 30 minutes. You can grab another similar order to round out the hour, and you’ll make $18 an hour before gas and mileage expenses, which is more than minimum wage.
2. Track Your Mileage and Expenses
One of the lesser-known Uber Eats tips is to track your mileage and other expenses to decrease your tax liability.
As an independent contractor, you run an Uber Eats driver business. Because of this, you may be eligible to deduct the miles driven for your deliveries, including the miles to pick up and deliver an order.
In some cases, you may also be able to deduct miles driven in between orders, but it’s best to talk to a tax professional about what you can and cannot deduct. The key is to track your mileage. Uber provides a Tax Summary that includes all miles driven, but it’s a good idea to keep your own record with more details so you can discuss your options with your tax advisor.
In 2023, the mileage deduction, according to the IRS, is 65.6 cents per mile, so it’s a deduction you want to take advantage of as it can greatly increase your take-home pay.
You may also be eligible to deduct other expenses, such as gas and repairs. Again, keep detailed receipts and records to show your tax professional all the costs involved in running your business.
The more expenses you can write off, the more it increases your earnings. You won’t see the increase immediately, but when it lowers your tax liability or gets you a tax refund, it keeps more money in your pocket.
3. Choose the Right Time and Location for Deliveries
One of the most essential Uber Eats tips is to time your deliveries. Again, you trade your time for money and want to make the most of it.
Making yourself available during slow times will result in a much lower hourly rate than if you worked during busier times, hustled those few hours, and spent less time waiting for an order.
The best times to drive for Uber Eats varies by area, but focus your times during the lunch or dinner rush during the week or work weekends.
During the week, the lunch rush, according to Uber Eats and other apps, is 11 am to 2 pm, and the dinner rush is 5 pm to 11 pm. On weekends you can play around with the times as they are often busier from morning until night, including late at night after people come home from being out at bars and other venues.
Uber Eats also runs surge pricing promotions, paying more per delivery to entice more drivers to deliver during busy times. Surge pricing times vary based on the area and what’s happening. In general, Uber Eats drivers make more during inclement weather because most people don’t want to leave their homes to pick up their food.
In addition to choosing the right times to deliver is selecting the right location. You can sign on during ‘hot times,’ but if you aren’t close enough to the ‘hot spots,’ you may not be as busy as you hoped.
Instead, position yourself near a cluster of restaurants to increase your chances of getting orders, but pay attention to the location of the deliveries. A restaurant with a large delivery radius can throw off your strategy and make you earn less than you hoped per hour because you spent more time on the road.
4. Avoid Parking in No-Parking Zones
Avoid parking in no-parking zones if you deliver for restaurants in downtown areas or with restricted parking. Even if the spot is directly in front of the restaurant and will save you time, it will cost you much more than you’ll earn if you get a ticket.
Instead of taking the risk, park in an area where it’s allowed. Scope out the area before your shift so you know where you’ll park and can plan your walk to save the most time. When you know where to park, you’ll avoid wasting time looking for a spot or risking parking in a no-parking zone.
You’ll likely save time parking further away and walking versus circling the area to find a closer spot. Plus, the cost of a parking ticket will decrease your hourly earnings. If parking stresses you out, especially when trying to provide great customer service, find an area with restaurants with a simpler parking situation.
5. Properly Store Hot and Cold Food Items
The key to the best tips and earnings on Uber Eats is providing excellent customer service, including ensuring hot and cold foods stay that way.
This takes some practice! But unless the delivery is within a minute or two, you risk delivering lukewarm food that should either be hot or cold and decrease customer satisfaction.
If you’re fully invested in driving for Uber Eats, consider purchasing an insulated food bag to keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
You can purchase a bag from Uber Eats directly for automatic approval within 36 hours of submitting your request. If you bring your own bag, however, you must follow their instructions to get your bag validated.
Uber must approve your bag because it’s a food safety issue. They must ensure the bag is sanitary and safe to deliver customer orders. But again, this small investment can improve your tips by delivering food at the right temperatures. It also allows you to take higher-paying orders that may be a little further away without worrying that the food will not be at the right temperature when you deliver it.
6. Minimize Expenses by Using a Bike for Deliveries
Uber Eats allows delivery drivers to deliver food by car or bike. If you live in an area where biking is feasible, it can be a great way to minimize expenses and naturally increase your Uber Eats earnings.
Uber Eats typically tries to keep bike deliveries within a short radius too, which means you can take more orders within an hour, increasing your hourly rate. You’ll keep more of your earnings since you won’t have gas, tolls, or parking expenses. You also don’t have to worry about wear and tear on your vehicle.
7. Prioritize Excellent Customer Service by Double-Checking Pickups
Increasing your tips starts with good customer service. Customers can leave as little or as much as they want for a tip and can increase or decrease the tip up to one hour after delivery.
This incentivizes you to prioritize excellent customer service. The first way is to double-check pickups. Before leaving the restaurant, check the order to ensure all items ordered and paid for are there, including any extras, like sauces or other special requests.
Also, consider adding special touches, such as picking up silverware and napkins or other conveniences that give the order that special touch.
If you discover the order is incorrect at the restaurant, immediately contact the customer to inform them about the issue. This instantly tells them it isn’t your fault as the driver but that you went the extra mile to check their order and alert the restaurant that it isn’t correct. This could result in higher tips.
Be sure to let the customer know when you’ve received the correct order and are on your way. While this will decrease the number of orders you can take per hour because of the delay, you may make up for it with higher tips.
Even if the order is right, great communication is key. Always let the customer know your status and any other details you can offer. The more information, the better because you’ll have happier customers as they’ll know exactly when to expect their food.
8. Complete Uber Quests and Promotions
Uber Eats quests and promotions are among the best Uber Eats tips for maximizing earnings. If you have quests or promotions available to you, they’ll show up in your app.
Pay close attention to the details to ensure you can meet the requirements, and you’ll automatically boost your earnings.
Think of quests like challenges. Uber Eats will provide the details of what you must do to earn the bonus, such as completing a certain number of deliveries within a specified time. The quests may be for short periods, like a week, or longer periods, such as a month.
The key is to keep track of the number of deliveries you do and strategically plan your shifts so you can reach the required number of deliveries to get the bonus.
9. Take Photos During Drop-Offs and Send a Text
In the name of keeping up with great customer service, pictures and texts go a long way when driving for Uber Eats.
First, photos are essential to prove you delivered the food. This is especially important for customers that request a no-contact delivery. This means you leave the food on their front porch or other designated location. Without picture proof that you left it there, the customer could claim you didn’t deliver the food.
So take the picture for customer service AND to protect your back.
However, there’s a lesser-known Uber Eats tip that I’m going to share as well. When you take a picture of the food delivery, include a picture of your insulated food bag. This shows the customer that you care about their food and are doing everything possible to ensure it is delivered at prime temperature.
Then when you send the customer a text saying, ‘Hey, I delivered your food; it’s on the right side of your porch, have a great night!’ you can include a picture of the food with the bag. This not only proves that you delivered the food but may increase the chance that the customer will log into the app and increase your tip for the great customer service you provided.
10. Carry a Flashlight for Better Visibility
A flashlight may seem like a silly add-on to your Uber Eats supplies, but if you deliver at night, you’ll appreciate it!
Carrying a flashlight makes it much easier to see the hard-to-spot house numbers, increasing your chance of delivering the food to the right address.
Keep in mind that not all streets have great or any street lights. Having a flashlight can ensure your safety, that you deliver the food properly, and that you don’t waste too much unnecessary time on each delivery.
11. Be Mindful of Stack Order Processing and Take Breaks Strategically
Sometimes Uber Eats sends drivers stacked orders. This means you pick up two orders from the same restaurant and deliver them to two separate addresses.
This can be a great time saver if it’s strategically planned. Before accepting the stacked order, look at the location of the deliveries. Are they nearby one another? If so, it’s likely a no-brainer. You increase your hourly rate by eliminating one restaurant stop but make the guaranteed rates and tips for two deliveries.
However, if one order needs to be delivered far away from the other one, or worse yet, out of your normal delivery zone, it may not make sense. You’ll decrease your hourly rate if you have too much downtime returning to your original starting point.
If you aren’t familiar with the areas, take a minute to map out the route and determine how much time it will take. Then calculate your hourly rate and decide if it makes sense or if you’ll earn more money taking separate orders but staying within a smaller radius.
Increase Your Earnings with Uber Eats
Uber Eats is a popular food delivery app that is in thousands of cities around the country. The ultimate hack to making the most money with this gig is to pay attention to the best Uber Eats tips I included in this article.
Strategize your deliveries, only accept orders that make sense, and provide excellent customer service to increase your tips. Of course, it’s always a good idea to diversify your efforts, so combining your delivery efforts with apps like DoorDash or Grubhub can also help increase your earnings.
DoorDash is one of the best delivery apps because it pays a minimum rate per delivery (DoorDash will make up the difference if your pay per delivery is below their threshold!), and encourages generous tips that you keep fully.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about driving for Uber Eats.
Is it possible to make $2,000 a week with Uber Eats?
It is possible to make $2,000 within a single week of driving for Uber Eats, however, this is the exception and not the rule. Earning $2,000 for 2 or more weeks in a row, or more than a few times a year, would be very unlikely.
Typically, there are not enough delivery requests in a given week for you to reach the $2K sum.
If your goal is to consistently make $2,000 a week — primarily as an Uber Eats delivery driver — then you’ll need to top up your income with other side hustles like UberX, DoorDash, Grubhub, or Lyft.
What is the average Uber Eats tip?
Sources are all over the place. Some forums claim $4 per order is an average tip (on top of the base delivery pay), whereas the DoorDash and Uber Eats drivers featured in a New York Times story cross their fingers that they’ll average 10% tips across all their deliveries in any given shift.
Uber Eats drivers can’t see their final tip until one hour after the delivery is made, although they can see an estimated tip amount of up to $8.
Uber Eats and other food delivery apps recommend tipping 15% to 20% of the total meal price for your order; the drivers go to a lot of care to pick up your order, utensils, and condiments, and getting it to your address. Often, they’re delivering during periods when no one wants to go out (pandemic, rush hour, bad weather).
As a rule of thumb, I always tip 15% for orders, but for orders over $50, I may tip around 10% to 12%. Based on the driver’s customer service, I will add more to the tip after the delivery has been made.
A detailed Rideshare Guy study, looking at the wage of hundreds of drivers throughout the U.S. reveals that the average earnings for an Uber Eats driver are $19.33 an hour. This is $1 to $2 an hour more than what Grubhub and DoorDash drivers report.
Is doing Uber Eats worth it?
On the whole, yes. Uber Eats is a worthwhile gig if you’re looking for a flexible way to earn a full-time living or just pad your bank account with extra cash on a part-time or more casual basis.
Uber Eats drivers average nearly $20 an hour with tips and bonuses, can work flexible hours, and have the option to pick up work through the Uber Driver app and during slow meal delivery periods.
With quests, surges, and Boost+, there are almost always little extra ways to make more money with Uber Eats, and you can get instant pay. The app allows you to cash out up to five times per day, unlike other apps that pay out once a week unless you pay fees for a quicker cashout.