Uber has been aggressively rolling out Uber Eats over the past few months and many drivers have e-mailed us with questions. Today, contributor Ezra Dubroff shines some light on what it’s like to actually deliver food with Uber Eats and how much money you can make.
How to drive for Uber Eats: If you’d like to get your Uber Eats bonus, click here to sign up. If you’re interested in Uber Eats delivery then you might also be interested in signing up to deliver for Postmates and Doordash. See a full list of sign-up bonuses and incentives for rideshare drivers and delivery services.
Driving for Uber Eats: My Experience
You’ve probably heard of Uber Eats by now, but what is it exactly? Uber initially made its mark by disrupting the transportation industry, which billions of people around the world rely on every single day. And now Uber is making a huge push into another service that satisfies a basic human need: food, specifically food delivery. Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick explained the service, “you push a button and you get lunch.” Sounds pretty great for customers, but what’s it like for drivers? Let’s find out!
I fired up my app and set out to explore these questions, including how much Uber Eats delivery drivers make. Let’s see what I discovered! In this post, I’ll tell you about my experiences of actually going out and delivering for Uber Eats on a recent Saturday, plus common questions Uber Eats delivery people have and how much I made.
- Promote this app to make more money while driving for Uber Eats
- Essential gear every food delivery driver should have
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How to Become an Uber Eats Driver
For current Uber drivers: if you’re already approved to drive with Uber and in a market that offers Uber Eats, you generally just need to “opt-in” in order to get started delivering with Uber Eats. Open your driver app and from the home screen, scroll down, look for this message and follow the prompts:
If for some reason you don’t see that message in the app, reach out to support and ask them for assistance with getting Uber Eats added to your account.
If you’re new to Uber and interested in becoming a delivery-only driver, the driver and vehicle requirements are more relaxed than those for driving passengers. The specific requirements seem to vary by market, but generally a 1996 or newer vehicle is required (2-door vehicles are fine) and you must be at least 19-years-old (21 in Canada) with one year of driving experience, and you must be able to lift 30 pounds. If that sounds like a lot of food to carry, don’t worry – it’s rare you’ll have a delivery that weighs more than 3 or 4 pounds.
In some cities, you can even deliver for Uber Eats with a scooter, motorcycle or bicycle.
Signing Up for Uber Eats
Please note that driver promotions and incentives may not be available in all cities, particularly newer or smaller markets. Here in Los Angeles, promotions and incentives play a big part in my earnings potential so they can’t be ignored. Your market might have different dynamics so be sure to adjust your strategy accordingly. In a smaller market, you might have to rely solely on trip earnings, without incentives, so you’ll want to determine if that makes sense for you.
Also note that Surge pricing is applicable to Uber Eats trips, but only if you’re logged into a hybrid profile (e.g. UberX/Uber Eats). A maximum of 5.0x surge is possible with Uber Eats trips. Keep in mind that if you’re logged into a hybrid profile, you’ll be receiving both ride and uber delivery driver requests, so it would be difficult to key in on only Uber Eats requests in this situation.
Saturday came along and I decided to hit the road and deliver at 11:15 AM. I switched to my Courier vehicle profile (Uber Eats only), signed online and hopped in my car.
I started driving the few blocks from my home towards a very popular donut shop in Santa Monica, a beach city on the west side of Los Angeles. I wanted to position myself closer to a known Uber Eats partner restaurant to increase my chances of getting an Uber Eats request quickly. After all, donuts are what many people consider a healthy Saturday morning breakfast after a late Friday night out indulging.
Planning My Uber Eats Strategy
I’ve made hundreds of deliveries for Uber Eats in the past, but it had been a while since my last one, so before I decided to get out on the road, I wanted to have a plan in place. I find I’m able to maximize my Uber earnings when I focus on driver incentives like Quest and Boost and, of course, Surge pricing. To find current Quest and Boost promotions, check “Promotions,” which can be found by tapping “Earnings” on the bottom menu of the Uber driver app home screen.
My First Uber Eats Delivery Of The Day
After two minutes parked outside the donut shop, I got a request. But it wasn’t for the donut shop. It was for a poke restaurant about half a mile away. Getting to the restaurant took me another two minutes. I always check out the restaurant pickup instructions because they sometimes contain really helpful info, but in this case, I decided to forgo double parking in the alley for an easy meter right out front.
One dime in the meter gave me six minutes of freedom. It turns out I only needed one minute. Upon walking into the poke restaurant, I gave the staff the customer’s name and the order number and was handed the food immediately. No need to pay or hand over a credit card like with Postmates.
Through the app, I confirmed I picked up the order and began the Uber delivery. The drop off was about two miles away in a residential area. Since Uber Eats provides curbside delivery in Los Angeles, I like to send a text to the customer asking them to meet me outside.
I find that if I send that text a minute or two before I arrive, I can encourage customers to head outside and help make for a quick delivery, while at the same time not coming across as being too demanding. After all, we’re rated by customers, so I try to keep their experience in mind.
I guess the customer was cool with the text I sent because as I pulled up, he was grinning from ear to ear and walked right over to my car. I hopped out, walked around to the passenger side, grabbed his order and handed it to him.
I’ve ordered from Uber Eats a few times as a customer and the drivers will often pass food to me through the passenger window. To me, this always seemed a bit weird, so I like to actually get out of my car and hand the order to the customer. A side benefit of this is it gives me a chance to stretch my legs.
Twelve minutes after I had accepted the request, the delivery was complete. The payout was only $5.74 but I knew that if I reached my goal of 20 deliveries, I’d be receiving a $50 incentive to bolster my earnings.
Within 15 seconds of being back online, I received and accepted another request. Back to the poke restaurant! I picked up the next order and it was lather, rinse, repeat. Over the next 5 hours, I made my way up and down the west side of Los Angeles as I completed deliveries in Venice, Marina Del Rey, Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades.
Around 4:45 PM, things were slowing down a bit and I decided to take a break. I’d completed 11 deliveries to this point so I only needed 9 more to reach my goal and unlock the incentive.
Accepting an Uber Eats Delivery Request
After a break for some rest and a bite to eat, I popped back online at 6:45 and quickly accepted a delivery request. This order took me to a Santa Monica taco shop. I reached the taco shop quickly but unfortunately had to wait over 10 minutes for the food. The delivery was to Venice, a 4-mile trip that took about 14 minutes.
After this, the orders continued to flow consistently throughout the evening. I even completed two stacked order requests, meaning I picked up two orders at once, allowing me to reach my 20-trip goal more quickly. And just before 10 PM, I completed my 20th Uber Eats delivery driver order of the day, qualifying for the $50 bonus. Success!
Will I Receive Both Uber Eats Requests and Uber Ride Requests at the Same Time?
It’s up to you. If you’re already driving passengers and you opt-in for Uber Eats, your account may be updated to send you both types of requests when you go online.
However, this can be changed so you can get the specific types of requests you’d like.
All you need to do is contact support and ask that vehicle’s profile be set up on your account for rides only, deliveries only and hybrid. All I need to do is select the vehicle profile that reflects the type of requests I want to receive before I go online.
Driving for Uber Eats: Is It Worth It?
That’s up to you to decide, but here are some of the challenges I faced:
My day delivering for Uber Eats went pretty smoothly overall, though it was not without some frustrations and challenges, just like any rideshare or delivery service. Once I encounter an issue, I try to figure out if there’s a way to avoid repeating that negative experience again in the future.
1) Difficult Restaurants: Probably the biggest hurdle to success with Uber Eats for me has been restaurants that don’t set reliable ETAs for when the orders will be ready, meaning that instead of getting in and out quickly, I end up waiting 10 minutes or longer for the order. Uber Eats is supposed to be streamlined so that once the driver arrives at the restaurant, the food should be ready for pickup. In the real world, this isn’t always the case, but generally, most restaurants are pretty good about this. Since we’re being paid for mileage and not time, it’s important to be able to work quickly and efficiently.
2) Difficult Customers: The vast majority of customers are easy to deal with and friendly. On this day, I only encountered one difficult customer, who insisted I deliver directly to their multi-million dollar beachfront condo door and would not meet me curbside. Instead of getting into an argument, I just took the extra few minutes to deliver as requested, hoping that maybe my efforts would be rewarded with a tip. Nope, no tip. How could I be so naive?
The only other type of difficult Uber Eats customer I’ve dealt with is those who are unreachable and not available for delivery. If I can’t reach the customer within a few minutes, I’ll call the Uber Eats partner support line and get help. Yes, there is actually phone support in the app for Uber Eats, which can help resolve issues quickly. We’re only required to wait 10 minutes, but my customers have always shown up before that so I never got to keep any food unfortunately!
3) Lack of Orders: Just like with driving passengers, a lack of requests can certainly be challenging. On this particular day, the longest wait I had between orders was 25 minutes, but on average it was closer to 5 minutes. This challenge can be remedied by focusing on driving at times of high demand (meal times) and positioning yourself close to an Uber Eats restaurant or group of restaurants.
Uber Food Delivery: Stacked Orders
Stacked orders refers to having multiple pickups on one order (usually at the same restaurant) and multiple drop-offs. Think of it as UberPOOL for uber food delivery. Once you accept a request, be sure to keep your app open and continue to pay attention to your phone. While you’re on your way to the restaurant or even while you’re waiting for the food, you may receive a second, “stacked” request.
The advantage of stacked orders is that they allow you to complete more orders quickly, which can help if you’re working towards a Quest trip-based incentive like I was. The disadvantage is that stacked orders are paid like UberPOOL, so I’ve had payouts as low as $3.22.
Work for Uber Eats
How Much Do You Make from Tips?
I never expect to receive tips, but it’s a pleasant bonus if I do. I ended up receiving two cash tips for a total of $7. Better than nothing, right?
Uber Eats Pay
Overall, I was able to earn $187.86 (earnings + incentives + tips) in under 9 hours while driving a total of 106 miles. I was satisfied with this, but also aware that if there had been better Boost offerings that weekend, my earnings could have been significantly more.
Note: It’s important to track your mileage so you can write off your mileage. You can use an app like QuickBooks Self-Employed to track your mileage and expenses so you lessen your tax burden at the end of the year. In the case above, 106 miles would generate $56.71 in mileage deductions and lower taxable income from $187.86 to $131.15, and that’s just with the mileage deduction.
I find delivery work to be a refreshing change of pace from driving passengers. Since most deliveries are only a few miles, I’m able to stay close to home or a certain area if I only have a limited amount of time to work.
Other pros of delivery work include not having to keep a clean car, being able to drive how I like and also being able to listen to podcasts or talk to friends and family while I’m driving. Customer interactions on deliveries are usually less than 30 seconds so if you’re not a people person or just not in an outgoing mood on a particular day, this can be a good option for you.
The per-trip earnings are certainly nothing to write home about, but I think that if we concentrate on supplementing those earnings by taking advantage of Quest and Boost offers, we can make delivering for Uber Eats a worthwhile investment of our time. If promotions like Quest and Boost are not available in your area, your potential Uber Eats earnings could still be comparable to UberX/UberPOOL earnings, so I think it’s worth giving it a shot and seeing if it works for you.
Bonus Tip – How to Maximize Tips
We tested a few methods out to see how we can maximize tips. We experimented with everything from how we say communicated to the customer to our name and picture on the app.
One day I decided to try wearing a t-shirt that said tips appreciated and lo’ and behold, I started making more tips!
I talked to The Rideshare Guy and had these custom t-shirts and sweaters made for Uber Eats, Postmates, Doordash, Grubhub, and Bite Squad delivery drivers:
Uber Eats FAQs
In What Cities is Uber Eats Offered?
Uber Eats is now operating in over 60 cities across 6 continents. I’m not sure if Antarctica will ever get Uber Eats service, but it’s pretty cool you can order it in places like Baltimore, Bangkok, Brisbane and even Bogota. Uber Eats is currently available in these cities. There are even more cities listed in the drop-down menu on the Uber Eats sign up page, perhaps indicating areas targeted for expansion in the near future.
What is the Process like for Fulfilling Uber Eats Requests? Do I Need to Deliver Directly to Someone’s Door or Will the Customer Meet Me Curbside?
You’ll receive requests in the app for available deliveries. Once you accept the requests, you’ll be directed to a restaurant where you can confirm the order with the staff and receive the food to be delivered. The app will walk you through the process step-by-step.
Door-to-door vs. curbside delivery depends on the market you’re in. Check out the FAQ for your city to determine exactly what’s expected of the driver.
For example, in my market of Los Angeles, Uber tells customers, “we ask that you meet your courier at the curb–just like you would to catch an Uber ride. If you’d like to give the courier special delivery instructions, feel free to add them to the delivery notes.”
In some cities, Uber informs customers to expect delivery directly to their door. To find out what’s expected in your market, find your city page, then scroll to the bottom and select “FAQs.” Depending on your area, delivering to the door vs. curbside can greatly affect the amount of time and effort required to complete orders, so be sure to keep this in mind. Looking for parking and accessing apartment buildings can be time-consuming.
Are There Any Alternatives to Uber Eats if I Want to Deliver Food?
Absolutely! I’m a firm believer in Harry’s strategy that it’s important to diversify your work in order to open yourself up to the most earnings opportunities. Some similar services include DoorDash, Postmates, GrubHub and Caviar. You can learn more about those services here.
How Do I Sign Up to Deliver With Uber Eats?
If you’re already an Uber driver, you should be able to opt-in on the driver app or by contacting Uber. If you’re new to Uber, you can sign up here using our link to become an Uber Eats delivery partner.
Apply to Work for Uber Eats
If you’d like to get your Uber Eats bonus, click here to sign up. If you’re interested in Uber Eats delivery then you might also be interested in signing up to deliver for Postmates and Doordash. See a full list of sign-up bonuses and incentives for rideshare drivers and delivery services here.
If you’d like to get your Uber EATS bonus, click here to sign up. If you’re interested in Uber Eats delivery then you might also be interested in signing up to deliver for Postmates and Doordash. See a full list of sign-up bonuses and incentives for rideshare drivers and delivery services here.
Readers, do you drive for Uber Eats or are you considering getting an Uber Eats job? Any questions you have we didn’t answer?
-Ezra @ RSG