How to Make Money Driving for Uber

Uber's pitch to new drivers makes it seem like the ideal job — flexible hours, no boss, no office, and the possibility to work less and earn good money.

So what is the actual reality for an Uber driver? Can you make good money?

The short answer is yes. But you have to be smart about it.

Harry Campbell, friend and founder of The Ride Share Guy website says this about Uber:

“Like with many jobs, there are positives and negatives and Uber specifically has great flexibility so you may find that that part sells itself.”

Here are our tips on how you can make the most money as an Uber driver.

How to Get Started Making Money with Uber

The good news is, it's really easy to get started. You just need a 2001 or later car that is in good condition, your driver's license, registration, regular car insurance, and a voided personal check to set up direct deposit.

You will need to get your car inspected to make sure it's in good working order, but Uber can actually help you with this.

You can also sign up at an Uber Greenlight Event, and the company will approve all of your documents and car on site for free so that you don't have to go get your car checked out. This saves time and money.

You don't need any kind of special insurance because Uber covers that for you. Note that it is taken out of each fare.

Make Money with Uber

1. Maximize the Uber Sign-Up Bonus

Uber offers drivers a sign-up bonus, which varies depending on the time of year and city in which you sign up. This sign up bonus can be up to $1000 depending on all of these factors, so wait to take the plunge until you see a hefty sign-up bonus.

There is also no obligation to continue driving after you receive the sign-up bonus, so even if you decide Uber isn't for you, you get a nice chunk of change, so you can earn money from them without even driving!

2. Work Smart, Not Hard with Uber

Part of the point of driving for Uber is not having to work as hard or long as you would at a normal job. While you have flexible hours and can technically work whenever you want, to earn more money you'll want to drive during times of high demand. This varies depending on the city, but usually means morning and evening commute times, during big conventions, events, or concerts, and around bar closing time.

Sometimes Uber will even send emails about when it thinks it will be busy and give you bonuses for driving during those times. There is also the high possibility that you can take advantage of surge pricing during busy times as well, which gets you a lot more money per ride. You'll also see your average hourly wage increase by only driving during the busiest times.

3. Download the Uber Passenger App

Having an account with the passenger app can be really helpful as a driver because it can give you visibility into what the market looks like from a customer perspective. Customers can see where a lot of drivers are clustering, so you can avoid that immediate area and have a better chance of getting a ride.

The customer app also sometimes has faster info about surge pricing than the driver one, so you can see that it's already surging and hang around in that area to get a surge fare.

You can also use it to game the system a bit. By logging in as a passenger instead of a driver, you can drive prices up since it's based on how many drivers there are for any given number of potential passengers in one area. Then, when you get to a popular area, log back into the driver app and take advantage of the higher prices.

4. Be Wary of Uber's Texts

Uber sends its drivers notifications on where hot spots are for rides, or where an area with surge pricing is, but they actually do this to get more drivers to that area to drive the pricing down. So it's very likely that you'll drive to the area they suggested only to get a lower fare.

In general, it's better to not drive around too much without passengers in the car because that is all time that you're not earning money. If you do decide to head to the region with surge pricing based on a suggestion from Uber, make sure to utilize the hack with the passenger app that we discussed above — this will help keep the prices higher, making a solid fare more likely.

5. Avoid the Suburbs

If possible, it is always better to stay in the city center. While one fare might be higher out to the suburbs, the amount of time it takes to get there and back might not actually equal out to a solid hourly wage. Especially if you can't get a passenger to take back in — that means you've just been paid for only half of the time that it took you to take that person home.

If you're in the city and get a fare that's farther out the person may also cancel before you get there, or not be going very far, which wouldn't make the amount you'd earn worth it in any way.

What's the Downside with Uber?

Uber does take quite a large percentage of each fare, quite a bit higher than other car sharing services, and this is something that many Uber drivers have expressed frustration with.

The income is also completely unpredictable. While this is common with contract work, it can be especially true of Uber because you are dependent on other people using the service.

You do have to drive a decent amount to earn a proper wage if this is going to be your only source of income. But if you use these tips to work smart, not hard, you can earn some good money with little effort.

Get started at www.uber.com.

Bonus: Make Money with Uber Without Driving

The best way to make money with Uber without actually driving is to participate in their driver referral program (aka get other drivers to sign up). Harry says,

“Uber and Lyft pay huge referral fees to existing drivers for signing up their friends and in some cities it can be up to $500. And considering most drivers make around $15-$20/hour, just a few driver referrals can easily eclipse your actual earnings from driving in a short time.

It can be tempting to oversell Uber in lieu of a quick buck but my advice is to give your referrals a true picture of what it's like to be an Uber driver.”

My advice, if you're like Harry and enjoy helping others get started driving Uber successfully like you do then I think the referral program is a great idea and should be optimized. It can be a huge bonus to what you're making simply as a driver. But if you don't enjoy the driving to begin with, then gaming the Uber referral system isn't going to be fun for very long.

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What's your take? What are your best tips for making money with Uber?

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Last Edited: July 25, 2017 @ 5:49 pmThe content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, podcaster, FinCon Founder, husband, and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Listen to the new podcast, Masters of Money!

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