How to Make Money Driving with Uber [Our Review]

Driving with Uber can be a lucrative side hustle if you do it right. Being able to drive when you want, and not drive when you don’t want is very appealing for those who are just looking to earn some money on the side.

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

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

When you sign up to drive with Uber you will be connected to people looking for a ride via the Uber app. You’ll make the highest hourly rate if you are available to drive when demand is the highest.

Here’s what you need to know about earning money driving with Uber:

Driver Requirements

Before you can start your ridesharing gig, you need to meet all of Uber’s requirements for a driver. These include:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age.
  • You must have a valid driver’s license that you have held for at least one year. (If you are 23 or younger, you must have held your driver’s license for at least three years).
  • You must have access to a four-door car that is no more than 10-15 years old. (The age requirement varies by location).
  • The car must have an in-state license plate with current registration.
  • You must have a Social Security Number
  • You must pass a background check.
  • You must carry in-state auto insurance.

Related: Do You Need Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

Though it’s not a specific requirement, you will also need to have a smartphone with data to use the Uber driver app. Without that, you will not be able to connect with passengers.

Get started at www.uber.com.

Driving Basics

If you’ve ever ridden in an Uber, you know how the system works. It starts when a passenger requests a ride on the Uber rider’s app. Nearby drivers receive a notification of the requested ride, and the passenger gets to pick the driver they want. The app gives riders an estimate of the cost of the ride for full transparency.

One of the big benefits for drivers is the system known as surge pricing. When there is a surge in demand for rides (like right at the end of a big concert, after several flights come in all at once at the airport, or when all the bars close), the cost of the ride goes up.

Drivers can turn on surge notifications to take advantage of this pricing. The system brings more drivers to the area to meet the demand. This ensures that riders get the transportation they need and drivers get paid a little extra during the surge.

Uber keeps 25% of every ride, which means drivers are taking home a cool 75% of each fare. Drivers also get to keep 100% of any tips they receive. But beware: former Uber driver Josh Overmyer found that many riders simply didn’t tip. “I probably earned a tip on fewer than 25% of my 2,882 rides,” he explains.

But don’t forget that drivers are considered contractors for Uber. This puts drivers on the hook for gas, wear-and-tear on your vehicle, insurance, and any other associated costs. This can take a bite out of your earnings.

More Rides = More Money

The simplest way to make good money with Uber is to give more rides. Of course, that’s easier said than done. You may not be able to predict when you’ll get the most number of rides in the shortest amount of time. There are a couple of ways to ensure that you are driving smarter (and making more money) rather than just waiting around for fares:

Know Your Local Peak Hours

There are regular times when surge pricing is more likely. Keeping your surge notifications on can alert you to surges. But it also pays to drive at times when you expect to see surges. If you know that the waterfront in your town is always hopping on summer evenings, then it’s a good idea to plan to drive then.

Don’t Chase Surges

That said, only take advantage of surges that you anticipate (like the day Beyonce is at the local arena) or those that happen to occur nearby. If you chase surge notifications across town, it’s likely the surge will have expired by the time you get there, and you’ll have wasted the time and gas.

Use the Passenger App to Help You Find Fares

Install the passenger app on your find to have a better sense of where drivers are needed. The passenger app will show you where drivers are, which is information not provided on the driver app.

For instance, let’s say you are at a sporting event and not getting any ride requests. A quick look at the passenger app can show you where the drivers are. If you’re surrounded by other drivers, you can move to a different part of the stadium to get ride requests.

Bring Snacks–For Yourself

Many Uber drivers offer bottled water and snacks to their rides. This is an excellent way to make the ride a comfortable one for your passengers. But it can be easy to forget your own rumbling tummy. Which means you might find yourself hitting up the Golden Arches for a snack, which just cuts into your profit and is not great for your waistline.

Coming prepared for your own needs is an important way to ensure you pocket as much profit as possible.

See also: 5 Ways Planning Ahead Can Save You Money

Drive Smarter for Bigger Profits

In addition to getting as many rides as possible, you can also improve your profit margin by driving smarter. Here are some additional suggestions for making Uber work for you:

Share Your Contact Information with Regular Flyers

“Giving my direct number to folks who fly in/out frequently at my local airport was the best money I made with ridesharing,” Overmyer states. “They call/text me directly and we arrange a pickup directly. I walk into the airport, and my ride requests Uber with me standing next to him. In those cases, he knows he’s getting a good driver and I know the destination before I accept the trip.”

Take Advantage of Tax Breaks

If you keep careful track of your mileage and other vehicle costs, your profits will go further come tax-time. Overmyer explains that “it’s advantageous for most drivers of reasonably fuel-efficient vehicles to deduct their business mileage rather than their actual expenses since the mileage deduction is set at $0.58/mile as of 2019. I was able to deduct 32,000 miles one year, which equaled a $16,000+ deduction on my taxes that year!”

Set a Driver Destination

An excellent way to monetize trips you’re already taking is to use the Driver Destination feature on the driver app.

With this feature, you can set a destination where you are already headed. The app will match you with passengers who need a ride in the same direction. The app allows you to set up to two destinations per day, which means you could potentially monetize your commute to and from your 9-to-5 without changing a thing about your driving habits.

Of course, setting a destination might limit the number of ride requests you receive, but this feature of the app can be a great way to make your Ubering an almost passive income stream.

Get started at www.uber.com.

Uber Downsides

While Uber can be a great side hustle for anyone with a car, it’s not all profits and roses. To start, the earnings can be unpredictable. While this is common with any kind of independent contractor opportunity, it can be especially true of Uber since you are dependent on other people using the Uber app.

Overmyer laments the fact that “there’s basically zero way to differentiate yourself and earn extra trips. There’s no way to scale your work… It’s all butt in seat time and *hoping* you get a ride request.”

This is one of the reasons why he recommends exchanging contact information with regular travelers. Once his rides got in his impeccably clean car and enjoyed a friendly conversation (or absolute silence, if that’s what they preferred), they knew they could expect a good ride anytime they booked him. But since the app does not allow booking of specific drivers, Overmyer had to find his own way to build on that goodwill.

There’s also the weirdness factor in inviting strangers into your car. While the majority of riders are going to be perfectly lovely people just trying to get where they need to go, sometimes drivers will have to deal with aggressive, drunk, or even vomitous passengers.

Coming prepared for any potential rider–which includes having water and snacks available to help those struggling to keep that last tequila shot down, and having vomit bags for those who can’t–can help overcome the worst of the weird passengers.

Bonus: Make Money with Uber without Driving

One of the best parts of signing up with Uber is taking advantage of referral bonuses. These bonuses pad your bank account even without you driving.

Once you are established as an Uber driver, you can give friends and family members your referral code and invite them to become drivers, as well. When your referral becomes an Uber driver and completes a certain number of trips, you will receive a referral bonus.

The required number of trips to complete and the amount of the referral bonus varies from city to city. But no matter the specifics of your local bonus, this is a nice way to increase your Uber earnings without having to drive more.

Will Driving for Uber Be Your Next Side Hustle?

While Uber driving may not be for everyone, it can be a lucrative and easy side hustle for anyone looking for a way to fatten their wallet. Making this hustle work is a matter finding savvy ways to increase your ride number, driving smart, keeping careful track of your mileage and other deductions, and taking advantage of the bonuses Uber offers.

You can sign up to start driving for Uber today!

Have you earned money as an Uber driver? Have you ever had an exemplary Uber driver? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Comments

  1. Jacob Miller says:

    I have been driving for Uber and make far more than minimum wage. I would like to add that the key is not chasing the surge and once you drop off park asap so as not to burn up gas waiting for your next trip. Thanks for the other tips it was helpful.