There is no doubt about it, Uber has single-handedly transformed the gig economy. Driving for Uber or Lyft is one of the easiest ways to make extra cash. Both offer interactive platforms and each driver is in charge of scheduling when to work or not. The pros and cons of driving for Uber are numerous and this guide will give insights into what it’s really like to do this gig full or part-time.
The requirements to drive for Uber is quite simple. You have to be at least 21 years of age, pass an extensive background check, which also includes driving record check. Signing up to drive for Uber can be done through this link, and you can expect an answer within a few days.
What it’s Like to Drive for Uber: Pros And Cons
Brief History of Uber
Every great company or concept usually has a humble beginning, and the creation of Uber is no exception to that rule. Uber Technologies Inc., got started in the year 2009 by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick. The company was initially called UberCab, but due to intense pressure from the taxi industry in San Francisco, California, it was changed to Uber in 2011.
A mister Ryan Graves has the distinction of being the first employee this startup hired. Due to the very low pay, he was also awarded a 5% to 10% ownership stake in the company. In the beginning, Uber mainly offered rides to high net worth clientele and the prices were comparable to regular taxi rides.
All that changed when the company launched Uber X in July 2012, which also allowed drivers to use personal cars after passing a background check. With so many people wanting to drive, Uber kept lowering rates and its now at least 30% to 50% cheaper than taxi rides.
Despite the low rates Uber went further and introduced UberPool in August 2014, which is a form of sharing rides between different riders at an even lower rate.
At present, Uber is also into freight hauling and food delivery called UberEats. The company just became a publicly-traded company in the New York Stock Exchange on May 10, 2019, at an initial offering price of $44 per share.
Just like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to being an Uber driver. If you’re seeking a weekly paycheck, rideshare driving might not be for you.
In this gig economy, only the enterprising minds need to apply. Drivers are classified as independent contractors, which means no health benefits or vacation pay, and each driver is responsible for paying Federal and State taxes on earnings.
Uber Car Requirements
Not only must the person be a licensed driver and at least 21 years old, but there are also vehicle requirements that must be met. Uber car requirements in Atlanta might differ slightly from your city, but there are core vehicle requirements that are standard in all fifty states.
1 – Any potential automobile to be used on this platform must not be older than 15 years, which means in 2019 the cut-off year for older cars to qualify is the model year 2004. Additionally, in some cities, there are more restrictions for airport pickup.
For example, in Atlanta, your vehicle cannot be older than seven years if you want to be eligible to accept rides from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. So, if you own a 2012 car, by next year you’ll be out of luck for airport ride pickup.
2 – It must have four doors. In some cities, pickup trucks with four doors can be used to drive for Uber
3 – Another major requirement is that the title must be clean. You can forget about using rebuilt, reconstructed, or salvaged vehicles for this gig.
4 – The car should be capable of transporting four passengers plus the driver. Simply means the car should be equipped with five seat belts. While some cars might come with five seat belts, I have my doubt if they can comfortably hold 4-passengers.
5 – You cannot rent a vehicle to drive for Uber unless from an approved renter, which in this case is only Hertz.
6 – Another loosely enforced car requirement is that your vehicle must not have a commercial branding, but I have seen many cars doing Uber rides with clearly visible commercial signs.
7 – It is possible to drive for Uber with a borrowed car, but the driver’s name must be listed on the insurance policy as an additional driver.
Types of Uber Rides
UberX and UberPool
These are the two most common types of rides drivers are qualified to do. UberX involves picking up one single ride request, while UberPool requires the driver to pick up multiple passengers from different locations.
As you guessed right, UberPool is cheaper and some drivers ignore this type of ride request. Each UberPool ride request will not have more than two riders, so all new drivers should be on the lookout for cheaters that try to game the system. The App will inform the driver how many riders, either one or two.
To qualify to accept UberXL rides your vehicle must be able to hold six passengers plus the driver. The per mileage rate is higher, but I find most drivers with larger vehicles mix it up a little bit by also accepting UberX rides.
This is targeted to riders that prefer to ride in luxury sedans. In 2019, the car must be 2013 or newer. Other requirements are leather seats or rich vinyl interior.
New Uber drivers will find it hard to qualify since the potential applicant must have completed at least 75 completed trips or more. Also, the driver rating must be at least 4.75 or higher.
In the beginning, Uber only catered to high-class clientele with the Uber Black program. I will list the requirements, but it is practically impossible to be accepted since the Uber Black driver-partners application has been closed for some time now.
In 2019, your car must not be older than a 2014 model and must be covered by a commercial insurance policy. The vehicle’s exterior and interior color must be black, and only leather seating is allowed. The driver rating must be at least 4.85 or higher!
Uber SUV Black
The application process for this type of ride is also closed to new applicants due to too many drivers. The capital investment to qualify for Uber SUV Black is quite steep. A fully loaded Chevy Tahoe is not cheap, even if you find a fairly used one.
The SUV exterior and interior color must be black, and the seating must be made out of real leather. The driver is required to have at least a 4.85 rating and also carry commercial automobile policy. The SUV’s allowed into this program must seat 6 passengers comfortably. Also, the Black SUV must not be older than five years or newer.
Driving for Uber Pros:
1 – No Time Clock
The biggest reason more drivers keep signing up to drive for Uber is the flexibility of the working hours. No time clock to punch in since you’re able to drive when it is optimal for your situation. The hours you want to drive and in what area is totally up to the driver.
A large percentage of Uber drivers have regular jobs, but there is a core group of drivers that use it as full-time employment. Nothing compares to working when you want to, but keep in mind that Uber limits driving to 12-hours straight, with some modifications for airport wait time.
2 – Immediate Payments
It sure feels good to get your earnings deposited into your account at the end of your driving period or even in-between, provided you have at least $5 in earnings. The money will be in your account within minutes, but there is a 50-cents charge for each time you request instant pay regardless of the dollar amount.
Another viable payment option that incurs no charges, is to have your earnings deposited into your checking or savings account on Tuesday for the previous week’s earnings.
3 – You Get to Meet New People Every Day
If you enjoy meeting new people every day, driving for Uber will appeal to you. The variety of people you meet cannot even be described with words. As an Uber driver, I have offered rides to politicians, bankers, musicians, business moguls, quiet and loudmouths, etc.
I have learned why buildings are erected a certain way, schools that are good for future leaders, and investment tips hidden from the masses. Most Uber passengers are pleasant, polite, and nice.
4 – You Can Earn Tips
Very few earning jobs offer the potential of getting tips, and driving for Uber is one of them. I have had my share of passengers that left me a big tip and those that didn’t, despite doing extra stuff to please them.
You do get tips, but it is not consistent. My weekly tip earnings is over $100, which is greatly appreciated. Your riders can tip you in cash or through the Uber App.
5 – Car Rental Program
Uber has tried several ways to make cars available to willing drivers with no vehicle of their own, but the only one that thrived is their partnership with the Hertz car rental program. If you have no car or the down payment to buy one, it is still possible to drive for Uber.
The rental fee in my market is about $1000 every month and that includes insurance and maintenance. Truth be told, I was more motivated to drive when I participated in the rental program simply because, money is owed every single day.
Other Advantages of Driving for Uber
Other perks that come with being an Uber driver full-time or part-time include discounts for cell phone services, car repairs, home financing, regular shopping and much more.
The perk I like the most is the fuel discount offered to certain drivers. This fast-growing rideshare company recently created Uber Pro for select group of drivers, which also offers outstanding benefits if certain driving conditions are met.
Driving for Uber Cons
Doing rideshare is not for the faint at heart, and the many driving for Uber disadvantages will confirm that. I have selected issues that are common in most states and cities where Uber operates.
1 – Car Issues
It sounds good to drive for Uber but the wear and tear you put on your vehicle from doing this gig will impact your earnings significantly. Just imagine, I drive for Uber full time and I have accumulated over 65,000 miles in less than seven months.
While I have not had major repair issues, I am constantly doing oil changes, tire rotation, and just got a front brake replacement. Mind you, I bought a brand new car for this gig, which means older cars will incur more repair bills.
In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage you encounter is the wear and tear you put on your personal car. The mileage you put on your car will negatively impact its value. Expect to find permanent stains in your car’s upholstery from dirty and malicious passengers.
2 – Poor Posture
Another issue doing this gig is the potential for posture problems. If you think you can drive for hours picking up and dropping off passengers slouched back in the driver’s seat, your back will soon be needing some adjustment.
It is a fact, that the way you seat can realign your posture. You need to drive seating straight up, or you might be spending most of your earnings dealing with the health woes associated with back pain.
3 – Obesity Issues
Since driving for Uber is a sedentary type of job your health might suffer in more ways than one. Most Uber drivers are obese. If one is not careful, weight gain comes fast and furious.
Gaining 20 to 50 pounds in less than a year is not uncommon while driving for Uber. It is quite easy to get hooked on munching unhealthy snacks or energy drinks while doing this gig.
4 – Hemorrhoids Will Come Calling
When you seat in one place for hours driving all over the city, hemorrhoids will come calling. Will a softer car cushion help, probably not. To put it bluntly, your ass might bleed, and the symptoms will come and go based on how many hours you work.
5 – Sporadic Earnings
Unlike a regular job with a predictable weekly paycheck, driving for Uber earnings is very unpredictable. Some days the money will constantly flow in, while other days you find yourself constantly checking to see if your Uber App is working properly, due to lack of riders.
The up and down earning potential is probably one of the main reasons over 50% of new drivers quit after six months. To earn any decent amount before taxes and expenses, be prepared to work your butt off!
6 – Uber Passenger Horror Stories
I have had my fair share of passenger horror stories. I have had someone vomit inside my car and the smell lasted for a very long time, even after car detailing. The biggest issues are:
Passengers slamming doors. Most Uber riders will slam your door and that sound can be deafening after a while.
Riders talking very loud inside your car, and some will have the nerve to ask you to turn the music down or off.
Riders that smell so bad you want to abandon your own car. Be prepared to inhale leftover cigarette fumes, alcohol breathe, and just plain old, dirtiness.
7 – Uber Rating System
The driver and passenger rating system can be arbitrary and unfair. I have a 4.9+ rating, but I think it should be higher due to my desire to drive safely and ensure my riders are comfortable. You’ll encounter all the prejudices in life while driving for Uber.
Some customers will rate you poorly for issues beyond your control. Any navigation issues might impact your rating negatively. Some riders will bring with them their daily woes and some will pretend to get their power back by rating your poorly.
In my experience, the worst raters are riders that are too demanding or commanding. I have canceled many rides with potential passengers that argued with simple instructions or refused to provide better direction to their current location.
8 – Illegal Request
Some riders will try to jeopardize your safety by asking for stuff that is not kosher. Common illegal requests are:
Lack of car seats for a small baby. Some will tell you it is okay but expect the lawyer that they hire in case of an accident to tear you into pieces on the witness stand.
My car can only hold four people, but I have had ride requests with five or more riders.
Another common illegal request is for you to drop them off several miles from the destination they put inside the App.
9 – The Most Annoying Disadvantage
The most annoying disadvantage of driving for Uber is the amount they deduct. Most new drivers want to know how much does Uber takes from drivers. Uber usually keeps anywhere from 25% to 51% of the fare price. To further frustrate and confuse drivers, the percentage deducted fluctuates from ride to ride.
The Uber driver pay structure is troubling from looking at my own spreadsheet at home, for this company keeps a significant portion of the fare price. Yes, there are bonuses and driver incentives, but most are created in such a way that most drivers will never achieve them.
Should You Drive For Uber?
At my age, one thing I have learned is that people are different and all possess capabilities and faults. I can also testify to the fact that people are lazy by nature. If you lack the desire to motivate yourself this driving for Uber stuff might not be for you.
If you have a go-getter attitude, driving for Uber in Atlanta or any other city in the USA will make financial sense. When you read Uber driver reviews online it is obvious this company has no maximum age limitation on new drivers.
Despite the pros and cons of being an Uber driver listed above, here are the key traits needed to become a successful earner while driving for Uber:
A – Do You Have A Pleasant Personality?
Are you quick to smile at strangers you never met before? If the answer is yes, you might prove the naysayers that say don’t drive for Uber wrong and become a top earner. Being pleasant involves making small talk and making complete strangers like you instantly.
B – Do You Have A Clean Demeanor?
Simply means, do you have a clean look about yourself. People make assumptions within seconds of meeting you, and it is a fact that your clothing and overall appearance plays a significant role. I have seen Uber drivers that look like they just woke up or some with exposed underwear.
Believe it or not, riders notice everything and your overall appearance will impact your ratings or the number of tips you get on a daily basis. As an Uber driver you don’t have to wear expensive clothing, but my God, be clean and presentable. Keep a clean car, that is if you want to be a successful Uber driver in your city.
C – Learn to Be Discerning
Having opinions is good, but you must learn when to speak or not speak. If you hate or like Donald Trump, be careful expressing such views with your passenger. Your passenger might bait you to hear your views but he or she might actually be on the opposite side.
When talking with riders keep your answers short and succinct. Do not butt in to personal conversations unless asked, and do not take sides when transporting arguing couples. Another good tip for Uber drivers looking to make more money is to act like a chameleon while expressing your thoughts and opinions.
D – Set A Daily Financial Goal
Another Uber driver strategy is to set a daily financial goal while doing this gig. Before you get on the road ask yourself how much you will like to make today.
My daily earnings goal while driving for Uber is $200 to $300. Forget all the nonsense you hear on Youtube about Uber driver secrets, Just set a financial goal before you hit the road to get your first passenger.
E – Drive Carefully And Pay Attention
Personal distractions while doing this gig can be deadly. Your rider can be on the phone but you as the driver should not be. Refrain from munching snacks while driving. Keep your eye on the road and practice safe driving habits. Signal every time you change lanes and do not speed up to a red light.
Frequently Asked Questions to Help Potential Uber Drivers
1 – Do Uber Drivers Have to Accept Rides?
It is up to the driver to accept or decline rides. Since Uber does not reveal the customer’s destination, sometimes you just have to cancel based on traffic and circumstances. Rarely do I cancel a ride once the customer is inside my car unless they pose a threat or become completely obnoxious.
2 – Do Uber Reveal the Riders Destination Ahead of Time?
No. The destination is only revealed once the driver starts the trip. During busy times, some drivers hate longer trips due to the chance of driving back with no return fare.
3 – How Often do Uber Drivers Have to Work?
This is not a regular job, which means the driver is in charge of setting the working hours. Just keep in mind that the more hours you drive the more money you’re going to make.
Your driving hours are limited to 12hrs with modifications for airport wait time. The Uber platform is open 24/7, which creates the potential for drivers to work the busiest times.
4 – What Day of the Week Does Uber Pay?
Does Uber pay daily? Yes! There are two ways to get paid while driving for Uber. One is instant pay, which means you can withdraw any earnings instantly provided it is $5 or more. The money will arrive in your account in minutes even on weekends, but there is a $.50 cents charge for each withdrawal.
The other way to get paid is through a weekly deposit. The money earned the previous week normally arrives on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. I know drivers that work a few hours and then do instant pay so they have money for clubbing.
5 – Do Uber Drivers Pay Taxes?
Uber does not deduct payroll taxes from drivers’ earnings, which can be a blessing and a curse. It is the driver’s responsibility to remit what is owed for Federal and State taxes. The benefit is that you don’t have to remit the money right away, but the money better be there when tax time comes.
6 – What Can Uber Drivers Write Off?
Almost everything associated with doing this gig. The most common deductions for rideshare drivers are mileage rate, gas purchases, car washes, car loan payments and much more. But, be careful in how you frame your deductions, especially if the car is also used for personal stuff.
If the car is strictly used for driving for Uber then the list of your potential deductions grows exponentially. Please, do your due diligence and consult a qualified tax accountant for what you can and cannot deduct from your rideshare earnings.
7 – How Much Does An Uber Driver Make?
This is probably the most asked question on Reddit and other online forums where rideshare business is discussed. Is driving for Uber worth the wear and tear and mileage on my car? A definite answer is hard to come by, as it is subjective to many factors.
I make good money driving for Uber, but I also live a disciplined lifestyle. I am not into consuming any type of intoxicants and do make time to work full time every week. Your weekly earnings as an Uber driver will mirror the amount of time you dedicate to it.
8 – Do You Tell Your Insurance Company You Are Driving for Uber?
I find that it is better, to tell the truth, up front, as it will set you free. Telling your insurance company you use your car for rideshare will not significantly increase your premium cost. I incur an additional $200 to $300 dollars every six months for using my car for ride-sharing.
Again, do your own research by consulting your insurance company directly. I do know, you’re at ease knowing your car insurance provider is fully aware of your side hustle.
9 – Can You Drive For Uber And Lyft At The Same Time
If you have your own car you can do Uber and Lyft at the same time. Simply means, you have both Apps running, which increases your chance of picking up riders faster. Do remember, renting a vehicle from either company will restrict you to just one rideshare platform.
If you rent a car from Uber you cannot use it to accept rides on the Lyft platform. I know it makes no sense since you’re making the rental payments, but that’s just the way it’s set up. If you want to significantly increase your earnings in this gig economy, buy your own car and drive for both Uber and Lyft at the same time.
10 – What Should Uber Drivers Have in Their Car?
The list of Uber driver essentials can be a mile long depending on whom you ask, but simplicity and functionality should be your goal. I have never provided candy, water, or mints for my riders, but there are two essential things you must have as an Uber driver.
SmartPhone Chargers – One of the most requested items by riders is to use a cell phone charger. Get a unique charger for your phone and get a multi charging cable for your passengers. Cell phone chargers have a very short life span, especially when used on dozens of devices.
Are you the type of person that can thrive doing this gig? Why not apply to drive for Uber and see for yourself. The question of how much one can make driving for Uber is subjective, due to many factors, but most are within the driver’s control.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many potential flaws to the Uber business model, but you cannot dispute the fact that you can earn good money every week doing this job. To succeed in this type of work, you need ironclad personal commitment and discipline.
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