Uber is the biggest name in rideshare, and it has a strong foothold in food delivery, too. It’s the company with the most drivers (8 million globally), and it operates in 83 countries and at least 853 cities. You could say that Uber … gets around.
Depending on your point of view, the fact that Uber has such a large presence might make you either more inclined, or less interested, in driving for this huge company. Only you know what a good fit would be for you. We’ll go through the requirements, responsibilities, and pros and cons that come with driving for Uber so you can make an informed decision. We’ll cover:
- What an Uber driver’s shift is like
- What to expect as an Uber Eats driver
- What you need to qualify as a driver
- How to apply to be a driver
- Essential information for Uber drivers
What an Uber driver’s shift is like
Starting an Uber shift
Driving for Uber is fairly straightforward. You open the app, and wait for a passenger to request a ride. A map will pop up to show you where the passenger is. You can either use Uber’s navigation system, or set your app to go to another (most likely better) one, such as Waze or Google Maps. Once you arrive at the pick-up location, you’ll find out where your passenger is going. Again, the app will help you navigate to the destination. Once the passenger is dropped off, you’re done. With luck, you’ll even get a tip.
It’s common for you to get a request while you are driving with another passenger. You can accept the ride, but always be careful about using your phone while driving. Most drivers have their phones mounted, either on the dashboard or windshield, to make it easier to manage them while they’re on a shift. Check your state laws to see what types of mounting are legal. You never want to obstruct your view.
Uber driver pay (hourly and per trip)
Uber will automatically deposit your earnings in your bank account once per week. If you need the money sooner, you can cash out immediately with Uber Instant Pay for a minimal charge (about fifty cents) up to 5 times a day. Only drivers who have met certain requirements can use Instant Pay. You can learn more about becoming eligible for Uber Instant Pay here.
How much you’ll make as an Uber driver varies by location, season, time of day, available bonuses, and other factors.
In 2021, Uber drivers received an hourly pay of $20-26. Early 2021 saw the highest earnings, as Uber was offering hefty incentives to get drivers back on the road. While those incentives have decreased, late 2021 still brought drivers between $21-22 per hour.
Looking at pay per trips completed last year, Uber drivers made between $14-16. Keep in mind that when we talk about earnings, it doesn’t take into account the costs involved with doing business.
Rides are worth more money at certain times of day and in certain parts of town. Experienced drivers refer to these as “surges.” During those times, when there are more riders than there are drivers, or when there’s a major event going on, prices will go up and you’ll get paid more.
There are also other bonuses, like goal-setting promotions known as Quests. These are times when you get extra money for completing a certain number of rides, either Monday through Thursday, or Friday through Sunday. You can also earn extra through consecutive rides promotions. At a busy time, for example, you might get $3, $7, or $9 extra for taking three rides in a row.
The amount of money you see as your earnings is only a portion of what Uber charges the passengers. Uber has what is known as a “take rate,” and it is aptly named. That’s the percentage the company retains from the full fee for bringing you and your customers together, plus everything it takes to make that happen.
Uber driver hours
As an Uber driver, your hours are totally flexible. No one tells you what time you have to be at work, or how long of a shift you have to put in. The only one you have to report to in this regard is … you. That’s great, as long as you’re disciplined about getting out to work, and staying there long enough to make the amount of money you want and/or need.
Once you’re done with a shift, you shut down the app and your earnings will be posted to your account. Your ability to manage yourself, and of course, the level of demand for drivers in your area, will determine how much you earn.
Doing taxes as an Uber driver
As an Uber driver, you’re an independent contractor. This means you’re responsible for withholding money for taxes, as well as expenses such as fuel, depreciation, and maintenance. You’ll also have to purchase your own health and disability insurance.
When you’re planning your shifts for the week, think about how much you need to make in order to satisfy your income requirements, taking all these expenses into consideration. While these expenses are considerable, they’re also legitimate tax deductions, so there’s something to be gained at tax time.
What should you expect as an Uber Eats driver?
We mentioned earlier that Uber drivers have the option of being Uber Eats delivery drivers. A setting in the app allows you to accept Uber Eats requests. Uber Eats driving entails taking a call from a customer, picking up the food at a restaurant or other establishment, and delivering it to the hungry person on the other end of the request. A dedicated driver will go the extra mile (sometimes literally!) to communicate with customers when delays or mistakes happen.
Uber Eats driver pay (hourly and per trip)
In 2021, Uber Eats drivers were paid an hourly rate of between $15-19.01. While Uber Eats doesn’t guarantee a minimum hourly wage, its driver job postings on Indeed have claimed that drivers earn around $19.06. Uber Eats driver pay does vary from location to location, but most drivers seem to make less than the $19/hr advertised.
On a per trip basis, Uber Eats drivers were paid between $9-11 per delivery. While this may seem like a low number, remember that efficient Uber Eats drivers can make multiple trips per hour, getting them closer to that $19/hr wage we just mentioned. Additionally, this per trip wage is on par with Grubhub’s pay, and is higher than DoorDash’s per trip pay, according to this article on the best delivery service to work for.
While Uber Eats doesn’t always pay as much as rideshare driving for Uber, it can be a worthwhile way to make money when rider requests are hard to come by, or when you simply feel like dealing with food rather than people. The beauty of working for Uber is you can do either or both, as long as you qualify to be a rideshare driver. (Uber Eats drivers don’t always qualify for rideshare.) Let’s look at the requirements for driving now.
What you need to qualify as a driver
Here are the criteria for becoming an Uber rideshare driver.
Requirements for you:
- Be the minimum age required to drive in your city
- Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S., or three years of licensed driving experience is you’re under 23 years old
- Pass a background check
- Have a valid U.S. driver’s license
- Present proof of residency in the state where you plan to drive
- Have proof of auto insurance, if you choose to use your own vehicle
- Have a smartphone capable of handling the Uber app (iOS 8 or higher, Android 4.0 or higher)
Requirements for your vehicle:
- Must have four doors, and able to transport a minimum of four passengers
- Can be a car, truck, SUV, or minivan
- Vehicle must be 10 to 15 years old or newer (check your city for exact requirements)
Additional vehicle requirements (can vary by city)
- Five factory-installed seats and seat belts
- Working windows and air conditioning
- No vans, box trucks, or similar vehicles
- Cannot have any cosmetic damage, missing pieces, commercial branding, or taxi paint jobs
- No salvaged or rebuilt vehicles
- No aftermarket seating modifications, such as installed seats, seat belts, or BedRyder systems
These requirements apply mainly to UberX, which is the basic Uber service. There are higher levels of Uber services, such as Uber XL, Uber Premium, Uber Comfort, and Uber Premier. You can learn more about those levels of service here. In most cases, your vehicle will have to meet even higher standards.
For Uber Eats the requirements will be slightly different, depending on your city. If you’re in a designated area, you may be able to make Uber Eats delivery by bicycle or scooter.
If you don’t want to use your own vehicle (for rideshare or Eats), you may be able to rent a vehicle through Uber. Even though you can’t drive for Uber with a car you rent on your own behalf, they will rent or lease vehicles that meet their requirements, usually through a car rental company that has an agreement with Uber. Vehicle programs vary from one city to the next.
Check the Uber website for details about your location. You’ll get this opportunity if and when you apply to be a driver. Check on “I need a car,” and you will be sent to the appropriate web page.
Before you apply to be an Uber driver, there are a few more details you’ll want to investigate. One of them is the background check. This blog post tells you all about it, including how long it will take, and what you can do if it takes longer than you expect.
Insurance is the other item that drivers need to attend to. Uber will provide some level of protection for you, but you’re also required to have your own policy on your car. Furthermore, you need to let your insurance company know that you’re working as a rideshare driver, and pay an extra amount for a commercial rider. Don’t try to sidestep this; the risk isn’t worth it. If you don’t tell the company that you’re driving for Uber, and you have an accident, they have the right to waive your policy—which could have disastrous results.
How to apply to be an Uber/Uber Eats driver
Although the process isn’t complicated, it does take some effort. You’ll need to be at least somewhat savvy with your smartphone. Assuming that you are, the first step is to download the Uber driver app, which you’ll find in the app store on your phone.
Once you do that, you’ll need to gather the following documents:
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle registration (temporary is acceptable)
- Proof of Insurance
- Picture of you
- Permission and information for the background check
You’ll provide the documents (including your photograph) to Uber by taking screenshots and uploading them to the app. Follow the system prompts to input the background check information.
Once you apply, it can take a day or two for all the documents to be approved, and in many cases, additional time for the background check to clear. Remember, they are checking your criminal record and your driving record. If you want to read more about Uber’s background check, here’s a previous Gridwise article about it.
Once all the documents and the picture are approved, and the background check clears, you’ll be ready to roll!
Essential information for Uber drivers
As you may already know, Uber and Uber Eats drivers aren’t employees; rather, they’re independent contractors.
As an independent contractor, you are responsible for most benefits that an employer would usually provide if you were an employee. These include:
- Health insurance
- Workers compensation insurance
- Disability insurance
- Minimum wage protection (except in a few cities)
- Paid time off (vacation, sick days, and holidays)
- Pension plan
- Tax withholding
There’s an ongoing struggle between the gig economy companies and government jurisdictions in the many locations where the companies operate. Government officials in some of these areas, along with many gig workers, would like to see drivers be classified as employees.
But that discussion is still ongoing, and in the meantime, rideshare and delivery drivers need benefits. If you drive for Uber or Uber Eats and lack proper coverage for things like health insurance or accident protection, read this blog post about a benefits program tailored to gig drivers’ needs.
How to get ahead of other Uber or Uber Eats drivers
Whether you decide to drive with Uber, or decide to go with another rideshare or delivery company, the one thing that will consistently be a big help is Gridwise. You can track your earnings on all the platforms you use, and keep a record of your total mileage so you know how much to deduct at tax time.
The information is presented in easy-to-read, graphic format like this:
And that’s not all. In the Gridwise app, you’ll find deals and discounts for rideshare and delivery drivers and easy access to the Gridwise blog. You won’t want to leave home without this amazing app, so
Interested in joining a driver community to learn more tips and tricks of the trade? Join us on Facebook, where Gridwise hosts great gas card giveaways every 2 weeks! As always, if you have questions or ideas about this article or the gig economy in general, leave us your comments below.