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Becoming an Uber driver can be an excellent side hustle for college students and individuals wanting extra cash on the side. Since the rise of the gig economy, driving for Uber has been a popular way for individuals to earn extra income while maintaining a flexible schedule, and all you need is a personal vehicle. Long gone are the days of dedicated shifts doing pizza deliveries. With Uber, you can squeeze money-making opportunities in between classes or shifts and work as little or as much as you desire.
Driving for Uber means you can choose from to perform work in several ways, including ridesharing, where you transport individuals like an old-fashioned taxi would. You can also drive for special events or businesses. Driving for Uber Eats can also mean you are picking up food delivery rather than passengers or dropping off groceries for individuals. We'll break down all you need to know about becoming an Uber driver, including Uber driver requirements, earnings, taxes, tips and more.
How To Become an Uber Driver
The good news is that most people likely do qualify to be an Uber driver in their city. Of course, qualifications vary by city, but as long as you are the right age, have access to a vehicle and are a qualified driver in your country, you could be ready to hit the road soon.
Here’s what is required when you apply to become an Uber driver:
- Your own car complete with registration and your state’s minimum car insurance
- Valid driver’s license
- Proof of residency (usually a utility bill)
- A clear photo of just you
- Meet the minimum age requirements to legally drive in your city
- Able to pass Uber's screening and background check
For delivery-only orders, Uber does allow drivers to make deliveries using a scooter, bicycle, or even deliver on foot.
Driving for Uber vehicle requirements:
- Four-door vehicle
- Car age is 15 years or newer
- Good condition with no major cosmetic damage, like exterior holes
- No commercial branding or taxi decals/paint
- Pass a vehicle inspection
Check out Uber's list of eligible vehicles to see if your car is eligible.
Do You Need a Car to Be an Uber Eats Delivery Person?
No car? No problem. Depending on your area, you can deliver food and groceries on your scooter, bicycle or by foot. The scooter must be a motorized scooter under 50cc, and the requirements of being 19 years or older and having a valid driver’s license still apply.
How Long Does It Take to Get Approved as an Uber Driver?
Once you submit the required documentation, you will need to fill out a quick, online driver screening. This step ensures that your driving records and criminal records are clear. The actual application process can be done online in less than 20 minutes, but you will have to wait up to 10 days to be approved as an Uber rideshare driver or Uber Eats driver.
How Do I Become an UberXL or Uber Black Driver?
There are three other types of Uber driving opportunities you can sign up for to increase your earnings.
- UberXL: For eligible vehicles that can fit up to six passengers, you can also accept UberXL requests.
- Uber Black or Uber Black SUV: Uber Black, which can also be Uber Black SUV, requires a specific vehicle less than 6 years old. The vehicle must also have a black exterior and black leather or vegan leather interior. You must also maintain a 4.85 driver’s rating or higher.
- Uber Green: Must have hybrid and fully electric vehicle that qualifies.
Check to see if your car qualifies for any of these positions.
What Will Disqualify You from Being an Uber Driver?
Uber looks at four major areas before accepting new drivers to their rideshare or delivery programs. They want to know that you are a valid driver with both a clean driving record and criminal record and that you own a qualified vehicle.
You will be disqualified as an Uber driver if you fall into any of these categories:
- Not being a valid driver: Those 25 years or older must have a valid driver’s license with a minimum of one year of U.S. licensed driving experience for food delivery or giving passengers rides. If you are 24 and under, you will need three years of U.S. driving experience to transport others.
- Driving for Uber Eats? You need to be at least 19 years or older and have one year of driving experience.
- Not having a valid car: Your vehicle must have a valid license plate for your state. Vehicles with two doors or less than four seats are not allowed. Also, cars older than 15 years are a no-go, sorry classic Mustangs.
- Driving for Uber Eats? Two- or four-door cars less than 20 years old are allowed. Uber Eats deliveries can also be made by scooter, bike or on foot.
- Having certain convictions or charges on criminal record: If you have pending charges or completed convictions of any felonies, violent crimes or murder, sexual offenses or terrorism-related offenses, you likely will not be qualified to drive for Uber.
- Having violations on your driving record: If your driving record has any major driving violations or a recent history of multiple minor driving violations, including but not limited to no-fault accidents, you will likely be disqualified.
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How Much Money Do Uber Drivers Make?
The average income for an Uber driver will depend on where you live and how many hours you devote to driving.
Uber driver earnings come from:
- Base fare: All drivers earn a base fare plus additional costs depending on how long the trip takes and how far you drive. This per-minute and per-mile rate varies by city. However, Uber states they take 25% of these fees from drivers, but Uber also charges riders additional fees, like service fees, that drivers never see.
- Tips: Drivers get to keep 100% of the tips they earn.
- Driving bonuses: On occasion, Uber may offer drivers the opportunity to earn bonuses for completing a certain amount of deliveries or rides made within a specific timeframe. In addition, some drivers may also qualify for a sign-up bonus when they first start driving with the company.
We’ve read several accounts of Uber drivers and their earnings per day. On hard days, Uber drivers report earning $12 per hour, whereas very successful days can earn them $40+ per hour. On average, most drivers can earn an average of $18-21 per hour.
Driving or delivering during busier times or picking up passengers using UberX Share can increase your earnings.
You are also paid a cancellation fee if your rider never shows.
Pros and Cons of Driving for Uber
Like all jobs, especially flexible jobs, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a quick look at the most common pros and cons of becoming an Uber driver.
- Flexible schedule
- Get paid instantly
- Tax deductions:
- Additional costs can add up
- Pay can be unpredictable
- Buying or renting a newer car is pricey
- Flexible schedule: You can literally work as much or as little as you want. Need a day or week off? You can take the time off without reporting it to a boss. Only want to work between 3:00-5:00 p.m. two days a week while your child is in martial arts? Driving for Uber makes that possible.
- Get paid instantly: Your money whenever you want? Yes, please! If you connect to Instant Pay, you can cash out up to 5 times a day. When you connect your bank account, you will be paid once per week.
- Tax deductions: Your car is going to receive wear and tear anyways, but as an Uber driver, you can write off some of those expenses. You can write off your miles, repairs and even your cell phone bill.
- Additional costs can add up: While you do earn money for driving with Uber, you will need to calculate how much you are spending on gas and maintenance, like regular car washes. Say you run over a rusty nail while finishing up a delivery — you’re on the hook for repair costs.
- Pay can be unpredictable: While you do have the flexibility to drive and deliver any time of the day, certain time windows will make you more money, while there can also be slower periods while you are on a shift. Driving during a slower time frame can lead to fewer opportunities and less cash. In general, the pay and number of rides coming your way can be unpredictable.
- Buying or renting a newer car is pricey: If you don’t have a newer vehicle that qualifies for Uber, buying, leasing or renting a new car will cut into your profits, especially if you weren’t planning on upgrading your vehicle in the near future anyway.
Required Insurance Coverage for Uber Drivers
The good news is that Uber maintains automobile liability insurance on behalf of all U.S. rideshare drivers while logged onto the Uber app. This can differ from state to state, but you can check out what this coverage means for your state here. This is also why it is essential to book all Uber rides through their app to keep yourself protected.
On top of Uber's automobile liability insurance coverage, each rideshare driver will also need to maintain auto insurance that meets your state’s minimum financial responsibility. This means you need to keep your bill paid and avoid any lapses in coverage.
You will also need to tell your auto insurance company that you are driving for Uber. This can add an additional cost to your policy, but many insurance companies will not cover commercial driving incidents while the driver is insured in a personal auto insurance policy.
Best Cars to Use for Driving Uber
If you have a car that qualifies for Uber ridesharing or Uber Eats, there is no reason to update your vehicle.
However, if you are wondering what is the best car to use for driving for Uber, hybrid and all-electric vehicles are the top choices. With current gas prices surging, hybrid of electric vehicles can minimize your fuel costs.
Not only do these vehicles qualify for UberGreen, but you will also see big savings at the pump. Additionally, Uber has pledged to be 100% emissions-free by 2040, so gas-powered cars are on their way out.
Don’t have a car? You can still drive an approved Uber rental and earn income. Uber partners with Avis and Hertz for affordable weekly rentals that are compatible for UberX and Uber Eats.
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How Are Uber Earnings Taxed?
Uber drivers and delivery drivers are classified as independent contractors. Drivers that earned more than $20,000 and provided more than 200 rides will receive a 1099-K form via online or mail. Additionally, drivers who earn more than $600 in promotions or referrals will receive a 1099-NEC to file.
Regardless of how much income you make from driving or delivering, you will need to report your income to the IRS. Even if you don’t receive a 1099-K from Uber, you will need to report income as gig work. As an independent contractor, you might need to file quarterly taxes to avoid a big tax bill at the end of the year.
Consult a tax professional for more guidance on how to navigate your taxes and income earnings.
Does Uber or Lyft Pay More for Drivers?
As far as comparing driving for Uber vs Lyft, the experiences are going to be similar. It is hard to compile usable data on driving for Uber vs Lyft when each driver, city, and time frame vary greatly.
A survey conducted by Ride Share Guy interviewed over 1,000 drivers and found that the average Uber driver made $19.73 per hour before expenses and the average Lyft driver made $17.49 per hour before expenses.
Instead of comparing driving for Uber vs Lyft by pay rate per hour, it may be more useful to compare the earnings potential of each company. In some cases, drivers may even choose to work for both rideshare services at the same time to maximize their earning opportunities.
Available U.S. cities
Fees Taken from Company
25% on all fares
20% of gross fare
Chances to earn more?
Yes, during surge pricing
Yes, during Personal Power Zones
Is Driving for Uber Worth It?
Yes, driving for Uber can be worth it if you fall in the following categories:
- Have easy access to busy city areas during peak times
- Have a paid-off car or have an EV car that doesn’t cost a fortune in gas
- Want a schedule that is flexible
- Don’t have demanding financial needs that require consistent income
Driving for Uber Eats or ridesharing is not for everyone, but it does offer a wonderful opportunity for many. It is definitely worth pursuing even if you choose to use it as an occasional side gig for extra holiday spending money.
Uber is a worthwhile part-time hustle because it allows almost anyone the opportunity to earn fast cash with little to no start-up costs (assuming you already have a car and insurance). You are not stuck with a contract or commitment if you decide Uber is not meant for you.
Tips for First-Time Uber Drivers
Finding your groove as an Uber driver can take time. You might have to experiment a little to find your most profitable time frame. Many drivers refuse to work late-night hours because they don’t want to deal with intoxicated individuals who leave a messy backseat once the ride is over. But at the same time, these could also be great earning opportunities as patrons leaving bars and restaurants need a ride home.
Here are a few other tips to remember to make your Uber driving experience as successful as possible:
1. Arrive with the Doors Locked
Seasoned Uber drivers recommend arriving to your pick up with your doors locked. This allows you to confirm that the passenger is the right person, and it also prevents sticky situations, such as a passenger trying to ride with a child under five and no safety seat.
2. No Extra Stops
Another popular tip is to say no to additional stops, even if the person says they will be quick stops. Waiting for a passenger cuts into your earning potential from other passengers. Some drivers will agree to going through the drive-thru or making a stop if the passenger is paying extra in cash.
3. A Little Kindness Can Lead to Better Ratings and Tips
Having water, tissue and a phone charger available if they ask for it can make your passenger feel more comfortable. Many drivers say to skip the snacks and water but that individually-wrapped mints are a good offering. Picking up on the conversation cues will also lead to higher ratings and tips. No need to force the convo; if your passenger wants to chat, they will initiate.
4. Always Check the Car at Drop Offs
Make sure your passenger did not leave anything in the car because you don’t want to waste time driving back to return it. Also, if someone says they will be right back during an agreed stop, make sure they take their stuff with them. You don’t want to be stuck if the passenger takes longer than they originally said. A quick spray of Febreeze on the seats and wiping the interior windows with Windex will make your car smell fresh again and ready for the next passenger.
5. Keep Good Records for Taxes
Track your miles as well as all other Uber-related driving expenses. Keep your physical receipts or take photos of your receipts for expenditures like car washes, repairs or maintenance. There are quite a few things you can write off on your taxes, including snacks or water purchased for passengers, toll road fees, and your cell phone.
6. Maximizing Trips
If you are driving for Uber Eats, look for opportunities that will allow you to deliver more than one meal at a time in close neighborhoods. This will give you more profit for your efforts. Similarly, pick up passengers on your way to Surge hours. Wait near your desired area for your next passenger rather than driving several miles to catch the next request.
Get Started Driving for Uber
Ready to give Uber a spin and see if it is the right side hustle for you? Get your documentation ready and apply to be an Uber rideshare or Uber Eats driver in less than 20 minutes.