Let's cut to the chase: If you want to make extra money quickly, driving for Uber is a great choice.
I know what you're probably thinking… why in the WORLD would I want to let complete strangers into my car and drive them all over town, while, at the same time, accumulate wear and tear on my vehicle?
But hear me out– the first weekend after I signed up to be a driver, I brought in $427. Sure, I gave a ton of rides (and talked to more drunk people than I really wanted to), but it was a nice haul for a weekend's work. And it was worth the effort.
If you've been on the fence about driving for Uber, I'd say it's at least worth trying. It's definitely not for everyone, but from my experience, it's a decent option if you are strapped for cash and need a bit of extra income. I was skeptical about the whole thing at first, but I figured I had nothing to lose by signing up and giving it a shot.
And for work that requires no specialized skills, Uber is definitely among the highest paying gigs out there (relatively speaking). Perhaps even more appealing than the high pay is the flexibility that driving for Uber provides. As a driver, you have no set work schedule– whenever you have free time and want to give a few rides and make some cash, you simply turn on the app on your phone and wait for ride requests to come in.
In this post, I'm going to break down for you exactly how I pulled in $427 with Uber, along with some other benefits of being a driver that most people don't consider.
My Average Hourly Earnings: $22.04/hr
I'll get right down to brass tacks: my hourly earnings while driving were pretty good. I definitely didn't expect to bring in as much cash as I did.
With that being said, you have to be smart about how you approach it, or you can easily end up wasting a lot of time (and gas).
Drivers get paid per ride they give, based off the trip distance and the current demand for rides. During busy times, riders have to pay a higher rate to get an Uber, called “surge pricing.”
According some recent data released, the average hourly earnings of a driver is $19.04. So how did I beat the national average and end up pulling in the equivalent of a $44,000/yr salary, while just driving people around in my car?
First thing's first, I got a $100 dollar bonus after finishing my first trip. I signed up through a special promo, just like the one below:
Signing up through a promo is the closest you'll ever get to free money, so be sure to do it.
Alright, here we go:
3 Things I Learned Right Away
1. You Need to Drive During Peak Hours to Maximize Earnings
I live in a college town. After my driver application was finished and I was ready to go, I posted up at my local Starbucks one afternoon and waited for rides to show up near me. After getting only 1 ride over a 2 hour window, I knew I wasn't going about this the right way. I turned off the app for a few hours and worked on other stuff for my website, and decided I would wait until later that night to try again.
**cue in the first Friday night all the college students are back in town from summer**
Holy smokes, this was a game changer. Everyone was out having a great night out on the town, and that meant a constant flow of rides from 8:00 PM til about 2:30 AM, when I finally decided to call it quits.
2. Make a Concerted Effort to Give Your Riders a Great Experience
I found that driving for Uber is just like any other service-based job- if you give the customer a great experience and connect with them on a personal level, they will treat you well.
Even though the Uber app doesn't let passengers give tips, many will decide to tip you in cash. When I went out of my way to make the rides enjoyable, the volume of tips I got went way up.
Some things I recommend for a great passenger experience:
- Have a spotless interior that also smells clean.
- Especially late at night, I ALWAYS offered up the AUX cord. This was a huge hit every time with the partygoers.
- Get to know your passengers! Make small talk.
- Have water and/or snacks on board.
- Bring a vomit bag (luckily I didn't need this, but I'd rather be safe than sorry)
- Drive safe and go the speed limit.
- Secret tip: Carry change for a $20. You'd be surprised how many more tips you get this way.
3. Use Your Time with Passengers to Your Advantage
Almost every passenger likes to ask, “so what do you do for a living outside of Uber?” I don't know why people like asking this, but they always do.
While I don't really bother doing this when I'm driving at night, there is definitely value in networking with your passengers during the day. As an entrepreneur, I like the idea of meeting people in the community and spreading the word about my business and what I do.
You never know who you're going to meet and how you might be able to help them or they can help you. Keep all options open!! Use the intimate platform of ride sharing to your advantage.
Downsides of Driving for Uber
Although I definitely think the benefits of being an Uber driver are worth it, it's not all sunshine and rainbows with this gig.
Uber Doesn't Pay You for Gas or Expenses
Between rides that cancel when you're halfway there to pick them up, to stop and go downtown traffic, your gas bill can add up pretty quickly. This also means that you shouldn't drive around between rides, because it quickly burns through gas (and you're not making any money between rides).
Wear and Tear on Your Car
When you have people getting in and out of your car consistently your car is going to take a little bit of damage. For me, it wasn't anything too terrible, but I can see how the wear and tear can add up.
It's Not a Great Long Term Option
At the end of the day, there aren't really any growth opportunities with being an Uber driver. And while giving people rides can be a good time, you need to make sure you prioritize actual resume-building jobs and skills. Don't let the above average pay blind you. Think long term.
After my initial stint of driving for Uber, I've cut back a lot. Now I only do it on the occasional Saturday night because I'd rather stay focused on building my business. You can't beat the money though, especially for something that requires no real skills.
So, in the end, I think Uber is a great option, as long as you recognize it for what it is. Between the $100 sign up bonus and working during prime time hours, you can definitely pay your rent with a few days of work. Give it a shot.
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You'll usually see me on here writing articles about how to save (and make!) money, how to make smarter investment choices, and how to have a better overall financial life. If there's ever a topic you'd like to see me cover, shoot me an email!
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