Everything Uber Drivers Need to Know About Rideshare in 2018
Uber offers their drivers ultimate flexibility on when and where Uber Drivers can earn money. There are many features on Uber and it takes a few weeks to learn them all. All Uber drivers need to treat this as a business instead of a job. This means that you will need to figure out the best ways to drive and figure out how Uber can work for you, not the other way around.
This post will cover all of the Uber features and regulations and also many tips on how to improve your Uber income.
If you are not a Uber driver, you can easily sign up with Uber to become a Uber driver. Just sign up with the below referral link to get your signup bonus:
Then, follow the instructions in the below post to become a Uber Driver:
Products and Apps I Use as a Uber Driver
Below are some of the products I use as a Uber driver on a day to day basis:
- Smart phone – this is a standard among sharing economy jobs
- Car charger – USB Quick Charge 3.0 Dual Car Charger
- Phone mount for car – Cell Phone Car Mount Holder
- Navigation application – Google Maps or Waze – to navigate to the restaurant and dropoff
- Mileage Tracker – keep track of miles so drivers can deduct the miles. I personally recommend Automatic Pro.
When you start the Uber Driver app, the first thing you see is the Uber Dashboard. On the Uber Dashboard, you will see any announcement in your local area, the coverage map with locations with any Uber surge pricing.
On the Uber Driver App, the areas highlighted in yellow to red are areas with Uber surge pricing (more information on that later). It is ideal if you are in those highlighted areas. This will ensure that you get a ride quickly and sometimes a ride with a fixed bonus per trip. Trips that are accepted when the driver is in a surge zone will pay more than a normal trip.
Uber Earnings Summary
This feature on the Uber Driver app has been one of the best additions of the Uber driver app. You can quickly select what you want to see and have it display on the top of your Uber dashboard. This feature should help motivate drivers to stay out longer and drive more but it also helps drivers keep track of their earnings or their progress towards a bonus:
There is three different views you can have; earnings for this week, earnings for today, and your progress towards a Quest bonus. You can flip back and forth and change the view at any time. You can get more details about your earnings by clicking on “See Weekly Summary.”
How to go Online as a Uber Driver
As a Uber driver, all you need to do is turn on your Uber Driver app and press “Go” on the bottom of the Uber Dashboard. You don’t need to be on schedule to go online, but there may be some hours that is better to be online than others.
Different Types of Uber Rides
You will see what type of Uber ride it is before you accept. Here are the different types of Uber rides:
- UberPool – This is a shared ride between multiple groups of passengers. You are paid about 75% of a normal Uber ride (time and distance and any flat rate surge if available). Uber claims that the average UberPool ride is longer and makes up for the lower earnings. Drivers are also paid a flat rate for every additional passenger they pick up. The best case scenario is that you are paid the same as an UberX ride but most times you are paid less because you are only earning 75% of a normal UberX ride.
- UberX – This is a single pickup and dropoff. You are paid by time and distance with any applicable surge pricing.
- UberXL – This is a ride request for 5 or more passengers. Only drivers with vehicles that can fit 7 or more passengers including the driver will see these requests. It pays more than a regular UberX ride
- Uber Select– This is a ride request for premium vehicles. Click here to see the list of Uber Select Vehicle Requirements
- Uber Black/Black SUV – This is a ride request for luxury vehicles (nicer than premium vehicles). Black SUV is a ride request for Luxury SUVs. Click here to see the list of Uber Select Vehicle Requirements
The Uber Ride as a Uber Driver
The Uber Ride can be broken down into three phase:
Accepting Uber Rides
A notification will appear on your phone when a Uber ride request comes to you. You have about 10 seconds to accept the trip. It will tell you how far away the Uber pickup is in minutes, the rating of the passenger, what type of ride it is (UberX, UberPool, Uber Select, UberBLack, etc) and if there is any Surge Pricing in it.
Uber Ride Pickup
Once you accept the Uber Ride, it will show the location of the Uber pickup. You will see the name or address of the location on the top of the Uber Driver app and the name on the bottom. Once you are at the location, the Uber app will tell the passenger you have arrived and a timer will start once you get within a few feet of the pickup spot. A 5 minute timer will count down for UberX, and a 2 minute timer will count down on UberPool rides only. For UberX rides, there is a 2 minute grace period before a three minute timer starts. The three minute timer is the time you will be paid to wait for the passenger. If the passenger shows up before the timer hits 0, tap the bottom button to pick up the passenger.
If the passenger isn’t in your car when the timer hits 0, call the passenger to see where they are. If they are still far away, then you can mark them “No-Show.” If the ride is a UberPool, you don’t need to call the passenger and you can mark them “No-Show” and drive to the next destination. In both cases, you will get a cancellation fee.
Drive to Drop Off
The next step is to follow the instructions on the Uber driver app and drive to the next location. For UberPool, it can be the next passenger pickup, but for any other rides, it will be the drop off location.
Once you are at the next location, hit the button on the bottom again. If it is UberPool, it may be either dropping off your passenger or arriving at the next destination. If it is any other type of ride, click the bottom “drop off your passenger” button to end the trip.
Back to Back Rides
Once you are close to your final dropoff location, it will send you ride requests before the end of the current trip. It will tell you approximately how far away the next request is from you currently, the type of ride and if there is any surge pricing involved. Sometimes they will send you the request a few minutes before your dropoff, so compare how far away you are from your dropoff and the next ride. Sometimes they are very close together, but since you are still far away from your dropoff, the distance to your next ride may seem long. You still have an option to decline the next ride.
You can also set the Uber driver app to go offline after the current ride by clicking on the icon on the top right hand side, and then click “Stop Requests.”
I find myself making a little less money on UberPool rides. UberPool rides are often more complicated, so I tend to avoid them. There are situations where I need to accept UberPool rides. The biggest reason to accept UberPool rides is when it is not very busy or you are very far away from a busy part of town. I accept UberPool trips in the hopes that the passenger needs to go very far and that they are going to a busy part of the city.
The other lesser reason to accept UberPool is to attain a bonus, like the Quest Bonus or the streak bonus. In my experience, you essentially break even with UberPool and attaining various levels of the bonus. Say you accept UberPool and get more rides and get a higher bonus. I often make a similar amount of money just accept regular UberX and getting a smaller bonus. I find that while it takes me more time to attain a bonus, I earn much more money per hour when I do not accept UberPool.
There are also some customers who expect the same service with UberPool as UberX. They may be accustomed to not being matched with UberPool and may get irritated that they are matched. Some people didn’t know they choose UberPool and find out they are going to be late. There are other UberPool customers who just wants something for nothing (want UberPool prices but UberX service.) While these customers tend to be in the minority, they can screw up your ratings since they may rate you a 3 or 4 just because of how UberPool is set up. There are also extra issues with Express Pool. I just don’t deal with these issues and never accept UberPool.
Once you drive more often, you will figure out your own UberPool acceptance criteria.
Uber Surge Pricing
Uber recently changed their surcharge pricing when it is busy. Uber have recently switched to a flat rate surge pricing and it looks something like this:
This change is only in a few cities at the moment but I expect it to hit all cities in the US within the next month or two.
How it works is that if you are in the shaded region, you will get a flat rate surcharge for any ride you accept, even if it is outside of that zone. Typically, I’ll only get one or maybe two trips within the surcharge areas. The fixed rate surge pricing favors short rides and isn’t as lucrative on very long trips. I typically only get short trips when there is surge pricing, so I like this system. I also do not drive after large events and flat rate surge pricing do not compensate drivers properly after large events like sports games and concerts. Uber has separate promotions for large events to maintain an incentive for drivers to work after large events.
Uber Airport Queues
To see the number of cars in the Uber Airport queue, click on the balloon at the airport. The Uber airport queue will show you the number of each level of service in the queue, which is very useful:
Most of the time, it is not worth it to wait in the Airport Queue. You can often get a trip much faster if you leave the airport than stay. I don’t regularly get very lucrative rides at the airport, so while it is nice if I can get a ride from the airport, I don’t need to get one. In Boston, downtown is just 10 minutes away so I often pay the toll and go back into the city to get another ride.
On a normal day in Boston, the airport queue for both Lyft and Uber are often around 100-120 drivers. When it is super slow in Boston during the summer, I have seen the queue over 200 drivers. In my experience in Boston, it takes around an hour to clear 60 drivers. 120 drivers will take two hours to clear. When it gets really busy, 100 drivers can be requested in 30 minutes. If it is busy at the airport, you will see the queue much shorter. I typically enter the airport queue when it shows around 60 drivers. I know that since the queue is low, more drivers are coming into the queue, but it still stays low. This means that the queue is moving much faster than normal. I don’t typically go out of my way to go to the airport queue. I will only enter if I’m already at the airport, or I’m near the airport and driving towards the city. Some people (taxi cabs) stream back to the airport and wait for hours for a ride. That strategy must work for them, but since there are many rides at any time of day, I rather drive outside the airport than wait inside the airport queue.
Since Boston Logan airport is so close to downtown Boston, I typically use the airport as a litmus test of how busy it is on Lyft and Uber. If the queue is really high (180), then it is very slow in Boston. If the queue is 60, then it is either really busy in the city or really busy at the airport. I will typically see a low airport queue if there is Prime Time pricing in downtown Boston. Prime Time pricing will draw drivers away from the airport and into the city.
Here are some suggestions on how to pass the time in the Airport queue:
- Rest or Nap
- Book or surfing the internet with laptop/tablet
- Cleaning or detailing car
If want to rest for an hour or two, you can try to stop by a car wash and grab a quick sandwich before getting into the airport queue. You can spend the time napping and then detailing your car (vacuum and spray wax).
Uber’s Destination Filter only sends you requests in the direction of your final destination. This feature is extremely useful and I usually have pretty good luck with it. They limit your usage to two per calendar day (12am to 11:59pm). Say you have a trip that takes you 20 miles from the center of town. If you do not think you can get another ride back into the center of town, you can turn on destination filter to try to get a ride back into the city. About half the time, I will get one or two rides that takes me back towards town. Other times, I will get one or two short rides that gets me a little closer to town.
I do not use it very often because I am only limited to two and I always want it in my back pocket in case I get a late night ride way outside of town and I want to go home. Note that the destination filter usage is only if you accept a ride during a destination filter. If you don’t accept the ride, the limit doesn’t count against you. Destination filter limit is not per trip but per time you activate it. Sometimes you can have it on for two hours and accept multiple trips but it’ll count as one destination filter as long as you keep your Uber driver app online. You can accept or reject rides at your discretion and doesn’t count against your destination filter.
Rideshare Hourly Limits
In most states, there are limits on how much a rideshare driver can be online for. The general rule on Uber is that you must take a 6-hour break if you work 14 consecutive hours.
Here is the rule in Massachusetts:
After 12 consecutive hours in driver mode in a 24-hour period, you must take a break for at least 8 consecutive hours.
There are ways to avoid these restrictions, such as doing Uber only for a few hours, then Lyft only for a few hours. Supposedly, drivers are limited across all platforms, but there isn’t a formal way for the city to find out, so drivers often get away with it. To formally get around the Massachusetts rule, you can drive for 6 hours in the morning (say 7am to 1pm), then take a break for a few hours, then start up again around 4-10pm.
I don’t believe drivers can drive for more than 14 hours a day for the entire week unless they spend significant amounts of time in the Airport Queue. Time spent in the Airport Queue counts towards the hourly limits.
The pay period for Uber is Monday at 5am to the following Monday at 4:59am. Your earnings will be deposited on Tuesday morning. I typically get my deposits on Friday, but others have seen deposits on Wednesday or Thursday. It depends on your bank and what type of account you have. I have a free checking account and I believe they slow down deposits to earn extra income from holding onto deposits.
You can also use Express Pay and deposit it instantly to any debit card. It is subject to a small fee of 50 cents. This has helped some drivers because they can work and get cash in their account on the same day.
Uber Hourly Pay Potential
The hourly income a Uber driver can earn varies a lot by city and times they drive. In Seattle, I typically average around $22 an hour while I’m averaging around $28 an hour in Boston with fewer miles driven. In both cities, I didn’t see much surge pricing in either city in the last two years and most of my trips were at regular rates.
Best Times to Drive as a Uber Driver
The best times to drive are:
- Friday and Saturday nights
- During the day Sunday
- Weekday mornings
- Weekday during daytime hours
Some drivers have a lot of luck with driving overnight hours (12am – 7am) since there is little traffic and fewer Uber drivers on the road. If you are a part time driver, driving on Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday will be your best bet. If you want to drive full time, I recommend driving mostly weekdays. I find that it is plenty busy on Mondays and Fridays and less demand during the middle of the week.
Uber Driver Insurance
Uber drivers are protected by Uber Insurance while you are online. The major risk is the Primary Automobile liability insurance that carries a $1000 deductible, regardless of fault. Any Uber driver who has gotten into an accident were shocked by that high deductible.
Below are the terms of Uber commercial insurance:
- Contingent Liability (coverage only while in driver mode waiting for a ride request)
- Primary Automobile Liability ($1000 deductible regardless of fault)
- Contingent Comprehensive & Collision (only if you carry personal comprehensive and collision insurance. The default is typically just liability for personal insurance)
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM)
Expenses of a Uber Driver
The major expense for a Uber driver is your vehicle. The newer and more expensive your car is, the higher your expenses are. When you drive on Uber , you are converting your equity in your vehicle into cash. When you consider this, you should get the cheapest car you can to do Uber, especially if you plan on doing it full time. This will lower your expenses and make Uber much more profitable.
The main portion of your expenses is depreciation, maintenance, gas, and insurance. Below is a table of Total Cost of Ownership for a 2013 Elantra GLS Sedan:
|Taxes & Fees||$670||$0||$60||$0||$60||$790|
|True Cost to Own ®||$7,082||$4,423||$4,237||$4,953||$4,990||$25,685|
Depreciation is a major expense most drivers don’t even consider. If you purchase a cheaper car, cost of insurance will also be lower, but maintenance and repairs may be higher.
If you are looking to get a car just for Uber , I would recommend getting a car around $5-$7k. These cars will be good enough over the next few years that you won’t need major repairs, but cheap enough to lower your expenses and insurance rates. While some people buy hybrid vehicles to save on gas, I prefer an economical non-hybrid car due to lower price.
The biggest mistake Uber drivers make is that they get a brand new car to drive on Uber . This is the worst thing you can do since your expense will be very high and you are earning the same amount of money as someone who has a car that is worth $5k.
Common Issues as a Uber Driver
Blind Destination System
The blind destination system won’t allow you to see the drop off location until you have arrived at your pickup location. Some rides are very short, and some rides are very long. Uber has recently implemented a notification where it will say if it is a long ride, typically longer than 30 minutes. However, you still don’t know where it is going.
Passengers not arriving on time
Occasionally, passengers will take a few minutes to reach your car. Waiting 4 minutes for every customer can amount to waiting 45 minutes if you have 10 trips that day, which can cut into your income potential. Most passengers come out within a minute or two so this isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be a few years ago.
Issues with Passenger Location
There are a few passengers who end up putting in the wrong location. It is a mixture of an issue with their smartphone GPS and an oversight of their real location. Uber has implemented a live tracker feature on your passenger so you know where they are standing, which is very helpful.
Uber’s term of service requires account holders to be at least 18 years of age, but I occasionally receive requests from middle and high school students looking for a ride to/from school. I typically check their pickup and destination and cancel if I know they are going to school. I also tell them that it is against the Uber’s terms of service for underage passengers to take a Uber without their parent or an adult. I typically avoid driving around when school is let out around 2pm since I will get many requests from middle and high schools.
UberPool is a shared rideshare ride. Express Pool is a shared ride, but the passenger is given a set pickup and dropoff point that may not be where they requested. Some people may not be aware of this and assume that the driver will pick them up at their location, but not know that they need to be somewhere else. This is frustrating for both parities since now the driver is stuck waiting for 2 minutes while the passenger either won’t make the ride or now have to walk a few minutes to save 50 cents on their ride. I haven’t picked up an UberPool in 6 months now and personally don’t know if passengers are more careful about ExpressPool. Note that once you accept UberPool, subsequent riders that are added into your UberPool ride could be either Pool or ExpressPool. There is a little icon to show you whether it is Pool or ExpressPool.
This is another reason why I do not accept UberPool.
How Do I Become A Better Uber Driver
Experience is the biggest factor in your performance as a Uber Driver. As you drive more on Uber, you will learn more about Uber and also the city. In-depth knowledge of the city resolves many issues with Uber since the number one issue passenger flags is navigation. While Google and Waze GPS are great applications, it often doesn’t do well in knowing exactly where a passenger will be at a given location. Also, GPS tends to have trouble in crowded downtown areas where buildings reflect GPS signals, causing navigation issues.
I say that it takes at least 30 Uber rides to really get the hang of Uber, and about 100 to really feel confident driving on Uber.
What is the Best Way to Drive on Uber?
Here are some tips that I think will help your driving
- Setting a schedule – Gone are the days of a lot of surge pricing. Most trips will be at the regular rate and its hard to be motivated to drive when you don’t see any pink or red on the map. The key is just to sign online and accept as many trips as you can.
- Drive for a few hours at a time – I find that if you drive for multiple hours at a time, you tend to earn more per hour. You may get a few short trips in hour 1, but then a few long trips in hour 2 that makes up for hour 1. I don’t typically recommend driving for only an hour or 90 minutes since after 90 minutes, you may be on the other side of the city.
- Schedule driving around your errands – If you plan on being 10 miles from the city, plan your day so that you can get a few rides on your way back home. If you can drive for a few hours, I would not turn on destination filter until you really want to go home. Chances are you may get a ride closer to home.
- Use Destination Filter liberally – I find myself not using it often enough. Uber limits drivers to two a day but I rarely use one everyday I drive on Uber and I have never used the second one. Note that you will have fewer ride requests so only use it when you need to be somewhere in a relative short period of time.
- Prepare for down time – You may not be driving all the time so plan on something to do when waiting between rides. I normally don’t need to wait more than a few minutes for a ride, so I will check my email and look up things on the internet to fill the time. If you plan on waiting at the airport, bring a book or laptop and be productive during your down time. If you feel tired and just dropped off someone at the airport, you can get into the airport queue and take a nap. Airport queue is also a great place for lunch (get food before entering queue) or detailing/cleaning your car.
- Setting a daily goal – Some full time drivers set a monetary goal for the day and they typically go home after they hit a certain goal. This may help motivate you to drive more if you set your goal high.
- UberPool – For new drivers, avoid UberPool. It is a hassle that is not worth the time, so just skip it during your first 30 rides. I often ignore UberPool because it is more hassle than its worth.
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