If you love people and have an affinity for getting behind the wheel, driving with Uber may sound like the perfect gig. But can you honestly make a career out of a low-stress, flexible gig?
Skeptical minds think alike. The media doesn’t paint a beautiful picture of Uber’s relationship with drivers, and ridesharing companies appear to have entered an ongoing competition to give riders the lowest fares.
With estimate hourly earnings varying between sources, the thought of working without a consistent driver salary can be scary. We’re here to clear the air.
This article will cover in detail the expected income of Uber drivers, factors impacting earnings, and best practices to make bank while driving with Uber.
How Much Does Uber Pay?
While Uber states that Uber drivers make $25 per hour, the median income of UberX drivers — who make up the majority of the company’s contractors — is only $13.70 per hour before tips.
This isn’t to say that drivers can’t make $25 per hour, of course. Keep in mind that this estimate includes the hourly income of drivers across many Uber markets, which include both major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and lesser-known cities like Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Local cost of living does have a sizable effect on your hourly earnings. For example, UberX drivers in New York actually make approximately $20.54 per hour, which is a huge amount in comparison to most states.
If we dive even deeper, looking on a city level, drivers in New York City can expect to earn more than those in nearby suburbs, just as drivers in downtown San Francisco will consistently earn more than those in the rest of the Bay Area.
Regardless of where you’re driving, you’re guaranteed to make a few dollars over minimum wage and, if you consistently take advantage of referral bonuses for drivers, you can fairly easily reach a higher range.
If you’re looking for an easygoing gig that doesn’t require much effort, a $14 hourly wage may make for a comfortable living in a handful of American cities.
How Much Does Uber Pay Per Ride?
The average Uber driver reportedly earns $15.97 per ride, but don’t let the data fool you into believing you’ll be earning hundreds by the hour.
It’s difficult to provide truly representative per-trip data, as earnings for premium services greatly increases the average, and the final number doesn’t consider the time you’ll spend driving between rides.
When estimating an Uber driver’s true per-trip earning, it’s best to calculate based on the variety of factors that go into your rider’s fares.
As you complete a ride, the Uber app will automatically add the following elements that your rider paid and allow you to take home 75% of the cut:
- Base Fare: The set booking fee that every rider is charged.
- Time: A set rate charged per minute.
- Distance: A set rate charged per mile or kilometer.
- Surge: The multiplier you receive on fares in areas of high demand.
Exact rates and base fares vary by city and by product, but any tips you earn in addition to this will not be affected by Uber’s 25% cut. You’ll also be fully reimbursed for tolls you pass between your pick-up and drop-off.
Opportunities to Earn More
Just because the average hourly income of Uber drivers is fairly low doesn’t mean you can’t make significantly more.
If you’re aiming to make Uber your full-time job, or working this in addition to another part-time to make extra money , there are plenty of strategies that drivers use to boost how much money they make.
The easiest way to multiply your earnings is to drive at peak hours and in the busiest areas. This is because Uber has a feature called surge pricing, which increases rates for riders when demand increases in relation to supply.
The map on your driver app will shade in areas where prices are surging in real time, as well as the surge rate in specific neighborhoods. The surge rate is displayed as a multiplier that denotes how much more you will earn from base fares per trip.
For example, if you see a 1.5x, your earnings (before Uber’s standard fee) will be $15 for an Uber ride that would normally bring you in $10. It’s not uncommon for surge to go up to 7x and beyond for busy events, and riders looking to head home quickly usually choose convenience over frugality.
Chasing these high rates doesn’t always pay off. If you’re driving east from 10 minutes west, sometimes the surge will already be over. However, if you’re already in the area or — better yet — you’ve kept an eye out for events, such as sporting events and concerts at your local arena or holiday season at the airport, you’ll start seeing patterns that will help you understand where demand will rise and last for a considerable amount of time.
Once in a while, Uber will send drivers information about incentives they’re eligible for, or update promotions in the Uber app. Typically reserved for events and other high-demand times, incentives help you earn extra money per trip.
Special incentives are especially helpful because they tell you exactly where you should be and when. While they’re not available daily, like surge pricing, they often allow you to earn extra in addition to surge pricing benefits. Who could pass up such a great deal?
While UberX is the primary vehicle option for both riders and drivers, you certainly aren’t limited to UberX requests. If you have a vehicle that’s eligible for higher-cost services, you can strategize in two ways:
- Opt into requests for multiple services to receive a higher volume of requests. For example, if you have a vehicle that’s eligible for Uber Black, you can likely double up by driving for Uber Black and UberX.
- Only opt into requests for the most expensive service to receive higher earnings per request.
Lastly, Uber has an excellent referral program that will help you earn extra without too much stress on your part. All you need to do is grab your unique invite code — learn where to find yours here — and share on social media or directly to your contact list via the app.
When a rider signs up with your referral code, you’ll just get a $5 credit for your next ride. However, if a new driver signs up with your invite code, you’ll start earning cash. Requirements and amount of earnings may vary by city, but referrals are always an easy way to make some extra money.
How Much Does Uber Pay vs. Lyft?
In comparison to the average Uber driver, Lyft drivers do earn significantly higher wages. This is a HUGE factor that impacts both drivers, and riders, when evaluating the differences between Uber and Lyft.
Whereas an Uber driver makes an average of $14.73 per hour when tips are factored in, a Lyft driver makes an average of $17.50 per hour. A significant factor in this: Lyft takes 20% of fares from drivers, plus booking fees, while Uber takes 25% of fares.
The cause behind the remaining disparity is up for speculation. Earnings from each company fluctuate by location. Riders give better tips on Lyft according to some accounts, while Uber riders are the generous ones according to others.
Uber surge tends to give your earnings a higher multiplier, while Lyft’s equivalent and lower-cost Prime Time may encourage riders to make more requests.
Essentially, the rideshare driver experience is about the same, and your location and availability will impact your earnings more than anything else.
Regardless of the service you’re driving for, car maintenance costs and self-employment taxes will always be part of the job. As an independent contractor, keep in mind that these expenses aren’t typically covered by your company.
The only exception is that Uber provides free vehicle inspections at many of their driver support centers and partner inspection centers. You can figure out where you can get your annual inspection covered on your city’s vehicle inspection page on Uber.com.
FAQs on How Much Does Uber Pay
Now that you know how much Uber drivers make, here are answers to some questions that may still be on your mind:
1. When will I see my earnings in my bank account?
Uber drivers can usually expect their previous week’s earnings to be reflected in their accounts by Thursday or Friday.
Exact days may vary by bank, but you should receive your earnings from standard Uber rides within a week. In some cases, earnings for special promotions may not show up until a time frame specified by Uber.
2. How much do Uber drivers make per year?
Yearly earnings are dependent on a variety of factors, from location to the amount of incentives you’ve taken advantage of, but especially depends on the amount of hours you’re driving. Full-time drivers average an annual income of $36,525.
3. Do Uber drivers need to pay for commercial insurance?
The majority of Uber drivers aren’t required to be commercially insured. Having an active, standard car insurance policy will do.
However, driving for luxury services like Uber Black does require commercial insurance, as these services are marketed as high-end options with professional drivers.
City regulations may also have their own requirements for rideshare insurance.
Start Earning With Uber
Earning enough to make ends meet is easy with Uber, but with our tips, you can strategize your way toward some quick cash in no time. Inspired to take on a new gig?