Ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber are quickly replacing traditional services like taxis and limos. They’re also an important source of income for many Americans.
Uber dominates the ride-hailing space, with more riders than any other service. For people looking for a way to earn some extra cash, driving for Uber is a potentially lucrative side job. In fact, Uber loves to tout the benefits of its unique “side hustle” opportunity.
- How To Become an Uber Driver
- How Uber Drivers Get Paid
- What Kind of Insurance Do I Need to Drive for Uber?
- How Are Uber Drivers Taxed?
- How To Maximize Your Uber Earnings
- What To Consider Before Becoming an Uber Driver
If you’ve researched Uber and want to look into becoming a driver, all you need to do is visit its website and sign up. Before you do that, however, double-check to make sure you meet the qualifications.
To be an Uber driver you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have a minimum of one year of driving experience in the U.S., or three years if you’re under 23 years old
- Possess a valid U.S. driver’s license, proof of car insurance and valid registration for the car you intend to use
Depending on where you live, the Uber car requirements vary. If your car doesn’t meet the qualifications, or you need a vehicle, that’s no problem. Uber offers affordable car leases for drivers of all credit levels.
Here are the general requirements for Uber vehicles:
- Must be no more than 15 years old
- Must have four doors and seat four passengers
- No rented or leased vehicles unless Uber-approved
- No salvaged, reconstructed or rebuilt vehicles
- No cosmetic damage or commercial branding
- Must pass safety inspection in the state where registered
Uber conducts a driving history and criminal history background check on each applicant. The criminal history includes a national, state and local-level check, and any hits are researched and verified before drivers are accepted.
As part of the procedure, applicants must submit the following items:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license number
One of the biggest reasons people become Uber drivers is the flexibility the opportunity offers. Uber drivers can work any time, day or night, any day of the week. They can set their own hours and they get paid almost instantly. And earnings are easily accessible. With Instant-Pay, drivers have the option to transfer their pay into their bank accounts up to five times a day.
According to the Uber website, trip fares are calculated from the following:
- Base fare or price of pickup
- Total time of trip
- Distance in miles or kilometers
- Surge pricing, which means that during peak times higher “surge rates” may apply
- Tolls and other fees, if applicable
Driver payments are calculated by adding the base fare, time rate and distance rate and multiplying the sum by any surge multiplier. After that, the Uber fee, tolls and other fees are subtracted to determine the driver payment.
The type of vehicle you drive and the city where you work will also affect the base fare, time and distance rates that Uber charges riders. For example, with bigger cars that hold more passengers, you can often charge higher rates.
Uber requires all of its drivers to maintain adequate car insurance. To be accepted as an Uber driver, you must show the company that you have all of the following levels of insurance:
- Comprehensive or third-party property damage coverage
- Be listed as insured on the policy, even if you are driving a car owned by someone else
- The insurance must display an active expiration date
Related: 20 Most Expensive Cars to Insure
In most jurisdictions, Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors. This means that Uber does not withhold taxes for drivers. Every driver is responsible for filing their own taxes.
Uber does provide detailed tax information to drivers, but the company does not give tax advice. They recommend that drivers use reputable tax preparation services like TurboTax for tax help.
Learn More: Independent Contractor Taxes: A Complete Guide
There are plenty of ways Uber drivers can maximize their earnings. Here are some ideas to consider if you want to as much money as possible with Uber:
- Use a fuel-efficient car to minimize your gas expenses. Although Uber offers discount fuel rewards to qualifying partners, for the most part drivers pay for their own gas.
- Drive during peak hours whenever possible. This is when opportunities for passengers are highest.
- Consider driving for UberEats or doing deliveries for even more extra earnings.
- Always accept tips through the Uber Driver App, which gives riders the option to add a tip when rating a completed trip.
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Although driving for Uber can be a great way to earn extra money, there are potential drawbacks to think about:
- Be prepared for gas and maintenance costs. Operating your car will be your biggest expense as an Uber driver. The costs of gas and maintenance will come out of your profits.
- You still need insurance. Even though Uber provides some supplemental insurance whenever your Uber App is on and you’re driving for them, you still need car insurance.
- Be prepared for wear and tear on your car. Wear and tear on your vehicle can also be costly, although this might not be an immediate concern when you start driving.
- Understand how cleaning fees work. Make sure you know how to collect a cleaning fee if someone vomits or makes a mess in your vehicle, and what steps are required to preserve evidence.
If you believe driving for Uber is right for you, there’s no time like the present. Visit the company website and read the Uber blog for tips and advice on maximizing earnings and making the most of the time you spend in your car.
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This article has been updated with additional reporting since its original publication.