When I started thinking of ways to make some extra cash for the holidays, driving for Uber was near the top of my list.
How could it not be? This is the time of year when I’m driving all over town, from the mall to the grocery story to holiday gatherings. Why not take someone along for the ride and make a buck or two?
Becoming an Uber driver isn’t a complicated process, and you can make hundreds a week. If you’re at least 21, have car insurance, can pass a background check and have a newish four-door car in good condition, you’re on your way.
How much you’ll make will vary depending on location, how much you drive, how long your rides are and the time of day you drive. According to this TechCrunch article, which cites an Uber-funded study from 2014, drivers in Uber’s top 20 markets make an average of $19 an hour, after Uber takes out its 20 percent, but before the cost of gas, depreciation, insurance and other expenses. (Note, however, that these expenses could also become tax deductions!)
Bottom line? As more people are head out for holiday shopping and parties, ‘tis the season for you to make an extra buck or two. And if this isn’t your cup of tea, check out “50 Ways to Make a Fast $50 (or Lots More).”
How to get going
Click here to get to the Uber driver site. You’ll download the driver app, then tell them about yourself and your car. After a few days, you should be in business. You’ll be paid weekly via electronic deposit, and you’ll work on your own schedule. You never have to drive if you don’t want to.
You’ll need to keep your car clean and in good shape, keep a full tank, and make sure your insurance is always up-to-date. These expenses are all yours, and they add up. It’s only after subtracting them from your income that you’ll find out what you’re really earning.
How to be a top earner
Giving someone a ride is the base requirement, but think about what you would want from someone who was picking you up.
If I decide to drive for Uber, you can bet I’ll give my passengers the best possible ride, because five-star ratings mean I’ll be in high demand next time around. The higher my demand, the more rides I’ll get and the more tips I’ll make. Additional advice:
Stick to the good areas: Try to avoid aimlessly driving around, as you’ll waste precious gas and time. Look at your city from the perspective of a customer. Think about where the demand is and when rides are in highest demand. If possible, stay in a central location so you can find potential riders in every part of town.
Hack the surge fare system: As you know if you’ve ever been a passenger in a busy location, Uber charges extra when there are lots of people looking for a ride and fewer drivers in the area. This means more money for drivers, but drivers don’t know when surge pricing is in effect.
Surge fares happen based on a comparison of the number of people with the Uber passenger app open and the number of people with the driver app open. If you’re in the right location and log out of the driver app right before a “busy” time, like afternoon commuting or after happy hour, it may drive up the surge charge, since fewer drivers will show on the app as available. Give it a few minutes, log back in by using the passenger app, and if see if surge pricing is in effect.
Keeping customers happy pays: Some Uber drivers are kind (and smart!) enough to offer bottled water and light snacks during the ride. If your passenger just got off a plane and hasn’t eaten for a while — meaning they could be a hungry, angry (“hangry”) passenger, they’ll thank you for it … maybe with a fat tip! It might also keep you from grabbing fast food, which saves money, improves your health and provides you more time to pick up passengers.
Some drivers also keep phone chargers handy for those who need them. How many times have you gotten in the car and realized your phone was at 12 percent charge? Your passengers will thank you, you’ll get that five-star rating and maybe some extra Christmas cash in the form of a tip!
It doesn’t cost a dime to register for Uber, and it doesn’t take much time. So, what are you waiting for? Check it out here!