How To Be An Uber Driver
With the introduction of an ingenious mobile app in 2009, Uber usurped the dominance of the long established taxi industry and made it possible for many thousands of people to begin a part or full-time driving career.
What is Uber?
Uber uses the internet to connect drivers and riders for the purpose of ridesharing. Drivers use their own car and determine their own schedule. Anyone with a mobile phone, a relatively new car, and clean driving record can become an Uber driver.
Some Uber drivers choose to supplement their income by driving part-time, while others embrace the freedom, and challenges, of becoming a full-time independent contractor with Uber.
How Does Uber Work?
For drivers, Uber functions as a referral service that uses your Android, iPhone or Windows Phone to connect you with riders via GPS. Driver and rider see each other's location, and the time it will take for the driver to arrive. Uber processes payment from the rider's credit card, keeping a $1.65 booking fee and 25% commission for itself. The balance of the fare is deposited directly into the driver's account, there is no cash involved.
The typical Uber driver works for the company's low-cost service option, UberX, driving standard passenger cars like a Honda Civic, Ford Escort or Toyota Corolla. Uber Black is the next service tier with drivers using fancy town cars and requiring some professional driving credentials. Uber SUV also charges more for rides in large SUV vehicles. The most expensive service tier is Uber LUX, offering rides in luxury cars such as an Audi A6 or Lexus QS.
Uber Driver Requirements & Car Requirements
Okay, so you've decided to become an Uber driver, great! Now you need a recent model four-door car. It's up to Uber whether they accept your car, but in most states, it needs to be less than seven years old. Sometimes exceptions are made for classic cars in top condition. An inspection is required before you start driving. If you're considering buying a newer car to use as an Uber car, be sure to shop around for the best auto loan.
Uber will also do a check of your driving record as well as a criminal background check before you start. If you have a drunk driving or criminal conviction, you won't be able to drive for Uber.
What is an Uber car?
An Uber car is simply your own car that you drive as a self-employed, independent contractor working with Uber.
Does Uber Insure Drivers?
Uber claims drivers don't need to buy additional insurance to work with them as an independent contractor. You do need personal auto insurance to drive for Uber, but the company provides additional liability insurance when you accept a ride. The Uber insurance covers up to $1 million in liability as well as collision damage with a $1,000 deductible. In effect, Uber pays your insurance from the commission they take from your rides.
How Much Money do Uber Drivers Make?
Uber itself cites a study from Techcrunch to claim that Uber drivers average more than $19 per hour in their top 20 markets. The study states that the hourly figure does not include expenses such as gas, maintenance, and insurance. As self-employed workers, drivers can deduct some of these expenses from their taxable income.
Compare the $19 per hour figure cited by Uber to the hourly mean wage of $13.00 for taxi and limousine drivers income reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it look's pretty good. However, independent reporting from Ridester outlines hourly wages for Uber partners after vehicle expenses, and it stacks up pretty close to taxi driver earnings. For example, Uber drivers earned $11.72 per hour in San Francisco and $10.24 an hour in Chicago. The big exception is New York City, where Uber drivers averaged $20.54 per hour after expenses.
Uber drivers can earn higher fares for working during peak hours when the company charges more for rides. Peak hours include morning and evening commutes as well as Friday night and Saturday.
Increase Uber Rates With Referrals
Experienced Uber drivers don't miss a trick to maximize their income. The Uber referral program is a great way for Uber partners to increase earnings. Drivers earn money for each passenger they refer to the Uber partner app, and if a referral signs up they earn a lucrative bonus.
Drivers get creative with their referrals, encouraging friends and family to join, and printing up referral cards to pass out any time they meet people just like a real estate agent would.
Uber Partner App
To become an Uber partner, download the Uber partner app. The app can be downloaded to any Android device from 2013 or newer running version 4.0 or higher, or an iPhone with iOS 8 or higher. After downloading and installing, tap ALLOW when prompted to Allow "Uber Driver" to access your location. This sets you up to receive trip requests.
How Does the Uber App Work?
Drivers use the Uber partner app to accept ride requests. Upon accepting a ride, you'll proceed to the pickup location to collect your ride. When you are starting out, trying driving in a neighborhood you know well, perhaps at a lighter traffic time of day like mid-morning. Use the GPS function in the app to navigate.
How to Check Your Uber Rating
Riders are able to rate their Uber experience with every ride, giving the driver 1 to 5 stars. From the partner app, you can select the rating tab to display your rating results. You'll see your current rating, the total number of trips, and your total number of 5-star trips displayed. Uber expects that partners keep their average review rating at 4.6 or better.
It literally pays to be friendly and welcoming! Some Uber experts suggest offering perks like water or mints during rides, something that you can pick up in bulk at a big box discount store. As an added bonus, you may find yourself getting tips as well as high ratings.
Uber Black is an upscale higher-priced ride share service using luxury sedans. The fares for riders more than double, allowing drivers the opportunity to earn more.
What are Uber Black Requirements?
Uber BLACK requirements for drivers include a commercial driver's license and registration, as well as a black luxury vehicle to drive. An airport permit is also required. Approved Uber BLACK cars include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Infiniti Q70, Jaguar XF, the BMW 5 series, Audi A6 and A7, Cadillac XTS, and the Lexus GS.
An investment of time and money is involved in getting the commercial license and registration. The cost of operating and maintaining a luxury vehicle adds to your overhead of course.
Uber also offers drivers and riders Uber SUV service, another more expensive upscale service. Again, drivers need a commercial drivers license and car insurance as well as an airport permit. Drivers must provide a full-sized black SUV in great condition that has four doors, seats 6 passengers and is five years old or less. The SUV must pass the Uber vehicle inspection to qualify. Suitable vehicles include the Cadillac Escalade ESV, Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, Infiniti QX56 or QX 80, Lexus LX, Lincoln Navigator L or Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.
Should I Drive for Uber?
This could be your ideal part time job, but there are key points to consider. Are you ready for driving people you don't know around in your car, especially at commute times, nights and weekend when you can make the most money? Is a big fare worth driving an inebriated person at midnight?
Are you ready to do the necessary accounting and record keeping to track expenses? You'll want to document gas and maintenance expenses to take advantage of deductions from your self-employed income using IRS Schedule C. It's an easy form to fill out if you faithfully track expenses. Considering the thousands of dollars it can keep in your pocket annually, doing the Schedule C is the highest paid hour or two of work you'll do all year! Check out the best tax software to make it even more fun to keep your Uber earnings in your pocket.
Uber is always hiring, you can give it a try whether you want to supplement your income, or grant yourself a new full-time career. You can take time off when you choose or work extra hours to meet expenses. Yes, you are supplying a major piece of equipment, your car, at no cost to Uber, but other than that you can take this job out for a spin at no risk to see if it's for you.
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