What I Made in 2018 and All Things Every New Driver Should Have Figured Out Before They Start Driving for Uber or Lyft In 2019

Uber Driver 2018 Earnings

If an increase in income has been on your mind, and comes up every year, you are not alone. Two years ago I was in the same boat and took the plunge with rideshare. First Lyft, and then Uber, the stickers decorated my dashboard and back window. It was an easy process, an online application, image of my insurance, driver’s license and basic information. Both companies took some time for a background check and DMV record searches. The process was finalized by a personal visit to their offices for an inspection, an app download on the phone and it was time to roll out this operation.

Required things you need to sign up as an Uber driver

  • A 2003 or newer vehicle
  • Personal information: e-mail address, full name, phone number, city and the make and model of the vehicle you’ll be driving
  • Social Security Card Number and agreement for Uber to perform background check
  • Valid Drivers License
  • Valid Insurance Card
  • Valid Vehicle Registration
  • Vehicle Inspection

Vehicle Requirements to Driver for Uber, Uber XL, Uber Select and Uber Black

Both giants in rideshare require a four door car. The number of seat belts your car has dictates the number of passengers you can transport. Drivers who have minivans or large SUVs can perform XL rides, naturally yielding higher prices. There is Select, which requires a higher end car and consequently brings even higher prices. Uber Black, in a league of its own is similar to limo service and requires special licensing and a luxury vehicle. No matter which of the categories your car fits in you can earn the daily bread. If you do not own a car but still want to join the rideshare industry there are multiple avenues to acquire a car.

Leasing a Vehicle to Drive for Uber

Leasing directly from a rideshare company is possible. It requires an application, and a deposit. Rates range according to the car you choose and the amount of hours you dedicate to drive. Lately, many dealerships and rental companies have joined the industry to make cars available to potential drivers. The average weekly premium ranges from $60-$400. When you take this option, insurance, maintenance is included, but be aware of the fine print, addressing mileage, oil changes, brakes and tire wear. Dealerships who work with Uber drivers understand the potential damage and attempt to sell extended warranties and higher finance/interest charges. Uber car leasing companies has more inclusive terms. If your decision is the latter you must understand that the amount of hours worked, the time of day or night you will invest in driving, will play a crucial role in minimizing your weekly premium for your rental.

Uber Car Partners – Leasing Solutions

Are you in need of a car that fits your budget? Check out these partners of Uber for your consideration:

Hertz – Weekly rentals that begin at about $214 per week plus a $200 refundable deposit. This includes maintenance, insurance, and options to renew week to week for up to 28 days. Learn More.

fair – Weekly rentals that begin at about $130/week plus a $500 non-refundable deposit. This includes basic maintenance, vehicle warranty and 24/7 assistance (insurance is optional). Learn More.

Getaround – Rent a car by the hour for just $5 an hour, paying only for the time you drive. This includes insurance, basic maintenance and 24/7 support. Learn More.


So, What is it Like Driving People Around for a Living?

​Although the process to join is painless, the beginning may not be so. A stranger in your car is challenging. Whether you click or not you must maintain a cordial, friendly and unpretending way of keeping them company during the ride. Don’t try too hard, some riders do not want to interact, and you have to respectfully melt into the invisible man/woman and drive.  What I have understood the past two years of driving is that those who will interact with you want their personality to dominate the scene. You must become a chameleon. Party time, oh yes, you are all in that. Intellectual endeavors into metaphysics, you got that. Aggravated and ready to blow, you are a Zen master. Normal, you are as normal as they come. Multiply changing hats times eight or ten hours and you will want a nap. Maybe a long night’s sleep if you multi-tasked and kept your eyes on the road and the app. Here is a clue that will make this paragraph go away. You must like people. If driving people around isn’t just that, but it is fulfilling, rewarding and you find merit in meeting new people, then you are in the right place. You take the whole cake if you combine liking people with the love of driving.

Check out an article we recently wrote titled “The Absolute Worst Types of Uber Passengers and How to Handle Them Professionally.” This should offer you a taste of perhaps the infrequent, yet inevitable nightmare passenger.

Ratings, Ratings… Ratings

Not so fast though. There is the rating system. Both Uber and Lyft (even after improvements on driver welfare, 2018) are heavily dependent on rider ratings of the driver. You are the first line of defense and the only visible, real human in the scene of rideshare whom will take all the praise along with other things. People are temperamental and will rate you often unfairly without any cause. Bad ratings can stem from odor in the car, clean vehicle (degrees of clean applies according to individual standards), marijuana smell, of you or the previous passengers, sensitive subjects of conversation (politics, religion, race, ethnicity implied or direct.) Sometimes the pick-up location is in question which irritates the rider. Navigational pins can be right or wrong, the driver could be right or wrong, resulting in a one star rating.

My Uber 5 Star Ratings in 2018

Safety First

The issue of safety is the focal point of the driver’s mind. Putting aside all the rules and policies, your safety is central. Since communication with Uber is key, at any time an unsafe situation arises, during or before the ride starts, you can end it with justifiable reason. Uber will want to know, and you must be prompt in reporting a safety issue. Both Uber and Lyft claim that driver/rider safety is the number one priority. They will call you when safety issues arise and eventually you will get a message notifying you will never be matched with the particular rider again. Additional features on the app can alert authorities if an extreme safety issue arises.

Uber Driver Safety Features

Children and Carseats

Children that weigh 40lbs or less must ride with a booster chair and infants in a carrier secured on the car seat, their head facing towards the back of the car. Parents who do not equip themselves with car seats can be cancelled so you can spare yourself the bad ratings or worse, the consequences in the event an accident were to unfortunately occur. In my state, as of January 1st, 2019 it is the law. For more information on this subject and the law in your state, go here.

Passengers and Their Pets

Not transporting pets and service animals is another cause for bad rating/complaints. Most people call ahead of time and inquire if it is possible to transport an animal. My answer is always “bring the lions and tigers,” love them all.

Getting 5 Stars Isn’t All That Matters, Your Acceptance Rate Does Too

Your acceptance rate is another feature that controls your performance and service availability while on the road. Although you can cancel, cherry pick and ‘X’ out anyone at any time anywhere, but it will affect you greatly. Free will and independence comes with a price. I can explain but some semantics and logistics first. Accept, ignore, cancel and decline are the options. As a driver I would rather ignore than cancel or decline. Ignoring a ping on the app has less of consequences than the other two options. Let’s take it in stride. You accept a ride and when you get there the riders are in the excess of the amount of seat belts you have you can cancel with for a good reason. There are multiple reasons you can cancel. Knowing which reasons are acceptable by Uber is all the marbles. Within the Uber app once you press cancel a list comes up. Those are:

  1. Rider isn’t here
  2. Too many riders
  3. Unaccompanied minor
  4. Timer is out
  5. Rider was rude
  6. Rider requested cancellation
  7. Too much luggage
  8. Other
  9. Wrong address

These reasons are acceptable since Uber has created them. Although riders cannot rate you as a driver when cancelling, your acceptance rate takes these cancellations into consideration. One way to minimize them taking away from your acceptance rate is to communicate that to Uber. The new app makes communication easier by calling them or messaging them on the spot.

Maximize Your UBER Driving Income Quickly and Effectively

The twists and turns of managing acceptance percentages, ratings, schedules and safety all depend on experience. Gaining experience happens by trial and error and mentoring. In my newbie days I did just that, trial and error. I took in all the information available. Locations with most incidents, weekend spots with most drunk riders, pick up locations like airports do’s and don’ts, riding around instead of staying put, bad neighborhoods vs. nice ones etc. Back then, quickly gathering information felt like I was in warrior mode but today, the rideshare driving blogs, forums, pages and online networking has made the gap between newbie and expert minimal. The way to choose a mentor, a site or blog to enlighten oneself in all things rideshare, is to read and respect the source of information. Therefore, choose your source of information wisely. There are many drivers who will complain, criticize and bury in every way they can all rideshare companies. Just like the general population people, as rideshare drivers, come all shapes and sizes, and their complaints also vary. Almost always their circumstances, stats and style of working differ from yours or anyone else’s and therefore, their plea for fairness differs from yours. Take in their input but make sure you compare apples to apples.

If you Drive for Uber, You Run a Business

In summary, if you decide to join the rideshare industry, treat it as a business and keep a professional leveled attitude.

A+ Customer Service

We discussed ratings earlier. Treat people the way you expect to be treated may sound like a cliché, but it holds water, think the situation reversed, you being the rider. What do you expect from the driver?

Track Your Mileage

Keep track of your miles by choosing an app, Everlance and Mile IQ are fantastic options, but there are plenty others to choose from.

Mile IQ allowed us to give out a 20% promo to readers of our blog, so give that a look!

Track Your Expenses

This includes gas, vehicle maintenance and insurance. Future tax-doing you will be EXTREMELY grateful.

For a solid break down on doing taxes if you are an Uber or Lyft driver, check out this Uber driver’s video on the subject.

Consider These Things for Your Vehicle

Invest in a dash cam to document your work day, for safety and insurance implications. Peace of mind, really. Just make sure that riders understand you have one and it is on. Check the legality of it in your state so you do not run into a dispute. Your car should have minimal clutter, but do include water, mints or bite size treats, phone clip, tissue, music selections, and iphone/android chargers available. We wrote a full article on the subject of things you need for your ride. Sure, needing all 25 things for your car as an Uber Driver might be a little absurd, but you can make the argument considering your business is driving a vehicle for a living.

So, Just How Much Can I Expect to Make As An Uber Driver?

The juicy part and sole motivation for you to have read up to this point has been the money. Your earnings depends what city you drive in, your available hours to dedicate, and your vehicle. I drive in Chicago with a minivan. If I work 20 hours I make consistently $500, if I drive 40 hours I make $1,000 to $1,200 and if I drive more I reach higher amounts.

Here is What I Made in Just Over 4 Months Driving for Uber in 2018

The earnings and stats are from the last 4 months of 2018. I drove for Lyft the rest of the time that year.

Uber Driver Yearly Income Screenshot

What Was My Yearly Average Income as an Uber Driver?

Let’s break this down and see some numbers from a yearly standpoint. While it shows I began driving in July, 99% of my rides took place in the final 4 months of 2018.

In 4 months, I made $15,744.72 with 1,544 trips. Multiplied by 3, in 12 months my driving income for 2018 averages to $47,234.16.

Not bad, considering I was driving part-time on MY time. With these numbers, each ride averaged out to about $10.20.

Here’s What My Highest Earning Week Looked Like

How Much I Made in One Week Driving for Uber

Let’s Not Forget About Expenses

I pay an average of $25-$35 in gas daily. Insurance is $140 a month. Wear and tear is yearly around $700-1200. An average of $20-$28 an hour is normal for full time drivers in Chicago. Some cities have higher or lower averages.

Tax Write Offs As An Uber Driver

Remember, you are not an employee of Uber! You are an independent contractor, an owner of your own business to which you should report it as such.

Gas is a write off. Insurance for your vehicle is a write off. Wear and tear is a write off. So, keep your receipts!

Having said that, I’ll leave going into depth on the subject of taxes to someone else!

Other Things to Consider With Regards to Uber Driving Earnings

Uber takes 25% of your earnings. Within the app you will be able to see what the rider was charged, what you have received and what Uber has taken, under the fare tab. Although earnings have been the source of all conflict in rideshare, it is up to you to be content or not with your living wages. Uber/Lyft are huge companies and as an independent contractor you strive to stay within the policies, create the least amount of friction and earn the maximum you can while on the platform. They expect invested time, high acceptance rate, solid ratings and great customer care. It is not different than any other job you can have. If during your shift you feel you need a break, options are to turn off the app, turn on Uber Eats (food delivery) or take the day off.

Maximize the Use of Your Time By Performing Other Side Hustles

Additional income while you drive for a rideshare is possible. Most drivers sign up for both Uber and Lyft, but there are other options like Amazon Flex (package delivery), Post Mates (delivery service), Ugly Produce (fruit and vegetable delivery), Task Rabbit (errand and small projects), Cargo (goodies you can sell while you drive), and Multi-Level Marketing if you belong to one. In some cities it is legal to market products and services to riders. In my case, I promote Prime My Body (high quality Hemp oil) and Rodan & Field’s (skin care). In the gig economy era, the sky is the limit of what you can do to create higher earning power. If you have a website, a drop ship business, network, go ahead and promote what you do shamelessly. In a multi-tasking world there is no criticism in joining in, it is viewed as efficiency. Just make sure you do not overstep boundaries when a rider is resistant.

Drive for Uber Today

Know the Area You’ll Be Driving

​If you still have cold feet, get in your car and drive by yourself. Drive to the most difficult part of your city, familiarize with malls, buildings, tunnels etc. Find out where your GPS gives out. Make sure you know your way around in areas where you may not have navigation. Learn where the airport waiting lots are and how to get to the terminals from there. Pretend you have a passenger, fake it until you make it. Know where the hubs are for the rideshare company you work for. They are efficient in serving drivers plus you can get a cup of coffee there.

Connect With Other Drivers to Help You Along the Way

Thousands of people have joined this industry. Some leave and some are in for the stretch with thousands of rides under their belt. Just do yourself a favor and do not reinvent the wheel. Join a site and extract all the information you can from weathered drivers that will mentor you into an expert. Your comfort level is crucial to earn in rideshare. Read articles and ask questions, many have the answers you are looking for in the quick pill form. Join a forum and/or Facebook group to connect with your fellow drivers!

Should I welcome you into the club?

Ready to Start Earning With Uber? Sign up with our link for a special guaranteed driving incentive exclusive to your city from Uber.

Your Opinion Matters, So Comment Below!

Drivers, how did you do in 2018? What are some things you’re looking  to do in 2019 to increase your earnings? Please share your thoughts and comment below!

About the Author

Maria Feldman - Uber Driver ThingsMaria Feldman | Uber & Lyft
Maria Feldman is a contributor for Uber Driver Things. She drives nearly full-time for Uber and Lyft in Chicago area. According to Maria, earning a living as a driver and also collecting stories from her passengers is the best of both worlds.


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