You can become an Uber driver if you are 21 years or older (or 19 if you want to do delivery only), have at least 1 year of driving experience with a valid driver’s license, have a 2001 or newer model year car (2006 in some cities) with auto insurance coverage, valid car registration, that can pass the vehicle inspection and you have passed Uber’s background check.
What is Uber?
Uber is an international transportation network company (TNC) that has created two revolutionary smartphone apps (Uber Rider app and Uber Driver/Partner app) which allow anyone with a credit or debit card to hail an Uber right from their smartphone through the Uber Rider app, get picked up within literally minutes and get taken to their destination, wherever that might be. As for the Uber Driver/Partner app, it allows anyone the age of 21 and over with a car of model year 2001 or newer (or 2006 or newer in some cities) and who passes the Uber background check to start getting Uber ride requests.(1)
How much money can you make driving for Uber?
As an Uber driver myself for eight months now, I can give you some specific details about Uber driver earnings in the Los Angeles, Greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas. Right off the bat, I can tell you that you can make anywhere from an average of $100 to $150 a day working between 6 to 8 hours a day driving anywhere in the LA County or Orange County areas. And that does not include the rate surges that take place in those areas and the earnings boosts that regularly happen within the LA Core area (shown by an outline in the Uber Driver app) which can potentially make you another $50 to $75 a day on top of your regular earnings in an 8 hour work day. So that means you can potentially make $150 to $225 in an 8 hour workday. Now that is the absolute bare minimum that anyone can make as an Uber driver. Some Uber drivers make a lot more than that, depending on the specific time periods they drive and the specific strategic locations that they drive in.
What are the requirements of becoming an Uber driver?
According to the official Uber website(1), the Uber driver/partner needs to be a minimum age of 21 years (or 19 if you want to do delivery only), have a vehicle model year 2001 or newer (2006 or newer in some cities) and pass a background check. More specifically and in addition, the driver has to have a minimum of one year driving experience with a clean criminal record and pass a vehicle inspection by a certified Uber vehicle inspection facility. All that vehicle inspection is, is a walk-around visual inspection of your car by a vehicle inspector who checks to make sure your headlights, tail/brake/stop lights, high beams, turn signal/indicator lights, brake pads/shoes thickness, emergency/parking brake, windshield, all windows, windshield wipers, horn, front seat adjustment, doors (open/close/lock), tires and their tread depth, side-view mirrors, speedometer and bumpers all function normally without any visible damage. You can download the vehicle inspection checklist/form that I got done on March 21st 2016 for my vehicle in PDF format.
What kind of car can I drive for Uber?
A qualified Uber vehicle needs to be 2001 model year or newer (2006 or newer in some cities), needs to have 4 or more doors, needs to be able to seat 4 passengers excluding the driver, and must pass the vehicle inspection as mentioned above by a certified Uber vehicle inspection facility which most commonly is a Jiffy Lube in your area. If you don’t own a 4 door vehicle and are looking into purchasing one, you have many options available. You can find a lot of cars matching that criteria being sold by private parties or dealers. However, I would suggest buying a hybrid vehicle so you can save on gas and maximize your earning potential. The following is a list, in no particular order, of 2001 and newer most fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles with their respective gas mileages that will all be eligible for driving for Uber:
- 2001-2017 Toyota Prius – 45-54 mpg
- 2012-2016 Toyota Prius c – 43-53 mpg
- 2010-2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid – 36-43 mpg
- 2005-2007 and 2014-2017 Honda Accord Hybrid – 29-49 mpg
- 2003-2015 Honda Civic Hybrid – 44-48 mpg
- 2011-2017 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – 36-41 mpg
- 2013-2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid – 39-40 mpg
- 2013-2016 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid – 42-48 mpg
- 2013-2017 Ford C-Max – 37-40 mpg
- 2001-2006 and 2010-2014 Honda Insight – 41-66 mpg
- 2011-2017 Lexus CT 200h – 40-43mpg
- 2012-2017 Toyota Prius v – 40-43 mpg
- 2007-2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid – 38-42mpg
Some things to keep in mind when buying a car from a dealer
When you have decided on which car you want to buy – and this applies for all purposes not just for Uber driving – make sure you have checked your credit score for free at CreditKarma.com and have printed out your credit report from both TransUnion and Equifax (both reports are free at that website). If you have a credit score of 700 and higher, your credit is considered good and you should take a printed copy of your credit report with you to the dealer. You can get a good APR on your auto loan at any car dealership. However, if your credit score is below 700, you will still be approved for a loan but your APR (Annual Percentage Rate) will be higher, making your monthly payments high as well.
Now the most important part is (this is especially true for people with a lower credit score like in the 500s), when the car salesman tells you that you are approved for the loan and you can drive away with the car, make sure you ask them to show you a printed letter of loan approval from the bank that approved the loan covering the specific details of the loan amount, APR, loan payment amounts and terms. Because if you don’t do that and your credit is not good, they will call you after a week or 10 days and tell you that your loan was not approved and that you have to put more money down. And they might repeat this process a couple of times, getting more money out of you. And they will tell you they will try with another bank and another and so on. So the bottom-line is, if you want to avoid having to unexpectedly pay more money down (usually double or triple the initial amount) in the next 2 to 3 weeks of driving your newly bought car, make sure you see that loan approval letter before you drive away with the car from the dealer’s car lot.
Some things to keep in mind when buying a car from a private party
Now let’s say you have the cash in hand to buy a brand new or a used car at full price from a private party (not a dealer) to drive for Uber. The best website I can suggest to look for cars that are 2001 and newer, with relatively lower mileage and at good prices would be at AutoTrader.com. Make an excel sheet (you can download my sample car research excel sheet) and fill it out with the car details. This way, it will make it easier for you to decide on the car you want by sorting the list according to what is most important to you. In fact, this car research excel sheet should be used even if you were buying a car at a dealer. Take a look at my car buying tips as well.
What kind of auto insurance should I get?
Personal auto insurance policy works just fine but some insurance companies have a checkbox on their applications now that asks you if you plan to drive for Uber. In that case, your insurance policy premium might go up. I, however, did not have that option to check when I applied for my auto insurance. Uber provides insurance coverage when you are online and during Uber rides and for all other instances your personal auto insurance covers you. Check out Uber’s official Certificates of Insurance by state for U.S. ridesharing at https://newsroom.uber.com/certificates-of-insurance-u-s-ridesharing/.
There are some beneficial coverage options to add to your personal auto insurance policy that will only increase your monthly payment by about $10 to $25, but it is totally worth the peace of mind you will have while driving approximately 1,000 to 1,200 miles a week for Uber. Those options (including the usual bare minimum comprehensive and collision coverages) are:
- Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist
- Uninsured Motorist Collision Deductible Waiver
- Rental Reimbursement
- Roadside Assistance
- Loan/Lease Payoff
What do I need in my car to get started driving for Uber ASAP?
Let me make this as easy as possible for you guys. The following is a list of bare minimum things to have after you have bought your car (or have a car already), filled out your Uber sign-up application, cleared your background check, have passed your vehicle inspection and gotten your Uber windshield decals:
- Car cellphone holder – quantity: 1
- USB car charger with two or more USB ports – quantity: 1
- Micro USB charging cable – quantity: 1 (or 2 if you will be using one for your own phone)
- iPhone lightning charging cable (for iPhone 5 and newer) – quantity: 1 (or 2 if you will be using one for your own phone)
- AUX cable
- Air freshener or fabric freshner such as Febreze or Lysol
- Hand/small towel for quick cleanups
As long as you have those 7 essentials in your car, you will be more than ready for your first Uber ride.
What additional things should I buy to keep in my car as an Uber driver?
Including the things mentioned above, which are bare necessities, let me add things to that list which will prepare you for pretty much all situations as an Uber driver:
- Box of Kleenex for personal hygiene
- Paper towels
- Upholstery cleaner foam
- Microfiber cloth – quantity: 2 (one for drying exterior body of vehicle and the other for strictly cleaning windows)
- Plastic bags (left over from grocery shopping) – to hand over to drunk people or anyone who is about to get sick and feels the urge to vomit
- Tire puncture repair kit
- Window shades (if your car isn’t already tinted)
- Windshield shade
- Bluetooth headset – for hands-free calling and hearing voice navigation directions
- Sunglasses or fitover sunglasses (fit over your prescription eyeglasses)
- Hand sanitizer
- Water bottle
- Gum or mints
- Quarters – for parking, vacuum or coin car wash
- Car cigarette lighter inverter – for having a power outlet to charge a laptop
- Notepad and a pen/pencil
- Sweater/hoodie/jacket – for cold weather or unexpected drops in temperature
- Scissor jack (if your car didn’t already come with a factory one)
How does the Uber rating system work?
One of the most significant components of the whole Uber experience is the two-way rating system. The way the Uber rating system works is that for each ride, the driver rates the rider and vice versa. As soon as the rider is dropped off at their destination and the Uber partner/driver completes the trip, he/she is presented with 5 blank stars on the Uber partner app that the driver can tap on and then slide the Complete Rating slider. Until and unless the driver rates the rider out of five stars, he/she cannot get the next ride request. As for the rider, they don’t need to do anything urgently besides just exiting the vehicle. However, the rider will be presented with the rating option in the Uber rider app when it is re-opened. Moreover, the rider can choose to simply not rate the driver at all and still be able to request their next Uber ride.
Another aspect of the Uber rating system is that if an Uber driver falls below a certain rating (the minimum rating is dependent on your city and you would only know if Uber contacts you about it), she/he can be disqualified from driving for Uber and has to take a training course administered by a third-party company. Not only that, but the Uber driver has to pay for the course out of their own pocket. So what is the rating threshold? There is no official Uber webpage that mentions minimum Uber driver rating, but according to a Google search on the topic, some say an Uber driver must maintain a rating of 4.6 stars or above out of 5 to remain active.
How to get a high Uber driver rating?
Receiving a high rating and maintaining it is one of the foremost factors of staying employed as an Uber driver. As mentioned above, if an Uber driver falls below 4.6 out of 5 stars, he/she may be disqualified from driving, may have to take a training course and pass the test at the end of the program to be re-instated. Therefore, it is crucial to keep your ratings high as an Uber driver.
The easiest way to get high ratings consistently is to simply be nice to all Uber riders/passengers and treat them with respect. Greet them as soon as they open your car door and sit inside. Greetings like “hi, how are you today?” and farewells like “have a nice day/night/evening” can really make a big difference in your ratings as an Uber driver. It is also important to gauge each rider individually and find out if they are talkative or not. Some riders are getting off of work or just had a bad day for instance, and you will learn very quickly that it is best to keep quiet when you notice the rider does not want to converse with you. On the flip side, there are riders who are very friendly and talkative and will strike up a conversation themselves. And those are my favorite riders because the whole way to the destination becomes a pleasant experience. In fact, they are usually the riders who give drivers higher ratings and sometimes even go the extra mile to write nice comments that show up in the Rider Feedback section of the Uber Driver app.
How to rate Uber riders/passengers?
As a general rule, I personally like to give 5 stars to all riders, whether they were talkative with me or silent. Very seldom do I give anything lower than a 5 star, and that usually means the rider was disrespectful, rude and/or condescending or was disrespectful with my property. Or sometimes they are very impatient and think you are not taking the fastest route or they don’t like you using Google Maps and would rather you use Waze or vice versa. Some don’t believe in navigation apps altogether and instead start giving you verbal directions, which is acceptable as long as they are not disrespecting you.
Trying to keep your cool even if the rider is irate or disrespectful is key. Because as soon as that rider exits your vehicle, you can go offline and take a few minutes to comment on the trip in your Uber driver app so Uber support can review it and they know the exact situation and can help you.
What do I do if my Uber rider/passenger is disrespectful to me?
You must know that if a rider is disrespectful to you and insults or offends you in a way that you feel is unacceptable to you, you have every right to cancel the trip (or complete the trip early if 5 minutes have already passed in the trip). Just let them know nicely in a calm tone of voice that you don’t like the way they are talking to you and you will have to cancel the trip. Let them know to please request another Uber ride. If they are understanding, they will exit your vehicle without any problems. If they become angry and do not want to leave, let them know politely to please exit your vehicle since they are no longer your rider and are trespassing private property. If the situation starts to get escalated, you can let them know that you will have to call 911 now. That usually is a cue for them to exit your car. If they still don’t exit and you feel your safety and security is at stake, just exit your vehicle, find a safe spot, and call 911. Let the police deal with such riders.
Make sure when the whole ordeal is over, to go into the Help section of the Uber driver app, find and select the trip from the list, choose the appropriate option to describe the incident and comment in detail as to what exactly happened with the ride.
How to use the Uber partner/driver app?
Watch the video below to see how to use the Uber Partner/Driver app:
What is the best GPS navigation app to use as an Uber driver?
There are two industry-leading navigation apps in the market as we all know and they are Google Maps and Waze. Google Maps was introduced a long time before Waze came about and has certain features that are unique to it. One of the best features that help us as Uber drivers is the lane-assist. Lane-assist basically shows the number of lanes on a particular road, street or highway/freeway and highlights the one that you should be on when turning, exiting or driving through forks in the road. That is the best feature you can ask for when driving for Uber since you will always be going to places that you haven’t traveled to before and would not necessarily know exactly which lane to drive in or stay in when making those turns and exits. This feature alone makes you a really safe driver. Watch a short video clip below to see the best features of Google Maps for Uber drivers:
As for Waze, the reason why it became so popular was because it is crowd-sourced. What that means is that it is a social navigation app that feeds off of its users putting up alerts of all types such as road blocks, police traps, speed cameras, traffic light cameras, construction, objects on the road, and cars stopped at the shoulder. Those are extremely helpful alerts that you will get as you are using Waze to navigate to your destination. You can then tap on either a Thumbs Up button to keep that alert up for other Waze users traveling that same route or a Cancel button to let people know that particular issue no longer exists on the road. That feature is great for regular commuters but not really so much for Uber drivers since it can get very distracting.
Another feature of Waze is that it tries to make the route as quick as possible by making you take lots of turns, which again, can be distracting and somewhat dangerous for Uber drivers. Those two features are reasons enough for me personally to not use Waze but use Google Maps instead. However, there are some great features of the app for Uber drivers. Watch a short video clip of the best features of Waze for Uber drivers:
Where do I go to use the restroom while driving for Uber?
As I have been driving for Uber for about eight months and counting, there are many tips and tricks I have learned about the transportation network company and how to best work with it. One of the most important things when you’re on the road driving for lengthy periods of time is where to go when you have to go (pun intended). There are pretty much three options for when you want to use the restroom.
- Parks – there are parks all over the country. Small parks, big parks and gigantic national parks. I am particularly talking about the small city or regional parks. Most of these neighborhood parks have public restrooms that anyone can use when those parks are open, which is usually from dawn till dusk.
- Gas stations – just like parks, there are gas stations at every major intersection in this amazing country we call home. These gas stations are one of the most frequented establishments of yours as an Uber driver – unless you drive a Toyota Prius like me ;-). Most of these gas stations (not all) have restrooms that you can use. Some have their restrooms inside the marts, while others have their around the back. The ones inside are almost always unlocked and you can just walk in and use the restroom even without purchasing gas or any munchies from the mart. However, for the ones around the back of the building can usually only be accessed with a key that any gas station attendant/cashier will be more than obliged to provide you with just by asking him/her.
- Fast food restaurants – just like parks and gas stations, fast food restaurants are always abundant in this country at virtually every alternate major intersection. These include places like McDonald’s, KFC, Jack in the box, Wendy’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr. and many more. All of these restaurants have restrooms but usually are only accessible to their customers/patrons only. However, some nicer neighborhoods’ McDonald’s or Jack in the box have their restrooms unlocked. But it is usually a hit and miss.
What exercises can I do to stay healthy and fit as an Uber driver?
You will be sitting in your car seat for lengthy periods of time while driving for Uber. Like most Uber drivers, you may not have any professional driving experience like being a taxi driver, bus driver or truck driver previously. So your body won’t be used to the lengthy driving periods. Therefore, you must take care of your body or it will start to take a toll. Every day before starting to drive for Uber, it is in your best interest to do some exercise. If you don’t have time for a proper workout or an exercise routine, you should at the least do some stretching. The major muscle groups that you need to stretch are neck, shoulders and most importantly lower back. Check out the two Youtube videos below for neck, shoulder and lower back stretches.
Neck & Shoulder Stretches:
What to eat and drink while driving for Uber?
Just like exercise, eating healthy is just as important especially when you are driving for Uber. Having a healthy and filling breakfast in the morning with a balanced proportion of protein and carbs will go a long way. It will give you the energy to sit in the car, keep driving and accepting trip requests back to back for a few hours without stopping. You should be able to drive continuously without breaks for at least 2 hours.
So the best thing to do would be to pack your lunches and dinners but we all know that is not easy to do. As long as you eat a healthy breakfast, you can have lunch from a restaurant and dinner at home.
For breakfast, I personally like to have fried eggs with buttered toast and glass of almond milk. Or my favorite which is 3 buttermilk Eggo waffles with butter and maple syrup and a glass of almond milk. And I also take 2 fish oil pills, a multivitamin and a 1000mg vitamin C pill.
For lunch, you can find some really inexpensive fast food options. I discovered a few of them while driving for Uber. One of my favorites is two to three tacos asada (beef tacos) or tacos pollo (chicken tacos) from a food truck which are abundant in LA and Greater LA area. I have them put everything on them and a little bit of the green salsa (yummy). Three food truck tacos will fill you up pretty good and they are relatively healthy. Each taco at a food truck will cost you anywhere from $1 to $1.50. Now that is cheap and delicious. The other alternatives I like to eat are the hamburger with onions and without cheese from In N Out which costs $2.43 without the drink and fries. And if you want the whole combo, medium size, it will cost you a flat $6. Carl’s Jr. also has a value menu. I like to get a spicy chicken sandwich and a regular hamburger for a $1 something each. All fast food restaurants, such as McDonalds, Wendy’s, Jack in the box, Hardees, Burger King and In N Out have value menu options if you ask them.
As for dinner, you have unlimited choices. I recommend eating dinner at home since you can cook or microwave food. Do groceries and make sure you have good dinner options at home.
Where do I go to take breaks from driving for Uber?
Creating a schedule of driving and resting periods is very important especially if you plan on driving for Uber every day for 5 or more hours. You need to take a break because you DO NOT want to get sleepy and tired on the wheel. That is one of the most dangerous things you can do to yourself and your passenger/s. I usually set a timer on my phone for 2 hours when I go online on my Uber driver app. Once that timer ends, I will wait to complete my current trip (if I am in one), find a parking spot on the street, in a park’s parking lot, a grocery store or department store parking lot like Ralphs or Walmart, and will recline the front passenger seat all the way down and take a quick power nap in it for 15 minutes. I also have a traveling neck pillow (the ones you use for airplane travel) that I sometimes put under my head and neck while taking a quick break. These quick naps revive and rejuvenate you for your next 2 hours of continuous driving. For some of you, you might not need a break until 3 hours or 4 hours or more of driving. It all depends on the individual. I would like to share below the schedule that I have created for myself of working and resting:
2 hours: online on the Uber driver app/driving
15 minutes: break
2 hours: online on the Uber driver app/driving
30 minutes: break for lunch/meal
2 hours: online on the Uber driver app/driving
15 minutes: break
2 hours: online on the Uber driver app/driving
Are you already an Uber rider or Uber driver? Do you have any interesting stories to share as an Uber driver or Uber rider/passenger? Share with us in the comments section below.
Please do not hesitate to let me know in the comments section below if you have any questions, comments or suggestions or if you would like me to correct something I have mistakenly written.
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