How much money do Uber drivers really make in 2020? This question is complex because it depends on a variety of factors that I will address in this article. At the end of the post, you will know EXACTLY how much money I make driving Uber, but again, I’m only 1 person in 1 market with a premium car who offers a premium service. That being said, when we’ll look at the numbers, it would make sense based on my strategy to be in the top 1% for the hourly rate. The good news is, you could make the same income if you have the right strategy, car, and skillset.
Let’s begin attacking the question: how much do Uber drivers make? First off, we will assume this question is based on an hourly rate. You could look at it from a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly perspective, but since most Uber drivers work part-time, it’s interesting to know how much you can stack up per hour.
How much is your time worth?
wiser older I get, the more I understand the value of time. Every human has time allocated to them, from birth to death. Time goes by even faster as we age, and it only makes sense that we get the most out of our time spent when conducting our daily activities. I bring this up because you need to ask yourself if it’s worth trading-in some of your time to drive Uber. How much is your time worth? Which other activities will you have to sacrifice? If you’re currently earning $40k per year at work, you can assume that your time is worth $20/hour pre-taxation ($40k / 2000 working hours in a year on average). It would not make much sense to work a sideline for minimum wage. Neither would be building a deck for minimum wage, whatever the minimum wage is where you currently live. You would at least try to trade-in some hours for the same hourly income rate that you’re used to making, or else you would be devaluating your time. Just know how much your time is worth and when opportunities present themselves, you’ll know immediately whether you should pursue them or not. If the opportunity generates passive income and you don’t need to trade any of your precious time, then lower returns are perfectly acceptable. If $15-$40/hour after taxes suits your needs, then you should consider driving for Uber.
Factors that influence how much Uber drivers make
Not all markets are created equal and you might live in a less densely populated area. Urban cities have more demand for Uber simply because more people need the service. The upside is that you’re getting pings to pick up your next rider even before you’ve had a chance to drop your current passenger. The downside is that you’re making many small trips sometimes of just 2 or 3 blocks. If you’re in a more rural zone, you’ll get longer rides and more chances of earning great tips because you’ll have time for a quality conversation with your passenger! Here’s a map of what Uber drivers are earning in different locations around the country, per trip not per hour. New York City drivers average $29.34 per trip which is really good considering you typically make 2 trips per hour.
Tips and tricks: I cover both rural and urban areas. I live on the outskirts of Montreal so when I leave home, my ride acceptance filter is set to accept all ride options. I’ll usually catch a few UberX customers and one rider is bound to be heading downtown at some point. When I’m downtown, I disable UberX and keep only the premium ride options open. If someone takes me outside the urban area, I’ll re-enable UberX until I get back downtown. This is how I’ve been able to keep my hourly income at its highest.
Rookie mistake: When I was downtown during my first month, I still accepted UberX rides, which offer the lowest pay rate for the driver. I realized that when I switched off UberX in my filters, I was still able to stay consistently busy while charging a higher price per fare and earning more tips with Comfort, Select, and Premier.
Time of day
This business is no exception, it’s ruled by the law of offer and demand. When demand is high and the offer is low, prices go up. During the week, many people will require a ride to go to work in the morning for example (high demand). Since there is more customer demand than drivers available on the road (low offer), Uber’s algorithm creates a “Surge”. When you see a 2.4x Surge area, it means customers are paying 2.4 times the normal rate of the ride. As Uber drivers, we also benefit from that higher fare. Days are not created equal! Uber Pro was recently released in my area and this chart highlights specific hours Uber wants their drivers attacking the road. Uber’s goal is to have happy customers that keep using the service. If customers need to wait prolonged periods of time in the morning to get a ride, possibly arriving late for work, they will not enjoy the service and look at other options. Uber started incentivizing drivers with more points under the Uber Pro program during peak hours. Peak hours also give you a significantly higher chance of being in a Surge pricing area because of the high demand. This helps you earn more money for the same work.
Tips and tricks: I prefer to start at 7am during the week and keep a consistent schedule. Not only do I make 3 points per trip from 7am-9am, but I also pick up the same people with who I’ve developed a relationship through the various rides. This helps me earn more tips from them. I also finish my day around noon or 1pm.
Rookie mistake: Surges can happen at any point during the day. If you’re directly in a surge, you’re golden. If you’re close to one, drive towards the epicenter and you’ll probably get a ride with a surge fare. Don’t drive long distances to try to reach surges because the app has a lag and a lot of times when you get to the surge area it has already passed. I wasted a lot of time in my beginnings driving 10 mins+ chasing surges to find them gone upon arrival.
The car you own will have the highest impact on your earnings as an Uber driver. I have made SO much money with Uber Premier, I still get butterflies when I receive a ping for a Premier ride. In order to be eligible to give Premier rides in Montreal, you need to drive an eligible luxury vehicle with a leather interior that is 5 years old or newer + have a minimum star rating as a driver of 4.85 based on 250 completed trips. Here is the list of eligible luxury vehicles.
As you already know, my current car on this list is a Tesla Model 3
Here is a comparison of Uber fares in Montreal for an 18-minute ride, 20kms or 12.4 miles.
Notice the difference between UberX and Premier. Premier is double the fare (this means double the income for the Uber Premier driver). Here’s a detailed breakdown of the lowest and highest fares:
It’s pretty clear that if you have the opportunity to earn double on your rides, you would be crazy not to! Imagine when you hit a 2.4x Surge on top of that! Maybe you’re skeptical about the number of people ordering an Uber ride on Premier. It’s mainly business people that are expensing the ride to their employer or their business. Premier rides have been the most memorable ones for me. I drove mainly top business execs that love talking about my Tesla and who give insane tips, check these screenshots out!
If your car qualifies for Uber Premier, it will also qualify for Select and Comfort. Your rates will be better than the default UberX but less than Premier, as shown previously above.
Here is what a customer can expect when ordering these different types of rides.
How customer tips impact your earnings is a no brainer. The more tips you get, the more income you make. As you saw in the screenshot above, I make insane tips from my customers. Although huge tips don’t occur every single day, it is possible to get tips on every single ride if you give your passenger a top-line experience. Remember, customers are always comparing you to previous Uber rides they’ve taken in the past.
The green checkmark means the passenger gave a tip. For the day of March 6th, 2020, I made $224.72 during 5.16 hours which equals $43.55/hour. I normally make between $150-$275 per day so that was a good few hours of driving Uber on that day. You should aim to make a small to medium tip on every single ride. That will have the most impact on your earnings and could nearly double your income. Some passengers even give me $5 tips on $4 UberX fares.
Tips and tricks: Never once have I asked/requested/hinted about deserving a tip or a 5-star rating in front of a customer. I found that when I’m a passenger and my Uber driver hints at receiving a tip or getting a perfect rating, it’s awkward, salesy, and feels sleazy. I’m less inclined to leave positive feedback for them. I will tips them and give a great rating if my experience was legitimately enjoyable. Moreover, if you can build rapport and speak to your passengers during the ride, you have more chances of receiving a tip. I will post an entire article about ways you can boost your tips as an Uber driver.
Fuel & Car Expenses
Gas prices vary by location. Car expenses vary per model. The majority of Uber drivers are dumping $30 to $70 of their hard-earned daily profits into the gas tank at the end of the day to fill the car back up. Imagine if you didn’t have to pay that? The money would go right into your pockets. $30 of gas x 200 working days = $6k of net money per year you could be saving…if you had an electric car… like a Tesla. My car aka BlackBird II gives me 300 miles or 500kms every day for $6 of electricity. Look out for a future post about the exact ownership numbers and why it’s hands down the best car to own for driving Uber.
The Uber dispatch algorithm remains a secret, but the entire driver community agrees that when your driver rating is closer to 5 stars, you get higher quality pings and more rides. If your driver rating falls below 4.6, you are at risk of being deactivated from the Uber driver app. Acceptance rates and cancellation rates also matter. You should aim to be as close to 100% in both areas. The acceptance rate is a ratio of the number of pings you’ve accepted vs declined during the last month. The cancellation rate is a ratio of the number of times you’ve had to cancel a ride after accepting it. If your rates drop below 80%, you put yourself at risk of not receiving pings altogether which would significantly reduce your Uber income. Here are my stats below.
Tips and tricks: You should accept every single ride. There are some times when you won’t have a choice but to refuse a ride i.e. you wanted to finish your day and you forgot to queue the “go offline” button; then while you still have a passenger in the car you get a long trip request 35mins+. You’ll probably decline that ride. There are other examples but you should be accepting every ride possible or you could easily fall under 80%.
Rookie mistake: As mentioned, if you’re a new driver and are looking to build up your rating, I would suggest not to ask the customer for a positive rating. Just give them the best possible experience and the 5-star ratings will come. If you screw up (it will happen, we’re human after all), acknowledge your mistake and apologize. You can bury a low rating under many more positive ratings.
As you can see, many factors influence how much you can make as an Uber driver in 2020. I will breakdown each of these steps in follow-up articles so please make sure to come back. To wrap things up, based on my 3 months of experience, it’s safe to say I’m earning on average $180/day of net income for about 6 hours of driving. This equates to $30/hour net. It’s the equivalent of someone earning $120k in salary per year before taxes.
Please let me know below if you have any questions that you would like me to address in future posts about becoming a Tesla Uber driver.
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