How Much Money Can You Make as an Uber Driver?

How Much Money Can You Make as an Uber Driver?

2021 Uber Stats

Learning the Uber platform’s viability as a business opportunity before committing to it as a driver is an important first step. So, how did Uber do in 2021?

In the 11 years since its founding, Uber has expanded into over 70 countries. Around 3.5 million drivers serve 93 million customers. Together, they take 1.44 billion rides each fiscal quarter.

Compared to other rideshare options like Lyft, Uber leads the pack with 68% of the industry’s rides completed through its app.

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Uber’s Rebound

Though 2020’s statistics show a decline in regular riders, this is most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber is already seeing a rebound in rides and will likely follow the overall trend of 2014 through 2019, which saw an almost 50% increase in riders.

Given its lock on the market and steady projected growth, Uber will undoubtedly continue to prosper as a company. But does that translate into an equal opportunity for each new Uber driver?

Location and Demand

Unfortunately, these stats do not bode well for many Uber drivers based simply on location and demand. Of the 10,000 cities across the globe that Uber is present in, five account for nearly a quarter of its rides — 22%. These cities are London, São Paulo, Chicago, Los Angeles and NYC.

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An Uber drivers’ pay is based entirely on how many rides they book and complete. Being in an ideal location can vastly increase pay, whereas a rural Uber driver would generate significantly less income.

How Uber Commission and Fees Work

It’s not that difficult to understand the way Uber fees and commissions work.

For instance, when it comes to fees, the passengers are the ones who have to pay a booking fee, as well as per minute and mile fee for their ride. After the ride, you as a driver would be paid the majority of the fare you made. And you only get “the majority” and not all of it because Uber is going to get their cut, respectively the “Service Fee”.

More than 25%

The amount that Uber says it charges their drivers is 25%, but it actually takes a little more than that from their earnings. This is all due to the fact that some additional fees are taken by rideshare companies, resulting in a higher percentage for the cut.

In the past, Uber drivers had to drive around 2.36 miles to make $10 before fees, but nowadays, the prices were lowered by Uber. As a result, a driver will have to drive 4.71 miles to make the same amount of cash.

Fees

Also, there is the booking fee and a safe rides fee for every Uber ride, which is between $1 and $3. These fees vary by city, but the driver cannot actually see these in their bank account, as this goes directly to Uber.

So, the commission taken by Uber is higher if the ride fare is lower, meaning the rideshare drivers would make less. So, in the end, even if Uber claims to take 25% of its drivers, it will actually take up to 42.75%. If you are doing short rides, then it won’t be too profitable for you.

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Uber’s Pay Structure

Uber’s pay structure is dynamic and flexible. It is calculated according to location, time of day and frequency of work. Pay may vary on a day-to-day basis.

Uber provides “earnings estimates” instead of a set wage to help drivers identify their likely profits. These should be viewed strictly as projections. They are based on what other drivers working the same hours in the same location earned over the previous month.

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Qualifying Earnings

Uber drivers earn from a combination of factors including customer tips and trip fares. Occasionally things like Quest promotions may lead to additional earnings.

What Is a Base Fare?

The base fare is the flat rate that a pick-up pays. Time and distance increase the trip fare.

Does Surge Pricing Affect Drivers?

Uber uses surge pricing when demand is high, increasing the costs of rides. Uber drivers can use a local map to find surge prices and time their availability. This can increase earnings.

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Cancellation Fees

Drivers are protected if a ride is canceled while they are en route to pick-up. They will receive a cancellation fee.

How Often Does Uber Pay You?

As an Uber driver, you may have irregular hours but don’t let that keep you from viewing the job as a stable income. Uber will provide you with a regular paycheck. As an Uber driver, you’re paid weekly on a regular schedule.

Fares are deposited directly into your bank account. Uber’s pay periods begin on Monday at 4 a.m. and end the following Monday at 3:59 a.m. Emails will be sent to you that link to your pay statement. Pay statements are also visible in your “partner dashboard,’” which you can google to find. Every Thursday, Uber will direct deposit your pay into your bank account. However, be sure to enter your bank information at vault.uber.com.

If this doesn’t sound fast enough to you, there’s another option. Uber offers instant pay to their drivers. This lets you transfer your pay whenever you need to. Instant pay can be used up to five times per day. However, you will need a debit card in order to access it. You can use your personal debit card for $.50 per cash out. Or you can also use an Uber debit card from GoBank for $0 per cash out. Each time you transfer money your weekly pay statement will say “instant payouts.”

However, when considering instant pay, you will need to look into your bank’s procedures. Certain banks will take a few business days to transfer your money. Some of these banks include:

  • H&R Block
  • First Citizens Bank
  • Amegy Bank of Texas
  • California Bank and Trust
  • First National Bank of Omaha
  • Webster Bank
  • Silicon Valley Bank
  • Northern Trust
  • Bank of New York Mellon

How Much Can You Actually Make on Uber?

You can make a median salary of $56,066 as a full-time driver for Uber in the United States, according to ZipRecruiter. Annual income could go as high as $130,000 or as low as $14,500, depending on several factors. Factors that affect median earnings include hourly wages, the type of Uber driving, and location. For example, Uber Eats drivers currently earn an average annual salary of about $40,176 .

The top three highest paying cities for Uber rideshare drivers at the time of writing are San Mateo, CA, Berkeley, CA, and Daly City, CA. Full-time Uber driver earnings in these cities include an average of $69,121, $66,778, and $66,592 yearly respectively.

How much does a Driver make at Uber in California?

Average Uber Driver yearly pay in California is approximately $26,236, which is 49% below the national average.

Salary information comes from 199 data points collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

Please note that all salary figures are approximations based upon third party submissions to Indeed. These figures are given to the Indeed users for the purpose of generalized comparison only. Minimum wage may differ by jurisdiction and you should consult the employer for actual salary figures.

Ways Uber Drivers Make Money

Now, let’s take a look at the different ways Uber drivers make money.

Fares

Uber drivers receive a base fare plus compensation for how long and far they’re driving. According to the Uber website, how much you make per mile or per hour varies by city. Fares can change over time, too. For example, in 2019, Uber dropped rates in Southern California from $0.80 per mile to $0.60 per mile. This led to protests and strikes in California.

Tips

Riders can tip their driver during or after their ride. Tips vary greatly, and most riders don’t tip. A 2019 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that only 1 percent of customers always tip and around 60 percent never tip. The average tip (of those who do tip) is $3. Female drivers are more likely to get tips than male drivers.

Ridester’s 2020 driver survey also found that tips added just $1.31 per hour to a driver’s earnings in 2020.

Bonuses & Promotions

Uber offers different bonuses throughout the year that enable drivers to earn extra money. An example bonus on the Uber website states, “earn $30 extra for completing 20 trips this week.”

Sometimes Uber runs driver sign-up promotions that give new drivers a $500 to $1000 bonus for signing up and completing 50 to 100 rides in their first month. Sign-up bonus availability depends on the time of year and where you plan to drive.

Cancellation Fees

Uber drivers must wait a certain amount of time for the rider to show up. If the time limit passes, an Uber driver can mark the rider as a no-show. In most cases, the driver gets a cancellation fee of around $5.

Is Working on Uber Worth It?

Working on Uber is worth it if you want a flexible job that allows you to be your own boss. Uber driving does not require as much capital as other businesses. To drive for Uber, you do not need a university degree. Even if you don’t own a car, you can hire one from Uber for as little as $250 per week. You can eventually buy a car if you have a steady source of income.

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How Much Are Uber Driver Expenses?

We all know that maintaining, insuring, and gassing up a car can be expensive. So, when you work for Uber, you may wonder how expenses like these are covered. To answer this question, they’re covered by you. Uber drivers are expected to cover their own car expenses fully. These expenses commonly include:

  • Car lease payments. You can lease a car from Uber but are responsible for the fees. You can also drive your own car and are responsible for any fees that come with that ownership.
  • Insurance. Age, location, vehicle type, coupled with a variety of other factors determine what you pay for insurance. Uber does offer drivers a commercial insurance policy. This policy is $1 million of coverage per incident.
  • Tolls, license, and permit fees. These are all paid by you. However, your passengers will find themselves paying a surcharge when you encounter tolls on the road.
  • Maintenance. All maintenance fees are your responsibility. The one exception is when a customer damages your car. Uber will reimburse you in this situation.
  • Gasoline. You will need to pay for your own gas as an Uber driver. Don’t expect to be reimbursed.

These expenses all vary depending on the age of your car, mileage, amount of driving, and destinations you travel to. Also keep in mind that as an Uber driver you can claim a deduction for your vehicle expenses. There are two ways to claim this deduction.

  • Standard mileage rate. The IRS issues a standard mileage rate each year. For 2018, it is 54.5 cents per mile. If you drove 1,000 miles driving for Uber, your deduction would be $545.
  • Actual expense method. With this method, you track the actual cost of gas, repairs, car insurance, registration, licenses, and depreciation or lease payments for the year, then multiply those expenses by the percentage of miles driven for business. For example, if your total automobile expenses were $5,000 in 2018 and you drove 10,000 miles for the year, 2,000 of which were for Uber, your deduction would be $1,000 (20% of $5,000).

You can also deduct business-related smartphone use, as well as water or snacks given to passengers. In addition, the cost of parking and tolls paid while driving for Uber can be deducted.

Recently, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created a special deduction for owners of pass-through businesses such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and S corporations. If your Uber driving business qualifies, you may be able to deduct up to 20% of your business income from your taxes. There are several rules and thresholds to navigate, so talk to your tax advisor to determine how the pass-through deduction will apply to your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few questions people ask about driving for Uber.

Is Uber meant to replace a full time job, or supplement income as a side hustle? It’s fair to say that, for most Uber drivers, a job with Uber has to be a supplement to a salary they earn elsewhere. There simply isn’t enough consistency for the typical Uber driver to make enough money to sustain themselves with Uber alone. So, many Uber drivers are only part-time drivers.

But, drivers who operate full-time in a dense urban area, and optimize their trips by supplementing their time behind the wheel by providing other Uber services can certainly earn a respectable income.

At that point, they are working a full-time job but don’t receive the benefits that other full-time workers enjoy.

For instance, you will not receive any paid time-off or sick leave working for Uber.

How much Uber drivers make by using the platform is up to them, but the ancillary benefits of full-time employment are not attainable as an Uber driver, as you are not an employee of Uber.

How long does it take to make 100 Uber trips? That depends on how buys your operating area is and how much you are working. If you are operating in a densely populated urban area, it’s quite possible you could complete 100 trips in a week to ten days, depending on the number of hours you work. But, if you are in a more rural setting, with longer rides for each trip, or you don’t work many hours consistently, it will take much longer to complete 100 trips.

Can you make $1,000 in a week with Uber? You can. But, you might be the exception to the rule. Most Uber drivers do not make that kind of money. But, by keeping in mind Uber’s payment structure, targeting times where your trips are eligible for surge pricing, and providing quality service that earns tips from your passengers, you can drive your earnings higher.

There are a great many factors that can make it easier (or harder) for full-time drivers to earn money with Uber.

It’s up to you to tailor your efforts to maximize your wages.

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Is Becoming an Uber Driver Worth It?

Many individuals choose to become Uber drivers because they love the flexibility of setting their own schedule and being their own boss. Drivers also enjoy being able to meet new people, listen to music or podcasts on the job, and take off whenever they want. Seeing as the average Uber Driver can earn $1721 to $19.89 per hour before expenses, it can be a decent job, especially in areas where the minimum wage is still set to $7.25 per hour. Of course, whether it’s financially worth it or not depends a lot on where you live, how often you plan to drive, and your other expenses.

Before jumping in and becoming an Uber driver, do the following:

  • Research average Uber driver earnings in your area
  • Estimate your monthly expenses
  • Talk to a tax professional about how much of your pay you’d need to set aside for taxes
  • Research the cost of health insurance and other benefits
  • Run the numbers to see if it’s worth it for you

Unless otherwise noted, the earnings estimates come from the 2020 Ridester’s Independent Driver-Earnings Survey, which was based on 625 Uber driver respondents.

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