It’s the most popular ride-sharing app in the world, with commuters using it to zip across cities at the touch of a button – but can you really make a living as an Uber driver?
Drivers from around the US have taken to the Q&A site Quora to share their income – with one revealing he earns as little as $1.74 an hour, and others agreeing it’s impossible to make a living if you’re doing it full-time.
However, another driver claimed that by offering excellent service he’s got a high rating and the app’s algorithm rewards him with the highest-value trips.
Another, who prides himself on giving customers a superior experience with everything from tourist information to restaurant recommendations, claimed he’s earned $59,000 in less that 12 months.
Uber drivers from all over the world have revealed what it’s really like to work for the company
Writing about their experience of picking up passengers, one Uber driver, said that the money you earn can be ‘hit or miss’.
‘The money is not great unless you just get lucky. You never know if your fare is going to be $6, or $25.
‘Sometimes you spend more time waiting for your rider than it takes to get them to their destination. Those fares end up costing you money. There are literally thousands of Uber drivers in the city, so the competition for business is quite great.
Is Uber an employer?
It has long been contested whether ride-hailing company Uber is an employer or a contractor.
But following legal rulings in both the U.S and the UK, it was found that Uber does not directly employ its drivers, because they have control over ‘whether, when, and for how long they perform work’.
Drivers set their hours, own their cars and are free to work for the company’s competitors, so they cannot be considered employees under law.
It has prompted outrage from unions, who have campaigned for rights for workers in the gig economy.
Uber, its top rival Lyft, and many other ‘gig economy’ companies have faced dozens of lawsuits accusing them of misclassifying workers as independent contractors under federal and state wage laws.
Employees are significantly more costly because they are entitled to the minimum wage, overtime pay and reimbursements for work-related expenses under those laws.
However, many argue that Uber exercise a degree of control over drivers, including the threat of ‘downgrading’ them if they did not accept jobs.
Another driver in California revealed how he would drive 120 miles over six hours to earn the equivalent of just under minimum wage per hour.
‘Worth it, if you have no other way of making money, because even McDonald’s won’t hire you to clean bathrooms,’ he said.
But a driver in Nashville revealed he finds driving with Uber ‘fun’ and takes pride in his car, cleaning it everyday and offering passengers treats, phone chargers and magazines.
‘Maintain a 4.9 star rating or better, Been named an Uber VIP driver,’ he wrote.
‘External wash daily. Interior cleaned every other day. Detail cleaned once a month. I offer, water, candy, cell phone chargers, daily newspaper to read during the ride, complimentary copy of Nashville Scene magazine.
‘I’m 72 and retired. I put luggage in the car myself. I remove it myself. In less than 12 months, I earned $59,000.;
He added that in his last three full weeks of driving he earned as much as $1,400 a week.
‘Is it worth it. For me? It is definitely worth it,’ he said.
One driver revealed that the more he worked, the more rides he would get and ended up making $250 a day.
‘I used to manage a popular restaurant. I did that for seven years and rarely had any vacation time. It consumed my whole life. Then I figured out an exit strategy: Uber,’ he wrote.
‘The first few weeks were slow. The first month really hurt financially. But after about three weeks of full time driving, something kicked in with the algorithm that assigns rides. All of a sudden, I was busy.
‘I’ve been driving for Uber for a year and a half, daytime only. It’s a business that just keeps getting better. I have over 7,000 trips completed and I’ve managed to maintain a very high rating, so the algorithm rewards me with high dollar trips.’
He added that he sets a goal of earning $250 a day, equating to $65,000 a year gross, minus expenses of $13,780.
‘So, if you ask me is it worth it, I would say, absolutely,’ he said.
One Uber driver, who is a lawyer, said he drives to ‘relieve stress’ and makes around $30 an hour.
‘While one driver gave an honest opinion on it, saying it is good for making a ‘little extra money’ and earning a ‘few dollars on your daily commute’.
‘It depends on what else you would do with that same time,’ they said.
‘It is better than sitting at home drinking beer and watching Jeopardy re-runs for 12 hours.
‘It is better than driving your car all around town in your free time and getting nothing for it (assuming you enjoy spending time in your car, as many Uber drivers do).
‘It is an OK way to make a little extra money if you have a car that was just going to waste away otherwise.
‘It is a way to get a little tax free income that you can use outside your ‘regular’ budget for various part-time frivolities that you otherwise would not want to put into your household budget. The federal allowance of .54 per mile makes it tax free for most people.
‘It is a way to make a few dollars on your daily commute, which you were going to drive anyway.
Another driver said it would be good just as a weekend job, but advised against it if you have ‘kids and a house to pay off’.
‘I would recommend against it as your skill will get you farther and you could probably find another side-hustle that pays you more,’ the driver wrote.
‘If you are making $12+ per hour I would also say keep that job.
‘If you are looking at doing it on the weekends, then yes.
‘If you are making less than $9 per hour and don’t have skills yet, than yes Uber is worth it, but make sure to do both Uber and Lyft, Postmate and any other driving or delivery app if they are available in your city.’
One driver revealed it is a good way to work ‘when you want and as long as you want’ to earn extra money.
‘I think it is worth it to some people and not to other. To me it is valuable to be able to work when I want and as long as I want. There are not many other types of employment out there that allow you to do so so easily,’ the driver revealed.
‘I run a small business so have a lot of time sometimes and none at others when things are going well. I also am a mom, so that means a constantly changing schedule as well.
‘I have a friend who loves it because it allows him to get some extra money after work to help put his kids through college.’