Are you looking for a way to earn some extra income without committing to a full-time job or set hours?
Driving for Uber may be just what you are looking for. Uber started making a big push in my area and I was hearing a lot of success stories from people driving on the weekends for some extra cash. I’ve worked from home from years so I didn’t want to commit to a set schedule and this seemed like a great fit.
As a mom, I generally don’t want to commit to a job with set hours so I can make sure that I’m available for my kids but I loved the idea of a job that would let me work when I wanted and stop when I needed to. I decided to do a little experiment and see if driving for Uber was a good way to make money for a mom with kids at home.
Getting Set Up as an Uber Driver
The Uber on-boarding process was fairly easy. They had advertised that they would be available locally for new drivers to come sign up so I stopped by to check it out. I had to fill out some paperwork and then they did a quick inspection of my car.
They do have some limitations on what type of car you can have to drive for Uber:
- You have to have a 4-door sedan.
- Your car has to be a newer model year. This varies a bit by city but generally it’s about 2001 or newer.
- Your insurance has to be current.
- You have to have in-state insurance and in-state plates.
- Your car cannot be a marked taxi or have a salvage title.
You can see a full list of vehicle requirements here.
Within a few days I got a notification that they had received my background check results back and I was clear to drive. Overall, a fairly easy process.
Things to Do Before Driving for Uber
- Make sure you are protected. I never felt unsafe driving for Uber, but there are always news stories that make you nervous. As a woman driving, safety was a concern for me. I bought some mace to keep in the side of my car door before I drove for the first time. I never had to use it but I felt better knowing it was there.
- Get a phone mount. I think this should be mandatory. Uber sends out ride requests and directions through your phone. In many places, including CA where I was driving, it is illegal to use your phone while driving. The first few times I drove for Uber I improvised a bit by putting my phone in my cup holder in my car but I wasn’t comfortable with the constant need to look down while I was driving. ProClip USA sent us one of their vehicle and phone specific mounts and it has made all the difference. The phone is visible without requiring me to hold it or spend all my time looking down. I love that the mount acts as a charger too so I found myself using it even when I wasn’t driving for Uber. I’d highly recommend looking into a phone mount from ProClip USA before you take your first drive. You want to eliminate all the potential issues you could have while driving before you hit the road.
- Become Familiar with your Area. If you aren’t already fairly familiar with the area you will be driving in, spend some time getting to know the major streets. The Uber app does give you directions but passengers will mark down your ratings if you don’t seem to know your way around.
- Install the Uber placard in your window. When you are approved as a driver, Uber will give you a placard to place in your window. You must have that visible every single time you drive so be sure you get it placed before you make your first trip.
My Experience Driving for Uber
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I set out for my first drive with Uber. My husband had been driving for Uber for a few months with good luck so I knew roughly what to expect.
I drove a little ways away from my home then turned on the Uber app. As soon as you turn on the app and log in as a driver the system knows you are available to pick up a rider. It didn’t take more than a few minutes before I had my first ride request.
The app gives you directions to your rider but I hadn’t figured out how to turn on the turn-by-turn directions yet so I got a little turned around trying to figure out where to pick up my rider. I finally pulled into a shopping center that had been just around the corner.
The app notifies the rider that you are close. As soon as I pulled up a very large and very tattooed man holding a large pizza box walked up to my car.
“I think I’m your ride. What’s your name?” I asked.
From my research online I had learned that it’s always a good idea to confirm your passenger before picking up. I read a few horror stories of drivers who just had random people hop in their car.
He told me his name and I confirmed that it was the same as the ride request in the app so he climbed in the car.
I was a bit worried for a minute. This guy looked a bit rough and I hoped I wouldn’t become the next Uber story you heard on the news. As soon as he sat down though, the guy broke into a huge smile and said, “It’s way too hot to walk home. That will teach me to make a pizza run in 100 degree weather!”.
I relaxed and we chatted for the few blocks as I drove him home then he hopped out and I ended the trip on the Uber app. $7.57 for less than a 5 minute drive.
For the next several hours I had fairly consistent ride requests. I met some very interesting people and heard stories about some local landmarks that I’d never heard before which made the drives really entertaining.
I logged off before it got too late into the night because I’d heard that you tended to get rowdy and drunk drivers later at night and I didn’t want to mess with that. At the end of the night, I averaged about $20 an hour minus the cost of gas/wear and tear on the car.
A few days later I had some extra time so I decided to see what the demand would be earlier in the day. I was a bit discouraged that time. After driving around for a few hours I only had 2 ride requests so clearly that was not a popular time of day.
I didn’t end up sticking with Uber as a source of income. I found that it was too unpredictable. There were times when I could get plenty of trip requests and others that were just dead. When you calculate in the fees Uber takes out and the cost of driving your car, it just didn’t make sense for me.
I will say that I LOVED the flexibility. It was a great way to add a revenue stream without committing to a set hours, which is awesome for a mom with kids. If I needed to do something else, I could simply log off and call it a day.
Uber does vary a bit based on your local area and how much risk you are willing to take. I was risk adverse so I didn’t drive in the heavily populated areas or drive at night. I was living in a coastal area so tourist demand was high and I had heard of Uber drivers making upwards of $400 a night but I just wasn’t willing to drive late at night or drive into the areas that they were willing to go.
So, bottom line? Yes, you can make money driving for Uber. It probably won’t be as much money as you think it will be but it is interesting work and it is flexible so depending on your circumstances it may be a good fit.
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