Steps to Become an Uber Driver

  1. Fill out the driver application form at Uber.com or on the Uber app, uploading all the requested documents when prompted. If you’re having trouble completing this process, call Uber or visit a local Uber office.
  2. Give your consent for background screening and then wait for a response, which can take up to 10 days.
  3. If your application is successful and your driver status is activated, enable driver mode in the Uber app. Now you can accept rider requests and start making money.

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How Uber Works for Drivers

Uber provides its drivers a way to earn either a full-time or part-time income for their families.

The Uber Process

The Uber Process

New drivers must go through an Uber background check process.

Uber looks into each driver’s criminal and Motor Vehicles record to check for felony convictions or DUIs.

The driver’s vehicle must get inspected to make sure it operates correctly, and all safety features work.

The Uber team checks the turn signals, brake lights, brakes, tire pressure, and other vehicle safety aspects.

Once a driver passes the vehicle inspection and background check, they can drive for the Uber platform.

1. Accepting a Ride

Once you’re out on the road as an Uber driver, you need to turn on the driver app.

It picks up your location and starts matching you with nearby passengers looking for rides.

Your app will make a noise and flash when you match with your next passenger.

You simply swipe the screen to accept, and you’re on your way.

The app tells you the rider’s name and address.

You can choose to use Uber’s navigation feature, or you can attach Waze or Google Maps to the app.

Depending on your map’s navigation setting, you’ll automatically see your route show up.

Start following the map to your rider’s location.

2. The Pickup Process

As you get near your passenger’s pickup location, the app notifies them that you’re close.

It also tells them when you’ve officially arrived.

Anything can happen next.

The best-case scenario is that you see your rider waiting for you at the curb.

If that doesn’t happen as you pull up to the house, apartment, restaurant, business, bar, or other location, then find a safe place to pull over and wait.

Most of the time, your rider will appear within a few seconds.

You’ll see a counter on the app telling you how long you’ve waited.

You can cancel and receive a cancellation fee if UberPool riders don’t show up within two minutes.

You need to wait five minutes for UberX rides and 15 minutes for UberBlack and BlackSUV rides.

If it’s getting close to the time limit, the app lets you text or call your passenger to find out where they are.

Once your rider or riders hop into your car, you can swipe the app to officially start the trip.

The app tells you where you’re taking your passenger and maps out the route for you.

Pull away from the curb and start the ride.

3. During the Ride

It’s a good idea to gauge your passenger to see if it seems like they want to talk with you.

Even if you’re not a chatty person, remember that you’re in the service business when driving for Uber.

Engage customers who want to talk because it increases your opportunity for a better tip.

  • Always keep your attention on the road.
  • Follow all safety rules and traffic laws.
  • Make your passenger feel safe.

If you’re an aggressive or fast driver when alone, you need to change that behavior while driving people.

Nothing causes a bad rating more than scaring passengers with bad driving habits.

4. The Dropoff Process

Pay attention to how long it’s going to take to arrive at your passenger’s destination as you get close.

Steer any conversations to a conclusion so that you can ask them where they want them to pull over when you get there.

Don’t ask this question as you’re whizzing past their desired drop-off point.

Pull over safely, thank them, and tell them goodbye or that you hope they have a great day or night.

Watch out for their safety by telling them to hold off on hopping out if you see a car about to hit the door as they try to exit.

After the Ride

Don’t end the trip on your Uber app until the passenger is completely out of the vehicle and the door shuts behind them.

Once you finish the ride, the app immediately puts you back into the queue and starts looking for another rider to match you with.

Rating Your Passenger

Rate your passenger when the rating window pops up.

It’s a good idea to have a lenient attitude with passengers.

You’re in the customer service business with Uber.

If you’re not naturally inclined to pay attention to people’s feelings, then take it upon yourself to learn more about them.

Read blog posts or watch videos about how to work with the public.

Use empathy with anyone who may have acted a little rude or became short with you.

Is it possible they’re having a bad day and didn’t mean anything personal concerning you and the ride?

Most passengers are good people.

You’ll run into people you could classify in the “jerk” category here and there.

However, you’re going to meet a ton of people doing this.

Don’t get worked up about rating a three or four.

Most people deserve a five.

The genuine “bad” people can get a low rating.

The point is you don’t have time to spend much time rating people when you’re pulling back onto the road in the middle of rush hour.

4. Submit an application

Once you have reviewed the requirements and determined that you meet them, it’s time to start the application. Before you apply, see if there’s a referral code. For instance, new drivers at Lyft can receive a bonus for completing a certain number of rides within a specific time frame using a code.

Create an Uber or Lyft account if you don’t already have one. Once you are logged in, select “drive with Uber” or “sign up to drive.” 

When applying to Uber, potential drivers can visit a local Uber Greenlight location to ask questions or discuss the application process.

For Lyft, applications may be held up because of background checks, which can take several weeks to process. You can check your application’s progress anytime at Candidate Checkr

Are there alternatives to Uber?

There are several ride-hailing services available in app stores, but the most popular one aside from Uber is probably Lyft. All these apps function nearly identically, though each one may offer a few unique features.

We have a separate feature on Uber alternatives for those in London, which you can read here.

Driver and Passenger Ratings

Part of Uber's appeal is that drivers are under tremendous pressure to deliver pleasant, safe, prompt, and clean experiences for passengers. Every passenger rates every driver on every trip, and drivers are required to maintain an average customer rating of 4.6 out of 5.0. (Minimums vary by city.) Uber deactivates drivers who fall below this standard.

Uber does not disclose this to passengers directly, but every driver gets to see your rating when deciding whether to pick you up. And yes, every driver rates you right after you leave the Uber vehicle at the dropoff point. This is to protect future drivers from having to deal with rude, violent, aggressive, and drunk/impaired passengers. If your rating is too low, Uber can bar you from using the service temporarily or permanently.

To encourage kinder, gentler Uber rider behavior (stop slamming doors!), the app displays rider ratings right underneath names in the Uber app's menu.

Horrocks / Getty Images

How Uber Works

Uber is intended to be easier than using a taxi. Here's how the Uber process works.

Before Using Uber

Install the app on your smartphone and create an online Uber account. You'll provide information about the credit card you plan to use to pay for rides, so you never need to bring or handle any cash.

When You Need a Ride

When you need a ride, use the app to tell Uber your pickup location. You can choose from a variety of ride-type options; the most common is UberX. Alternately, you can select Uber Pool if you are willing to share the ride and save some money. (More on Uber ride tiers below.)

Uber will locate drivers in your area, find a driver for you, and tell you how many minutes away your driver is. Rides are commonly three to 10 minutes away in major centers.

Uber will alert you when the ride has arrived. The Uber app will show you the driver's details, such as name, photo, and type of car so you know what to look for.

During and After the Ride

Enjoy your ride. The app handles payment, so just step out of the car when you arrive at your destination and thank your driver. You'll be asked via the app to rate your driver on a scale of 1 to 5 (politeness, safety, cleanliness). Similarly, the driver rates you from 1 to 5 (politeness). You have the option of adding a tip.

The entire trip is tracked through the Uber app for accountability and ease.

S3studio / Getty Images

What About Uber Eats?

Uber rideshare drivers also have the option to deliver orders through Uber Eats. This entails opting in, accepting delivery orders and then transporting food and beverages to customers.

Choosing to deliver food can boost an Uber driver’s pay, especially on days when rides are slow. Uber encourages its drivers to diversify their payment options, depending on demand.

Uber Eats pays drivers a delivery fare based on pick-up, drop-off and distance. There is also a similar surge pricing for food delivery known as “Boost” that will increase pay at certain times of the day.

What other features does Uber offer to riders?

Aside from allowing riders to request a trip, there are several other features offered within the Uber app.

Since May 2019, the Uber app offers London public transport information, for example, allowing riders to see if there is an alternative way home. This is especially useful if there is a surge – a price increase due to increased demand – in the area you are in.

It’s also possible to add work and home addresses to your Uber account, as well as other saved places, such as the hotel you’re staying at when on holiday for example. This allows you to select the “Where to?” destination more easily.

You can add “Trusted Contacts” to your Uber account too. Once someone is setup as a Trusted Contact, you can share your trip status with a single tap. It’s also possible to add a family member to your account, allowing them to share your default payment method so you can pay for your loved ones to use Uber, as well as get trip notifications when they use it.

Split Fare is a feature within the Uber app too, allowing you to split the fare with whoever you’re travelling with. A contact will have to accept to Split Fare with you before this will happen though and you will be charged a small fee.

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The Verify your Trip feature meanwhile, enables you to use a PIN to make sure you get in the right car. You will receive a new unique PIN for each trip and you will need to share with your driver when they pick you up for your trip to start.  

There are other features we’ve not gone into detail on, including Quiet Mode for UberBlack and UberSUV drivers in the US, as well as Uber Jump e-bikes. You can read about Uber Jump e-bikes in our separate story, which details where they are available and how much they cost to use. 

Who must file taxes?

If you earn more than $400 from Uber or Lyft, you must file a tax return and report your driving earnings to the IRS. Most Uber and Lyft drivers report income as sole proprietors, which allows you to report business income on your personal tax return. If you earned less than $400 from Uber or Lyft, you may still have to file and report your earnings if you have to file for other reasons.

How Much Do Uber Drivers Give to Uber?

Uber charges drivers a service fee, which varies for each trip and is calculated by taking the difference between a rider’s payment and what the driver earns, excluding tips, tolls, surcharges, taxes, and various other fees, including the booking fee. According to Uber, the service fee is variable rather than fixed to make it fairer for drivers and will be lower if the trip takes longer than expected.

A Shortage of Uber Drivers

Recent talk of a shortage of Uber drivers may bode well for those looking to pick up some rideshare gig work. Here, again, understanding the fine print and variables is important.

At the end of 2019, there were 5 million Uber drivers. Today, that number has dropped to 3.5 million, a 40% decrease.

Fewer drivers result in increased costs for riders. As more people are looking to get back on the road post-COVID-19 restrictions, they’re finding wait times and prices that reflect the shortage of drivers.

In April of 2021, Uber developed an incentive program number of $250 million to get drivers back on the app. This, combined with increased fares due to scarcity, means drivers are seeing better financial opportunities than before. In large cities like New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, drivers are making over $30 per hour.

However, this temporary demand imbalance combined with Uber’s dynamic pricing structure suggests this pay increase is likely an unusual exception, not the rule. Those signing up as drivers now can make good money, but they should do so with an end date in mind.

Good To Know

The average car insurance will not cover a vehicle used for rideshare work. Uber provides insurance that covers drivers while they are waiting for a request, en route to pick-up or during a ride. To protect yourself when you use your vehicle for Uber, be sure to sign up for a rideshare auto insurance policy.

Start Driving With Uber Ride Share

For most side hustlers, Uber is worth it. But alternatives to driving with Uber are on the rise. Finally how much is Uber worth depends from your ability to be a successful driver.

Your earnings are a result of smart work and strategies to save money.

2. Ensure your car meets the vehicle requirements

Riders don’t want to be stuck on the highway with a broken-down car. It’s important for vehicles to meet specific requirements as rideshare cars.

Uber vehicle requirements

Vehicle requirements may vary across cities and states. In general, your vehicle must be no older than 15 years. You also can’t use a rental vehicle or a salvaged, rebuilt, or reconstructed vehicle, and it must have four doors.

Uber vehicles should be in good condition – meaning no cosmetic damage or commercial branding. All vehicles must pass an inspection.  

Lyft vehicle requirements

Lyft vehicles must also have four doors, and they must be able to open and close from both inside and outside of the car. Passengers must be able to unlock and lock their own doors, and there must be at least five seat belts.   

Engine, suspension, steering and brakes must be working properly. All the lights should function – including high- and low-beam headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and reverse lights.

Lyft goes into further detail, requiring that drivers’ tires have sufficient tread, the wipers and horn work, and the front seats move forward and backward. Air conditioning and heat should be working properly too.

Windows and mirrors can’t have cracks, and windows need to work right. Tailpipe and mufflers should be within the state standards and shouldn’t be modified. Lyft cars also can’t have body damage or dents.

5. The Best Car To Drive For Uber

In addition to what we said about the Uber pay, you should know that Uber driver salary depends on the type of car driven. Working as an Uber driver with a luxury car will be paid differently than a normal car you see swarming the city streets on any given day.

The minimum fare you make for a XL goes up quicker compared to UberX. In addition with Uber XL you generally get a better quality of clients that tip better than UberX riders.

According to the U.S. News and World Report the list of the best cars for Uber and Lyft Drivers in 2020 includes:

  1. Toyota Camry Hybrid version
  2. Toyota Camry
  3. Honda Civic
  4. Honda Accord Hybrid version
  5. Honda Accord
  6. Mazda6
  7. Ford Fusion
  8. Honda Insight
  9. Ford Fusion Hybrid version
  10. Volkswagen Jetta
  11. Subaru Legacy
  12. Subaru Impreza

So, is Uber profitable for drivers? Even if you do not have the right car, by using our money gas saving tips and keeping a diligent track of your miles, you can boost your driving income.

Indeed as a rideshare driver, your biggest tax deductions will be the costs related to your car.

What Are Uber Driver Requirements?

As long as you can pass Uber’s background check, you shouldn’t find it difficult to become an Uber driver (unless your city imposes some difficult requirements of its own).

Install the Uber app on your smartphone and create an account on Uber, including the bank account into which your earnings will be paid.

When you’re ready to start picking up passengers, tell the Uber app that you’re going online. Then wait.

Before long, the app will notify you about a passenger requesting a ride and show you a map with the passenger’s GPS coordinates. You pick up the passenger and take the person to his or her destination. Aware that the passenger can rate you afterward, you do your best to make the passenger feel welcome, comfortable, and satisfied.

Make sure you understand clearly where your pick up location is to avoid late arrivals

You just keep repeating this process, being notified about passengers and taking them to their destinations, until you’re done for the day. Then you tell the Uber app that you’re going offline. You can rate your passengers on their behavior.

Uber will deposit the money that you’ve earned into your bank account.

FAQs About Driving for Uber

Q: Safety: How Does Uber Manage Safety Concerns for Both Drivers and Riders?

A: Due to the nature of Uber’s model, there can be some hesitation when it comes to using the platform, for both drivers and riders. Some of the safety features available for drivers include:

  • Easy access to emergency assistance through the app
  • “Follow My Ride” which allows you to share your whereabouts with your friends and family so they can track your trips in real-time.
  • GPS tracking of all your trips, making it easy to pull up information should anything happen while you’re on the road
  • Driver and rider ratings. If a rider displays unacceptable behavior that you feel you should warn fellow drivers about, you’re always able to report your experience through ratings and through Uber’s easy customer service functionalities.
  • Trusted insurance providers allow you to confidently insure your vehicle for your business uses.

Q: What are the best practices for picking up a rider?

A: Once you’ve accepted the trip, a rider’s specific location will be indicated with an arrow. If you anticipate that your rider will be difficult to find, you may want to contact your rider and request that they use the Spotlight feature, which allows you to easily see an illuminated color that is specific to your ride.

Other tips to ensure a great rider experience is to pick them up on the side of the road on which they are waiting, making it a seamless experience right from the start. Once the rider approaches your vehicle, it is best practice to greet them by name to confirm that they are the correct driver. Once inside your vehicle, allow them to get settled and buckled in before starting to drive. From there, start a friendly conversation and make the customer experience as good as possible!

Q: I can’t find my rider, what do I do?

A: The standard wait time for a rider to meet you at the indicated destination is 5 minutes (less for UberPOOL rides). If you are unable to find or communicate with your rider, you can cancel the trip. At this point, the rider will be charged a cancellation fee which is then paid out to you to accommodate for your time spent waiting.

Q: Can I bring someone else along with me while I’m online and accepting Uber trip requests?

A: As part of Uber’s commitment to rider and driver safety, drivers are not allowed to have other passengers in the vehicle besides the official Uber rider(s).

Q: I feel much safer when I have a video camera or dash camera installed. Is this allowed while driving for Uber?

A: As long as your city’s laws allow this, you are permitted to install and actively use a video recording device in your vehicle while online and driving with Uber.

Q: I’ve gotten in an accident while on a trip with a rider. What should I do?

A: There are three basic steps to follow if you’ve been in an accident while completing a trip with an Uber passenger:

  1. Check the safety and wellbeing of yourself and your passenger(s)
  2. If the situation calls for it, contact the police and ambulance.
  3. Notify Uber when an accident has occurred. You can do this through the Trip Issues tab in the Uber app.

Q: I’ve moved and want to drive in a different city. Is this possible?

A: Since your Uber driver application is approved based on the city that you indicated during your application, your new city means that you will have to make some adjustments and reapply under the new circumstances. Luckily, though, you don’t have to go through the entire process all over again. Instead, head to Uber here and request a change to your account and submit for review.

Wrapping Up

How does Uber work?

You should now have a better understanding of how Uber operates for both drivers and passengers.

It’s always a positive thing when people on two sides of a customer service business know how things work for one another.

Everyone can enjoy a better experience when that happens.

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