Not everyone wants to turn their side hustle into a full-time career. If you’re looking for a way to make some extra money alongside your 9-5, chances are you’ve considered driving with Uber. Not only has it become one of the most recognizable brands around, thousands of Canadian drivers are using the unique rideshare platform to make more money.
But as with any side hustle, driving with Uber isn’t for everyone. In this article, I’ll cover things you need to know and help you decide if Uber is right for you.
What to Consider Before Becoming an Uber Driver-Partner
Before you become an Uber driver-partner, you need to figure out if the gig matches your skill sets and your lifestyle. And like any side hustle, driving with Uber has its pros and cons. The first thing to know is that Uber driver-partners are not employees of the company, rather, they are independent contractors.
In other words, when you become an Uber driver-partner, you are considered self-employed. This means that you’re responsible for the upkeep of your vehicle, and managing your own expenses. If none of that phases you, here are some other things to think about, before you sign up.
Can You Sit in a Car for Extended Periods of Time?
Not everyone has the endurance to drive for hours at a time. You may think that you enjoy driving, but have you ever sat in your car for long periods, day in, day out? Does a long commute, or heavy traffic wear you out? If so, becoming a rideshare driver may not be the right gig for you.
Are You Self-Motivated?
The freedom of choosing when you drive can also be a hindrance. Some people may like the structure of a 9-5, and lack the discipline to make their own schedule.
Are You Customer Service Oriented?
When using rideshare apps like Uber it can be helpful to have great customer service skills. You may need to be able to make conversation with all sorts of people, and handle upset clients if things don’t go smoothly. If you thrive in that type of environment, then you could do well. On the other hand, if you’re highly introverted, or shy, you may consider the constant interaction with customers almost torturous.
Can You Handle Being Your Own Boss?
Technically speaking, the arrangement between Uber and driver-partners is that of an independent contractor, so you are considered self-employed, which has benefits, as well as some risks. For example, you’ll need to think ahead and plan for things like expenses, as well as budget for vacation days.
How Do Uber Driver-Partners Earn?
If you’ve decided that Uber is a good fit, you may want to know how you can make any money with this gig. After all, that’s why you’re hustling in the first place. It’s a question that everyone asks, but the answer isn’t that simple.
The problem with figuring out how much money you can make is that there are a lot of variables involved.
The first thing you need to know is that rates may vary by city. In other words, it’s possible that you could make more in one city than another.
How You Could Make More Money Driving With Uber
While it can be difficult to nail down exactly how much money you’ll make driving for Uber, there are some things you can do that might help to increase your earnings. Here are a few possible methods, according to other Uber driver-partners.
Use a Fuel Efficient Vehicle
Because the driver is responsible to cover the operating costs of their vehicle, it might make sense to drive a fuel-efficient car. Over the long run, the money saved driving an efficient car versus a gas guzzling SUV could make a difference in how much money you actually make.
Figure out the Routes
You may want to avoid having to drive a long distance to pick up a rider, especially if you’re moving out of your prime driving area. If you don’t have a customer in your vehicle, then you’re not making money.
Enhance Customer Experience
Providing great service could mean you’ll end up with a higher driver rating and better tips. Great service may not just be about being friendly or getting your customer to their destination in a timely fashion. It may help to create an experience they’ll enjoy. Making sure your vehicle is clean, and smells fresh can be helpful. You may want to have certain items handy, in case they’re needed in a jam. Things like kleenex, a spare phone charger, or bottled water come to mind.
Plan the Stops You Need to Make
Remember, you’re only making money if there’s a customer in your car. There will be plenty of reasons to stop during your time as an Uber driver-partner. Whether it’s filling your tank with gas, having lunch, or using the washroom, planning your stops in advance can help so that you’re not spending extended periods in an empty car. You may want to consider making your own lunch, rather than eating out. This could save you both time and money. After all, if you’re not making money, you may as well be at home.
It’s helpful to stay on top of weather reports, as well as knowing when concerts or major sporting events are scheduled in your area. Being available during these times may potentially increase your earnings.
What Are the Driver-Partner Requirements?
On their website, Uber lays out the requirements you’ll need to meet to become a driver-partner. This covers licensing, driving experience, as well as the minimum standards your vehicle will need to meet. Here’s a summary of requirements from the Uber website, but make sure you head there for full details.
Minimum driver requirements (vary by city)
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Need a valid Canadian driver’s license
- Your vehicle must meet Uber requirements
Minimum Vehicle Requirements (Vary by City)
- Vehicle must have 4 working doors
- It cannot be more than 10 years old
- Has to be in good condition with no cosmetic damage (scratches or dents)
- It cannot have any commercial branding
- Cannot have a rebuilt status
- Must pass an inspection by a licensed mechanic
Other Vehicle Requirements
There several different ride options. Let’s take a look at each type of Uber ride. Available ride types vary by location.
Consider this the basic level, but also one of the most common categories, and one of the most popular to ride. If your vehicle is less than 10 years old and in good shape, it may make the cut.
UberPool can sometimes be the most affordable way to use a rideshare service because these passengers are willing to share a ride with others who are travelling along the same route.
If you have a vehicle with more than 5 seats, such as an SUV or minivan, your vehicle may qualify for the UberXL category. The Black SUV category is reserved for high-end SUVs that would be considered luxury vehicles. They also have to be able to carry a minimum of 7 passengers, including the driver.
This category is for people who want to go in style. If you own a 4-door luxury sedan, your vehicle may qualify for UberSelect. However, your car must have leather or vinyl seats (no cloth), and be in excellent condition.
Not only will your vehicle need to be a luxury brand that’s in premium condition, it actually needs to come in black trim, inside and out. That’s because passengers requesting through Uber Black may be travelling to exclusive, black tie events.
Where Can I Drive With Uber in Canada?
Uber is available in many cities, including major centres such as Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Halifax. That said, while it seems like Uber is available everywhere, there are a few Canadian jurisdictions where it’s not.
If you ask me, it’s only a matter of time.
As I mentioned earlier, Uber might not be the best fit for someone who struggles to interact with people. If you fall into that category however, Uber Eats might be a good alternative. With Uber Eats, you’re delivering food, instead of driving people.
Depending on where you live, you may even be able to use your bike to deliver for Uber Eats, eliminating the additional costs that come with using your car. Of course, that won’t work in every location, but if you live in the middle of a big city, getting around on two wheels may be the easiest way to deliver meals.
Is Uber the Right Side Hustle for Me?
Now that you’ve learned more about driving with Uber, you can decide if it’s the right side hustle for you. In my mind, the best part about becoming a rideshare driver has got to be the flexibility. Unlike a 9-5, Uber doesn’t dictate when and where you drive. It’s a side hustle you can fit to your lifestyle, which makes it great for students, or anyone wanting to make a few extra bucks.
What you shouldn’t do is think that you’ll get rich driving with Uber, or be able to quit your day job anytime soon. There are a few out there who have made Uber their full-time gig, but it takes a lot of effort, and time, to maximize your earning potential. Where you live could be a major factor too. That said, if you love driving and enjoy being around people, driving with Uber is a legitimate way to make extra money.