How to Become an Uber Driver and Make More Money in the Process

Updated on February 4, 2020
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Whether you’re considering starting a business as an Uber driver, or just want to earn extra cash with a side hustle, you’re in luck—the rideshare industry continues to grow and there is certainly demand for drivers in all areas of the country. This being said, however, before you can get on the road, you’ll need to make sure you meet the Uber driver requirements—both the personal and car requirements.

Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ll explain everything you need to know about how to become an Uber driver—including the Uber driver requirements, how to apply and get started—plus, we’ll discuss top tips on how to make more money with Uber.

In This Article


Overview

Before getting into the specifics of exactly how to become an Uber driver and the different Uber driver requirements, let’s start with some basic information you should know about driving with this rideshare app.

First, how does Uber work? As you probably know, riders sign up with the app and request drivers who pick them up and bring them to their destination. From the drivers’ side, the process similarly revolves around the Uber app. Once you’ve completed all the steps necessary to become an Uber driver, you’ll be able to use the app to manage the whole of your rideshare business.

On the app, you’ll indicate that you’re ready to drive and you’ll be matched with nearby riders. You’ll be able to accept rider requests, pick them up, drop them off, and earn money after every trip. Through the Uber app, you’ll also be able to receive alerts, track your earnings, plan your day, and more. Additionally, as an Uber driver, you’ll be eligible for the benefits that Uber offers, such as local discounts, health insurance, learning courses, and phone bill savings. Moreover, Uber generally deposits drivers’ earnings once a week—unless you drive in a market that has Instant Pay, which allows you to cash out up to five times per day.

Although this process may sound simple enough, like any endeavor, there are also nuances to keep in mind about becoming an Uber driver. Here are some points to remember:

  • Although Uber is available in many cities, it’s not available in all cities, so you’ll want to check their city list if you’re unsure if Uber caters to your area.
  • As we mentioned, Uber functions through their app for both drivers and riders—to become an Uber driver, you should have a reliable smartphone and the know-how to adjust to app updates and development.
  • When you become an Uber driver, you’ll essentially become an independent contractor—meaning that you’ll need to handle the responsibilities associated with being self-employed. In addition to the actual processes of the job, this most notably includes self-employment tax obligations.
  • In the same vein, one of the benefits of Uber is being able to choose when and where to work and dictating your own schedule. However, this also means that it will be up to you to set and maintain that schedule and that your earnings will largely depend on how you utilize your time and your trips, so make sure you have what it takes to be self-employed.
  • Another crucial piece of driving with Uber is customer service and interacting with riders—you’ll want to consider how comfortable you are talking to strangers and potentially dealing with unruly or difficult passengers.
  • On top of standard driving with Uber, you also have the option to be a courier for Uber Eats, in cities that offer this service. Once you become an Uber driver, you can choose to deliver with Uber Eats as well, turning delivery on and off as you wish. On the other hand, you can apply separately to only deliver with Uber Eats which will involve a different set of Uber driver requirements.

Uber Driver Requirements

With these essentials in mind, let’s break down the Uber driver requirements. Ultimately, the requirements you’ll need to meet to become an Uber driver will depend on the specific location where you’re applying to drive. Additionally, just as is the case with Uber Eats, there are different Uber driver requirements as well as car requirements for specialty Uber services like UberBlack and UberLux.

This being said, however, on the whole, you’ll need to meet the following minimum requirements to become an Uber driver:

  • Meet the minimum age to drive in your city. Generally, the Uber driver age requirement is that you must be at least 21 years old. However, this is not applicable in every city—in New York City, for example, you only need to be 19 years old.
  • Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. If you’re under 23 years old, you must have three years of licensed driving experience.
  • Have a valid U.S. drivers license
  • Use an eligible four-door vehicle (which we’ll discuss in more detail below)

In addition to meeting these Uber driver requirements, you’ll also be required to submit certain documentation and complete a background check which will review both your driving record and criminal history. You’ll need to be able to show proof of residency in your city, state, or province, as well as show proof of car insurance if you’re going to be driving your own vehicle.

Uber Driver Car Requirements

Like the general Uber driver and age requirements, the Uber driver car requirements will largely depend on your location and whether you want to drive for a specialty service. For example, in New York City, your car will need to be a 2003 model or newer, whereas, in Los Angeles, your car can be 15 years old or newer.

Along these lines, although the typical requirement in Los Angeles is 15 years old or newer, if you’re going to be driving for UberSelect, you’ll need to have a 2009 model year or newer.

This being said, though, overall your car will need to:

  • Meet an age requirement, i.e., 15-year-old car or newer to drive in Los Angeles
  • Be a four-door vehicle
  • Have working seatbelts
  • Be able to carry at least four passengers, excluding the driver
  • Be in good condition with no cosmetic damage
  • Not have any commercial branding
  • Have registration and insurance
  • Pass a vehicle inspection

According to the Uber website, most four-door cars meet the Uber driver car requirements. However, if your car does not meet the requirements or you don’t have a car, Uber does provide an option for you to work with their vehicle solutions partners to rent a car on an hourly, weekly, or longer basis. Some of these vehicle partners include Getaround, Avis, and Hertz.

Once again, though, the specifics of renting a car to drive with Uber will also depend on your location. In addition to providing the details of Uber driver and car requirements through their application, Uber also gives you the ability to choose your location on their website and then view the requirements that will be relevant to you.

How to Become an Uber Driver in 4 Steps 

Due to the location specificity of the Uber driver requirements, perhaps the easiest way to determine whether you meet the qualifications to become an Uber driver is to actually start filling out an application. Luckily, you can complete the application using Uber’s website or the driver mobile app and the process is fairly simple. This being said, then, let’s break down exactly how to become an Uber driver, step-by-step, starting with the application.

Step 1: Complete the Uber driver application.

As we mentioned, you can complete the Uber driver application on your computer or smartphone and in doing so, you’ll be able to determine if you meet the Uber driver requirements for your city. To fill out the application, you’ll need to first sign up for an account by providing your email, first and last name, phone number, and city. You’ll also be asked to create a password.

Once you’ve created your Uber driver account, you’ll continue through the application process and provide the following:

  • Your social security number and consent for a background check
  • Photo of your driver’s license
  • Photo of your car insurance
  • Photo of your car’s registration
  • Profile photo (must be different from your license photo)

As you go through this process, Uber will provide the Uber driver requirements, as well as car requirements, that relate to your city so that you can ensure that you meet the qualifications as you proceed through the application. If you need to rent a car, you’ll indicate this during the application process. After you’ve provided all of the aforementioned information and documents, you’ll be able to submit your application to become an Uber driver.

Step 2: Download the Uber driver app and wait for approval.

Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll be able to download the Uber driver app, if you haven’t done so already, and start exploring how it works.

Next, you’ll need to wait for Uber’s approval of your application. On the Help section of their Partner site, Uber states that it typically takes one to three days to approve your personal documents and usually seven days to complete the security verification process (aka your background check). To speed up your approval, you’ll want to make sure that you submit the correct, valid license and registration documents.

Step 3: Prepare your car or rent a car if you don’t have one.

After Uber has approved your application, you’re almost ready to start driving. If you’re going to be using your own car, you’ll want to be sure it’s clean and ready to go—and that it meets any Uber driver car requirements that are specific to your city.

Along these lines, some cities, like Los Angeles, for example, require that you have your car inspected at an Uber Greenlight Spot location before you can take your first trip. This being said, whether you need this type of inspection or not, you’ll also want to be sure that you’re up-to-date with any other inspection Uber driver requirements in your area.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be renting a car through one of Uber’s vehicle solution partners, you’ll want to compare your options to find the rental offer that works best for you and then complete the booking directly with the partner to get your rental car and start driving.

Step 4: Start driving.

At this point, you’re ready to start driving. You’ll be able to use the Uber driver app to log in to your account, turn on driver mode, and start receiving and accepting ride requests.

6 Tips for Making More Money as an Uber Driver

Now that we’ve covered the Uber driver requirements and exactly how to become an Uber driver, let’s discuss some top tips for Uber drivers to make more money. After all, whether Uber is your main income source or your side business, as long as you’re depending on driving to bring in money, you might as well be making those miles work harder for you.

As a driver, there are a number of creative and innovative tricks to make more money with Uber, without having to sacrifice the time it takes to drive. In fact, there are now several companies out there whose express purpose is to help drivers make more money on top of their standard driving income.

With this in mind, then, you can use these six methods to make more money with Uber:

1. Turn your car into a vending machine with Cargo.

One of the first ways you can make more money with Uber is to feed your hungry passengers using Cargo. Cargo is an attractive snack box filled with candy, snacks, breath mints, and more. Some of the products are free, and some your passengers will need to buy.

When a passenger sees something they like, they go to cargo.menu on their phone and type in the code number of their particular driver’s box. They then select whatever products they want and enter their payment or contact information so they can check out with the driver. Cargo then pays the driver a fee for each product. Drivers even get paid for free products.

Since Cargo has a variety of revenue streams that make their business profitable, drivers reap the benefits. Many of the companies that partner with Cargo pay to have their products placed inside them—after all, captive audiences are great exposure for startup companies and well-known brands alike. Therefore, using Cargo can help you provide 5-star service and earn up to $300 more per month.

2. Get paid to place advertisements with Vugo.

Next, you might find that the best way for you to make extra money with Uber is through advertising.

With Vugo, you can make money by setting up a tablet in your car that displays ads. Although Vugo is currently only available in limited markets, they estimate that drivers can earn about $100-$200 extra per month with the ad displaying tablets.

Ultimately, even though working with Vugo requires activation and training, once you’re up and running, you won’t have to change your driving habits at all—and you’ll still be bringing in more money with your rides.

3. Turn your car into a billboard with Wrapify.

Wrapify is another ad-sponsored opportunity for Uber drivers. Essentially, Wrapify will pay you to wrap your car in a skin bearing a commercial ad. You can choose from three levels of wrapping—Lite, Partial, and Full—each of which indicates how much of your car will be covered with the ad.

With the Lite and Partial options, Wrapify estimates that drivers can make an additional $196 to $280 per month. For the Full option, on the other hand, you can earn between $264 and $452.

Therefore, if you’re looking for easy additional income, this is a great option. It’s worth noting, however, that advertising for a third-party while driving for a rideshare service is still a murky, gray area for many rideshare users. Nevertheless, all states and cities in the U.S. have different laws, so you’ll want to check your local regulations to ensure that you’re not accidentally in violation of the terms of your employment by working with Wrapify or any other advertising company.

4. Increase your driver and passenger referrals.

A very simple way to earn more money with Uber is through driver referrals. By referring a new driver to Uber as an existing driver, you can earn anywhere from $25 to $500 per referral.

This being said, a great way to maximize your referral bonus potential is to make business cards with your referral code on them and hand them out to anyone you know who might be a good candidate to drive. You can even hand out cards to some of your passengers if they’re interested in pursuing their own rideshare driving career.

Plus, if you want to get creative with your referral efforts—handing out cards in public places or leaving advertisements on cards—you can do that as well and hopefully increase your chances of high referral earnings.

5. Improve your odds of getting tips.

One of the simplest ways to earn more money with Uber is to improve your chances of getting tips. You can do this, of course, by providing great, friendly service to your customers—but you can also explore other methods to increase your tip potential.

In Ridester’s video on the topic, they recommend asking passengers to leave an “honest rating” your service before the end of the trip. Because Uber passengers aren’t prompted to tip until they leave a rating for the driver, asking for a rating will lead more of your riders to the tipping screen.

By asking for an honest rating, you’re telling passengers that you’re not asking for any special favors, just their honest feedback. Most people will not only be amenable to this approach but will also appreciate it. 

Unfortunately, most passengers don’t rate their drivers very often, so this is a great way to increase the number of people who will see the screen and get the opportunity to tip you, too.

On top of this strategy, you might employ other methods to improve customer service like providing water, offering an iPhone or Android stereo hookup, or advising passengers where the closest restrooms are (if necessary) to earn more tips.

6. Diversify your driving with Lyft, Uber Eats, or another service.

One of the hardest parts about driving with Uber is when you’re out, ready to make money, but you’re not finding any rider requests. Therefore, to avoid driving around aimlessly and missing out on earnings while driving, you can diversify and become a driver with multiple rideshare companies or deliver with Uber Eats.

If, for example, you become a Lyft driver as well as an Uber driver, you can check for Lyft riders when you’re not finding any passengers on the Uber app. Similarly, you can also deliver with Uber Eats on top of your typical driving to earn extra money when you’re not finding riders, but when you can find food requests.

Although diversifying your rideshare business might mean more management on your part, if you can maximize your time—filling as much of it as possible with rides, you’ll also be maximizing your earnings.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, although Uber driver requirements are largely specific to location, it’s not particularly difficult to become an Uber driver—as long as you follow the application instructions and verify that you meet the necessary qualifications along the way. This being said then, with the current demand for rideshare, becoming an Uber driver is a great way to build your side hustle, or even invest in full-time.

Just like any entrepreneurial endeavor, however, you get what you put into it—and therefore, before you sign up for Uber, you’ll want to ensure that you’re ready to become self-employed and handle everything involved with rideshare driving. In the same vein, if you do become an Uber driver, you’ll want to effectively manage your schedule, maximize your time, and use creative strategies, like the ones we’ve discussed, to earn more money driving with Uber.

Randa Kriss

Randa Kriss is a senior staff writer at Fundera, where she specializes in reviewing small business products, software, and services. Randa has written hundreds of reviews across a wide swath of business topics including ecommerce, merchant services, accounting, credit cards, bank accounts, loan products, and payroll and human resources solutions. She has also written for PeopleKeep, Zoho, KNF&T Staffing, and Planted. Randa has a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Iona College. Email: randa@fundera.com.
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