Hi, my name is Benjamin, and I’m addicted to Uber driving.
About two years ago I first heard about Uber, and thought the idea and technology behind it was absolutely intriguing. Just use your car to drive people around on your own schedule…and make extra money? I wanted in.
Unfortunately, there were two very large road blocks for me:
- I didn’t have a car that was 2005 or newer (an Uber requirement), and
- I didn’t have any time to be an Uber driver.
Fast Forward Two Years
After many years of bliss with my well-maintained 195k mile 2002 black Toyota Camry, I had this eery feeling that something major mechanically was about to happen to it which may cost a few thousand dollars to fix. So, after a long, patient Craigslist wait, I upgraded to a 2009 gold Camry (#CamryForLife), and sold my ’02 Camry. This meant I now had a car that qualified to be an Uber car. More importantly, it meant I finally now had my ticket to earning some extra money through Uber.
I’m ashamed to say it took me about 4 months to find time to apply to be a driver then get the car inspected by a certified mechanic. But this isn’t a post about procrastination. I finally got it done. The approval process itself happened very quickly–in less than 24 hours actually (Uber seems to have people working 24 hours a day).
Steps to Becoming an Uber Driver
In case you’re reading this post to research how to become an Uber driver yourself, let’s review.
- Get a Qualifying Car: Obtain a car 2005 or above (or rent/lease one through Uber/Lyft – they have some pretty reasonable deals)
- Apply: Apply to be an Uber driver on either the app or online. This requires submitting your driver’s license, proof of registration of your car, and social security number (for tax purposes). They will then conduct a background and driving history check. You will be notified when it gets approved (usually within 24 hours).
- Car Mechanical Inspection: Get your car approved by a certified mechanic and send the report to Uber, then wait to be notified that the report has been accepted and you are ready to drive.
- DRIVE! Turn your phone on, DRIVE people around, and make money
My Experience So Far
Over the past month and a half (6 weeks), I have spent part of or most of one day per week driving throughout Southern California as an Uber driver (mostly Saturdays). The result? It has been, in all honesty, one of the most fun, exciting, invigorating things I’ve done in recent memory. I love it, I enjoy it, and I’m energized by it. And yes, I halfway joke, but am mostly serious that I have a (healthy, I hope) addiction to it.
Reasons I’m Addicted to Uber Driving
1. The Anticipation of the Unknown
Once you flip that “online” button on the Uber app, you have no idea when the next “ping” for a ride is coming, where they’re coming from, who they are, or where they’re going. They could be going 2 miles or 60 miles to the airport. It may not sound exciting, but when you add in the financial component, I imagine it’s similar to the reason people play slot machines in Las Vegas (only in this case, success is guaranteed).
2. The Exploration of New Areas
Admittedly, I may have a different attitude on my Uber driving experience if I wasn’t driving throughout the wonderland that is Southern California. Blue skies, sunshine, palm trees, mountains, and the ocean tends to make for an enjoyable “work environment.” While exploring any new city would probably be enjoyable to a degree, if I were navigating some city in the bitter cold Midwest or Northeast in January, it probably wouldn’t provide the same thrill (at least for me). I love driving around and exploring new areas of Los Angeles and San Diego. I get to explore new neighborhoods, roadways, and cities that I otherwise never would have gone to without the purpose of driving a person there.
3. The Interaction with All Types of People
My first full day of Uber driving felt more like a cross-cultural trip around the world than a trip around the greater Los Angeles area. I gave rides to people from India, Armenia, China, Africa, Mexico, and the Philippines (maybe a few other countries too; I forget). Each person has a different story and different personality. Driving with Uber allows you to interact with a diverse group of people that you, again, otherwise never would be talking to. One trip it may be a retired rough-around-the-edges guy going to pick up his truck at the dealership; the next ride might be your stereotypical tight-jean, beanie wearing millennial guy (“no worries, man”) — you just never know. Regardless, when you have someone in your own car with you, conversation tends to occur quite naturally, and most people are very friendly and interested in conversing. Driving with Uber is a great way to broaden your perspectives, particularly of our own American culture and people.
4. The Instant Satisfaction of Tracking Money Earned
Very few jobs have a real-time digital tracker of money earned. With Uber, usually within a few minutes after ending one trip, you’ll see how much money you made. After the next trip, your earnings continue to add up, and so on with each additional trip. In many respects, it’s the ultimate example of instant gratification. It’s a constant-encouragement to keep going. And again…it’s so easy! Just pick people up, drive them, enjoy the scenery, learn the roads, drop them off, and BOOM! More money. You can even, if you wanted, “cash out” and have it deposited to your checking account up to 5 times per day. Otherwise, it directly deposits into your account once a week.
5. The All-Expense Paid “DayCation”
Again, my Southern California location probably plays into this, but from this perspective, if you plan your route well, you can use Uber to cover the cost for an all-expense “DayCation” of sorts. What do I mean? Well, let’s review my last Saturday.
- 7:15 AM – Pulled out of my garage; received a trip request within the first 7 seconds (the quickest that’s ever happened in my home location). I knew it was going to be a good day!
- 7:22 AM – Ride #1 – Gave a gas station attendant a 2-mile ride to work.
- 7:40 AM – Ride #2 – Hit the jackpot – gave a 66-mile trip to the San Diego Airport to a mom and her child. San Diego was where I wanted to end up for the day.
- 9:24 AM – Ride #3 – A quick 4-mile ride to downtown San Diego to a breakfast place for an out-of-town couple.
- 9:42 AM – Ride #4 – Another quick 2-mile ride
- 10:02 AM – Ride #5 – Took a woman who had just sold her car to Carmax north to Carmel Valley, near Torrey Pines Natural Reserve.
- 10:30 AM – BREAK – The 68 degree weather and sunshine was too nice to ignore, so I stopped for a run throughout Torrey Pines Reserve and down the beach. (Note: I always bring workout gear with me when driving to stop and run or to stop and workout when I end up near an LA Fitness).
- 12:06 PM – Ride #6 – Took a UCSD student to a hospital for a job interview. Learned a little about him and life on campus at UCSD.
- 12:27 PM – Ride #7,8 – Picked up 3 people in an “Uber Pool” ride.
- 1:15 PM – LUNCH – Headed over to the La Jolla area for a nice Chipotle + WSJ lunch.
- 1:59 PM – Ride #9 – The Farmers Insurance PGA tournament at Torrey Pines golf course was ending, so there was “surge” pricing (higher demand, higher rates). I took a couple retired attorneys to their enormous house in a private, gated community.
- 2:46 PM – Ride #10 – Headed back to the golf scene and took a lady to a brewery where she was meeting some friends.
- 3:24 PM – Ride #11 – I wanted to start heading home, so I set my destination for home (only rides headed that direction would be sent to me). I took a retired guy to a bar as he ranted on how Obama messed up this country so bad and how he loves everything Trump is doing. Gauging the political attitudes of different types of people is always interesting.
- 4:00 PM – Headed home
Maybe that’s not a “DayCation” to you, but from my perspective, I just went for a run at the beach, enjoyed a Chipotle lunch, explored new areas of San Diego, had some really interesting conversations with people — all on my own time with no pressure from any boss — and got paid to do it.
Ok, But Is It Really Profitable?
Only driving for part of one day per week for the past 6 weeks as my schedule allows, I’ve earned a total of $693.77. As I’ve reviewed the hours spent on it, my per hour income from it has ranged from $8 on the low end all the way up to $35 per hour. And, the first two days, as I was learning and experimenting, were highly inefficient on my part, with long wait times and not planning my day as well as I could have.
So, $693, or an average of $115 per week. Not bad for a little extra income, right?
But, what about the costs associated with driving, you ask. It’s not just the cost of gas, after all. There are tons of blog posts about this out there, and perhaps I’ll tackle it more thoroughly later, but, for now, there certainly are other very real costs to consider:
- Self-Employment Taxes
- Car Insurance (many people consider this an expense, but I don’t, as I’d need this whether I was driving for Uber or not)
- Wear and Tear on your car
Gas, the most obvious expense, clearly is not the only expense. In fact, that’s the least of all to worry about really. In addition to the self-employment taxes I am going to have to pay (now that I’ve exceeded $600 in income; Uber issues 1099’s for each year), the biggest concern is wear and tear on my car.
The wear and tear on my car is the biggest concern, as you never know if this driving will result in a random $1,500 repair, which would eat up all your profit. My hunch is that if I were to use my car full-time for Uber, the wear and tear costs would really catch up with me. However, since I only do it part time, and don’t put too many miles on my car in normal day-to-day use, and since I enjoy it, I’m okay with using my car for limited Uber driving. You can avoid the wear and tear issue on your car completely by renting or leasing a car through Uber or Lyft (Uber’s competitor) pretty easily though. So if you’re interested in being a full-time Uber or Lyft driver, I’d recommend leasing a car from them. They have some pretty reasonable deals.
No, Uber driving isn’t exactly the greatest career path if you’re looking for bigger and better things, but if it’s something you enjoy doing on the side like I do, then it’s an incredible way to make some extra money, meet new people, and explore new areas. This new smartphone technology, which just a few years ago didn’t even exist, truly is amazing when you stop and think about it.
Get Signed Up!
Use the link below to sign up and you’ll get $10 free, plus I get referal money. Win-win.Sign up to be an Uber Driver