I had a high school friend that is a teacher that drove for Uber. He told me how much he was making and I decided to drive. I had a bunch of unused miles on my cars lease, so it worked out good for me. Since then, when getting rides from drivers, I have given them some Uber tips. Tips Uber drivers gave me that helped me out a lot. In the middle, I have some Uber rider tips.  At the end, I have some stories of crazy rides or things drivers have told me.

If you are interested in Uber, let me start by giving you an idea how much you can expect to make. Basically, you make 80% (Uber gets 20% of what you make) of $1/mile plus $0.15 per minute. So you make $9/hour plus $1/mile while driving. The problem is that if it is slow, you can sit there making nothing. And there's the rub. There is one caveat that is REALLY important.  They pay surge pricing.  Which is to say, when it is busy, you get paid more.  One rider told me they saw 12x.  The highest I've seen is 6.5x.  In theory that means you get 6.5 times the fare, but you will quickly realize that isn't really how it works.  So this is what I would advise:

  • Try to time the times when you drive with high demand, where you get surge pricing.  So 4am to 10am, 5pm to 8pm, and 6pm to 4am on the weekend.  Those hours suck but you can work much fewer hours if you can get in that sweet spot of surge pricing.  To give you an idea, I made $150 in one 20 minute ride.  So it can make a huge difference.  In fact, I have turned down half a dozen trips waiting for a surge trip.  It can really make a difference.  4am to 8am is the best time to drive.  This is when people are driving to the airport.  So if you are in uptown, the basic fare is about $28.  If you get 3x or higher, that is pretty close to $100.  If you work 8 hours where traffic is pretty consistent but not surging, you might make $15/hour, so a couple good airport trips can be worth a days work in one shot.  It's the difference between making $25/hour instead of $15/hour or lower.
  • Do not drive far from your last dropoff.  The only exception is if it is close to 2am and you are driving on the weekend and want to get back to the bar crowd.  You will be mazed where you get trips.  Even if you are way out in the middle of no where.  The reason is there aren't many drivers out there AND most of the trips out there are pretty far.  In Uptown, the trips are minimum fare about half the time.  Being out in the middle of nowhere, you are almost guaranteed a long trip.  And long trips are where the money is.
  • Know where the cheap gas is.  Normally I never pay attention to this, but if you are driving 20k miles a month, this can make a difference.  The best place I know of is on Northwest Highway on the way back to the airport at Racetrack.
  • If you decide to do this full time, you might think about getting a Toyota Carolla or a four door car that is less expensive that has a great service record.  If you have good credit, definitly try for a business loan.  Uber will get you a loan, but it is for about 19%, which is about as bad as it gets.
  • Always check your car for trash.  People will leave trash in your car and many times you will not know about it.  And if you do not take care of it, your next ride is going to think you are a slob and give you a bad rating.  Those ratings really matter because if you go below 4.5, Uber will cut you off.  True story.  Some drivers wash their cars every day, but I think that is over kill.  Checking your car for trash is NOT overkill though.
  • Speaking of things left in the car, if someone leaves something of value that they will want back, like a cell phone, DO NOT try to drive back to the rider.  I did that once and could not find the person and ended up wasting a ton of time.  One time a guy started calling me threatening me.  Ultimately I took his phone to him.  Not because he threatened me.  I just hung up on him.  He eventually promised $20.  I shouldn't have done that though.  Immediately, through the Uber app, notify Uber that you found a phone.  They will want you to take a picture of the item and they will tell you to take it to their office at your convinence.  One time a guy left his keys and begged me to bring them to him (he wouldn't come to me) and when I did, he didn't give me any money and there was nothing I could do.  Just give whatever it is to Uber and let them deal with it.
  • I am always asked if anyone puked on my car.  No one puked in my car but someone rolled down the window and puked out the window and it got on my car.  If this happens, be sure to let Uber know through the app so you get a cleaning fee.  Also, pour water on your car immediately.  Sometime puke can be sticky and impossible to clean off if you don't do it right away.
  • Some people want to tip.  Uber says to be clear that they are not required.  I always say the same thing, "tips are not required but appreciated."  I've made as much as $100 in tips in one night.  So be nice and go the extra mile!
  • I always thought it was better to have the stereo off by default.  Some people talk.  Some request music.  If they request music, I usually tell them about Spotify's program.  If they have Spotify, you should see that when you accept the ride.

When my lease was up, I still didn't have a job, so I just didn't have a car and Ubered all over the place.  So here are some Uber tips for a rider:

  • Be nice to the drivers.  They work hard and you never know when they might really help you out.  I ALWAY sit in the front with the driver.  If you sit in back, you're a douche.  I also always strike up a conversation.  Either A) What is your craziest fare OR if they have a think accent B) Hey, sounds like you have a thick accent.  Where are you from originally?  If they are from some other country, I ask them to tell me about it.  I have heard so many great stories.
  • Uber is cheaper for short trips.  Minimum fare is $5.  It is a little higher for lyft HOWEVER it is actually cheaper on Lyft for longer trips.  Lyft's time rate is the same but the mile rate is $0.90, but they charge $1 for some reason.  So more than 10 miles, Lyft is cheaper.
  • If you use a Capital One credit card, you get 20% credited back.  So basically 20% off Uber rides!  Details.
  • Spotify is also a partner, so if you have Spotify, you can play anything from your phone and it will play automatically on the drivers stereo (if he has it set up).  Details.
  • As a driver, I hate it when people stop a store and go in to grab something, but it happens so if you need to, don't feel to bad about doing that.  If you are at your place and just need one or two things from the grocery store, you might pay the $5 minimum each way.  In that case, it is actually cheaper to use Favor.  Costs about $6 for the trip plus $2 minimum tip.

Want some stories?

  • Once I had a female SMU student ask me to take them ONE FUCKING BLOCK!  On campus.  They had shorts and tshirt and running shoes on because they were going to play some sport, but wanted to be driven the intermural field.
  • One time I picked up four girls from a Taylor Swift show at the AAC.  Two parents and two really young (elementry school?) young girls.  As you can imagine, it was a total cluster fuck.  Took me 15-30 minutes just to get them.  I called them immediately so they could tell me EXACTLY where they were and told them what I was driving.  They gave me an intersection.  Keep in mind it is PACKED and tons of cars are behind me.  I have one shot at this.  It might take me an half an hour if a cop forces me to go around.  I get right to the intersection and put my hazards on.  I call them and the woman that picks up says, "We are four girls.  Don't you see any girls!?!?!  That's us!"  It's Taylor Swift.  It is nothing but a sea of young girls and gay men.
  • I had five people come up to my car.  2 guys and 3 girls.  The girls got in first.  Then one of the guys tried to get in back with two of the girls.  It turns out he was not with them.  The girls did not speak English but you could tell something was wrong.  I finally asked the girl that requested the car and she said they were not with them.  It was the only time I felt threatened.  I eventually said, in a strong tone, "get out of my car RIGHT NOW or I will call the police."  So he got out.
  • The guy that developed Great Plains (financial software that Microsoft purchased) gave me a ride one time.  He had the nicest car, too.  Really nice guy.  He was probably in his late 60s and "retired".
  • I have met a ton of people in bands.  They all seem to have part time jobs driving for Uber.  No one really famous, but its cool when you ask about their band and they put themselves on the radio.
  • I got a ride from a guy that had been a taxi driver for a decade.  I was telling him I thought the Uber deal for a car loan was stupid expensive.  It came to about $500/month for a Toyota Corolla.  He told me he used to pay that much EACH WEEK for his cab.  He LOVED Uber.  He also kept a GoPro in his car pointed on him when minors were in the car.  He was worried they would make up some story and he would get in trouble.  He had tried to deny the trips with minors but Uber wouldn't let him do that, so he got the GoPro.
  • I won't tell an individual story, but pretty much each time I picked up an SMU student, they would talk to their friends casually about drug use like I wasn't there.  I now am under the opinion that all SMU students do drugs.  Hard drugs.  ALL OF THEM.
Are music videos bigger now? Or why I left Spotify for Youtube.
Evan and Apple

Jason Bunnell