Uber Black (officially UberBLACK) and Uber SUV are Uber’s high-end car service that gives users an on-demand ride in a luxury sedan or SUV. Uber Black rides cost more than twice as much as UberX, XL, and Plus rides, so it’s no wonder the highest-earning Uber drivers drive for Uber Black.
There are two significant different between driving for Uber Black and the other Uber services: Uber Black drivers must have commercial licensing and registration, and Uber Black cars must be luxury vehicles. Far more people qualify for the other Uber services because they don’t require any special licensing or vehicles. Getting commercial licensing and insurance is an expensive and challenging process that requires you to spend time and money, so becoming an Uber Black driver is not for everyone.
Uber Black and SUV driver requirements
Commercial registration and insurance are the main requirements that distinguish Uber Black from the other Uber services (See Uber driver requirements for the other services). The requirements below apply to California, but most states will have similar requirements.
- Driver’s License
- Commercial Registration
- Commercial Insurance
- Vehicle Inspection (See the inspection here)
- Airport Permit, in some cities
- Photos of the vehicle: front, back, side, and interior
Uber limits the number of Black cars on the road. Is your area accepting new vehicles?
Uber limits the number of Black cars that can be active in a market to keep prices and demand high. With the other Uber services, you can apply at any time and get started as soon as you complete the application process. But with the Black and SUV service, you can only start the application process if Uber is accepting new vehicles. In a lot of ways, the Black system is just like the taxi medallion system. Black accounts are so scarce that some people end up selling their Black accounts for big money.
If you’re hoping to break into the Black market, you’ll first have to find out if Uber is accepting new Black drivers. Email Uber support until they tell you if they are accepting new drivers. That way, you won’t go through all the hassle and expense of figuring out commercial registration and insurance if there are no spaces open.
Driving for Black or SUV in someone else’s car
Chances are, your market isn’t accepting new Black or SUV vehicles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drive for UberBlack. The local livery market, which is already paying for commercial registration and insurance, has the experience and the capital to fill any open UberBlack spaces. If that’s the case in your area, you can find jobs driving Black cars for people with Black accounts. Typically the owner offers to cover insurance expenses, and you pay for your own gas. They add you as a driver on their UberBlack account, and you rent the car on a weekly or daily basis. Most offer to split fares with you 50/50. If your market is busy enough, you can end up making more than and UberX driver without having to worry about your own car depreciating and you don’t have to worry about paying for expensive commercial insurance.
Requirements for Uber Black and qualifying vehicles
Only a handful of larger luxury cars and SUVs qualify for the Uber Black service. The car has to be in excellent condition with black paint and a black interior.
Model year 2012 or newer:
- Cadillac Escalade ESV
- Chevrolet Suburban
- GMC Yukon XL
- Infiniti QX56, QX80
- Lexus LX
- Lincoln Navigator L
- Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Model year 2012 or newer:
- Audi A6, A7
- BMW 5 Series
- Cadillac XTS
- Infiniti Q70
- Jaguar XF
- Lexus GS
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The full-sized luxury models like Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and Lexus LS also qualify to be an Uber Black car, but in some markets those cars qualify for an even higher-end service called UberLUX.
If you’re looking to buy a car to drive for Uber black, start by looking for cars and auto loans here:
- 1-800 Auto Yes - One-step application process
- Automotive.com - Shop for cars and loans
- myAutoloan.com - A fast way to see which types of auto loans you qualify for
Vehicle transitioning: When your car gets too old for Black
After a vehicle becomes too old (older than five years in most markets), it no longer qualifies as an Uber Black car and gets re-classified as a lower-cost service. Uber calls the aging out process ‘transitioning.’ You can replace your car with a newer one and retain your status as a Black driver, but only if you replace it before the date provided by Uber. If you wait too long, you won’t be able to replace your older car and still be a Black driver.
Want to drive for Uber Black? Start with UberX, then decide if you want to commit to getting commercial licensing and insurance
It’s tempting to try to jump right into driving for Uber Black, but the investment you’ll need to make into your commercial licensing and insurance is so high that it would be smarter to drive for UberX first, see if you like the job, then decide if it’s worth the investment to meet the Uber Black requirements.
If you already have your commercial licensing and insurance, driving for Uber Black is a no-brainer, provided you own a luxury car or another qualifying SUV. Some commercial drivers have even left other driving jobs and purchased a qualifying vehicle just to drive commercially for Uber! It’s that lucrative.