You might have heard Uber making claims that UberX drivers in New York City are making $90,000 a year. You may have also read that some Uber drivers complain that their incomes are far lower, not even close to $90,000 a year even if they were to drive full time. So who’s right? And once you put all the media hype and drama aside, how do the highest-earning Uber drivers make more money?
Most of what you read online about Uber driver pay is pure hype: It’s either Uber trying to boost their public image, or frustrated drivers trying to find a way to voice their complaints to a big audience. The average Uber driver like you and I doesn’t care to get involved in the fight. We just want to make the most out of this job and earn the most money. If we earn enough, we’ll stay, and if we don’t we’ll go.
Uber recently published data that gives insight into the habits of the highest earning drivers, so continue reading to learn how you can take advantage of this information without getting caught in a whirlpool of never ending Uber hate/Uber love blog posts.
Uber’s data on UberX driver earnings
Here’s what I got out of this graph: As drivers work more hours each week their average hourly wage stabilizes in the $20 – $40 range. The average wage of drivers who don’t work many hours per week is unpredictable — ranging from $0 – $60 for drivers who work 10 hours a week or fewer.
Why is that? Why do drivers who drive fewer hours experience unpredictable pay? I read a theory over at Slate.com that made a lot of sense to me: Drivers who only work a few hours each week pick and choose hours. Some might pick to work a few lucrative late-night hours. Others might choose to work a few daytime hours, when demand is low. But full-time drivers end up working both busy and slow hours, so on average their pay even outs. Some of their hours are very low paying, others are very high, and the average is somewhere around $20-$35
Uber drivers who work more hours per week make a higher hourly wage, on average
Uber drivers who work late-night hours and events make more money
The chart above doesn’t show this, but my own experience and the experience of every UberX driver I know leads me the conclusion that the highest earning drivers work late-night hours and big events. Why? It’s all about surge pricing.
Surge pricing can double or triple a fare, and the most lucrative shifts are always the ones with lots of surge pricing rides. Surge pricing kicks in when demand is high — usually rush hour traffic, bar closing time, and special events.
It might be convenient for you to drive from 10am – 2pm, but demand is usually low at that time. You won’t get surge pricing rides — or possibly any rides — if you drive at the wrong time. If you want to earn more, you’ll have to drive during high-demand hours.
My secret tip: Referral bonuses!
Here’s a strategy that very few UberX drivers really take advantage of: At the moment, Uber will pay drivers $5 for every new passenger they refer to their app. To get the $5, you have to give a new Uber user your promo code, then they have enter the code and request a ride. $5 may not seem like a lot, but if you start with the goal of one new referral each time you drive. you’ll soon be racking up $5 bonus all the time. It adds up, big time. Imagine referring only one new passenger a day. That’s over $1,500 a year!
How to make more money driving for Uber
Here’s the big three things to remember:
- Full time drivers on average make $25 – $40/hour
- Work high-demand hours to maximize surge pricing rides
- Refer new passengers to the app with your promo code