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Sharing and gig economies are changing how people make money. It’s easier than ever to take on a side hustle and make a little cash – even if you don’t have a skill specialty.
You could work as a rideshare driver for Uber or Lyft. DoorDash and Postmates always need delivery drivers. Or, you can rent out your home through Airbnb or your car through Turo. But if you don’t want to deal with people or their messes, there are other opportunities.
One of the original scooter sharing companies on the market, Bird expanded rapidly in its first year of operation onward. These days, Bird scooters are located in widespread cities and universities, transforming the transportation industry even further. In order to continue its impact, Bird needs drivers like you to keep its rentals running.
With Bird scooters readily available all across the U.S., it may seem like dockless electric scooters power themselves. However, the magic behind the scenes isn’t a self-charging battery or a solar-powered mode of transportation. Rather, it’s drivers like you who function as part of a Bird scooter charging team.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the Bird scooter charging gig and how you can start earning money with same-day payments.
- What Do Bird Scooter Chargers Do?
- How Does Bird Charging Work?
- How Much Do Bird Chargers Make?
- Becoming a Bird Charger
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More About Charging
What Do Bird Scooter Chargers Do?
Bird scooter chargers are independent contractors who pick up, charge, and drop off e-scooters around their respective cities. However, not every contractor is eligible to complete the same types of tasks. As of February 2020, Bird has begun a global rebrand that will impact how new chargers can earn.
All “Bird Chargers” will soon be known as “Bird Flyers.” You’ll now have to reach some milestones before you’re eligible to charge. New sign-ups will now be automatically enrolled in a Flyer Program, which requires you to advance from Level 1 to Level 3 to unlock specific earning opportunities. Here’s how you can earn at each level:
Level 1 Bird Flyers can earn by completing “move tasks,” with no charging required. All you need to do is pick up and relocate scooters to a nearby “Bird nest,” which are prime locations for riders marked in your app. Then, upload a photo of the scooter to your app as confirmation.
Damaged scooters can similarly be moved to “damage nests” for repairs. Damage nests are marked with red wrench symbols in your app.
Once you reach Level 2 by frequently completing move tasks without issue, you’ll unlock higher-paying “charge tasks” (though move tasks are still available to you as well). Charge tasks require you to complete the traditional Bird scooter charging process. This includes picking up nearby scooters, taking them home to charge, and dropping off (or “releasing”) Birds at nearby nests marked as available on your app.
Level 2 Bird Flyers in North America are typically required to release Bird scooters by 10 a.m. the next morning, if captured before midnight, or by 10 a.m. the same day, if captured between midnight and 4 a.m.
Though Level 3 isn’t available in all markets quite yet, Bird Flyers who reach this level through frequent task completion can receive larger payouts for specific Bird charging tasks near them. Level 3 Flyers have exclusive access to these offers. As long as you keep push notifications for special offers on, you can get alerted as soon as an offer is available.
How Does Bird Charging Work?
The process is simple. It all starts with the Bird mobile app.
Unlike rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, Bird does not require its contractors to download a separate app for charging scooters. Once you’ve been approved as a Bird Charger or Flyer, all you need to do to start earning is download the Bird app for Android or iPhone. Then, tap your app menu icon and toggle on Flyer Mode (formerly known as Charger Mode).
Once Flyer Mode is on, you should be able to see nearby tasks and their offer amounts on your map in real-time.
Each Bird shows up as a colored symbol on the Charger’s map. Each color indicates how much the Bird is worth, based on how difficult it is to capture. Birds behind fences or hidden away in the bushes on private property are worth more money than those that are easy to find.
As soon as you find your first Bird scooter, you can scan QR code by tapping the “Scan” button on your screen to capture the given scooter.
All the Bird Charger has to do is to unlock the scooters, put them in the car, and drive them home. It helps to have a decent-sized car, pickup truck, van, or SUV. Once home, they simply plug them in and charge them. The scooter chargers look similar to laptop chargers and plug into your home’s electrical outlets.
Chargers get a message in the morning telling them where to take the Birds. The drop-off locations are called “Bird Nests.” The Birds have to be in the Nest by 7:00 a.m. so that they’re ready for commuters. You can review any current tasks you have by tapping the “My Tasks” section of your app menu (on Flyer Mode).
When the Birds have been released into the Nest and the Charger has notified the app, the app pays per charge. You can leave the money in your account or get paid that day via direct deposit.
Related: Full Guide to Being a Bird Mechanic
How Much Do Bird Chargers Make?
The amount of money a Bird Charger makes depends on the Charger. How much you make is determined by which ones you pick to capture and how many.
The base price for each Bird is $5.00. It goes up from there when the Birds are harder to capture. The Charger map on the app shows the value of each Bird that’s ready for a charge. A green icon indicates an easy-to-find scooter that pays around $5.00. A gold is somewhat harder to get to and pays a bit more. And a red icon is very difficult to capture and can pay as much as $25.00. Of course, to get a red scooter you might have to climb a fence, traverse a gully, or play hide-and-seek with it for an hour.
Highly active Bird Flyers often report making well over $100 per night in some cities, though earnings can differ by location and whether or not you have access to charge Bird scooters. Regardless, this makes for a fairly high-paying, low-effort side hustle — even if competition with other Bird scooter chargers can make it difficult to turn the gig into a full-time career.
While Bird hunters in some cities can do well with a lot of effort, Chargers in other cities are having trouble just getting to the $5.00 mark. In Atlanta, they’re getting as little as $3.00 a capture. Some claim that it’s a glitch, but a glitch that pays only $3.00 isn’t worth the time to haggle over it with customer service.
Bird only provides three chargers per person to start. Over time, or if you pay for your own charging system, you can work up to charging 20 scooters at a time. You would need a van or truck to pick up that many Birds in one go, but you can get eight in the trunk of the average sedan.
So what are real people really making? One Reddit user says, “I’ll be close to $500 in earnings for 4 days total of work.” Another says that competing with other Bird hunters limited them to only $5–$25 a day for two weeks. Yet another person makes $60 a day easily.
For Chargers that have made a game out of hunting Birds (like Pokémon Go), the payout can be as much as $600 per night. One guy that reported making that much says he has a “whole system” for hunting. The Chargers that are making the most money are the ones that are most likely to take risks.
As you calculate your potential earnings based on your availability and scooter charging capacity, don’t forget that you’ll be working as an independent contractor. While this allows you to be your own boss and take control of your own schedule, you’ll need to pay self-employment taxes (15.3% of your income) annually, on top of your income taxes. You’ll also be responsible for all job-related expenses, including the cost of gas, electricity and car maintenance — though these expenses are usually tax-deductible.
Becoming a Bird Charger
You can become a Charger in any city where Bird scooters are available. Entertainingly, Bird scooters are banned in San Francisco, a place associated with so many similar technology innovations. Despite these setbacks, Bird is expanding rapidly into new markets across the United States and the world. Here are just a few of the markets where they’re currently available:
- Tuscaloosa, AL
- Scottsdale, AZ
- Tempe, AZ
- Fresno, CA
- Long Beach, CA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Oakland, CA
- San Diego, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Santa Monica, CA
- Denver, CO
- Washington, D.C.
- Athens, GA
- Atlanta, GA
- Louisville, KY
- Baltimore, MD
- Detroit, MI
- Minneapolis, MN
- St. Paul, MN
- Columbia, MO
- Kansas City, MO
- St. Louis, MO
- Chapel Hill, NC
- Charlotte, NC
- Greensboro, NC
- Raleigh, NC
- Cincinnati, OH
- Columbus, OH
- Norman, OK
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Stillwater, OK
- Portland, OR
- Nashville, TN
- Memphis, TN
- Abilene, TX
- Austin, TX
- Dallas, TX
- San Antonio, TX
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Arlington, VA
- Richmond, VA
Bird Charger Requirements
Compared to ridesharing, food delivery, and other driving opportunities in the gig economy, the Bird Charger role has minimal requirements that most drivers are likely to meet. In order to start earning money with Bird as a Level 1 Flyer in the U.S., you simply need to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Live in a Bird location
- Own a vehicle (must fit at least three Bird scooters; larger vehicles like SUVs preferred)
- Have a valid Social Security number
- Have a debit card or bank account
- Own a smartphone that’s compatible with the Bird app (iOS 11.0, Android 5.0, or later)
How to Apply to Be a Bird Scooter Charger
The application process for becoming a Bird Flyer is fairly straightforward. As long as you meet all the requirements we listed above, you should be able to complete this step-by-step sign-up process in the matter of minutes:
- Head to flyers.bird.co and input your name, phone number, and email address. Agree to Bird’s terms and conditions, then tap “Continue.”
- Check your text messages for an SMS from Bird. Follow the provided link to download the Bird app.
- Open the app and enter your email, or link your Google account by tapping “Continue with Google.”
- Check your email for a message from Bird. Tap “Verify” in the email and return to your Bird app.
- Tap your menu icon on the upper left corner.
- Select the “Make Money” tab.
- Scroll through the “Become a Flyer” information, then tap “Get Started.”
- Type in the requested personal information (including your name, address, and phone number), then tap “Next.”
- Enter your tax information, including your Social Security number and birthday, then tap “Next.”
- Type in your debit card or bank account information, then tap “Next.”
- Scroll through the Bird Services Agreement, then tap “I Agree.”
- Scroll through the Bird Rental Agreement (Waiver of Liability and Release), check the two boxes under “Rider Acceptance of Agreement,” and tap “I agree.”
As long as Bird Flyer gigs are still available in your area and you meet the minimum requirements, you should be approved fairly quickly after you submit your information. Acceptance time frame may vary by city due to regulations.
It might take a while to hear back from Bird, but they should give you a phone call once you are approved. Charging is becoming a popular side gig and some areas are getting oversaturated. The company is holding back on hiring new Chargers in some places. There are also reports that the application processing is taking a very long time.
The next stop is a call from Bird. It’s like a casual phone interview. They’ll ask you a couple of easy questions about what kind of vehicle you have (for transporting scooters), how many you think you can charge a night, and what you like about Bird scooters. You’ll also get briefed on the details of Bird charging.
Frequently Asked Questions
Charging Bird scooters is a simple way to add money to your monthly income. To learn more about this opportunity, read our answers to these three frequently asked questions:
1. How do Bird Flyers receive their payouts?
All Bird scooter chargers receive payments via direct deposit. If you release your vehicle by 7 a.m. with at least 95% charge, you’ll even get the added perk of a same-day payout. Otherwise, you’ll have your payment processed by the next day.
2. Is there a limit to how many scooters I can charge per day?
The Bird Flyer program limits you based on the amount of tasks you can complete each day. This includes moving, charging, and special tasks. This limit may vary by location and by your level of activity on the platform, but for reference, Bird Chargers were limited to charging 20 electric scooters each day.
3. If I’m currently a Bird Charger, what Flyer level will I be assigned to?
As long as you’ve completed a few Bird scooter charging tasks in the past, you should automatically be transitioned to the Flyer program at Level 2. If you’re a frequent high-volume Charger, you may automatically be granted access to Level 3.
Finding Birds to Charge
The Bird hunt begins after peak usage hours — usually around 9:00 p.m. You can hunt any time of day, though. Some hard-to-find birds have been waiting to be picked up for more than 24 hours. They’re also worth more money.
To hunt for Birds, open the app and make sure you are in Charger mode. The map feature will show where the scooters are in your city and how much each one will net you for capturing it.
If the real-time map shows that you are close to a Bird but you can’t see it, there is a feature that causes the Bird to chirp so that you can follow the sound and find it.
You can also look at the ride data, which will help you pinpoint the scooter’s location more accurately. Ride data also gives you a clue about how available the scooter is. A scooter that shows up as having been ridden in the past few minutes is less likely to be locked away by a hoarder than one shows up as having been last used yesterday.
When you’ve found the Bird, you scan the QR code, just like you would if you were going to ride it. The Bird will show up in your app and then you can load it up and take it home.
There are reports of people hoarding scooters. Essentially people hide scooters inside their home until the bounty goes up to $20 or $25. Once they go up in payout (usually after four days), they “capture” the hoarded scooter and release it. This is not allowed and will get you kicked off the service. This is fraud and should not be tolerated. If you see this happening, report it to Bird ASAP.
Some scooters are in such difficult-to-access places that some Chargers have given up on trying to find lost Birds. They’ve been at the bottom of canyons, behind locked gates, and have even been used as bait by criminals to lure hunters into dangerous situations. There are Bird scooter Chargers that see these challenges as a game and others that say it’s just not worth it to try to capture scooters that aren’t easy to get.
To charge Bird scooters, you will need a special charger. When you are approved as a Bird Charger, they will send you three chargers. It might take a while to get them if there is a rush in applications. If you don’t want to wait, there may be an office in your area where you can pick them up in person.
A garage full of charging Birds in Ohio. Image by u/n8rates.
When you get home and unload the scooters, all you have to do is plug them in using the provided chargers. They’re a lot like a laptop charger. Charging time varies depending on the current battery life of the scooter, but the typical charge time is between four and seven hours.
To deploy the scooter and get paid, you have to recharge it up to at least 95 percent.
Must-Have Hardware for Bird Scooter Charging
If you become a Level 2 Bird Flyer and want to get higher payouts by through Bird scooter charging, you will need to invest in some power supplies for the task. Bird will send you details about how to purchase your must-have starter kit — which includes three power supply units, as well as
If you want to expand your power supplies beyond this initial kit and charge more than three scooters at once, you can purchase additional power supplies from the Bird store. However, many Flyers choose to look on platforms like eBay and OfferUp for discounted, used versions from previous Bird Flyers. Others look on Amazon for cheaper third-party electric scooter charger kits, but if you take this route, always make sure the charger is specifically compatible with Bird e-scooters.
You will be responsible for deploying the Birds in the morning. That means dropping them off at their Bird’s Nest. The app will show you where the Nests are located.
A Nest is usually in an easy-to-find place and will hold around four scooters. So, if you have a dozen scooters to deploy, you’ll need to find three empty Bird’s Nests.
Not to worry, you claim a Nest before you even get there by using the app. Once you’ve claimed the Nest, it disappears from the map so there’s no competition from other Chargers.
Most Birds have to be deployed by 7:00 a.m. with a 95 percent charge. You will need to plan the night before exactly when you need to leave in the morning depending on the number of Birds. Some Chargers get up as early 5:00 a.m. to get a jump on releasing the Birds.
You can’t drop them off too early. Bird rules state that there are no drop-offs between 5:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
You can, however, capture Birds and release them in the same day. So, if a well-used Bird is showing up on the map at 10:00 a.m., you can take it home and charge it and get paid for it if you have back on the street by 5:00 p.m.
Ways to Increase Bird Charging Earnings
- First, you have to be consistent, and then you have to get more chargers. The more Birds you can plug in, the more money you can make at one time. In this Reddit thread, Chargers are reporting getting as many as 13 chargers from Bird. Bird gave them additional chargers because they consistently charged a lot of Birds.
- Pick up as many as possible. Use a vehicle that can fit a lot of scooters and then get as many as you can in one go. Start as early as you can to beat out other hunters. Even if you only have three chargers, you can charge six scooters in a night as long as you are willing to swap cables in the middle of the night.
- Create a strategy. Check the map a few times a day and pick up scooters that are in your path. Keep your gas mileage in mind when hunting so you don’t spend your profit on fuel.
- Live near a Nest. People who live near high-traffic areas have an advantage. If you live near a Nest you can quickly drop off scooters in the morning, saving a lot of time and money.
- Double up. As long as you’re picking up Birds, you might as well sign up to be a Lime Juicer and increase your odds of getting scooters to charge every night. The maps are virtually the same. Say your Bird app map shows two scooters in your neighborhood and four across town. If you had the Lime map open as well, you might see that there are Limes right next to those two Birds in your neighborhood. Having access to the Limes would save you in gas and effort.
Earn More by Charging Scooters
Bird scooter charging is a low-effort side hustle that has the potential to help you earn a considerable amount of cash. Just by completing the scooter-charging process when it works with your schedule, you can get closer to meeting your financial goals.
If you want to go earn money by charging more e-scooters than Bird allows — or perhaps get start charging without waiting to unlock new levels — consider looking into other scooter companies that are available near you. Lime, Spin, and Skip are all popular companies that offer charging gigs and may help you double up on earnings. To get you started, learn how to become a Lime charger (officially known as a Lime Juicer) in our guide.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.