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Drive for Uber: How To Sign Up and Drive in 2021 [Detailed Guide]

Last updated: May 25, 2021
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Working a nine-to-five job gets really old, really fast. As a result, those looking for a way to escape the mindless rat race have found sanctuary in the rideshare business.

You don’t have to start a business from scratch to be your own boss. When you sign up to drive for Uber, you can start earning on your own schedule — all from the comfort of your car.

Being able to set your own hours, earn money in your spare time, and accept as many rideshare requests as you wish is liberating. Other perks, such as taking a break whenever and earning as much as you need, are simply icing on the cake.

Thankfully, the rideshare industry is booming.

As more passengers use Uber, there are plenty of opportunities for drivers to make some extra cash.

With all of these great benefits in store, the next big question is how you can take advantage of this opportunity and get started?

This guide is meant to provide you with all the information you need to become an Uber driver, including driver requirements and basic questions you need to ask yourself before you get started.

Jump to:

Should You Drive for Uber?

For many of us, getting paid to cruise around town sounds like a dream come true. You get to play your own tunes, meet new people, and take time off when you want or need to.

Plus, the profession allows you to avoid the paperwork, annoying co-workers, and micromanagement that come with most office jobs. Add in the fact that the job, for the most part, is not physically straining, and you may be wondering what’s left to consider.

As great as driving for a rideshare business is, there are downsides to the profession.

For example, the freedom of being able to do as you please may lead you to fall into bad work routines. Without someone reminding you to “get back to work,” you may find it easier to stay in bed during surge times or skip out on high-profit time periods despite needing more money to pay the bills.

Another issue to consider is customer service. If you lack the patience to deal with drunk or unruly passengers, this may not be the profession for you.

Furthermore, if you are an introvert, or have trouble with social interactions, having strangers in your vehicle all the time may wreak havoc on your nerves. Bear in mind, in order to make a ton of cash in this industry, you need to overcome these issues.

The final downside is the pay. There are drivers out there who make a ton of money. But for every success story, there are handfuls of drivers who failed to make minimum wage.

Asking the right questions can help you quickly assess whether or not the rideshare business is right for you. Think through the following questions before you jump in.

  • Am I comfortable with driving for 6+ hours per day?
    • Not everyone is comfortable with sitting long periods of time and staying alert throughout the process.
  • Am I ready to be self-employed?
    • As an Uber driver, you are technically an independent contractor, which means you are running your own business. Being your own boss has risks. There are no paid vacations or days off. Plus, you are responsible for saving a portion of your profit for taxes.
  • Do I have the discipline to work on my own schedule?
    • Maintaining a steady income will be very challenging if you have trouble motivating yourself to do other daily tasks. Be prepared for hard truths.
  • Am I an extrovert or an introvert?
    • Top rideshare drivers that earn the most money are comfortable conversing with dozens of people each day. If this does not sound like you, consider driving for Postmates or Amazon Flex instead.

Aside from the potential roadblocks we mentioned, working as an Uber driver is an incredible opportunity.

How Much Do Uber Drivers Make?

This is the first and last question that most prospective Uber drivers ask. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to answer because drivers are essentially responsible for how much they can earn. There is no hourly wage with Uber.

Drivers are paid a portion of a rider’s fares, which is a combination of factors that determine price. Uber’s payment system is broken down into four categories:

  1. Base Fare
  2. Mileage
  3. Time
  4. Booking Fee

Although these rates vary by city, the principle behind them does not.

The base fare and booking fee are fixed amounts applied to every ride. Consider them the base estimate for how much the ride is worth.

Next up, the mileage and time are taken into account. A per minute and per mile fee are added to the total rideshare expense. Meaning that if traffic is bad, the time multiplier is working in your favor as a driver.

The total number of miles, minutes, and initial fees increases when surge pricing is active, too. Depending on the demand, a decent multiplier will be applied to the entire amount, potentially making a $15 charge go up quite a bit.

Uber Requirements

If you’re interested in driving for Uber, you have to check off a set of driver requirements before you can get started.

To be an Uber driver, you must meet these requirements:

  • Are at least 21 years old
  • Have a valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Have at least one year of driving experience (or three if you’re under 23)
  • Have car insurance
  • Have a clean vehicle title and vehicle registration
  • Can pass a driving record check and background check with no major offenses
  • Have a smartphone that’s compatible with the Uber Driver app (iOS 11.0, Android 5.0, or later)

These are fairly basic requirements, and most people interested in driving for Uber will be able to meet them. There is no way around any of these, so don’t think you can fake them on the application. You’ll have to upload documents confirming your age and amount of driving experience, and the background check will be conducted by a third-party agency in cooperation with state law enforcement agencies.

A copy of the documents listed above will need to be given to Uber. In addition to this, drivers are also required to pass Uber’s official background check.

During this inspection, Uber is looking for details about your driving and criminal history, if you have one. Unless further examination is authorized, the background check usually only goes as far back as seven years.

Applicants with a criminal record such as a felony, violent crimes, or sexual offenses will be disqualified.

As for the driving records, Uber also takes age into consideration. If you are 23 or younger, you must have at least three years’ worth of licensing record.

If you are older than this, only one year is required. Applicants will automatically be disqualified otherwise.

Other auto disqualifications include major moving violations, such as DUIs or reckless driving. Minor moving violations count against potential rideshare drivers too. Three or more in the past three years, such as speeding, will prevent Uber from hiring you. In short, if you don’t have a clean driving record, you may need to wait to apply.

To learn more about what can disqualify a driver, check out our detailed guide to Uber driver requirements.

Vehicle requirements are just as forgiving.

Uber has certain vehicle requirements that all drivers are required to meet. The specific requirements can vary based on your preferred level of driving service, as well as the city and state you’re driving in. However, you must meet the local requirements in order to drive for Uber.

The service levels available are as follows:

  • UberX– UberX is the lowest vehicle level. This means it is the cheapest for passengers and the easiest to qualify for.
  • UberXL– This rideshare request option is for those in need of transporting 7 or more people in one go (including the driver).
  • UberPOOL– Passengers can opt to use UberPOOL when they do not mind sharing their ride with additional passengers they do not know.
  • UberBLACK – This is one of the most restricted vehicle categories. To qualify, your vehicle needs to be black, inside and out.
  • UberSUV – Like UberXL, vehicles can only qualify for UberSUV if they seat 7 or more people (including the driver). However, there is an age restriction on vehicles driving as UberSUVs.
  • UberSELECT – Only luxury sedans are accepted to drive for UberSELECT. These four-door vehicles must have either leather or vinyl seats too.
  • UberLUX – To qualify, vehicles must be full-size, luxury, and made after 2012. In general, if you hope to accept UberLUX rideshare requests, your vehicle must be considered one of the finest sets of wheels available on the market.
  • UberPET
  • UberWAV

Most four-door cars will be eligible for at least UberX, UberPool, and even Uber Eats as long as they’re registered, insured, in good condition, and no more than 15 years old. There are even alternative options that you can explore if you don’t own an eligible car.

For other services such as UberBLACK or UberSUV, the requirements can be a lot more specific and strict. These services allow only high-end vehicles with black leather interiors, and in many cities, they also require you to have commercial insurance. This extra work can be worth it for the high fares you can earn driving for these services, but you should be sure that your car meets the requirements before you sign up.

In some markets, your car will also have to pass a vehicle inspection before you can start picking up Uber passengers. This inspection checks that your car is in proper working order and is safe to transport passengers. You can learn more about this inspection here.

Lastly, you’ll need a smartphone to run the Uber driver app.

Uber drivers use a different app than the Uber app that passengers use. This driver app is what you use to pick up and drop off passengers, so it’s imperative that it functions correctly on your phone. If it doesn’t, then you could end up with missed ride requests and low ratings.

The Uber driver app is available for both iPhone and Android. You can install it on an iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, and 6+ running iOS 7 or later. For Android, the app will run on any device that is 2013 or newer and runs version 4.0 or higher.

As you can see, Uber requirements are simple and shouldn’t deter you from signing up. Even if you’re unsure if you meet certain requirements, there’s never any harm in completing the free sign-up process and giving it a shot. As long as you’re not obviously unqualified — for example, if you’ve only had a driver’s license for a few months — you can be one application away from taking full control of your own career.

How to Fill Out an Uber Driver Application

Before you can drive for Uber, you’ll need to complete a simple Uber application that shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

This is a step-by-step guide will take you through the process of the Uber application, and show you what to expect at each stage, which documents you need to provide, and other information aimed to help you qualify to drive as soon as possible.

Here are the 3 documents you will need for this application.

  1. Your driver’s license
  2. Your vehicle insurance identification card (proof of insurance card)
  3. Your vehicle registration

It’s good to have these documents ready before moving forward because you will be expected to take a picture and upload it to your Uber partner account.

To make sure your documents don’t get rejected, and delays your qualification process, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to taking pictures of the required documents.

Ensure that:

  • The picture is clear and not dark or blurry
  • The document isn’t expired or going to expire soon
  • The picture clearly shows all 4 corners of the document
  • The correct document is getting uploaded.

The screenshots below are subjected to change as Uber updates their website, however, the Uber application process should remain similar as time goes on.

Sign up to drive and claim your sign-up bonus!
Sign up as an Uber Driver and refer other drivers to earn cash. Once you sign up, you can use your referral code as a promotional link that you can use to refer other drivers and make some serious cash.
  • Sign up bonuses have previously been worth up to $750
  • Get sign up bonuses on top of your normal Uber wages
  • Bonus varies by city, and are subject to Uber’s official referral terms.

Follow the following steps to apply to drive with Uber:

Step 1 – Navigate to the Uber Sign-Up Page

Start the application process by heading to, or by tapping on our sign-up link to automatically apply a new driver bonus offer worth up to $800 (more on this in the next section).

Sign-up page to drive for Uber

Step 2 – Provide your contact details

Enter your first name, last name, email, phone number, preferred password, and the city you’ll be driving in. If you used the link, you can still enter our promo code “prgey” in the “Invite code” box to receive your new driver bonus. Once complete, tap “Next” or “Sign up to drive.”

Step 3 – Select Your Level of Service

Select the Uber service you qualify for and want to drive, then tap “Continue.”

Rideshare options to drive for Uber

Step 4 – Vehicle Information

Select whether you have or need a qualified vehicle, then tap “Continue.”

Vehicle options for Uber

If you do not have a car that qualifies for Uber you can still apply to become a driver. You might want to do this if you are currently looking to purchase/lease a car. You may also choose to lease a car through Uber although we do NOT recommend this.

Also, note that all Uber drivers are required to undergo a comprehensive vehicle inspection before they can go online and make their first trip.  This is a standard practice and every rideshare company has their own version of this. This inspection ensures that your vehicle meets all the safety requirements and is in good condition to be driven. Vehicle inspection can be done at one of their activation centers, or at a pre-approved auto repair station.

Step 5 – Background Check

Tap “Background Check,” then tap “Agree” to authorize the background check. You can also check the box next to “Receive a free copy of my background check report” to see your results when they’re available.

Background check for rideshare

Enter your Social Security number in the space provided. Read through the disclosure and check the box next to “I agree and acknowledge.” Tap “Submit” and continue to the next step.

Enter Social Security number for background check

In order to continue your Uber application, you need to enter your social security number. This is so that Uber can perform their background check to see if you personally qualify to drive for Uber. This needs to be your personal social security number. If you are a business, you will use that tax id number later.  At this point, Uber is performing the check to see if you have traffic violations or felonies that might prevent you from driving. 

Step 6 – Driver’s License

You should arrive at the “Driver’s License” section of your application, where you’ll need to upload a clear image of your valid United States driver’s license. You can select “Take Photo With My Phone” to get photo upload instructions sent to your phone number, or select “Upload Photo” to upload a file from your computer. Once complete, tap “Go to Next Step.”

Upload photo of driver's license to drive for Uber

Step 7 – Vehicle Insurance

Here, you’ll need to upload your proof of vehicle insurance. This document must include your name, vehicle identification number (VIN), insurance company, and the expiration date of your plan. Again, select “Take Photo With My Phone” or “Upload Photo” and tap “Go to Next Step” once the upload is complete.

Take a photo of vehicle insurance

You are not currently required to have additional coverages for your vehicle nationwide, however, we HIGHLY SUGGEST you get a rideshare insurance policy so that you stay covered in case of an accident. Some locations may require additional insurance coverage or commercial insurance coverage for your vehicle. Check out our full list of rideshare insurance companies currently providing rideshare insurance.

Step 8 – Vehicle Registration

Next, you’ll be asked to upload your vehicle registration. This picture must include your car’s make, model, year, VIN, and license plate number, as well as the expiration date of the registration. Tap “Take Photo With My Phone” or “Upload Photo,” then continue to the next step once complete.

Car registration photo to drive for Uber

Step 9 – Vehicle Inspection

Select whether or not you’ve completed an Uber vehicle inspection. If so, you’ll just need to upload the completed inspection form, signed by your inspector. No worries if you haven’t gotten a 19-point inspection before. You can always head to your nearest Greenlight Hub, as suggested on your web page after you tap “No,” for a free inspection. Then, return to your application by logging onto when you have a form to upload.

Vehicle inspection check for rideshare application

Step 10 – Profile Photo

Once your form is uploaded, you can move on to the final step, which is simply uploading a profile photo. Make sure your headshot is well-lit, with no hat or sunglasses. Select “Take Photo With My Phone” or choose “Upload Photo.”

Take a profile photo to drive for Uber

Once this process is complete, you’re just a week (or less) away from earning money with Uber. Your only job is to wait for an Uber team member to approve your documents and for your background check to come back clean.

While you’re waiting, you can download the Uber Driver app for iPhone or Android. This is the platform you’ll be using to receive ride requests once you’re activated.

A few things to keep in mind after applying…

  • The approval process may take some time. Be patient, and if there is anything support reps need, work quickly to get it for them.
  • If you are not approved, find out the reason. If it’s something you can change and control, fix it. If you another issue like a criminal record that you can’t fix, then rideshare probably is not for you.
  • While you wait, get familiar with the driver app and watch the tutorial videos supplied. The more information you have before you make your first pickup, the better.

Get Your Vehicle Inspected

Once your application is approved and you are set to become an Uber driver, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle checks out and is roadworthy.

Uber requires a full vehicle inspection at least once a year. During this time, a mechanic will confirm whether or not your vehicle is in need of maintenance or repair.

There are 19 things your mechanic will examine, most of which have to do with safety. Address any issues ahead of time so you can pass your inspection on the first try.

Drivers who have this annual procedure completed at a designated Uber shop can have it done for free. Otherwise, it is $19.99 plus any services that need to be completed.

To reduce the amount of money and time it takes to complete the annual vehicle inspection, book a time with a designated mechanic before showing up.

Uber Driver Payment

A person counting money after cashing out with Uber Instant Pay.

So, you’ve finished the driver application, waited for your background check to clear, and passed the vehicle inspection.

Now the big question: how do you get paid?

Since you are employed with Uber as an independent contractor, the payment system will be slightly different than what you might be used to.

There are various aspects of each ride that are taken into consideration. These specific elements are used to calculate the total fare of the ride as well as how much drivers keep.

With the right information, you can figure out what percentage of each ride you will take home. Additionally, you’ll know when that money will appear in your bank account.

How and When Do Drivers Get Paid?

After the new work week starts, drivers receive an email containing important information about their total ride fares for that week. In the email, a link is provided so drivers can see their pay statement.

Here’s a recent payment notification from my email account:

A screenshot of a weekly Uber driver payment notification email.

Unfortunately, the payment schedule is not the traditional Monday – Friday method. Although Uber starts the work week on Monday morning, it does not end on Friday afternoon. Rather, each pay period ends on Monday at 3:59 a.m.

As soon as the clock strikes 4:00 a.m., the new work week starts over again.

Drivers concerned about having to wait to review this document need not worry. You can also view the weekly statement as it populates during the work week.

To do so, log into the Partner Dashboard and tap on the “Pay Statements” tab.

From there, you can view your current earnings statement, or view statements from past weeks from your entire driver history.

Payment Options

Uber drivers have a few options available when collecting payouts. These are set within the Partner Dashboard, allowing them to choose their preferred payment method as default.

There are currently a few payment options, with each one designed to better suit driver’s needs. Although each option has its pros and cons, drivers should pick the method that works best for them.

1. Uber Instant Pay

The first method is Uber Instant Pay.

As the name suggests, drivers can use this method to access their earned money as soon as a ride is complete. With Instant Pay, you might encounter the occasional technical error or you bank may process these requests at a slower rate.

In general, the following establishments may delay your payment from Instant Pay:

  • H&R Block
  • First Citizens
  • UBOC
  • Amegy
  • California Bank and Trust
  • First National Bank of Omaha
  • Webster Bank
  • Bank of New York Mellon
  • BOKF
  • Silicon Valley Bank
  • Northern Trust

Instant Pay may be ideal for drivers who need lunch or gas money before payday arrives. Drivers that prefer this method may access their cash up to five times a day, but a small fee of $0.50 is applied each time.

Setting Up Instant Pay

To set up this payment method, go to the “Earnings” tab in the app and tap Instant Pay. Here, you can add your preferred debit card – either a personal one or one issued from Uber. Once added, you may select how much money they want to withdraw from the available funds.

Ready to get started? Learn how to become an Uber driver today!

The final step is to click “Transfer Now” and the money will deposit onto the card account on file. Keep in mind, not all debit cards are eligible for Instant Pay. Even so, most MasterCard, Visa, and Discover debit cards can be used with this payment method.

Drivers that do not have a debit card may sign up for an Uber Debit Card. This debit card is issued through GoBank. Drivers that sign up for this debit card can expect to receive their new card within about a week.

Some perks of using an Uber Debit Card include no transfer, overdraft, monthly or NSF fees, nor a minimum balance requirement. Plus, any time Instant Pay is used with an Uber Debit Card, all cash outs will happen without delay.

2. Direct Deposit

Of course, direct deposit is also available to rideshare drivers.

This payment method is the most popular method, and requires the least amount of work and hassle to set up. It’s trusty, reliable, and hands-off. It’s my personal favorite, which I’ve been using since I started driving three years ago.

Setting Up Direct Deposit

To set up your direct deposit:

  • Have your routing and account number from your bank on hand
  • Sign in at
  • Tap on the “Banking” tab
  • Tap “Bank Account Details”, then “Edit”
  • Enter your name, tax information, account and routing numbers, and other requested banking information
  • Check the identity confirmation box
  • Tap “Submit”

Payments are issued to drivers via direct deposit every Thursday. If you have not entered your bank account information yet, you can do so at

Uber Payment Issues

Unfortunately, payment delays are not unheard of and can occur for various reasons. Typically this occurs due to bank processing times.

The first step to take if your direct deposit is late or missing is to double check with your bank.

Then, you’ll need to verify your account information with the info Uber has on file. If a correction is needed, payments should be issued the following Thursday or Friday at the latest.

In general, the payment cycle for Uber ends and starts on Monday morning. By Tuesday, the pay statement from the previous week is added to your dashboard. You can view your statements here.

Once Wednesday rolls around, Uber processes payments in the evening for distribution. By Thursday, your paycheck should be deposited into your bank account.

When you check you estimated payments each the week, you may notice that funds from promos and referral codes are not accounted for. These additional funds are not processed until the end of the current payment cycle. So check back on Monday to confirm your total balance.

For other payment issues, such as a trip missing from your pay statement, contact Uber as soon as you notice. The fastest way to achieve this is by filling out a form directly related to your issue and submitting it. Add screenshot and other relevant notes whenever possible to help the customer service team to get the issue resolves as soon as possible

If you think you are experiencing an issue with your payments do not wait. Contact Uber using any of the methods outlined in this guide.

How Are Earnings Calculated?

When you accept your first ride request, a total ride cost will appear on your phone. Keep in mind, this is not the amount you will be pocketing. Each fare is calculated based on certain aspects of the ride.

In general, your payment is calculated in steps. First, the base fare, time and distance rate are added up. If there is a surge, this is multiplied. Next, fees are deducted and any tolls or other road fees are added.

To view the payment for a completed ride, check out the Earnings tab

  • Base Fare: The initial fee, dubbed the ‘booking fee’ is collected from the rider on your behalf. The company collects this to cover the cost of insurance as well as for safety features to ensure all occupants of the vehicle are safe.
  • Time: Calculated from start to end of the trip
  • Distance: Miles or kilometers of route combined with total time produce the ‘trip fare’. You can view fare estimates for your city with this tool.
  • SURGE Pricing, tolls, and other fees: (if applicable)

If you have to spend money on a toll fee during the trip, the total amount of the toll will be included in the fare as well. This deduction does not have an effect on the trip fare, which is how much the actual ride costs. When you’re charged for a toll, the amount is automatically added to your fare.

The details for this will be on your statement. Bear in mind, this is only issued if there is a rider in the vehicle with you. It does not apply if you are in route to pick a passenger up or after you drop them off.

Uber deducts a final fee from this amount. This amount covers everything from credit card processing fees to passenger and driver support.

This money is also used to cover the expense of maintaining its platform. Regular maintenance prevents security breaches and helps improve the app. This way, customers, and drivers have an easy time finding the information they need.

This fee is also used for new marketing campaigns. Marketing efforts help increase service usage, which helps ensure that you receive enough requests to make being a rideshare driver worth your while.

New Driver Promotions: Earn Up to $800 Guaranteed

As we mentioned in the sign-up tutorial, you can use our promo link ( or our promo code (“prgey“) to receive a new driver bonus worth up to $800.

So how does this promotion work exactly? Every city has a set earnings guarantee available for local drivers who sign up and complete a set amount of trips within their first 90 days. Because the value of the promotion is based on your location, there’s no need to search the web for better options. Our convenient promo link or code above will give you access to the same bonus offer as any code you’ll find on coupon sites or

Here are some of the offers for drivers in a handful of U.S cities, as of January 2021:

  • Albuquerque: Earn $560 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Atlanta, Boston, Nashville: Earn $600 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Boise: Earn $640 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle: Earn $700 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Columbus and Memphis: Earn $630 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Houston: Earn $670 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Lincoln: Earn $610 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Miami and Oklahoma City: Earn $590 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Orlando: Earn $620 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Portland: Earn $800 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • San Antonio: Earn $650 guaranteed after 100 trips.
  • Salt Lake City: Earn $680 guaranteed after 100 trips.

The value of new driver promotions can change at any time, so make sure to apply today to take advantage of the extra earnings available to you. As a reminder, starting the sign-up process at our sign-up link will automatically apply your local promotion. If you choose to apply through, you’ll need to manually enter “prgey” in the “Invite code” box before tapping “Sign up to drive” for the promotion to apply.

How Uber Works for Drivers

In order to take the ambiguity out of driving for Uber, we’ve written the following overview for prospective Uber drivers. In addition to the overview of each part of the process, you’ll also find links to further, more detailed info on every aspect of driving for Uber.

How to Pick Up Uber Fares

Provided you’ve met all the above criteria, you’re now allowed to pick up your first Uber ride. Congrats! This is an exciting step for any new rideshare driver.

Open up the app, tap “Go Online,” and you’ll be able to receive trip requests. Simply tap anywhere on the screen to accept the request.

Once you’ve accepted the request, you’ll need to navigate to the rider’s position and pick them up. Navigation is built right into the smartphone app; simply tap the arrow in the top right corner of the screen to get directions to your rider’s pickup location.

For more info on how to use the Uber driver app and what to expect during your first rip, check out our tutorial in the video below.

Managing Your Ratings

In order for rideshare services like Uber to work, there must be trust and accountability. For drivers and riders, this comes in the form of ratings. Of every tool at a driver’s disposal, this is one of the most important for keeping rider quality high and drivers happy.

Once you’ve finished giving a ride, your Uber rider will have the option to leave you between a one and five-star rating. In return, you’ll also get to rate the passenger based on how you felt about the experience.

Here’s how the rating system works:

Pro Tip: If you rate a passenger lower than a “3”, you’ll never get matched with that rider again.

While you don’t have any direct control over the rating a passenger leaves, you should be careful to do everything in your power to keep your ratings as high as possible. If your ratings dip too low, you risk deactivation of your Uber driver account, or simply less trust from potential passengers.

Luckily, keeping your rating high is simply a matter of the following things:

  • Be polite and respectful
  • Drive safely
  • Be attentive to your passenger’s needs
  • Go above and beyond (offer phone chargers, gum or bottled water to passengers)

As long as you keep the above in mind, you’ll be able to keep your rating exactly where you want it.

8 Things You Should Know Before You Drive with Uber

8 Things You Should Know Before You Drive with Uber

From the outside, driving for a rideshare company can seem like the best job in the world. You don’t have a boss, you get to meet a variety of people, and the road is your office, all while having a flexible way to earn extra cash. Who wouldn’t want to drive with Uber?

While these are all excellent perks, the allure of signing up to drive with Uber or Lyft can be so strong that it’s easy to get into the job without knowing all the details. If you aren’t aware of certain details that the job requires, you can be in for a rude surprise when it comes to things like filing your taxes or dealing with your insurance company in the aftermath of an accident.

To make sure that you go into the job with both eyes open, here are eight things you should know before you sign up to be an Uber driver.

1. You Are Not an Employee When You Drive with Uber

Although Uber handles all payment and logistics, Uber drivers are not (legally speaking) employees. When you drive with Uber, you are an independent contractor, or “driver partner,” as Uber puts it.

While this has benefits such as a flexible schedule and a lack of boss or hierarchy, working as an independent contractor has some financial ramifications that you need to be aware of.

First, as an independent contractor you are responsible for withholding and reporting all your own taxes. If you’ve never worked for yourself, this can be an adjustment, as you’re likely used to having an employer that handles tax withholding and reporting for you. Luckily, the process is not difficult, especially if you’re using automated tax filing software such as TurboTax. To learn everything you need to know about taxes as an Uber driver, check out our guide to self-employment taxes.

Second, working as an independent contractor means that you’ll need to make your own retirement contributions. You won’t have a company 401(k) or other company-sponsored retirement plan. Of course, by the time you’re ready to retire it’s likely that cars will all be self-driving, but that’s all the more reason to save up your extra money while you can.

Of course, if you’re just driving for Uber to earn make money on the side, then you may not have to worry about additional retirement contributions, as you already have an employer that has a program. But in all cases you’re still responsible for reporting (and paying taxes on) any extra income you earn.

2. Make Sure You Have Adequate Insurance Coverage

While your regular auto insurance is sufficient to meet the requirements to drive with Uber, we strongly recommend that you look into additional insurance coverage specifically for rideshare drivers. This will protect you from what’s known as the “gap”: the period of time when you have the Uber driver app on but aren’t accepting rides. In this situation, your regular insurance will not cover accidents or liability incidents, and Uber’s coverage will be minimal.

To learn more, check out our rideshare insurance guide.

3. Surge Pricing Is an Opportunity

There are a variety of ways to maximize your earnings when you drive with Uber, but one of the surest is to drive in areas that are experiencing a surge. Surges occur when the number of ride requests outnumber the available Uber drivers.

To help boost the number of rides available, Uber applies a multiplier to the final price that riders pay. This means that, during certain prime times like holidays, after events or even just rush hour, you have the opportunity to massively boost your driver earnings just by hanging out in an area that’s likely to receive a large number of trip requests. You’ll be able to see notifications of surges within the Uber Driver app. To learn more, check out our explanation of surge pricing.

4. You Need to Pass a Background Check

Before you can get approved to drive with Uber, you’ll need to pass a background check. During this process, Uber will look to see if you have a criminal record containing offenses that would disqualify you from driving for Uber. They’ll also examine your driving record for things that might disqualify you, such as major moving violations (or an excessive number of minor moving violations).

To learn more about the Uber background check requirements, check out our Uber background check guide.

5. You Can Diversify Your Uber Income

Things You Should Know Before You Drive with Uber

Driving for UberX is a nice way to get your feet wet and learn how the Uber platform works, but after you’ve been at it for a while, it’s worth looking into other opportunities that Uber provides to earn more money. Here are three of our favorite options:

Uber Eats

Uber Eats is, quite literally, the “Uber of food delivery services.” It uses the same technology that powers the Uber rider app to allow people to order food at the touch of a button. As an existing Uber driver, it’s easy to get started delivering for Uber Eats. All you have to do is open the Uber partner app (that you already have) and enable delivery requests. To learn more about driving for Uber Eats, check out our guide.


If you’ve ever taken an Uber ride as a passenger, you may have noticed the option for UberBLACK below UberX in the Uber app. UberBLACK is the higher-end counterpart to UberX. As the name implies, all the cars are black, and the service caters to a more affluent crowd that insists on traveling in style. Consequently, the fares can be much higher (though also scarcer). To learn more about how to succeed as an UberBLACK driver, check out our Ultimate Guide to Driving for UberBLACK.


UberSUV is to UberXL as UberBLACK is to UberX. When a larger group of passengers wants to ride in luxury and style, UberSUV is what they choose. The requirements for UberSUV are fairly specific, with only certain black luxury SUVs that have leather seats qualifying (in addition to further requirements regarding cleanliness and condition). But just like UberBLACK, UberSUV fares are significantly higher, making it a worthwhile consideration if you have the right vehicle.

To learn more, check out our Complete Guide to UberSUV.

6. Ensure Your Vehicle Is in Top Condition

When you’re driving other people around for a living, you cannot afford (literally and figuratively) for your vehicle to break down. Therefore, in addition to meeting Uber’s vehicle requirements when you start driving, you should ensure that your vehicle remains in impeccable condition throughout your time as an Uber driver.

This means taking your car in for all regular vehicle maintenance, as well as addressing any suspicious sounds or smells before they become a serious issue. And it also means keeping your vehicle clean and smelling fresh. Passengers notice this little details, and they can affect your driver rating (not to mention tips!).

7. Uber Is a Cashless Experience

Eight Things You Should Know Before You Drive with Uber

If you’re very new to the world of Uber, then it’s understandable to think that passengers can pay their ride fares in cash. After all, that’s the way it’s worked for taxis since they were invented.

One of the major selling points of rideshare apps like Uber, however, is that all payment occurs through the app using the credit card that the customer has on file. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect (or accept) any payment of fares in cash. You are welcome to accept cash tips, though passengers are under no obligation to tip in cash.

8. You Need a Smartphone with Cellular Data

In order to run and use the Uber driver app, you need an iPhone or Android smartphone with a cellular data connection. These are the technologies that make the Uber service possible to begin with, so make sure you have them before applying to drive with Uber. It’s also important that you have a phone running the latest operating system available, as out of date operating systems can interfere with the performance of the Uber app.

Maximize Your Earnings

One of the best ways to make sure you max out your paycheck is by maximizing your tips.

To promote the likelihood of passengers giving you extra cash, Uber partners should focus on enhancing the rideshare experience in every way possible. Don’t worry, there are other ways to earn additional funds.

Pay attention to how you run your rideshare business. Here are 17 ways to maximize your earnings as an Uber driver. Or, if you don’t mind getting creative with your car, there are multiple companies who will pay on top of what you’re already making giving rides.

Following this useful information will also help you to improve your driver rating, which can unlock high-end rideshare requests.

Another great way to increase income, if you have a vehicle that fits the strict requirements, is to upgrade service levels. For example, you could upgrade your Prius for a Mercedes, then drive Black and earn more money. Or, you could buy a Tesla, drive for a nicer tier, AND save money on gas. Now that’s a win-win right there.

Finally, you can boost your earnings even further by also signing up to drive for Uber Eats. The Uber driver app lets you pick up passengers and food orders during the same shift, so it makes sense to get some food orders in to fill the times when you aren’t transporting passengers.

Follow Proper Vehicle Maintenance

There’s nothing worse than needing to do large-scale vehicle repairs due to neglect.

Add the stress of temporarily losing your source of income and you’re in for a rough few weeks.

Most of us are familiar with checking the gas tank each week. However, do you regularly check your engine coolant and oil levels? Proper vehicle maintenance is essential for maintaining your income as an Uber driver.

Since you will be using your vehicle more than normal, oil changes may be needed more frequently now. You should also check your tires for tread wear and leaks too, considering the amount of turf covered. These items should be maintained at least monthly, whereas windshield wipers and other parts should be replaced annually.

Keeping up with your vehicle’s maintenance will keep you on the road and making money, rather than spending it in the mechanic’s shop. So, be sure to stay up-to-date with it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hands on the steering wheel

When you sign up to drive for Uber, you gain access to a flexible earning opportunity that allows you to make money on the road — and earn hundreds of extra dollars within your first 90 days. To learn more about the gig, read these answers to frequently asked questions that may be on your mind:

1. Why do Uber driver bonuses vary by city?

Your local driver bonuses are based on the current demand for drivers in your city. If demand is significantly higher than supply in a given area, or if Uber is recruiting drivers for a brand new market, local drivers will typically get offered better incentives for joining the platform. If demand is lower than supply, driver bonuses may not be available at all. California and New York City drivers may also be ineligible for bonuses due to recent regulation changes.

2. Does Lyft offer bonuses for new drivers?

Absolutely. Much like Uber, Lyft provides incentives for new drivers who complete a set amount of rides in a specific time frame — usually 125 rides in 30 days. Learn more about Lyft driver referral codes and how you can earn up to $1,000 guaranteed.

3. Do I need to continue to drive for Uber after receiving my new driver bonus?

You’re not obligated to continue driving for Uber after you receive your new driver bonus, so if you decide it’s not for you, there’s no worries. Think of your bonus as a big perk that makes the gig completely worth trying out.

Just in case you change your mind about moving on from Uber, we recommend that you don’t completely delete your account. You are still approved to jump online whenever you have spare time for a full year after your sign-up date, up until your next vehicle inspection is due.

4. What is the status of my Uber background check?

Before Uber can let you drive for their platform, they need to check your criminal history and driving history. Because this process involves working with local and state government and law enforcement agencies, it can often take longer than you’d like.

Don’t be concerned if your background check is taking a while to process. It doesn’t mean there’s some horrible crime in your past that you aren’t aware of committing. In all likelihood, it’s just the slow mechanisms of the government that are causing delays.

5. Does my city have specific requirements to drive for Uber?

It’s amazing that applying to drive for Uber is such a simple process when you consider how many layers of bureaucracy the company has to navigate in order to process applications. When you’re applying, you should know that state and local laws can affect the speed of your application and the application requirements.

In New York City, for instance, all rideshare drivers are licensed through the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). This can cause delays in your application, as this agency has to process it separately before Uber can get back to you. Other cities can have their own quirks, so be sure to read the information on your city carefully before you apply (or when you’re waiting around wondering what’s causing the delay with your application).

In Summary: How Do I Become an Uber Driver?

  1. Identify if driving for Uber is right for you
  2. Ensure that you meet Uber’s vehicle requirements
  3. Ensure that you meet Uber’s driver requirements
  4. File an Uber application
  5. Get your vehicle inspected
  6. Learn how to maximize your earnings
  7. Follow proper vehicle maintenance

Making thousands of dollars in your first two months as a rideshare driver is definitely a possibility. Uber places no limits on the amount of money you can earn, and even offers huge bonuses for anyone who signs up to drive for Uber for the first time. This means you can quickly earn what you need to pay off your car loan, cover the cost of gas, or even make a full-time living.

Read our guide for more tips to maximize your Uber earnings and reduce your ridesharing expenses, even after you’ve already earned your initial bonus.

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