Making money as a rideshare driver is tough, but it doesn’t have to be. Little things add up, especially when it comes to how and when you drive. So what are the best times to drive for Uber and Lyft?
The Ridester team took a look at the data available to us, and based on our experience and pay statements, here’s what we found.
- The best times to drive
- Second most profitable time
- Early morning driving strategies
- Uber trade dress
- Tips for getting up early
- Additional Resources
- How much do drivers make? [Link to survey]
The Best Times To Drive For Uber And Lyft
We get it. You want to make good money driving, but don’t want to drive around aimlessly wasting time and waiting for requests.
As a new driver, this was by biggest mistake. I drove all the time, thinking the more time I spent in my car, the more trip requests I would receive. However, this is a novice mistake that almost every drive makes. The trick is simply to find the best times to drive for Uber.
So what are the best times to drive? Monday and Friday mornings. Watch the video below to find more.
The Second Most Profitable Time
Sam tells us what many drivers around the country have learned from experience: that driving for Uber in the morning from about 3:30-4:00 a.m. to about 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. on week days is one of your best times during the week.
Sam says in his city of Minneapolis, the busiest mornings are Mondays and Fridays. But every city is different in this respect so this is something you’ll have to learn about your specific city on your own.
In some cities Monday – Wednesday mornings are busy as business people leave very early for the airports on business trips. Then Thursdays and Fridays actually get less busy in these cities as business people aren’t traveling out of town on those days.
They’re coming back from their business trips earlier in the week. Or, they’re working at a slower pace, leaving later or they’re just not working at all. Thursdays and Fridays have also become heavy telecommuting days. Those are days when people work from home and don’t even bother going into the office.
The reason these early morning weekdays can be so profitable is because you’re picking up people who are headed for the airport. And in most cities airport trips are the longest and best trips. The other reason these trips are so much better than other times of the day or week is because at these super early hours of the morning, there is no traffic on the roads.
So, you can easily zoom your passengers to the airport and even go back for a second trip – before the traffic starts to build up.
Depending on your city, the real traffic starts cranking up around 8:00 a.m. In some cities it’s earlier though. For instance, in New York City things start getting congested as early as 6:00 a.m.!
Lyft and Uber Early Morning Strategies
Your Lyft and Uber early morning strategy is based on your goal. Your goal should always be to get the longest trips possible that can be completed in the shortest amount of time.
Remember, you don’t make any money based on time. You make your money based on distance. So, the more distance you can cover in the shortest amount of time, the more you’ll earn on average per hour.
In many cities the time charge is around $0.10 per minute. Drivers make 75% of this. So at most, a driver could make is $4.50 an hour – based on time. At the same time, if a driver worked in a city where the mileage charge is $1.00 per mile, if a driver took a 60 mile trip that took an hour to complete, he would earn $45. The mileage charge, in other words, can equal earnings that are up to ten times higher what you’d make on the time charge.
So you do not want to rely on time for your earnings. You have to rely on distance. And that means getting the longest trips possible that can be completed in the shortest amount of time. And in most cities – that means early morning airport trips.
It also means you want to go into the wealthier, business class suburbs that are the farthest away from the airport. You’ll want to go where the higher end business people live because they’re the ones who will be flying out of town on business. And by going to the suburbs that are the farthest away from the airport, you maximize your chances of getting a long airport trip.
And by going on at 3:30-4:00 in the morning, you maximize your chances of getting two of these trips. If you get a call at 4:00 in the morning, you should be able to have the passenger dropped off at the airport by at least 5:00 a.m. Then you can head back and do it again!
Dress for Success
Sam astutely recommends dressing up a little nicer than usual for these kinds of trips. That’s because you’re going to be driving working professionals. You don’t want to get a stock broker in your car while you’re wearing gym shorts. So, for the sake of your ratings, that’s something to think about.
We hear a lot of drivers say that they don’t pay any attention to their clothes but their ratings are very high nonetheless. But whenever we’ve been able to get one of these drivers to actually show us his rating on the app – it has always turned out they weren’t quiet as high as they had told us!
Don’t discount the importance of how you dress. In fact, the more you can dress like your riders, the higher your ratings will be.
Clothes can also help overcome any possible racial biases passengers may have toward drivers who are of a different race. Minority drivers sometimes feel that passengers give them lower ratings on account of their race. While that may be true sometimes, it can be at least somewhat overcome by how you choose to dress. The more you can dress like your passengers, the more likely it is that they’ll tend to see you as ‘one of their own’ – even if you’re of a different race. And the more likely you’ll be to get a 5 star rating.
We’ve even heard from business passengers that they feel more distant from a driver of their own race who dresses down or sloppily than a driver of a different race who dresses well. So, don’t underestimate the power of clothes to help overcome all kinds of biases passengers may tend to have toward you.
How do You Get Up So Early?
After showing drivers why driving such early morning weekday hours is so profitable, many of them ask how in the world can they possibly get up that early two or three times a week! It’s a great question.
Part of the answer is – motivation. How motivated are you really to make money at this job? If you’re highly motivated, you’ll do what you know you have to do.
Another thing that helps is realizing that you don’t have to do this every day. It’s just a few times a week. And another thing that really helps is knowing that if you do get out there by about 3:30 a.m. – you’ll be done by 9:00 a.m. You’ll make a full day’s pay in those five to six hours. You’ll make what other drivers could spend ten has on the road making – but who are out at the wrong times.
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The second most profitable time in my experience, and probably in most cities, is Monday and Friday morning. And these are the time when you’re gonna be taking people to work, and taking people to the airport. And depending on how far and centralized your airport is, this could be a very, very profitable time.
Now, I like to start about 4 a.m., or even 3:30 a.m., all the way to about 9 a.m. is the best money time. Now, the closer you get to, you know, 8 a.m., 9 a.m., that’s when you’re gonna get a lot of that traffic, and I try to avoid traffic unless there’s a high amount of surge, but I still will take it if it’s a good ride.
And so, Monday and Friday mornings, take advantage of that time. Wake up early. And I would even encourage you to dress up a little nicer because you’re driving working professionals. You don’t want to get a stockbroker in your car and they see you in your gym shorts.
So, Monday and Friday mornings, take advantage of those times, and even throughout the week, except Tuesday, but even Tuesdays. So, Tuesday through Thursday, from about 3:30 a.m., 4 a.m., to about 7 a.m., you’re guaranteed [to] get some good rides on that time. But again, Tuesday is usually historically the slowest day, while Monday and Friday are the busiest.
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