Which Uber Car Makes the Most Money?

A black Lincoln Navigator

If you’re a new driver for Uber or Lyft, you’ve probably wondered which type of vehicle you can make the most money with.

That’s a good question. But, the real question is, which Uber service pays the most. Because it’s the service level you wish to work for that will determine what kind of vehicle you’ll have to have.

There are several different levels of Uber ridesharing that drivers can drive for. Each service level requires a different type of vehicle. And each service level pays drivers at different rates. When considering what type of vehicle you should get, you first have to consider which of Uber’s several services you might like to drive for.

If you already own the car that you plan to drive for Uber or Lyft, the choice of which service level to drive for will already be made for you. Each eligible vehicle on Uber’s platform qualifies for one or more services.

The main service levels Uber offers to its passengers are (in order from lowest rates to highest)

If you own or are planning to buy or rent a car that only qualifies for UberX, then you will not be able to drive for any of the higher service levels.

However, if you own a car that is eligible for the higher levels, you will be able to drive for some or all of the lower levels.

To help you determine which level is the best one for your rideshare business, we will break down the different ride types below.


UberX

UberX is the most popular service class of Uber’s offerings. And no doubt it is the most popular because it is the cheapest. The low price is good for riders, but for rideshare drivers, being the cheapest means low earnings.

Nationally, UberX charges passengers on average:

  • $0.40 pickup fee
  • $0.97 per mile
  • $0.14 per minute

And drivers make just 75% of that, so drives make the following on UberX

  • $0.30 pickup fee
  • $0.73 per mile
  • $0.11 per minute

To make it easy to compare earnings on the various service levels, let’s look at a typical 4-mile/15-minute trip. This is a pretty typical trip in large congested cities. We’ll use this hypothetical 4-mile/15-minute to compare vehicle options throughout this post.

With UberX rates, a 4-mile/15-minute trip would earn you:

  • $0.30 pickup fee
  • $2.92 mileage charge
  • $1.65 time charge
  • $4.87 Total

On average, drivers complete 2.1-2.5 trips per hour. If you get another trip just like this one, you’ll make around $10 for that hour (before car expenses and taxes). If however, you get a second trip in that hour that’s a longer trip – you could do better and maybe end up with around $15 for that hour.

According to the 2018 RIDES survey (Ridester’s Independent Driver Earnings Survey), UberX workers generally earn from $10-$15 per hour driving on average (before expenses). That rate barely beats minimum wage hourly rate in most states.

To drive for UberX your car only has to meet Uber’s lowest requirements. Generally, any car that’s less than ten years old and has four doors is acceptable. But, check with Uber’s website for your city to get the specific requirements for where you live. Requirements vary from one state to the next.

Although most any four-door car is acceptable for UberX, smart drivers will drive a hybrid so they can save extra money on gas. They’ll also save a lot of money on brake pads since hybrids have their own deceleration system that involves putting the brake pads into use a fraction of the time of non-hybrid cars.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is probably the most popular and practical UberX vehicle. But other low-cost hybrids such as the Prius or the Hyundai Sonata or the Honda Insight are perfect for UberX as well.


UberXL

UberXL is the next step above UberX. As the name implies, it’s an extra-large vehicle.

UberXL vehicles are required to have six passenger seats (in addition to the driver’s seat). Riders use XL when they have more than four people or when they have a lot of luggage or packages that they need to transport.

UberXL rates are roughly 75% higher than UberX rates. Nationally, XL charges Uber passengers on average:

  • $2.15 pickup fee
  • $1.68 per mile
  • $0.26 per minute

And drivers make just 75% of that, so drives make the following on UberXL

  • $1.61 pickup fee
  • $1.26 per mile
  • $0.20 per minute

With UberXL rates, a 4-mile/15-minute trip would earn you:

  • $1.61 pickup fee
  • $5.04 mileage charge
  • $3.00 time charge
  • $9.65 Total

This comes to nearly twice as much (1.98x) what a driver would have earned on an equivalent UberX trip.

According to our 2018 RIDES survey, UberXL drivers earned on average 8% more than UberX drivers.

You may wonder if UberXL rates are 75% higher why did drivers only earn 8% more? That’s because if you drive an XL vehicle, you will still take a lot of X trips. You can tell the app that you will take “all calls” meaning you’ll take calls from every service class your vehicle is eligible for. And in the case of XL vehicles, they are eligible for XL calls and X calls. Or, you can tell the app you will only take XL trips.

If you tell the app you will only accept XL trips, then you will get far fewer trips. You’ll make more on each trip, but you won’t get as many. Unless you know where and when to position yourself for the maximum opportunity to get XL trips, you’ll be missing out on earnings.

There are times and places where it’s okay to set your trip preference to XL only. Namely, the airports. The airports are the best place to use ur XL vehicle.

UberXL is a Great Choice for Better Earnings

We believe XL vehicles are the best choice if you want to earn more than you can with UberX but you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on your vehicle.

The reason we believe XL is the best choice for earnings is that Uber riders are very well aware of the UberXL choice. The same can’t be said for the higher levels of service like Select and Black.

And Uber has been around long enough that airport travelers have learned that when they have a lot of baggage or a large group of people, an XL vehicle can handle all of them and their luggage.

So, if you go into the airport queue lot and set your app to accept XL calls only, you usually won’t have to wait too long and you’ll get a profitable trip.

Another top time for XL trips is the Friday and Saturday night bar scene when people tend to travel in groups of four or more.

Top XL vehicles include:

  • Toyota Sienna – this is a great choice because it has so much cargo room in the back. Perfect for airport passengers with a lot of luggage.
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Ford Explorer

UberSELECT

UberSELECT is the next service level up from UberX and UberXL. Like UberX, UberSELECT is a four-door sedan that carries four passengers. It is an in-between car between the low-end UberX and the high-end luxury cars of UberBLACK.

Ultimately,  UberSELECT is a lower-end version of UberBLACK, and it is less expensive for riders and pays less to drivers. It’s also not available everywhere. It’s only available in select markets! So, you should check with your local Uber team to see if it’s available where you live.

Select rates are higher than XL rates but lower than Black rates. Because of this, in the markets where Select is available, drivers generally get more trips with it than they do with UberBLACK.

The one inviolable rule-of-thumb in this business is that the more a service class costs, the fewer people there are who will use it. So, the better each service class pays, the fewer trips you will get.

In the case of UberSELECT however, it’s still cheap enough that you can get more trips with it than you could with UberBLACK.

UberSELECT is the first service class in Uber’s lineup that breaks $2.00 per mile mark.

Nationally, charges on UberSELECT average:

  • $4.02 pickup fee
  • $2.17 per mile
  • $0.33 per minute

And drivers make 75% of that, so drives make the following on UberSELECT

  • $3.02 pickup fee
  • $1.62 per mile
  • $0.25 per minute

Going back to our 4-mile/15-minute trip, you would earn the following with UberSELECT:

  • $3.02 pickup fee
  • $6.48 mileage charge
  • $3.75 time charge
  • $13.25 Total

Now we’re talking! These are rates at which drivers can make some decent money. We believe UberSELECT rates should be the minimum rates charged. UberX should start at these prices and they should go up from there.

You can see at these rates that an UberSELECT driver could potentially make more in one trip than an X or XL driver could make in an entire hour.

However, our 2018 RIDES survey shows that Select drivers don’t make that much more than X drivers. In fact, they make almost the same as XL drivers.

We believe the reason for that is that Select, being a newer product to the market, is not as well known and therefore not widely used. So Select drivers end up doing mostly X trips with a Select trip thrown in here and there.

We believe that over time, Select will become more widely known and more popular.

Top Select vehicles are generally lower-end cars from luxury automakers. They include:

  • Audi RDX/A3
  • BMW X3
  • Infinity EX

UberBLACK

UberBLACK is Uber’s high-end luxury car service. It is the luxury equivalent of UberX. Like UberX, Black cars are only required to have seating for four passengers. However, they must be black inside and out and the interior must be leather.

Black cars are also generally required to be registered as for-hire vehicles. And drivers must follow the local licensing requirements for traditional for-hire drivers.

UberBLACK is the second most expensive ride in Uber’s fleet. Unfortunately for drivers, Uber has packed the streets of most cities with more Black car drivers than the demand can keep busy. So you can easily sit for 30, 40 or even 60 minutes in between rides. But, the rates are so high that you can make more off of one 30-minute highway trip than an UberX driver can usually make in two hours.

UberBLACK vehicles can only accept trips from UberX. So, if you’re not busy with Black car calls, you can always accept X calls. However, most Black car drivers hate doing this because they earn 2-3 times less on X trips as they would earn on equivalent Black car trips.

Most Black car drivers will only accept X trips if they’re getting desperate for a trip. It’s unfortunate that they can’t accept higher-paying XL trips, but their cars don’t qualify as extra large vehicles.

Our 2018 RIDES survey showed UberBLACK drivers earned a median of $24.87 per hour. This is much higher than UberX, UberXL, and UberSELECT drivers. And it could be even higher if Black car drivers were kept busier.

Nationally, an Uber ride for a BLACK car costs a passenger:

  • $7.22 pickup fee
  • $3.33 per mile
  • $0.44 per minute

And drivers make 75% of that, so drives make the following on UberBLACK

  • $5.42 pickup fee
  • $2.50 per mile
  • $0.33 per minute

With UberX rates, a 4-mile/15-minute trip would earn you:

  • $7.22 pickup fee
  • $10.00 mileage charge
  • $4.95 time charge
  • $22.17 Total

At these rates, you can see that if you could keep busy, you could make some real money. And if you get a trip that is slightly longer than our theoretical 4-mile/15-minute trip here, you could easily make in that one brief trip more than the typical UberX driver makes in two hours.

Many Black-car drivers who do only get one or two trips are happy with it even though they know they’re not making much more than an UberX driver. However, what they do make is made a lot easier and with a lot less effort. It is also made with a lot less wear and tear put on their car.

Some Black-car drivers are happy to accept a few UberX trips in between Black-car rides. If they get one decent Black-car trip in an hour they’re more willing to take a couple of X trips afterward to add to their earnings.

With UberBLACK and UberSELECT, the trick is knowing when to mix and match trip types. It’s something you’ll learn with experience.

Top UberBLACK vehicles are:

  • BMW 5- & 7-Series
  • Mercedes S/G/GL/GLC-Class +
  • Volvo XC90
  • Infiniti Q70
  • Lexus ES and LS
  • Audi A6, A7, A8 & more
  • Hyundai Genesis

UberSUV

UberSUV is Uber’s most expensive service class, with the exception of UberLUX. However, UberLUX is only available in a limited number of markets, so for most cities, UberSUV is the top of the line.

UberSUV vehicles are top-of-the-line luxury SUVs. Like UberBLACK, they must be black inside and out and they’re required to have leather seats. Also, like UberBLACK UberSUV drivers must be licensed according to local rules for for-hire drivers. And their vehicles must be commercially licensed as for-hire transportation vehicles. This also means that most drivers must possess commercial insurance as well.

One big advantage UberSUVs have is that they can drive for all the service classes below them. They can accept calls for UberBLACK, UberSELECT, UberXL, and UberX. This gives SUVs the ultimate in flexibility.

SUV drivers can use a myriad of different mix and match strategies to maximize their income.

As we said before, the more expensive the ride, the fewer people that will use it. And that holds true for UberSUV. SUV drivers will receive fewer SUV calls than any other call type. They will generally accept Black and Select (where available) calls as well. And sometimes they’ll accept XL calls.

When an UberSUV driver drops someone off at the airport, one strategy they use effectively is to switch over to XL to get a quick trip out. If they accept SUV calls only, they could wait literally hours before getting a trip. So, it’s much smarter to switch to XL and get a quick trip – but a trip at higher rates than X.

By mixing and matching service classes in this way, SUV drivers can maximize their earnings.

The downside to driving for UberSUV is the vehicles are super expensive to attain and very expensive to maintain. They guzzle gas like there’s no tomorrow so drivers don’t like to cruise around looking for a ride. Drivers who purchase or rent an SUV for the sole purpose of driving for Uber and Lyft, usually end up working full-time to meet all the expenses. And full-time usually means at least 50-60 hours a week.

Nationally, charges on UberSUV average:

  • $14.00 pickup fee
  • $4.00 per mile
  • $0.49 per minute

And drivers make 75% of that, so drives make the following on UberSUV

  • $10.50 pickup fee
  • $3.00 per mile
  • $0.37 per minute

With a 4-mile/15-minute trip you would earn:

  • $10.50 pickup fee
  • $12.00 mileage charge
  • $5.55 time charge
  • $28.05 Total

If SUV drivers could get one of these typical trips once per hour, they would make far more than any other Uber driver. However, they may only get an SUV trip once or twice a day. The rest of the day they’ll spend doing XL, Select or Black trips, in that order. But those one or two SUV trips a day can easily add $100 or more to their daily earnings.

If they were lucky enough to get a 60-mile/60-minute trip they’d earn $213 in that hour! But an SUV trip that long is quite unlikely.

Top UberSUV vehicles include:

  • Chevy Suburban (most common, but not the most luxurious and will not lead to the highest ratings)
  • Cadillac Escalate
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Ford Expedition
  • Infinity QX


We’re going to skip UberLUX since it is rarely available and rarely utilized by passengers. Just remember, the common sense rule remains true: The more expensive a ride, the more the driver will earn. But driver will also receive fewer ride requests.

As a recap, here is how much a driver would earn on an average 4-mile, 15-minute trip:

  • UberX: $4.87 Total
  • UberXL: $9.65 Total When you
  • UberSELECT: $13.25 Total
  • UberBLACK: $22.17 Total
  • UberSUV: $28.05 Total

From these numbers, you can tell that Uber drivers make good money driving with SELECT and other high-end vehicle options. The great part about these cars is you can still make extra cash by picking up lower level rides like UberX. If you’re just driving as a side-hustle, remember that your take-home pay isn’t purely profit. Since you are considered an independent contractor, you still need to factor in expenses like oil changes and gas, which will decrease your average earnings.



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