Your Cheat Sheet to How Much Money Uber Drivers Really Make

Making money and setting your hours is the dream scenario for many people. Uber seemingly made this dream a reality by letting the average Joe use their car as a taxi service.

“Driving with Uber is a great way for people to earån on their schedule,” says Meghan Joyce, Uber’s regional general manager for the U.S. and Canada. “We want everyone who drives with Uber to feel that their day truly belongs to them, whether that means working around classes, campus events, or a dinner with friends.”

The original on-demand rideshare service now has 2 million drivers worldwide with 69 percent of them using Uber to collect supplemental income.

While the innovative company has certainly caught the attention of many people as a potentially lucrative side hustle to pay down student loan debt or kickstart their emergency fund, many considering the gig still have some questions. How much money do Uber drivers make and is it worth it?

Here’s what you should know.

How much money do Uber drivers make?

According to Uber, drivers make an average of $19.04 an hour. That means if you work 20 hours a week, you could make over $1,500 a month. Even if you worked half the amount in a week (that’s under 1.5 hours a day), you’re still walking away with about $760 a month.

Different cities have different per-hour averages after expenses, according to a 2016 BuzzFeed study. For example, in Detroit drivers make about $8.77 per hour, drivers in Houston bring in about $10.75 per hour, and drivers in Denver make about $13.17 per hour.

“I can make $400 in one weekend,” says Althea Green of Connecticut. “But, I have made $3,000 in one month when I’m driving a lot. I actually make way more money doing Uber than at my full-time job.” In fact, the only reason Althea has another job is purely for the experience — she pays all of her expenses with Uber.

San Francisco-based college student Janessa Marquez also makes a decent hourly wage driving occasionally. “I can make anywhere between $18 to $32 [per hour], and sometimes even more, “ she says. “You do have to keep certain costs like gas in mind though.”

Costs you should consider

Though Uber offers the bonus of making your schedule and using your car to make a decent supplemental income, there are some costs to consider.

A 2016 paper by the National Bureau Of Economic Research (NBER), “An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber’s Driver-Partners in the United States,” figured out the average hourly cost for drivers, using the average number of miles driven per hour based on Uber’s data and American Automobile Association’s (AAA) estimates. Data included driving expenses such as gas and insurance, and found that the hourly cost of being an Uber driver ranged from $2.94 per hour to $6.46 per hour, depending on the size of the car and number of hours driven.

BuzzFeed broke down some of those costs, taking depreciation, gas, insurance, maintenance, and miscellaneous costs into consideration. They found that drivers using a $16,000 vehicle with a 250,000-mile lifespan has a depreciation rate of 6.4 cents per mile.

Gas costs drivers about $1.75 per gallon, so a car that gets 25 miles to the gallon is looking at a gas cost of 7 cents per mile. Meanwhile, insurance, maintenance, and miscellaneous costs will add up to about $1.50 per hour based on a full-time driving schedule over 50 weeks per year. That means that the average $19.04 per-hour earnings go down to an average of $13.25 an hour after expenses.

It is also the driver’s responsibility to file taxes at the end of each year; Uber does not automatically withhold taxes from your income. If you earn $600 or more from Uber in a year, the company will use the banking and tax information on your account to send you a 1099 form by January 31. You must then file the correct taxes.

Why being an Uber driver is appealing

Flexibility still reigns supreme for the reason most people become Uber drivers. The NBER paper revealed that almost 65 percent of drivers worked a differing number of hours each week ranging between 25 percent more or 25 percent less. They also revealed that more than 50 percent of drivers used the app less than 15 hours per week — meaning Uber’s primarily for supplemental income.

Janessa says it’s the flexibility that works best for her school schedule. “You can do it [in] your spare time and make money even if you have a job or are in school like me.”

Althea adds, “Your schedule and income is totally up to you. You can say ‘I want to make this amount’ and figure out how much you need to work to earn that. I own my own home, have a car and bills, and Uber helps take care of those expenses even while I have a full-time job!”

The same NBER paper looked at the hourly earnings (before expenses) over a 16-month period and found that average hourly earnings remained stable, despite riders paying less to use Uber. Researchers also looked at the average hourly earnings for drivers across 20 U.S. cities and found there was no difference in per-hour earnings between those driving a lot of hours every week or just a few. This suggests drivers can expect income predictability and schedule flexibility, whether they live in a busy city or rural locale.

Uber in the news

While Uber has been an excellent side hustle option for people all over the world, they’ve also come under fire recently. In June 2017, Uber fired 20 employees after an independent investigation uncovered 215 claims of sexual harassment and culture-based wrongdoings. Shortly after, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned.

Uber has had at least four lawsuits filed against it in the past couple of years. The lawsuits allege several Uber drivers sexually assaulted passengers. Several states — including California, Massachusetts, and Texas — investigated the billion-dollar company’s driver screening practices. Their findings reported that a thorough background check did not regularly occur.

Of course, Uber continues to maintain they are a safe service and are “dedicated to keeping people safe on the road,” according to their website. They have an entire safety page explaining how their technology enables them “to focus on rider safety before, during and after every trip” and explains how to protect yourself.

Still want to start making money as an Uber driver? Head to our side hustle marketplace for easy-to-follow instructions.

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Published in Making Money, Side Hustles

  • Joe Caulfield

    Did Uber pay for this “article” to be produced? It feels like an advertisement and makes some claims which I’m not sure are entirely true. Or if they are, they are outliers and not necessarily the norm. There are numerous articles out there disputing these “facts”.

    • Hi Joe,

      Thanks for your feedback. To answer your question, no, Uber did not pay us to write this article. If this was sponsored content that a company paid us to write, we would clearly disclose that within the article.

      However, we may earn a commission from Uber when someone signs up for Uber through a link on our site.

      I’m a big fan of MMM myself, and I think he makes a lot of great points. For this article, we looked at some of the studies out there, and earnings definitely vary. For example, we noted that drivers in Detroit make $8.77 per hour on average according to the 2016 Buzzfeed study. But there are obviously cities and other cases where people earn more too.

      In any case, the goal of this article was really to provide a glimpse at what someone could make and let them decide for themselves if they think trying Uber is right for them.

      That said, I’ve requested our editorial team review the piece and ensure that we’re providing a balanced review of what Uber drivers can make.

      Thanks again for the feedback.

      Jeffrey

      • Joe Caulfield

        Thanks for the detailed reply, Jeffrey.

        I just want to make sure that people actually considering this process consider ALL implications and costs. Whereas the quotes provided above might be misleading. I’m not sure that the contributors meant them to be misleading, but I don’t think they understand the full consequences or costs of their actions to drive a personal vehicle for Uber. As they say, ignorance is bliss.

        As one example, I just looked into potentially driving for Uber and was calculating the costs for myself. Just by inquiring from my insurance company (AllState), I was dropped from my plan because they do not insure vehicles that are being used for rideshare. Yes, drivers are covered by Uber insurance while they have a passenger, but your personal insurance company can still choose to not insure you because you are using the vehicle for commercial purposes. They have an entirely different insurance category for this, which is extremely expensive. This is a fluid conversation and changes all the time. Now companies like Metromile are available for per-mile insurance, etc. But point being, there are many Uber drivers that don’t even realize they are not properly insured, so they are likely not including the appropriate costs related to their insurance into the equation. if an uber driver has an accident with their car and their insurance company finds out they use their car for Uber, they have the right to drop them and that can equal potentially large expenses.

        This is among many other factors to consider.

        So I just felt as this article may give some people false hope of the promise that driving for Uber gives, which is very often not the case. “San Francisco-based college student Janessa Marquez also makes a decent hourly wage driving occasionally. “I can make anywhere between $18 to $32 [per hour], and sometimes even more, “ she says. “You do have to keep certain costs like gas in mind though.” This is incredibly simplified. She’s also likely not factoring in that she will need to report this as an income, which will be taxed and then since it will be 1099, this is counted as self-employment and will then lead to higher taxes (those applicable to self-employed). I wonder if it’s even her car payment or is it a family car? Does she pay insurance or do her parents? Does she do her own taxes or is she listed under her parents? this are important considerations. How old is the car?

        There are a bunch of other articles out there to look at. Just quickly another one: https://www.ridesharingdriver.com/survey-data-how-much-uber-drivers-really-make-share/

        For those even more interested in the topic, I read a good book on it. The Raw Deal by Steven Hill: https://www.amazon.com/Raw-Deal-Capitalism-Screwing-American/dp/1250071585

        You can check out for free at your local library!

        I have nothing personal against Uber. I use the service as a rider occasionally. I ultimately decided that it didn’t make sense for me to do personally for a variety of reasons. Namely the money didn’t make sense. After all my calculations, I figured I’d make well under $10 an hour unless I cashed in on referrals, which I couldn’t count on. So with other opportunities, I could look elsewhere for money. Not everyone is in the same boat, so it might make sense for some people. I would just like everyone considering it to consider the FULL equation and not just look at quotes like that…

        Thanks.
        -Joe

  • Joe Caulfield

    As just one example, here is someone who is brutally honest (in general) and really broke down his Uber driving experience: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/11/22/mr-money-mustache-uber-driver/