People of all ages, but especially millennials, are increasingly turning to side hustles for extra income to help pay off debt or just afford day-to-day expenses.
Uber, a ride-sharing service, is a popular side hustle option because getting hired is easy (according to its website, it takes less than four minutes to sign up), driving for Uber is flexible, and Uber claims you can “make great money.” But, is driving for Uber all it’s cracked up to be? The fact that only 4% of Uber drivers still drive with the company a year after getting started suggests it might not be.
Uber drivers have staged protests in recent months, including a protest by Tampa Uber drivers in March of 2017, due to low pay forcing drivers to work long hours. Pay tops the list of complaints in a comprehensive report from The Information, although drivers have other concerns as well.
Read on to find out about a few of those key issues drivers complain about to get more insight into whether Uber’s a ride-sharing company you might like to drive for.
1. Uber drivers have high expenses
Uber drivers need to have a car, which means either buying a vehicle or renting a car. Uber partnered with General Motors, Hertz, and Enterprise to offer various programs that let ride-sharers borrow vehicles, but this only serves to add costs.
Because you need to buy or rent a car, you have to deal with all the expenses that go along with it, which eats into your profits.
“One of the biggest downsides to driving for Uber is that you’re responsible for all of your expenses and believe it or not drivers will put a lot of miles on their car,” Harry Campbell of The Ride Share Guy explained. “A full-time driver will easily do 1,000 miles a week or more, and the cost of gas, depreciation, and maintenance will quickly cut into your earnings.”
Campbell, who quit his job in 2014 to blog about the rideshare industry and still drives part-time for Uber, stressed the importance of driving a fuel-efficient car, such as a Prius. “There’s a reason why so many Uber and Lyft drivers have hybrids,” he said.
Costs associated with fuel and car maintenance are an issue with any rideshare service, whether you use Uber or Lyft. One driver who drove 40 hours a week told Slate he spends around $350 weekly in gas, cleaning his car, insurance, parking costs, and maintenance expenses on his vehicle — while taking home around $850. If you don’t want deal with the negatives associated with putting miles on your car, you’ll need to explore another side hustle that doesn’t require you to drive.
You have a wide range of options: Pet-sitting, taking care of tasks such as cleaning or home repairs, or even professional cuddling, none of which require you to own a car or put a ton of miles on it.
2. Income varies wildly depending on when you drive
If income earned from Uber was still high after covering expenses, costs of driving wouldn’t be such a big downside — but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
“I’ve personally always found Uber best suited for part-time income since the earnings can fluctuate wildly from city to city and especially based on the times you drive,” Campbell said. “I like to tell drivers to ‘Follow the Alcohol,’ since Friday and Saturday nights are typically when demand is highest, and drivers can make the most amount of money.”
While you might be able to make more money by driving drunk people around, this might not be your idea of a good side gig. A blogger writing about his experience driving for Uber at Student Economics said he might never drink again after his experience transporting intoxicated passengers. “Driving drunks around shows you just how obnoxious booze makes you and how awful the stench is,” he wrote.
Even if you try to time your driving strategically, Uber drivers simply might not make that much under any circumstances. A survey of 1,150 rideshare drivers conducted through Campbell’s site revealed:
- 2.2% of drivers earned less than $5 hourly
- 14.8% earned $5 to $9.99
- 32.2% earned $10 to $14.99
- 25.8% earned $15 to $19.99
- 17.4% earned $20 to $29.99
- 2.5% earned $30 to $39.99
- 0.2% earned $40 or more
- 4.9% preferred not to say how much they earned
The survey revealed that the majority of Uber drivers — 27% of respondents — earn $500 to $1,000 per month. While these earnings can be decent side income, it might be harder earn this much money if you drive in a low-demand location.
Drivers also indicated low pay has forced them to work long hours to make ends meet, with drivers who protested low pay rates telling ABC Action News that it’s a struggle to make the job pay.
“If you had to look at it on any hourly basis, I was probably making $6.50 an hour,” Marla Jupiter told ABC. Another driver said he worked 70 hours a week, sometimes working six or seven days to pay the bills.
If you don’t live in a city and can’t drive at times when earnings are likely to be high, Uber might not be the best way to make money. Instead, you might want to explore alternatives such as putting your skills to work to teach dance or an instrument, working as a handyman, or working as a tutor — all of which topped a list of highest paying side hustles compiled by PayScale for Money.
3. Uber isn’t as driver-friendly as competitors
Uber rolled out a series of updates in summer of 2017 in response to complaints about its relations with drivers. These updates included adding a tipping feature to the app and adding a returned-item fee which compensates drivers $15 for returning lost items to passengers. A failure on the part of Uber to allow tipping was previously one of the biggest sources of complaints among drivers.
These changes might improve Uber’s standing going forward, but research from The Rideshare Guy still shows Lyft drivers tend to be much happier than those who drive for Uber, perhaps in no small part because they also reported they were higher-paid.
Just 9.7% of Uber drivers said they “strongly agree” they were satisfied with their experience driving for Uber, compared with 10.8% who “strongly disagree.”
By comparison, 32.2% of Lyft drivers “strongly agree” they were satisfied with their experience, compared with 6.8% who “strongly disagree.”
Many side-hustlers choose to drive for both Uber and Lyft. But, if you’re deciding between them, you may want to try Lyft first due to the higher ratings by drivers.
Deciding what side gig is right for you
Whether you’re trying to pay off debt such as credit cards or student loans, or just want a little extra money to supplement your income, driving for Uber could be the right choice for you if you go in knowing the downsides.
But, if you don’t want to deal with the drawbacks of driving for Uber, there are plenty of other side hustles you can consider. Check out our side hustle marketplace to find out about some side gig options and see if one is right for you.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.57% – 6.97%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.24%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|