Side Hustle: Rideshare Driver

Written By Duncan Ryan
Last updated November 30, 2021

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Personal Finance
November 30, 2021

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Working as a rideshare driver is a popular side hustle that anyone with a car and a smartphone can do. Apps like Uber and Lyft offer everyday people the chance to earn extra money or work completely for themselves. Here’s what you need to know about how to become a rideshare driver.

Ridesharing is a business model in which people use their own cars to pick up and drop off paying passengers. Rideshare drivers work through apps, most notably Uber and Lyft. These apps let drivers find passengers and handle payment processing.
Before we explore how to become a rideshare driver, it’s important to clarify how drivers are categorized for tax purposes. Rideshare drivers are independent contractors, rather than true employees. As a result, they must pay self-employment taxes on their rideshare income. While this is true of most side hustles, you should be aware of the tax implications before jumping into ridesharing.
Signing up to be a rideshare driver is a fairly straightforward process. To sign up for Uber, drivers must submit a license, registration, and proof of insurance. You’ll also have to verify your address and meet minimum driving experience requirements. Uber requires you to have a 4-door car that meets city-specific requirements. Finally, you’ll go through a brief background check before being approved. When it comes to how to become a rideshare driver for Lyft, the process is quite similar.
While it’s best to have your own car, Uber and Lyft do allow drivers to use approved rentals. Uber even maintains partnerships with several car rental companies. Drivers can rent cars at a discounted rate and use them to earn money by driving. Needless to say, the net pay after rental fees is considerably lower under this model.
These days, there are a vast number of side hustle opportunities. While ridesharing is just one option, it’s certainly one of the most popular. The low barrier to entry is one of the main reasons for this. Rideshare drivers can get started very easily and earn extra money almost immediately.
Flexibility is another key reason for rideshare driving’s popularity. People who have other jobs or businesses can earn some extra cash whenever they have time. Whether you have a free hour or a full day, you can monetize your spare time by accepting fares.
Rideshare driving is also a reliable way to make money. If you’re in a city of any size, there will be a fair number of available passengers most of the time. This takes some of the uncertainty out of starting your side hustle. Instead of waiting endlessly for projects or clients, you can jump in your car and earn money at just about any time.
Finally, rideshare driving is a great side hustle for people who love social interaction. If you can’t stand staring at a computer all day, ridesharing may be a good opportunity for you. You’ll get to earn money by driving and conversing with your passengers.
A variety of factors go into how much you can make as a rideshare driver. Your location, the time of day and an element of pure luck all affect your earnings on a day-to-day basis. Expenses like gas, insurance, and maintenance costs for your car will also eat into your gross earnings.
On average, Uber drivers make between $8.50 and $11.50 per hour after expenses. Lyft is more lucrative, with drivers earning an average of $17 per hour. With that said, drivers can earn much more during surge times and by offering premium services. Uber’s luxury UberBlack program, for instance, sometimes pays drivers up to $200 per hour under perfect conditions. While it takes dedication and time, it is possible to make a living with Uber or Lyft.
Beyond surge pricing and premium-level service, there are a few tricks you can use to boost your earnings. Parking in a lucrative neighborhood, for instance, keeps you close to potential high fares while waiting for your next ride. It also saves wear and tear on your car when compared to driving around in between rides.
Likewise, you can wait in local nightlife areas on busy evenings. People leaving bars often need rides, and being close will help you pick up fares quickly. Sports events and concerts also offer the chance for predictably large numbers of passengers.
Finally, it’s important to offer great service and rack up positive reviews. Many drivers keep bottled water or even snacks on hand to offer their passengers. Safe driving is another good way to garner positive reviews. Passengers who trust your driving are more likely to leave good feedback. As you accumulate positive reviews, you’ll begin to see more passengers choosing you over other drivers.
Knowing how to become a rideshare driver with either Uber or Lyft makes signing up for the other very simple. One of the best ways to get consistent fares is to drive for Uber and Lyft simultaneously. With this method, you’ll be able to choose the highest-paying rides and reduce your downtime.
You can even take this idea a step further by combining ridesharing with other driving-related side hustles. Personal shopper apps like DoorDash and Instacart let you make money by delivering food and groceries. With these apps, you can fill in slow times as a rideshare driver by making a few deliveries. If you can’t find a fare, consider using other apps to make at least some money for your time while waiting. This kind of multi-app approach to side hustles keeps you busy and minimizes time you’re not being paid for.
Now that you know how to become a successful rideshare driver, you can begin earning extra money on your own. Ridesharing is a potentially lucrative side hustle for people who like to drive and interact with others.

About the Author

Duncan Ryan

Duncan Ryan is a long-time professional freelance writer with a focus on finance, economics, science, technology and medicine. A lifelong independent learner, Duncan is always on the search for the next exciting challenge.

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