TL;DR: Driving for a rideshare app is the OG gig of the gig economy. You can sign up to work for both Uber and Lyft, plus smaller rideshare companies local to your area. Pay will vary based on your city, but you can boost your paychecks by focusing on high-demand areas, going the extra mile with customer service, and keeping your ratings uber-high.
Uber and Lyft — ever heard of ’em? The OGs of the gig economy, these rideshare companies let you earn money by giving rides to people (and in some cases, to food orders) using your car.
Also search for regional and local rideshare apps like Alto, Gett, or Arro — adding them to your roster will only increase your revenue.
How much do rideshare apps pay?
Generally, you’ll get paid a rate for every minute and every mile of your trip plus tips and any applicable bonuses. Exact rates depend on your city. In some cities, you’ll see how much you’ll earn upfront before you accept a ride.
Also depending on where you drive, you might get a “base rate” or “minimum rate” for every ride, so you aren’t taking a loss on short rides. Some cities offer these guaranteed minimums, others don’t.
Large rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber offer the option of cashing out immediately. Your earnings might take a few hours (or days) to receive, depending on your bank’s processing time. Fees and minimums might apply for immediate cash outs. Otherwise, you can set up automatic weekly deposits.
First, make sure you have the basics for doing this job well — a clean, well-maintained, reliable four-door vehicle with functional heat and AC, and a valid driver’s license. If you don’t have a car, some apps like Lyft will make it easy for you to rent one.
Then, figure out what apps you want to drive for. To maximize your revenue, it’s highly recommended that you drive for multiple rideshare companies. For example, driving for Lyft and Uber and maybe a regional rideshare. To find those smaller rideshare apps, google “rideshare [name of your county/city]” and see what other options come up. You can also search “rideshare” in the App Story or Google Play. Pay close attention to the reviews.
Then apply to each one. Apps need more drivers, so you’ll see buttons like “apply to drive” featured prominently on their websites and apps.
From application to approval, it can take a few days. You’ll provide basic info like your mobile phone number, auto insurance, and driver’s license number. Then the rideshare app will direct you to a place to get your car inspected, to make sure it’s up for the job. The company will also run a background check on you and your driving history.
Rideshare driver ratings are everything. Drivers will tell you that anything lower than a 4- or 4.5-star rating will make it significantly more difficult for you to get rides.
To keep your rideshare driver rating in the stratosphere, focus on customer service. That means, at the very least, a clean, temperature-controlled car, and beyond that, having phone chargers, water, candy or cough drops, and even music choices. If you can get mini snack bags for cheap (hello, Costco), that’ll be a nice free extra to give your passengers for long trips. And it could pay dividends in bigger tips. And don’t forget to ask for 5-stars! The ask goes further than you’d expect.
More routes to success
Apps like Lyft and Uber reward rideshare drivers for being in high-demand areas. Remember “surge” pricing? The upcharges that make you groan as a rider will delight you as a driver. To make more money on rides, plan your daily routes through high-demand areas. For example, you might want to be driving around an office-heavy area at the end of the workday. Likewise for hotspots on Friday and Saturday nights, and touristy places during the day.
Know where your stadiums, airports, and other popular venues are. If a big game or concert is happening, be available for it!
Demand can slow down during certain hours of the day, days of the week, or seasonally. If you’re hitting a lull, remember that you can transport more than just people — you can also drive for UberEats or a package courier service.
Now you’re rolling
To keep things running smoothly — and to maximize your available jobs — get a ridesharing manager. Apps like Mystro help you centralize and manage multiple rideshare apps at the same time. They’ll seamlessly switch between apps, automatically accept trips you want, ignore the trips you don’t, track earnings, monitor ratings, and organize your notifications.
If you’re ready to really level up, go luxe. That means driving for the premium versions of the apps, including Uber Black, Uber Lux, Uber Select, Lyft Lux, Lyft Black, and Lyft BlackXL. These rideshare opportunities pay significantly more. So if you have ultra-high ratings and a car that qualifies, this might be the promotion you’ve been waiting for. Make sure your area supports it, of course.
We weren’t kidding when we said rideshare companies are hungry for drivers. If you know someone who’d make an excellent driver, refer them! If they join, you’ll get a reward.
Make sure the app you drive for has robust safety measures in place to protect you from dangerous passengers. These measures include app-based panic buttons that will call 911 on your behalf and algorithms that won’t pair you with anyone you give a low rating.
Speaking of algorithms, sometimes the app will tempt you with bonuses and rewards based on how many rides you’ve driven. Which sounds fine in theory, but drivers are reporting an inability to get rides when they’re close to getting a bonus. Which leads to long, unpaid idle time and frustration. This belief that a jackpot’s around the corner even though you’re losing money is known as the "gamblification of rideshare pay." In other words, “the house always wins.”
So it’s important to set boundaries. Unpredictable trips might make it hard to set a concrete schedule, but try to set a window of time when you’re working, then drive home and get some rest. More rides will be waiting in the morning.