How Much Does an Uber Driver Make in New York City?

2021 Uber Stats

Learning the Uber platform’s viability as a business opportunity before committing to it as a driver is an important first step. So, how did Uber do in 2021?

In the 11 years since its founding, Uber has expanded into over 70 countries. Around 4 million drivers serve over 93 million customers. Together, they take around 1.44 billion rides each fiscal quarter.

Compared to other rideshare options like Lyft, Uber leads the pack with over 60% of the industry’s rides completed through its app.

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Uber’s Rebound

Though 2020’s statistics show a decline in regular riders, this was most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber is already seeing a rebound in rides and will likely follow the overall trend of 2014 through 2019, which saw an almost 50% increase in riders.

Given its lock on the market and steady projected growth, Uber will undoubtedly continue to prosper as a company. But does that translate into an equal opportunity for each new Uber driver?

Location and Demand

Unfortunately, these stats do not bode well for many Uber drivers based simply on location and demand. Of the 10,000 cities across the globe that Uber is present in, five account for nearly a quarter of its rides — 22%. These cities are London, São Paulo, Chicago, Los Angeles and NYC.

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An Uber drivers’ pay is based entirely on how many rides they book and complete. Being in an ideal location can vastly increase pay, whereas a rural Uber driver would generate significantly less income.

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Uber’s Pay Structure

Uber’s pay structure is dynamic and flexible. It is calculated according to location, time of day and frequency of work. Pay may vary on a day-to-day basis.

Uber provides “earnings estimates” instead of a set wage to help drivers identify their likely profits. These should be viewed strictly as projections. They are based on what other drivers working the same hours in the same location earned over the previous month.

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Qualifying Earnings

Uber drivers earn from a combination of factors including customer tips and trip fares. Occasionally things like Quest promotions may lead to additional earnings.

What Is a Base Fare?

The base fare is the flat rate that a pick-up pays. Time and distance increase the trip fare.

Does Surge Pricing Affect Drivers?

Uber uses surge pricing when demand is high, increasing the costs of rides. Uber drivers can use a local map to find surge prices and time their availability. This can increase earnings.

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Cancellation Fees

Drivers are protected if a ride is canceled while they are en route to pick-up. They will receive a cancellation fee.

Uber Lyft Commission

That $19 is great, but that amount doesn’t go home with the driver. Uber and Lyft take 20% of each fare. So a driver is paid 80% of that final fare is $15. Assuming you are able to get another similar ride in the same hour, you have the potential of making up to $30 in an hour, which is certainly a decent hourly rate.

However, it’s more likely that you’ll get shorter rides that earn you significantly less than that. Uber and Lyft do have minimum fares, which guarantees that riders will always make a certain amount, even if they take a short ride. This is to guarantee that drivers aren’t negatively impacted by 2-3 block rides which take only a few minutes. This minimum fare varies from city to city.

Tolls

  • Depending on your location, you’ll want to factor tolls into your incidental costs. For example, a driver in Orlando, FL could end up encurring up to $5.00 in toll costs simply by driving from one end of the city to the other. Tolls are NOT covered by Uber or Lyft.

Ways Uber Drivers Make Money

Now, let’s take a look at the different ways Uber drivers make money.

Fares

Uber drivers receive a base fare plus compensation for how long and far they’re driving. According to the Uber website, how much you make per mile or per hour varies by city. Fares can change over time, too. For example, in 2019, Uber dropped rates in Southern California from $0.80 per mile to $0.60 per mile. This led to protests and strikes in California.

Tips

Riders can tip their driver during or after their ride. Tips vary greatly, and most riders don’t tip. A 2019 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that only 1 percent of customers always tip and around 60 percent never tip. The average tip (of those who do tip) is $3. Female drivers are more likely to get tips than male drivers.

Ridester’s 2020 driver survey also found that tips added just $1.31 per hour to a driver’s earnings in 2020.

Bonuses & Promotions

Uber offers different bonuses throughout the year that enable drivers to earn extra money. An example bonus on the Uber website states, “earn $30 extra for completing 20 trips this week.”

Sometimes Uber runs driver sign-up promotions that give new drivers a $500 to $1000 bonus for signing up and completing 50 to 100 rides in their first month. Sign-up bonus availability depends on the time of year and where you plan to drive.

Cancellation Fees

Uber drivers must wait a certain amount of time for the rider to show up. If the time limit passes, an Uber driver can mark the rider as a no-show. In most cases, the driver gets a cancellation fee of around $5.

How Uber Commission and Fees Work

It’s not that difficult to understand the way Uber fees and commissions work.

For instance, when it comes to fees, the passengers are the ones who have to pay a booking fee, as well as per minute and mile fee for their ride. After the ride, you as a driver would be paid the majority of the fare you made. And you only get “the majority” and not all of it because Uber is going to get their cut, respectively the “Service Fee”.

More than 25%

The amount that Uber says it charges their drivers is 25%, but it actually takes a little more than that from their earnings. This is all due to the fact that some additional fees are taken by rideshare companies, resulting in a higher percentage for the cut.

In the past, Uber drivers had to drive around 2.36 miles to make $10 before fees, but nowadays, the prices were lowered by Uber. As a result, a driver will have to drive 4.71 miles to make the same amount of cash.

Fees

Also, there is the booking fee and a safe rides fee for every Uber ride, which is between $1 and $3. These fees vary by city, but the driver cannot actually see these in their bank account, as this goes directly to Uber.

So, the commission taken by Uber is higher if the ride fare is lower, meaning the rideshare drivers would make less. So, in the end, even if Uber claims to take 25% of its drivers, it will actually take up to 42.75%. If you are doing short rides, then it won’t be too profitable for you.

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What are Some Common Expenses for Uber Drivers?

Vehicle Maintenance

When you drive for your job, you drive more miles than you otherwise would. You’ll need to change the oil, other fluids, and tires more frequently.

Car Payment

If you don’t already own your car outright, you will need to continue making lease or car loan payments. According to Experian, the average monthly payment for a new car loan is $568. The average monthly payment for a used car loan is $397.

Car Insurance

Uber drivers need to maintain comprehensive and collision coverage on their personal auto insurance. According to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, collision coverage costs $363 per year on average, and comprehensive insurance costs $160 per year on average.

Uber has additional insurance coverage that protects your car should you get into an accident while on the clock. However, drivers must pay a $1,000 deductible before the coverage kicks in. Uber also has third-party liability insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury insurance for drivers. Learn more about Uber and insurance here.

Gas

Gas prices vary significantly, depending on where you live. Uber drivers must pay for the gas used to operate their Uber business. You can claim gas using the standard mileage deduction or by tracking actual gas expenses and deducting an exact figure for gas.

In-Car Amenities

Some Uber drivers choose to offer riders in-car amenities like mints, phone chargers to use, water bottles, tissues, hand sanitizer, etc. Amenities aren’t required, but some drivers claim amenities help boost their ratings.

You can claim in-car amenities as a business expense outside of the standard mileage deduction.

Instant Pay Fee

Uber pays drivers weekly, but if you want your earnings faster than that, you will need to sign up for Uber Instant Pay. With Instant Pay, drivers can withdraw their earnings using a debit card for $0.50 per transaction. To avoid the fee, drivers can open an Uber debit account through GoBank.

Not every bank processes withdrawals immediately, so although it’s called Instant Pay, it could still take a day or two until the money appears in your account.

Health Insurance

Currently, driving full-time for Uber doesn’t mean you get benefits like health insurance. Uber drivers need to secure their own health insurance if they don’t already have health insurance through a family member, partner, or employer.

This might change in the future. In the Spring of 2020, Uber announced plans to establish a health insurance policy for drivers. Uber would reportedly pay for health benefits on a sliding scale based on hours worked.

Other Benefits

Uber doesn’t give drivers matching contributions to a retirement plan, life insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, or other benefits. If you want these benefits, you will need to purchase them for yourself as an independent contractor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few questions people ask about driving for Uber.

Is Uber meant to replace a full time job, or supplement income as a side hustle? It’s fair to say that, for most Uber drivers, a job with Uber has to be a supplement to a salary they earn elsewhere. There simply isn’t enough consistency for the typical Uber driver to make enough money to sustain themselves with Uber alone. So, many Uber drivers are only part-time drivers.

But, drivers who operate full-time in a dense urban area, and optimize their trips by supplementing their time behind the wheel by providing other Uber services can certainly earn a respectable income.

At that point, they are working a full-time job but don’t receive the benefits that other full-time workers enjoy.

For instance, you will not receive any paid time-off or sick leave working for Uber.

How much Uber drivers make by using the platform is up to them, but the ancillary benefits of full-time employment are not attainable as an Uber driver, as you are not an employee of Uber.

How long does it take to make 100 Uber trips? That depends on how buys your operating area is and how much you are working. If you are operating in a densely populated urban area, it’s quite possible you could complete 100 trips in a week to ten days, depending on the number of hours you work. But, if you are in a more rural setting, with longer rides for each trip, or you don’t work many hours consistently, it will take much longer to complete 100 trips.

Can you make $1,000 in a week with Uber? You can. But, you might be the exception to the rule. Most Uber drivers do not make that kind of money. But, by keeping in mind Uber’s payment structure, targeting times where your trips are eligible for surge pricing, and providing quality service that earns tips from your passengers, you can drive your earnings higher.

There are a great many factors that can make it easier (or harder) for full-time drivers to earn money with Uber.

It’s up to you to tailor your efforts to maximize your wages.

Maximizing your Uber driver pay

Sound driving strategies include all the above tips about earning more, but there’s another side to the equation. You not only want to make as much money as possible; you also need to hold on to what you earn. The key to this is limiting your expenses. Most gig driving expenses are hard to eliminate, but they can be minimized. Here’s a short list of the major costs of driving and suggestions for how to keep them down.

Gas

The cost of gas is something you can’t control, but you can surely take advantage of effective ways to save at the pump. Gridwise Gas is an excellent way to slash your gas expenses. Sign up for free and get easy access to discounts at service stations near you. Your Gridwise Gas Card card will be accepted at 95% of the places you stop to fuel up.

Maintenance

You depend on your car to make a living, so giving it good maintenance is not an option. The problem is, upkeep isn’t cheap. You probably have found this out, especially if you drive an older car. Breakdowns and repairs become more common the longer your car is on the road, especially when you’re piling up the mles with your driving gig.

Gridwise has two ways to keep your maintenance costs down:

Gridwise + CarAdvise: Wouldn’t it be great to check out different auto shops, talk to different experts, compare prices, and schedule your car’s service appointment online? With Gridwise + CarAdvise, you get that—plus discounts of up to 40% on maintenance and repair services.

Gridwise Auto-Buying Program:Okay. You’ve had about enough of nurturing your car into its older age, and it’s time to buy a new one. You’re in luck! With the Gridwise Auto-Buying Program powered by TrueCar, you’ll search for the vehicle you want, compare prices, and save big. You could wipe off as much as $3,500 from the MSRP and find great deals on used vehicles, too. 

Depreciation

This is one of these expenses you don’t necessarily notice—until you do. Depreciation slashes the value of your vehicle, just because you’re driving it. When you use your car for Uber driving, this cost can skyrocket. AAA estimates that depreciation contributes to 40% of all the costs of owning a vehicle. How can you make this hurt a little less?

Use Gridwise to treat your Uber driving gig for what it is: your business! Gridwise is a great Uber mileage tracking app, but it does so much more. With Gridwise, you can

  • track all your expenses
  • keep tabs on your earnings
  • make note of your profits and losses
  • see which routes make you the most money

See? You might have thought Gridwise was just another mileage tracker for Uber drivers, but with these and other features such as airport and event info, weather and traffic alerts, plus When to Drive and Where to Drive, you can see why Gridwise is the world’s best rideshare and delivery assistant. 

Now that you know the different things that it involves, is driving for Uber worth it in 2022? You can make sure it’s worth it when you use Gridwise.

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