How Much Do Uber Drivers Make? Full Pay Overview

Location

If you’re wondering why Uber and Lyft have sometimes been accused of misrepresenting the average income of their drivers, a big piece of that equation is location. While it’s true that many factors contribute to your income levels as a driver, the place you drive will have a pretty significant impact on that.

As you can see from the above map, a driver in New York is making, on average, more than twice that of a driver in Nashville. That doesn’t necessarily mean it would be impossible to make a lot in the lower paying cities, it would just take some strategy.

If you’re wondering what you’d have the potential to make annually in your city, you can see a full list here. Here is a small sample of some popular cities, with annual pay estimates:

  • Boston, MA: $40,480
  • Chicago, IL: $44,990
  • Durham, NC: $40,934
  • Grand Rapids, MI: $35,474
  • Houston, TX: $39,780
  • Louisville, KY: $36,004
  • Minneapolis, MN: $40,279
  • Orlando, FL: $40,248
  • Pittsburgh, PA: $46,831
  • Syracuse, NY: $32,605
  • Virginia Beach, VA: $36,691

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How Much Does Uber PayPer Ride?

The average Uber driver reportedly earns $15.97 per ride, but don’t let the data fool you into believing you’ll be earning hundreds by the hour.

It’s difficult to provide truly representative per-trip data, as earnings for premium services greatly increases the average, and the final number doesn’t consider the time you’ll spend driving between rides.

When estimating an Uber driver’s true per-trip earning, it’s best to calculate based on the variety of factors that go into your rider’s fares.

As you complete a ride, the Uber app will automatically add the following elements that your rider paid and allow you to take home 75% of the cut:

  • Base Fare: The set booking fee that every rider is charged.
  • Time: A set rate charged per minute.
  • Distance: A set rate charged per mile or kilometer.
  • Surge: The multiplier you receive on fares in areas of high demand.

Exact rates and base fares vary by city and by product, but any tips you earn in addition to this will not be affected by Uber’s 25% cut.

You’ll also be fully reimbursed for tolls you pass between your pick-up and drop-off.

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How Much Does Uber Take From Your Pay?

Drivers don’t get to keep all of the money a rider pays. Uber takes 100% of riders’ booking fees. Then, Uber takes a 25% cut from each fare. Drivers keep 100% of tips and bonuses. In the Uber driver app, you can exactly how much you’re earning vs. what Uber’s earning.

What Affects How Much You Can Earn by Driving for Uber?

Signing up for Uber doesn’t guarantee you the average 2020 wage of $17.21 to $19.89 per hour. How much you earn depends on the following:

How Far You Drive Per Ride

Part of your fare earnings is based on how many miles you’re driving and how long you’re driving. Longer trips bring in a bigger fare.

Where You’re Driving

Drivers earn different amounts based on where they’re driving. For example, if you drive in big cities or do airport runs, you can expect to make more than a driver working in a smaller suburb.

What Service Tier You Work In

Uber offers many service tiers. Not every tier is available in every location. Drivers with nicer cars that can hold more people enjoy higher rates than drivers who participate in UberX, which is the cheapest service tier for riders.

  • UberX: most affordable rates for 1 to 3 people
  • UberXL: affordable rides for groups up to 5
  • Uber Select: stylish rides for 1 to 4 people with highly-rated drivers
  • Uber Comfort: newer cars with more legroom
  • Uber Pool: shared rides, discounted rate per rider
  • Uber Black: premium rides in luxury cars
  • Uber Black SUV: premium rides for 6 in luxury cars
  • Uber LUX: top-rated drivers in luxury vehicles
  • Uber WAV: wheel-chair accessible vehicles
  • Uber Green: sustainable rides in electric vehicles
  • Uber Taxi: local taxi cabs

Surge Pricing

Uber uses an algorithm to detect rider demand and driver availability. When rider demand is high and driver availability is low, Surge Pricing goes into effect to incentivize drivers to give rides. Drivers earn the normal rate for rides multiplied by a surge price multiplier.

During times of Surge Pricing, drivers see what the multiplier is in the app. For example, when SURGE is at 2.5x, a ride that’s normally $10 would be $25.

Tips

As noted above, tips added an average of $1.31 per hour to a driver’s 2020 hourly wage. Being more personable and supplying extras like mints or tissues are ways Uber drivers can increase their chances of getting tips.

How Much Do Uber Drivers Actually Make?

Uber’s pay structure factors in several variables: base fares, tips and other incentives. Calculating a realistic average is difficult. However, according to Salary.com, most Uber drivers earn about $15 to $22 per hour.

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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.

Gross vs. Net Income

Several significant deductions will reduce the amount that Uber drivers net. These are important to consider when considering gross versus net income as a driver.

Uber drivers are contract, or 1099, workers. This entails they work on their own schedule with their own supplies. Drivers are responsible for all vehicle maintenance, gas and insurance compliance.

As contract workers, income taxes are not withheld from pay. Drivers must remember that they owe taxes on the pay they receive from Uber. Not only do they need to calculate their income taxes, but they must also pay a self-employment tax if they make more than $400 per year as a 1099 contractor.

The self-employment tax is 15.3% and covers both the Medicare and Social Security tax contributions that both employee and employer pay in a typical job. Since Uber drivers are self-employed, they must pay 7.65% — half of the 15.3% total — more than they would as regular W-2 employees.

What Taxes Do Uber Drivers Need to Pay?

Most Uber drivers need to make quarterly estimated tax payments and pay self-employment taxes. Consult a tax professional in your area for more specific tax advice about becoming an Uber driver.

Quarterly Estimated Tax Payments

When you drive for Uber, you don’t have income taxes taken out of your pay like you would with a traditional job. Instead, you, the independent contractor, may need to make your federal, state, and local income tax payments throughout the year. These are called quarterly tax payments or estimated tax payments. Whether you need to do this depends on how much you expect to earn during the year.

Fortunately, Uber drivers can claim all of their business expenses to reduce their overall taxable income. Drivers can take the standard mileage deduction or claim the actual amount spent. The standard mileage deduction in 2020 is 57.5 cents per mile driven for business use. If you claim the actual amount spent, you can deduct the cost of gas, repairs, depreciation, lease expenses, and other car-related expenses. Regardless of whether you claim the standard deduction, Uber drivers can also claim in-car amenities made available to riders.

Self-Employment Taxes

When you’re an employee, your employer pays half of your Social Security and Medicare tax liability. The other half comes out of your pay. When you’re an independent contractor, you have to pay your half plus the half an employer typically pays. The combined tax rate for both equals 15.3%. You can deduct the employer portion (7.65%) from your taxes.

The impact of changing customer patterns

The recent resurgence of business and social activity has brought rideshare back to life, but the playing field is different than it was back in 2019. Drivers need to study the market for rideshare and use smart strategies to make as much money as possible—and hold on to it.

Being aware of passenger patterns is a must in this environment. Let’s look at some of the activities passengers partake in, how well they’re recovering as the world regroups after the pandemic shutdowns, and the ways it affects Uber drivers.

Air travel

Airport passengers are coming back! By early April 8, the TSA reported 2,318,977 people passed through checkpoints. On that same date in 2021, only 1,549,181 went through the gates. While that’s not quite up to 2019’s number of 2,590,499, airport traffic is definitely showing promising signs of recovery. There is a change, though: in 2022, more travel is oriented toward pleasure than business. 

Companies have learned that online meetings can be highly effective and far less expensive than those cushy business trips. In fact, many believe business travel may never return to pre-pandemic levels. This means you have to adjust your mindset about airport driving and cater to the pleasure crowd rather than banking on the business traveler.

Events

Business events are coming back, but not as strongly as rideshare drivers might like. There are conferences and conventions, but many of them are either retaining an online presentation format, or creating a hybrid option, which combines live gatherings and virtual experiences. Much like business travel, corporate events may be taking on new forms that were inconceivable before the events of 2020 changed the ways people gather.

Fortunately, the picture is brighter for entertainment. According to morningconsult.com, crowds are coming back to public events, from the movies to consumer showcases and hockey games. Concerts are back in business in a big way. Live Nation stated that 2022 is on track to be a record year.  This is great news for rideshare drivers. While there will still be many virtual entertainment events, trends show that there will be crowds again—and that they will be in need of rideshare services.

Higher rideshare prices

While it’s clear that passengers are coming back, they may not be as easy to find as they have been in times past. Higher prices for rideshare will keep some of them away. If you live in a bigger city, this creates more competition among a large population of drivers for what’s bound to become fewer rides. You’ll need to be more aware than ever about where passengers might be and at what times. 

Gridwise tips

With Gridwise, you’ll be able to track airport traffic volume and get up to the minute information about all the events in your town. What’s more, Where to Drivegives you data from real drivers, showing you the locations where more money can be made. Gridwise gives you all the insight you need to keep your earnings up where you need them to be. Download Gridwise to get all these features and more.

Conclusion

On average, Uber and Lyft drivers make less than $15/hour. However, with so many contributing factors – amount of time spent driving, tolls, insurance costs, car payments, location – it’s hard to say how much any individual would make without knowing these specifics.

Take this information and do a little information on your own to find out if driving in your city is worth it for you! You might be surprised to find you can make more than you thought.

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