How To Make More Money Driving For Uber Or Lyft
Driving for Lyft or Uber is a great way to make money, full time or as side gig. Whether you’re driving already or thinking of becoming a driver, it’s important to keep your costs as low as possible. Your biggest operating expenses as a rideshare driver are likely to be gas and maintenance items, like brakes or oil changes.
The drivers who earn the most money driving for Lyft or Uber often have a system to keep their gas and other operating expenses low. A growing number of drivers have also begun using in-vehicle advertising or item sales to increase revenue.
We’ve compiled a list of the five best ways Lyft and Uber drivers can lower expenses, increase revenue, and drive more profitably. Following these guidelines will likely help you earn more profit per hour, and pay less in taxes.
Track Your Mileage And Expenses
For every 1,000 miles you drive for Lyft or Uber, you can deduct $535 off your taxes. Pretty awesome, right? That’s because the Federal Government lets you deduct 53.5 cents for every business mile you drive. There’s a couple of different ways you can track your mileage. You can track your mileage in a spreadsheet like excel. Whenever you go out driving rideshare, note your mileage when you start, and when you stop. Then input the miles you drove into the spreadsheet.
Another way to track your mileage, and other expenses, is to use a mileage and expense tracker. Most drivers find this easier than keeping a spreadsheet. The most popular tracker is Stride. It can track your mileage while you drive, and also allows you to keep track of other deductible expenses, so you can save the most money on your taxes.
Learn Your Way Around
Knowing your city can be the difference between making $15-$17 per hour and $20-$25 per hour (earnings vary by city, but drivers who know their way around make more). When you’re first starting out, it’s important to study a map of your city. Note the highways and where they go. Specifically, look at where the highway exits are near downtown, touristy parts, and nightlife areas. Those are likely to be major streets (also, the streets that are thicker on a map are usually major streets). Study the order of those streets and learn their names. After studying the map for a couple of hours, go out and drive around for a bit.
Address numbering system
You also may want to look up the address numbering system for your city. Most cities tend to have even number addresses on the same side of the street throughout the city. If you know which side of the street the even or odd numbers are on in your city, it will make rider pickups a lot easier.
Another perk of knowing the address numbering system in your city is that it can often let you know which major cross streets an address is near. Experienced rideshare drivers can often tell you the two major cross streets and address lies between. For example, if you tell an experienced Uber driver in Los Angeles to go to 9000 Wilshire, they’re going to know the address is between Doheny and Robertson. If you tell an experienced Lyft driver in San Diego 600 5th Ave, they’ll know the cross street is Market.
Learn shortcuts, places to sit, and where the cheap gas is.
Another great trick to learning your way around is to note some of the Waze shortcuts. Waze is a navigation app a lot of drivers use. It’s often pretty good and navigating rush hour traffic by finding shortcut routes around town. It doesn’t always work perfectly and many drivers who are just starting out prefer Google Maps, but most full time drivers tend to use Waze.
- For more information on navigation apps, check out our article about Navigation apps for Uber and Lyft drivers.
When you’re driving around in areas where you seem to get a lot of rides, you want to look out for standing zones. These are great places to pull over and turn off the car for ten minutes while you wait for a ride. Also keep in mind, you’re looking for standing zones, not loading zone. The difference is that loading zones are often connected to a business, and are actually supposed to be used for loading. Standing zones, you can pull in, leave the hazards, and sit. Most standing zones allow you to sit for 15 minutes.
Large parking lots near busy areas are another great place to sit while waiting for a ride. Usually, you want to choose a large parking lot for a supermarket or a large strip mall. If the lot has over a 100 spaces, you can probably pull in for a few minutes without anyone bothering you. You also want to make a note of the cheapest gas stations in your city, and consider a Costco membership ($55/yr). Costco tends to have the cheapest gas in whatever area they’re in. GasBuddy is a great app that can tell you where the cheapest gas around you is located.
Don’t Drive Around Aimlessly
In general, the only times you should be moving when you don’t have a passenger in the car is if:
- You’re in an area where you are likely to get a ride request soon.
- You’re on your way to an area where you’re likely to get a ride request.
This is where knowing where standing zones and parking lots are comes in handy. It’s not possible to sit still all the time. But knowing where these are around busy areas in your town will save you a lot in the long run on gas and vehicle wear and tear. Also, if you live in an area that’s far from where you want to usually drive, use the Lyft or Uber destination setting to get you there.
Don’t chase the surge
This is the biggest mistake drivers make. They see red on the map, and rush to get to the Prime Time (Lyft) or surge (Uber) zone. One of two things then happens.
The surge disappears or is a lot lower by the time the driver gets there.
They get there in time but no lucrative surge request comes in.
On top of that, the driver often rushed to get to the surge zone in time, wasting gas and increasing vehicle wear and tear. Most surges last less than five minutes. There is also no guarantee that you will get a request just because you’re in a surge zone. With a couple of exceptions, surge and Prime Time are fools golds. Chase it at your peril.
- For more info on Prime Time, Surge, and the exceptions, click here.
Explore Additional revenue options
In the past year, a number of companies have launched services that allow rideshare drivers to increase in car revenue.
Cargo is a service that lets a driver provide free and premium goods to rideshare passengers. The driver installs a container of goods above the vehicle’s center console. The passenger pays for the goods through the Cargo app, and the driver gets a cut of the sales. Cargo has become so popular that there is currently a waitlist in many markets. Sign up today.
Viuer and Vugo are in vehicle advertising services. The driver mounts a tablet (or 2 tablets) in the back seat. Passengers can then play games or use the tablet, while the driver gets a share of the advertising revenue.
The amount of money you can make from these revenue options vary, but the more you drive, the more you’re likely to make. If you drive full time, using Cargo and an advertising platform in your vehicle can easily add over $1,000 to your monthly revenue.
If you would like more information about signing up to drive for Lyft, be sure to check out our page about Lyft Driver Sign Up Bonuses.
Want to drive rideshare, but don’t have a car? Visit our Vehicle Financing guide, which contains information on how to buy, rent or lease a car for Lyft or Uber.
If you’re considering purchasing rideshare insurance (highly recommended if you’re going to drive rideshare), visit our Rideshare Insurance State Marketplace.
Other resources that you may find helpful: