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Driving with companies like Lyft and Uber is quickly becoming a flexible employment option for many gig-workers in today’s economy. The possibility of flexible hours, good money, and meeting interesting people while serving their communities all make ridesharing and delivery an attractive option to many.
The key to success in the gig-economy world is knowing when to offer rides and deliveries to make the most money. Here’s a crash course on the best times to drive with Uber—and maximize the freedom that comes from being your own boss with your own hours. Before we dive into it, if you haven’t already downloaded the Gridwise app, we suggest you do it.
It’s a free app for iOS and Android that helps rideshare and food delivery drivers increase their earnings by up to 39% and save thousands on their tax bills.
By downloading Gridwise, you’ll be able to:
- Get alerts about local traffic, weather, and large events going on in your city
- See how your earnings break down across rideshare and delivery services so you know where to focus more of your time on the road
- Save time by receiving alerts when passengers are arriving at your local airport and check the queue length from anywhere
- Effortlessly track all of your rideshare and delivery miles to maximize your tax deduction
- Compare your earnings to other drivers in your area
- Easily switch between rideshare and delivery apps from anywhere on your phone (Android only)
Not too bad for a free app huh?
Click here to download the Gridwise app today.
Location, Location, Location
It’s not just a cliché — “the best time to drive with Uber” really does depend on where you’re driving. The Uber Driver app does a great job of highlighting busy areas where you can earn more money!
This is a factor in what Uber calls “surge pricing” — times of heavy request where fare prices are doubled, tripled, or even more. Make sure you remember that a surge is determined by where the rider is requesting from, not where you are — so you will only get the higher fees if you respond to a request from a surge location. These will be marked in your app and with some experience you will quickly learn your area and when the best time to drive is.
So When Are Surge Times?
These vary by city, but generally, watch for Friday and Saturday evenings from about 8 PM to 3 AM. This, of course, is when lots of the bar crowd is either going to, coming from, or otherwise continuing an alcohol-fueled adventure.
Be very certain that you can tolerate the antics and nonexistent inhibitions of inebriated individuals. – the community of Uber drivers is sharply divided over the value and worth of spending hours carting people around.
Surge prices are calculated by a multiplied factor — say 1.5, 2.5, 3.6, etc. The higher the multiplier, the greater the demand and the greater potential fare. This is added atop the total trip fare (base + distance + time), plus any tolls that might be involved. Any cancellation fees, tolls, and surcharges are not affected by surge prices. The surge amount will be listed separately on your ride statement.
Some mornings are peak surge times as well, as are some early evenings (i.e., rush hour) or when people are headed to school and to work. More on these later.
Watch Your Preference
This is an important point that follows from the bar scene mentioned above. Besides location, “best times” are also determined by the preference of the driver.
Do you want to get up at 4 am? Then airport runs for business people might be perfect.
Are you a night owl who isn’t easily offended? Then do more bar runs.
Are you really good at maneuvering rush hour traffic? Then take rides during the early evening when everyone is getting off work.
It’s important to remember that your tolerance level, stamina, and willingness to work in odd situations or hours will affect what qualifies as “best times” for you.
Take People to the Airport
Rather than give their friends the opportunity to navigate the harried environment of a major international airport, many people — especially very frequent fliers – are relying on Uber for being whisked there and back.
This would be another example of potential surge pricing, as who isn’t eager to get to the airport with enough time to get checked by the TSA?
This is an area where a lot of money can be made, especially if you’re willing to get up early. Drivers can be scarce in the wee hours, so riders are usually willing to pay more for a ride if it means getting to the airport in time. Some drivers even do this regularly with the same customers.
Picking people up from the airport and driving them to whatever their destination is can also be lucrative, especially for those visiting your city. (People from out of town are less likely to have the network and resources set up to easily get around, especially on their first day there.)
A word of caution is in order here: Make sure you know the rules and requirements of your airport if you’re going to pick people up!
Helping People Start and End the Workday
Uber’s official statement about peak driving times indicates that peak times for driving are during the morning hours from 7-9am and in the evening from 4-7pm. There is truth to this, but multiple on-the-ground drivers report that these supposed peaks are based more on data than actual experience.
It is true, however, that more drivers tend to be requested at the beginning and end of the traditional workday, especially in larger cities (think Boston, Chicago, LA, NYC, and others). If you’re lucky, some of these can even be surge times, particularly in the evenings. This presents another challenge, however: Rush hour.
Rush hour, of course, is affected by when people get out of work and the distance of commute between work and home. And, of course, it’s worse in larger cities. If you’re smart about when you accept rides, you can maximize surge prices and rake in a fair amount of cash.
It’s also a good idea to keep some type of entertainment in your car for passengers. Play Octopus provides rideshare drivers with FREE tablets that come with games for their passengers, along with a free data plan and auto-updates. Over 10,000 drivers have reported earning higher tips, better ratings, and better conversations with their passengers by simply using one of these tablets!
Drivers earn up to $100/month for driving activity and passenger gameplay. Once you receive your tablet, you’ll gain exclusive access to the Octopus driver community to meet other drivers and share information. Plus, they do regular giveaways, prizes and bonus points from the Play Octopus team! You will also receive a free $15 sign up bonus for activating your account through this link.
Click here to order your FREE Octopus gaming tablet for your car.
Working For (or on) the Weekend
As mentioned above in the general section on surge times, late evening to early morning (approximately 8pm-3am) can be peak times, specifically in larger cities when everyone is going to or from various bars, nightclubs, and other weekend venues. You may have to possess a strong constitution to deal with people who are almost certainly drunk beyond definition, but here are a few reasons why you might want to put up with it.
First, the sheer number of people wanting rides will mean surge prices are going through the roof, and you’ll want to take advantage of that (even just giving people rides to various places, instead of back home afterwards, can be an option).
Second, the later hours tend to mean there’s less traffic on the road, which enables you to get moving and get to your destination faster (most drivers say the majority of their money is made while moving, not while sitting and waiting), and this means there is more time to accept more fares.
Even Sunday nights can be a surge time, as lots of people are eager to get home from the clubs and bars for work the next morning. And in some college towns, Thursday night is known as “practice night” for the weekend, so you might be able to garner a lot of fares then.
For the Adventurous: Holidays
Nobody likes working on holidays, and admittedly surges here can be inconsistent. Still, many drivers will swear by the explosion of requests they get on New Year’s Eve, both before and especially after midnight. The reasons for this are obvious: everyone is either going to or coming from a celebration, likely one with lots of free-flowing booze. So if you don’t have anything going on that night…or even if you do…you just might be able to double, triple, or quadruple your fares.
Uber, like most things in our constantly-in-flux culture, is unpredictable. Locations vary. Living costs vary. Interest varies. So the best time to drive for you may be wildly different from another driver, even in your city.
But as our culture continues to become more technologically complex, more smartphone-driven, more creative and flexible in earning potential and employment and possibilities, it’s inherently possible, even likely that if you’re smart and you hustle, you can make a nice living by being a rideshare driver. Willingness, hard work, and a knowledge of the system and your city can all work in your favor. Find what works for you, stick with it, and see just how far you can go.
Good article on spending time wisely on driving Uber or Lyft.
[…] to learn about Uber passengers, you have to learn about your market, you have to learn about the best times and places to look for passengers—there’s just a lot to consider. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t hit the ground […]
Great article thanks
Started driving 2weeks ago love it great $$$$
Now I will start working smarter not harder with u informative article
Thanks for advice on late might driving circumstances so i will get seat cover to prevent the uncontrollable mess and more useful information on when to drive for extra money
No problem, happy driving!
I would also mention to drive away from where all the other drivers are clustered.
When I stay near colleges and train stations I barely get anything. When I drive even 5 minutes away I start getting dings .. ..because I’m driving away from the clusters of available cars.
Thanks for the feedback!
How do I get to make quick money fast and how do I get in the airport I have my new pass for 2018 I’m not getting no pickups for the airport
Are you looking to rent a vehicle to start driving for Uber and/or Lyft?
And depending on the airport, you will need to have a specific permit in order to pick up and drop off at the airport. It would be best to contact them to see exactly what is needed on your end.
I’m a new driver and I greatly benifited from New Year’s Eve $$$$ Looking forward to using your tips. The airport will come in time I think and You can’t replace experience in anything you do so I personally just need to be patient and learn the ropes and I think more big days are coming
Airports give me so much anxiety. So many cars and lanes and having to find the space and opening to pull over as close to your rider as possible . Although dropping off is less stressful than picking up since you just need to try to pull over safely instead of trying to spot your rider among dozens of standing people and trying to find the space to pull over.
Btw, can someone explain to me what exactly is destination setting and how that is supposed to be for your benefit ?
Uber has a destination filter in the partner app that will only pair you with passengers who are headed toward the destination you select. Take a look at this article that explains the destination setting in detail: https://www.ridesharingdriver.com/uber-destination-filter-get-passengers-heading-your-direction/
Great article! I have to say, I love working at night and hitting those surges. Just be mindful of the late night drunks and be ready to clean their mess. Tip: buy seat covers, keep garbage bags in the truck with Lysol wipes, gloves and paper towels.
Been driving Uber for 3 years. Lots a changes but all is good. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips in cash or on the app if your riders think you did a good professional job. You should be rewarded for your efforts beyond 5-stars! Figure out a plan to make Uber work for you. Happy driving!
Starting Uber this week in DFW, Texas. With Summer’s slow, what’s the best bet…airport runs? On earnings…if I drive 30 hours per week, not past midnight, what can I expect to earn? Is $700/week in the ballpark?
As just starting my first night tonight as an Uber driver I must say this was the best well written biography of what you could do with an Uber driver I want to thank you very much as an intellectual person I really appreciated the words
Stop lying to people to many drivers driving. At the end of the day it is not worth it after expenses and taxes. Everybody and there mother wants to do it.