Updated October 2021

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What is Uber Eats and How Does it Work?

If you already drive for Uber, you can deliver with Uber Eats, too. This service is fast and convenient for customers and offers a new revenue stream for drivers.

In 2014, Uber launched their delivery service, which was based out of Santa Monica, CA, and known as UberFRESH. The name then changed to Uber Eats in 2015.

If you guessed that Uber Eats involves Uber and eating, you’re correct! It is very similar to Instacart, Shipt, DoorDash, and Postmates in the sense that drivers deliver food/groceries instead of people. Basically, a hungry customer orders a meal to go from a local, participating restaurant’s online menu using the Uber Eats iPhone or Android phone app, or the Uber Eats website. Then, a delivery person working for Uber picks up the take out order and delivers it to the customer’s location, usually in about half an hour, although it can take longer due to factors like traffic and how long it takes the restaurant to prepare the meal.

How do you use the Uber Eats app or website?

Below are the basic steps for how it works – from getting the request, to picking up the food, to delivering the food to the customer.

The request:

  • You’ll receive an audio notification through the app, just like a ride request
  • Notice that the screen will say “delivery” instead of “Uber X”
  • Tap the screen to accept the delivery request
  • You’ll get info regarding the food order number, pick-up location, and customer name

Pick-Up:

  • Tap “navigate” and the GPS will direct you to the restaurant
  • When you arrive, give the restaurant staff the food order number and customer name
  • Double check the order before heading back to your car with the take-out packages

Delivery:

  • Tap “start trip” for directions to the delivery address.
  • Swipe up in the app for special delivery instructions regarding drop-off or parking
  • The customer will receive a text as you approach so they’re ready for you
  • Knock or ring the bell if they didn’t request to meet you outside their location
  • Greet the customer by introducing yourself with a smile and hand them their order
  • Swipe “complete trip” and you’re done with this delivery!

Who can deliver with Uber Eats?

If you’re already an Uber, Instacart, DoorDash, or Postmates driver, signing up for Uber Eats is a breeze. If you currently drive for Uber, simply go to your account on the Uber app and select Vehicle Options. Read and accept the delivery terms. Now you can easily enable or disable the delivery option through your account whenever you want to start earning some extra cash delivering food rather than giving rides to passengers.

How to Deliver for Uber Eats

If you don’t drive on the Uber network, the requirements to deliver for Uber Eats can vary by city, but these are the basics requirements:

  •     You need to be at least 19 years old
  •     Your 2 or 4-door car must be newer than a 1998 model
  •     Valid driver’s license and car insurance
  •     In the U.S., you need at least one year of driving experience
  •     You will need a clean driving record with no major violations dating back 7 years
  •     Upon applying, you will be required to pass a background check and a safety screening, and upload a few required documents.  

Once you’ve checked off all of these, you’re ready to drive for Uber Eats and make some cash!

Where can you download the Uber Eats app?

You’ll be able to find it in Google Play or App Store, depending on whether you have an Android or iPhone!

How much money do drivers that work for Uber Eats earn and what is the pay structure?

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Uber Eats does not base payments on driving time, like regular Uber rides. According to RideSharingDriver.com, as of May 2018, the average delivery person working for Uber Eats  can take home an average of $8 to $12 bucks an hour after subtracting vehicle expenses and Uber’s commission.

Obviously, you’ll make more money if you deliver multiple orders during really busy times like lunch and dinner. Boost multipliers are also available at specific times and locations in-app, which allow drivers to earn more on each trip (similar to surge pricing).

The fees you’re paid, as well as Uber’s commission, may vary by city and the type of vehicle you drive, but the Uber Eats pay structure for drivers is based on the following equation:

A fixed driver food pick-up fee, plus miles traveled between pick-up and delivery to customer fare, plus a fixed driver food delivery fee, minus Uber’s 25% commission = Uber Eats Driver payment per completed delivery.

Here’s a typical example of the equation from the Uber help page:

$2.50 pickup + $0.20 x 5.2 miles + $3.00 drop off = $6.54 delivery fare. If Uber takes a 25% commission in your city, you end up with $4.90. Uber’s commission can be higher in some cities.

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Can you accept tips while delivering for Uber Eats? 

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Customers are not required to tip drivers, but you’re welcome to accept a tip if one is offered. You do keep 100% of all the tips you receive, whether you’re tipped in cash or the customer adds a gratuity through the Uber Eats app.

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By the way, if a customer cancels their order after you’ve picked it up at the restaurant, you still get paid your pick-up and delivery fees, as well as the estimated mileage of the delivery. Uber says you can keep the food for yourself or throw it away.

What if something goes wrong during your delivery?

Let’s face it, stuff happens, right? Like traffic, car trouble, the customer doesn’t respond when you arrive, or the restaurant messed up the order.

Here are some tips on how to handle unexpected problems yourself or by contacting Uber customer support:

    •   Problem dropping off the order? The Uber app clipboard has the customer’s contact info so you can text or call them.
    •   Problem picking up the order? The restaurant’s contact info is inside the app as well
    •   If the customer does not respond or there is serious problem, you can always contact local Uber support through the Help section of the Uber app. 

What Are the Pro and Cons of Uber Eats?

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As with all decisions, there are pros and cons to driving for Uber Eats vs just plain Uber. Here are a few:

Pros:

  • Uber Eats is an easy way to make extra cash, whether you drive for Uber or not
  • Similar to Postmates, DoorDash and Instacart, driving for Uber Eats means you only transport food, not people. Sometimes driving for Uber requires you to deal with drunk, rude, or unruly passengers
  • If you’re 19 years old, you can drive for Uber Eats. You have to be 21 to drive for UberX
  • Uber Eats has less vehicle restrictions than regular Uber, so most vehicles 1998 and newer will qualify, even if it only has 2 doors
  • Being an Uber Eats driver is a great gig if you love driving around town

Cons:

  • Your hourly Uber Eats pay can drop below $10 during slow delivery times. On average, most Uber drivers earn more than that hourly wage during a normal shift
  • Waiting at slow restaurants, dealing with traffic jams, searching for parking spots, and locating hard-to-find customers or delivery locations can be annoying.

Where is Uber Eats Available?

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For a complete, up to date list of large and small cities in the U.S.A. where Uber Eats delivers, visit the Uber Eats Cities page. However, here is a shortened list of popular cities where Uber Eats delivers in the US:

  •  San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Spokane
  •  Phoenix, El Paso, St. Louis, Chicago
  •  Chattanooga, Boston, Dallas, Charlotte
  •  New York, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee
  •  New Orleans, Grand Rapids, Gainesville, Denver, Boston, and many, many more

So, whether you’re already an Uber driver or not, delivering food for Uber Eats is a pretty easy way to add to your income. If you have any questions not covered in this article, visit Uber.com for more info.

Happy Delivering!