Updated February 2020
When you become an Uber driver or a Lyft driver, you’re taking part in one of the best ways to earn extra money in the sharing economy. And since you spend several hours a day in your car, there are various items you should always have on hand to make sure you and your passengers are safe and comfortable. After all, a passenger that feels safe and comfortable in your car is a passenger that might give you a high driver rating and a really good tip.
Besides physical items, you should also install a business expense and mileage app on your smartphone to track mileage and expenditures related to your rideshare business. This is the best way to keep as much of your Uber and Lyft salary as possible when tax time comes around.
We put together a list of apps and items that rideshare drivers like you should always keep in their car. Let’s get started!
1. Business Expense and Mileage App
A mileage tracker app should absolutely be downloaded to the smartphone that you use for your rideshare business. Using this kind of app will definitely keep your Uber driver tax deductions and Lyft tax deductions easy to calculate as April 15th rolls around. Always ask your tax professional for advice on what and how much you can deduct. Here’s why you really need this kind of app
- Approximately 55¢ for every mile you drive for Uber or Lyft can be considered a rideshare mileage deduction on your taxes. The app will help you log these miles and calculate your deductions. Your mileage deduction can literally add up to thousands of dollars.
- You can also use the app to enter and calculate the toll road charges and parking fees you rack up while rideshare driving.. These amounts are also deductible as a business expense.
A percentage of pretty that’s related to your rideshare business is deductible. An app is the best way to keep track of pretty much EVERYTHING you buy. The following self-employed driver tax deductions and more.
- Gas, satellite radio subscriptions, cell phone mounts.
- Cell phone plans, your smartphone, auto insurance, gum, snacks, and water you purchased for your passengers.
- Car washes, car air fresheners, oil changes.
- First aid kits, new tires, dash cams, umbrellas.
- If something you buy is somehow related to your car or your rideshare business, ask your tax professional if it’s deductible. Chances are it is.
So, what is the best mileage tracker app out there? We recommend Hurdlr.
- Hurdlr is an excellent tracker app that will help make filing your taxes a whole lot easier. The app automatically tracks mileage and purchases while you’re on the clock. Hurdlr also offers real-time views of your earnings and potential tax deductions. That’s extremely valuable to a rideshare driver.
Click HERE to download Hurdlr on iOS and Android.
2. Dash Cam
One of the most important safety tips for Uber drivers is to install a Dash Cam in your car. What are dash cams for?
- They record video and audio of everything that happens in your car when you’re transporting a passenger. This can be helpful if a passenger becomes unruly, physically threatening, or verbally abusing.
- You can also use the recorded footage to defend yourself if a passenger wrongly accuses you of doing something inappropriate.
- Get one with a wide angle lens so the front and back seat areas are viewed by camera.
- Check your local regulations regarding recording people in your car. You may be legally required to inform passengers that they are being recorded.
3. Play Octopus
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.
4. Install a Hands-Free Cell Phone Mount
Lyft and Uber drivers like you rely on smartphone GPS navigation systems for directions to passenger pick up and drop off locations. Also, ride requests come through the phone as well, often while you’re on the road. So you need your smartphone mounted where you can see it at all times, without looking down to see where it’s fallen during the ride. That’s incredibly dangerous.
A hands-free cell phone mount attaches your phone to either your windshield by suction cup or to an air conditioner vent using clips. Here why cell phone mounts are important:
- A phone mount keeps the phone in one place, squarely in your line of sight. This allows you to take a quick glance now and then while watching the road to check on directions, or accept a ride request while the car is in motion. Distractions while driving are kept to a minimum.
- No matter what, do not text while you’re driving. Ever.
- As mentioned earlier, Phone Mounts are tax deductible when purchased for your rideshare business.
- Passengers feel at ease when they see your phone is mounted in a safe place and your hands are on the wheel. This could contribute to a high driver rating and a good tip when the ride is over.
5. Cell Phone Charging Block
Passengers are always worried about keeping their phones charged, right? Well, instead of disconnecting your phone from its charger so they can plug theirs in, buy yourself a cell phone charger block. It’s a tax-deductible investment that will make your passengers breathe a sigh of relief. Especially, if they need to make an important call from your car just as their phone battery is about to die. Make sure the charger block you buy is iPhone and Android friendly.
We’re big fans of the Nonda Zus Smart Car Charger. Here’s why:
- Charges two phones simultaneously at maximum speed.
- The automatic car finder feature saves your parking location. So if you forget where you parked, you can use the Zus app to locate where you left your car.
- The built-in mileage tracker really helps with calculating your mileage deductions.
- Monitors your car’s battery life. This will make sure you replace a low battery before it completely goes dead.
6. Auxiliary Cords for Passenger Smartphones
Some passengers might want to listen to the music they already have stored on their personal devices. We recommend buying and keeping a couple of auxiliary cords on hand so they can plug into your car’s audio system. You may need to listen to some ear-splitting death metal during the commute but you might get a high driver rating and a gratuity out of it!
Try finding some fresh new music with Amazon Prime Music.
Click here to get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime Music, which offers unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs. You will also get a free Prime membership, which comes with over 40,000 movies and TV episodes, books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and Unlimited FREE two-day shipping.
7. Air freshener
The first thing people notice when they enter your car is the smell. We’ve been in plenty of rideshare vehicles and there’s nothing worse than shutting the door and being hit with the odor of the driver’s onion-heavy lunch. Or if the driver is a smoker, the lingering tobacco stench that clings to their clothing. (We’ve had that happen, too) Yuck. And that goes for noxious scents brought into the car by previous passengers. Double yuck.
A bad smelling car puts you on the fast lane to a low driver rating and a non-existent tip. We strongly recommend either keeping a can of air freshener in the trunk for a quick refreshing interior spritz, or buying a fresh scent dispenser that attaches to one of the air vents.
Some passengers may be allergic to certain strong perfumes, so we suggest going with a subtle light scent or a fragrance-free deodorizer.
- They can last up to 30 days on average, and Febreze offers a subscription program that automatically send you a new air freshener every month.
- Only two scents to choose from but they’re on the most popular list: Original pine and Island Fresh (tropical fruity)
- You can adjust the intensity of the fragrance from light to heavy with the turn of a knob.
- The product also deodorizes the air in your car.
8. Paper Towels, Cleaning Supplies Etc.
Humans are messy by nature. Drivers sometimes eat their meals in their cars. Sometimes passengers will eat their meals in your car. Beverages spill, sandwich contents ooze, and salad dressing can splatter, especially in a moving car. And what about a passenger who brings their beloved, but drooling, doggie along for the ride?
We think it’s a good idea to keep a supply of paper towels, napkins, and other cleaning supplies (like a carpet stain remover) in the trunk or in your car itself. For both you and your passengers.
9. Towel for service dogs
Uber and Lyft drivers are both required to allow passengers to ride with their service animals, so make sure to keep a towel in your car to keep any dog hair off your seats. Sometimes a passenger will ask the driver if it’s okay to bring their non-service dog along, and this decision is entirely up to the driver.
Here are Uber and Lyft’s policy regarding animals that are brought into your car by a passenger:
- Uber and Lyft drivers must allow a passenger’s certified service animal into their vehicle. It’s not only company policy; it’s an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) law.
- Drivers are not allowed to ask passengers for proof that their pet is a certified service animal. In other words, you have to take the passenger’s word for it.
So why did we bring this up? Because dogs and other pets shed, puke, drool, pee, and other things. Therefore, if a passenger with an uncrated animal, service dog or not, wishes to enter your car, keep an old blanket in the trunk that you can lay out on the back seat. You can either wash it or throw it away if the animal mistakes your backseat for a fire hydrant.
10. Sanitary wipes
Apart from paper towels and napkins, having sanitary wipes can come in handy for a quick wipe-down of your dashboard and steering wheel before picking up a new passenger.
11. Vomit bags
In the unfortunate, and sometimes likely, event that a passenger needs to throw up in your car, save yourself the headache and offer them a vomit bag. They’ll avoid damage fees and you’ll avoid a messy cleanup.
12. Rideshare Insurance
Rideshare insurance is a specific policy that every ridesharing driver is legally obliged to get if they want to work with a TNC like Uber or Lyft.
Once you start working for these companies, personal auto insurance will not suffice as the vehicle is being used for business purposes.
With the massive growth of the industry, there are now a lot of rideshare insurance companies to choose from. Some of the most renowned names include:
13. First aid kit
It’s a good idea to keep a stocked first aid kit in your car at all times in case of an emergency. They can be purchased at drug stores and department stores. But always call 911 if a passenger appears to be injured when they get in your car or if you get in an accident while driving. A Band-Aid will not help in those situations!
We also recommend keeping some hand sanitizer or lotion in your cup holder for your passengers to use. Passengers who have been running errands all day or who just got out of a meeting might appreciate a quick hand cleaning, especially if they’re on the way to lunch or dinner.
14. Water Bottles
Passengers will always enjoy being offered a refreshing bottle of water. Keep some on hand in an insulated cooler if you can. That would really be appreciated on a hot day.
15. Spare Tire or Flat Kit
As a hard-working rideshare driver, a flat tire can ruin your whole day or night during a shift. Keeping a spare tire or a flat tire kit in your car will help you get out of a jam if you ever need to quickly repair your tire while you’re on the job. These can be found at most auto stores or you can also order them online.
We hope this list of necessary items and apps will help keep you and your passengers stay safe, entertained, and comfortable as you go about your daily rideshare rounds. And as we mentioned, your miles and rideshare-related purchases can be used as tax deductions, which could save you thousands of dollars a year.
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