This article is based on aggregated, pre-COVID earnings data from over 100 Uber drivers in London.
The best thing about driving Uber: you can choose when and how much you want to work.
Therefore, people choose to drive Uber for different reasons:
Your earnings will more or less reflect the amount of time you dedicate to driving, but we advise you to leave room for variables when managing your expectations. A traffic jam might force you to put in an extra hour or two, but at the same time, a sudden weather change or rush hour surge pricing will almost certainly boost your earnings.
Below is an estimation of the earnings for an Uber driver who rents a brand new car from Splend.
To put these numbers into context, the National Living Wage was £8.72 per hour in April 2020 – this amounts to £392.40 in a 45-hour workweek, so it’s fair to say that a full-time Uber driver could earn about twice that (before expenses).
As an on-demand driver, you’re running a small business, which requires some expenses in order to remain sustainable.
The most obvious and frequent expense is your fuel cost. The spectrum is quite wide here, as this can vary depending on your car, where and what part of the day you drive most of the time, as well as your driving style. The most important factor is your car’s drivetrain – traditional cars with a single internal combustion engine cost about £13 to £16 per 100 miles to run, according to lovemoney.com. Petrol-hybrids, on the other hand, consume about 20% to 35% less fuel than even the most efficient petrol or diesel cars. Electric models can run 100 miles at a cost of only £2 – £10 depending on where you charge them, according to the Energy Savings Trust.
It’s easy to forget about this one – until the unthinkable happens and you’re stuck with your car jacked up for days, and a hefty service charge. It’s best to put some money on the side every week for at least consumables, normal wear and tear, seasonal tyre changes, and annual revisions.
The question is, how much. We crunched some numbers a while back based on our fleet of petrol-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars, and an average of 32,000 miles driven per year. Material and labour costs differ depending on manufacturer and drivetrain technology, but our fleet averaged out at around £24-£25 per week.
The good news is that if you get your PCO car from Splend, most of your routine maintenance is covered.
Uber positions itself in the UK as a transportation-tech company as opposed to private hire, so they view you as an independent contractor. This means they don’t get involved when it comes to insuring your car.
This leaves you with the responsibility of making sure you have the right cover in place. And normal car insurance will not cover you in case of an accident if you drive Uber. A private hire insurance policy is not cheap, though – it can set you back anywhere between £2,000 and a whopping £4,000 per year, depending on the age of the car, distance driven per year, as well as your driving history. If you take an average £3,000 policy, that translates into £55-£60 per week.
This is why you need to be extremely careful when buying your Uber car, or go for a Uber car rental option with insurance included.
Just like any other business, you need to be on good terms with the taxman. Most rideshare drivers in the UK are self-employed, so as opposed to a normal employee, HMRC can’t deduct your Income Tax and National Insurance directly from your salary, and you need to file a Self Assessment every year. You can read more about this in our Self Assessment Guide:
Central London can get very crowded, and air quality has become a serious concern in recent years, so the local government has started to introduce some drastic measures to keep traffic and pollution at bay.
There are two of these that directly affect your Uber income: the ULEZ and the Congestion Charge. The primary purpose of the Congestion Charge is to reduce traffic during daytime hours, while ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) is aimed exclusively at improving air quality. They’re both imposed in the same area at the moment, but the ULEZ charging zone will be expanded in late 2021.
The ULEZ charge is a daily £12.50 expense that you have to account for if you drive an older car with an internal combustion engine, regardless of when you enter the charging zone. If you have a hybrid or a recent petrol or diesel model, you won’t have to worry about ULEZ for a while.
The Congestion Charge, however, is much stricter. It’s a £15 daily charge enforced between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm, and you only enjoy an exemption if you drive an electric car or a plug-in hybrid that has at least a 20-kilometre (~12.5-mile) zero-emission range.
Check out our guide to learn more about the Congestion Charge:
With Uber, you’re your own boss – you make the calls when things are going well, but also when demand is low, or something else comes between you and your earnings. But you already have the most important tools to make the best of any situation: your car and your smartphone – not to mention the skills to think outside the box and the motivation to earn a flexible income.
Although Uber is synonymous with ridesharing, it’s not the only platform you should keep an eye on. Once you already have everything you need to get started with Uber, signing up to the other rideshare platforms is as simple as creating an account and uploading your documents.
Being on multiple rideshare apps means that you can truly maximise your efficiency: if there aren’t enough new ride requests at your drop-off point, or there’s too much competition from other drivers, you can always check out another platform so you don’t have to drive on an empty car.
The rivalry between these platforms means they’re not only competing with each other for the passengers, but for drivers too, and each has their own perks that you can take advantage of. Some offer lower commission rates, others have special income plans, benefit packs, or attractive temporary campaigns.
The COVID-19 lockdowns were a wake-up call for entire industries to streamline their operations by going digital, and outsource much of their work in order to stay afloat. Although ridesharing was hit hard too as travel and commute diminished, drivers were much-needed elsewhere.
With people being forced to work from home, they started relying more on parcel deliveries than ever before, and as even running errands became a challenge, a multitude of new apps appeared for simple tasks like grocery shopping, picking up the drycleaning, etc. Many restaurants that had only relied on table service before, started to upload their menus to food delivery apps.
This has opened up a world of new opportunities that you can rely on between two rides, when demand drops for a longer time, or when you simply feel like doing something else. Many people are just beginning to discover these innovative services, that provide an additional revenue stream for companies too, so these opportunities aren’t likely to disappear even after the pandemic ends.
If you enjoy the freedom of being your own boss, you’ll certainly want to tell your friends and family about on-demand driving. All the more so that it literally pays to be proud of your work.
At Splend, we reward you with £100 for every friend you refer to us, and they also get a £29 discount upon signing up. The more people you share your story with, the more you boost your income, as we don’t have a cap on these referral bonuses – how much you earn this way is only up to you and your networking skills. Learn more about the Splend referral program and check out some tips from a long-time member who took networking to the next level.
We provide every member with a dedicated Member Success Representative, a professional ridesharing coach whose job is to ensure you’re the most profitable Uber driver you can be.
These colleagues not only guide you through the process of becoming an Uber driver, but also take care of your car, and check your performance regularly to help you optimise your strategy. Their goal is the same as yours: to help you earn the most money you can with the least effort.
Splend is more than a set of wheels. We’ll help steer your career.
In addition to providing you with the most important tool in your career as a rideshare driver, we also offer ongoing training, support, and data-driven feedback via your personal Member Success Representative. You also enjoy a growing array of member benefits including discounts from our partners.