I get so many questions on driving with Lyft and Uber. What’s it like? Is it scary being a woman driver? Do you get hit on a lot? Do you ever feel threatened? What’s your craziest ride? What’s your longest ride? How much money can you realistically make? Has anyone ever puked in your car or damaged your car? Have you met anyone famous? Which company is better? What are the driving requirements? Do you have to drive a set amount of hours or days? And many, many more. Hopefully I will cover most your questions in this blog post, but first let me throw in a little plug for myself: my Uber referral code is: JENNYN1851UE and my Lyft referral code is: JENNIFER40096 or JENNYROCKSLYFT. Now the referral codes will get any new driver who uses them, nice bonuses (up to $700 depending on where you are). And let’s be honest, it’ll give me a bonus too. That’s why we throw them out there. Ok … now on to the good stuff…
First, a little summary into how and why I became a driver (us drivers all have our “why” we started stories). I have a decent full-time job, but many of you probably know my pain. After I pay my bills for the month I rarely have money left over for anything else. I also owned a 2000 Ford Expedition that I owned for about 13 years. It was still a decent running vehicle, but I knew that sooner or later something major would happen to it and I wouldn’t be able to afford to fix it. I needed a new vehicle. I wanted a car. One that was of decent size to fit my son’s hockey gear, but also good on gas. I went out and bought a 2014 Nissan Altima. But now what? I haven’t had a vehicle payment in about 8 years. How was I going to fit a vehicle payment in my budget when I can barely afford to put groceries on our table?
That’s how I started driving with Lyft and Uber. I signed up to drive with both apps. I went and got my new car inspected and got my background checks completed. I uploaded all the necessary documents to my driving profiles. BOOM…I was approved to drive. Now I was nervous. What do I do? I just log in and drive? I was scared! I played with the apps and read the practice tips. And then I did what any other scared person would do. I was slowly talking myself out of driving. I had second thoughts. “I don’t need this money. I’ll figure out a different way to make my car payment.” I joined a couple local Uber and Lyft Facebook groups and talked to a couple other drivers. Then the day happened. I decided to get in my car and log in to the Uber driver app. The app went of! There was a ride request. MY FIRST RIDE REQUEST!! It was right up the road from me. I was so nervous! I followed the directions and pulled up to the house. I got out of my car (I didn’t know what I was supposed to do). A couple of women came down to me with a couple of bags. We put their bags in the trunk and we all got in the car. They told me they were excited because this was their first Uber ride. I immediately perked up, “This is my first Uber ride too!!!” The ice was broken. We talked for their whole 13 mile trip. We arrived at their destination and I got out of the car with them and helped them get their bags. They gave me a big hug and wished me luck for the rest of the evening. I did it! I completed my first ride…and I was feeling great! I don’t think I could have had a better first ride experience…and every driver remembers their first ride. I continued on and did a few more rides that evening. I had so much fun! I was hooked. My first weekend out and I had already earned enough for my car payment. The excitement of the money coming in was amazing! I had never earned money so fast and so easy in my life.
My middle son soon approached me and asked me if he could go to France with his high school French class. I told him I would work my butt off and make sure I had the money to send him. I did just that. I WORKED MY BUTT OFF. Both Lyft and Uber were offering me bonuses every week, and sometimes daily, for a certain number of rides. I jumped at every single bonus offered. I got every single one. I was putting in roughly 30 hours each week driving (and yes, still working about 40 hours per week at my regular job). I got the money to send my son to France (he went in March of this year and had an amazing time). I was paying my bills no problem. I was keeping my house afloat! From April-December I had earned roughly $25,000 from just driving alone. Things were amazing!
Then reality hit. I knew I was spending ALOT of time away from the house. I was not keeping up on housework nor on the motherly duties (like cooking dinners or just visiting with my children and asking them about their days). Even though my boys are older, I started feeling bad. I started feeling bad I was leaving them all the time. I started feeling bad that we weren’t hanging out. I started feeling bad that I wasn’t around to just talk with them. Yes, I was getting the bills paid…but I was burning out. Fast. I also realized that I put on at least 20,000 miles on my car in that 7 months of driving. So here’s what I say to all potential drivers…if you want some nice, quick cash…these companies are great ways to do that. But…this job is not made to be a full-time, permanent gig. You need a back-up plan because it will wear you out, it will wear your car out and the passengers will begin to get to you. So here I am, over a year of driving now…and now I only go out to get my car payment and maybe a little grocery money…and then I am done. I now put in roughly 6-10 hours every week and this is plenty for me and my situation/needs.
Now for first time drivers…I would say the most important things to do immediately are: #1…make sure you have a holder for your phone!! You need to keep your phone propped up in a position where you can always see it and where it’s secured. #2…download a mileage tracker app. You need to keep track of the miles you put on your car (for personal use and for business use) for taxes at the end of the year. I use an app called Hurdlr. I know there are others out there, but this one I have been using and I am familiar with it so I continue to use it. #3…download the Waze app or use Google maps for your navigation. Do NOT use the navigation systems built-in the Lyft or Uber apps. You can change the default navigation settings in the apps to either Google maps or Waze instead. Myself, I prefer Waze. Waze will usually send you around traffic (if it’s possible) and it is usually updated with the most recent road closures and detours. I love Waze. #4…do NOT stick your Uber and Lyft stickers directly to your windows. If you do, you can never take them down…even when you are not working. Some car washes will also not let you into their unlimited car wash packages if you are a Uber or Lyft driver. So it’s important that you can take down your signage when you are not driving. I punched small holes in the ends/corners of my signs and hang them in my windows with small suction cups that I bought at a local craft store. This way I can take them down when I am not driving. #5…don’t let the passengers run all over you and don’t let what they say or do affect you in any way. Some people can be just plain mean, demeaning and/or demanding. #6…get a couple signs to hang from your seats (so they are facing the backseats). My signs state the “rules of my car” and yes…I’m proud because I made this sign myself, I laminated it and I hang it so people in the back seats can easily see it (and everyone reads them…some out loud to me LOL). You can also order similar signs off of Amazon.
#7…keep your car clean at all times. Passengers love it when your car is clean and it may bring you better tips. Many car washes offer you unlimited car wash packages for a nice monthly fee. And finally, #8…get yourself an in-car camera that will record what goes on during your rides. This will protect you in case of those “bad” passengers. Yes, passengers do try to report some Uber and Lyft drivers for things they did not do…in order to score free rides from the companies. What passengers don’t realize is that this affects you negatively and have an impact on your earnings. So protect yourself!
Now to answer some of the most asked questions. Is it scary being a woman driver? No. I am not scared. I have done over 2,000 rides total on both apps and out of those 2,000 rides I have had maybe 2 issues that caused me concern (I think those are pretty good odds). I actually think that being a woman plays a big factor with how people treat me. I think people tend to treat women drivers better than men drivers. Plus about 80% of my passengers are women too and let me tell you…they love seeing a woman driver pick them up from the bar after they have been out drinking! I did have a woman give me her mace one night (she said I needed it more than she did) so although I carry that on me, I am not sure what I would ever do with it. If I ever did have to mace someone in my car I’d also mace myself. So that might not work very well for me.
Yes, I do get hit on. Not everyday, and not every week, but it does happen. I’ve had guys ask for my number and had guys ask if they could leave me their number. I’ve had guys ask me to come with them to parties, bars, in to their houses, etc. I even had one guy ask me to marry him. I had one guy tip me $40 on a $10 car ride because I was bringing him to the strip club and I think he felt some type of way about me bringing him there. I had one guy be totally disrespectful one night. He kept trying to touch me and grab me. I was actually getting SUPER upset with him, his friend kept telling him to stop and I kept hitting his hands off of me and yelling at him, but he continued. I actually wanted to kick him out of my car, but I got scared because if he didn’t get out, what was I going to do? There were two of them and only one of me. Thankfully, it was only a short ride so I just kept watching my GPS, “only one more mile to go”. Otherwise, I consider everything else completely harmless.
Most of my driving has been late-night, bar close driving. This is where the most money usually is…but unfortunately, this also where the most danger can be too. Danger because you don’t know what you are going to get at 3 or 4 in the morning. Danger because so many drivers pick up passengers who throw up in their cars. I thankfully…and knock on wood…have not had anyone throw up in my car. I’ve had a couple of close calls, but have thus far made it puke free. Yes, both Uber and Lyft charge passengers a big fee if they do puke in your car…but you still have to deal with it and get it cleaned before you can drive again.
My longest trip was 420 miles, one-way (so then I had to drive 420 miles back home). Yup…I drove a couple of guys from St. Paul, Minnesota to Chicago, Illinois. Yup…I was scared and nervous and I could have canceled on them. But I didn’t. I wanted to see what the payout would be. They paid all of the tolls on the way there and gave me $50 cash for the way back to pay for tolls or whatever I wanted to do with the cash on the way back. I made roughly $350 off of that ride and spent $50 in gas. This was a 13 hour trip…and I am not totally sure I’d accept a ride like that again…but at least I can say “this one time, I did this trip…”
Which app is better? Which ever one is paying! When I first started driving I would have told you that Uber was better (because I was earning WAY more with Uber than I was with Lyft). Lyft has since stepped up their game and expanded their service area and now both apps are very competitive. I will log into one to get my ride bonus, log into the to the other to get any ride bonuses there and once I get my bonuses (if any are offered) then I turn both apps on at the same time and just accept which ever one hits first and then turn the other app off (you get used to toggling between the two after a bit). There may be times when one app is slow and the other is not. There may be times when one app is surging and the other is not. I go with whichever one is going to pay me out the best money. Warning though…Lyft passengers can sometimes be a little more trying then Uber passengers.
Unfortunately…I have not met anyone famous…that I know of. I very well could have given a professional athlete a ride and I didn’t even know it. I did pick up a passenger from a Philadelphia Penguins player’s house one night (my son knew who the player was, I did not). The house was amazing and there was a big party going on there. The passenger I picked up from there told me who’s house it was (that’s how I knew)…so that was my only famous person experience…thus far.
And finally, the last question that I will touch on is do you have to drive a set amount of hours or days? No. You sure do not. That is probably the best thing about this job. You log in whenever. You work whenever. You work as long or as short as you want to (with the exception that the apps will log you off if you’ve worked a consecutive 12 hours I believe…I’m not totally sure because I’ve never hit that cut-off). You can do as many rides as you want to. There have been times I’ve done one ride and then logged off because I just didn’t feel like working anymore. There have been times I’ve dropped my son off at hockey practice, went out and did a couple rides and then came back to pick him back up at the end of his practice. What’s also nice is whenever you want to go home, you can sent a destination on both apps stating that you’re going home. The destination filter will send you rides going your way (if there are any) so then you’re actually paid for your time and mileage driving back home.
If you have any more questions … leave me a comment. I’ll answer all that I can, as soon as I can. If you decide to start driving…good luck to you and I’ll see you out on the road (and oh ya…use my referral codes)!