Since the day I turned 16 — after barely passing the road test to get my license — I’ve loved sliding into the driver’s seat of my car.
Even in the morning, amongst the traffic and incessant red lights, I consider it “my time” to think, sip coffee and catch up on my favorite podcasts.
So if someone told me I could make $300 to drive a little extra on the weekends, I’d scoff. No way.
But it’s possible with Uber — the popular ride-sharing app we’ve all likely heard of (except my 89-year-old Mimi who asked me what all the fuss was about the other day).
I’ve used it plenty to get from point A to point B, but never really considered how much these drivers earn — and just how easy it is to navigate.
Get to Know These 6 Uber Partner Drivers
I recently connected with six Uber drivers from across the country, each with a different story to tell — and a different reason they drive.
For some, it isn’t extra money; it’s a livelihood in a downward-spiraling job search. Others drive with a hope to escape hard times. For others, it’s a fun side gig — a way to meet friends, perk up travel funds and, well, drive.
The one thing these individuals have in common, though? They’re making some serious cash — and they love it. Plus, they all told me signing up for Uber was pretty easy. Some even did it exclusively on their phones.
Naif Bartlett, 24, of Columbia, Missouri
Naif Bartlett, a 2014 graduate of the University of Missouri, navigates the sometimes-messy, mostly-fun waters of being an Uber driver in a college town.
He first took the gig in between jobs, so Uber was his primary income for nearly two months.
Bartlett was surprised by the amount of money he made — just on the weekends.
“I’ll only do weekend evenings. And, of course, Thirsty Thursdays. Sometimes Fieldhouse Wednesdays. Columbia drinks a lot, OK?” he writes in a message to me.
But as an avid Tigers fan, he never (ever) drives on a game day. That’s the joy of Uber — setting your own schedule. And, for Bartlett, he also loves meeting new people.
“I hang out with some people now who I met through driving, and I have tons of hilarious stories involving drunk people and wild nights,” he says.
In the midst of the fun, he’s banked some serious side income — up to $300 for two days of driving. One night, he made more than $80 from one ride; these guys were in town visiting and couldn’t decide where they wanted to go (plus a price surge was in effect).
Although Bartlett now has a full-time job as a graphic designer for Veterans United Home Loans, he still drives. He funnels the extra money into his savings and travel funds.
Or, before hitting the bars himself, he’ll do one or two Uber drives to pay off his bar tab for the night.
Nureka Chapman-Henderson, 41, of Humble, Texas
In 2005, this mother of five was forced from her hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home.
Nureka Chapman-Henderson now resides in Humble, Texas, where she reigns as chef/owner of NuReka’s Gumbo and Gritz. She works hard to pay the bills — even more so lately while she goes through a divorce.
Chapman-Henderson first heard about Uber from her kids who were using the service. (They’re 16, 17, 18, 20 and 22.) With her busy life, she was attracted to the gig’s flexibility.
She signed up using just her cell phone and was on the road within a week.
Chapman-Henderson doesn’t drive too frequently (think: kids, restaurant), but she still earns about $100 a week.
“I turn the Uber app on when I’m running errands,” she says. That way she can make some extra money while she’s already out and about.
She has plans to increase that $100 a week to about $100 a day once she finds the time.
Mary England, 28, of Baltimore, Maryland
Mary England is unlike most people. She loves driving — especially in the city.
“I actually find that my blood pressure decreases as soon as I enter city limits. I’m a city girl, what can I say!?” she writes in a message.
For England, driving with Uber is an ideal way to help fuel her business, Uncustomary — a website full of free resources to help others build a happy life full of self-love. There, she writes about her personal and professional experiences, including her own struggles with mental illness.
Aside from scheduled appointments and events, England sets her own work hours, making Uber the perfect way to bring in extra money to pay for business services.
She drives about 15 hours a week and estimates she makes about $20-$30 an hour, including tips (which aren’t required).
England suspects the tips come from her efforts to go above and beyond to offer her passengers a positive experience.
“I deck out my car!,” she writes. “I decorate it with twinkle lights, flowers, and holiday-themed decorations and have lots of things for the passenger to take part in like candy/mints/gum, a treasure box to pick a prize out of, books to read, a list of things to do in Baltimore…”
The list goes on.
Wesley Siau, 52, of Easley, South Carolina
Back in July, Wesley Siau was new to the massage therapy scene. He’d recently received his license and was working to build a client base.
To supplement his hopeful new income, he chose to drive with Uber in his small South Carolina town — right on the edge of Greenville.
Between massage appointments, he’d turn the app on and “do a few runs,” he says. Siau liked not working on a fixed schedule and simply driving as he pleased.
Although Wesley Siau can no longer drive with Uber due to health issues, he suspects he averaged around $100 a week.
He plans to pick the gig back up again as soon as he’s better.
Tabitha Scott, 37, of Chicago, Illinois
Tabitha Scott prefers commanding the steering wheel from about midnight to 8 a.m — “for some odd reason,” she says.
It’s quiet then, and traffic’s not so bad as she delivers people home from a night at the club.
By day, Scott is a full-time senior specialist for Chase Bank. It’s her job to train all incoming hires, which she’s done for 8 years. But when her roommate started driving for Uber, Scott was intrigued by the extra income.
Now, Scott drives about 20 hours — all on the weekends — and makes up to $300 each week. She likes that she can work when and where she wants to.
She uses the extra money to pay her bills.
Pat Young, 48, of Holiday, Florida
Driving for Uber keeps Pat Young, a pharmacist, afloat in a flooded market.
“I couldn’t find work,” he says. “I needed to find work.”
At one point in time, Young had five pharmacy licenses for five states — just hoping to find a job. “There are too many pharmacists, which results in a flooded market.”
In an effort to supplement his once-hearty income, Young decided nearly a year ago to drive with Uber. Within a few days of signing up, he was picking up passengers.
He drives about 30-40 hours a week and manages to make anywhere from $250 to $450 a week, which helps his other half pay the bills.
His favorite part is meeting new people and not having a set schedule. He works all around the clock, “sometimes early morning taking people to the airport and sometimes taking people home from the bar late at night,” he says.
Either way, it suits him until he can find more permanent work.
Do you relate to any of these stories? Want to earn some extra money? Sign up as an Uber partner driver.
Your Turn: Uber drivers, tell us your story!
Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.