Is it worth driving Uber in Singapore?
Recently, the job market has been terrible. As an average graduate, i am struggling to secure employment. Since there is still some time before my official graduation ceremony, i decided to try out driving Uber to earn some pocket-money and generate some quality content to blog. I signed up with Uber and rented a car from LCR for 5 weeks for this experiment. If your Uber Driver happens to be a young man in his mid 20s, please be remember to be nice.
Cost of Driving for Uber
The main costs:
1) Vehicle Rental – $67-$80 per day
Vehicle rental will be the largest cost if you plan to rent a car instead of using your own car. I simply choose to rent the cheapest option at $67 for a Mitsubishi Attrage, which is very fuel-efficient if driven properly and slowly. More expensive options are also available but prices vary depending on the car. My suggestion is to get the cheapest option as a few dollars adds up in the long run. For example, a Honda Vezel with rental cost of $71 per day would require an additional $120 per month in rental.
One way to lower the rental is to find a night shift driver to help you cover some of the rental costs. However, you end up bearing the additional risks of having a reckless driver and conflicts occuring. But if you can find a reliable relief driver, it can reduce your rental cost by up to 50%.
2) Petrol – $30 – $50 per day
How much you spend on petrol depends on how often you drive. I usually incur roughly a cost of $15 petrol for every $50 of fare earnings. It is absolutely critical that you have a credit card that gives you great discount on petrol if you do plan to drive for Uber. Which credit card to use depends on which petrol station you visit frequently, check out their website. I pump my petrol at Esso using their Smile Card and Citibank credit card as there are a few Esso Stations near my home. The rewards points also do accumulate quite quickly as well if you drive everyday. Although Uber has a “Uber Fuel Card” which you can apply to get 30% off on petrol, but it comes with some conditions so I did not bother to apply for it.
3) Parking & ERP – $120 per month for season parking
I bought season parking from HDB for 1 month. Sometimes when you are driving and nature calls, you have no choice but to pay for parking to find a toilet. Recently, Uber allows drivers to claim ERP for pick ups, but it is a tedious process and I usually tend to forget about it.
Total costs for 1 month including petrol ~ $2,800 – $3,000
Remember those attractive incentives?
Uber does give some incentives to new drivers/existing drivers and it can help to offset the costs by a decent amount. However, these incentives are usually one-offs and can change quite frequently.
1) New Driver Bonus – $500 to $900
Since i took a 5 weeks contract instead of a 6 month contract, i get a $500 sign-up bonus which is paid in 4 weeks ($125 each week). Also, there is a referral bonus $400 for your referrer if you signed up through a referrer. The referral bonus is forfeited if you do not have a referrer or if your referrer does not share this $400 incentive with you. You basically lose out if you don’t get some form of kickback from your referrer. I tried to argue for the extra money with Uber without a referrer but was denied. Eventually, I got my referrer to rebate $200 to me so that he also gets to keep $200. If you do not have a referrer, you can pm and I’ll give you $300 out of the $400 incentive as rebate. Just drop me a PM and I will provide you with my invite code. You can also just go down to UberHub to sign up straight away and quote my handphone number as referrer.
2) Newbie first month incentives
As a new driver, Uber attemts to make life slightly easier for you. The first month incentives works like this. If you hit a certain number of trips within 1 week, you get a bonus from Uber.
25 Trips – $100
75 Trips – $350
125 Trips – $625
If you hit 125 trips in a week, your rental for that week is essentially free of charge. I do not think that many people are capable of achieving 125 trips in one week, 75 trips seems more realistic. To hit 125 trips, you would need an average of 18 trips in 1 day. You get about 2-3 trips an hour, so you would need to drive at least 8-10 hours in one day. If you include toilet breaks and meal breaks, you could be working longer than you think. My right leg was pretty much too strained to drive after 15 trips in one day. Also, depending on Uber’s promo codes for that week, it will affect the type of trips you get. Usually with promo codes, you get shorter trips and more UberPool requests. Bad for your earnings but decent for hitting trip requirements.
Total Incentives in the first month assuming 75 trips per week – $1,900 – $2,100
This means that you still need to pay about another $900 to cover petrol and rental for that month, $30 in earnings per day. This isn’t too difficult if you can hit the 75 trips target every week or make use of the surge at peak hours.
So is it worth the effort?
Driving for Uber is a decent way to make some side income with your free time, not many jobs allow you to work whenever you like with very little administrative hurdles to jump over. However, it would require some serious commitment to do this full-time but i have heard of many full-timers surviving. In conclusion, I would only recommend someone to drive for Uber if they are in between jobs, have a few weeks of free time to spare or a reliable relief driver to share the rental costs.
If you think this post is helpful, do leave me a comment and share this post. I will be sharing my detailed results/earnings in the next post.