Get Paid to Be Stuck in Traffic: How to Become a Rideshare Driver

If you’ve got a car and a bit of extra time on your hands, here’s what you’ll need to get your start as a rideshare driver.
Rideshare Driver

You’ve got a car and a bit of extra time on your hands; why not become a rideshare driver?

Driving is a super-flexible gig. You can pick your own hours and work when it’s convenient for you, and it’s your choice whether you make it a full-time job or just a little something on the side. You also get to meet some pretty interesting people along the way, which is always a perk; you never know who will catch a ride with you.

With most rideshare programs, becoming a driver is a relatively straightforward process. It all starts with a reliable car, a clean driver record, a valid driver’s license, and some good insurance. From there, you’ll need to account for a few extra expenses to keep your driver rating high. Here’s what to budget for to become a top-rated rideshare driver.

Car detailing

Nobody wants to hop in the back of their rideshare car and be greeted with old fast food bags and mysterious odors. As a driver, it’s in your best interest to keep your vehicle spic and span. Start off on the right foot by getting your car detailed by a pro.

Once you’ve made the initial investment, clean the car regularly yourself. Do a quick sweep after every shift, and a more thorough cleaning every week or so.

Depending on how often you work as a driver, you’ll want to take your car back in for a complete detailing every once in awhile; this could be as often as once a month for full-timers, or as little as once a season for casual drivers.

Car detailing

A reliable phone

As a driver, your phone is your lifeline. Not only is it the mechanism by which you receive your jobs, but it will also serve as your trusty GPS. Side note: Even if you know your city inside out, it’s always a good idea to pop the address in the GPS. This can help you work around traffic and manage impromptu detours; plus, it gives your customer a little extra peace of mind.

Most rideshare companies require their drivers to own a smartphone. Make sure yours is in tip-top shape, or consider investing in a new one.

Unlocked smartphone

Phone mount

Fumbling with your phone in your lap or having it slide around the passenger seat, well, that’s just a recipe for disaster. Reputable drivers know that car phone mounts are the only way to go. This one-time investment will keep your phone from budging, allowing you to focus on the road and your passenger’s experience. Go for a slightly more expensive model; the extra cost is negligible in the big picture, and the super-cheap ones are flimsy and break easily.

Phone mount

Phone charger

Having your phone run out of juice mid-shift is every rideshare driver’s nightmare. Luckily, there’s an easy fix to this problem: a phone charger for your car. These little tools cost next to nothing, and they’ll keep you from dreading what might happen when your phone battery reaches the red zone. Picking up a phone charger for your car is simply a no-brainer.

Smartphone charger

Regular oil changes

Once you begin your job as a rideshare driver, you’ll be driving a lot more than you did in your old life. This means that not only will your fuel expenses increase, so will other maintenance expenses, including topping off oil and regular oil changes.

A good rule of thumb is to get your oil changed every 5,000 miles or so, but check your car’s manual, as each make and model has its own specific recommendations. Track your miles like a hawk, because ongoing oil changes are a great way to reduce costly repairs in the long run.

Regular oil changes

Inevitable repairs

More wear and tear on your car means that you’ll inevitably encounter expensive repairs at one point or another. Giant invoices from the mechanic are never fun, but they’re slightly more palatable if you’ve budgeted and saved for this very purpose.

Keep repair expenses as low as possible by catching repairs early through ongoing maintenance, and by bringing your car into your mechanic the moment you notice something is amiss. The unfortunate rule of thumb seems to be that the longer you wait, the more painfully expensive the bill is.

Speaking of mechanics, you’ve got a good one, right? As a rideshare driver, it pays to find a reliable, friendly mechanic, as he or she will soon become a key service provider in your network. If you don’t already have someone you can trust, ask your friends (or, better yet, fellow rideshare drivers) for recommendations.

Start a savings Goal, so you’re not scrambling for cash if issues arise.

Car repair savings Goal

Car wash

First impressions count, so be sure to dazzle your riders to give a great experience right off the bat, thus earning you the highest ratings.

A sparkly car is a good way to start. Bring your car in for regular car washes—once a week if the weather is nice, and more often in snowy, slushy, or muddy conditions.

Keep that positive first impression going by giving your rider a warm, welcoming greeting when they get into your car. Punch in their destination and you’re off to a great start!

One month of car washing

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