[AMA] I'm an Uber Driver in Sydney. Ask me anything

I've seen that uber deals get posted a lot here on ozbargain and there seems to be a bit of interest for people driving in their spare time: https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/229564

Maybe you have taken an Uber in the past and want to ask a driver something you'd normally be too uncomfortable to ask in person.

Ask me anything.

Edit: I've noticed a lot of people are interested in becoming an Uber driver after reading about the $200 sign up bonus.

Here is how it works: If an existing Uber X driver recommends a new driver, then the existing driver (referrer) gets $200 only (not the new driver).

This payment is made after the new driver has completed 20 jobs (about 1 full day of work)

Mod: Removed referral code. Please do not mention or solicit referral codes anywhere in this post or in comments.

closed Comments

  • +5

    Hello, how's things?

    • +1

      Hello! Very well thank you! Did you have any uber related questions ?

      • +1

        how do you spell uber?

      • Has anybody damaged your vehicle by expelling bodily fluids in/on/near it? I've heard too many stories about unruly passengers unable to ummm… contain themselves appropriately.

        • +2

          Most passengers are really nice and I haven't had anyone expel anything as of yet ( thank goodness)

        • @che_97:

          If they did, is there some form of reimbursement from Uber or additional fee to the customer?

        • +5

          @Peannut: customer pays for it. I would need to photograph whatever damage and uber would pay me and then get the funds off the customer.

  • What is your average monthly income for the last 12 or 6 or 3 months ?

    • +4

      Monthly is a bit hard as I've only been doing it full time for about a month.
      Keep in mind also that the figures are what I take home before tax ( I have to put aside my own tax so the actual take home amount would depend on other income sources and the total amount I make for the year). These figure also do not account for me putting aside super or what it costs to operate my car.
      I can break down the last four weeks:
      $600 - 2 full days
      $900 - Just worked New Year's Eve that week and a few hours here and there
      $750 - 3, 5 hours shifts over a weekend (late at night 9pm-2am)
      $850 - I received my sign up bonus this week so I had an extra $200

      • +2

        Can you perhaps give an idea of what your hourly income is for some example times of day? And how many km you drove to earn those dollars? People could then run their own numbers for fuel/depreciation etc to see if it works for their situation.

        • +13

          Friday night, Saturday day Saturday night and Sunday afternoon are all $50+ per hour times. Where I can make $50 an hour ( after Ubers cut)

          This however very much compensates other times of the week where it can be as low as $20/h ( weekday afternoons before rush hour)
          Per km is hard as lots of shorter inner city trips are profitable due to the minimum charge. Passengers are charged $8 regardless of how far they go and many people love this. So in the rain or from the shops to home I still make $6.4. This can easily be done 4-5 times in an hour. Most trips are longer (at least by a little) and there is usually someone wanting a ride wherever I go so I'm not ever fussed about going out into the suburbs ( as those people usually want to go somewhere central)

          There is a lot to be said though about loner trips. The per km fee in a Sydney uber is 1.45 so I do make most of my money from the kms. The time cost is $0.40/ min so getting stuck in traffic is not very profitable.

        • @che_97:
          Hi, i have signed up to drive with uber. Still in the process of sending them the paperwork. Can i still use the referral code to get 200 bucks? Thanks

        • @Fent: yeah you can. Get the code and write them an email. Just don't go any further with the sign up until they confirm that you'll get the money.

        • @che_97:
          Can you tell me your referral code then? Thanks

        • @Fent: Hey Fent, I'm not supposed to be giving out referral codes in comments (I've been warned by the mods now)
          So maybe you can send me a PM and I'll reply to it with the code ?

      • What was in the 'two full days'? Is that 8 hours a day?

        • Yeah more or less. 8 hours of driving time plus some time to have some breaks.

      • +2

        So basically you earned $3100 in the last 4 weeks working part-time. That's great. Wish they make it legal here in VIC as well. I understand its pre-tax income and you need to deduct your expenses as well, but still not bad.

      • +2

        When you deduct things like petrol, oil, insurance, tax, tolls, wear-and-tear on your car, etc,
        what is your hourly net income? And do you consider this to be good?

        • +5

          Petrol is very easy to calculate as I just filled the car back up to full after the first couple shifts.
          Petrol accounted for about 10% of my turnover. So if I had made $200 in a day then petrol would have been $20. This figure actually went down (slightly on longer drives) on New Year's Eve I worked a massive shift and petrol worked out to be about 8% of turnover.
          As for wear and tear. I still haven't really done the maths on this. A regular service on my car is $350 every 10,000k and this was usually once a year. I haven't done a service on my car since I started ubering as I've only been doing it full time for a month. I wasn't doing many ks on the car before that.
          Per hour I'd say it can be anywhere from $20-45 per hour mostly depending on what day it is and what time of the day it is.
          Sometimes when things are slow ( or there are many other drivers on the road) I wonder weather it's worth doing it for $20 an hour but then I think about working 9-5 and I'm not really looking for that at the moment so I'm happy doing this, even if it's not the best money. Things have been pretty good so far so I'd say that i think it's good when you consider the flexibility.

        • +15

          Ive been driving Uber in Sydney on Friday and Saturdays nights. After taking into account all the things you mentioned, taxes & the fact you need to pay 10% GST … You don't walk away with much. Maybe $15-20 an hour clear and thats if you have a good night. The only big money to be made is when you find yourself in surges areas. On the upside though it is great fun, meet great people and to date I've only had 1 bad ride where I bloke in the back accused me of touching the guy asleep in the fronts privates and proceeded to punch me in the back of the head whilst doing 110 on the motorway. Very scary moment.

        • +2


          Just had to reply… WHAT THE ACTUAL ****?
          Did you end up pressing charges? That's life threatening…

        • +1

          @cypher67: that does sound very scary. I'm really not happy to read about this. I hope you at the very least reported him to uber (as this would kick him off the service)

          I agree that after you take away your expenses it can feel like there isn't much left but I'm not really doing it just for the money. I'm kind of addicted to working whenever I like.

          As for surges. I stopped chasing them some time back. My rating always seems to go down after I've taken passengers on surge priced rides. I know that it's nothing I'm doing as nothing was out of the ordinary for these trips. People see their phone the next time they open uber, look at the price they paid for a trip they might take regularly and just rate lower based on the price they paid for that trip.

          If a surge comes up I of course take it but my main objective is to have the car empty for as little time as possible.

        • +4

          No I didnt press charges, he didn't do any damage; it was back fist and it would have been my word against theirs. I didn't drive for a few weeks after that though but got back in the saddle for new years and had a blast. I just treated it as a lesson learnt, I think what may have happened was a put my hand down on the hand break, its bad habit I've always had and just a comfy place to rest it. With his beer goggles on seen me put my hand their and jumped to conclusions. I learnt many other things from that ride and have since installed a dash cam with a camera pointing out and inside the cabin.

        • +8

          @cypher67: this really does sound awful and it's good advice as to the dash cam with all the hours on the road increasing the probability of an incident of some kind occurring.
          I'm glad to hear you had he courage to get back into it.

        • +3

          @cypher67: AMA please

        • People who have access to novated leases could possibly bank well then?

        • @cypher67:

          Are you allow to have dash cams as an Uber driver? Isn't it an invasion of privacy?

        • @serpserpserp: almost every taxi has an image recorder on the inside and outside of the car. Why would an uber be any different. The law in Nsw states that you can not record people where they would reasonably expected to have privacy.
          In any form of transport I highly think it is not expected that you have privacy considering there is always someone within earshot. Also, dashcam footage is erased after a certain amount of hours of recording so unless there is an incident, the footage basically doesn't exist

        • @che_97: Well it is erased if you want it erased :) . Not hard to mod a dash cam.

          Still, if I had a HD camera pointed at me, I'd like at a minimum that there be a notice stuck on the dash or something that there is one.

        • @serpserpserp:
          I'm super sensitive about privacy issues, but getting into a taxi or a uber car has such a clear justification for passenger recording I can't work up even a tiny sweat.
          Although I agree a sticker noting it, would both be a good idea for privacy and also a good idea from a deterrent perspective.

      • What is this sign up bonus? I'm in the process of signing up and haven't heard about that?

        • +1

          If an existing driver signs up a new driver both parties receive $200 after the new driver has completed their first 20 trips (1-2 days of driving)

      • OK so! Why not, Good salary) But how do you feel after a working day, do you usually get tired?

        • Yeah it's tiring like any other job where you are sitting for extended periods of time.

  • Are you compensated per hour or per trip?

    Are you one of those who hand out mints and bottled water for customers?

    • +1

      I get paid 80% of the total few plus any tolls taken. This is paid at the end of the week into my bank.

      • Technically it is fare price minus $1 and then you get 80% of what is left. Doesn't seem like much but on a $6 ride its annoying

        • I've heard about this but they haven't started deducting this $1 yet. I think they'll start this in April. I'm also betting the minimum will then become $9

      • +1

        Also no. I don't give out water and mints. It's very nice when people do this and good on those who do it. I have a 4.9 star rating which I'm very proud of and I've never given away any mints or water. I don't think you need to to maintain a good rating.

        • +1

          Mints are an excellent idea. I had a uber driver give me some on my way to a date. Seriously when eclipse goes on special(They were 3 for like $6 the other week) at woolies grab some.

        • @knick007: this is something to consider! I do know which website I'm going to look at for some deals….
          My opposition isn't solely financial ( it is with water as the price of those thing might add up over time)
          But would you not give 5 stars to a driver who had otherwise exceeded your expectations in every other aspect (courteous, polite, takes the shortest/cheapest route/ is up for both talking or staying quite and being fine with either/whatever else you rate drivers on)
          I use uber as a passenger whenever I need to not drive and I think I've only ever given less than 5 stars once to a driver who took me a long way despite me requesting to go another way. 3 stars for him. He also did that thing where he accelerated then braked heavily every 2 seconds. Very jerky ride. It was like he was left foot braking.

        • +2


          But would you not give 5 stars to a driver who had otherwise exceeded your expectations in every other aspect (courteous, polite, takes the shortest/cheapest route/ is up for both talking or staying quite and being fine with either/whatever else you rate drivers on)

          Yes I would and I have.

          The mint thing was just a nice touch because I was going on a date (even though I had an entire packet in my pocket) it was nice.

          I think water is nice as well(again it goes on special at woolies/coles/aldi all the time). The drivers who have given me water especially if I'm a little drunk make me love uber even more.

          Having said that if the driver drove well, was polite and didn't give me water or mints I would still give them 5 stars.

        • @knick007:
          This is really good feedback as some people might not think like me and only give 5 stars to those who go above and beyond

          I might buy a box of water and see how long it lasts. I think most people wouldn't take it. I see it in Ubers all the time and I never take one.
          Thanks for the feedback

        • @che_97:

          I might buy a box of water and see how long it lasts. I think most people wouldn't take it.

          Most of the time I don't take it. Usually because if I'm going out I won't get let into a venue with a bottle of water..

          I've taken one once or twice on the way home if I've had a heavy night.

        • @knick007: Yeah I had an uber driver give me a bottle of water on my way home Saturday night. It was very appreciated. Gave him 5 stars instead of 4 (despite him taking a weird way home)

        • +1

          @theguyrules: this is something I hadn't thought of. Although I always put the onus on the passenger to direct me the way they would like to go to avoid getting 4 stars for taking "weird" ways.

        • @che_97: I got the feeling that this was a very recently ex cabbie. But yeah he only vaguely asked me directions. And I could see him ignoring the directions suggested by the app.

        • +2

          @theguyrules: that would make a lot of sense. Those kinds of people really need to understand that it's the good service bringing people back to uber not just the price. Being able to go home the way you choose is such an important part of that

      • Do you get paid the toll price even though you can claim most of them back sans GST? (For personal purposes, cough.)

        • Not sure about this one. More questions for the accountant !

    • +4

      I'm not a fan of the bottles of water and mints. Because there is no educating passengers on the rating system, if a driver does offer those services they then raise the bar for a 5 star ride for the next driver and they shouldnt be expected.

      • +4

        This is kind of how I feel. Spot on

  • Do you ever refuse passengers for any reason?

    Also do you ever overload on passengers?

    • +1

      I would never overload as this risk isn't worth it ( I can not receive higher than 5 star rating nor do I make more money)

      I am supposed to accept at least 90% of all trips. The only reason I would refuse someone is if I thought they were about to throw up in the next 5 minutes. This hasn't happened yet (and I've driven many drunk people home)

  • +1

    Do you pay tax and GST?

    • +2

      I haven't spent any of the money I've earned yet. So it's all just sitting in an account. I have an appointment with my accountant next week and we're going to set all this up. As I understand it I only need to register for gst if my turnover is higher than $60,000. I was away from the country for some time this year (and thus not earning income) so I'll be under the threshold for this year at least.

      What is your opinion on this ? I still have the money put aside ( I case I do have to collect gst) so either way I'm going to cover myself but it's always good to get different opinions.

      • You are not a business, you are a private contractor for Uber and in doing so you need to pay GST, there is heaps of tutorials online how to do it quarterly.

      • GST only applicable if above the threshold

      • +2

        Taxi drivers have to register for GST, no matter what their income is. Please don't let the 'know it all's' give you incorrect information.

      • In paying for GST, you also charge passengers 10% GST no? so it equals..

  • What type of vehicle would be the most effective/efficent ? Diesel? SUV?
    Thanks in advance.

    • +6

      To me, if you were buying a car just to uber ( like I recently have) the most important factor would be the overall cost and not just the fuel consumption. There are a lot of very fuel efficient diesel cars (2.0 turbo diesel golf for example) that also make lovely every day cars.
      I would avoid an suv like crazy unless you want to sign up for uber black (for which you need a hire car licence plate and I don't know much else about)
      But basically you don't make more money by using a nicer car. Not do you get better ratings from your passengers because of your car.
      So your income is fixed or more accurately, you have minimal control over how much you make. As you can't control where the passenger wants and you have to accept all trips, you are at the mercy of the uber app (for better or worse)
      So then your best bet is to lower your expenditure. The biggest one being the upfront cost of the car ( or the finance on it)
      Fuel consumption does play a part but often you can get very good fuel
      Consumption from a car much cheaper than a car with "excellent" fuel consumption.
      Eg. I just bought a 2015 Honda Jazz. It was $14,000 and had only 17,000km on it. Fuel consumption is 6L/100km
      I also looked at a PriusC which was rated at 3.9L/ hundred Ks.
      A used one was going for $19k. Good price for the car but it would take a very long time to make that extra 5k investment back (even if I was driving a lot)

      Tl;d: do your research on a car that is good for uber but that you will also be able to live with when you don't uber (the main reason I went with the Honda, I liked it the most)

      • Are you taking depreciation into account? Generally you would depreciate a vehicle over 8 years but you could ask your accountant about a shorter effective life due to the heavy km.

        • Very good advice! Thanks. I'll ask him what he thinks when I see him

      • What do passengers say when you rock up in a Honda Jazz?

  • +1

    What is the weirdest thing someone has done or said? And the funniest drunk person you've had?

  • +8

    There was one Job which stood out. I drove someone from where I picked them up into the city, then back to where I picked them up, then back to the city (empty with the meter still running at the customers request) picked up the customers friends (a couple) and was told to take these people where ever they wanted to go. All up the client hired the car for 3 hours! It was $180 in my pocket.

    As for drunk people. There was an Irish gentleman on New Year's Eve so drunk that I thought he was talking Gallic to me. He just had a really thick accent! He had a bottle of booze with him in the car and he fell asleep with his forehead resting on the cap of the bottle (southern comfort) so that when he took his head off the bottle lid had imprinted the pattern into his head ! The guy was really nice though, he was somehow still directing me (even though he had forgotten like 5 or 6 time that he had already entered the destination in the gps. Each time he asked me to turn one way or another he was saying "thank you sir" I thought that was a memorable ride.

    • Do you allow your customers to drink alcohol in your car? What do most uber drivers do?

      • +1

        I have not idea about what other drivers do as I've never consumed anything other than water in another uber.

        As for me. It's a case by case thing. If I think they are going to spill drinks (alcoholic or not) then I ask that they don't consume anything whilst in the car.

  • can you claim 54 cents per km or whatever as an expense?

    • Not really sure what you mean here ? But tell me how I can get 54c a km!

      • well ppl can claim 54 cents or so per km on their tax if they goto conferences , airports etc related to their job other than their normal work place

        • Very interesting. I'll have to look into this bus I'm guessing not. I think what you might be referring to is your regular employer compensating an employee for using their private vehicle for work purposes ( like going to a conference)
          Would love to get a more definitive answer from anyone of they know more on those.

        • +1

          @che_97: i think not too

        • +1

          You could use various methods, but putting the vehicle in to the business and claiming actual expenses plus depreciation is going to be more effective. Cents per km is for less than 5000km annually.

        • @BartholemewH:

          Different methods may work out better for the OP.
          At least OP has a valid source of information for logbook method… I'm sure you'd do more than 5000kms in a year for Uber. You'd be doing yourself a disservice, especially as there's the $20k tax break (which OP could potentially claim - I haven't checked whether Uber driving is PSI).

        • @konazz:

          The problem with using the uber log is that it only includes paid rides.

          You'd want to include all km while working.

        • @lysp:
          true… so you DEFINITELY need to keep a log of kms, start to finish, minus breaks in between. Easier to get a GPS logging app on your phone, and run it the whole time you're uber'ing.

          I wonder if Uber allows drivers to be registered as company's or trusts (gets around the 5000km rule, and then you only have to deal with FBT if you don't keep a log book).

  • +1

    i was thinking of doing this on a friday n saturday night part time is it worth it?

    • If you already have a suitable car, yes. If you need to go get another car and this won't be you're primary source of income then no.
      It doesn't take too long to sign up and it's quite a bit of fun.

      • +6

        i was thinking of doing for sh*ts and giggles, i dont go out, my misses is asleep by 9… just to earn some beer money… have a car already so i was just gonna do 9-2am orvso and drive drunks home