Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram in the days after leaving my role as a nonprofit director this past summer, I continuously noticed ads for UberRUSH.UberRUSH is Uber’s venture into the realm of on-demand delivery services. Delivery services are conveniently made possible through the work of Uber “Partners,” who bike from sender to receiver, carrying anything from apartment keys to avocado toast.
As an avid Brooklyn bicyclist, my interest was piqued by the opportunity to make money doing something I genuinely love. I concluded that I had little to lose by signing up for this relatively new and unknown service and began the application process.
Soon it was August 8th. In a little over three weeks, I had become an Uber Partner. Achieving status as an Uber Partner was done with relative ease and little effort. If you’re adventurous, entrepreneurial and seeking a unique source of income, I suggest you continuing reading.
- Setup time. Minimal. It’s simply a matter of entering basic personal information — your name, phone number, email, ZIP code and Social Security number). Pro tip: If you previously had an Uber Rider account, you’ll need to use a different email from what you used for that account.
- Application process. Varies. Uber requires a successful background check in order to become a Partner. It took 17 days for my security clearance to be completed.
- Training process. Much like the delivery service itself, this is quick and convenient. You watch a 20-minute YouTube video and complete a brief post-video quiz. In the video, prospective Partners learn how to use the Uber Partner mobile app, as well as other requirements of the position.
- Requirements. A bicycle, proof that you’re 19 or older, ability to lift heavy loads, iPhone or Android mobile device.
- Time until first payment. Once you’re an approved Uber Partner, you can begin work immediately and have the ability to cash out your earnings (onto your debit card) almost instantly. If you opt for weekly direct deposit, your earnings are processed between Monday and Wednesday of each week. For me, payment took a month and a day: My application was submitted on July 7th, I began riding on August 4th and I received my first paycheck on August 8th.
- Earning potential. Uber promises that you will keep 80% of your gross earnings. (Uber maintains a 20% service fee.) In my first four months as an Uber Partner, I experienced ups and downs with my earnings. My average hourly earnings in that time frame came to $12.91 an hour, with my highest daily average coming in at $22 an hour. From an actual dollar standpoint, my highest daily earnings totaled $82 in slightly under three hours.
- Risks. Stating the obvious here, but you’re literally putting your life at risk every time you hop on your bike in a city like New York. If you’re an aggressive rider, your risk is increased with each yellow cab you weave around. Even the most cautious of riders are at risk, as drivers often have little regard for their peddling peers. That said, not once in my four months riding for UberRUSH was I involved in even a minor accident. Aside from health risks, there is also the chance that your bike gets stolen while you are completing a delivery.
The ease of access to work made UberRUSH an ideal opportunity for a bicycling enthusiast such as myself and provided consistent supplemental income. Successful days on the bike path are relatively easy to come by.
I would often start my day in an area where Uber offers promotions — this past summer those areas included Brooklyn neighborhoods Williamsburg and Greenpoint. From there, I’d trek over the Manhattan or Williamsburg Bridge and quickly earn $20 to $25 right off the bat for completing a delivery. This would allow me to position myself in delivery heat zones like the East Village or Midtown. There, the deliveries were shorter distances and completed quickly, allowing me to reach minimum delivery quotas that yielded bonus dollars for completing a certain number of trips.
Depending on my Manhattan success, I would head back to Brooklyn to complete a few more deliveries en route to my home. My systematic approach often led to financial success and also allowed me to conserve ever-important energy on hot summer days.
It’s best practice to remain flexible and creative. Just as there are more delivery opportunities in certain areas, there are also more UberRUSH couriers in those areas. Bike outside of the box from time to time and find new areas to attack for earnings.
- Ease of access. Uber’s allows you to start working fast.
- Schedule flexibility. Work as often or as little as you want. And anytime.
- Improve your physical fitness. Forget squats. Biking for Uber will have you toned in a mere number of weeks.
- Instant Pay. Need some quick cash for tomorrow’s happy hour? Hop on your bike for a few hours and cash out instantly when offline. Your daily earnings (less $0.50) are deposited onto your debit card or Uber Debit Card. Instant Pay does not include incentive pay. Incentive earnings are deposited into your debit account once a week.
- Incentives. Uber offers a variety of financial incentives to its Partners. Like a $5 bonus for all trips that start in Brooklyn and $15 for completing three trips between 6 and 9 p.m. Incentives range in attainability, but there’s typically a chance for additional earnings. Uber also pays for referrals — at $100 per Partner — awarded after the referral completes 10 deliveries.
Sounds good. How do I get started?
Keep your eyes peeled
Errant drivers. Jaywalkers. Gale force winds! These are just a few tangible factors to watch out for. Biking for Uber is not for everyone, and certainly not for those looking for a leisurely way to earn a few dollars.
You’re only paid while completing a delivery
You’re not compensated for your time spent biking to pick up a delivery, which could lead from Bushwick to Midtown East with no account for your time or energy. Instead, you are paid for your time from the time you pick up from the sender to the time you successfully deliver to the recipient.
Speaking of lost energy, you’ll work your ass off and fatigue will set in. This past August, New York’s temperatures hovered around 90 degrees for the better part of two weeks. Succeeding in that type of environment requires a great deal of personal fitness and care.
In New York, we experience all four seasons, resulting in a wide array of weather conditions. Biking through high winds can be challenging for even the strongest riders, while rain, snow or sleet could put your personal safety at risk.
Even with an increasing number of bike lanes throughout NYC, there’s no avoiding the annoyance of traffic. Pedestrians will see you speeding down Bedford Avenue only to jaywalk anyway, forcing you to swerve in front of an oncoming garbage truck that will then blow what is likely the loudest and most terrifying horn your ears have ever heard. Bottom line: Safely navigating the streets needs to be your No. 1 priority with this job.
I’m a city rider. That’s no sweat.
The fine print
Am I even eligible?
If you’re 19 years old, own an iPhone or Android phone, have a bicycle and can lift heavy loads (30 to 50 pounds at most) — you’re most likely eligible. The only other caveat is passing Uber’s background check, which equates to a “clean criminal record that does not include convictions for prior offenses specified by local law.”
What do I need to apply?
Unlike driving for Uber, UberRUSH does not require documentation. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number at sign-up.
How do I apply?
- Sing up
- Download the Uber Driver app to your mobile device.
- Visit Uber HQ to retrieve your insulated messenger bag. You’ll need to pay a $22 deposit for this messenger bags, which Uber will refund when your bag is returned in good condition.
- Fire up your Uber Driver app and start making deliveries.
I’m an UberRUSH bike courier! Now what?
Congratulate yourself for not possessing a damning criminal record. Now you’re eligible to start making deliveries and earning fast money. Log in to the Uber Driver app, go online and venture to highly populated areas in your city. To allow for Instant Pay, link your debit card in Uber Driver. From there, the rest is up to you and your bike!
Location, location, location. Position yourself in heavily populated areas — Williamsburg, FiDi, Midtown — during peak hours, either lunchtime or early evening. Stay online. Find your niche and comfort level. If you’re capable of making long deliveries (some trips range from 6 to 8 miles), don’t be afraid to start in Queens or Brooklyn, eventually making your way into Manhattan. However, if you’re tired or incapable of longer rides, stay in an area that’s densely populated with businesses.
Take care of yourself. Between deliveries, stay adequately hydrated and occasionally take time to rest on a park bench. Remember, you’re not making money when you’re not on a delivery. But working smarter pays off more than working harder.
Take care of your bike. Working smart also involves taking care of your key to making money with UberRUSH: your bike. Keep the proper amount of air in your tires, oil your chain and equip your bike with a bell, flashlight and reflectors. These features will allow you to ride longer into the night and potentially increase your earnings.
Ratings. When you finally decide that you simply can’t bike anymore, go offline and review your earnings using the Uber Driver app. Pay attention to your ratings, gush over any rider compliments you receive and review Uber’s Pro Tips.
Cash out. If you don’t opt for Instant Pay, UberRUSH will direct deposit your earnings once per week. If you use Instant Pay, your daily earnings will likely appear in your bank account the next day.
Tools of the trade
- Bicycle. It doesn’t need to be fancy or high-end, but I recommend a Road or Hybrid style.
- Helmet. Quite simply, wear your helmet. Every single time.
- Lock. Always lock your bike, even when making the quickest of deliveries. U-Locks (Kryptonite or OnGuard are solid brands) provide an all-around value for safety and ease of access. And they won’t bog you down with extra, unwanted weight.
- Messenger bag. Use your own or rent from Uber. This type of bag required for all deliveries and must be insulated.
- Phone charger. The Uber Driver app will drain your battery quickly. Uber provides a free charger that will add hours to your workday.
- Phone mount. If you like to see where you’re going, invest in a weatherproof phone case or mount for your handlebar. You’ll be able to easily access Uber Driver as well as glance at directions while biking.
- Lights. NYC cyclists are required by law to use a white headlight and red taillight. Uber will provide you with both for free.
- Earphones. By law, you can ride with one earbud in. Which I recommend to help you navigate smoothly and safely, rather than continuously looking at your phone screen.
- Food and water. Pack your bag with snacks and plenty of water. You’ll need to take care of yourself before you can service your customers.
Summing it up
As a supplemental source of income, UberRUSH can be a useful way to make money. Although you won’t earn your monthly rent with your Uber Partner wages, it’s an effective means of income for individuals looking to ride about 2 to 4 hours per day multiple times per week.
I love biking and money. I’m in.
- Where is UberRUSH currently available? Parts of New York City (Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens), Chicago and San Francisco.
- What equipment does Uber provide? Uber provides free reflector lights, portable phone chargers and insulated messenger bags (with a $22 security deposit) to its bike couriers. In NYC, these items can be retrieved from the Uber Technologies office at 633 West 27th Street once you’ve completed Partner Training.
- What if I need to cancel a delivery request I’ve accepted? You can cancel a request at any time. However, minimizing cancellations is critical for the reliability of the system and people’s satisfaction with their Uber experience.
- How do I pay taxes as an Uber Partner? Partners who act as couriers are classified as independent contractors and are responsible for filing a 1099 tax form with the IRS.
- How is my delivery fare calculated? Rates vary by city. New York offers $5.50 for the first mile of each trip plus $2.50 for each additional mile. Chicago pays $6.30 for the first mile and $1.80 for additional miles, while San Francisco offers $6 for the first mile plus $3 each additional mile. Incentives vary and are factored in the conclusion of each delivery.