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Should you drive or deliver for Uber in Australia? Things to know before you start driving for rideshare.

Maryse Dubois

Are you thinking about driving for Uber, Ubereats, Didi or Ola?

If you own a car you don’t use often, you may have considered driving for Uber, Didi or Ola as a way to save money by offsetting the cost of owning your car, or to earn some extra income on the side. The idea of driving for a rideshare company like Uber is pretty appealing; you can set your own hours, you don’t really have a boss and hopefully you have some nice customers. It’s also quick to sign up and start earning money straight away.

But what’s the reality of driving for Uber? How much money do you make? And how do the three rideshare companies in Australia, Uber, Didi and Ola stack up against each other? If you’re interested in driving for Uber, or one of the newer rideshare platforms, read on. We’ll compare Uber vs Ola vs Didi, and also look at alternative ways you can make money from your car, if you decide becoming a rideshare driver is not for you.

What is ridesharing?

Rideshare is one part of the wider sharing economy. It links drivers with passengers through a mobile app and is a cost effective alternative to using a traditional taxi service. Riders book a ride and drivers can accept and reject rides that are offered to them. Rideshare is a way for drivers to earn money by using their own car, but it’s not the only way to use your car to make money in the sharing economy. You can also share your car and rent it out to other people when you’re not using it on a car sharing platform.

Should I drive for Uber, Ola or Didi in Australia?

At the moment there are three main rideshare companies operating in Australia - all with different commission and rates per kilometre, as well as different incentive programs to encourage drivers to earn more. Uber has been in Australia the longest, with Didi and Ola being the most recent arrivals.

Uber

Uber arrived in Australia in 2012, and operates in all major and regional cities across Australia. Uber charges $1.52 per kilometre and takes between 22 and 27 percent commission. Drivers have the ability to earn more if they drive during ‘surge pricing’ or meet goals under the Uber Pro driver reward system.

Didi

Didi arrived in Australia in 2018 and operates in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Newcastle, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Geelong and the Sunshine Coast. Didi charges $1.74 per kilometre. They started out with a flat five percent commission, but after introducing a new driver incentive program, called Didi Advance, commission rates for drivers now range between zero and 19 percent, depending on meeting particular goals.

Ola

Like Didi, Ola also arrived in Australia in 2018.  It operates in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Ola charges $1.70 per kilometre and takes 15 percent commission in the major cities and 20 percent in regional cities. Ola has a driver incentive program called VIP Rewards, which gives drivers the chance to earn between zero and five percent commission, depending on how they perform.

How much do you really earn driving for Uber, Ola or Didi?

Uber, Ola and Didi don’t have a great reputation for paying their drivers well. According to a report by Jim Stanford at the Centre for Future Work at the Australian Institute, the average net hourly wage (before personal income tax) of an Uber driver in Australia is $14.62 per hour.

The average hourly wage of an Uber driver in Australia is $14.62 per hour - before tax.

While Ola and Didi pay around 20 cents per kilometre more than Uber, and also have lower commission rates, because of the way they ‘incentivise’ their drivers, driving for Ola or Didi doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll earn more than driving for Uber.

Of course, your earnings will be largely dertermined by how much you work, where you choose to drive, and the times of day that you work.

For example, if you drive for Uber, ‘surge pricing’ occurs when the price goes up because of demand in particular areas. Driving at the time of day and on days when prices surge, will earn more money. David Rorsheim from Uber says, “Earnings change depending on what time people choose to log on. When surge pricing automatically kicks in … the fare might be one-and-a-half, two times the normal rates. Drivers know this and the smart ones log on at the right times and the right areas and earn the big bucks."

Your income will also vary considerably by the number of rides you receive per hour. Plus you also need to consider the ongoing running costs of your car and the cost of petrol.

What you’ll end up taking home will depend on:

  • How frequently you drive
  • The number of trips you do
  • Where you drive
  • The times of day you drive
  • The running costs of your car

Tracking your costs

It’s important if you drive for Uber, Ola or Didi to carefully track what you are actually earning - to make sure you are not only breaking even, but also making a profit. You need to account for taxes, running costs, wear and tear; and most importantly the time cost of driving, to ensure you are earning an income of at least the net $14.62 average.

For tax purposes, make sure to keep an up to date log book and you can also claim for your mobile phone, road tolls, water and car accessories, when you do your tax return.

If you are using a scooter or bike to deliver for Ubereats, your running costs are much lower. So if you are tossing up between driving your car or using a bike or scooter to deliver food for Ubereats, it would be wise to crunch the numbers on the running costs of your car.

To know if you’re making money, it’s important to track all your costs and keep a log book.

Uber vs Didi vs Ola: who to drive for

When deciding which ridesharing company to drive for, you should consider the ways they incentivise their drivers. Ola and Didi reward drivers by lowering commission and allowing drivers to take home more of the fare. Uber Pro rewards drivers with faster pick up at airports, petrol savings and free car washes, but no reduction in commission.

Uber, Ola and Didi all have different driver incentive programs which affect how much you can earn.

Whilst taking home a bigger fare may seem like a great incentive, drivers need to accept more trips that are offered, work much longer hours and avoid breaks. This can work for drivers who want to work full time or more (over 60 hours per week), but for casual workers who don’t, the base rate commission can make it harder to earn more money.

For example, Didi began with a flat five percent commission rate, but recently introduced a four tiered incentive program for drivers. In order to earn the same five percent on Didi Advance, drivers now have to complete at least 30 trips per week. Below 30 trips, commission rises to twelve percent, making it more difficult for casual drivers.

To unlock lower commission or other rewards, drivers need to meet trip quantity targets, low cancellation percentages and high driver ratings.

When do I get paid?

Depending on who you choose to drive for, you’ll be paid differently. Ola pays its drivers each day. Didi and Uber pay their drivers each week.

Making a choice between Uber, Didi or Ola will depend on how often you want to work, the times of day you drive, and which incentive program suits you better. It also means closely monitoring your costs to make sure you’re actually making money.

You can compare commission, rates and driver rewards programs between Uber, Ola and Didi below, but ultimately how much you end up taking home will depend on how much you drive and how many trips you accept and complete.

Commission    Rate per km    Reward Program        Uber    22 - 28%    $1.52    Uber pro
Based on cancellation rate and driver rating
Faster airport pickup
Savings on fuel
Free car washes        Didi    0 - 19%    $1.74    Didi Advance
Based on the number of trips per week
Silver: 19% commission
Gold: 12% commission
Platinum: 5% commission
Diamond: 0% commission
       Ola    15 - 20%    $1.70    VIP Rewards
Based on the number of trips completed & time of day
0 & 5% commission
Cash rewards

What about food delivery? Does delivering for Ubereats make more money?

If you’re wondering who makes more money, Ubereats or Uber, generally Ubereats delivery drivers are purported to make less than Ubers delivering people. However, since you can use a scooter or a bicycle to deliver food, your running costs can be significantly reduced - which could mean more favourable profits for you. It also is necessary to ask yourself when you expect to drive. If you are able to deliver around mealtimes, you may find Ubereats (or a similar provider like Foodora or Deliveroo), is better for you due to the increased demand. If you’re using a bicycle, it is a great way to get fit and earn some money at the same time.


Photo by [Kai Pilger]

What do I need to start driving for Uber, Didi Or Ola?

All three providers have similar requirements to start driving;

  • A suitable, roadworthy vehicle
  • 21 years of age
  • A current drivers license
  • Car insurance

Types of Uber vehicle tiers

Uber has a few different vehicle categories for Uber drivers. You may have noticed these when you’ve booked an Uber yourself. There are different tiers for riders at different price points with each having different features:

  • UberX: The cheapest fare tier, with the least stringent vehicle requirements.
  • UberSelect: A step above UberX. Only certain vehicle models apply, and drivers must meet minimum trip counts and ratings.
  • UberXL: SUV and vans that can seat extra people, essentially a higher capacity version of UberX.
  • UberAssist: Vehicles that can accommodate disability aids (wheelchairs, walkers etc). Drivers will need to complete free training from the Australian Network on Disability.
  • UberBlack: Luxury vehicles from Uber drivers. You’ll need a commercial licence, and it has to be an approved Uber model.

Your car needs to be new, clean and well maintained

To drive for UberX, Didi, or Ola, your vehicle cannot be more than ten years old and must seat four people plus the driver. You need to be at least 21 years old, have an unrestricted licence and be listed as an insured driver for the vehicle you’ll be driving.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you’d like to drive for Uber Black, the premium tier and with a higher rate, your car must be at seven years old or newer, have commercial vehicle insurance, be black, silver or grey and be one of the approved listed model types. You’ll also need to be able to pass a background check (processes vary by city).

To start driving for rideshare, your car must be less than ten years old.

What kind of insurance do I need to drive for Uber or other rideshare companies?

Many standard insurance policies forbid drivers from using their car to carry passengers for profit - but much like how services such as Airbnb and Stayz opened up the home insurance marketplace for innovative products - ridesharing has opened up the door for specialist rideshare insurance policies. Here are some things to know about insurance:

  • Many standard insurance policies forbid drivers from using their car to carry passengers for profit.
  • Insurance offered by a rideshare company may not cover damage to your own car.
  • There are a number of specialist rideshare insurance policies available.
  • If you already have comprehensive cover for your vehicle, you may be able to extend it to cover driving for Uber or other rideshare services - but you'll need to talk to your insurer before you hit the road.

Some designated insurance brands specialise in providing car insurance for those wanting to use their car for ridesharing. These policies cost roughly the same as your average car insurance policy and will replace your current third party or comprehensive policy.

You need to have your own insurance to drive for Uber, Ola & Didi.

Wait, doesn’t Uber, Ola or Didi cover me?

Yes and no. Uber, Ola and Didi offer insurance coverage for drivers, which can cover injury and property damage liability, but it’s important to be aware that this is a contingent insurance policy that works alongside your own personal compulsory third party (CTP) policy.

Don't have a car? You can deliver for Ubereats

If you’d like to become an Uber eats driver, the vehicle requirements are a little less stringent. You only need to be 18 to start as a delivery driver for Ubereats, with a car that is a 1990 model or newer. Alternatively, if you don’t own a car, depending on the rules in your city, you can also opt to deliver for Uber by bicycle, motorcycle or scooter. The motorcycle or scooter has to be a 1990 model or newer and for cyclists, you need to ensure you are fit enough to be able to deliver the food.

How safe is it for women to drive?

All platforms have safety policies to help keep drivers and passengers safe. This includes 24 hour support and in app safety features. If you are a woman and uncertain about safety, Shebah is Australia’s only all woman rideshare platform, that has only female drivers and provides a service to women and children only.

Shebah is the only women-only rideshare platform in Australia.

The benefits of driving for rideshare

You can set the hours you want

Being able to set your own hours is fantastic, giving you the flexibility to work when you want. However, depending on where you are located, you may find you need to work during peak times in order to get enough rides to offset your costs. If you already have a full-time or part-time job, you may find that working flexible hours is worth a reduction in pay, allowing you to balance both.

You don’t technically have a manager

Not having a manager hovering over your shoulder is certainly an appealing prospect - particularly if you like autonomy or control over your working environment. On the flipside, you need to maintain a good rating, so if you have a difficult rider in the backseat, you’re the one that needs to deal with it.

Get fit delivering for UberEats

If you want a way to build your cycling fitness, why not start delivering for UberEats? Pedalling all over your neighbourhood will certainly get you fit. With Foodora, Deliveroo and UberEats all accepting bike riders for delivery, there are ample opportunities to earn some cash riding. If you aren’t sure you’re fit enough, it might be worth starting to cycle around your neighbourhood now or make sure to start delivering in a nice flat area of your city to avoid all the hills.

How else can you make money from your vehicle?

The sharing economy is a great way to earn extra money if you’re saving for something, or to supplement your income. But rideshare is only one part of the sharing economy. If you have a car and you don’t drive much, there are other ways to make money from your car.

There are other ways to use your car to supplement your income. You can rent it out when you’re not using it on a car sharing platform.

Make income from your car by sharing it with your neighbours

If you own a car and it sits in your driveway most of the time, you can rent it out to someone who doesn’t have a car. Putting your car on a car share platform, like Car Next Door, allows you to make money off your car when you’re not using it. Best of all - you don’t need to be driving it to make money. Unlike driving for rideshare, car sharing requires minimal interaction. You don’t even need to meet anyone to exchange keys. There’s also no commission taken. You earn 100 percent of the hourly or daily fee you set. You’ll also earn an additional amount for every kilometre a borrower drives.

Making the sharing economy work for you

If you are considering driving for a rideshare platform, it’s important to do your research and spend some time crunching the numbers to ensure you’ll still be making enough money after expenses. Driving for Uber, Didi or Ola won’t be right for everyone, but if you enjoy working flexible hours, being your own boss, and most of all you enjoy driving, then becoming a rideshare driver could be a good way to supplement your income.

If you don’t want to be a driver, car sharing may be a better way to use your car to bring in extra income. You can even do both and test which works best. Car sharing can earn between 250 and 750 dollars per week on average, depending on the type of vehicle you own, plus you’ll be making a contribution to reducing congestion on the roads and CO2 emissions. Whatever you choose to do, there’s lots of ways to make the sharing economy work for you, whether you want to make it a full time gig, your side hustle, or simply to supplement income on a casual basis.

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