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Ultimate guide for Uber Eats drivers

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Whether you are hungry for a full-time gig or just a side-hustle for extra cash, food delivery work with Uber Eats gives you flexible hours with little commitment.

This blog post outlines how the idea works in London. It also compares this role to being a private hire driver for Uber (i.e. someone who takes real riders, instead of bringing burgers to people’s doors).

That’s enough chat. Let’s dig in…

How to become an Uber Eats driver?

It’s easy to join. Simply download the standard driver version of the Uber app, create an account and check you meet the requirements below. Don’t forget to specify you want to join as an Uber Eats driver in London.`

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • EU/UK driving licence
  • Bank statement (within last three months)
  • DVLA electronic counterpart check code (if UK driving licence)
  • Insurance certificate (must include food delivery)

You then wait for a background check on your legal status, done by an Uber partner firm called Sterling. Uber says new Eats drivers can be ready to deliver within 24 hours but this may also take a few weeks. As soon as the check is done, Uber will activate your account and you are good to go.

Did you know?

These rules are for cars or motorbikes. A bicycle (or e-bike) rider only needs Photo ID and a bank statement.

What do you get paid with Uber Eats?

The real meat here is what you earn as an Uber Eats delivery driver. As with most gig-economy roles, the reward depends on a few factors. The obvious one is how many food orders you complete. That’s because Uber Eats drivers are paid by the trip, not the hours worked. Unlike PCO Uber drivers, there is no minimum hourly rate.

Another crucial point is expenses. Remember that real earnings are the profits left after all of your costs.

First, let’s talk about income. The money you get for each Uber Eats trip is based on three main ideas. A pick-up fee for collecting food, the time and distance to each destination, plus a drop-off fee when you complete delivery jobs.

It sounds complex but the Uber driver app combines all these separate fees into one minimum fare that you’ll earn for each order before you accept the job. This fare might get adjusted upwards in the delivery app if, say, there is heavy traffic. Occasionally, the minimum fare is lowered if an order gets cancelled by the restaurant.

  • Pick-up (ie per collection from restaurant)
  • Mileage (ie time and distance taken)
  • Drop-off (ie per order you deliver)
  • Minimum fee (ie total fare per delivery)

Uber does not make it easy to see these pay-rates until you sign up. Broadly speaking, the minimum fare is under £3 for a short job in London. This is largely for informational purposes, partly because of the special fees (see below).

How much do Uber Eats drivers make in London?

On top of the delivery basics, you earn extra cash with special fees. These are the Uber Eats secret sauce. Sadly, Uber appears to have discontinued boosts, where food delivery fares got multiplied at peak hours in busy locations.

  • Tips – You keep 100% of tips, so it pays to be nice. Really nice.
  • Quest – Bonus for completing a number of trips in a specific time (eg £50 for 50 trips in 30 days)
  • Referrals – Uber will pay you to recommend new drivers, even in a different city.

Did you know?

Uber Eats customers can still give you a tip up to 7 days after a food order is completed.

Once you include these extras, Otto Car research reveals that a typical Uber Eats delivery driver in London can earn roughly £9-12 per hour on average before expenses. However, not all hours are equal for a food delivery rider.

In peak hours (e.g. Friday or Saturday night) you might make decent money, whereas it can be dead during the day. That is why most people who do this type of courier work use several food delivery apps at once (see below).

Many Uber Eats drivers set themselves a target of, say, £100 per day. It is achievable if you work hard – and smart.

How to get paid with Uber Eats?

Uber Eats drivers can receive their payments in three different ways:

  1. Weekly deposits to your bank account – Usually on Monday mornings.
  2. Instant cashout – Get your money in minutes, up to 5 times per day.
  3. Two-day cashout (previously Flex Pay) – If you ask before 1400 Mon-Fri

Did you know?

Uber charges you £0.50 per instant pay cashout. The other two methods are free.

The costs of being an Uber Eats driver

The Uber service charge is subtracted from the fare – excluding tips – and varies from 20 to 30%. The percentage depends on the city and vehicle type (e.g. car or bicycle). For deliveries in London by car, the service charge is 25%.

Next, think about your vehicle. Even a push bike isn’t free but you’ll probably want one with electric power-assist. Weekly rentals in London cost from £39 for a suitable e-bike or £69 for an e-moped (incl insurance) by Otto Scooter.

If you are serious about becoming an Uber Eats delivery driver, it often makes sense to opt for a car. It’s no fun dragging a heavy bag uphill on a pushbike in the rain. Let’s look at the options.

How to use a car as an Uber Eats driver?

Aside from sourcing the vehicle itself, here are the main everyday running costs.

Insurance

You will need business insurance for food delivery work and this is not the same as rideshare insurance. The price depends on your driving history, location and model but expect to pay at least 3 or 4 times more than a domestic annual policy, or find a provider that charges per hour. Check the wording carefully.

Fuel and maintenance

Petrol or recharging costs can be chunky. However, if you are using four wheels to take tacos around town every day, then allow for maintenance too. At a basic level, you’ll wear out those tyres faster than you can say: Peri Peri sauce, so it’s smart to put £100 a month aside. Don’t forget the breakdown cover.

Taxes

This is a complex one, not least because it depends on whether you already have another income. The key point is that you must declare your Uber Eats earnings to HRMC and pay the tax. On the upside, you can offset some allowable expenses both for yourself and the vehicle to reduce this bill.

London traffic fees

Driving a car in London typically means paying the Congestion Charge and ULEZ. You can avoid the former by keeping the vehicle outside of the Congestion zone or not working during the times that it applies. In reality, you might also pick up a few PCNs – and these cost money too.

Did you know?

If you drive an EV, you won’t pay either of these traffic fees until at least December 2025.

What’s the price to rent a car for Uber Eats?

Naturally, it depends on the car. For example, though, a PCO Car Hire from Otto Car starts from £229 per week – and that includes full rideshare insurance plus comprehensive servicing, even for wear and tear. Every car is fully Uber-approved and ready to go. It’s an easy win – but probably overkill when used purely for food delivery.

If you’ve built-up some experience with Uber Eats and want to upgrade your career to a PCO driver, then our Rent 2 Buy + deal is the most flexible PCO car ownership plan in the business. It’s the only one with eight weeks of holiday payment breaks per year.

How to make more money with Uber Eats?

Here are some insider’s tips to milk the system and make extra money.

Batched orders

Save time by collecting more than one food order in the same place. You only receive a single pick-up fee but get a reward for each drop-off, plus extra mileage.

Back-to-back orders

The Uber Eats app shows your next delivery while you complete the current job. This helps you to plan but you should always take regular breaks.

Choose wisely

Pick areas with lots of Uber Eats restaurants and residents. Shorter jobs mean the food is likely to be hot, which means more chances of a tip. Avoid places that keep drivers hanging around.

Be helpful

Speaking of tips, always check orders are correct and include a few napkins or straws. Getting these delivery basics right also secures you higher Uber ratings.

Cancelled orders

If a restaurant cancels a delivery order, you don’t get the full drop-off fee. If it’s impossible to deliver, you’ll be paid fully if you call (not text) the customer twice and wait for the 7-minute timer.

Get the kit

You don’t have to use Uber-branded gear but it’s smart to invest in an insulated bag at the official Uber Eats store. In extreme weather, use two food bags – one inside the other.

Communicate well

Always let the customer know if an order is delayed, no matter the reason – and smile when you hand over those pizzas. Good vibes definitely help too.

Did you know?

Think when people want takeaway food. Bad weather or public holidays improve the chance of more money.

Alternatives to Uber Eats driving in London

Remember that Uber Eats is not the only option for casual delivery work in London. One obvious example is to also be a Deliveroo driver or work for its arch-rival Just Eat. But why stop there?

Once you have a suitable vehicle and insurance, there are various delivery app services to keep working if a single source of work goes quiet. These include Yodel, Evri and Amazon Flex.

You can see a comparison here and experiment by juggling several driver jobs or flexible grocery delivery jobs at the same time to see which suits.

Extra benefits of Uber Eats driving

Aside from flexible hours, there are few advantages with Uber Eats. The main one is the Uber Eats Pro loyalty plan.

Regular Uber Eats drivers now get mild sweeteners, such as slight discounts on fuel or e-bike rentals. Other bonuses include subsidised gym membership and a modest allowance for free tuition at The Open University.

To be fair, it all helps – but there is nothing too juicy on the table here.

Why smart delivery drivers switch to PCO work?

By comparison, Uber drivers who carry passengers and have a PCO licence from TfL get serious perks in Uber Pro.

  • Generous rewards scheme that includes 100% tuition on 900 university courses
  • Minimum earnings guarantee for at least the National Living Wage while on Uber trips
  • Pension plan that includes contributions from Uber as well as the driver
  • Partner Protection insurance scheme for illnesses, injuries or becoming a parent
  • Holiday pay in the form of an additional 12.07% of your earnings each week
  • Higher trip fares compared to Uber Eats, plus regular boost incentives

The most recent Otto Car Working Life Study 2023 revealed that Uber drivers in London with a PCO licence earn £20.48 per hour on average. This is almost double the hourly earnings of drivers who work purely on Uber Eats.

Chatting to real riders is more fun than ferrying a bag of falafel. Remember, too, that a London PCO licence allows you to either carry people or food. So if you miss the smell of kebabs, you can dip back into this. Nobody will judge.

Don’t take our word for it. Julius is a recently qualified PCO driver and is loving his new role, as he revealed in his recent Otto Life Story interview.

“I’ve been in the UK for six years, mostly working for a food delivery app. This work used to be profitable but the rates have dropped very low compared to taking riders. It’s all working out much better for me now I switched.”

To learn more about this career opportunity, see our full guide on how to become an Uber driver and be your own boss.

Did you know?

A PCO licence in London lasts for three years and is easily renewed. Once you’re in, the good times will roll.

Want to learn more?

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