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Is Uber Eats a Good Job? How to Know if Delivering For Them is Worth It (2022)

Is Uber Eats a good job?


That doesn't mean it's not a great way to make money.

Maybe you're looking for a way to make some extra money. Possibly you are needing to replace some lost income in this tough economy. Or maybe you want to find out if this is a good alternative to Doordash, Grubhub, Instacart, Lyft, or other similar food delivery services.

How do you decide whether or not it makes sense to deliver for Uber Eats? How do you know if it's a great idea or a big mistake?

I'm going to tell you right up front: I can't tell you whether delivering for Uber Eats is worth it for you. That's because you're unique and what might be a fantastic idea for one person could be terrible for someone else.

But I can talk from a lot of experience with Uber Eats. I've been delivering for them since the beginning of 2018, and have delivered full-time for them and others for much of that time. I can talk about the good, the bad and the ugly and give you some things to think about when considering whether to deliver for Uber Eats.

A sign post with the Uber Eats logo on the post and Dream Job written on a directional sign, illustrating the concept of asking if Uber Eats is a good job.

In this article, we'll talk about:

  • Why Uber Eats is not a good job (but still could be very much worth it)
  • What delivering for Uber Eats involves
  • How do you get started delivering for Uber Eats?
  • The pros of delivering for Uber Eats
  • The cons of delivering for Uber Eats
  • Is it a good part time option?
  • Is it a good full time option?
  • Things to think about to help you decide if Uber Eats is worth it for you

Note that this is written from the perspective of being an Uber delivery driver in the United States. Uber Eats may do some things slightly differently in other countries, and different countries have different regulations about the use of independent contractors.

Why Uber Eats is not a good job (but still could be very much worth it)

Is Uber Eats a good job?

This is kind of a trick question.

The reason it's not a good job is that it isn't a job. This is an important thing to understand: You will not be hired by Uber Eats as an employee. Instead, you provide services for them as an independent contractor.

In other words, if you deliver for Uber Eats, you will do so as your own business, providing services for another business.

The parties expressly agree that: (a) this Agreement is not an employment agreement, nor does it create an employment relationship, between Company and you

From the Uber Eats independent contractor agreement, which you have to agree to in order to deliver for them

I know I'm repeating myself, but this is incredibly important to understand. Delivering for Uber Eats is not a job. It's actually a business opportunity. Your relationship with them is as a business providing a service to another business, NOT an employee/employer relationship.

A woman shouting over a megaphone that This is Not a Job!

This means a lot of things. It enters into a lot of the pros and cons. You will not have the protections that an employee has (including minimum wage, FMLA, workers compensation and other insurance). At the same time, you have a lot of freedoms that an employee would not have.

Delivering for Uber Eats is not a good job because it's not a job at all. If you are looking for an actual job, or the protections that go with being an employee, you don't have to read any further. This is not a good fit for you.

However, if you approach this as a business, Uber Eats can be a good business opportunity.

What delivering for Uber Eats involves

Here's how it works in a nutshell:

  • A customer will order food or merchandise from a local restaurant or merchant.
  • Uber Eats will then offer the delivery opportunity to independent contractors.
  • When a contractor accepts the delivery opportunity, they will pick up the item from the merchant and deliver it to the customer.
  • The courier, or contractor, is paid a delivery fee plus any tip from the customer for completing that delivery.

It's pretty much as simple as that.

Let's break that down a little. Then, let's talk about how the process is different when you deliver for them as a contractor than if this were an Uber Eats job.

1. The customer places an order from a merchant.

It all starts with Uber Eats facilitating a delivery from a restaurant or store to the customer.

In most cases, the customer will place their order through the Uber Eats website. As you look at the website, you'll see that most options are for restaurant delivery. Meal delivery is the thing most people think of when thinking of companies like Uber Eats.

However, Uber Eats has been expanding their options recently. Now it is possible for customers to order grocery, convenience, pet supply and pharmacy deliveries.

It is also possible for the merchant or restaurant to request a delivery. Uber Eats has an FAQ for partner merchants who have their own delivery staffs that explains that they can request to use Uber Eats couriers to perform deliveries during peak times.

2. Uber Eats offers the delivery opportunity to their contractors.

This is where we come in.

Uber Eats will look for someone to deliver the food. They will begin offering the delivery to drivers or other contractors.

Here's how it works for you: Whenever you want to look for deliveries, you will log into the Uber Eats driver app. Press the “Go” button to tell Uber that you are ready to accept delivery offers.

Whenever a delivery opportunity comes available, Uber Eats will send a notification to the app on your phone. That notification will give you the details of the delivery.

The offer screen will typically give you the following information:

  • A map showing where you pick up items and where you deliver
  • The name and location of the restaurant or merchant
  • The type of delivery (such as whether it's a package or grocery delivery that involves shopping)
  • How far they expect you to have to go for the delivery
  • The amount of time they estimate the delivery will take
  • How much they expect you will receive for the delivery

Screenshot of an Uber Eats delivery offer screen, showing a map, the expected pay, expected time and distance, details for the restaurant and cross streets for where the delivery will be dropped off.
Sample of an Uber Eats delivery offer screen.

You have the option to accept or reject the delivery offer. If you decline, the offer is sent to the next available courier.

3. Once you accept an offer, you then go deliver the food or merchandise.

Put very simply, you go pick up the item to be delivered, then deliver it to the customer.

There's a bit of variety to how that happens.

Not all deliveries have to be performed with a car. Uber Eats does allow bike, e-bike, and scooter delivery. I've heard of some who deliver on foot in very densely populated areas (think downtown New York City).

Picking up items.

To begin with, you will head to the store or restaurant to get the items that need to be delivered.

Most deliveries involve picking up meals prepared at a restaurant. Usually you will announce that you are picking up an Uber Eats order and provide an order number or name. In some instances if the food isn't prepared yet, you may have to wait for the food.

Some food orders require the contractor to place the order with the restaurant and pay for it with a debit card provided by Uber. Usually this happens with local restaurants that don't have a direct delivery agreement with Uber.

A third possibility is that you may have to shop for items at a grocery store or other type of store. In this situation, you will shop for the items, then pay for them with the Uber-provided debit card.

In my experience, Uber Eats gave me the option to choose whether I wanted to opt in to the shopping or ordering deliveries. Whether they still give the option to new drivers, I don't know. They will also indicate on the offer whether you have to order the food or shop for items. That gives you flexibility in choosing whether it's worth the extra time for these types of deliveries.

Delivering the items.

Once you have the food or merchandise, it's time to take it to the customer. Uber will give you the address and instructions on how to deliver the items.

Usually the customer will have chosen one of two options: Hand the food to the customer directly, or contact free deliveries.

Before the pandemic, handing the food to the customer was the norm. It typically involved taking the food to the customer's door, knocking, ringing or calling the customer, waiting for them to come to the door, and giving it to them.

When I first started delivering for Uber Eats, a large percentage of customers would come out to the street and wait for me to arrive. I think a lot of that was because that was what they were used to doing with Uber rideshare.

When the pandemic hit, Uber added a contact free option. In my experience most deliveries since then have been no-contact deliveries. The customer will leave instructions on where to leave the food. We would follow those instructions, then take a picture of where the food was left. The customer may ask that you knock, ring the bell, or send a message to let the customer know the food was there.

All of this is directed by instructions in the app. Through the app, you can message the customer, or call them when needed. When the delivery is complete, you can mark in the app that it's done, and then if needed the app will prompt you with any other steps you need to take.

4. Getting paid for your delivery

Uber Eats has a wallet in their driver app that your payments are deposited into.

Screenshot of an Uber Eats wallet screen showing balance, when the next payout is due, and options to change payment methods or cash out early.
A sample of what the Uber Eats wallet looks like. In this example no money has been earned yet.

As soon as you complete the delivery, the delivery fees that are paid by Uber Eats are deposited into your wallet. An hour after the delivery, any customer tips that were paid through the Uber app or website are also deposited into your account.

You can choose to accept that money instantly using Instant Pay. Instant Pay is an option that will send your money to a debit card immediately. Uber charges $0.50 for each instant withdrawal. You do have an option to get an Uber Visa debit card from GoBank that lets you take instant pay without any withdrawal fee.

At the end of each week, any money in your wallet will be deposited to the bank account you have on file with them, using ACH direct deposit. There is no fee for this weekly deposit.

Uber Eats has been experimenting with allowing customers to pay with cash rather than using a debit or credit card on the app. In that instance, the driver collects the cash when delivering the food. The balance of the payment above the delivery fee and tip gets deducted from their Uber Eats wallet.

In the end, how much money you make in a given time is simply the sum of all the delivery fees, incentives and tips that add up from your deliveries completed in that time.

How pay for deliveries is calculated.

Understand that you are paid for each delivery, not your time. Payment includes one or more of the following:

  • The delivery fee from Uber Eats
  • A trip supplement (extra pay) that Uber Eats may choose to add to the pay
  • Incentives that Uber Eats offers (especially during high demand periods)
  • The tip from the customer.

Uber Eats has a formula that they use to calculate your delivery fee. It takes into account time and distance involved to travel, as well as a pickup fee and drop-off fee. They used to make their formula public but no longer do so.

They may add in a trip supplement. Usually that's an adjustment to make lower pay deliveries more attractive to drivers (since we have the option to reject deliveries).

Typically, the delivery fee plus supplement will run from $2 to $5 depending on anticipated time and distance. Delivery fees when you shop or wait a long time may be a fair bit higher.

When things are really busy, Uber may offer some incentives to get more drivers out. They might offer more per delivery, or a bonus for completing consecutive deliveries, or boost promotions that offer a higher percentage of the delivery fee.

It is possible that final pay can be different than what was offered. The offered amount is based on all the factors above, including whatever the tip was when the customer placed the order. However, the customer has an hour after the delivery to change, add, or remove a tip. That means the final pay could be higher or lower.

Another thing that can lead to a difference is that on tips over $8, Uber Eats only includes $8 of tip in the offer amount. If the tip was higher, total pay may be higher than was offered.

How this is all different when you are an independent contractor than if you were an employee:

Infographic that highlights differences between being an employee (Set hours, directed work, paid by time, employer is boss, you are employee, guaranteed pay) vs being a contractor (you set hours and determine workload, paid by task, Uber Eats is your customer, you are the boss, no guarantees).
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You may have noticed a few things when talking about the process of delivering:

You can choose if, when, and where you want to deliver. There is no schedule. Uber Eats cannot tell you when you can go available. You choose when you want to be available for delivery requests.

You can choose whether to accept or reject any delivery offer. When Uber chose to use contractors instead of hiring employees, they forfeited the right to control when, how or where you worked.

Your relationship with Uber Eats is a business to business relationship. Ultimately, they are your customer, not your employer.

You are paid by the task. There is no hourly rate or salary. Minimum wage pay rates do not apply.

Your obligations and agreements with Uber Eats are on a delivery by delivery basis. Every delivery is like a mini agreement. Once you accept a delivery offer, you've made an agreement to complete that delivery and the contract is in effect. Once it's completed, the contract is off. You have no obligation when you are not on an active delivery.

How do you get started delivering for Uber Eats?

Here's another difference between being an employee and being a contractor.

There is no interview process. New drivers are not hired, but instead all you are doing is signing up for the opportunity. If you meet the Ubereats requirements and can pass a background check, and if there's a need for contractors in your area, that's pretty much about it.

If you have a friend or family member who delivers for Uber Eats, ask if they have a referral code. Sometimes they can make a little extra money and you can get a bit of extra bonus once you complete so many deliveries when using their referral code.

If you don't have one, you can sign up using my link.

When signing up, you can choose whether to deliver by car, by scooter, or bike (or on bike or foot in some markets). I found that I had to create two different accounts, one for using my car and a different one for bike deliveries. I'm a little surprised they haven't fixed that yet.

Essentially you need to meet the minimum age requirements (which vary slightly by type of delivery) and be able to pass a background check. You need a valid drivers license for car or scooter delivery, or a valid state or US government ID for bike/foot delivery. To deliver by car you need a car and insurance registered in your name. Your car will need to meet vehicle requirements (mainly it needs to be 20 years old or newer).

Screenshot from of the requirements for being a delivery driver using Uber for delivery by car, by scooter, and by bicycle or on foot.

Basically, what you do is sign up, agree to the background check, upload copies of documents as requested, and wait. Once approved, download the Uber driver app, log in with the credentials you set up when you signed up, and away you go.

The pros of delivering for Uber Eats

For me personally, the thing most in favor of delivering for Uber Eats is being my own boss.

I love that I can just choose to deliver whenever it works for me. I don't have to schedule ahead of time and I don't have to ask if I can work. All I need to do is press Go on the app and I can start making money.

The ability to choose which delivery offers I want to accept is huge. I can decide if it makes sense to take an offer or not.

Uber Eats is probably the best in the food delivery industry at this, seeming to pay less attention to things like what percentage of offers you accept than anyone else.

There's no boss looking over your shoulders and no micromanagement. In my experience, that's made this a far less stressful way of making money than just about any job I've worked. I love the fact that Uber Eats is my customer, not my boss.

It's a great way to get a feel for what it's like operating a business. You're free to make your own decisions and get a chance to find out the good and bad of it all.

It can pay surprisingly well. That doesn't mean it will for everyone, however, I've averaged over $30 per hour in the past year.

As they say, past performance is not a guarantee of future results, but it does show what the higher end of the pay scale can look like.

I wrote in a lot more detail about what I loved about being an independent contractor doing deliveries in the gig economy. Towards the end of the article I listed 11 things that were definite benefits.

The cons of delivering for Uber Eats

One thing you HAVE to know before you begin:

There are no guarantees.

There's no minimum wage, no overtime, and no guarantee. You could earn well below minimum wage.

In fact, you could lose money. It's possible and not unheard of for the cost of using your car to be greater than what you earn. This is why it's so important to be selective about what offers you accept.

Uber Eats is casting people into the role of business owner who aren't prepared to be business owners. If you're not thinking of profit and loss, are not prepared to be completely on your own for taxes, vehicle maintenance and operation costs and other expenses, this could be a nightmare.

You can get in real big trouble with taxes. Income and self-employment taxes can add up to thousands of dollars, and no one is withholding that for you like an employer. If you're not tracking your expenses, you could pay far more in taxes than you have to.

Uber Eats can always change how they do things. They're always testing ideas. What works well now may not work later on.

Uber Eats doesn't regulate how many people are delivering. It's not unusual to have way more Uber Eats drivers out than there are orders, and that means you may not be getting offers from them.

The biggest thing to remember is, Uber Eats is a machine. Almost literally. They manage by algorithm because they don't want to pay for people to oversee things. The computer can see a pattern and interpret it as you bending the rules or not completing deliveries as agreed, and next thing you know you can't deliver for them any more. There is no due process, they just terminate your account.

You can read more here about some of the warnings you should consider before becoming an independent contractor.

Is Uber Eats a good part time option?

Two direction signs: one in green pointing right for full-time and one in red pointing left for part-time.

In my opinion, it can be a fantastic part time way to earn extra money. The flexibility of creating your own schedule and making your own decisions makes it a great side hustle.

There are a lot of things that make it easy to blend in with other things going on in life. You can work around other jobs. You can blend it in with family schedules. The ability to deliver at any given time makes it a great way to make extra cash for college students who need to work around class schedules.

Uber Eats is probably the most flexible of the food delivery apps when it comes to scheduling. There is no schedule component for an Ubereats driver like there is with Doordash or Grubhub. You just choose when to deliver and when to stop. That makes it easier to conform with your free time and decide how much time is a good idea for you to devote to this as a side gig.

But it's only a good part time option if you are comfortable with being an independent contractor. You have to weigh the positives against the risks and the fact that you have no safety net.

Is it a good full time option?

The risks of being an independent contractor are greater if you choose to try this full time.

However, I've delivered full time in the gig economy for more than three years. For me, it was a better paying option than a lot of traditional jobs I could have done.

Having said that: I would personally not dream of doing Uber Eats exclusively as a full time gig. They've changed too much for me to feel comfortable trusting them as my only source of income. There's a volatility that I would not be comfortable with. Things could change too easily, especially with how Uber can change things on a whim.

I recently wrote that Uber is testing something in some cities where they won't show as much information on delivery offers unless you've accepted five of the last ten offers. That kind of thing is a game changer for me. If Uber Eats is my only source of income, it gives them too much power over me. If I'm contracting with them as a business, I'm not willing to give them that kind of power.

Full time can be a great option. However, if you're going to try this full time, the only way I'd recommend you do it is to take serously the idea that you're running a business. Look at Uber Eats as your customer, and understand that it's foolish for a business to rely on one customer.

I write more here about things to think about if you want to do this full time. I think you'd be surprised how well you can do. But you have to do it with the understanding that it's just like any business: There's no guarantee and it's all on your shoulders.

Things to think about to help you decide if Uber Eats is worth it for you

The first question I would ask is, what exactly is it you want to do here?

Why do you care if Uber Eats is a good job or if it's worth doing? What are you looking for in whatever you do next? Think long and hard about the answer to that. Dig deep into why you're even considering it.

Here's why I say that. We looked at the pros – especially the flexibility and the potential to make fairly decent money. But we also looked at the risk, and how there's no safety net. How do those things compare to your why? What happens if the worst of the cons happen and what does that do to what you want to accomplish by doing this in the first place?

Does the fact that you're completely on your own scare you off? There's nothing wrong with that if it does. If you're looking for an actual job and prefer something more guaranteed, it's good to know you won't get that with Uber Eats. Maybe that's enough to dodge a bullet.

Are you willing to be accountable for your own taxes? Do you feel comfortable keeping track of the miles you drive and any other expenses that come from running your own business?

How important is the freedom and flexibility? If you love the idea of making your own decisions and working around your schedule (not your boss's) this could be a great way to go.

Are you intrigued at the idea of going into business for yourself? I think this is a relatively low risk way of dipping your toes in the water. Who knows where that could take you?

Like I said earlier, I can't tell you if it's a good option for you. A lot of it depends on who you are and what is important to you.

For me, the upside was far greater than the risk and it was more than worth it. For you it could be the same, or it could be totally opposite.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

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