15 ways to make more money as an Uber or Bolt driver

So you’ve got the car, and after months of being on the waiting list you’ve finally been signed up as a driver for either Bolt or Uber (Or both!), but reality hits and you realize you are not making as much money as you had thought you would. Everything you’ve read online makes it seem like all you need to make money as a rideshare driver is nothing more than to own a car and knowing where to pick up your clients. This, you realize, couldn't be further from the truth.

There is so much more to it than that, but have no fear, this article is here to help. Making a substantial amount of money on Uber or Bolt is not impossible but it will require some effort on your side. An article written by Indeed estimates that the average Uber Driver monthly pay in South Africa is approximately R5 730 (after all other deductions), which is below the national salary average and Bolt drivers also averaging more or less the same.

Make no mistake there is an opportunity to make a lot of money in the rideshare industry. According to research by Statista by the year 2025 the number of users in the ride-hailing and taxi segment is expected to amount to 7 million users. With the number of riders increasingly growing, an opportunity to capitalize on ride-hailing is critical.

If you want to earn full time or supplemental income as a rideshare driver, then the following will help you achieve those goals.

1. Exceptional customer service

Being an Uber or Bolt driver is a job that is all about customer service, that means the difference between those that make money and those that do not, lies in the quality of service they provide. When it comes to customer service here’s what you need to do, to be a step ahead:

Being friendly and personable is great and can take you very far. But let's think about customer put their grocery bags in your boot, and opening the door, will definitely what will set you apart from other drivers. Going the extra mile, like helping the separate you from other rideshare drivers. Asking the customer what music they would prefer to listen to, or if the temperature of the air conditioner is comfortable for them will help the customer feel seen, and considered. Here are some great examples from an experienced Uber driver on how you can better improve your customer service.

2. Learn to handele difficult passengers

Any rideshare driver will tell you about how they’ve had to deal with difficult customers, whether drunk, unruly or aggressive, unfortunately it comes with the job. It’s important that when presented with “difficult’ customers you handle them competently. Here is a great video on how you can learn to deal with difficult or unruly passengers. Some tips from our end include:

● De-escalate the situation by remaining calm and respectful to avoid aggravating the customer or passenger.

● Maintain self-control. Losing your temper will only affect your judgement and increase your stress.

● Listen with empathy: Actively listening to a passenger that may appear to be “difficult” is important in making them feel recognized and resolving their issue.

3. Make your fares surge

A surge fare is a revenue generator which is a surcharge above the normal standard fare that would be typically charged more. The best times to switch from a regular fare to a surge fare includes the time after the bars close (in the time of COVID, just before curfew). Most customers under these circumstances are willing to pay a premium to get home safely. Some other times that would be beneficial to charge surge fares include Airport trips, or trips during the morning or afternoon rush.

4. Use the Uber/Bolt Passenger App

Using the passenger app will help you to take advantage of some of the features that are not available on the driver app. For instance, on the passenger App you will be able to see where other drivers are, that way you are able to map out and select areas that don’t have too much competition. Also, oftentimes the passenger app also has more up to date information on surge fares than the driver App .

5. Preserve your petrol

Everyone knows the pain of petrol price increases, and unfortunately these hikes have an even greater impact on you as a rideshare driver, since your income is completely dependent on the ability to get your car to move and for your car to move you need petrol. It’s important to bear in mind that as a rideshare driver, you need to factor in the expenses side of the profit equation. The most important expense is the petrol you use in conducting your work. Although there is a tendency to drive around looking for customers, this is not a fruitful strategy! The rideshare apps are there to help you and ensure that you do not drive around endlessly.

6. Lower your insurance costs

There is no question about how important your car insurance is, however although rideshare insurance is an incredibly important asset, it can be very expensive. A great way to save money on insurance is to compare the different insurance companies that are out there.

You can use an insurance quotes aggregator that has an option available for comparing quotes from different brokers. The following companies are able to provide great quotes for you to compare and make an informed decision:

● Hippo
● Compareguru
● ComparCarInsurance
● Motorhappy

7. Your Rating Matters

Both Uber and Bolt place great emphasis on your driver rating when matching you with customers. The more you learn and know about the metrics used by these companies to calculate your driver rating, the better you can be at keeping your driver stats higher than other drivers. Again, this is where customer service comes into play. The better your customer service, the higher your rating, and it goes without saying, the higher your potential earnings.

Here are some seemingly obvious ways that you can boost your ratings

● Cleanliness: Make sure that your car is always impeccably clean and smells good.

● Dress-Code: Dress professionally, tardiness can be a turn off for passengers and gives off the impression that you do not take your job seriously.

● Driving Style: Be aware of your driving habits such as bad breaking or unnecessary overtaking, which most drivers hate. Perfect your driving style so as to make people feel safe.

These simple tidbits can go a long way in keeping your ratings up and as a result increasing your income, so do not overlook them. It’s true... A little goes a long way!

8. Get a dash Camera

Having a dash cam will help you to prevent losing your hard earned cash and help you to be reimbursed for damages by passengers that might misbehave. The other side is that the presence of a camera also has the potential to induce good behavior in passengers because they know they are being recorded. It’s important to note that in South Africa having a dash cam can sometimes pose some risks such as being an easy target for thieves whether it be riders or other criminals who may see the dash cam in the car whilst parked. To mitigate these risk we would suggest using a small wireless dash, which comes at a very reasonable price.

9. Encourage Tips

So you’ve managed to remain professional and tried your best to provide great customer service but still not getting many tips? As the cliche goes, “ask and it shall be given to you”. In other words it’s time to nudge your riders a little bit and prompt them to tip you. The trick is to not do it overtly because the chances are if you ask overtly you’re likely to not get the tip and on top of it you might actually get negative ratings because you asked.

The most efficient way to let people know that tips are more than welcome could be adding a tip sign in your car. You can either make your own, download one from the Uber website or buy a fun and quirky one online.

10. Invest in learning how to be a better rideshare driver

The fact that you are reading this blog already tells us that you are someone who is invested in bettering themselves, so this next step is exactly about that. If you feel you need more than the steps we have outlined so far to get more out of your rideshare driver experience, you can sign up for online courses and resources that will help you learn all the ropes of the job in a structured way.

11. Locate nearby restrooms

This may seem pointless, but this mandatory task can actually end up becoming quite expensive if you end up spending time driving around in a heavily congested area looking for a restroom. You may also be tempted to relieve yourself on the side of the road but, unknown to many, urinating in public in South Africa is actually considered a criminal activity which can lead to a fine. To avoid the latter repercussion, we suggest you map out easily accessible bathrooms in your driving area to prevent this unnecessary waste of resources. There are many fuel stations around that have accessible toilet facilities. Knowing where you can find a restroom will reduce the amount of petrol wasted on finding an open parking spot, and this small adjustment will inevitably help you make more money.

12. Prepare for a back-up plan

A flat tire, dead battery or any other mechanical failures can be detrimental to your earnings. If you can, to reduce the amount of downtime you might experience, find a backup vehicle you can rent to use, whilst your car issues get sorted. You could rent a car from a friend or relative and offer them a flat fee.

It's important to note, however, that if you have a backup vehicle you must let Uber or Bolt know so that it can be approved and registered to your account.

Although having a back-up is great, we must mention it’s always better to ensure that you don’t need to have one, unless it's beyond your control.

For the things you do have control over, we’ve developed a checklist of things you can do to extend the life of your car.

1. Monitor the thickness of the brake pads and do not let them consume up to the metal: This would cause damage to the brake discs. Replacing the discs and the jaws is much more expensive than replacing the pads.

2. Change the tires on rotation to help extend the life of the tire.

3. Keep tire pressure: Poorly inflated tires reduce tire life by 15% and increase fuel consumption by 10%.

13. Avoid the purely residential areas

The rule of thumb is that, the further you are from the heart of the city, the more likely your opportunities to pick up riders will decrease. Avoid residential areas and spend more time within city limits and commercial areas. Although drivers may find it challenging to maintain being in these areas, because of the traffic congestion. The more familiar you become with your mapped out waiting areas, the increase in the riders you will start seeing will make the effort worthwhile.

14. Toggle between systems, if you can

We’ve all heard of the saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”! Well, the saying couldn’t be more true as a rideshare driver. One way you can make more money as a driver is to use two different ride-sharing systems. Here’s how it works:

1. When you start your driving period log into both Uber and Bolt

2. When you get a ride from one system, log out of the other.

3. Complete the ride, and any back to back rides you might acquire.

4. If you find yourself waiting again, sign back into the other system, too.

5. Repeat steps 1-4.

By using both systems at once, you can stay busier and keep away from those profit-eating lag times. One thing to be aware of, however, is that you’re likely to use a lot of data and phone battery life. So it would be good to invest in good data packages and a power bank.

15. Recruit new drivers using your referral code

A great way to increase your earnings is through referral bonuses. If you can recruit new drivers to work for Uber or Bolt, you are able to make money for every person that you manage to sign up with. This is an easy way of earning more money that will not cost you anything, so take advantage of this!


Finally a great way to earn more effectively is by signing up to Transport IQ.Transport IQ helps you earn more by:

● Operating on a rate per kilometer, where earnings are related to distances travelled.

● No requirement for a fixed cashup when not working, so drivers can work according to their own schedule.

● We help our drivers to identify hotspots and good areas to work.

● Drivers share effective profit making strategies.

There are countless ways you can maximize profits as a ride-share driver. But it’s important to understand that it will take consistency, patience and dedication. If you’re serious about earning money within the next few months, try these strategies, sign up as a driver on Transport IQ and share your feedback in our comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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