Chasing the Surge: 3 Tips for Maximizing Uber Earnings

Alongside the straightforward method, you can make money while driving for Uber by referring others to sign up as drivers. It works like affiliate marketing. You get a code which others can use to sign up. If they fulfill certain criteria, both they and you get extra money. No limit of YouTube videos can be found from Uber drivers offering tips, tricks, and information regarding the job alongside an appeal to use their referral codes. After driving Uber myself for a few months, I have grown to doubt the sincerity of some advice offered by these YouTube Uber drivers.


For instance, most I have seen encourage new drivers to avoid “chasing surge.” If you’re unfamiliar, surge pricing multiplies standard fares by a factor warranted by demand. Surge occurs in areas where demand for rides surpasses the supply of available drivers. It motivates drivers to respond to a certain area, and dissipates once the demand is met. As a driver, “chasing surge” means you drive to where prices are surging rather than answer requests nearest to your current location. Contrary to the advice of many, my experience indicates that chasing surge is absolutely essential to maximizing earnings. Here are three tips for nabbing every dime possible:

1. Avoid Congested Downtown Areas

Driving in the Minneapolis area, I often find a bright tempting cloud of surge pricing floating over my map of downtown. It’s a trap.

The problem with downtown, at least in Minneapolis, is that it’s very hard to get in and out of. There are a lot of one way streets and awkward intersections. There isn’t much room to stop for pickups on most streets, which makes things difficult if your fare isn’t actively looking out as you arrive. Downtown streets also seem prone to closures, whether related to construction, special events, or emergency services.

All this conspires to keep you from getting to your fare and promptly getting your fare to where they want to go. I once spent nearly half an hour figuring out how to get to a fare that was only two blocks away. They cancelled as I arrived.


As a general rule, I no longer accept requests originating downtown unless they happen to be very close and accessible. If a fare from elsewhere takes me downtown, I go offline after dropping them off, then get the heck out of Dodge. It’s much more lucrative to fish for fares in areas adjacent to downtown. The surge factor may be less, but you can actually get to them, and they tend to be longer fares. Those originating downtown tend to be short, which makes the extra hassle of getting to them not worth it. That’s why the surge is so strong downtown, because experienced drivers aren’t wasting their time there.

2. Get Back to a Surge Area ASAP

What you’re hoping for on any given night is a nice fat lengthy surge fare. These typically occur around bar close. You’re looking for suburbanites who came into town to party and need a ride home. Such fares can net anywhere between $30 to $60 for less than half an hour of work. That’s nice, of course. But the key to netting big earnings overall is getting back into the area where such fares occur.

If a fare takes you out to the suburbs around bar close, go offline after dropping them off. Wait to see what the surge situation is. If things are surging back where you came from, but not where you are, then return to where you came from. Otherwise, if you stay online in a non-surge area, you will get non-surge fares that suck up valuable time during which you could have netted something better. The bar close demand only lasts for so long.


3. You’re Not Done Until the Surge Is

One time, I found myself smack in the middle of a nice bright red surge area. We’re talking factors between 2.5 and 4, massive potential for earnings. But I had to use the restroom and stopped briefly at a gas station. The stop lasted maybe five minutes, just long enough to top off the tank, use the restroom, and grab an energy drink. By time I got back on the road, the surge was gone — completely.

Never, ever, go offline in the middle of a surge. If you’re bladder isn’t actively rupturing, you can hold it for however long it takes to make a ton of money. Right? Damn right.


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