Finding the right vehicle for you
When you drive with Uber, you’re running your own business - and, like any business, you’ll incur some costs. These can include your vehicle, fuel, insurance and paying for your private hire licence and you’ll need to offset them against the fares you receive from riders.
Your vehicle will likely be one of your highest costs so it’s important you make the best choice - both for your present situation and in the long term.
Our Vehicle Solutions team, who are focused on finding the best rental and finance deals for drivers, have created this guide to help you pick the car ownership model that will keep your costs as low as possible.
Helping you choose
The right vehicle ownership option for you
How long do you think you might spend driving on the Uber app?
If you’re not looking to commit to partnering with Uber for a long period of time, flexi-leasing and rental lets you hand back your car at any point, and other costs, like insurance and maintenance, are included in the price you pay.
If you’re interested in driving on the Uber app for an ongoing period of time, buying a car outright and buying a car through financing offer the lowest weekly costs.
Do you have money put aside to get you started with a vehicle?
If you have some money you can use for a deposit, then it’s worth looking into leasing, financing or buying, which may ultimately help you save costs later on. If not, you can still rent a vehicle with deposits starting at £250.
How flexibly do you want to use the Uber app?
With Uber, you can work or not at the touch of a button - and it’s up to you if, when, where, for how long and how often you want to drive.
If you’re thinking of combining driving with Uber with work you do elsewhere or you’ll be spending periods of time off the road, renting a car gives you more flexibility - and minimum stress when it comes to insuring and maintaining a vehicle. Rental costs usually cover all costs - and your rental firm will likely find you a new car if you do have problems with it that prevent you driving it. However, you should be aware that with this convenience comes a higher weekly cost.
Helping you choose
It's drive time
Below you’ll find an overview of the vehicle options we think might suit your plans, and what we think to be the pros and cons of each. Remember, the terms of any of these options will vary from provider to provider, so this is a guide only.
[*Cost estimates are based on public information available in 2017 and collated from large rental providers. The cost estimates relate to averages across a range of different vehicle types. These costs are estimates only. We strongly recommend you carefully review the terms of any vehicle company offering. If you're not sure, we recommend you get independent financial advice.]
Helping you choose
Vehicle options overview
Owning outright is likely to be the best option if you want to reduce your weekly costs. However, it typically has the highest upfront cost as you have to purchase the vehicle all at once.
If you have a lump sum of money you can invest in purchasing your vehicle and envisage driving on the Uber app for the next few years, this is likely to be the cheapest option.
It’s fine to buy a second hand car - and these can be cheaper than buying a brand new car. However, you should be confident in the condition of the car and be sure that it will last you as well as being an eligible private hire vehicle in your city and still acceptable on the Uber app. It’s also worth checking to see if the vehicle will be impacted by any charges, such as charges into Ultra Low Emissions Zones, which some cities are introducing.
To see which cars you can drive on the Uber app in your city, click here.
One way to purchase a vehicle is on finance. Typical finance deals will allow you to own a vehicle whilst paying for it monthly over a 3-5 year period.
Generally, you pay a deposit up front and then a monthly payment to the financing company. At the end of the period, you own the vehicle fully. It avoids needing a large amount of cash upfront, but can also be an economic way of owning a vehicle.
One potential barrier is that many financing companies require you to have a minimum credit score - and if your credit score is low they will either charge a high deposit and higher interest rate, or not offer finance at all. You’ll also need to sign a contract that will commit you to paying the monthly payment and following their terms.
Flexi-leasing and flexi-buy, also known as Rent to Buy, are halfway between a finance product and a rental or lease product. They allow you to own the vehicle at the end of the finance period (typically 3 years), but also allow you to return the product (like a rental) if it’s not working out for you. Because of this additional flexibility, it is a more expensive option than financing. There are companies that offer these to Uber partner-drivers because of the appeal of flexibility. Some offers include insurance, maintenance and servicing as well as licensing the vehicle.
They also tend to offer deals to those with lower credit ratings - and so if this is an issue, then worth checking it out.
What is the difference? Flexi-Buy is a hire-purchase agreement where you keep the car at the end of the contract as dont have to make a final lump sum payment (balloon payment); Flexi-Lease has a lower weekly payment but you have the option to pay a lump-sum (balloon payment) at the end of the contract to own the vehicle otherwise you hand it back.
An easy way to think of leasing is a long term rental. You commit to a longer term contract that you cannot break (usually from 6 months up to 3 years) and the vehicle comes with servicing and maintenance. Insurance is usually offered also.
Leasing is a great way to reduce the weekly costs when compared to renting without committing to owning a vehicle. It’s also great for those that like driving a new car and would like to trade in their vehicle for a new car every few years. Although this of course means that you always have to make leasing payments as you never own the car at the end of the contract with a long term lease.
Rental is the most flexible option - some providers in the market will rent with the minimum commitment of a week. They will typically require a deposit (around £250-500) and generally charge every week, for the week ahead. Many rental cars include insurance and maintenance, so in most cases that is one extra cost you won’t need to account for.
We regularly survey partners to understand how much they’re paying in the market. A typical Prius, slightly used (1-3 years), is on average about £235pw°. However, there are cheaper vehicles in the market if you look to go for non-Hybrids like the Vauxhall Insignia or Ford Focus as low as £185pw (including insurance)°°. Also, renting a manual transmission vehicle or older vehicle is often a few pounds cheaper than an automatic transmission vehicles or newer cars
Renting can be a good option for anyone new to private hire who wants to try it out. However, if you are enjoying it, you can look to move to owning / financing as this will mean you are paying less for your vehicle and will be better off in the long term.
° Based on partner cost data 2017
°° Based on data from Enterprise Rent A Car
Helping you choose
Alternative options to uberX
UberEXEC is a more luxury product, with more spacious cars, a higher expectation of professionalism from drivers and a higher price point for riders. UberEXEC partner-drivers also pay a higher percentage of the fare as a service fee to Uber, compared to uberXL and uberX. As a new driver, you can’t become an UberEXEC driver right away - you need to maintain a certain rating over a number of trips (4.85 over 1000 trips in London and 4.7 over 500 trips in other UK cities).
You should also be aware that because demand is lower for UberEXEC rides, there is sometimes a waiting list to switch to UberEXEC and in some cities (e.g. London) onboarding for UberEXEC is not currently open.
uberXL cars must be able to accommodate at least 6 passengers and are frequently used by riders travelling with luggage or to move bulky items. Fares on uberXL have a slightly higher rate than uberX. You can join the Uber app as an uberXL driver right away.
If you are an UberEXEC or uberXL driver, you will also have the option to receive uberX trips, and will receive the same fare as for uberX rides.