Whether you only occasionally need a lift to the airport or you’re an all-around regular rider, there’s no denying that Uber has revolutionized transportation. But while it can be easy to take for granted the convenience of ordering a car to your location with a few taps, it’s essential to remember that the service itself only operates thanks to the hard work of the drivers who decide to clock in and ferry passengers around. And even though you may think you understand the world of rideshares, there are a few things you can only learn after you’ve clocked enough hours behind the wheel yourself. Read on for some of the best secrets some former and current Uber drivers have about the service.
READ THIS NEXT: 6 Secrets From Former USPS Employees.
The Uber rating system can be seen as one of the more mysterious aspects of the app. But while it may be challenging to come to terms with the fact that your personal track record has been boiled down to a flat 1-to-5 scale, it can still significantly affect how easily you get picked up at different times of day.
“Every driver has their limits. Some drivers will pick up anyone and do not care for ratings, [but] they are also most likely new to the job,” Uber driver Joshua Hua posted on Quora. He explains that depending on where he is and how busy he is with calls, the minimum rating of who he’s picking up can change dramatically. Typically, Hua says he won’t go lower than a rider with a 4.7 rating at night and a 4.5 rating during the day, adding that it’s usually easy to tell why passengers with much lower ratings have them once they’re in the backseat.
“Drivers get fired at 4.6, so I expect riders to have the same accountability [and] same standards,” he wrote.
Just like picking up a busier shift at a restaurant, Uber drivers say they can typically expect to make more working the hours on weekends when people hit the town and make their way to social gatherings. John Moreci, a former Uber driver, said he noticed that he could make as much working one Friday night as he could over the course of three weekdays. But unfortunately, the extra cash can come at a cost.
“Weekend passengers suck,” Moreci said in a Quora post. “They are either drunk, obnoxious, commiserating to the fact that I am driving when I should be having fun, or expressing disappointment in that I don’t know of every single restaurant in the city.”
In fact, the experience was so grating that Moreci said it’s eventually what led him to quit driving for the app altogether. “I had a 5.0 rating, but being nice to my passengers, having to be social, saying and doing all the right things, and having strangers in my car was not worth $10 per hour,” he explained.
For more behind-the-scenes intel delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Like any public-facing job, Uber drivers are subject to the moods and behaviors of the passengers who get into their cars. Of course, many riders understand that besides basic human decency, how they act during their trip can influence their rating overall. But while it might be easy to see why a loud, angry, or rude fare would be a shoo-in for a 1-star review, drivers point out that making sure to do one simple thing can help ensure your rating doesn’t go down.
In a post on the Uber driver subreddit discussing the type of passenger behavior that earned low-star reviews, one user added that if “they leave without saying thank you… That’s an instant 1 star.”
Looking to go above and beyond to hit that 5-star rating? According to data released by Uber, it’s most important to always buckle your seatbelt, clean up after yourself, don’t keep your driver waiting at pickup, be polite, and avoid slamming the door as you enter or leave the vehicle, per CNN.
For many Uber riders, the longest trip they’ll usually make is one to the airport. But in those cases where other travel arrangements have failed, some riders have agreed to shell out some extra cash in the hopes that someone might be willing to drive them a few hours away to where they need to be. And in some instances, you can find the help you need.
“I’ll take the long trip anytime. I’ve nowhere else to be, and driving is what I enjoy and what makes me some money,” Uber driver Richard Garrett wrote in a Quora post. “I’ll gladly drive you from D.C. to NYC if you like. Or across the country.”
While it might seem outlandish to shell out so much cash, it’s not unheard of for some passengers who’ve had flights canceled or desperately need to get someplace in a pinch. “An Uber driver kindly took me from JFK to Philadelphia—a 109-mile trip,” one user replied on Quora, explaining a storm had grounded his connecting flight. “I tipped him since he couldn’t accept any fares on the way back. I also asked him before the trip began if he was willing to take me. It was amazing to have that service.”
READ THIS NEXT: 8 Airport Security Secrets TSA Doesn’t Want You to Know.
Tipping is customary practice in the U.S. across most service jobs. It’s not only how many workers make the vast majority of their income, but it also lets them know when they’ve gone above and beyond to take care of a customer. However, drivers say the practice of dropping extra cash after a ride has fallen by the wayside with passengers thanks to the cashless nature of the app.
“I so rarely get tipped. About one ride in 10,” Uber driver Elwin Stankiewicz posted in a Quora discussion on the topic. “People would say how much they appreciate this or that, water, chargers, nice clean car, coming to pick them up in the middle of nowhere, but then they don’t tip!”
Fortunately, Uber has made it much easier for customers to tip their drivers by simply pressing a few buttons in the app—and you can rest assured that all funds go directly to the driver. According to Stankiewicz, drivers especially appreciate this if you’ve brought them far out of their way to drop you off, or had them help you with luggage or groceries.
Maybe it’s terrible weather and you don’t feel like walking. Or perhaps you have too many items in your hand and just don’t think you could make it the few blocks home without some help. Whatever the case may be, the odds are good that everyone will at some point book a trip that’s on the shorter side. This is a major pet peeve for some drivers.
“We are paid by the mile and only with a passenger. These short rides end up taking 15 to 20 minutes—a total waste of our time,” Uber driver Mike Anderson explains in a Quora forum. “And even if we didn’t consider the cost of operating our vehicle, that means we are only grossing $6 an hour—way less than minimum wage. Once you subtract the operating cost, we are working for free.”