With so many positive advertisements promising great returns and bonuses for signing up, we decided to check when is the best time of the year and with which referral code will generate the highest bonus when signing up to Lyft or Uber. Before we get started, it is important to understand that difference cities generate different bonuses and depending on where you live; the seasons are also sometimes different. This article will cover the strategies you should consider using before signing up as a driver or offering someone to sign up, so you can maximize your income.
Definitions of a Sign-Up Bonus
A sign-up bonus is a lump sum of money that Uber and Lyft give to a new applicant when they join up using a referral code. This referral code is a specific code that a driver provides you with. This code provides the applicant as well as the driver with an incentive. The incentives aim to urge drivers to find more drivers, which basically makes every driver a salesperson for Uber or Lyft. The sign-up bonus can only be activated once the new driver has been approved and starts to drive. Both the new driver and the referring driver will receive their bonus cash once the new driver has reached certain targets that release the bonus.
For instance, some cities would offer new drivers a $500 cash bonus after completing 200 rides in 90 days. This translates into a straightforward cash for ride incentive. It is now up to the new driver to meet the requirements. While a lot did meet this, many didn't, since a lot of new drivers would get disenchanted with the life of a rideshare driver after clashing with troublesome clients as well as finding out how hard it was to get customer support for those instances. In these instances, even if you drove 195 rides in 60 days and then retired from the rideshare driving life, you and your referring driver got no bonus.
Uber recently changed its sign-up bonus from a cash-based requirement incentive to some guaranteed earnings spread over a number of rides. This means that a new driver and the referring driver will start to earn bonus income from the first ride. How does this work? It is simple math. If you were offered a $1,340 guaranteed income bonus from your first 200 rides, then the income you make from every ride you give up to the 200th ride will be calculated, and the total will be subtracted from $1,340, the remainder will add up to $1,340. Sounds like a scam? Most probably is, because the advertising is vague, but it does guarantee you will earn an amount of money for a number of rides, it does not offer a bonus, it offers a guaranteed income.
We did a Google search for rideshare sign up bonuses to check if there were variances in the sign-up amount per location. Here is what we found:
Houston: Lyft offers $350 for 150 rides in 45 days
Tampa, FL: Lyft offers $500 for 150 rides in 45 days
New Jersey: Lyft offers $700 for 200 rides in 60 days.
Seattle: Lyft offers $1,000 for 300 rides in 60 days.
NYC: Lyft offers $1,000 for 350 rides in 60 days.
The below is the list of Uber sign on bonus I was able to compile. Note that the requirement for the uber sign on bonus is the number of trips within 90 days of signing up:
|City||Guarantee||Rides in 90 Days||Earnings Per Trip|
|Atlanta||$ 125.00||20||$ 6.25|
|Baltimore||$ 375.00||50||$ 7.50|
|Boston||$ 375.00||50||$ 7.50|
|Charleston, SC||$ 200.00||30||$ 6.67|
|Chicago||$ 550.00||75||$ 7.33|
|Cincinnati||$ 200.00||30||$ 6.67|
|Dallas||$ 175.00||30||$ 5.83|
|DC||$ 375.00||50||$ 7.50|
|Delaware County||$ 225.00||30||$ 7.50|
|Denver||$ 400.00||50||$ 8.00|
|Green Bay||$ 250.00||30||$ 8.33|
|Hartford||$ 175.00||30||$ 5.83|
|Honolulu||$ 250.00||30||$ 8.33|
|Kansas City||$ 225.00||30||$ 7.50|
|Las Vegas||$ 275.00||40||$ 6.88|
|Los Angeles||$ 475.00||75||$ 6.33|
|Miami||$ 325.00||50||$ 6.50|
|Minneapolis||$ 225.00||30||$ 7.50|
|Nashville||$ 200.00||30||$ 6.67|
|New Haven||$ 375.00||50||$ 7.50|
|New Jersey||$ 350.00||50||$ 7.00|
|Newark||$ 500.00||75||$ 6.67|
|Orange County||$ 475.00||75||$ 6.33|
|Orlando||$ 150.00||30||$ 5.00|
|Philadelphia||$ 225.00||30||$ 7.50|
|Phoenix||$ 275.00||50||$ 5.50|
|Pittsburgh||$ 225.00||30||$ 7.50|
|Providence||$ 150.00||30||$ 5.00|
|Raleigh-Durham||$ 175.00||30||$ 5.83|
|San Diego||$ 525.00||75||$ 7.00|
|San Francisco||$ 725.00||100||$ 7.25|
|San Jose||$ 725.00||100||$ 7.25|
|Seattle||$ 350.00||40||$ 8.75|
|Silicon Valley||$ 725.00||100||$ 7.25|
|Stratford, CT||$ 175.00||30||$ 5.83|
|Tampa||$ 125.00||20||$ 6.25|
|Wilkes-barre / Scranton||$ 200.00||30||$ 6.67|
As you can see, each service provides different income bonuses in different locations. You cannot get these bonuses unless you apply using a referral code, and you can only get the referral code from an Uber or Lyft driver. Usually, it's best to sign on via a friend or family member. If you signed up with Uber without a referral code, you could always add one within 15 days using their retroactive referral code feature in the Uber driver app. You reach it by accessing Help in the app and then clicking on rewards and choosing driver referrals. You will need to provide the driver's name, email and phone number.
Once you have your referral code, you can start to earn your bonus or guaranteed income. Make sure you remember your referral code and use it for recruiting new drivers, so you can also enjoy added benefits.
Supply and Demand
While the location is a major factor for bonus size, another variation in the bonus happens when certain cities start to generate more demand. This is usually seasonal, which means that in some cities the bonus figure will change in different months of the year. For instance, nearing the holiday season in colder climates will generate demand for more drivers that will sometimes push the bonus up. On other occasions, for instance in the summer in holiday area's the bonus will go up due to the influx of tourists.
We don't suggest you wait to start driving for Uber or Lyft for the first time when the bonus goes up, just keep this in mind when you consider referring new drivers and try to maximize your income by recruiting new drivers closer to a surge season. The difference can be in the hundreds of dollars. The best way to ascertains when your cities best time to recruit is to either know your city or study the migration patterns that came in every season. Remember, cities differ greatly in demand saturation, for instance, Seattle is totally different to Las Vegas in both content and weather, the seasons differ greatly, and when we refer to seasons, we do not mean winter and summer weather. Seasons to us refer to the influx of tourists and or the growth in the demand for cars. Winter in the north is a great season while August in Las Vegas is a great season, both generating larger demands for drivers.
The Academic Approach
Changes in car demand is a major section in supply chain and transportation engineering and had generated many research papers including "Analysis of taxi demand and supply in New York City: implications of recent taxi regulations Camille Kamga, M. Anil Yazici & Abhishek Singhal Pages 601-625 | Received 21 Nov 2013, Accepted 20 Apr 2015, Published online: 01 Jul 2015" which states in its abstract the following interesting statement: "This paper investigates temporal and weather-related variation in taxi trips in New York City. A taxi trip data-set with 147 million records covering 10 months of activity is used. It is shown that there are substantial variations in ridership, taxi supply, trip distance, and pickup frequency for different time periods and weather conditions. These variations, in turn, cause variations in driver revenues which is one of the main measures of taxi supply-demand equilibrium."
Another interesting paper comes from the City of Aspen, it is a paper that provides insights into the number of cars being used in Aspen during different seasons through parking lot occupancy. http://transformgov.org/Documents/Document/Document/309044/
Parking & multi-modal travel demand planning Decision support tool for parking professionals. Seasonality. Aspen has extreme seasonal demand, with thousands of tourists driving in during the summer seasons. In 2015, parking occupancies varied from approximately 50% occupied in the off-peak season and 100% occupied in the busy summer period. Parking demand on street is managed through pricing and time restrictions, but during some seasons, parkers still couldn't find a spot. In order to improve this situation, Aspen initiated a 3-month pilot program in June 2016 to manage this demand. This paper shows the scientific approach to determining the saturation of demand on cars.
Uber and Lyft both perform these data queries on an ongoing and daily basis through their app and the data it supplies. The data is then extrapolated for various uses, one of which is to set the bonus and guaranteed income amounts per city.
As we have gathered, most cities tend to have identical saturation trends in certain seasons; these are limited to the holidays, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. The other seasons or occasions vary according to the geographical location of the city, which has a direct impact on its population.
For instance, tourist destinations tend to be "hit" during specific months of the year, whether the city is a coastal one, a mountainous one, a hot or cold one. Sports cities holding national or international events get hit during specific months of the year and then there are scientific cities, industrial cities, etc. Each city has a specific number of attributes that make it unique at different times of the year.
If you happen to live in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orlando and Las Vegas, then you will be lucky to be in an "Eternal" city, where the demand is constantly high. Even when there are trends in saturation, these cities never relax, they are constantly hot when compared to quieter locations.
The bonuses always increase in a cyclic fashion based on the expected increase in demand. Note, expected, this means that the algorithm calculates there will be an increase in demand for more cars that will warrant an increase in recruitment incentive, so the bonus will start to rise before the season actually arrives.
Incremental Sign Up
Since signup bonuses and guaranteed incomes are one-time incentives for new drivers, constantly checking to see if the bonus is better in Lyft or Uber, and who offers a better bonus and where is not as important as signing up and starting to work.
What you have to do is not sign up to both Uber and Lyft at the same time. Start off with one or the other, work for them during the period designated for the bonus and get that bonus in. Then sign up for the other and start earning a new bonus for the second rideshare company.
Don't just stop with them, Postmates, DoorDash and Amazon Flex also offer to sign up incentives. If you are interested in cashing into all of them just for the bonus period, do it. Earn that extra cash, and after you complete working for five different companies, you will have the experience and knowledge to decide which one suits you best.
Becoming a Recruiter
Once you have worked out which season is best to sign up in, and what each company offers; make a list or spreadsheet and calculate when is the best time of the year to recruit drivers to each service. BY becoming a smart recruiter, you can effectively create a continuous bonus income over a year, and this will increase your income as well as create a larger circle of drivers and service providers you know and can discuss tactics for increasing your income as a group.