If you’re a driver for Uber, then you know that there are vehicle requirements set by the company. As you might expect, the higher end the service, the newer and nicer the vehicle must be.
The highest end of this is UberBLACK, Uber’s service that enables riders to choose a luxury sedan or SUV. It is significantly more expensive than UberX, XL and Plus, and is thus the highest earning market for Uber drivers.
You may hear that and think, “sign me up!” However, becoming an Uber Black driver requires a little more than simple effort. First, its drivers are required to have commercial licensing and registration, which isn’t required by any of the other Uber services. Second, the Uber Black cars must meet strict luxury requirements, which is restrictive for many drivers.
Just because it’s restrictive, though, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you’ve set your sights on becoming a driver with Uber Black, here’s everything you need to know to make it happen.
What’s the Benefit?
While Uber Black takes a little more time and financial investment to get into, there is a definite return on investment for those willing to put in regular hours as a driver for Uber’s higher end service.
By comparing Uber Black rates to UberX (Uber’s basic service), you can see how much your earning power increases when driving a black car.
On average, with UberX, the price per mile cost is $0.40. With Uber Black, this goes up to $7.22, which is eighteen times as much. Per minute, the price goes from $.97 to $3.33, earning you three times more for your time than you’d normally make.
This is why Uber Black can be a lucrative choice, particularly for those who have already fulfilled the below requirements.
Uber Black’s Driving Requirements
Licensing and Registration
The main difference between all other Uber services and Uber Black are the commercial registration and insurance requirements. It’s similar to regular services in that you still need a vehicle inspection, driver’s license, photos of your vehicle, and a background check in order to begin driving.
A commercial driver’s license, or CDL, is different from a typical driver’s license. According to Uber’s website, “to get a CDL, a driver must demonstrate that they possess the physical ability and expertise to operate a commercial vehicle. CDL holders are held to higher standards of safety compared to the general driving public. This means that any serious traffic violations on your record could jeopardize or terminate your CDL certification.”
If you decide to get a CDL, it can take anywhere from two weeks to several months depending on the program. The cost is typically between $100 and $300. Getting a CDL requires extra training and courses, so you’ll need to be prepared to invest some time and energy into the process.
As with personal vehicle insurance, commercial insurance protects the driver and covers liability in the event of an accident. However, commercial insurance is more expensive than typical personal insurance. The Department of Motor Vehicles explains it this way:
“You may find that commercial auto insurance companies will only sell limits that are higher than state- or federally-mandated limits. This is because insurance companies consider the everyday use of commercial vehicles to carry with it than personal vehicle use. As a result, the legal minimum limits are often not sufficient to cover commercial liability.”
Covering those higher limits means you pay more, so this is something to take into consideration if you are thinking of pursuing qualification as an Uber Black driver.
In many cities, Uber Black drivers are required to have airport permits as well. Even if it isn’t required, it may be something you want to invest in if you are an Uber Black driver.
Airports are often central to the success of an Uber Black driver. Wealthier clients want a better experience for their stay in a city, so they usually choose Uber Black over a regular service.
However, airport permits aren’t cheap, and they can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to acquire. Check with your airport to find out what’s required in order to get a permit, as some require you to take a class, or fill out large amounts of paperwork.
Uber Black’s Vehicle Requirements
One of the biggest challenges of deciding to drive for Uber Black is that there are very strict vehicle requirements. It makes sense, as riders are paying for a luxury experience when they call Uber Black. However, this can be restrictive if you don’t already own a luxury vehicle.
Uber Black vehicles must be in mint condition. They must also, as the name implies, have both a black interior and exterior. The interior must be leather or vegan leather. The vehicle must also have four independently opening doors, and comfortably seat 4+ passengers (excluding the driver).
Vehicles that qualify for UberBLACK must be newer than five years old in most markets. In some, like Atlanta, vehicles can be as old as a 2010, and in others, like Chicago, must not be older than a 2014. The following are examples of SUVs or Sedans that are acceptable, although this may vary from city to city.
- Mercedes-Benz: E Class (Sedan) or GL-Class (SUV)
- Lexus: GS (Sedan) or LX (SUV)
- Infiniti: Q70 (Sedan) or QX56,QX80 (SUV)
- GMC: Yukon XL (SUV)
- Cadillac: XTS (Sedan) or Escalade ESV (SUV)
- Chevrolet: Suburban (SUV)
- Lincoln: Navigator L (SUV)
- Jaguar: XF (Sedan)
- Audi: A6 or A7 (Sedan)
- BMW: 5 Series (Sedan)
Renting to Drive
For some, one of the biggest limitations of becoming an Uber Black driver are the strict vehicle restrictions. Purchasing or leasing a new vehicle for the purpose of driving with Uber Black is a hefty investment. However, HyreCar offers easy car rentals that would enable you to rent vehicles in your area, rather than drive your own.
HyreCar enables car owners to rent out their unused vehicles to those who need them. If you, as an Uber driver, want to drive for Uber Black, there is the potential to rent one of these higher end vehicles from someone for far less than you’d spend on a new vehicle, making it possible for you to earn more with less personal investment.
Another way to drive without purchasing or leasing a luxury vehicle would be to look into whether a fleet owner exists in your area. If you possess all of the Uber Black driver qualifications, you may be able to find a fleet owner who is in search of one. However, be aware that you don’t have as much earning power as you would when renting or purchasing your own vehicle, as you are partnering with someone else.
Uber Black In Your Area
Uber Black is not offered in every city, and even if it is, there is a cap on how many Black Cars are allowed to be active on the road. By doing this, Uber ensures that prices and demand for Uber Black remain high. This makes sense, but it does mean that your ability to drive for Uber Black in your area may be restricted based on supply and demand.
If Uber is accepting new vehicles for Black and SUV service in your area, then you can apply as an Uber Black driver at anytime, assuming you have the proper credentials. If you’re familiar with the taxi medallion system, this is similar, in that accounts with Uber Black are few and far between, and those with Black accounts will sell them for a hefty price.
If you haven’t yet spent the time and money on commercial licensing and registration, make sure you check into the availability of Uber Black in your area before doing so, to avoid unnecessary hassle. You can find out by contacting Uber Support.
As we’ve already mentioned, older cars do not qualify as Uber Black vehicles. This means that you may begin as an Uber Black driver with a vehicle that qualifies, but find that after a few years it is too old to fit the bill.
Uber will provide you with an expiration date of sorts; a date by which you must replace your vehicle with a newer model. They refer to this “aging out” process as transitioning, when a vehicle is reclassified as a lower cost vehicle.
If you replace your vehicle by the date provided, you will be fine to continue driving for Uber Black. However, if you wait until the date has passed, you may lose your status as an Uber Black driver, so make sure you don’t put it off!
When it comes to driving for Uber, Uber Black is one of the most lucrative services provided for drivers. This is appealing, but it requires quite a bit more than basic Uber services, including commercial registration and insurance, as well as a luxury vehicle in excellent condition.
If you’ve got the time and money to pursue these requirements, or perhaps even possess them already, Uber Black might be the right choice for you. As with any driving for Uber, you’ll want to make sure you track your miles and keep track of expenses for tax purposes, as you are now your own boss.
Check with Uber Support to find out if there are Uber Black slots available in your area.