What do you need to know about the $50/hour Uber rides?

On June 2nd, Uber started a new program that allows riders to book a ride for $50.00 per hour with an additional charge for mileage. It is currently being rolled out in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, DC, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Tacoma and Tampa. This will put Uber yet again in direct competition with limousine and black car service companies.  

According to Gridwise both drivers and riders will have to opt in to participate in this new type of ride. However, not all drivers are going to qualify. Riders will be matched with drivers who operate larger and newer vehicles for this type of service. This will likely be reserved for those vehicles classified as Uber Comfort in the app. It isn’t clear what part of the hourly rate (or the mileage charge) the driver will take home. The article provides an example of what the in-app experience will be for both the rider and driver. It’s a great read!

Given this pandemic, drivers who opt in will be driving fewer clients meaning less contact with anyone who have contracted Covid-19. This could be a great option for those looking for a safer way to return to rideshare, assuming you have a vehicle that qualifies.

What isn’t clear is if there is a demand for this new service. If this does take off, it won’t be long before Uber rolls it out nationwide, and Lyft is likely not far behind.

Tomorrow: What’s in your trunk can affect your star rating.

Are parking fees a write off for rideshare drivers?

We are all looking to save money as independent contractors. Many of our expenses like gas and insurance are ones we can write off on our taxes. But what about parking?

If you are out on the town with family or running errands, then the answer is no. However, if you are out driving and looking for rides and stop for lunch or a bathroom break and then pay to park, then the answer is YES!

The Ascent list 6 tax write offs for rideshare drivers, one of which is parking. When paying at a meter, it is best to use a debit or credit card if possible, so you have a record. The article also discusses other expenses we should all be tracking like mileage, tolls you pay when picking up or looking for a rider, and more.

Tomorrow: What you need to know about Uber riders booking a ride for $50.00 per hour.

How often should you get an oil change?

Getting an oil change is an important part of keeping your car in good operating order. Most late model cars require that we use synthetic oil because it has fewer impurities. Each car requires a specific grade of synthetic for its make and model. This information can usually be found in your owner’s manual but your oil change service center will also know.

According to AAA, most cars now come with an oil maintenance monitoring system that will notify you when it’s time for a change. Some systems operate simply on mileage but more advanced systems look at the degradation of the oil based on driving habits. With all of the heavy driving we do, lots of stops and starts and driving short trips means we need to change the oil more frequently than most. Putting off an oil change can be costly.  Firestone Complete Auto Care says that if you go long enough without an oil change, it could eventually cost you your car. Once motor oil becomes sludge, it no longer draws heat from the engine. The engine might overheat and either blow a gasket or seize up. So do not ignore that service required/oil maintenance light when it comes on! 

With fewer oil changes we are less likely to check the oil level in our cars.  AAA also recommends checking the oil level every 600 or 700 miles to be safe. Your car may be burning oil quicker than you think.

Simply put, checking your oil as well as changing it out on a regular basis, is one of the least expensive car maintenance tasks we can do, saving you from some really expensive auto repairs or even the loss of your car!

Tomorrow:  Are parking fees a write off for rideshare drivers?

3 must read blog posts for rideshare drivers returning to work.

Even though the virus continues to grow in some parts of the country, every state is in the process of reopening. That brings into question, “Is it time to go back to driving for Uber or Lyft?”  

Although the decision is a personal one, going back will not be the same as it was before the outbreak. Below are three links to previous posts that every driver should look at before their return to any rideshare platform.

Video on new mask policy.

The latest guidelines from the CDC for rideshare and other professional drivers.

Should we wear gloves?

Tomorrow: How often should you get an oil change?

Now is a good time to adopt a furry friend

Sometimes it is hard to see anything positive when you are surrounded by bad news from the pandemic. However, there is good news when it comes to our furry friends that are looking for forever homes.

The Coronavirus has meant a lot of time at home but that also means it is the perfect time to adopt a pet. This extra time allows you to build a relationship with your new family member, house train them, and show them plenty of love. According to NBCNews, people across the country have really stepped up to either foster or adopt and the shelters are showing it with empty cages.

If you are considering adopting a dog, Bestlife has the top 10 things to know about a rescue, including:

  • Shelter animals are carefully vetted.
  • Expect to see a lot of Pit Bulls.
  • Separation anxiety is common.
  • Shelter pets can be good for kids
  • You’ll be your new pet’s hero!

There are similar lists for cats, like this one from Meowfoundation.

If you are ready to take the next step try your local SPCA’s website. They often have pictures of what animals are available for adoption right now. If you are looking for a specific breed of dog or cat to rescue, a quick Google Search can reveal what resources are closest to you!

Is premium gasoline worth the extra money?

Many cars specifically require a certain grade of gasoline for optimal performance, but not typically the kinds of cars that are used for rideshare. Now, we are not going to debate what your car’s manufacturer dictates. However, there are many gasoline producers that tout the value of the high grade fuels, but are they worth it?

According to AAA the answer yes but for vehicles where required. These kinds of vehicles may see some added fuel economy.

If your car manufacturer suggests but does not require a higher grade fuel, there is no benefit per AAA.  If you really want to get into all of the nitty gritty, I have included the fact sheet from AAA so you can review their report.

Tomorrow: Now is a good time to adopt a furry friend!

Gap insurance is a must for rideshare drivers

Most rideshare drivers take out a loan to purchase either a new or used vehicle. Too often, the current value of our vehicle is less than the amount of money we owe to the banks. This means we are upside-down on our loans. CreditKarma has a calculator for you to determine if your loan is upside-down.

We all put a lot of miles on our cars which translates into a higher risk of getting into an accident whether we are at fault or not. If your vehicle is totaled or even stolen, you will only receive the current value of your car from your insurance company. That may not be enough to cover the balance of your outstanding loan. 

According to Allstate, Gap insurance is an optional car insurance coverage that helps pay off your auto loan if your car is totaled or stolen and you owe more than the car’s depreciated value. 

There are other reasons to get gap insurance as well, according to the International Insurance Institute:

  • If you made less than a 20 percent down payment
  • Financed for 60 months or longer
  • Leased the vehicle (carrying gap insurance is generally required for a lease)
  • Purchased a vehicle that depreciates faster than the average
  • Rolled over negative equity from an old car loan into the new loan

If you fall into any of the above, you should contact your insurance carrier to add Gap Insurance to your policy. This is an easy way to protect you and your family from an unexpected financial burden that no one needs especially right now!

Tomorrow: Gasoline grades are worth the extra moneye

New mask policy – the new normal

This week many rideshare companies rolled out new policies for moving forward in our still uncertain times. We’ve made this video to help communicate some of those changes!

Come back tomorrow for information on gap insurance!

Don’t leave hand sanitizer in your car!

We have all heard the benefits of hand sanitizer during the Covid-19 pandemic. At first there were supply shortages but now it is starting to reappear in stores and online. If you are still having trouble finding a bottle, our March 31st blog explained how to make your own!

For rideshare drivers, carrying a bottle in our cars is very important. We have limited access to running water, so it’s a great solution to sanitize our hands while we are driving. It is also great to have a bottle to offer our riders and it may help with our star rating.

However, many of us split our driving time between early morning and evening trips. As we move into the hot summer season, our cars are often idle during the hottest times of the day.  We should all be cautious about leaving a highly flammable product in a hot car unattended. CBSNews recently reported that a car caught on fire as a result of hand sanitizer left inside. The temperature outside was 95 degrees but inside the vehicle it only got hotter in the sun.

According to Heatkill.org a car left in the sun on an 80 degree day can quickly rise to 130 degrees or higher inside the vehicle. It’s easy to understand the potential danger. However, the solution is easy as well! Everytime you leave your car, take the sanitizer with you. Not only will you have that bottle by your side should you need to sanitize while you are out and about, you will also be protecting your car! 

Tomorrow: Video about rideshare and the new rideshare mask policy!

What is Memorial Day?

Every American looks forward to a long weekend – especially Memorial Day weekend – because it marks the beginning of summer in much of the country. Who doesn’t love lighting up the grill for burgers, hotdogs or a juicy steak even while practicing social distancing? But is that all it is, another holiday for eating a big meal?

According to History.com, Memorial Day is a solemn day to observe those men and women who lost their lives while serving in the US Military. In the late 1860’s, Americans started holding tributes during the spring to remember those soldiers who had lost their lives during the Civil War. No one knows exactly where this idea was born, but in 1966 the Federal Government chose Waterloo, NY as the official birthplace of the holiday.

Up until 1967 Memorial Day was always held on May 30th.  But in the following year, legislation was passed by Congress changing it to the last Monday of May so Federal employees could have a three day weekend.

Many cities and towns hold annual parades, with some of the largest in Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC. Hopefully next year the parades across the country will resume. 

So take a little time from your day to remember those soldiers who died for our country and also create some new memories with your friends and family – even if it’s done with a Zoom call. 

Tomorrow: Don’t leave the hand sanitizer in your car!