Uber vs Grab: Which Makes A Better Side-income Gig?


Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.  It is also the most expensive country in the world to buy and own a car. This gives you every right in the world to whine about how you are stuck in a vicious cycle of having to work to pay for your car, so you can drive to work.

However, things have been shaking up a little ever since Uber and Grab were launched on the island. Enterprising car owners have discovered the joys and sorrows of making some extra income from picking up desperate passengers during peak hours.

Time equals money, we all know that. So, if you were to spend your precious time chauffeuring people around, it better be worth it.

Before you sign up for Uber or Grab – first, find out which company pays better.



Looking at the basic fare structure above, it seems that Grab is more profitable when traffic is smooth, while UberX makes a louder ka-ching when traffic is heavy, slow, or even better, a complete standstill.

Now, let’s put the fare structure to the test with an example of a ride from Clarke Quay to Ang Mo Kio, because why would you bother waiting at that ridiculously long (not to mention drunk) line.  The distance via CTE is about 12 km.

Good traffic – about 16 minutes 


Heavy traffic – about 30 minutes 


If we look solely at the basic fare structure of the two companies, then Uber is clearly the winner when the expected travelling time is long and Grab is best in times of smooth traffic.


Now, show me more money

Both Uber and Grab offer incentives to their drivers, and these incentives could make a huge difference to your side-income.  The thing about incentives is that they can be very complicated, and they change periodically.

Let’s take a look at the latest incentives for both companies, focusing on the meatiest chunk of the day – morning rush hour.


Let’s put these numbers to test with the assumption that you make two trips in an hour, and your average fare per trip is $15.


Grab’s guarantee seems a whole lot more attractive, as you’re awarded according to the number of unique trips that you take, and you are less burdened by the need to pick up high-fare trips.

You can pick up four short-distance trips as opposed to two long-distance trips and still be guaranteed between $18-26 per trip.

For UberX drivers, they will have to make sure they are able to pick-up passengers for shorter trips and at nearby location in order to fulfil 1.5 trips per hous.

In addition, Grab’s completion rate is more lucrative than Uber’s as the latter takes into consideration the cancellations made by passengers, which is something that is out of the driver’s control.

Do note that incentives are ever-changing, so you may find yourself constantly weighing between the two companies.


The non-monetary factors

Other than the trips and the fares, there are also other factors that can affect your earnings from both companies.

Passenger rating

You’re out to make some extra cash, not to spoil your day. If the possibility of picking up rude and inconsiderate passengers is a big turn off for you, then Uber may be a better choice.

With Uber, passengers receive a rating, unlike Grab, where only the drivers get rated.  You can simply avoid passengers with lousy ratings, and give them their rightful feedback if you had a nasty experience.


With Uber apps, drivers do not know where their passengers are headed before accepting a job. This makes it more difficult to gauge your earnings for the trip.

On the other hand, Grab gives you the destination of your passenger, which eliminates the risk of you getting a bad rating when you aren’t sure of the route to take. You are also able to estimate how much fare you’d be getting, and that makes it easier for you to stick to some sort of driving strategy.

If you already own a car and want to make a little extra income out of its expensive existence, then Grab and Uber both offer attractive platforms for side gigs.

Just remember that fares and incentives change regularly, and spending more time on the road can truly be a stressful affair.

Have you been driving with Uber and Grab? Is it worth the stress, and does it cover your car maintenance cost?

Share your experiences!



What do you think?