How to Make Money Charging Electric Scooters

This side gig might be just what you need

Man with backpack riding his E-Scooter on a bicycle lane
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Studies have found that almost half of U.S. workers have a side gig to make extra income. And many of these workers say their extra income is necessary to pay for everyday living expenses.

If you’re looking to earn some extra money but aren’t quite the freelance, odd job, or pet-sitting type, you may consider the opportunity to get paid to charge electric scooters. Here’s how it works, what different companies pay for charging, where it’s available, and how to get started with this unique side hustle.

How It Works 

There are a few major players in the electric scooter game—Bird and Lime are probably two of the most common. Similar to bike shares, electric scooters have started popping up all around major cities for residents to check out, scoot to their next destination, then return, all for a nominal fee. For example, according to the Bird app for iOS, it costs $1 to unlock the scooter and 15 cents per minute (plus tax) in New York City. And according to the Lime app for iOS, scooters cost about $1 to unlock, plus at least 24 cents per minute (in Hoboken, New Jersey, it’s $1.15 to unlock and 29 cents per minute to ride). Costs vary depending on the city.

While these scooters can be a great way to zip around a new city or an easy way to commute for residents, their batteries periodically need to be charged. That’s where the side gig economy comes in. Both companies pay contractors a fee to pick up scooters at the docking stations, take them home and charge them, and then return them to the docking stations the next day.

By many standards, it’s an easy way to make some extra funds. After all, all you need is electricity, scooter-specific charging cords, and some free time.

There are some potential hiccups though. For example, Bird requires that chargers purchase their own charging materials, and purchasing charging supplies doesn’t guarantee a place in the Bird charging community.

Chargers may need to be relatively tech-savvy, as companies require chargers to use their apps to find scooters that need to be charged, plus find docking stations at which to return the fully-charged scooters. 

Getting Started 

First, you’ll need to download the scooter company’s app. You may also choose to charge for more than one company, and just pick up scooters, regardless of brand, when they become available for charging.

From the app, you can sign up to be a charger. The app will ask for your information, like your name, address, social security number, and birthdate. Once you’re signed up, approved, and have your charging supplies, it’s relatively seamless, and you can get started right away. Then, whenever you’re using the app, you’ll have the option to toggle between rider mode and charger mode. Make sure you’re in charger mode when you are seeking out scooters to charge.

You’ll need to be in charger mode to see which scooters need to be charged and where they’re located. 

Next, scoop up the scooters (keep in mind they will likely be dead, so you’ll need to walk them sans electricity), take them home, plug them in, and return them the next day. You’ll need to return them early the next morning in order to be paid in full for your charging services. For example, Bird requires that the scooters be “released” by 7 a.m. the next day for chargers to be paid.

Another great thing about this side gig? You will get paid almost immediately for the charging work you do. For example, Bird pays its chargers the next morning for the previous night’s charges. Both Bird and Lime require scooters to be charged to at least 95% for chargers to be paid.

What It Pays

While neither company publishes the pay rate for charging on their websites, Lime has been known to pay between $3 and $12 per scooter, while Bird may pay slightly more, between $5 and $20.

Bird says its rates for individual scooter charging vary based on the market. Keep in mind that Bird estimates it costs between $0.08 and $0.25 to charge one scooter, so you won’t need to worry about your electricity bill just yet. 

Where It’s Available 

Charging side gigs are available wherever scooters are located. For Bird, that means in more than 100 cities around the world. This list includes Austin, Columbus, Portland, Atlanta, Nashville, Vienna, and Tel Aviv, just to name a few.

Lime is available in more than 100 cities around the world, including Santa Monica, Miami, Denver, Seattle, São Paulo, Copenhagen, and Paris.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to make some extra cash but don’t necessarily have the skillset to perform traditional gig economy work, consider making money by charging electric scooters. It may be a good option, though chargers should make sure they follow the guidelines carefully in order to be paid for their work. 

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Article Sources

  1. Bankrate. "Survey: Nearly 1 in 3 Side Hustlers Needs the Income to Stay Afloat," Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.

  2. The Washington Post. "That Scooter Ride Is Going to Cost You a Lot More," Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.

  3. Bird. "Getting Started," Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.

  4. Lime. "Charging," Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.

  5. Inc. "Inside Bird's Shadowy Army of E-Scooter Chargers," Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.

  6. Ridester. "9 Ways to Make More Money as a Lime Scooter Charger," Accessed Nov. 11, 2019.