Need to make some extra money? Becoming a delivery driver for DoorDash is a seriously flexible way to make more money. Dashers – what DoorDash calls their drivers – get to pick their hours and deliver food from local and chain restaurants.
DoorDash has become one of the largest and most popular food delivery services in the United States, but what’s it really like working for DoorDash? How much do DoorDash delivery drivers actually make?
My DoorDash review is going to explain how driving for DoorDash works, how much drivers earn, and how to make even more than average.
DoorDash Driver Review 2021 & Tips for earning more than average pay
How to make money with DoorDash in 2021
DoorDash was launched in 2013, and it’s grown to offer delivery from more than 340,000 restaurants in the United States. Customers place orders in the app, and a Dasher accepts the order, picks it up, and delivers it to the customers.
Customer tips are added after you deliver the order, and you keep 100% of your tips for each order.
One of the things that many drivers like about DoorDash is that it’s one of the more flexible food delivery services. That’s because you can schedule your hours in advance – it’s called scheduling a Dash. You find a day and time you like in the app and essentially put yourself on the schedule.
Or, if you find yourself with a little extra free time, you can open the app and Dash Now. This is only available if there’s a high enough demand for orders.
How DoorDash drivers are paid – DoorDash fees & tips
DoorDash has a fairly transparent pay structure, which helps you understand how much you can make with DoorDash. Here it is below:
Base pay ranges from $2-$10 and varies by order, and you’ll see this amount in the Dasher app before accepting an order. You always keep 100% of this amount.
Promotions give you opportunities to increase your earnings. There are Peak Pay times when certain delivery areas in the Dasher app light up red with a plus dollar amount, which is the additional amount you’ll earn on top of the base pay. This is typically between $1-$4 extra per delivery.
Challenges are currently in beta mode, and can be things like “complete X number of deliveries in a set amount of time”. If you complete the challenge, you’ll receive bonus pay. Dashers can earn challenge bonuses on top of Peak Pay.
Customers can add tips after the delivery is completed. You get to keep 100% of your DoorDash tips. Being prompt with deliveries and friendly with customers are the best ways to earn tips. You can increase your chance of getting a big tip by picking up napkins, utensils, sauces, and even adding freebies like mints.
The only bummer is that there’s no guarantee that customers will leave good tips or tips at all.
So one more time, your total earnings are your base pay + promotions + customer tips.
DoorDash delivery driver expenses
There are a few expenses you’re expected to cover as a delivery driver for DoorDash and any other delivery services, like Postmates or Instacart. Drivers pay for the cost of gas, vehicle, cell phone, wear and tear on their car, and other driver-related expenses.
Drivers are considered independent contractors, so you also pay both sides of self-employment taxes. You can write off most of your driver expenses on your taxes, and I highly recommend using software like Everlance to track your miles, so you can take the correct mileage deduction at tax time.
DoorDash will send you a 1099-MISC that you’ll use to file your taxes. Tracking your miles and claiming all possible deductions helps you not overpay on taxes.
How much do you really make with DoorDash?
Since you understand the Dasher pay model and your driver expenses, now we can talk about how much you can expect to make delivering for DoorDash.
You can realistically expect to make around $10 per hour driving for DoorDash. DoorDash used to advertise driver pay between $15-$25 per hour, but it stopped making those claims after pay turned out to be much lower. That’s because those per hour earnings don’t include driver expenses, like taxes, wear and tear on your car, and related costs.
DoorDash also made changes to its Driver Pay Model in 2019 to make sure that drivers now keep 100% of all of the tips they earned for each order. Before, DoorDash used tips to subsidize drive pay.
The new model guarantees that drivers keep all of their tips, and it also lets drivers see a guaranteed minimum payment for each order before they accept it, so they can determine if the order is worth their time. While the change did lower overall drive pay for some, it provides a more transparent pay structure, which I think is really good.
How to earn more than average driver pay
The most successful DoorDash drivers – the ones that earn more than $10/hour – do a few different things to increase their pay. These drivers earn closer to $15 or even $20/hour.
Driver tip #1: Take advantage of DoorDash incentives
Peak Pay incentives show up in the app when you’re scheduling your hours. These are times when it's expected that demand will be high, and DoorDash pays drivers more during Peak Pay times.
A Peak Pay incentive could be something like earning an extra $1-$2.50 for each order you complete during those hours.
Challenges are an incentive that’s in beta mode in some markets, and it’s going to expand soon. Challenges let you earn extra money for completing a certain number of deliveries in a set amount of time. For example, you could earn an extra $20 for completing 15 deliveries in one week.
There’s also a Guaranteed Earnings Incentive for new Dashers in some areas. An example of one of these new driver offers is, “Earn at least $2,750 in total earnings for your first 400 deliveries as a new Dasher if you complete those 400 deliveries in the first 90 days.”
If you complete the 400 deliveries in the first 90 days but make less than $2,750, DoorDash will pay you the difference.
Driver Tip #2: Accept more than one order at a time
Sometimes there are batched orders in the app, and they let you quickly complete more than one delivery at a time. It’s a more efficient way to deliver more orders, and that’s more money for you.
Driver Tip #3: Drive during peak hours
The afternoon lunch rush and dinner hours are the busiest time for food delivery drivers. You can also expect more orders in the app during major sporting events, holidays, any big televised event.
Driver Tip #4: Avoid small orders
Large order = bigger tips. They’re also more difficult to deliver, and that boosts your base pay. You can’t anticipate when big orders will come in, so you can decline smaller orders in the app.
Being too picky about which orders you take will affect your acceptance rating, but DoorDash says there is “no minimum requirement for acceptance rate.” You’ll get a warning from DoorDash if it becomes an issue though.
Driver Tip #5: Drive for more than one company
This one is big. The most successful drivers are signed up to drive for more than one service and keep multiple apps open at a time. They toggle back forth so they can be picky about the orders they accept. You're also more likely to get the hours you want. If the lunch rush isn’t available on DoorDash, you can schedule it with Uber Eats.
Here are the best food delivery apps to work for in 2021 for more suggestions.
How to start working for DoorDash
Ready to get started with a DoorDash side job? The sign-up process takes around 3-5 days from start to finish depending on how many people are signing up, and you can start making deliveries as soon as you’re verified.
First, make sure you meet DoorDash’s requirements:
- Must be 18 or older
- Have access to a car, scooter, or bicycle in some cities
- Have a driver’s license
- Have auto insurance
- Social Security number if delivering in the U.S.
- Complete a background check
The DoorDash application also asks for your phone number and address, which they’ll use to send you a DoorDash Activation Kit. It includes an insulated bag for food deliveries and a prepaid Red Card. The Red Card is a debit card loaded by DoorDash and used to pay for orders that aren’t paid for by customers in the app.
You will also need to give them your bank account information so you can get paid.
DoorDash pays drivers every week, and you’re paid via direct deposit to your bank account, which shows up in 2-3 days. DoorDash says most payments show up in your bank account by Wednesday night.
If you want faster access to your earnings, you can opt for Fast Pay. It costs $1.99 to cash out earnings instantly, and you’ll have to meet all of the following requirements:
- Have a debit card
- Have completed 25 deliveries
- Dashed for at least two weeks
DoorDash vs. other popular delivery services
The on-demand delivery market has been growing over the past few years, and there are over a dozen different companies. Many vary by location, but here are three other nationwide services and how they compare with DoorDash:
- Postmates: Postmates drivers deliver “anything, anywhere, anytime.” So you can be delivering anything from takeout, groceries, or random orders. It’s definitely more of a courier service. Drivers for both DoorDash and Postmates earn about the same amount of $10-$12/hour. Postmates might be more popular if you live in a college town, but DoorDash usually has larger orders.
- Instacart: Instacart is groceries only, so your working hours are limited to when grocery stores are open. Drivers average $12-$15/hour, and you must schedule your hours in advance.
- Uber Eats: If you’re already driving for Uber, delivering for Uber Eats would be a solid choice. The apps integrate well, and Uber Eat offers multiple incentives for drivers to earn extra money.
Like I said earlier, signing up for more than one service increases the number of times you can drive and available orders. It’s one of the best ways for drivers to make more than the average Dasher pay.
DoorDash driver review – the final word
DoorDash is a good side hustle for a lot of different people. You can work on your own schedule, which gives you some serious flexibility.
Driving for DoorDash can be a short-term solution to making more extra cash when you need it, or it can become a steady stream of extra income that requires very little commitment from you.
Remember to keep track of your expenses so you can correctly take deductions at tax time, and follow the tips I laid out to make more than average Dasher pay.
There are four different ratings you earn as a Dasher:
- Customer rating: This is a 1-5 scale calculated from your 100 most recent ratings (old ratings are replaced as new ones come in). You need to maintain a 4.2 rating or higher, otherwise, DoorDash can deactivate your account.
- Completion rate: The percent of deliveries you’ve completed out of your 100 most recent deliveries. However, if an order is canceled by the customer or merchant, it won’t count against you. There’s no longer a minimum completion rate to stay active on the app.
- Acceptance rate: This is the percentage of deliveries you accept. There’s no minimum acceptance rate to maintain your rating.
- On-time/Early rate: This is how many orders have been delivered on-time or early out of your most recent 100. While there are no minimums, customers are more likely to give you a higher customer rating for on-time or early deliveries.
To recap, higher ratings overall will likely have an impact on your overall earnings, but DoorDash has made changes so ratings don’t mean as much as they did previously.
If you want or need to start making more money, I think driving for DoorDash makes sense for a lot of different people. Sure, there are higher paying side hustles, but not everyone wants to start freelancing or start a business.
DoorDash is a good short-term solution if you are looking for a flexible side hustle.
Most companies have fairly comparable pay. It’s also similar pay to rideshare side hustles, like driving for Uber and Lyft. But one thing that many drivers like about it compared to Uber and Lyft is that you’re driving food around, not people.
All of the delivery drivers I’ve talked to personally say they’ve never had an issue. But I’ve also heard many say that it’s as safe as you make it. You don’t have to accept orders in areas that make you feel uncomfortable. If you get to a delivery drop-off location and something doesn’t feel right, then stay in your car and text the customer to see if they’ll meet you outside.
You can do other things to make yourself feel safer, like not carrying a lot of cash or keeping pepper spray on you. Bottom line, if you start and it doesn’t feel safe, then don’t do it. There are too many other side hustles to risk your safety delivering food.