What is DoorDash?
DoorDash is an on-demand food delivery service launched in 2013 and currently controls nearly 65% of the U.S. meal delivery market, making it the most popular service by far. DoorDash now operates in over 7,000 cities across the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and Germany.
Here's how DoorDash works for drivers: Orders hit the DoorDash driver app, and once a Dasher accepts the order, they pick it up and deliver it to the customer. Orders are always paid for in advance, and DoorDash drivers keep 100% of their tips for each order.
Depending on the market, customers can use the DoorDash app to order:
- Food from over 340,000 restaurants
- Pet food
- Liquor and wine
- Office supplies
- Baby items
- Gourmet cakes
DoorDash is continually expanding its market, and in 2022 alone, it's added partnerships with top U.S. grocery stores, a tractor supply company, and Dick's Sporting Goods.
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 — this is called scheduling a Dash. You find a day and time you like in the app and put yourself on the schedule.
Or, if you find yourself with a bit of extra free time, you can open the app and select Dash Now. This is only available if there’s a high enough demand for orders.
How Much do DoorDash Drivers Make in 2023?
DoorDash doesn’t pay a flat hourly rate; you’re paid per order plus tips and any incentives offered for driving during busy, in-demand areas and times.
Here are a few other factors that determine your earnings:
- Where you live: DoorDash driver reviews on Indeed suggest that highest paying cities are Chicago, IL; Austin, TX; and Denver, CO.
- When you're driving: The best times to deliver for DoorDash are generally meals times, so you can increase your pay if you make yourself available during those hours because there are more orders coming through the app.
- Driver expenses: For example, driving a vehicle with poor gas mileage costs you more to make deliveries because fuel is an out-of-pocket expense for drivers.
The next section will help you understand more of the factors that go into how much DoorDash drivers make.
DoorDash Driver Case Study
We interviewed a DoorDash driver who began working in the fall of 2020, and here's what she shared:
- In the fall of 2020, she was making almost the same hourly pay driving for DoorDash as she did as a full-time counselor.
- She found she was able to bring her kids with her while on deliveries to avoid childcare. It's worth mentioning that her kids are old enough to safely sit in the car for a few minutes.
- They've swapped family time so it's her driving for DoorDash, her husband navigating in the passenger seat, and the kids in the back.
- Having a mileage app from the beginning is the best way to take an accurate tax deduction, which offsets how much you pay in self-employment taxes.
- DoorDash is incredibly accountable for paying your referral bonus, so share your code with anyone you know who's interested in driving. Both you and the new driver receive part of that bonus.
- If you're willing to forgo DoorDash's Top Dasher status, you can earn more by declining orders that pay offer a lower pay.
- Always take your last order of the day close to home so you don't have any dead time.
- Make yourself available during busy times (like dinner hours and late nights on the weekends) if you want to make the most money.
Understanding DoorDash Driver Pay
DoorDash introduced a new pay model in 2019, and it ensures that drivers now keep 100% of the tips they earn for each order. Previously, DoorDash used tips to subsidize driver pay.
The pay model helps you understand how much you get paid per order and make overall.
Here’s the new DoorDash driver pay model:
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 sign and 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 they can be things like “complete X number of deliveries in a set amount of time.” If you complete the challenge, you’ll receive the bonus pay, and Dashers can earn challenge bonuses on top of Peak Pay.
Customers can add tips before or after the delivery is completed, and you 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 any tips at all.
So one more time: your total earnings are your base pay + promotions + customer tips.
DoorDash Driver Requirements
If you're reading this DoorDash driver review and you're ready to become a DoorDash driver, let’s make sure you meet all of the requirements.
Here are the DoorDash driver requirements you need to meet:
- 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.
- Consent to a criminal background check
- Have had no major driving violations in the past 7 years
Many drivers work for multiple services because the requirements are so similar, and you’ll also have more opportunities to accept orders and make money.
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, and you can write off most of these expenses when you file your side hustle taxes. Drivers pay for:
- Vehicle maintenance
- Wear and tear
- Cell phone
- Hot bags, blankets, backpacks (anything to carry food and keep it hot)
- Tolls and parking expenses
- Roadside assistance (if you choose to carry this coverage)
DoorDash drivers can take a standard mileage deduction every year to offset some of those expenses, and it's 65.5¢ per mile for 2023.
Drivers are considered independent contractors, so you’re responsible for the 15.3% self-employment tax, and that’s on top of income tax. You can write off most of your driver expenses on your taxes, and we highly recommend using mileage tracking software like Everlance so you take the correct deduction.
DoorDash will send you a 1099-NEC that you’ll use to file your taxes. Tracking your miles and claiming all possible deductions prevents you from overpaying on your taxes. Learn more in DoorDash Taxes Made Easy (Your 2023 Guide).
How to Make More Than the Average DoorDash Driver
The most successful DoorDash drivers do a few different things to increase their pay. Below are tips pulled straight from real DoorDash driver reviews:
Driver Tip #1: Take Advantage of DoorDash Incentives and Promotions
Peak Pay incentives show up in the app when you schedule 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 DoorDash is expected to expand it to other markets 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 times for food delivery drivers. You can also expect more orders in the app during major sporting events, holidays, or any big televised event. Making yourself available during these times can really boost your pay.
Driver Tip #4: Avoid Small Orders
Large order = bigger tips. They’re also more difficult to deliver, and that boosts your base pay. There's some debate in the driver community about declining all small orders and saving yourself for big ones, though. The problem is that never accepting small orders means you're missing out on pay, so keep that in mind.
Also, being too picky about which orders you take will affect your acceptance rating, but DoorDash says there is “no minimum requirement for acceptance rate.” That's true, but you will get a warning from DoorDash if it becomes an issue.
Driver Tip #5: Drive For More Than One Company
This one is big — the most successful DoorDash drivers sign up to drive for more than one service and keep multiple apps open at a time.
They toggle back forth to 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 deliveries with Instacart or Shipt, for example.
How to Get Started With DoorDash
Ready to start driving for DoorDash? The sign-up process takes around 3-5 days from start to finish depending on how many people are signing up. You can expect it to take up to 2 weeks during busy periods.
The DoorDash application will make sure you meet the driver requirements, and it asks for:
- Your consent to a DoorDash background check
- Your address to send your DoorDash Activation kit, which includes a hot bag, manual, and Red Card (this is a prepaid card that you’ll use to pay for some orders)
- Bank account information so you can get paid
You can start accepting and delivering orders as soon as you’re approved. The activation kit can take a few days to arrive, but you don’t actually need it to start working. Most customers have already paid for their orders in the app, so the Red Card isn’t as necessary as it was before.
The DoorDash driver app makes it really easy to sign up for hours, accept orders, and deliver them to customers. It gives you GPS directions to and from restaurants and includes any special instructions for delivery.
Getting Paid With DoorDash
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 on Wednesday evening.
DoorDash drivers who are signed up for DashDirect (this is a a free Visa business card offered to drivers and subject to approval), get paid after every single dash for an extra charge.
If you don't have DasherDirect, you can still use FastPay, which costs $1.99 to cash out your 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 Best Food 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:
DoorDash drivers deliver takeout food, groceries, and more. Schedule your hours in advance, or drive during busy times with Dash Now. Offers weekly pay.
Instacart shoppers deliver for grocery stores, pharmacies, and pet supply stores. Get paid weekly and schedule your hours in advance.
Shipt is specifically for grocery and Target deliveries. Get paid weekly and schedule your hours in advance.
You can learn more about how DoorDash stacks up in the following comparisons:
Like we 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: Pros & Cons
- Flexibility: Drivers are in charge of when they work, including the days and hours. You can take time off as needed, and you can easily switch the city you drive in if you move.
- Get paid quickly: DoorDash drivers get paid weekly via direct deposit, but you can also use Fast Pay for $1.99 to cash out whenever you want. Fast Pay is free if you're signed up for the Dasher Direct card which is a free prepaid Visa debit card.
- No commitment required: You don’t have to commit to a 40-hour workweek or starting a new business. It’s simple: work when you want.
- Earn 10% cash back on gas purchases: DoorDash drivers can now earn 10% cash back on gas purchases that they make using the DasherDirect Business Prepaid Visa Card. You have to sign up for the Dasher Direct card to take advantage of this perk, but it's 100% free. You can also get paid after every dash instead of weekly if you sign up for the card.
- Pay fluctuates: Drivers don’t earn a set hourly rate, instead, pay varies from order to order. You might make $10 for one order and $20 for another. This can make it difficult to budget.
- Work depends on demand: You’re only able to take orders and make money if there are orders in the app. If the market becomes oversaturated with drivers, there’s the risk of competing for hours and orders. Overall, DoorDash does a pretty good job of not accepting new drivers if the demand isn’t there, and this prevents over saturation. But your earnings are still dependent on market demand.
- Driver expenses quickly add up: Drivers are expected to cover fuel, vehicle maintenance, wear and tear, insurance, and so on. Plus, because you’re an independent contractor, you are responsible for paying self-employment taxes.
The Final Word: Is It Worth It To Be a DoorDash Driver?
DoorDash is an excellent side hustle for a lot of people because it offers such flexible hours and is a low commitment compared to many other options. If that sounds like the kind of gig you'd like, then DoorDash is worth it! Ready to sign up? Click here to join DoorDash.
Driving for DoorDash can be a short-term solution to bringing in some extra cash, 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 we laid out to make more than the average Dasher pay.
And if you’re looking for even more side hustles, check out Best Side Hustle Ideas for 2023 (Make $1,000+ Per Month).
There’s no flat hourly pay rate for DoorDash. Instead, the amount varies based on the size, time, and difficulty of each order. You’re also responsible for any expenses, like gas, insurance, and self-employment taxes.
DoorDash is a relatively easy side hustle. It requires a pretty low commitment, it’s flexible, and you can get paid weekly.
If you want or need to start making more money, driving for DoorDash makes sense for a lot of different people. There are definitely 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 food delivery 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 personally spoken to 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.
Sharing is caring!
About Millennial Money Man
Bobby Hoyt is a former band director who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in 18 months on his teaching salary and then left his job to run Millennial Money Man full-time. He helps other Millennials earn more through side hustles, save more through budgeting tools and apps, and pay off debt. He is a personal finance expert who has been seen on Forbes, Reuters, MarketWatch, CNBC, International Business Times, Business Insider, US News, Yahoo Finance, and many other personal finance and entrepreneurship media outlets.