As gas prices rise nationwide, third-party delivery services are making changes to offset surging fuel costs. DoorDash is offering cash bonuses and cashback on gas purchases. Instacart and Uber are giving drivers 100% of a recently-added gas surcharge.
Surging gas prices are a serious concern if you’re thinking about becoming a food delivery or rideshare driver, and we’re taking a closer look at how companies are helping drivers, plus additional measures drivers can take to save on gas.
Temporary gas benefits by company
10% cashback on gas purchases with the DasherDirect card; plus $5-$15 gas rewards bonus, depending on miles driven
$0.40 per order surcharge
$0.45 or $0.55 per ride surcharge
$0.35 or $0.45 per delivery surcharge
$0.55 per ride surcharge
Up to 12% cashback on fuel purchases for drivers who use the Amazon Flex Rewards debit card
Increase in driver pay per region
On March 15, DoorDash announced a new program for Dashers to offset rising fuel costs. The Gas Rewards Program will pay DoorDash drivers anywhere between $1.65 to $2.00 per gallon of gas. The program is split into two parts:
1. 10% back for all DoorDash drivers through Dasher Direct
DasherDirect is a prepaid business Visa debit card designed for Dashers. Anytime a driver uses their card at the pump, even when they’re not working, they can earn 10% cashback on gas purchases. All Dashers qualify for the DasherDirect card, and there’s no credit check required to apply.
2. Weekly gas bonus
The weekly gas bonus is aimed at Dashers who drive the most, and you’ll need to complete orders totaling at least 100 miles a week to earn the bonus. This incremental rewards program pays drivers an estimated $1.27 to $1.69 per gallon. Here are the bonus tiers:
- $5 bonus if you drive at least 100 miles a week
- Extra $10 bonus if you drive 175 miles a week
- Extra $15 bonus if you drive 225 miles a week
We can expect DoorDash’s program to last at least through April 2022.
DoorDash Disclaimer: Actual earnings may differ and depend on factors like number of deliveries completed, time of day, location, and expenses. Hourly pay is calculated using average Dasher payouts while on a delivery (from the time you accept an order until the time you drop it off) over a 90 day period and includes compensation from peak pay, tips, and other incentives.
On March 18, Instacart announced a couple of new changes to help drivers with increasing gas prices. The first one is a temporary fuel surcharge on customer orders adding an additional $0.40. Every cent of the surcharge goes directly to drivers, and Instacart says drivers will be able to see batch information and surcharge on every order before accepting it.
They’ve also partnered with Upside, a gas cashback app, so drivers can earn up to $0.35 back per gallon for their first two full-ups.
Here’s what Instacart’s VP of Operations and Care, Tom Maguire, said about the changes, “In a time of increased fuel costs across North America, we know that every cent counts, and we’re hopeful this temporary fuel assistance will help offset some of the near-term challenges that shoppers are facing. While shoppers on our platform tend to spend more time shopping and less time driving, we know that there is still an acute need to address rising gas prices and makes sure we’re supporting shoppers during this time,”
Instacart hasn’t made any announcements about when the surcharge will end or when it will be reassessed.
3. Uber & Uber Eats
Beginning March 16, Uber customers will pay a surcharge of either $0.45 or $0.55 on each trip, and Uber Eats customers will see a surcharge of $0.35 or $0.45 on each order. The amount varies based on location, and 100% of the surcharge will go directly to workers. The surcharge is based on average trip distance and average cost of fuel in each state. This is a temporary measure and will last at least through May 2022, when Uber will reassess.
Uber said of the surcharge, “We know that prices have been going up across the economy, so we’ve done our best to help drivers and couriers without placing too much additional burden on consumers [...] We’ll also continue to track gas price movements to determine if we need to make additional changes.”
It’s also worth noting that Uber has been rolling out its Green Future Program that incentives driving electric vehicles, such as an additional $1 per trip, up to $4,000 annually. Uber also has negotiated deals with Hertz to offer discounted Tesla rentals. Participating drivers will qualify for the Zero Emissions incentive, and Uber estimates you can also save an average of $50-$100 per week on fuel.
Lyft announced on March 16 that it will be adding a $0.55 fuel surcharge to each ride, and 100% of the surcharge will go directly to drivers. The surcharge will last at least through May 2022.
Additionally, U.S. Lyft drivers can apply for a Lyft Direct debit card and receive 4% to 5% cashback on gas through June 30, 2022. Drivers may also be able to receive additional cashback on through Lyft’s partnership with Upside.
In its announcement, Lyft said, “We’ll continue monitoring gas prices, listening to how drivers are being impacted, and finding ways to support them as things evolve.”
5. Amazon Flex
On March 30, Amazon announced that it’s doubling cashback on fuel purchases, up to 12%, for Flex delivery partners who use the Amazon Flex Rewards Debit card. Drivers initially earned 6% back on gas purchases, and this move is intended to offset rising fuel costs.
Amazon Flex drivers in severely impacted areas can also expect several other adjustments to get through price surges. However, Amazon hasn’t released any specifics about what those changes will mean for drivers or customers.
In its announcement, Amazon said, “We are continuing to closely monitor this situation to determine if we need to make future adjustments to support our transportation partners.”
Grubhub increased pay for drivers beginning on March 9 to account for per-mile cost increases for gas in a driver’s region. The news was sent via email to drivers, and there’s little information about how the adjustment will boost wages or whether the cost will be passed along to customers.
What drivers in New York City need to know about fuel surcharges
If you’re in New York City, you may not qualify for fuel surcharges or gas rewards programs. Here’s what we know so far:
The Uber surcharge will not apply to rides that begin in New York City or Uber Eats deliveries within the City. This is because drivers received a 5.3% increase to the city’s minimum earnings standard earlier in March 2022.
New York City lawmakers passed a set of bills in 2021 aimed at improving working conditions and pay for app-based workers. The sweeping measures include a set minimum per-trip payment for drivers of services like DoorDash, Instacart, UberEats, and so on.
Can you combine fuel surcharges with cashback apps?
Yes, and you should! Delivery and rideshare drivers can offset rising gas prices even more by using apps that give you cash back on gas purchases. Here are our top recommendations:
- Upside is a popular one where you can earn up to $0.25/gallon back. It’s free to download and use, and there’s a map inside the Upside app that shows gas stations where you can earn the most money back per gallon.
- Dosh is a cashback app that partners with businesses to pay cashback on purchases you make with a linked card, and you can occasionally find offers for gas stations.
Other tips for drivers to save on gas
Besides taking advantage of a cashback gas app, here are a few more tips that may help you reduce your fuel mileage and save on gas:
1. Shift to neutral in traffic
Whenever you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, shifting into neutral will lower your RPM and lessen how much gas is being used to keep your car running.
2. Avoid hard braking
Slamming down on the brakes significantly increases fuel consumption because whenever you brake harshly, your car’s transmission will have to downshift automatically or manually to regain lost momentum. Lower features require faster engine revolutions, which in turn demands more fuel.
3. Check your tire pressure
Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average, up to 3% in some cases. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box in your owner's manual. The added benefit is that properly inflated ones are safer and last longer.
4. Avoid traffic when possible
Easier said than done, we know. While you can’t always avoid traffic, using an app like Waze can help you avoid traffic jams because it’s updated by people who are sitting in traffic. You can real-time updates about where slowdowns are so you can consider taking an alternative route.
The final word
I recently had the chance to talk with some Uber drivers about rising gas prices, and they overwhelmingly said this side hustle is still worth it. Gas prices are cutting into their pay, but they told me they still have a flexible way to make extra money.