One of the questions I hear from people thinking about driving for DoorDash is, “Is DoorDash worth it?”
It’s a great question to ask if you want to work for DoorDash. There is a growing list of delivery services, and with recent driver strikes, you need to know you’re starting a side hustle that’s worth your time.
To help answer your question, I’ve put together a list of things that you need to know if you’re considering DoorDash. It includes the new Dasher pay model, how to earn more than average, and what you can expect with driver expenses.
1. How the DoorDash pay model works
To understand is DoorDash worth it, I think it’s helpful to know how DoorDash figures your driver pay. They use a formula called the Dasher Pay Model, which is Base Pay + Promotions + Tips = Earnings.
Here’s how DoorDash expresses their Dasher Pay Model:
Your base pay will range from $2-$10. It varies by order, based on an algorithm that looks at time, distance, and desirability for each order. The app shows you the base pay per order, and you can decide whether or not to accept the order from there. If the customer has added a tip in advance, you’ll see that too before accepting the order, and you always keep 100% of tips.
DoorDash has a couple of promotions that help drivers boost their pay, and that’s with Peak Pay and Challenges. Challenges are incentives to complete a certain number of deliveries in a set amount of time.
An example of a challenge is an extra $20 if you complete 15 deliveries over 6 days. Your challenge progress is tracked in the app.
Peak Pay is an extra $1.00+ amount per order for driving during busy times. The dinner and lunch rush are typically busier, and holidays like Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc.
2. Base pay might be lower than you expect
The pay model that DoorDash uses was introduced back in 2019, and many drivers have been reporting lower overall pay since then. DoorDash changed the model, “to promote fairness across the platform and ensure that more Dashers have opportunities to receive high value deliveries.”
Unfortunately, many drivers have seen lower base pay since that new model was released. It’s uncommon to earn on the high end of that $2-$10 base pay range, and the reality is that many DoorDash driver reviews are reporting base pay of $2-$3 per order.
Earning $2-$3/order is a shocker, but you need to understand what DoorDash base pay is. It isn’t your actual pay or hourly pay. It’s the minimum amount you make for each order you pick up and deliver. Base pay is determined by estimated time, distance, and desirability of order.
Customer tips are added to your base amount, and you keep 100% of your tips. When you add up base pay, tips, and factor in how many orders you take throughout the day, DoorDash driver pay averages about $10-$15/hour.
It’s also important to understand that your base pay is based on the market or area. California is a hot DoorDash market, and one DoorDasher on Reddit said they make $200-$300 any given day working in California.
Because you’ll always see your base pay in the app before accepting the order, you can be picky about which orders you accept. Some drivers decline orders that don’t have tips, which customers can add in advance. But know that if your customer adds a tip in advance, they have 24 hours after the order was delivered to change your tip, so always provide excellent customer service.
3. Earning Top Dasher status may increase your pay
The Top Dasher program is how DoorDash recognizes and rewards drivers for generally doing an awesome job. Here are the perks of the program, and they can help you increase your overall pay:
- Dash Anytime: Instead of having to schedule the hours you want to work in advance, Top Dashers can open the app and drive whenever they want. That’s increased flexibility.
- More deliveries: When the app is slow, Top Dashers are prioritized for orders. That means if there is one delivery and two drivers in the area, the one with Top Dasher status will be offered the order first.
- Priority access to high-value orders: This is a new benefit, and Top Dasher status means you’ll be offered high-value orders before other drivers. These are orders with $30 or more in cart value.
Some drivers see Top Dasher status as a major badge of honor, and certainly can help you earn more. It’s more offers, more flexibility, and higher dollar orders that usually have larger tips. You can earn Top Dasher status by meeting the following criteria:
- Customer rating of at least 4.7
- Acceptance rate of at least 70%
- Completion rate of at least 95%
- 100 completed delivery during the last month
- At least 200 lifetime deliveries complete
You’ll need to work for DoorDash for a few weeks before you can qualify for Top Dasher status, just because it takes at least 200 completed deliveries. You can earn high customer ratings by being polite and offering high-quality customer service, and completion rate is the number of accepted orders you deliver.
However, the acceptance rate is something that’s causing DoorDash drivers a lot of frustration.
I mentioned in the last section that you can accept or decline orders depending on base pay and tip. Drivers decline because they don’t find it worth it to drive a 30-minute round trip for $2. Not accepting enough orders means you won’t get Top Dasher status, which negatively affects higher earning opportunities.
Overall, the Top Dasher program can be a solid way to increase driver pay, but the trade-off is that you may earn on the lower end until you reach that status.
4. You can get paid weekly or instantly
DoorDash drivers are paid weekly via direct deposit. You’ll enter your bank account information when you sign up to drive, and DoorDash sends payments for the previous week on Monday. It takes about 2-3 days for the funds to hit your account, and drivers typically see pay hit your bank account on Wednesday evening.
If there’s ever a reason that you need cash immediately, you can use DoorDash 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
5. DoorDash doesn’t pay for gas or driver expenses
DoorDash drivers are considered independent contractors, meaning you are responsible for paying for gas, insurance, tracking your mileage, wear and tear on your car, etc. The same goes for Instacart, Uber Eats, Postmates, Shipt, etc.
These expenses add up and can eat into your take-home pay, which is why that low base pay is so frustrating for some drivers. The best thing you can do for yourself is set up a good system for tracking all of your expenses to deduct as much as possible on your taxes.
You will be able to take a standard mileage deduction — it’s $0.56/mile for the 2021 tax year — and that covers wear and tear on your car. Drivers can also deduct a percentage of their cell phone bill, parking fees, inspections, and any expense associated with driving because they’re necessary for work.
DoorDash drivers also need to purchase special rideshare insurance, which is special car insurance to cover you while you’re driving. You can expect to pay about $15/month for it, and it’s also deductible.
6. DoorDash driver requirements
If you’ve gotten through everything and think DoorDash might be worth it for you, then one of the final things to consider are the driver requirements. Fortunately, there are pretty minimal requirements.
Here are the requirements if you want to become a DoorDash driver:
- Must be 18 or older and meet the minimum driving age in your city
- Have access to a car, scooter, or bicycle in some cities
- Have a driver’s license number
- Have auto insurance
- Social security number if delivering in the U.S.
- Complete a background check
If you meet those requirements, DoorDash is a very flexible way to make extra money. It’s true that you might not be making as much as you’d expect, but sometimes you just need something flexible.
Meet the DoorDash driver requirements?
DoorDash drivers must be 18, and they must have a reliable vehicle, valid driver’s license, auto insurance, a social security number if driving in the U.S., and complete a background check.Become a DoorDash driver
7. You can sign up for multiple apps
One of the best ways to make more than the average DoorDash driver is to sign up and deliver food for multiple apps. This is one of the perks of being an independent contractor — you’re not beholden to DoorDash alone.
Driving for multiple apps helps you make extra money because you’ll have access to more high-value orders. When an order comes in the DoorDash app with a $2 base pay and no tip, you can pass on that and check another app. You can also toggle back and forth between apps when one seems slow.
Again, drivers aren’t obligated to deliver for only one company alone. They all have nearly identical driver requirements, and the sign-up and delivery process is incredibly similar.
If you’re interested in checking out more, I also recommend:
- Instacart: Drivers earn $15-$20/hour delivering groceries. Learn more in my Instacart Review | How Much Do Instacart Shoppers Make?
- Shipt: Similar to Instacart, Shipt drivers make around $20/hour delivering groceries. Check out my Shipt Shopper Review to learn more.
- Uber Eats: You can make $8-$15/hour delivering for Uber Eats. Check out this Uber Eats Review to learn how this side hustle works.
How to sign up for DoorDash
There’s a four-step process to sign up and start driving for DoorDash. It take about 5 minutes to complete the first step, and then it can take about a week, max 2 weeks, before you’re fully approved and approved to start driving.
Step 1: Fill out a DoorDash application online
This application asks for personal information like your name, phone number, location, driver’s license number, and social security number. You’ll also need to agree to a background check.
Step 2: Complete a background check
The background check looks at your driving record and whether or not you’ve had any criminal charges in the past. You may not be approved if you have too many moving violations in the past 7 years.
Step 3: Complete DoorDash driver orientation
If your driving record looks good, DoorDash will ask you to schedule a new driver orientation. This is fully online, and it walks you through how to deliver for DoorDash, including using the app, picking up food from restaurants, etc.
Step 4: Download the DoorDash Dasher app
You’ll receive instructions for downloading and using the app in your orientation. The app is where you can go to receive orders, schedule dashes, read announcements, see your earnings, and more.
You can use the DoorDash Dasher app to find nearby areas with the most available orders, and it will show you the best route for fulfilling those orders.
Is DoorDash worth it? The final word
You came here to learn if DoorDash is worth it, and the reality is that it depends on you. Because DoorDash recently lowered their base pay, you can expect to earn around $10-$15/hour. Of course, some days will be busier than others, but you always get to keep 100% of your tips.
There are no start-up costs, and you can start making money in about 1-2 weeks, so not a bad deal if you’re looking for ways to make money fast.
I honestly think driving for DoorDash is good for a lot of different kinds of people. It’s not going to make you rich, but it’s a flexible way to make extra money. If you’re looking for a higher-paying side hustle or more options, check out this list: 40 Side Hustle Ideas to Make $1,000+ Per Month.