The first thing you need to know about working as a Postmates courier is that Postmates isn’t just a food delivery service — it’s on-demand delivery for anything.
Want a beer at 12 a.m.? Postmate it!
Stuck at home with the stomach flu and need crackers and Gatorade? Postmate it!
Hosting a party tonight and realize you’re dangerously low on toilet paper? Postmate it!
Postmates is great for consumers who are willing to pay for delivery… possibly not the most budget-friendly option for my frugal readers. But it turns out that a lot of people are willing to pay a few extra bucks to get things delivered ASAP. In fact, Postmates sees over 5 million deliveries per month.
Living in the age of on-demand delivery is great news for side hustlers. But let’s look at how you start working for Postmates, how much you make, and how Postmates stacks up to other side hustles.
Delivering for Postmates: Everything you need to know about being a Postmates courier
What is Postmates?
Postmates is a delivery service that was founded in 2011 and prides itself on delivering “anything, anytime, anywhere.” You can find Postmates in over 2,940 cities across the U.S., and order from over 350,000 restaurants.
If you’re interested in becoming a Postmates courier, you need to know that when they say you can get anything delivered, they really do mean anything. Here are a few real Postmates orders:
- Ping pong balls
- One package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- $1,000 worth of Taco Bell
- A drum set
- 1,248 cans of Red Bull
Postmates has also been known for some pretty crazy celebrity deliveries. Post Malone spent over $40,000 on Postmates deliveries in just 400 days. Chrissy Tiegen accidentally had 200 limes delivered to her house. Chance the Rapper has used Postmates to order a Big Mac Meal minus the burger, adult coloring books, an iPad mini, and seven PS4 controllers (all separate orders).
While celebrity orders might not be the norm, the point is that people can order pretty much anything through Postmates.
How to make money with Postmates
Postmates offers side hustlers serious flexibility when it comes to making money. You don’t have to schedule your time, work a certain number of hours, or hit certain delivery minimums. You can just open the app and start delivering whenever you want.
There are just a few requirements to work with Postmates:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a smartphone so you can download Postmates Fleet, the courier app you’ll use to complete deliveries
- Pass a Postmates background check
As long as you meet those requirements, you can start earning extra cash on the side with Postmates. You can make deliveries via car, bike, scooter, or on foot. Then you’ll be paid a rate based on when and where you’re delivering.
How to apply and start working for Postmates
If you’re interested in becoming a Postmates courier, you’ll need to start by heading to the Postmates website and clicking “Join the Fleet.” You’ll create a new courier account with an email address and password.
Postmates will ask you for your address so they can send you a Postmates card that you’ll use to pay for deliveries. You’ll be matched with the delivery location (what Postmates refers to as a market) closest to your address, but you can always change your delivery location if you need to.
Postmates will also ask for your Social Security number and date of birth so they can perform a background check.
If you plan on driving for Postmates, which is how you’ll be eligible for the most orders, you’ll also need to enter your driver’s license number and expiration date.
After you’ve filled out your online application, you’ll have to wait a few days for Postmates to process your application and send you a welcome packet. This includes the prepaid card you’ll use to pay for deliveries.
Delivering for Postmates
There are two different Postmates apps — one for placing orders and one for couriers, called Postmates Fleet. As a courier, Fleet is what you’ll use to accept and fulfill deliveries.
The cool thing about working for Postmates is that you don’t have to schedule when you work. You get a lot of flexibility, and all you need to do is go into the app and slide a button to start accepting orders.
When a delivery request pops up in your area, you click “Accept.” The app will pull up a map that gives you the quickest route to the store or restaurant. The order might already be placed and ready for you, or you may need to place the order or shop for it — and you’ll be paid for that time too.
If the order was paid for in the app, you’re ready to deliver. Otherwise, you’ll use that prepaid card Postmates sent you in your welcome packet and send the purchaser a picture of the receipt and order total.
The app will then give you the shortest route to the delivery location, and the purchaser may give specific directions, too, like a gate passcode or instructions to leave delivery outside the back door.
And that’s it!
How Postmates couriers are paid
Couriers are paid weekly via direct deposit, and it takes about 2 to 3 days for your payout to show up in your bank account. You can sign up for instant deposit by linking your debit card to the Postmates Fleet app and cash out whenever you want, but there is a $0.50 fee per instant deposit.
You can keep track of your earnings for the day or week in the Fleet app dashboard.
How much do Postmates drivers make?
Postmates pays couriers separate rates based on pickup, dropoff, minutes spent in-store, and rate per mile. These rates vary by market, but here are some of the current rates in different markets around the U.S.:
New York, NY
On top of base pay, Postmates couriers also keep 100% of tips.
Postmates has a couple more market-specific ways to earn. There are starter guarantees for new drivers, and as long as you complete a certain amount of deliveries in a set amount of time, you earn a bonus. You can also earn payouts for each new person you invite to start driving, as long as they complete a certain number of deliveries in a set amount of time.
Here’s an example of those earnings where I live in Houston, Texas. If you complete 35 deliveries in 14 days, you’ll earn $275 on top of base earnings and per delivery bonuses. And you’ll earn $150 for each person you invite, as long as they complete 50 deliveries in 30 days.
But, how much do Postmates drivers actually make?
Like I said, what you earn depends a lot on where you’re delivering. Couriers in big cities are going to make more money because there’s a higher need and a higher level of difficulty, as in it may be more difficult to get from place to place and busier restaurants.
Postmates CEO Bastian Lehman says couriers driving during peak hours have a median pay of $19/hour.
Drivers on Indeed reports earnings from $12.40-$37.40/hour, with an average pay of $21.06/hour. And on Glassdoor, drivers have reported base hourly earnings from $6-$26/hour, with an average base pay of $11.
There are a couple of factors that aren’t mentioned in those figures that you’ll have to consider:
- Wear and tear on your car. When you put more miles on your car, that’s more frequent oil changes, new tires, brakes, etc.
- Time between deliveries. Say one delivery took 20 minutes to make, but you might find yourself waiting 20 minutes before receiving your next order. You’re not getting paid for those 20 minutes, but you are waiting to work.
Those two factors above are the same kind of thing you’ll need to think about with other side hustles like rideshare driving and other food delivery services.
Are there any Postmates tips and tricks that can increase my pay?
Yes, there are several ways to make more money with Postmates!
If you’re able to deliver during peak hours, you’ll find more orders available on the app. The busiest times on Postmates are 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are also some of the busiest days for drivers.
For ultra busy times, you may find orders with Blitz pricing. These orders have even higher payouts, but not all orders during this period offer Blitz payouts.
Markets sometimes have Hot Spots, which show up in the Fleet App like this:
The darker red the area, the more likely it is that you’ll get an order, so you may need to drive to a different location to increase your chances. The best way to find Hot Spots is to check the Fleet app during peak hours.
Postmates also offers a couple of different courier bonuses, and you’ll be notified about these in the Fleet App or via email. There are Crushers, which is a payout bonus for completing so many deliveries in a set time period. You can also earn a Bonus per Delivery for every order completed in a certain time frame — it can be around $1 to $2 extra per order.
You can also turn on Auto Accept in the Fleet App to automatically take new orders, and this will reduce the amount of time you wait between orders. New orders are automatically added to your route, and you can turn it off or pause it at any time.
Read more at How to Make Money: Top 44 Ideas for 2020
What happens if a customer cancels a delivery?
Unfortunately, some customer orders can get canceled for any number of reasons. A customer can change their mind, a restaurant might be too busy to take new orders, or have to close unexpectedly.
If the order was canceled when you’re on your way or already at a restaurant or store, you will still receive a small portion of your payment. For orders that have been paid for or in route to be delivered, you’ll receive your full fee. You probably won’t receive a tip, and you can do what you want with the order.
No. You will be responsible for these costs as an independent contractor.
Can I deliver it in other places?
Yes. As long as you have location services turned on for the Fleet App, all you need to do is open it up and find orders. Realistically, you could be traveling and still earn some extra cash with Postmates.
How about working for Postmates and taxes?
Because Postmates couriers are considered independent contractors, Postmates doesn’t withhold any taxes.
If you make more than $600/year with Postmates, they will send you a 1099-MISC form with your annual earnings. You should still report your earnings to the IRS even if you don’t make $600 with Postmates.
You can write off the mileage on your car, but you’ll need to be tracking that throughout the year. Postmates recommends using the Stride Tax app to track this.
Learn more about tax time at How to Handle Taxes for Your Side Hustle.
Postmates Driver Alternatives
Like I’ve said a couple of times, Postmates offers serious flexibility, which is what a lot of Postmates couriers like about it. Here are a few more options for flexible side hustles.
Other food delivery services
There are tons of on-demand delivery services right now. DoorDash, Instacart, UberEats, Shipt, etc. These companies are all a little different, but here’s what you need to know about two other top companies:
- DoorDash: Food delivery service that averages pay around $20/hour. One major difference is that you can schedule your hours in advance. Learn more at DoorDash Driver Review - How to Earn More than Average.
- Instacart: Grocery delivery service that pays around $20/hour during busy times. You earn per delivery and keep 100% of your tips. You schedule blocks of time to work. Read more at Instacart Shopping Side Hustle: How Much Do Instacart Shoppers Make?
Final word on working as a Postmates courier
As long as there are orders in the app, delivering for Postmates is an insanely flexible side hustle. So if you’re looking for work outside the house, it’s an option worth checking out.
The downside is that there are other side hustles that pay more, including a couple that I mentioned in the previous section. Neither will put significant wear and tear on your car or delivery vehicle, and that only increases your actual pay.
And if none of these options do it for you, there are still lots of side hustle ideas. There’s no excuse not to start earning more money, especially if you want to destroy your debt, save more for retirement, fund an epic vacation, or just put more money in the bank.