Signing up to work as a food delivery driver is a great way to earn extra cash on a flexible schedule. I signed up to be a DoorDash driver and tried out the service myself to see exactly what the process looks like.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at being a driver with DoorDash including how to get started, how much you can expect to make and how to use some tips I learned to maximize your earnings.
4 Things To Know Before Becoming a DoorDash Driver
If you have a car with up-to-date insurance, a working smartphone and a clear background check, you can earn money by driving with DoorDash. Similar to GrubHub, UberEats and other food delivery services, DoorDash hires freelancers to complete deliveries in exchange for per-delivery pay and customer tips.
To test out the service, I signed up to be a DoorDash driver in Lexington, Kentucky. In total, I made $1,112.78. Below, I’ll share what I learned about driving for DoorDash.
Before you get started, consider these four things to know about driving for DoorDash.
What Is DoorDash?
DoorDash is a food delivery service that lets customers order from nearby restaurants and some grocery stores. Once a customer places an order, the nearest DoorDash driver is alerted to pick it up and deliver it.
There are two different apps for DoorDash: the food delivery app for customers (iOS and Android) and the driver app for freelancers (iOS and Android). Both apps are free to download and accounts are free to create. Of course, if you’re interested in becoming a driver for DoorDash, you’ll need the driver app.
How Much Do DoorDash Drivers Make?
As a DoorDash driver, you’re able to choose when and how often you work. Because of the extreme flexibility, earnings vary greatly between one DoorDash driver and another. How much you can make will also depend on where you’re delivering and what times of day you’re working. I tried to pick up shifts during lunch, dinner and the weekends. In my experience, you can expect to earn anywhere from $10-$25 hourly.
Over the course of a month in 2020, I earned an average of $183.51 weekly by working an average of 9 1/4 hours. That means I made around $19.84 an hour. Below, you can see a breakdown of earnings from one of those weeks.
DoorDash pay includes the base pay per delivery plus any Peak Pay. All deliveries include a minimum payment amount (base pay) that’s typically between $2-$3. Peak Pay is available during busy times and adds $1-$5 per delivery. You can find out when Peak Pay timeslots are available by clicking the Promos tab in the app.
In that same Promos tab, you can also see if there are any “challenges” available. A challenge may say something like “Earn an extra $20 when you complete 15 deliveries this week.” If you complete a challenge, the incentive money will be included in your next paycheck.
In addition to DoorDash pay, customer tips are also added to earnings. DoorDash drivers get to keep 100% of customer tips.
Of course, there are expenses that come with the job including the wear on your car and gas. According to the annual summary I received from DoorDash at the end of 2020, while I had earned $1,112.78, I had driven approximately 572 miles. If my car gets 25 MPG and gas cost around $2.50 per gallon at the time, that was an expense of $57.20.
Also, as a freelance DoorDash driver, you’ll also need to hold out your own taxes. Even taking these expenses into consideration, it’s still possible to make $10-$20 hourly.
To Maximize Your Earnings as a DoorDash Driver, Follow These Tips:
- Drive during Peak Pay times. When you open the app, you can click on “Promos” in the top left corner to see if Peak Pay timeslots are available. Typically, I see Peak Pay promos during lunch, dinner and on weekends. If you can sign up to drive during one of those time periods, you’ll earn an extra $1-$5 per delivery. You may also get notifications throughout the day letting you know that Peak Pay is available. Similarly, be sure to check for active challenges and complete eligible deliveries for additional earnings.
- Go to hotspots if you’re waiting for orders. When you’re driving, you’ll see hotspots on the map. These are areas where a lot of orders are being placed. If you’re waiting on orders, hang out near these restaurants to maximize your chances of getting an assignment.
- Be strategic about which orders you accept. Before you accept or decline an order, you’ll be able to see the total minimum pay you’ll earn — including customer tips. You’ll also see the total distance you’ll have to drive. If an order is too far or too small, it’s OK to turn it down. Your acceptance rating may go down, but this won’t affect your ability to accept orders. Also, you can accept multiple orders at once. DoorDash will offer you multiple orders only if your destinations are in the same direction. This is a great way to double what you’ll earn and drive only slightly farther.
Keep in mind that your earnings will vary from hour to hour depending on where you live, when you’re driving and whether customers leave tips.
How Does DoorDash Work?
DoorDash works by connecting customers with freelance drivers and nearby restaurants and merchants. As a driver, you’ll be expected to use your smartphone and vehicle to accept and deliver orders. You’ll earn base pay for each delivery, Peak Pay when eligible and 100% of the tips that customers leave. You can also earn additional incentives by completing active challenges.
If you’re thinking about driving for DoorDash, follow these steps to sign up and start earning money today.
To get started, download the DoorDash driver app for iOS or Android. Once you open the app, click “Become a Dasher.” You’ll be asked to enter your ZIP code and phone number before creating an account.
After you enter your name and create a password, you’ll need to submit a background check through Checkr.
To complete the background check, you’ll need to provide your vehicle details. You’ll also have to check a box stating that you have an active car insurance policy. Once you click “continue,” you’ll be able to enter your driver’s license number, birthday and social security number to complete your background check. You can also request a free copy to be sent to your email.
Once you’ve completed this step, you’ll be asked to enter your address so that DoorDash can send you a free welcome kit. The kit includes a “hot bag,” company credit card (Red Card) and a manual. While there are some orders you won’t be eligible to take until you’ve activated your Red Card, you can start delivering before the welcome kit arrives.
Finally, you’ll need to fill out a W-9 form and enter your bank account information so that you can get paid. You can complete all of these steps directly in the app. Once your background check comes through (mine came back within the hour, but it can take up to a week) you’re ready to start!
Once you’ve created an account and your background check has been approved, you can log in and start delivering.
To start accepting deliveries, you’ll need to be in a red zone (shown in the screenshot above) and click “Dash Now.” Additionally, you can click the “Schedule” tab on the bottom of the screen if you want to sign up for future shifts. If you’ve scheduled yourself to drive, you’ll receive a text message reminder 15 minutes prior to the start of your shift. You can cancel or reschedule your shifts at any time.
When a nearby order is placed, you’ll receive an alert in the app and a text message notifying you of the new order. You’ll have a limited time to accept or decline the order in the app before it’s given to the next available driver.
If you accept the job, you’ll see the address for the restaurant or store that’s preparing the customer’s order. You can click “Directions” to open up the navigation app of your choice.
You’ll see a sliding bar across the bottom of the DoorDash driver app to indicate when you’ve arrived, when you’ve picked up the order and when you’re completing the delivery. Once you’ve arrived at the restaurant or retailer, you’ll see the details of the customer’s order so you can check it for accuracy. Once you’ve picked the order up, you’ll see the customer’s address along with any special instructions.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, DoorDash has offered no-contact delivery that customers can request. If your customer indicates that they want a no-contact delivery, you’ll receive an in-app alert and a text message letting you know once you’ve picked up the order. When you arrive at the customer’s address, you’ll be able to take a photo, send a secure text or call from a secure number to let them know you’re dropping off the order.
Once you’ve completed the delivery, you’ll see a quick summary of your earnings. After you click “Got It,” you’ll be ready to accept your next order or end your dash.
You’ll receive payments via direct deposit to the bank account you listed when signing up. DoorDash pays drivers weekly on Mondays for the work completed the previous Monday-Sunday.
Whatever you’ve earned by Sunday at midnight PST will be transferred to your bank account at that time. Still, it may take a few days for it to show up. I’ve always received my deposits on Tuesday, but it can take as long as Wednesday night.
If you can’t wait until Monday, Dashers in the United States are also eligible for Fast Pay. This feature allows you to cash out instantly for a $1.99 charge. To use this feature, you must have a debit card linked to your Dasher account.
Pros and Cons
Overall, driving for DoorDash is a great way to earn extra money. Signing up is easy and you can get started as soon as your background check comes back. I was able to take my first order the day I signed up!
After being a freelance DoorDash driver for a full month, here are a few of the major pros and cons I’ve found:
If you do decide to become a DoorDash driver, be sure to hold back enough of your earnings each week to cover your estimated tax payments. If you make $600 or more in a calendar year, you’ll receive a 1099-NEC form. Even if you don’t earn that much, you’ll be expected to report your earnings at the end of the year and pay the appropriate taxes.