What Is Postmates? A Definitive Guide for Customers and Delivery Drivers

Our world is being transformed by technology and the gig economy. It’s easier than ever to get whatever you want at the click of a button — whether it’s a freelance contractor, a ride from a company like Uber, or a hot meal delivered to your door. Disclosure: is supported by our users. We...

Our world is being transformed by technology and the gig economy.

It’s easier than ever to get whatever you want at the click of a button — whether it’s a freelance contractor, a ride from a company like Uber, or a hot meal delivered to your door.

Disclosure: is supported by our users. We may recieve compensation from the companies whose products we write about, test, or review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

There’s an Instacart driver on every corner to bring you groceries, an Airbnb host in every neighborhood when you go on vacation, and an Amazon Flex delivery person to bring you your latest orders.

And thanks to Postmates, there are couriers in every city to bring customers almost anything they can think of within a moment’s notice.

This page will summarize everything you could ever want to know about Postmates. We’ll start from a customers perspective before we dive in to what it is like to work for Postmates as a courier.

What Is Postmates?

Postmates is a goods and food delivery service that allows customers to order almost anything they want, including personal items, groceries, and restaurant meals. The idea is that these things will be delivered to the client’s door in less than an hour.

It’s a simple concept, but this $400 million startup is a huge success. It’s grown from its beginnings in San Francisco in 2011 to become one of the major cornerstones of the on-demand delivery economy.

Postmates taps into the gig-economy, much like Uber and Lyft, to hire delivery drivers, known as couriers. Couriers are independent contractors who use their own vehicles (or even bikes and scooters in some cities) to complete deliveries.

If you’re curious about the details of the Postmates revolution, read on to discover everything you need to know about this innovative app, and how you can get involved with everything the job has to offer.

How Does Postmates Work?

Postmates is an app that tells its users they can expect the very best their city has to offer, in a matter of minutes. Using the Android or iPhone app, users can order food ranging from juice bars, delis, restaurants, and food trucks, or order the essentials from a clothing shop, drugstore, liquor store, or grocery store.

Food delivery from restaurants is the most popular, but Postmates claims that you can ask for delivery from almost anywhere, for almost anything. The only request is that customers are reasonable with their orders. For instance, you can’t buy something from a different state and expect a Postmates courier to deliver it to you.

Using the service is easy – you download the app, create an account and start browsing for nearby stores. Next to each store on the menu, Postmates displays a delivery fee, which is typically about $3.99, and a time estimate.

Screenshot from Postmates showing delivery fee and time estimate

When you select a store, you’ll see a menu where you can add your desired items. From there, you check out using a credit card.

The best part about the app is that you can literally watch your order progress in the app. You can see where you driver is and how long it is going to take.

From a courier standpoint, most Postmates couriers wait in busy locations for orders to start coming in. As soon as they accept an order from a customer, they will be responsible for everything that order dictates.

In some cases, the order will just be a pickup, which means that the items are already prepared and the Postmates courier just needs to collect them. In other cases, they’ll need to call the food location for themselves and order everything for collection.

If the Postmates courier is responsible for the order, then they’ll need to clarify any specifics about the order that they might not be sure about, such as what kinds of condiments they want with their meal. Couriers can contact a customer to ask for extra details if you need to.

Once the order has been placed, couriers pay for the order using a pre-loaded PEX card issued by Postmates.

Generally, it’s a good idea to make sure you have some cash on hand just in case some places will not accept your card. So long as you have the receipt, you will be reimbursed for the money you spend.

Once you’ve collected the order, it will be up to you to navigate to your customer’s house and deliver what they asked for. This is one of the reasons why many people prefer to use a car with a GPS for their orders.

Related: Is Google Maps or Waze More Accurate?

What Can Postmates Deliver?

Almost anything can be delivered through Postmates, whether you’re looking for a fresh shirt for a big date, a new set of headphones, or a meal. We’ll be honest, the most common orders are for places like McDonald’s. But Postmates differentiates itself from competitors like DoorDash by claiming you can order “anything.”

The items that will not be delivered by Postmates couriers include:

  • Gift cards
  • Live animals
  • Guns
  • Explosives
  • Any controlled or illegal substances

Top Cities Where Postmates Is Available

Postmates delivery is currently available in cities across the U.S., like:

For a full list of the cities Postmates operates in, click here. If Postmates isn’t currently available in your city, it could be soon. The company continues to expand its operations and add new cities.

How Long Do Postmates Deliveries Take?

When an order is accepted on Postmates, an “estimated delivery time” will be displayed to the customer. The calculation takes a number of different factors into consideration when assessing your order, such as the:

  • Location of the Postmate
  • Food preparation time
  • Amount of traffic
  • Distance from the pickup location

Of course, countless elements can have an impact on delivery time.

For instance, you might find that a problem on the road causes delivery to take longer, or a delay in the preparation of the food means that a Postmate is held back from meeting their suggested delivery time.

Fortunately, the estimated delivery time presented on a customer’s app can go up or down as necessary.

What Is Postmates? Definitive Guide for Riders and Drivers
A Postmates delivery estimate screenshot from the Postmates blog

Couriers are asked to complete deliveries as quickly as possible for their own sake, but there’s no one to hold you accountable for how fast you are. Instead, you’re simply reminded that completing your deliveries as quickly as possible can increase your possible ratings and tips.

Depending on the stage of the delivery you’re in, you will be able to see a “Go to Pickup” or “Go to Dropoff” screen on your app which will provide you with details of the fastest route to take.

Postmates customers will be able to watch the progress of their delivery driver on their app too, so it may be worth keeping that in mind if you want to make sure that you get a good rating on your profile.

Postmates Pricing: How the Financial Side Works

The Postmates pricing strategy is simple enough to understand.

Anything can be delivered from any location for a cost of $5.99-$9.99, however, that doesn’t cover the price for the item that your Postmate is picking up if you’re a customer. Postmates also offers special deals to clients from partners to their brand, where it’s possible to get a pickup for $1.99-$3.99.

A variable percentage-based service fee is also applied to the price of the items that are ordered, and during the peak times of the day, the delivery prices for certain items might increase. This is called “Blitz” pricing. Let’s break down these pricing variables more.

Calculating Postmates Prices

In the past, Postmates has faced some scrutiny from customers who claim that the “estimated” quote for what they should expect to pay from a delivery is actually very different from the amount that they need to pay when their courier arrives at their home or office.

After a customer uses the Postmates app to place an order, the company provides an estimate for what that order will cost. It’s worth noting that these estimates aren’t always entirely accurate.

The quotes are calculated by adding up the total cost of the items that are ordered, before adding a service fee (varies according to the delivery) and a price for the delivery. In some cases, changing menu prices means that if someone uses Postmates to order a food item for delivery, they may need to pay more when it arrives at their home than the amount suggested by the app.

What Is Blitz Pricing?

At peak times throughout the day, there can be changes in the pricing patterns for Postmates customers, depending on the popularity of the app, and how many people are making requests. This is a form of surge pricing that Postmates refers to as Blitz pricing.

Customers are informed on the checkout screen whether they’ll need to pay a higher price for their delivery before they request a Postmate.

People who have signed up as an “Unlimited subscriber” will not pay a Blitz price on their order.

Blitz pricing is very similar to Uber’s SURGE pricing. It’s used when the amount of demand in the app outweighs the couriers that are available. Usually, the Blitz algorithm means that the amount that a courier can charge for a delivery can go up to 1.25 times, 1.5 times, or 1.75 times the original price. However, it rarely goes above this level for most couriers.

For people who are willing to make deliveries at any time of the day or night, Blitz pricing can be a huge incentive.

For those who want to add extra money to their income on the side, Blitz pricing means that you can improve your potential income by up to twice as much, just because you’re willing to leave your bed one night, or stay up late on a weekend.

Usually, Blitz pricing happens most organically on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. In certain areas, it can happen during the lunch hours on a weekday, but this is more common when offers are available or events are taking place.

Postmates Promotional Offers

Another unique financial element to note about Postmates is that this brand has a lot of money at its disposal which it can use to run promotions for couriers and customers.

While the promotions are intended to benefit customers, they can also be a great thing for drivers. For instance, Postmates often provides a free delivery item every week.

The free delivery item promotion means that customers only need to pay the service charge and the delivery fee for the item they want, and that means that they can get free burgers, pizzas, frozen yogurt, and countless other items as a result.

While customers get to benefit from essentially free food (though they’re still paying their drivers for their hard work), drivers get to benefit from better pay because most of these promotions lead to Blitz pricing. When Postmates offer a great promotion, a lot of customers start ordering more often, meaning that you can get twice as much money in the same amount of time if you’re in the right location.

Postmates Tipping Etiquette

Most people who turn to Postmates to make extra money use the app as a way to supplement their income with a part-time job, instead of considering it to be a full-time career.

This is one of the ways that Postmates differs from other on-demand businesses like Uber and Lyft, where drivers often devote their entire professional life to driving around and giving people rides.

However, there is potential for Postmates to become a full-time occupation for certain professionals, so long as you know how to get the best tips.

Although you can earn a reasonable amount with Postmates, the amount you make is also reduced by the cash that you need to spend on things like gas, car maintenance, and other hidden expenses.

Many Postmates couriers rely on tips, and the app offers a simple tipping option that customers can use at their convenience to give extra money to couriers easily.

The app automatically calculates a 20% tip, which is recommended by the company. The tip is based on the total price of the order, including the operational service fee, the delivery fee, and the subtotal. However, users are free to ignore the suggested amount and tip anything they choose.

The important thing for customers to remember is that a Postmates delivery fee isn’t the same as a tip. The good news is that you can go back into your order and add a tip if you forget to do it the first time around. Some customers also offer cash tips to their couriers when they arrive with a delivery.

Now let’s take a look at how you can work for the company, and what a job with Postmates entails.

Working for Postmates

There are far more career opportunities available with Postmates than most people would expect.

While you can obviously sign up to be a driver whenever you like, and simply download the app to get started, there is also a range of openings available for more specialized professionals who want to use the potential of a growing company to expand their resume.

Corporate Opportunities With Postmates

Currently, there are 40 openings at Postmates for engineering and product development experts, including data scientists, applied scientists, and machine learning engineers. These jobs are for individuals who believe that they can use their skills to make the Postmates app better for everyone involved.

There are also jobs available in the operations sector as a customer service team manager, business operation manager, and fraud support specialist, for instance.

If that doesn’t interest you, there are further opportunities for brand copywriters, production artists, SEO specialists, IT managers, finance managers, product analysts, and more.

You can check out the full range of corporate job openings here.

Joining the Postmates Fleet

Of course, the easiest way to get involved with the Postmates community is to become a part of the ever-growing fleet of couriers that are connected to the company’s app.

Applying for a courier position with Postmates is relatively easy. All you need to do is go online to the Postmates website and fill out a brief form.


You’ll be required to undergo a background check before you’re invited to a formal orientation somewhere in your area.

When you go to your orientation meeting, you’ll be required to take a number of important things with you, including:

  • A copy of your current insurance card (if you plan to drive a car for deliveries)
  • Your smartphone
  • Your government-issued photo ID
  • Either a void check or a bank account routing number (so you can set up a direct deposit for payment)

Most of the time, the orientation for a Postmates courier only takes between 20 and 30 minutes, but it can be followed up by a brief question and answer session.

Once you’ve successfully passed your background check and Postmates knows that you’re safe to work with, the company will call you and arrange an onboarding session.

Just like an onboarding session for any other job, a manager from your local area will meet with you to discuss what you can expect when you start working with Postmates, including pay and other things you’ll need to know about the job.

After the session is over, you’ll be able to start making deliveries and accepting orders through the app on your smartphone.

How to Use Your App as a Postmates Courier

The app that you have as a Postmates courier is useful for your job because it makes sure that you have all the information you need to earn as much as possible in your new role.

The app will help you to see the quickest routes to your chosen delivery and pickup spots and ensure that you know exactly when you can get the most money by alerting you when Blitz periods begin.

To begin using your app as a Postmates courier, all you need to do is turn on the standard app, and toggle the button that appears on the top right-hand side of the dashboard.

Here’s a detailed, step-by-step tutorial to getting started:

Remember, you won’t need to arrange a schedule or set up priority dispatch to go online. However, most people feel that the priority dispatch option makes it easier to earn more money. At the same time, Postmates claims that their couriers often find it easier to use a schedule to keep themselves on track.

When you’re set up with the app, you will receive a notification sound when a job becomes available in your area.

As we noted above, Postmates jobs are given according to your proximity to the pickup destination, so it’s usually a good idea to find a place to park that’s close to a fast-food restaurant that’s popular in your town.

When your notification appears, you will see the details on your phone, and you’ll have the option to decline or accept the order. Though you can’t see the drop off details or the information about the customer until you’ve been accepted, you will be able to see where you need to go for your pickup. Once you’ve hit “accept” on the job, you’ll be given a complete list of items that you need to pick up.

Remember, you can connect with the customer that asked for the pickup if you’re uncertain about what exactly he or she wants.

Once you get some experience under your belt as a courier, you should be able to figure out which Postmates jobs you should accept instantly, and which you should probably ignore.

Using the Postmates Dashboard

When you launch the Postmates courier app as a new employee, you’ll see the Postmates dashboard. On this dashboard, you’ll be able to see plenty of useful information, including any announcements made by the local Postmates office, the coverage map for your area, and the demand that is available in your area.

What Is Postmates — A Definitive Guide for Riders and Drivers

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The dashboard also shows things like priority dispatch and Blitz pricing. On the app, the areas that have been highlighted in red are the ones that have the highest level of activity.

It’s ideal to stay close to these highlighted areas if you want to get as much work as possible.

While it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll be busy, even when you go to the highlighted areas, situating yourself as close as possible to a red area should give you more opportunities for jobs. You may, however, need to drive around a little bit before you receive any notifications.

The Different Types of Postmates Jobs

Once you have accepted your chosen Postmates job, you’ll be given a list of items that you need to shop for. The app will connect with your phone GPS so you can get to the locations as quickly as possible.

The types of order you can accept include:

  • Orders that have already been placed: This usually happens with restaurants that are integrated into the Postmates app experience like Chipotle. In the order screen, you’ll see how many minutes you have left until the order will be ready to pick up and pay for using your PEX card.
  • Orders that are placed and paid for: With orders that have already been placed and paid for by a credit card or direct debit, for instance, all you need to do is give the customer’s name from the app and pick up the food. Then you can deliver the food after taking a picture of the customer’s receipt.
  • Manual payment and order: This is generally the most common type of job available on the Postmates app. You’ll be given a list of items you need to order when you arrive at your destination. You’ll need to wait in line like a regular customer, and put the order in. Sometimes, you can call the restaurant and place the order ahead of time to streamline the process, but this isn’t always possible.

No matter what type of order you take, you will need to make sure that you get the receipt for the items you are collecting. You cannot continue with the delivery before you have the receipt.

The Pay Structure for Postmates Jobs

If you’re thinking of working with Postmates, then there’s a good chance you want to know exactly how much you can earn through the platform.

The Postmates pay structure offers drivers a base delivery fee and a commission for their time based on the distance between the pickup and delivery points. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Usually, the amount you can earn will depend on the city that you’re working in, so it’s a good idea to check with Postmates in advance to see what the structure looks like for your area.

Postmates can turn on Blitz pricing at any given time — particularly during the times when the app is most busy.

If Blitz pricing is available, you’ll see it on your application, alongside exactly how much you can earn by working during this time. Blitz pricing can be great for giving a nice boost to your overall pay package.

In Blitz pricing, the Postmates pay structure for the basic delivery fee will increase by between 1.25 times and 1.75 times depending on the situation. If you have a long way to drive, then you should be able to make a significant amount of money, but you will need to factor in the costs of gas and other expenses like tolls, which Postmates will not pay on your behalf.

Generally, the Postmates pay structure is best for drivers that are close to the restaurant getting the highest amount of orders, but furthest away from the delivery point. This is because you get paid for every mile you drive when you’re making your delivery. In other words, it’s a good idea to try and get as many long drop-offs as you can, taking parking and traffic into account.

The Postmates Pay Schedule

Postmates couriers are paid on a weekly basis via direct deposit for all deliveries completed between Monday-Sunday of the previous week (the week ends Sunday at midnight PST).

Payments are transferred directly into the connected bank account and usually take 2-3 days to appear. There is no fee for automatic deposits.

If you don’t want to wait for direct deposits, you can always withdraw your earnings beforehand by using instant deposit. In most cases, you can use your earnings in 15-30 minutes, but some banks may take up to a day to make funds available.

There is a $0.50 fee per instant payout, which can be upsetting for someone who wants to keep every penny they earn.

What Can You Earn With Postmates?

The amount you can earn with Postmates is partially up to you. Just like other jobs in the on-demand economy, like those available with Lyft and Uber, the more you work, the more you can potentially earn.

However, there are plenty of things that can drain your earnings too, such as the amount you need to pay on tolls, gas, and car maintenance.

Often, Postmates couriers will find their own strategies for earning the highest wages from the time that they spend on the road, but most recommend staying around restaurants and fast-food locations that have easy parking and access to fast routes.

It might also be useful to keep your eye on the Blitz payout options available in your area if you’re looking to make more money.

The biggest factor in your Postmates pay potential will come from the clients that choose to give you a tip through the app. Ideally, you should complete a job and be able to see the amount you were tipped underneath the payments on your Dashboard immediately.

However, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes, you will have to wait a few hours or days before you can see a tip from a previous customer.

Tips on the Postmates app is one of the reasons why there’s a four-day delay in the payouts on your Postmates pay schedule. Clients don’t always close out their orders immediately — particularly when they’re hungry and want to start eating immediately. This means that you need to wait a little longer before the money goes through and your tip is delivered.

Postmates Insurance and Driver Expenses

What Is Postmates? A Definitive Guide for Riders & Drivers

Whether you choose to deliver by car or by bike as a Postmates courier, you’ll be protected by professional insurance whenever you’re on your shift.

Here are some of the terms you’ll need to know about your insurance, and the deductible you might have to cover if you’re at fault:

  • Accidental Occupational Liability: There’s a $50,000 limit on this insurance which covers the medical expenses and injuries that are incurred by Postmates if they are injured on the job. This amount is currently unmatched by competitors.
  • Auto Excess Insurance: When you sign up with Postmates, you get a $1 million limit which covers liability for if you get into automobile accidents. The insurance covers property damage for third parties and bodily injury, too.
  • General Liability Insurance: Postmates get a $1 million limit which covers those on bikes for any property damage for third parties and bodily injury.

The other expenses that you’ll need to think about as a Postmates driver will depend on how you choose to do your job. Mostly, you’ll have to pay for wear and tear on your vehicle, as well as parking and mileage fees. Make sure that you always read parking signs and feed meters, and avoid taking any chances to secure your earnings.

You can actually use the payments that you make for your vehicle as a deduction for your income taxes. Most experts recommend that a gas-efficient or hybrid vehicle is best if you want to make big profits as a Postmates driver.

Contacting Postmates

Contacting Postmates can be a different experience depending on whether you’re a customer or a courier.

The customer service team is available to customers on a 24/7 basis, where they can reach out to get information about an existing order or charge, or ask for help with a general question.

The fastest way to get in touch with Postmates as a customer is to get in touch through the delivery in question that has been listed on the account either on the web store or the Postmates app.


  • Tap on the clock icon on the right-hand top corner of the Postmates app, then tap on the name of the merchant you ordered from.
  • Go to the bottom of the page and tap “contact support.”
  • For the best results, make sure you notify Postmates within 48 hours of the completion of your order.

If you’re a Postmate looking for help, you can go to the Help Center on the Postmate website to find more information about the basics of becoming a courier, the vehicle solutions you need to consider when choosing a new ride, and the details of your accounts and earnings.

You can also get help with existing delivery problems that you might have. If you have an immediate issue on delivery, you can go into the active delivery page and click on the order details. From there, tap on the headset icon, and choose the issue that you’re facing.

The Live Order Support team at Postmates will get back to you with the next steps you can take, or the system will tell you automatically what needs to be done next.

Postmates Job Reviews

The experience you get out of your time with Postmates will depend on how much time and effort you dedicate to the app.

For most people, Postmates is simply a way to make a little bit of extra money alongside their regular income. If you use the app in this way and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, then you might have more fun doing deliveries than you thought.

For instance, this Postmates courier posted a YouTube video about his experience with Postmates, where he took his viewers on a drive with him to multiple deliveries:

The video covers what it’s like to work with Postmates from a first-hand perspective. The man in the video shares some of the tips and tricks that he’s found when working with the app.

For him, the best part about Postmates is the ability to choose which deliveries he takes and which he doesn’t. He enjoys being able to have his own strategy at work, and choose places that are nearby to get more orders done faster.

While this particular Postmate doesn’t appreciate the stress of having to ask for a receipt when one isn’t included in the order, he generally finds that working for Postmates is a simple and effective way to make cash while seeing more of his hometown.

The thing to take away from this review is that you can enjoy your time as a Postmates driver, choosing to work however (and whenever) is best for you. On top of that, it’s a great way to become more familiar with your local area.

Another review by a Postmates driver, Heather, intends to show people that while it’s possible to earn a full-time wage with the Postmates app, you need to make sure that you understand exactly how to make the most out of your tips.

For Heather, her time as a Postmates courier is a fantastic opportunity to explore her city and interact with new people. She enjoys the fact that she has complete control over her career, and she can decide exactly how she wants to make the most of the app and the employment opportunities that are available through it.

While this Postmate can find it frustrating when her customers expect her to know exactly what they want without enough information, she also notes that she can easily connect with customers and ask for confirmation on their orders when necessary.

For Heather, making money off the Blitz money periods is not a reliable strategy, as she doesn’t like making deliveries in the middle of the night.

However, she believes that priority dispatch can be a great way to improve your earnings, if you learn how to use it alongside strategies for better tips, like talking to the customer, giving them a great experience, and delivering as fast as possible.

The key takeaway from this review is that it is possible to make Postmates a full-time job, but you will be completely reliant on the tips you get from your customers.

Without tips, you can’t really earn enough from the Postmates app to supplement your income, but if you learn how to get more tips, then you could potentially earn a lot more than you’d expect.

Final Thoughts on Postmates

Whether you’re a customer, or someone who’s looking for a way to make a little extra money by spending more time behind the wheel, Postmates could be a revolutionary app for you.

For customers, Postmates makes it possible to order almost anything you want directly to your door. It’s perfect for when you’re too busy to go out shopping yourself, or you’re sick and you need someone to bring you your favorite food.

For Postmates couriers, the app is a fantastic way to live the self-employed lifestyle with as little stress as possible.

Although you might not be able to earn a full-time wage as a Postmates courier without some serious hard work, you could get some extra pocket money if you’re willing to do a few deliveries whenever you’ve got some spare time. If you can learn some of the tricks of the trade, you might find that your income goes up, too.

Intrigued by the possibilities of Postmates?

Sign up for the app today to have anything you need delivered to your door within an hour.

On the other hand – why not become a Postmates driver yourself? Choose your own hours, your own routes, and your own deliveries, while making a great supplemental income!


Brett Helling

Brett Helling is the owner of He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.

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