5 Things Every New DoorDash Dasher Should Know

Everyone loves the convenience of food delivery. Whether you’re too tired to cook or are just looking to mix things up, getting a bite delivered is the perfect solution. These days, it’s easier than ever to get food delivered with one of the many food delivery apps on the market.

Behind every food delivery app, however, are the delivery drivers that make deliveries happen. With DoorDash, one of our favorite food delivery apps, this is no different. Each of those hungry people out there represents an opportunity for you to make money delivering food, all while setting your own hours and earning tips.

We’ve already covered how you can become a DoorDash dasher, as well as examined how much DoorDash drivers make. So for this post, we wanted to go deeper, looking at what you need to know once you’ve signed up for DoorDash and are making your first deliveries. These tips will help you maximize your earnings, as well as make your first few weeks on the job go more smoothly.

Jump to:

  1. Know the DoorDash Driver Requirements
  2. Know the Vehicle Requirements for Your City
  3. Set Aside Money for Taxes
  4. Refer Other Drivers to Earn Extra Money
  5. Deliver During Busy Hours to Get a Pay Boost

1. Know the DoorDash Driver Requirements

When you’re working on your DoorDash driver application, it’s important to know the requirements the company has for its delivery personnel. These requirements are in place to keep Dashers, customers, and restaurant partners safe. As long as you have a clean driving record, the necessary insurance, and a criminal history free of serious convictions, you’ll likely have no problem meeting the requirements.

To drive for DoorDash, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age (or 21 in some cities)
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have a clean driving record free of major moving violations
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Have a valid auto insurance policy (if making deliveries using a motor vehicle)
  • Be eligible to work in the U.S. (with either a Social Security number or valid work permit)

Furthermore, as you continue to work as a DoorDash dasher, you’ll want to make sure that all of this information remains up to date. Be aware that changes in things such as your criminal history or driving record could result in you being removed from the DoorDash platform, even if you met the requirements when you applied. DoorDash will spot check these things, and you should always report any changes to the company; it’s better for you to be upfront about it than for the company to find out from a third party.

2. Know the Vehicle Requirements for Your City

DoorDash is available in a variety of cities across the United States and Canada. Here are just a few of them:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Minneapolis
  • New York City
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

Depending on your city, you may be able to make deliveries using a car, bike, scooter, or even your feet. You’ll need to check the Info On Your City page at DoorDash.com to find out exactly which modes of transportation are eligible.

The variety of transportation options makes it easy to deliver no matter what kind of vehicle you have available to you. This makes working for DoorDash advantageous when compared to another platform like Uber or Lyft, which require you to have a car. With DoorDash, you could have the chance to get out and stretch your legs or spin your wheels.

3. Set Aside Money for Taxes

When working as a DoorDash dasher, you’re responsible for filing and paying taxes on the money you earn. All DoorDash drivers are independent contractors, which means that DoorDash doesn’t withhold any taxes from your delivery earnings.

This can make your taxes a bit more complicated, but this is also the arrangement that gives you so much freedom as a DoorDash driver. If the company had you as an employee, it would make your tax situation a little simpler. On the other hand, the company would then be able to dictate your work hours, making DoorDash less appealing as a part-time, flexible gig.

The exact amount you’ll need to pay in taxes will vary based on your income and state. In all cases, however, you’ll at least need to pay the federal taxes that cover Social Security and Medicare (these are called FICA taxes). It’s unlikely that the amount of taxes will be very high, especially if you’re using DoorDash as a source of supplementary income. Still, you do need to keep these taxes in mind, as not saving for them could mean a rude surprise at tax time.

To determine how much of your income you should set aside in your bank account each month, check out our guide to self-employment taxes. We also suggest speaking to an accountant for more specific guidance.

4. Refer Other Drivers to Earn Extra Money

Savvy dashers know that the delivery fees and tips you get from delivering food are just one part of the DoorDash earning equation. The other part consists of referral bonuses you can earn when you get other people to sign up to deliver for DoorDash. The precise amount you can earn depends on your city, with higher bonuses available in cities where DoorDash is new or looking to grow its operations. Be sure to take advantage of these bonuses, as they can really boost your income.

While there are a couple ways you can refer friends to DoorDash, by far the most effective method comes from using the Dasher app on your Android or iOS device. Just open the app and tap on “Invite Friends.” From there, choose your preferred referral method:

Five Things Every New DoorDash Dasher Should Know

As you can see from the image above, you have the option to refer friends via SMS, email, Facebook, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger. We recommend leveraging platforms with larger reach such as Facebook and Twitter for maximum coverage (since you can reach beyond just people whose personal contact info you have). You don’t have to stop there, though. You could also print out your referral code and hand it out to people.

Or, if you drive for another service such as Uber or Lyft, you could even have it available inside the vehicle itself. This could be a bit risky, since these companies would rather you focus on their service and not on advertising. But it can be a good way to get more visibility for your referrals.

To learn more about how to make the most of this code, check out our guide to DoorDash driver promo codes.

5. Deliver During Busy Hours to Get a Pay Boost

While smart referral tactics can help you boost your income with DoorDash, the platform is still about deliveries at the end of the day. You can increase your delivery earnings significantly when you pick up deliveries during the busiest hours. These are the times when people are ordering lunch and dinner, and you’ll get additional compensation for the increased order demand.

DoorDash refers to this incentive as “Busy Pay.” The amount varies based on current demand, but you’ll be able to see its amount before you accept a delivery, as you can see in the image below:

Things Every New DoorDash Dasher Should Know

It can be a pain to deliver during these peak hours, as they often see increased traffic and heightened levels of activity at the restaurants where you’re picking up food. It’s worth it, however, for the extra money you can earn due to the higher volume of orders. The screenshot above shows a Busy Pay bonus of $1.50, but it can go even higher in some cases.

Plus, the more deliveries you’re making in a given amount of time, the more you’re earning overall. This is especially true when you consider that the more deliveries you make, the more opportunities you have to earn tips.

Of course, you should never let the quality of the service you offer suffer in a quest to complete deliveries more quickly. This will just lead to lower ratings and lower (or no) tips. Only take on the number of deliveries that you can reasonably make without any errors.

Make the Most of Your DoorDash Dasher Gig

We hope you now have a better understanding of what you can do to make the most of your DoorDash deliveries, including how to boost your income. DoorDash is just one of many food delivery platforms available. We suggest consulting our guides to delivering for Postmates, Uber Eats, and Grubhub next, especially if you’re in a city where DoorDash isn’t available.

If you’re curious about other ways you can supplement your income, check out our guides to driving for Uber and for Lyft.