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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.
Like Uber and Lyft, driving for DoorDash is an easy and lucrative way to earn extra money on the side while you set your own schedule.
We’ve already examined how much DoorDash drivers make. So for this post, we wanted to go deeper, looking at the signup process and what you need to know to apply to drive for DoorDash. After that, we’ll give you tips for delivery driving, and show you what the process actually looks like.
Let’s dive right in.
- Great incentives for signing up to drive
- Pay for food using the company red card — not your own money
- Make money on your own schedule and get paid weekly
- How DoorDash Works for Drivers
- How Much Do Dashers Make?
- DoorDash Requirements
- How to Sign Up for DoorDash
- DoorDash Tips for Drivers
How DoorDash Works for Drivers
DoorDash drivers, bikers, and on-foot deliverers — officially known as Dashers — are responsible for picking up food orders and delivering them directly to customers. That’s really all there is to it.
When you work as a DoorDash driver, you carry two primary responsibilities. First, you’ll pick up orders from local restaurants. Then, you must bring each one to its designated drop-off location.
Once you’re an approved member of the independent contractor team, you can start getting food delivery requests through the Dasher app.
When you’re available for deliveries, you can log into the smartphone application to receive requests. The app will then give you all the necessary information about your assigned orders, including the corresponding pick-up and drop-off locations. Once in a while, you may need to use a DoorDash-provided prepaid debit card, known as a Red Card, to check out at a restaurant.
The job itself is not hard to learn, and there’s no real need for orientation. Once your application is approved, you can begin setting your work schedule on a daily basis or set the dates weeks in advance. There is a lot of freedom of choice, because there is no minimum number of deliveries to make or hours to log.
All of this is pretty standard for food delivery apps, but unlike competitors like Postmates and Uber Eats, DoorDash couriers have two additional opportunities to earn more.
First, much like Grubhub drivers can do, Dashers can schedule delivery blocks, which are known as “Dashes.” Every available Dash represents a block of time in which the company expects to need more drivers. Claiming a Dash guarantees you’ll get requests during your selected time period. The only caveat is you must show up, as failing to deliver during scheduled blocks can prevent you from claiming future Dashes.
Depending on your market, scheduled Dash opportunities may be available to couriers using other modes of transportation.
Second, Dashers can qualify for DoorDash Drive, a program in which restaurants can ask drivers to fulfill delivery requests they receive outside of the DoorDash platform. This program opens you up for exclusive requests (and more earnings), including larger catering orders and on-time bonuses.
DoorDash Drive couriers simply need to complete 100 orders and maintain a 4.8 average star rating and a 90% completion rate to qualify for the program. On the job, they’re expected to dress professionally, bring at least one large, insulated bag (catering size), and help set up for meals if requested by the restaurant’s customer. Otherwise, driving for the program is business as usual for couriers.
But working for DoorDash is not for everyone. It’s not a physically demanding job, but you need an outgoing personality and the ability to stick to a schedule. This is because you will deal with customers in person and represent the brand. Since there are thousands of drivers across the country, it is possible that someone else’s bad reputation can affect your work, too.
How Much Do Dashers Make?
Though DoorDash has promoted the delivery gig as a $15-$25 per hour opportunity, the average DoorDash driver makes about $13.85 per hour. Plus, drivers get to keep 100% of all tips they receive. This average is just a hair above the average Uber Eats driver’s earnings, though there may be some variation based on your city and mode of transportation.
Earning $15-$25 isn’t impossible by any means. Sometimes, you may experience high demand or receive large orders that quickly drive up your base pay. When promotions are available (including sign up bonuses) you can further increase your income by completing challenges or driving during peak hours. However, the part of the DoorDash pay model that has the greatest impact on your hourly earnings are your tips — 100% of which always go to you.
Just like on any other food delivery platform, your hourly earnings will depend on a few factors. For every request you receive, your DoorDash pay will depend on the following factors:
- Base pay: DoorDash always guarantees $2 to $10 (sometimes more) per order, calculated based on the estimated time and distance traveled. This base pay may be higher if other couriers have previously rejected the order. This is because the platform takes the desirability of orders into account.
- Promotions: Most commonly, you’ll get bonuses when you drive for DoorDash during peak hours, which are usually during lunch and dinner. Once in a while, you can take advantage of Challenge bonuses, which give you extra money for maintaining a certain level of activity. DoorDash Drive orders are also considered promotions. Promotions to give out to friends and family are also available for delivery drivers.
- Tips: Customer tips go straight to couriers. Customers can tip as little or as much as they like.
On top of this, DoorDash also offers Instant Pay, an option to get paid faster than the standard ACH direct deposit payment.
While this decent pay is possible, don’t forget that you are an independent contractor, rather than an employee. This means that you are your own boss and simply contracted by DoorDash to do deliveries. As a result, you get immense flexibility, but you’re responsible for covering your own car maintenance (or bike maintenance) expenses.
As you may see, how much DoorDash drivers make is not guaranteed. But by understanding the pay breakdown, you can maximize your earnings regardless of your mode of transportation.
DoorDash is available in a variety of cities across the United States and Canada. Here are just a few of them:
- New York City
- Washington, D.C.
Regardless of which city you’re applying in, keep in mind that 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.
To drive for DoorDash, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age to drive, or 21 in some cities to deliver alcohol
- Submit to and pass a background check. This is very similar to Uber’s background check
- Be eligible to work in the U.S. (with either a Social Security number or valid work permit)
- Own an iPhone or Android smartphone that can support the DoorDash app and future updates
In order to pass your background check, your criminal record should be free of felonies and violent, sexual, or drug-related crimes. DoorDash uses Checkr — the same company that conducts Uber and Lyft background checks — to get your information, so if you’ve previously been approved as a rideshare driver, you should have no problem passing this requirement.
The most important requirement to drive for DoorDash is that you are at least 18 years of age, though some states specify you should be 21 to make deliveries involving alcohol. This is a non-negotiable for most alcohol delivery apps. You will be notified of the exact age requirement for your location once you apply.
There are no physical requirements to work at DoorDash. Since orders rarely require heavy lifting, the only tiresome activity is actually working long shifts.
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.
You don’t have to own a vehicle to apply. 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. Note that this may change for some future cases, as DoorDash has mentioned they may later tap into the grocery delivery market.
DoorDash has a stricter policy than other companies in the on-demand delivery services when it comes to a driver’s driving record. To be considered for a position with DoorDash, you cannot have had any major traffic violations in the past seven years, and no more than three accidents in the past three years.
If you’re planning to drive a motorized vehicle for your delivery gig, you do need to meet a few additional DoorDash driver requirements. Whether you’re driving a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, or electric scooter, you must:
- Must possess a valid driver’s license
- Have a valid auto insurance policy
- Have a clean driving record free of major moving violations
- Haven’t had any major traffic violations in the past seven years
- Haven’t had more than three accidents in the past three years
If you’re interested in being a delivery driver, you won’t have to worry about your car model or any cosmetic requirements. DoorDash has absolutely no vehicle requirements. As long as your car is in good working condition and is covered by your insurance policy, you can be approved to start delivering.
However, we do recommend using a larger vehicle if you have one, as this may help you get matched with larger orders that allow you to earn more in less time. If you only have access to a motorcycle or scooter, make sure you have a comfortable and secure way to store your food orders, so you can drive safely and don’t miss out on tips.
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 driving for another platform like Uber, which requires you to have a car. With DoorDash, you could have the chance to get out and stretch your legs or spin your wheels.
How to Sign Up for DoorDash
If you meet all DoorDash requirements and are still interested in joining the team, you can start your application process today.
To sign up for DoorDash, follow these steps:
1. Head to doordash.com/dasher/signup.
2. Enter your email address and tap “Next.”
3. Enter your phone number and ZIP code, then tap “Continue.”
4. Enter your first name, middle name, last name, and preferred password, then tap “Continue.”
5. Select your vehicle type, then enter your driver’s license information and confirm that you have auto insurance. Tap “Continue” once complete. This step will look slightly different if your market allows bike or on-foot deliveries.
6. Enter your birthday and Social Security number, then tap “Continue.”
7. Read through the background check disclosures and authorization message. If desired, you can also opt to “Receive a free copy of my background check report.” Then, tap “Continue” to authorize the required background check.
Most DoorDash background checks are processed within 5-7 days. Once you’re cleared, you can return to the sign-up page, tap “Already started signing up?,” and enter your email and phone number to continue to set up an orientation, during which you’ll be able to learn more about the Dasher gig.
You’ll have the option to schedule an in-person orientation for a specific time, drop by your local DoorDash office during open orientation hours, or simply request a DoorDash Activation Kit instead.
If you choose the latter option — which is sometimes the only option — you’ll be able to skip the traditional DoorDash orientation and simply read a manual instead. This manual will be shipped to you, along with a complimentary hot bag and your DoorDash Red Card.
Getting Started as a Dasher
When you’re ready to drive for DoorDash for the first time, you can open your app and tap “Dash Now.” If requests are available, you’ll immediately receive an offer you can accept. Once you accept a request, you can see the details regarding where you’re headed and when you need to be there.
DoorDash requests that drivers arrive close to the pick-up time but no more than 10 minutes early. That way, the customer’s food is as fresh as possible. When you arrive, you’ll need to verify the order ID matches the items you receive (do not actually open the meal). Then, carefully place the food in your hot bag — place cold items separately — and head to the drop-off location.
Upon arrival at your final destination, follow the customer’s delivery instructions for drop-off. The customer’s ID will be required if they purchase alcohol.
At each checkpoint throughout this process — for example, when you arrive at the restaurant, pick up the order, or complete the delivery — you’ll need to use the Dasher app to verify order completion. This will allow your customer to stay up-to-date on the order and inform the platform all is well.
Take Advantage of Promotions
The easiest thing you can do to maximize profits is to take advantage of DoorDash promotions. If you don’t, you’re just missing out on free money. There are a few promotions you can likely enjoy, but the best one is the driver referral bonus.
Sign up with a promo code and you get a cash bonus if your city is eligible. The bonuses vary from city to city, and aren’t guaranteed, but in the past we’ve seen them in active markets to be typically in the $300 range (though in some places they go as high as $750). You can get your promo code from an existing Dasher and you can both make some extra money.
So why does DoorDash offer referral bonuses? There are two main reasons. One, it’s a way for them to expand their service capability and operate in more and more cities. Two, it’s an incentive for drivers to want to make more deliveries. It’s a win-win situation for both the company and the delivery driver.
As a new Doordash driver, you won’t get your bonus immediately, you have to complete some deliveries first. The number varies from city to city, but every city has a set amount of deliveries that you need to complete within 30 days of signing up. Complete that many deliveries (or more) in your first month and you’ll earn your bonus.
After you’ve signed up and earned your first bonus, you can start signing up other drivers with your own referral link. Every time you get a new driver to sign up with your link, you’ll get an additional bonus. For every friend that you enlist as a driver, you’ll earn a payout – as long as the promotion is active in your city and the referred driver completes the required amount of deliveries within the time requirement as a Dasher.
There’s no pressure to recruit friends to sign up to drive, but if you get a few to do it, you’ll definitely see more money in your pocket.
Only Dash When It’s Busy
There’s no point in working when it’s not busy. You only make money for the number of deliveries you do, so if no one is placing any orders, there’s no money to be made. In general, you should aim to complete at least 2 deliveries per hour. If you’re only getting 1 request an hour, you should check Uber or Lyft instead (more on that later)
Work during busy hours and you’ll make more money. Lunchtimes and dinner rushes are the busiest, especially on the weekends when people want to be lazy and don’t feel like cooking for themselves. Fridays through Mondays are the most profitable days, but it’s also very busy when it’s raining or snowing out.
Most people don’t want to go out when the weather is bad. So if you don’t mind driving in the rain or snow, you’ll surely make good money – and probably some pretty good tips to boot.
Another great time to work is during big sporting events. During football season, you’ll see lots of orders placed on Sunday afternoons. There are also NFL games on Monday and Thursday evenings. If your local team is playing, you can expect it to be even busier.
The other benefit, besides more requests, is that you’re much more likely to get a pay boost during busy times. So familiarize yourself with the busy times in your city. A great way to do this is to keep a journal of busy periods. You can also always look back through your earnings report to see what days are times are the most profitable in your city.
Decline Low Paying Jobs
One great thing about the DoorDash app is that you’ll get to see how much you’re going to earn before you accept the order. Your earnings depend upon the size of the order and a few other factors, so you’ll have the option to accept or decline jobs depending on what they pay.
Declining jobs hurts your acceptance rate, but if you have to go a long distance to deliver a low-value order, it’s sometimes worth it. It is only worth declining a job if you’re confident that you’ll get another job request quickly.
When it’s slow, it’s best to accept whatever requests come in. But if you drive at busier times, you can decline the ones you don’t want and select the ones that’ll earn you a few extra dollars.
If you’re not busy, you may as well accept a lower paying job. It’s better to make a little bit of money than to be bored and make no money at all.
Track and Reduce Expenses
Keeping your expenses low is key to maximizing your profits. As an independent contractor, you have to provide the equipment necessary to do the job. That includes the cost of your vehicle, gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. All of those expenses eat away at your profits.
Independent contractors are also responsible for paying income taxes. That means you’ll need to hold money aside every week in order to make tax payments throughout the year. 25% – 30% of your earnings is what most drivers hold aside for taxes. However, as an independent contractor, you’ll also be able to deduct a lot of your expenses at tax time.
To deduct the proper expenses, you’ll need to keep track of them throughout the year. If you’re meticulous about reporting your earnings and expenses, you can save yourself a great deal of money when it comes time to pay the IRS.
You can keep track of your expenses yourself or use an app like Stride to help you keep everything in order. With Stride, you can see where your expenses are the greatest so you can figure out easily where you might be able to reduce your operating costs.
Use Other Apps During Downtimes
No matter your side hustle you have, you’ll experience some downtime. If you drive for Uber or Lyft, you know that there aren’t a whole lot of ride requests on certain days and at certain hours. And food delivery services, whether your work for GrubHub, Postmates, or DoorDash, are the same way.
You won’t find a lot of orders coming in at midnight. You might get some breakfast orders if you’re in a populated city, but there’s no question about it – driving during lunch and dinner is key. As a Dasher who uses your vehicle as your office, you have the option to maximize your profits by picking up another gig or two. And there are lots of other gigs you can choose from.
If you prefer to stick to delivery services, sign up for other delivery apps like GrubHub, Uber Eats and Postmates as well. If your vehicle meets the eligibility requirements, sign up to drive for Uber and/or Lyft.
If you can diversify your gigs, you’ll spend less time waiting for orders or waiting for passengers. Getting orders and getting passengers is the only way to make the most of your time and make some good money.
Avoid Late Night Delivery
If you prefer to drive in the middle of the night, DoorDash might not be the best job for you. You’ve got to be available for deliveries when restaurants are open and people are placing orders. And since most restaurants close around 10 or 11 p.m., you’ll need to do most of your driving between the lunch and dinner hours.
It can be tempting to stay out late delivering food, and if you’re in a big city with a lot of restaurant options or 24-hour places, you might be able to do so. But in most places, delivering past the dinner rush isn’t that profitable.
A good way to increase your profits as a Dasher is to do most of your driving when the more expensive restaurants are open. Sure, you might be able to get some late night orders for McDonald’s deliveries or other fast food joints, but those aren’t the highest paying orders.
When someone orders from a cheap restaurant, you’ll make less per delivery. When they order from an expensive restaurant, you’ll make more. Another reason to focus on delivering for more expensive restaurants is that you’re more likely to get better tips. And drivers get to keep 100% off all tips at all times.
Rather than driving for DoorDash (or GrubHub) late at night, consider switching over to a different gig, like driving for Uber and Lyft. When it’s late and the bars start closing, Uber and Lyft are very busy. You should be able to get plenty of passengers and you may even be able to enjoy surge pricing in certain areas on certain days.
The trick is to know how to balance your various jobs in order to make the most amount of money. Having one gig will limit your earning potential. By doing two or more gigs at the same time, you’ll stay busy. And busy means one thing: more money in your pocket.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you choose to deliver food with DoorDash, your driving career can potentially begin in less than a week. To learn more about earning with the company, read these frequently asked questions:
Does my car need to pass a vehicle inspection before I can start driving for DoorDash?
No, vehicle inspections aren’t necessary to drive for DoorDash. As long as your car is in good condition and can reliably get you to your assigned pick-up and drop-off locations on time, it’s fit to drive. Vehicle inspections are typically only required by rideshare companies because of the extra liability of having a rider in your car.
Can I be a full-time Dasher?
DoorDash isn’t just for earning extra money. You can definitely work for the company on a full-time basis. While you’ll still be classified as an independent contractor, which means you won’t have access to benefits or guaranteed pay, drivers are free to pick up enough shifts to work 40-hour weeks with the food delivery service. However, be aware that you won’t always have back-to-back requests, especially when you’re not driving during peak hours.
How often do Dashers get paid?
DoorDash drivers are paid via direct deposit once per week. Funds will typically appear in your account by Wednesday night unless bank holidays delay your payment.
Once you’ve finished at least 25 deliveries and have driven for at least two weeks, you can choose to cash out any time with DoorDash’s Fast Pay feature (this involves a $1.99 fee). You must have a valid debit card to use this feature.
Does DoorDash pay for gas?
Because working as a driver or dasher for DoorDash makes you an independent contractor, you will be responsible for your own vehicle. All the money for fuel and maintenance will come out of your pocket.
This is one of the reasons why it’s hard to establish an average income for DoorDash drivers. Fuel consumption and maintenance differs from driver to driver, not to mention not all drivers own their own vehicles. In some areas of operation, deliveries may be longer and use even more fuel. In these situations, DoorDash usually increases the delivery fee to compensate for the extra fuel.
How do I know where demand is highest in my market?
The home screen of your DoorDash Driver app will always display busy areas (known as “Hotspots”) near you, usually with a small flame icon. Driving in these areas can help you get more requests, though these Hotspots can change in real-time. It’s not uncommon for a Hotspot to go away by the time you arrive there.
Where are DoorDash jobs available?
You can drive for DoorDash in any of the company’s markets, though you may be placed on a wait list if lots of delivery drivers are already in your area.
DoorDash gigs are usually available wherever the company operates, though you may be put on a wait list if supply happens to be higher than demand in your area. The food delivery brand currently serves over 850 cities in North America and Australia, including major cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
Here are just a few of the cities that DoorDash operates in:
Do driver reviews matter?
Your reviews and ratings are extremely important and can come from both customers and restaurants. Accumulating too many bad reviews can affect your ability to earn tips and significantly reduce your earnings. Too many customer complaints can also cause DoorDash to remove you from their network without notice.
Although you may try hard to impress, it’s possible that some people will give you a bad review without reason. It’s also possible that a minor mistake on your part can result in a very harsh review that is not necessarily accurate.
Can I earn money any other when when I drive for DoorDash?
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:
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.
DoorDash Delivery: A Good Way to Earn Extra Money
Working as a DoorDash delivery driver is a legitimate way to earn extra cash. The requirements for the food delivery service are common sense and not that different from what other companies require. In addition, you have the freedom to choose your work hours.
It’s nice to have no cap or minimum on the amount of hours you can put in. You get to keep all your customer tips, and you can deliver orders on your vehicle of choice. You can even use a bike or walk as long as it doesn’t take too long. If you’re interested in an active lifestyle and meeting new people, give DoorDash a try.
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, Grubhub and Instacart., especially if you’re in a city where DoorDash isn’t available.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. 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 Ridester.com 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.