If you’re an Amazon Prime member who lives in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced an Amazon service that just seemed too rapid to believe. Ever had a package arrive the same day? Ever used Amazon to order groceries or have food delivered?
All of these services are possible because of a division known as Amazon Flex. It’s one of the latest outgrowths of the gig economy, all powered by Seattle e-commerce giant Amazon.com. Amazon Flex is an exciting entry into the gig economy, offering good pay compared to the national average minimum wage and to other delivery companies such as Postmates.
But just how much do Amazon drivers make at the end of the day? Is the great pay they advertise really what drivers are earning? Let’s find out.
What Is Amazon Flex?
We’ve covered Amazon Flex at length in our guide to Amazon delivery jobs. But if you’re not familiar with the service, here’s a brief overview of how it works for drivers.
As we alluded to in the introduction, Amazon Flex is what enables Amazon to offer free two-hour delivery service, restaurant delivery and Sunday delivery of packages (to name just a few). Amazon Flex drivers make this possible, completing the following types of deliveries:
- Prime – These are regular Amazon package deliveries. While Amazon makes many of these deliveries via USPS or UPS, using contractors allows the company to increase delivery times or offer delivery on Sundays.
- Prime Now – Available in select markets, Prime Now is a service that allows Amazon Prime customers to receive two-hour delivery on household essentials, everyday items and select Amazon products.
- Amazon Locker – Drivers deliver packages to Amazon Lockers, which are like P.O. boxes that Amazon operates in order to provide alternative pickup locations for customers.
- Merchant Pickups – Instead of picking up the package from an Amazon station, you pick it up directly from a merchant. This is how Amazon can offer services such as AmazonFresh, as well as deliveries from local small businesses and other brick and mortar Amazon partner stores.
- Restaurant – These are food orders from restaurants as part of the Amazon Restaurants service.
Amazon Flex drivers deliver for all of these services, setting their own schedules based on pre-selected delivery blocks using the Amazon Flex app. Qualifying is easy: You just need to pass a background check, have a smartphone that can run the app and have a vehicle you can use to make deliveries.
How Much Does Amazon Flex Pay?
So now, to the part you’ve been waiting for: the money. How much do Amazon Flex drivers make? The base pay rate for Amazon Flex drivers is $18 per hour (higher in select markets). From there, hourly pay can climb as high as $25 per hour due to factors that increase the difficulty of the delivery. Possible factors include high demand, inclement weather or the holiday rush.
If you’re delivering for Prime Now, you’ll also have the chance to earn tips. Customers aren’t required to give tips, but you can increase your chances of receiving them by providing prompt, professional customer service.
You’ll be able to see the hourly rate for a given schedule block before you select it, so there will be no ambiguity about how much you’ll be making on a shift. That being said, the precise amount you make per week or month will depend on how many shifts you’re willing to work, as well as how many Amazon will give you. To ensure that your work remains part-time, Amazon caps the maximum number of hours you can work as follows:
- Max per day — 7 hours
- Max per week — 29 hours
- Max per 30 days — 116 hours
This is because, as an Amazon Flex driver, you are a self-employed, independent contractor. Your are not an Amazon employee. If Amazon were to regularly give drivers 40-hour weeks, this could open them up to lawsuits demanding Amazon delivery drivers be treated as employees (and given the benefits that come with employee status). Amazon doesn’t want this, so they put the above caps in place (and phrase driver job titles carefully).
Note, however, that these caps can be lifted during busy periods such as the winter holidays. Even so, rest assured that Amazon is still keeping track of the total number of hours you work and will cut you off from delivery blocks if they think you’re getting too close to an amount of hours that could give you grounds to claim you’re an Amazon employee.
Still, the name of the game for maximizing your Amazon Flex income is increasing the number of delivery blocks you can get. Luckily for you, we wrote an entire guide to how to get more Amazon Flex blocks.
Amazon Flex Driver Expenses
Amazon Flex is a great way to make money on the side, but it’s not without its expenses. And as an independent contractor, you do not receive reimbursement for any expenses you incur in the course of the job.
Therefore, you need to consider the following expenses carefully when figuring out if Amazon Flex is a worthwhile gig to pursue. Because that $18 per hour sounds great on paper, but the reality can be a bit less when you factor in the following expenses:
- Car payment — Do you outright own the vehicle you’re using to make Amazon Flex deliveries, or are you still making car payments to a lender? If so, then you have to count these against whatever you’re making when figuring your final profit. That being said, Amazon Flex can be a good strategy to supplement an existing car payment if you just work for the service a few hours a week on the side.
- Vehicle maintenance — Making deliveries using your own vehicle will increase the mileage and overall wear and tear on the vehicle itself. This means more frequent maintenance and a lower overall life span for your vehicle, which can cut into your earnings significantly.
- Gas — Wherever you are, you’ve got to pay for gas (unless you’re making deliveries in an electric car or vehicle with another alternative fuel source). All that extra driving means you’ll be going through extra gas as well, especially if you’re driving a less fuel-efficient vehicle such as a truck or van.
- Insurance — Legally, you have to have insurance for your vehicle whether or not you use it for making Amazon Flex deliveries. But still, since you’re using your vehicle for business purposes, that means your auto insurance is now a business expense.
- Vehicle registration — In the same vein as insurance, you have to have proper vehicle registration regardless, but it’s still something you can consider as a business expense.
- Taxes — This is where your profits really start to shrink. Because you’re an independent contractor, Amazon doesn’t withhold any taxes on the money they pay. That’s your responsibility now, so check out our guide to self-employment taxes to ensure you’re not in for a nasty surprise at tax time.
It’s impossible to give exact numbers for the above expenses, as they will vary based on where you live, what you drive and your age.
Start Earning Good Money for Amazon Flex Today
Like the sound of making extra money driving for Amazon Flex? At the time of publication, Amazon Flex is accepting applications for new drivers in the following markets:
- Chicago (Mundelein)
- North Virginia and South Maryland
- New York
- San Francisco Bay Area
New markets do come up every so often, especially during the holiday rush. You can check back on the Amazon Flex website to stay updated.