These days, it’s easy to earn cash with just a smartphone and a car. Food delivery apps are everywhere. But when the options are endless, it gets harder to decide which platform offers an ideal opportunity for you. So what is the best food delivery service to work for and why?
Every brand offers its delivery drivers unique app features and pay models that impact your overall experience on the job. Understanding the best (and the worst) that each platform has to offer will help you make an informed decision when choosing the best food delivery app for you.
In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of driving for each of the big four food delivery services so your choice is a little bit easier.
- Uber Eats
- What Is the Best Food Delivery Service to Work For?
- Frequently Asked Questions
DoorDash is easily the most popular food delivery service in the United States, but whether or not it’s the best food delivery app for you depends on what you’re looking for. We’ll explain how independent contractors on the platform (known as “Dashers”) can benefit from DoorDash’s many offerings, as well as where the platform falls short.
- Great pay model: The DoorDash pay model is easy to understand and doesn’t actually take any set commission away from you. Instead, it starts with a $2 to $10 base pay, depending on the estimated time, distance, and even desirability (previously rejected orders offer higher earnings). Then, you can earn peak time and Challenge bonuses, while receiving 100% of tips.
- Scheduling perks: DoorDash allows drivers to get guaranteed requests by scheduling shifts ahead of time.
- DoorDash Drive perks: High-performing drivers can access DoorDash Drive, which allows you to access large catering orders, exclusive requests, and even special bonuses.
- Caviar orders: Thanks to the acquisition of Caviar by DoorDash, DoorDash drivers now automatically receive Caviar orders in markets where both food delivery services operate. Caviar requests tend to bring in higher tips, since you’ll be picking up food orders for higher-end, pricier restaurants.
- Lots of delivery options: In addition to driving for DoorDash, the platform allows you to deliver on bike, scooter, and foot in select markets.
- 24/7 availability: As long as restaurants are open and customers are submitting requests, you can be making money any time of the day.
- High instant pay fee: Dashers are paid weekly, but if you want to cash out earlier, you must pay a $1.99 fee for Fast Pay and have a debit card.
- Limited shift availability: DoorDash scheduled shifts are in high demand. If you don’t claim them early on, you may miss out or get stuck with less desirable delivery times.
Uber Eats is a fast-growing platform that has recently surpassed Grubhub in market share, making it the second largest food delivery service in the United States. With this growth comes a handful of pros and cons to consider.
- All-in-one platform: The Uber Driver app makes it possible for you to seamlessly receive food delivery requests from the Uber Eats app, ridesharing requests from Uber, and package delivery requests from Uber Connect on the same platform. Even when Uber Eats peak times are over, you can continue getting lots of requests without switching to another rideshare or delivery app.
- Uber Pro rewards: The Uber Pro rewards program gives you the opportunity to earn extra money with priority airport pickups, reduce expenses with car maintenance discounts, and even get free college tuition for you or a family member.
- Affordable instant pay: The Uber Instant Pay program allows you to cash out anytime, up to five times per day for only 50 cents — or for free, if you have an Uber credit card.
- Great flexibility: While Uber Eats doesn’t give bonuses for scheduled shifts, this means you can drive on your own hours and always have an equal chance of getting requests.
- Global availability: While most major U.S. food delivery services are only available in North America, Uber Eats is found in over 45 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Taiwan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
- 24/7 availability: Like DoorDash, Uber Eats allows you to make money as long as local restaurants are accepting orders in real-time.
- No on-foot deliveries: While Uber Eats does accept bike and scooter deliveries, they don’t accept walking couriers at all.
- Fare reductions: While the pay model of Uber Eat works a lot like DoorDash, starting with a base fare based on your assigned pick-up and drop-off locations, the platform adds a fare reduction to your pay in some markets and some modes of transportation. You may end up earning less, depending on where your delivery gig is located, even if you take advantage of promotions and surge pricing.
One of the longest-standing food delivery platforms that is still leading the market today, Grubhub is a trusted name in the gig economy. But before you take on the Grubhub driver gig, consider these realities of working with the company.
- Simple pay structure: Grubhub doesn’t have any hidden fees. It simply pays you based on your estimated driving distance and time spent driving and waiting. In some U.S. cities, you may have a chance to qualify for an hourly guarantee.
- Delivery block perks: When you schedule a shift (known as a block) on Grubhub, the company guarantees more requests and you can potentially get higher earnings.
- Driver Recognition program perks: High-performing drivers get early access to delivery blocks and can receive larger catering orders.
- Seamless requests: Much like how DoorDash drivers receive Caviar requests, Grubhub drivers receive Seamless requests in shared markets. This could mean more back-to-back requests for you, without the need to switch platforms.
- Affordable instant pay: If you don’t want to wait for payday, Grubhub’s Instant Cash Out feature allows you to request up to $500 of your earnings per day for 50 cents — or for free, if you have a Chase checking account.
- 24/7 availability: Just like on other food delivery platforms, you can deliver all day, any day as long as restaurants are open.
- Limited bonuses: Grubhub doesn’t emphasize bonuses as much as DoorDash and Uber Eats, which both include promotions in their pay models.
- No surge pricing: Grubhub historically hasn’t run on a surge pricing model, so the best way to earn extra money during high-demand times is by snatching up delivery blocks before they’re gone. Unfortunately, this means top-tier couriers in the Driver Recognition program can access higher pay before you.
To round up the big four food delivery services, we’ll introduce you to the Postmates driver experience, including all of the good and bad features you need to know.
- Great pay model: Like the apps listed above, Postmates does not run on a commission fee-based structure. What makes it even more unique is the fact that it pays a flat fee for every completed pick-up and drop-off, plus more cash for every minute you wait and every mile you drive. If your estimated wait time is incorrect, you can actually submit a request to get paid accurately.
- Bonus availability: Postmates has a number of incentives that can help you make more money, including Blitz pricing for high-demand times, “Crusher” bonuses for completing a set amount of deliveries within a time frame, and limited-time guaranteed earnings offers.
- More variety: One of the most unique parts of the Postmates app is the fact that customers can order everything from food and dry cleaning to office supplies and alcohol. This delivery job will take you to places well beyond your local fast food chains and eateries.
- Affordable instant pay: Postmates’ instant deposit feature lets drivers cash out at any time for 50 cents.
- 24/7 availability: Just like the other apps on this list, you can keep driving as long as restaurants and customers are available.
- Unknown future: There are lots of unknowns in the future of Postmates couriers. Uber Eats acquired the platform in July 2020, so it’s very possible that there will no longer be a separate Postmates Fleet app in the near future. If you want to avoid completing another sign-up process, you may want to join Uber Eats if it’s available in your market.
- Shopping time: Because you may be sent to a grocery store, convenience store, or drug store that doesn’t pack deliveries up for you, you may need to spend some extra time shopping for requested items. It’s more of a hassle than the quick pick-up orders that most food delivery drivers are used to.
What Is the Best Food Delivery Service To Work For?
It’s hard to pinpoint a single food delivery service that’s perfect for every driver. Every single platform offers something a little bit different, whether it be scheduled delivery blocks and special bonuses or expedited pay for little or no fees.
As you make your decision, consider how likely you are to take advantage of bonuses, or if you’re more likely to take advantage of short shifts or surge. Think about the experience you’re looking for and what features are must-haves.
Average driver pay is fairly similar on all these platforms as a whole, so if money is a huge factor for you, we recommend diving a little deeper and looking at new driver bonuses in your specific area. This will guide you toward the platform that’s willing to pay drivers in your market the most, since drivers in New York City can make wildly different earnings than drivers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or elsewhere.
If you ever need to switch apps, rest assured that the sign-up process on all these platforms is incredibly simple.
Frequently Asked Questions
Every food delivery service is a great money-making opportunity for drivers like you. To learn more about your options, read these FAQs:
1. How does driving for food delivery services compare to driving for grocery delivery services?
While driving for apps like Postmates may require a bit of shopping every once in a while, Shipt and Instacart Shoppers are expected to drive and shop on every order. You’re also more likely to receive large requests on grocery delivery apps, where most customers are placing orders worth over $35, which can mean more time and effort per order. However, this means you can earn more than the average food delivery driver.
2. Do food delivery services have strict vehicle requirements?
Most food delivery platforms are very lenient when it comes to vehicle requirements. You usually just need a working vehicle that can reliably get you to your pick-up and drop-off locations — no inspection needed. Uber Eats is just a tad stricter, since it’s owned by a rideshare platform, but most vehicles should qualify.
3. What happens if I don’t show up for a delivery shift on Grubhub or DoorDash?
Both platforms may penalize you if you’re consistently cancelling shifts or being a no-show by disallowing you from scheduling more in the future. This can impact your earnings over time, since you won’t be able to maximize requests. Grubhub does allow you to cancel without penalty 72 hours or more ahead of your shift.
Constant cancellations and no-shows can also hurt your performance, so you may not qualify for the platforms’ driver perks programs.
Choose the Best Food Delivery Service for You
There’s no single food delivery service that’s perfect for everyone. The most important thing you need to do is learn about the pros and cons of every platform, then compare them to the features and opportunities you’re looking for. Once you have your ideal company in mind, start looking at driver requirements for the service and apply soon if it’s a good fit.
Jonathan Cousar began driving for Uber in 2013 when the ride-hail company first began operations in New York City. He has booked more than 7,000 trips. In 2014 he created Uber Driver Diaries, which was the first blog by an Uber driver describing the highs and lows of driving as well as offering tips and tricks and information on the industry as a whole. In 2016 Ridester acquired the site, and Jonathan began writing full-time about the rideshare industry and the gig economy. He has also done extensive research into driver issues related to pay and working conditions.