DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (2024)

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DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (1)

DoorDash Driver Overview

  • DoorDash accounts for 65% of the meal delivery market; the next closest competitor is Uber Eats at 23%.[1]
  • 13 million people have “Dashed” since 2013, accounting for $35 billion in driver earnings.[2]
  • “Able to create my own schedule” (63%) and “work as much or as little as I want” (61%) were the two most commonly cited reasons for Dashing over other earning opportunities.[2]
  • DoorDash now offers drivers guaranteed hourly pay (in select cities).[3]

DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (2)

Launched in 2013, DoorDash has quickly grown to become the largest food delivery company in the United States. In 2022, more than 6 million “Dashers” fulfilled 1.7 billion orders worldwide.[4]

Still growing year-over-year demand for food delivery suggests there will be high driver demand for years to come. But just because DoorDash is the largest delivery service doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best company to work for.

This DoorDash driver review covers everything you need to know about the pros and cons of being a Dasher, how to get started, tips for maximizing earnings, and ultimately, whether or not driving for DoorDash will be worth it for you.

In This Article show

What Is DoorDash?

DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (3)

DoorDash is an on-demand delivery service where drivers, known as Dashers, deliver food, alcohol, or convenience store items from local merchants.

It is similar to Uber Eats and Grubhub. What sets DoorDash apart from similar services is its focus and commitment to making sure every delivery is worth the time for every Dasher.

Liz Eischen, a West Portland area Dasher, says she’s come to prefer DoorDash over other delivery apps for that exact reason. “I know what to expect for every single delivery before I hit accept, whereas with the others you don’t see the full picture,” she said.

Three months and over 100 deliveries later, she’s come to appreciate the flexibility of working whenever and wherever she wants.

$0 Price Free to start

DollarSprout Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

DoorDash works with independent contractor drivers known as "Dashers" to help deliver takeout food to hungry customers in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Drivers can earn through Base Pay or Hourly Rate models, collect tips, and complete additional incentives to boost their earnings.

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Pros

  • Easy to get started (1 to 2 weeks).
  • Flexible schedule.
  • Choose your own hours.
  • Immediate pay available through DasherDirect or Fast Pay.
  • Can deliver by car, motorcyle, bike, or scooter (varies by city).
  • Several incentives to boost pay.
  • No prior experience needed.

Cons

  • Active Dashers will accumulate wear and tear on vehicle.
  • Independent contractor status offers fewer protections.
  • Some cities can be very competitive.
  • Little to no upward career mobility.
  • Inconsistent income.

How Driving for DoorDash Works

DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (5)Customers are able to order from an extensive list of restaurants in the DoorDash app.

Once an order is placed, it shows up in the Dasher app and any driver can accept or reject the delivery.

In busy areas, orders can be snapped up rather quickly, so you’ll want to check the Dash tab with some frequency so as not to miss out.

Alternatively, you opt to get Dasher app push notifications for each new delivery opportunity.

Once the order is accepted, it’s picked up and delivered to a location specified by the customer.

All transactions are made in the app — including tips — so there’s no cash handling needed.

Sign Up to Be a DoorDash Driver

If you meet the initial eligibility requirements, you’ll start by filling out an online application including your name, phone number, location, and information required to do a background and motor vehicle history check.

DoorDash Driver Requirements

To become a Dasher you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old (21 years old to deliver alcohol)
  • Have a smartphone
  • Consent to and pass a background check

While owning a car isn’t a requirement in all cities, a valid driver’s license, insurance, and a clean driving record are. You can use almost any type of transportation, including a car, bike, scooter, or motorcycle, to actually deliver.

Once you pass the background check, you’ll get an Activation Kit by either going into a DoorDash office for a Dasher Orientation or having the kit shipped to you. The kit includes an insulated bag and a prepaid debit card also known as a Red Card.

The Red Card is a prepaid card loaded by DoorDash. You’ll use it to pay for food should you need to, but most drivers report rarely having to use it. You’ll mostly need it to activate your account in the DoorDash Dasher app.

Download the DoorDash Dasher App

The DoorDash Dasher app is available for Apple and Android phones. Instructions for downloading and setting it up come with the Red Card.

In it, you can see announcements, schedule dashes, review previous deliveries, and see your ratings and earnings on their respective tabs.

While Dashing, the app will show the areas with the most orders, and it will even suggest the most suitable orders for you based on location and type of transportation.

Connect Your Bank Account

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll want to head to the Earnings tab and tap on the red bank icon. Here you can set up your payment preferences or update your existing banking information.

Dashers will receive their earnings weekly via direct deposit. US-based Dashers may also access their earnings more frequently via DasherDirect or Fast Pay. (More on those later.)

Start Delivering

To start Dashing, you can schedule a shift in advance on the Schedule tab or, if available, start immediately by clicking “Dash Now” on the Dash tab.

DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (6)Only areas highlighted in pink or red are available to Dash Now, to ensure there are always enough deliveries to keep all pre-scheduled Dashers busy.

The scheduling feature is unique to DoorDash, and a feature Eischen was hesitant to use at first – but now she loves it.

Scheduled blocks of time limit the number of working Dashers, keeping the competition for deliveries much lower.

You can schedule a time block up to a week in advance or as quickly as the day of.

There are also fewer in-person orders to place with DoorDash, meaning less time sitting around in restaurants and more time for taking deliveries.

“I very rarely ever wait for anything,” Eischen said. “I usually just walk in, grab an order, and walk out.”

DoorDash Driver Pay

There are currently three ways for drivers to earn income with DoorDash for each order.

DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (7)

1. Base Pay

The way DoorDash keeps pay enticing and fair for Dashers is by showing a Base Pay amount for completing each delivery before you accept it. The Base Pay amount is based on factors like the size of the order, whether you have to place it in person, driving distance, traffic, etc.

Note: In June 2023, DoorDash announced a new alternative Base Pay method known as Earn by Time (as opposed to the traditional Earn by Offer). This is available in select cities and guarantees a minimum compensation plus tips, according to the company.

How Earn by Time Works

  • Choose the Earn by Time option when starting your dash. You will see the guaranteed hourly rate for a dash in the app before starting. While this rate may periodically change, once you start a dash, the hourly rate is locked in. If Peak Pay is in effect, it will be added to the guaranteed active hourly rate until the incentive ends.

DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (8)

  • Get paid a guaranteed hourly rate while delivering. Earnings are based on the total delivery time. You’ll keep any applicable promotions and 100% of your tips on top of that.

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2. Tips

Additionally, DoorDash allows customers to allow Tips on all orders, and drivers get to keep 100% of their earned tips.

3. Promotions

Lastly, Promotions — like Peak Pay and Challenges — help you earn more per delivery when it’s busy.

For example, if there are many customer orders pending in a particular part of your town, DoorDash will add a small cash incentive to your Base Pay to encourage drivers to mobilize to that area to fulfill those orders. Peak Pay generally appears as an additional $1 to $3 tacked on to each order, but some users have reported seeing as much as $10 in Peak Pay available.[5]

“The other day I was delivering and it was +$1 and +$2, so it was really like three extra dollars per delivery,” Eischen said. “When that’s happening, I’ll just accept everything that comes through.”

Eischen sees Peak Pay opportunities up to three times a week in some areas and only once or twice every couple of weeks in others.

Challenges let you earn extra money for completing a certain number of deliveries in a set amount of time.

With several incentives available, Eischen is selective with the deliveries she chooses. “I often only pick up deliveries where I’m likely to earn double digits.”

Related: 6 Companies That Will Pay You to Advertise on Your Car

DoorDash Driver Sign-Up Bonus

DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (9)

It’s natural to wonder if there are any driver promotions or sign-up bonuses you can capitalize on. Unfortunately, DoorDash has an established driver presence in nearly every major US city and thus has pulled back on its promotional efforts.

  • DoorDash does not offer a sign-up bonus to US drivers at this time. (We will update this post if we hear differently).
  • DoorDash is currently offering a $200 sign-up bonus for Sydney, Australia-based Dashers who complete 20 deliveries in their first 30 days.

The company does host a Driver Referral program in which Dashers who have completed 30 deliveries and have been active for 30 days can refer friends to Dash as well. Reddit users report seeing Referral bonuses as high as $1,800 for referrals that complete 270 deliveries in their first 90 days. (DoorDash’s own FAQ page shows this exact bonus structure).

Getting Paid

Dashers get paid weekly for deliveries made Monday to Sunday of the previous week. Paychecks come via Direct Deposit and payment is usually available within 2 to 3 days, so payments will appear by Wednesday night.

If you need your money a little faster, there’s the aptly named Fast Pay option.

Eligible Dashers can collect earnings daily using Fast Pay for $1.99 per cash out. Dashers must be in an active Fast Pay market, have completed 25 deliveries, and Dashed for at least two weeks to begin using Fast Pay.

Lastly, DoorDash now also offers a separate app, reward, and payment program named DasherDirect. Interested Dashers can apply for the program, and if approved, are sent a DasherDirect Visa Business debit card.

The app and its associated card allow Dashers to get paid instantly [to the debit card] after every delivery with no associated fee. Additionally, participants can get 2% cashback on gas at thousands of stations nationwide.

Direct Deposit
Fast Pay
DasherDirect
Fee
Free
$1.99
Free
Pay Frequency
1 x Weekly
1 x Instant Payment
After Every Delivery
Deposit Location
Bank Account
Bank Account
DasherDirect Visa Card
Available In
Everywhere
US & Canadian Dashers
US Dashers
Additional Perks
-
-
2% Cash Back on Gas

Earning Tips

  1. Keep track of all expenses. Like with any business, there are start-up and maintenance costs associated with a DoorDash gig. Tolls, parking, gas, vehicle maintenance costs, your smartphone, and phone plan are all costs that DoorDash doesn’t cover. Yet, many of these expenses are tax-deductible. Keeping good records can mean tremendous savings come tax time.
  2. Find the best times to Dash. Intuitively, the best times to Dash often revolve around meal times, especially on weekends. 6 AM to 9 AM, 11 AM to 1 PM, and 5 PM to 9 PM are generally the busiest hours. But there’s some nuance to this. For example, downtown city areas are often ghost towns after 5 PM at the close of business — you’ll know your market best, but there needs to be some steady demand to maximize earnings.
  3. Consider off-hours. Non-peak hours, especially after 10 PM, can also be lucrative hours to Dash. Less competition for orders and the tendency for customers to tip more generously can ultimately mean higher take-home pay.
  4. Order value over order volume. Work smarter, not harder. Accept orders that maximize hourly earnings versus always taking the highest-paying gig and/or completing as many gigs as possible. Low(er) volume and high(er) hourly rates will also help reduce the expenses mentioned in tip #1, making your earnings go further.
  5. Book Dashes in advance. For once, it’s okay to be a little selfish. If you know you’re going to be free [up to 6 days in advance], sign up to Dash in premium areas. Be it areas of good volume or higher than average affluence, getting a leg up on other Dashers means more money in your pocket.
  6. Know which orders to accept. It’s okay to pass on low-value orders. Instead, aim for orders that guarantee at least $2 per mile and have a total order value above $6. Doing so should almost guarantee you stay above the double-digit hourly earning threshold.

Relate: 9 Ways to Generate Passive Income with Your Car

Alternatives to DoorDash

If you enjoy delivering for DoorDash, but find that it is competitive at times and simply want to stay busy, you can check out some of their competitors. While they all hold some similarities, there are some key differences that may make the alternatives more or less attractive.

DoorDash vs. Uber Eats

While DoorDash gobbles up the lion’s share of the food delivery market, Uber Eats — especially after their Postmates acquisition — also commands a respectable slice. Notably, ZipRecruiter has found that earnings for both companies’ drivers back out about the same, a reassuring measure for contractors on both sides of the aisle. Uber Eats drivers do have lesstime to decide whether or not to take an order (sometimes just 15 seconds). The forced urgency in decision-making can lead to accepting orders that have a lower return on your time.

Note: One massive perk worth noting is that Uber Eats offers 100% tuition coverage for a driver or a family member to one of Arizona State University’s top-ranked online degree programs.*

* Delivery people must have completed 2,000 lifetime trips and have Gold, Platinum, or Diamond status in a U.S. city where Uber Eats Pro is in operation to be eligible for 100% tuition coverage.

DoorDash vs. Grubhub

Grubhub, albeit smaller in market share than both DoorDash and Uber Eats (which means fewer orders to fulfill), tends to pay better, according to drivers on Reddit. The consensus seems near universal according to dozens of drivers who have delivered with all three platforms. When given the choice, they’ll accept Grubhub orders over the two competitors. That said, Grubhub takes a notably pro-customer stance at the [some would argue deserved] expense of the contract driver. The penalties for missed, dropped, or rejected orders are seemingly stiff and drivers may be eligible for fewer orders in the future.

DoorDash vs. Instacart

A slightly different model altogether, Instacart shoppers fulfill on-demand grocery orders and deliver them to a customer’s requested address. Contractors can choose to work on the shopping side (the actual fulfillment of the grocery order), the delivery side (driving it to their home), or both (full-service shoppers). One perk is a guaranteed $5 base pay for each delivery, which comes in slightly higher than their takeout food delivery competitors.

DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (10)DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (11)DoorDash Driver Review: How It Works, Tips & Is It Worth It? (12)
Available InUS, CA, AU, NZUS, CA, UK, and AUUS only
TipsDrivers keep 100%Drivers keep 100%Drivers keep 100%
Fast Pay/Instant CashoutYes, $1.99 fee
(1x per day)
Yes, $0.50 fee
(Up to 5x per day)
Yes, $0.50
(No daily limit)
PerksPeak Pay + Challenges Quest, Surge, Boost Missions
TuitionUp to 100% covered (see T&C)NoNo

FAQ

How old do you have to be to do DoorDash?

  • Dashers must be 18 years or older to apply.
  • Dashers must be 21+ years of age and have a valid driver’s license to deliver orders containing alcohol.

How much does DoorDash pay?

There are many variables that ultimately impact DoorDash pay. These include but are not limited to whether or not a Dasher chooses to Earn by Time or Earn by Order (Base Pay), whether or not Peak Pay is in effect, tips a Dasher may accrue, and any Challenge pay a Dasher may unlock.

DoorDash does not make pay claims outside of the guaranteed earnings associated with their Earn by Time feature.

Third-party services such as ZipRecruiter suggest that bottom-percentile earners will earn as low as $8.41 per hour, top-percentile earners as high as $28.37 per hour, and average earnings around $19 per hour.[6]

Does DoorDash pay hourly?

Yes, DoorDash announced an Earn by Time feature in June of 2023 that guarantees a certain hourly rate for time spent on the order. The rate can change based on demand but is made known to the driver prior to accepting an order. The rate is fixed for the duration of the order, even if the hourly rate drops after a Dasher has accepted an order.

How long does a DoorDash background check take?

Most background checks are completed in as little as 24 hours, but DoorDash requests up to 2 weeks time as Checkr — an accredited third-party background check provider — works through documents it requests from the DV and local county offices.

What are the best times to DoorDash?

The best times to DoorDash are between 6 and 9 AM, 11 AM to 1 PM, and 5 to 9 PM. Some Dashers also report robust earnings after 10 PM if there are popular late-night restaurants in your area.

Additionally, weekend meal times tend to outperform their weekday counterparts.

Does DoorDash pay for gas?

No, DoorDash does not pay for gas, however, they do offer up to 2% cash back with their DasherDirect program at thousands at participating fuel centers.

Does acceptance rate matter for DoorDash drivers?

DoorDash’s highest-earning drivers suggest that acceptance rates do not matter, and can actually harm your earnings. Accepting less optimal orders can result in more wear and tear on your vehicle and low hourly earnings. The incentive — access to DoorDash’s Top Dasher Program — comes with no benefits that make up for inefficient earning periods.

Do DoorDash drivers get benefits?

DoorDash partners with Stride Health to help its drivers find affordable health, dental, and vision coverage.

DoorDash also offers a 20% discount towards Everlance Premium, a mileage and expense tracker, to stay on top of business expenses for tax time. Everlance even has a free basic version if you decide not to pay for Premium after your trial is over.

The Bottom Line

It doesn’t matter what city you live in – every city has an area where deliveries are common. Eischen herself is proof you can stay in the suburbs and still do well with DoorDash.

“I’m not in downtown Portland, mostly because Portland doesn’t have great parking,” she said. “I’m in the Beaverton-Hillsboro area and for me, that’s still fantastic. We have Nike over here, we have Intel, we have a bunch of places there and still, quite a few orders come in.”

That said, how you make out at the end of the day matters. With a poor delivery strategy, you can actually lose money once expenses are factored in. $2 and $3 orders don’t make logical sense when they’re 8 miles across town.

By employing the earning tips found above and being diligent about tallying expenses, it is reasonable to expect double-digit net earnings when it is all said and done. Only you can determine whether a $10 to $20 per hour side gig is worth it to you. For some, the flexibility and work hours are second to none. For yet others, the net pay can be eclipsed by one of several ways to make money online.

Ultimately, a good side gig is relatively enjoyable, doesn’t add significant stress to your life, and is fiscally worth your time. If flexibility and respectable earnings are what you crave, DoorDash may be the best fit on the menu for you.

Related:

  • 189 Side Hustle Ideas for Making Extra Money
  • 20 Best Money-Making Apps for Earning On the Go
  • Why Weird Side Hustles Often Make Great Money (And How to Find One)

Sources:

[1] Kaczmarski, Michal. “Which Company Is Winning the Restaurant Food Delivery War?” Bloomberg Second Measure, 7 Sept. 2023, secondmeasure.com/datapoints/food-delivery-services-grubhub-uber-eats-doordash-postmates/.

[2] Research, Policy. “Behind the Dash: Insights into the Flexibility and Freedom of Dashing.” Products, DoorDash, 27 July 2023, about.doordash.com/en-us/news/insights-into-the-flexibility-and-freedom-of-dashing.

[3] Browning, Kellen. “DoorDash, Shifting Business Model, Will Offer Drivers Hourly Pay.” The New York Times, 28 June 2023, www.nytimes.com/2023/06/28/business/doordash-hourly-wage-option.html.

[4] AP Finance. “Doordash to Pay $1.6m to Its Workers for Violating Seattle Sick Time Policy.” Yahoo! Finance, 25 Aug. 2023, finance.yahoo.com/news/doordash-pay-1-6m-workers-201956434.html#:~:text=In%202022%2C%20more%20than%206,fulfilled%201.7%20billion%20orders%20worldwide.

[5] Your Driver Mike. “Is This the Highest Doordash Dasher Peak Pay?” YouTube, 26 Sept. 2022, www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQqcT93-6ns.

[6] “Uber Eats Delivery Driver Salary.” ZipRecruiter, 27 Sept. 2023, www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/UBER-Eats-Delivery-Driver-Salary.

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