Ultimate Guide to Earning Money as a Delivery Person with DoorDash [2019]

If you want to pick up some fast cash on your own schedule, consider delivering food for DoorDash.
7 minute read | 8/22/19Aug. 22, 2019
Guide to Earning Money as a Delivery Person with DoorDash

Imagine this: You’re tired of pizza (it could happen), and you want to eat at your favorite restaurant. But the place doesn’t deliver, and you don’t want to change out of your pajamas. Enter DoorDash, the on-demand delivery app that lets you order food from a variety of local restaurants to be picked up and delivered by a “Dasher.”

Sounds great for lazy nights in, but what if your goal is to hustle?

Well, you could be the one to show up on someone’s doorstep, red bag in hand, and deliver the meal of their dreams. It’s a gig that involves driving (or biking), discovering new restaurants, and providing a much-needed service to hungry folks. Plus, it gives you the freedom to work on your own time and get paid quickly. Keep reading this DoorDash review to find out if this is the side hustle for you.

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What is DoorDash?

DoorDash is a San Francisco-based technology company that was founded in June 2013. Serving over 4,000 cities, the service allows people to order delivery from more than 310,000 stores, which includes 90% of the top 100 U.S. restaurant brands.

In May 2019, DoorDash surpassed Grubhub in monthly sales, making it the nation’s leading online food delivery service. The company is now valued at about $13 billion and growing. It’s a totally legitimate business that both serves customers and gives its independent contractors a flexible way to earn.

How does being a delivery person for DoorDash work?

At any time, you can log into the DoorDash app and see available delivery opportunities in your area. When a delivery is offered to you, you’ll have the chance to accept or reject it. You’ll also see the guaranteed minimum amount you’ll earn from the delivery.

If you accept, you’ll go to the restaurant and indicate on the app that you’ve arrived. From the takeout counter, you’ll either pay with your Red Card (a credit card you’ll receive during orientation) or just pick up the food and head out ⁠— the app will tell you which to do. You’ll swipe the DoorDash app again to indicate you’ve picked up the food and then swipe a third time once you’ve delivered to the customer.

You’ll always earn at least $1 plus 100% of tips per delivery, and if a tip doesn’t bring your pay up to the guaranteed minimum, DoorDash will make up the difference.

Who can deliver for DoorDash?

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

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have an iPhone or Android smartphone
  • Sign up with your Social Security number
  • Have a car, bike, scooter, or other vehicle (requirements vary by area)
  • Have a valid driver’s license (if delivering by motor vehicle)
  • Have insurance (if delivering by motor vehicle)
  • Have a clean driving record (if delivering by motor vehicle), which means:
  • No major violations (e.g., DUI, reckless driving, homicide, assault, failure to stop and report, driving with a suspended or expired license) in the past seven years
  • No more than three other major incidents in the last three years (accidents or moving violations not included in the list above)

How much can you earn with DoorDash?

For each delivery, you’ll earn a guaranteed minimum plus tips. The guaranteed minimum will vary by location and order. DoorDash guarantees that you’ll always receive at least $1 base pay plus tips, and it will make up the difference to meet the guaranteed minimum if you’re not tipped enough.

Here’s an example of how that could work out in two different instances of a $10 minimum pay delivery:

Guaranteed minimum Base pay Customer tip DoorDash pay Total earnings
$10 $1 $3 $6 $10
$10 $1 $15 $0 $16

If you have a large order or the customer tips well (or both), you could make a lot of moolah in just one delivery. But even if the customer tips nothing, you’ll still make the guaranteed minimum you were offered for the order.

On occasion, DoorDash will also offer an incentive known as Peak Pay during busy ordering times. You can earn Peak Pay in addition to the minimum pay on each order by meeting the requirements listed in the delivery offer. An example DoorDash offers on its website is, “Earn $2 extra in San Francisco between 11AM–2PM if you accept 80% of delivery opportunities.”

DoorDash said its drivers earned an average of $17.50 per hour in 2018, and it continues to collect feedback from drivers in the process of reevaluating its pay model.

To get paid, you must provide DoorDash with your bank account information, and you’ll receive a weekly direct deposit for the previous week’s orders. You can also access your earnings on demand each day for a $1.99 fee.

Maximizing your earnings with DoorDash

You might be able to earn more than the average Dasher if you hustle and keep your expenses low. Here are some tips to maximize your earnings:

  • Deliver during busy times to earn Peak Pay
  • Avoid high-traffic areas that could slow you down
  • Look for larger orders to accept, which will give you a better chance of earning a huge tip
  • Provide excellent, friendly service to customers to earn higher tips
  • Drive a gas-efficient vehicle or deliver by bike to save money on expenses
  • Use the right credit card to get cash back on gas
  • Keep track of your expenses to report for tax purposes
  • Use other food delivery apps at the same time so you can make the most of every hour
  • Refer other Dashers to make extra money

How to get good reviews

DoorDash calculates your average rating based on the past 100 reviews you received from customers. To get a great review each time, make sure to:

  • Deliver the order as quickly as possible
  • Keep the food warm in an insulated hot bag
  • Make sure the hot bag stays clean
  • Follow any delivery instructions provided by the customer
  • Greet customers with a smile and a friendly exchange

Common questions about DoorDash

Can you make good money with DoorDash?

Since the average pay for Dashers is more than double the minimum wage in some states, it’s fair to say you’ll be paid well when you work for DoorDash, especially considering the startup costs are low and there’s no education required for the job. However, you should take into account the cost of gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, and paying taxes as a contractor when you calculate your final hourly rate.

Does DoorDash require a background check?

Yes, DoorDash requires that you submit to a background check as well as a motor vehicle check if you’re using a motor vehicle to make deliveries.

Does DoorDash do a drug test?

No, DoorDash does not require a drug test.

Do you need a driver’s license to work for DoorDash?

If you’re delivering by motor vehicle, you’ll need a valid driver’s license to work for DoorDash.

How long does it take to start working for DoorDash?

Expect your background check to take a few days. After that, you’ll need to either sign up for a Dasher Orientation or request an Activation Kit by mail. You’ll also need to order any other DoorDash gear ahead of time (though there’s no requirement to dress in DoorDash gear).

So, while the amount of time it takes to get started may vary, we estimate you’ll need one to three weeks to get up and running. To get a better idea of how long this will take in your area, check out DoorDash’s info by city. People in select cities are even eligible for Instant Dashing, which means you’ll be able to get started immediately after your background check clears.

How to become a delivery person for DoorDash

Follow these steps to become a Dasher:

  1. Go to DoorDash, scroll down, and click on "Get Started" under "Deliver with DoorDash"
  2. Complete your DoorDash profile
  3. Provide your info for a background check and motor vehicle check
  4. Sign up for a Dasher Orientation or request an Activation Kit
  5. Install the Dasher app
  6. Set up your Red Card
  7. Set up direct deposit
  8. Declare W-9 Taxpayer Identification
  9. Schedule your first dash

Other side hustles to consider

While DoorDash is an excellent way to earn some extra cash on your own time, it’s not for everyone. There are a number of other side hustles that might be a better fit for your interests and skills.

If parking stresses you out and you want more face time with customers, you might consider driving for a rideshare company. Or maybe you’re new to a city or otherwise nervous about driving and getting lost. In that case, consider a side hustle you can do by foot, such as Rover. There are even ways to earn extra money without leaving your house, such as teaching English with VIPKid.

Technology has brought an onslaught of jobs that can be completed on any schedule to earn extra cash, but remember that “extra money” doesn’t necessarily mean spending money. Saving money from your side hustle is just as important as putting aside your earnings from a full-time job. Still, snagging an additional income source is a great way to accomplish your financial goals, whether you’re saving for retirement or looking forward to a vacation.

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