Ultimate Guide to Earning Money as a Courier with Postmates [2019]

Interested in starting a side hustle with Postmates? Read this first.
7 minute read | 8/23/19Aug. 23, 2019
Earning Money as a Courier with Postmates

If you’ve ever considered becoming a courier for your next side hustle, working with a company like Postmates might be the way to go. Unlike the local pizza boy, a courier with Postmates is part of a team providing on-demand delivery service for just about everything — including meals from top restaurants and random stuff from local stores.

The key word here is “local” —  getting more people to shop locally is one of Postmates’ main goals. Rather than having warehouses filled with stuff, the company connects customers with local businesses and restaurants where they can buy directly.

Postmates also aims to make local shopping more convenient by using their proprietary technology to connect customers with nearby couriers who can deliver items from neighborhood shops or restaurants within minutes.

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What is Postmates?

Postmates was founded in 2011 and first launched a version of its services in 2012 in San Francisco. Since then, Postmates has grown from a team of three co-founders to over 800 employees working from six cities, including four U.S. locations as well as both Vancouver, British Columbia and Mexico City.

But just talking about its company offices doesn’t explain the full scope of Postmates. Every month, the company makes over five million deliveries from half a million merchants across a network of 3,500 cities. In November 2017, it began offering services in Mexico City as its first international marketplace.

How does working as a delivery person for Postmates work?

As a courier or delivery person for Postmates, you’ll be known as a Postmate. Whenever you’re online and available to make deliveries, the company will send you offers through its app, known as the Fleet app. This app is basically a one-stop shop for accepting delivery jobs, navigating to the location of the pickup, picking up orders (and sometimes paying for them), and dropping them off at the customer’s location.

Each step of this process is explained as you make your way through a delivery, starting with the timed offer to accept a new job. If you’re looking to work for a set number of hours, the company also offers an auto-accept feature, which automatically adds new deliveries to your route until you decide to pause it.

Although different deliveries might require different steps to fulfillment, the company makes the process easy. While some orders might be already purchased and ready for pickup upon your arrival, others might require you to place the order with a merchant directly or even to pay for it using the prepaid card provided to all Postmates by the company. All of this will be made clear throughout the delivery process on your app, so you can focus on getting in as many deliveries as possible in the least amount of time.

Who can deliver for Postmates?

The qualifications to become a Postmate are relatively straightforward. Postmates must be at least 18 years old and be able and willing to pass a background check. You can deliver by foot, by bicycle, or by an insured vehicle.

The background check includes criminal and DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) history, and the company uses a third party called Checkr to complete these checks. Postmates also notes on its support page that background checks might be slightly different on an individual basis and take different lengths of time to complete. Those with pending applications with Postmates can check the status of their background check on the Checkr applicant portal.

Becoming a Postmate is a good opportunity for anyone who enjoys being out and about in their city. You’ll be chatting with merchants and customers, as well as biking or driving through various neighborhoods. If you’re someone who likes discovering new places and can get into a good rhythm with your deliveries, then this might be a great way for you to make extra money.

How much can you earn with Postmates?

According to the Postmates CEO, Bastian Lehmann, who was quoted at a TechCrunch event in 2015, couriers make a median of $19 during peak hours. Keep in mind that this only applies during peak hours, which the company lists as between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00pm and then 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily, with Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays being the busiest. It’s also important to note that a median isn’t referring to “average” pay in the sense most of us are used to. A median simply refers to the number in the middle of a given range, which in this case is the range of hourly rates earned by couriers.

In truth, the earning system with Postmates is complicated, so the best way to see how much you’d really make is to find your city on Postmates’ Payout Information by Market page. But just to give you some idea, in a city like San Francisco, which has the second-highest cost of living in the country, couriers earn $1.90 per pickup, $0.50 per dropoff, $0.07 per minute they spend waiting at the pick-up location, and $1.29 per mile.

So, as a courier in San Francisco, if you were to wait five minutes at the pickup location, then bike two miles to the drop-off location, you’d earn $5.33 for that delivery. You’d have to complete roughly three and half deliveries like this one in an hour to earn your $19. The company also offers several bonuses and incentives that may or may not increase your hourly rate.

The one sure thing is that you get to keep 100% of the tips you make, so if you decide to start working for Postmates, keep your customer service game strong.

When it comes to getting paid, Postmates’ website advertises a no-fee or time commitment policy, further stating you’ll keep 100% of what you earn on each delivery. Payments are made using direct deposit, and you’ll have the option to track your earnings and set your payment frequency from the app.

Weekly direct deposits are free, and funds are generally made available within 24 to 72 hours, depending on your bank. Instant deposits can be made whenever you’d like (as long as you have a balance of $5 or more) but come with a $0.50 charge per deposit, with funds generally made available in less than 30 minutes. There’s also no limit to the number of times you can cash out in a day. So if you just need cash fast, you might not mind the instant-deposit fee.

Maximizing your earnings with Postmates

To get the most out of your time with Postmates, it’s recommended to work during peak hours and take advantage of any offers that come up on the in-app Incentives Tracker. The company offers various bonuses and incentives for deliveries accepted within a certain time frame for specific locations or for completing a certain number of deliveries within a set period of time.

Some other ideas to maximize your earnings include:

  • Driving a fuel-efficient car and using a gas rewards credit card to fill up at the pump
  • Saving on gas altogether by biking to your delivery destinations
  • Providing great customer service to earn more tips

How to get good reviews

As a Postmate, reviews aren’t something you’ll need to worry about. Postmates doesn’t use a rating system for its couriers, stating on its website that this is to avoid any bad reviews that a courier might receive for circumstances beyond their control. Although customers can rate a delivery (with a thumbs up or down), courier performance isn’t directly correlated to this rating.

Common questions about Postmates

How much do Postmates drivers make a day?

Since Postmates work when they want and for however many hours they choose, how much they make will depend on hours worked and deliveries made per hour. It’s generally agreed that couriers who work during peak hours and hustle to make as many deliveries as possible in an hour will earn the most.

Does Postmates pay for gas?

According to its Fleet Agreement, the company doesn’t pay for gas, insurance, or any other expenses associated with your means of transportation, be it bike or car.

How long does it take to start working for Postmates?

You can start working for Postmates as soon as your background check is completed and you’ve activated your prepaid card, either in the app or after receiving your welcome kit. If you’re ever unsure about the status of your application with Postmates, you can verify it by logging in on the fleet homepage.

Can you walk for Postmates?

While you can walk for Postmates, you’ll probably earn more money by biking or driving. The exception to that would be if your city is densely packed with minimal distances between pickup and delivery locations.

How to become a delivery person for Postmates

Becoming a Postmate is relatively straightforward. Start by downloading the company’s fleet app on your phone or visiting fleet.postmates.com. You’ll be required to provide some basic information, like your name and contact information as well as your location and driver’s license number. You’ll also be required to authorize a background check, sign the company’s work agreement, set up direct deposit, and activate your prepaid card. Once all of that is completed, you’ll be able to start delivering with Postmates.

Other side hustles to consider

If working with Postmates doesn’t quite fit your needs, you might also consider similar side hustles, like delivering food or driving for a rideshare company.

If the whole delivery hustle doesn't appeal to you, you could consider hanging out with furry friends instead and walk dogs with Rover.

And if you’re still looking for more ideas on how to earn some extra cash, check out this list of ways you can make $1,000 quickly (and legally).

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