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Accepting Orders on Postmates: How Do You Decide When You Don’t Know the Pay?

How do you know whether it's worth accepting orders on Postmates?

Most apps you can cherry pick pretty easily on because you know what they'll pay. Doordash tells you the minimum you can expect and Grubhub shows you the actual amount the delivery will pay. Even Uber Eats is showing payouts now.

But Postmates doesn't give you that information. Is it really even worth delivering for them if you don't know how much you will get?

I would tell you that you can still do quite well evaluating deliveries with Postmates.

Rejecting or accepting orders with Postmates: How do you know if it makes sense?
How do you know if it's best rejecting or accepting orders with Postmates?

You might have to think a little harder when deciding what to accept or reject on Postmates. If you can master selecting Postmates orders, you'll have developed skills that will serve you well on any delivery platform.

This is an important skill to have when these companies can change their system at any time. When you have that skill, you can adjust to any change in pay models.

Three Important Factors to Consider When Rejecting or Accepting Orders With Postmates:

You can still make good judgment calls on orders with Postmates. You want to pay careful attention to the information you are given. In particular, it comes down to these three factors:

  • Distance
  • Time
  • Value of the Order

The combination of these factors will help you make a good decision on whether accepting orders with Postmates is a good decision.

You want to pay careful attention to the offer screen. It should show you on a map where the restaurant is and where the restaurant is.

Understanding your market and recognizing major streets on a map are an important part of making good decisions accepting or rejecting Postmates offers
Understanding your market and recognizing major streets on a map are an important part of making good decisions accepting or rejecting Postmates offers

You want to know your area. This is huge. You won't get a specific address for the customer, however you should be able to look at the offer map and at least know what the major intersections are nearest that point.

Once you know where you are going, and the restaurant you are delivering for, you can make some decisions from there.

Estimate the pay you will receive.

Obviously, you want to make sure you understand the Postmates Pay Model. The main factors are time and distance.

You get paid so much per minute for your time at the restaurant, and so much per mile driving from the restaurant and customer. There is also a pickup and dropoff fee.

You can get the specifics for your market here:

I'll do a quick calculation of how far I'm going and add that to my pickup and dropoff fee. I don't really pay attention to the time because frankly I'm trying to avoid waiting at the restaurant.

The wait time pay is minimal – for example in Denver it's only 7 cents a minute. That's $4.20 per hour – for that reason you just want to avoid a situation where you have to wait whenever possible.

Usually the pickup and dropoff are going to be in the neighborhood of $2, and then you factor in your per mile rate for your area.

If the delivery is 5 miles and you're getting 60 cents a mile, you're getting $3 for distance, $2 for pickup and dropoff, and maybe a few pennies for your wait time.

That's it. Not much, is it?

But What About the Tip?

How do you estimate what the tip will be on a Postmates offer?
How do you estimate what the tip will be on a Postmates offer?

This is where it's a real crapshoot with Postmates. You just don't know what it will be until usually a day or more after you deliver. In fact you don't know for sure that you WILL get a tip.

But once you have delivered enough, you get a good feel for how often you are tipped and what the average is. You can usually do pretty well by playing the averages.

Pay attention to the restaurant and the number of items. Customers generally tip based on percent of the value. I usually expect about 15%.

One item at a sandwich shop? Don't plan on more than $2. Is it a Brazillian Steak House with expensive food? That tip will probably be much higher.

It's a crapshoot. You'll never know for sure.

But here's the thing: If you play the averages, you'll be okay.

You know most times you'll get a $10 tip or better from higher end restaurants. You and I both know you may get nothing.

However, if you're paying attention, you know how often you DO get tipped. That's where you play your averages. If you're getting tipped four out of five times and you estimate the tip might be $10, figure on around $8.

You might get more. You might get less. However, if you have a good grasp on your averages, it's going to balance out over several deliveries.

What you want to do when accepting and rejecting offers on Postmates is to play the long game. You don't know what the tip will be on one particular delivery, but don't worry about that. In the end, the averages catch up with you.

Add up the estimated delivery fee and you have an idea of what it will pay.

Get a ball park estimate of your delivery pay
When you look at the factors in a delivery, you can get a ballpark estimate. of what the delivery will pay.

Okay, you figured out your delivery fee. $5 for that 5 mile delivery. ($2 for the pickup and dropoff and 60 cents a mile add up to five dollars here).

Add your expected tip. You have to make an educated guess on what the value of the food will be here and play your averages like I mentioned.

If it's a higher end restaurant and you have a lot of items, you might plan on about $10. If it's a single item from Chipotle, I wouldn't expect much more than a buck or two.

Add it all up.

I know, that's a lot of stuff to consider when you only have a minute to make your decision.

However, when you know your area and you know the restaurants, and you've done this enough times, you can figure it out in a few seconds.

Now Use the 40 Cent Rule to Make Your Decision.

The 40 cent rule - that a delivery must pay 40 cents a minute or better - is an effective way to evaluate Postmates and other delivery offers.
The 40 cent rule – that a delivery must pay 40 cents a minute or better – is an effective way to evaluate Postmates and other delivery offers.

When it comes to rejecting or accepting orders for Postmates or anyone else, the 40 cent rule is a good one to go by. You can click that link to read more, but here it is in a nutshell:

Estimate how much time the delivery will take. If you paid close enough attention to the map you can ask Google or Siri how long it will take to drive.

Now divide what you will get paid by the number of minutes you think it will pay. Is it 40 cents or higher? It's worth taking. If not, you might consider rejecting.

The 40 cent rule means your time is worth 40 cents a minute – or $24 per hour. You can obviously set your own amount, but I really advise you not go much lower.

Time and Distance and Accepting Orders With Postmates

The 40 Cent rule is helpful, but if you're like me there are times I just don't want to go to that trouble, you know?

I like Postmates for the most part because you can make some really good money on some orders. It depends on a lot of factors. As you get a feel for it, you'll get better at identifying when an order can be good.

Having said that, they can also be horrible. It really depends on the orders you take.

If you want to make a quick decision, focus on short and fast. When I can get it done in less than 15 minutes and less than a couple miles, I'll probably take the delivery.

If it's a longer distance delivery or I know it could take a long time at the restaurant, I'm probably not taking that. The exception might be with higher value deliveries that likely have a higher tip.

Some thing longer distances are better because they pay well. Break it down here: It costs about half of what they pay to drive that mile. If it takes three minutes to pay that mile, you get 60¢ for that and your actual cost is 30¢ per mile (it's not likely to be much less than that), now you earned 30 cents for that 3 minutes.

10 cents a mile, $6 per hour for every extra mile you drive. It's not worth it.

Speed of order can be great with Postmates and it can be terrible. My experience is they do the best of anyone at having prepaid orders ready to go when I arrive at the restaurant.

Their Achilles heel is when you have to place the order. Seven cents a minute is not enough to make it worth waiting long. If I'm going to get only $4.20 per hour for my wait time, the order has to be able to pay really well to make up for it.

They just don't pay enough for time to make it worth while on most orders, so I reject most of those.

Be the Boss, Make Business Decisions, and you can thrive by accepting orders for Postmates.

Boss identification plate with engraving

You're a business owner. You get the right to set your price by accepting orders that meet your price.

Pay careful attention to where you're going with the order. Get an idea what you think it will pay and how much time you think it will take.

If the order is worth it, take it. Don't worry if your estimates are accurate. They won't be. But if you know your averages and play them well, those averages will catch up and you'll be fine.

Accepting and Rejecting Postmates Offers When You Don't Know the Price

Accepting and Rejecting Postmates Offers When You Don't Know the Price

Even though Postmates doesn't tell you what you will be paid, you can still have a pretty good idea whether a delivery will pay well enough to accept or reject it.

Ask yourself these questions:


  1. How far are you going? Take a look at the map on the offer. Where are you picking up? Where are you dropping off? Estimate your distance to the restaurant and then to the customer. Use Google Assistant or Siri for quick help.
  2. How long will this take to complete? I find that Google assistant gives me a good estimate of how long a drive will take. Use your experience to estimate how quickly the food will be ready.
  3. What will the delivery fee be? In my market I start with $2 and add 70 cents per mile (from restaurant to customer). Know your pay structure.
  4. What can you expect for the tip? Know your averages. Fast food will be lower, higher end restaurants are usually more.
  5. Will the delivery pay 40 cents a minute? (Or 30¢ or 50¢, you choose). You have a rough idea what it will pay - divide that by your estimated minutes (question 2).


The main thing thing with Postmates is you are playing the averages. Don't stress about getting your estimates spot on. Some deliveries will pay a lot less than you expect.

But that's where averages come into play.

When you're on target with what the averages are, that means you'll have just as many deliveries that pay more than you expect. The averages work themselves out.

If you want a simpler approach:

Pay more attention to quick and short deliveries. Focus on the ones that can be done right away and where you have less expense from driving. My experience is that when you can get three to four deliveries in an hour, you're going to do pretty well when the averages balance out.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

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