Skyrocketing gas prices have put the squeeze on a lot of gig economy drivers in early 2022. Doordash joined many other Gig Economy companies by creating their Gas Rewards challenge to supplement the additional cost of higher fuel prices for Dashers.
There were two parts to the program. One was the fuel rewards challenge which provided a weekly additional pay based on how many miles Dashers drove during deliveries. The second part was to increase the cash back on gas purchase for Dashers who used their DasherDirect card.
DoorDash said they'd run the program through the end of April and then evaluate the situation. This update is made in early May. Fuel prices are still extremely high. Will Doordash continue to offer relief to drivers?
We'll take a look at the program, how it works, and offer a review of the pros and cons of the program. In this article we'll talk about:
- Is Doordash extending the fuel rewards program since gas prices are still high?
- How does the Doordash Gas Rewards program work?
- How do you qualify for the weekly bonus?
- Reviewing the program: Is it enough?
- Comparing Doordash's gas supplement program to Uber Eats, Grubhub and Instacart
- Should the Doordash Gas Rewards Program change how we deliver?
I realize these points seem out of order. That's because this is an update to an article written earlier when Doordash announced the program. I'm keeping the original article intact, but just diving in right away to answer the question about if the program will continue.
Is Doordash extending the gas rewards program since gas prices are still high?
Yes and no. Doordash has quietly discontinued the weekly gas bonus. They have however extended the 10% cash back for gas purchases using the DasherDirect debit card.
According to AAA, average gas prices hit an all time high on March 11 of $4.33 per gallon. Doordash announced their program in an email on March 15. As of this update on May 6, average gas prices are $4.28. Prices remain extremely high and in fact have been creeping higher.
And yet, Doordash has stayed silent. They have emailed Dashers to let them know if they will be continuing the program at all.
However, this now pops up on my home screen on the DasherDirect app.
That's good news if you use the DasherDirect card.
But what about the weekly gas bonus?
It's done. Over. Finished.
They never announced it was over. Instead, they just buried it in an FAQ question on their Gas Rewards page.
Who does this change impact?
If you use the DasherDirect debit card to buy gas, you'll continue to get the full 10% cash back. I use this card personally and I have appreciated how well the program works.
However, drivers who do not use that card no longer receive any benefit or assistance with gas. Drivers who do use the DasherDirect card also lose out because they no longer receive the additional $5 to $15 on top of the additional cash back.
Update: Since the program was introduced, somewhere along the way Doordash started paying less for long distance deliveries than they were before.
How does the Doordash Gas Rewards program work?
As gas prices shot up in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Dashers have been scrambling to figure out how to manage the dramatic increase in their cost of doing business.
It took a little while, but Doordash and other gig economy companies finally responded with surcharges or supplements to help cover the recent price increases.
Doordash introduced what they call Gas Rewards. It's a two part program to put money back in the pocket of Dashers who do a lot of driving.
While some other services offered a flat rate per delivery or trip, Doordash put together a two part program designed to provide extra compensation based on how much driving they do. It includes a weekly gas bonus and additional cash back on gas purchases.
1. A Weekly Gas Bonus
Starting the week of March 14 through the end of April, Doordash will offer a weekly bonus payment. The payment is contingent on how far a Dasher drives for the week.
We’re introducing a new gas bonus that will unlock extra earnings totaling an estimated $1.27 to $1.69 per gallon,* depending on how much you dash. This program will begin immediately and count miles you logged starting March 14, and then run weekly through the end of April:Portion of Doordash email explaining how the weekly bonus works.
Dashers can receive an extra $5, $10, or $15 each week depending on how far they drive in a week (Monday through Sunday).
- For 100 or more miles, you'll receive $5 for the week.
- If it's more than 175 miles, the bonus bumps up to $10.
- At 225 miles, the bonus increases to $15.
There is no bonus indicated for anything higher than 225 miles. Also note that each threshold only increases the bonus. At 175 miles, the TOTAL bonus is $10, as opposed to being an additional $10.
No bonus is earned if Doordash has estimated less than 100 miles for your accepted deliveries for the week.
2. An additional 8% Cash back on gas.
For Dashers who use the DasherDirect card, cash back on gas purchases will be increased to 10%.
Doordash headlines this as 10% cash back on gas. That's not entirely accurate. Dashers who use the DasherDirect card already get 2% cash back. In other words, they're only actually receiving an ADDITIONAL 8 percent cash back.
This bonus is available from March 17 through April 30, 2022.
The DasherDirect card is a debit card that Doordash makes available to Dashers at no additional cost. The card is provided by a company called PayFare and acts like an individual bank account. You can have payment sent immediately to your DasherDirect card the moment you complete a dash.
My personal experience with the DasherDirect card is that the Cash Back bonus is available immediately after purchase. As soon as I buy the gas, the cash back amount is immediately added to my Rewards Balance. It's very quick and easy to transfer the Rewards Balance into the main account balance.
The screenshot above shows a home screen from the DasherDirect app. You can see balances for the main account, for cash back rewards that were accumulated, and a goal (savings) balance.
Right away, the DasherDirect app updated to advertise that cash back is now 10% instead of the usual 2%.
How do you qualify for the weekly bonus?
For the weekly bonus, there are essentially three criteria:
- As of this writing, the program is only available to Dashers in the United States
- You need to have completed deliveries that had an estimated 100 miles total for the week.
- It appears to be only for Dashers who deliver by Car. Deliveries using Bike, eBike or Walking modes where available do not count.
The important thing to understand here is how Doordash counts miles. They do not track your miles. Instead, they add up the estimated miles for each delivery.
Mileage is calculated by adding up the estimated mileage shown in the Dasher app when offers are presented to you each week from Monday to Sunday. Dashers must complete an order for that mileage to count towards their total. All delivery types will count towards your mileage – this includes shop and deliveries, retail deliveries, grocery deliveries, etc.Doordash FAQ answer to “How do you calculate mileage for the Weekly Gas Bonus?”
If your estimated miles for the week do not add up to 100 miles, you will not receive this bonus.
Reviewing the program: Pros, Cons, and Is it enough?
The overwhelming reaction that I've seen among Dashers is that with as much as gas has gone up, this is a pittance.
For Dashers who do qualify, the supplement does appear to at least cover the most recent gas price increases. A lot of Dashers will be left out, and those who dash for significant hours will find it doesn't keep up. We'll get into more detail in a bit.
Overall I would say that the majority of Dashers aren't helped out or the compensation falls short of the increase.
That said, I personally don't feel like Doordash owes me anything. I look at them as my customer. The fact that they are willing to pay will of course make me a bit more likely to accept offers. However, $5 or so per week isn't usually enough to make a significant difference in how I operate my business.
The Pros of Doordash's Gas Rewards Program
Let's start by looking at the good things in the program.
Pro: Doordash didn't have to do this.
It's important to remember: We are independent contractors. Doordash is not our employer. There is no obligation for them to do anything (though failure to do so would probably get them beat up in the court of public opinion.
Pro: Doordash said they're not passing this on to the customer.
Some other companies have added a surcharge to the customer bill to cover the additional pay they are offering to their contractors. Doordash announced they will not add such a surcharge.
This is kind of important to Dashers for a couple of reasons. When Prop 22 was passed and delivery companies added surcharges to cover increased costs in California, many gig companies including Doordash reduced the suggested tip in the app or discouraged tipping.
If a surcharge is added, it increases the chance that the customer themselves will lower their tip. Anything that impacts our tips will hurt us more than benefit we get from any of these gas programs.
Pro: For most drivers that qualify the increase does mostly cover recent gas price increases.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average gas price was $3.28 on January 3, 2022. It jumped up to $4.31 by March 14. That's a $1.03 increase in gas prices.
A typical car in the U.S. gets about 25 miles per gallon. If you drove 100 miles and received the $5 bonus, that 100 miles uses 4 gallons of gas. That bonus comes out to $1.25 per gallon. If you also use the DasherDirect card, that's another 34¢ savings per gallon (the additional 8%). The total of $1.68 per gallon more than covers the $1.03 increase.
Pro: the Cash Back reward can help for more than just Doordash miles.
When you buy gas, Doordash can't differentiate how you use that gas. You can go on vacation, or deliver for Uber Eats, or commute to a job. In my opinion, this may be the best part of the gas program if you have the DasherDirect card.
The Cons of the Doordash Gas Rewards Program
In my opinion, there are some real issues. We'll talk about some of the problems.
Con: The Doordash gas supplement doesn't count all your delivery miles
Remember that this only goes by the estimated miles that show up on your offer screens.
To be fair, in my experience the offer screen has been pretty accurate. The estimated miles in the past week totaled up to 101.3 and actual miles that I drove were 103.1. That's less than a 2% difference.
However, any miles that are driven between offers, or return miles from out of zone deliveries do not count if you haven't accepted any offers during that time. If for some reason you have to drive out of the way for a delivery, those miles don't count.
I had one Walmart delivery that had to be returned to the store when the customer's phone wasn't working last week. That return was several miles and based on the miles Doordash credited me with, that return was not counted into the total miles.
In the first week of the program, Doordash credited me with 101 miles. By my tracking I drove 132.1 miles.
Let's do the math here. At 25 mpg, that's 5.28 gallons. Now we're down to 95¢ per gallon.
Con: There's no help for the very part time Dasher.
If the average delivery is 5 miles, you need to make 20 deliveries to get 100 miles. If you're completing two deliveries per hour, that's 10 hours of delivery time.
I can't find the link for it, but I remember a Doordash executive saying something like 80% of their Dashers deliver less than 10 hours per week. I make no guarantees as to the reliability of my memory.
What that means though is, the vast majority of Dashers won't drive enough to get any assistance.
Con: The assistance is less effective for at different mileage levels.
As a full time delivery driver, 500 miles or more per week has not been uncommon for me. Now because I work multiple apps, only a small portion of those miles are for Doordash.
However, if a Dasher puts in 500 miles, that assistance now covers a much smaller part of the increase in gas prices. The bonus program caps out at $15 per week.
We'll do the math again. 500 miles is 20 gallons on the typical car. $15 for 20 gallons of gas is only 75¢ per gallon.
Another example is if you drive 174 miles. It's not enough to get to the $10 reward. Now you have $5 for 6.96 gallons, or about 72 cents per gallon.
The program works the best for the driver who exactly hits whatever threshold applies. Miles in between or above the maximum 225 reduces the compensation per gallon.
Con: It's not easy to know how many miles you've driven
I noticed this a lot in Facebook groups on the Monday the first payments went out: A lot of drivers didn't know how far they went.
Many didn't read the details in the introduction email. They just thought that Doordash would track their miles. Doordash does not track miles. Be thankful. Doordash tried a mileage tracking pilot program in January and February of 2022, and they failed miserably, in my experience.
Remember that Doordash said they would track by adding up the mileage estimates on the offers that were presented to you. What that means is, the only way to know if you have enough miles is to get a screenshot of every offer that you accept.
Con: The program incentivizes more driving and more gas use.
If a Dasher thinks they are close to the 100, 175 or 225 mile thresholds, they may be more likely to chase after longer distance but less profitable deliveries. Also, because deliveries in bike or eBike mode don't count, some drivers may be more inclined to do car deliveries to capture the extra money.
The math doesn't make sense to do either of these. However, math and dashing don't always go together.
Con: Cash Back is less helpful if you don't have the DasherDirect card just yet.
I only signed up for the DasherDirect card at the beginning of 2022. It took five weeks to receive my card. While they did offer a virtual card, it's going to be difficult if not impossible to use that at the gas pump.
If the five week turnaround time holds up, Dashers may never get that card before the program expires at the end of April. And, with a lot more Dashers signing up because of the increased cash back, I would expect that to slow the turnaround time down even more.
Con: Doordash may have passed the cost on to customers after all and just never told them.
Here's what I do know. Here in Denver, Doordash charged a 15% service fee on top of sales tax and the delivery fee. The last time I saw that was in December of 2021.
Out of curiosity, I started an order to see if there was a surcharge. There was none, but the service fee is now 16%.
I don't have details of when the fee was bumped up, but Doordash has definitely increased the service fee here. The fee is buried in such a way few people would notice. I can't say for sure if that 1% increase in service fee is related. But it's fishy.
Most people will never notice. My concern is that if they do, some will be more likely to reduce their tip.
Comparing Doordash's gas supplement program to Uber Eats, Grubhub and Instacart
Most of the major delivery platforms have provided some form of temporary supplement to offset the rise in fuel prices. We'll take a look at some of them and how they compare.
Doordash Gas Rewards compared to Grubhub's gas assistance program
Grubhub was the first to come out with a program but it's also the most poorly defined.
Grubhub started sending a per-mile adjustment once a week to drivers based on the miles they drove. The problem is, no one knows how much the adjustment is. Some drivers are estimating about a penny extra per mile.
Grubhub's program includes:
- A weekly per-mile adjustment based on how many miles were driven according to the estimated miles shown on the app and in earnings reports
- An increase in missions which will allow drivers to get more per delivery
- A partnership with GetUpside to provide gas savings.
The per mile adjustment is the only real thing of substance. It's real easy to promise more extra earnings programs and just not deliver because who's tracking? And let's be real: Grubhub isn't promoting GetUpside out of the goodness of their heart. GetUpside has referral and affiliate programs that pay out money per signup.
The one thing where Grubhub compares favorably to Doordash is that their adjustment is on a per mile basis. It's not based on tiers that lock out drivers. This is a much better approach.
Doordash is much better defined. You know exactly what they are providing if you are tracking your delivery offers. For those that do receive a weekly Gas Rewards, it seems like Doordash is paying out much better than Grubhub..
Doordash Gas Rewards vs Uber Eats, Uber, Lyft,
Uber went a flat rate per delivery or per trip. They announced that they will charge customers a surcharge to each rideshare fare or delivery. The entire amount will be passed on to the driver.
Uber's surcharges seem to vary by market. For delivery, it's $0.45 in Denver, and I think I've seen it as low as 35¢ in some other markets. Rideshare surcharge is 55 cents in Denver (and may vary by market as well).
For delivery, the flat rate payments seem to average out at 40 cents. If the average distance driven on a delivery is 5 miles, it takes 20 deliveries to get to 100 miles. That adds up to $8.00, compared to $5 paid by Doordash.
To get to 225 miles (the $15 reward for Doordash) would take about 35 deliveries. That would pay $14, slightly less than Doordash does.
However, a full time driver who gets 80 deliveries in per week gets $32 extra in weekly supplemental pay. The Doordash driver with 80 deliveries is still stuck at the $15 cap.
Ultimately, the flat fee method almost universally benefits drivers more than the Doordash program. There is no floor like Doordash's 100 miles, and there is no cap like Doordash has at $15 per week.
Should the Doordash Gas Rewards Program change how we deliver?
This is the thing most interesting to me about this whole fuel assistance thing. I think it adds some perspective.
I hear a lot of criticism that the program isn't enough. Five or ten or fifteen dollars is such a pittance.
However, when you do the math, all of these programs seem to be covering the recent spikes in gas prices.
For most drivers, the increased cost of gas isn't hitting them as hard as they think. A dollar increase in gas prices is still only 4 cents a mile on the average car.
Suggestions on how to adjust your driving in light of this program.
One: Do NOT actively seek out longer distance deliveries just so you can make your mileage quota and get your five bucks. Usually those longer deliveries pay far less for the time involved. Taking lower profit longer distance deliveries can cost you more in earnings opportunity than the reward you get in return.
Two: There are a lot of things you can do yourself that are far more effective at helping you manage the costs than the $5 bonus from Doordash. We have an article of 62 strategies to help keep your gas prices down.
Three: Let this be a wakeup call to help you really evaluate your business. A one dollar increase in gas prices is only 4 cents a gallon or about 20 cents per typical delivery. If that increase is really that devastating to your business, it's probably a sign that you're not really making as much as you think in the first place. This might be a good time to really understand profit and loss as a delivery contractor. Understand what it really costs to operate your car, it's a LOT more than just gas. Then ask yourself, is it enough?
Four: Treat this like a business. Doordash is your customer, not your employer. It's good to have multiple customers. If Doordash isn't paying enough, provide your services to someone who will. If no one is offering enough, maybe it's time to re-think delivery or rideshare.
Five: Don't base too much on these programs. Uber Eats is offering a little bit more on average in most cases than Doordash, but that difference is really minimal. Make your decision on which deliveries to take on the total offer amount, distance and time involved. The differences in the gas rewards programs is minor compared to all the other factors.