Being a Doordash delivery driver (or Dasher) can be a great way to make some extra money or part of a larger full time delivery strategy. However, it's not technically a job.
Dashers are independent contractors rather than employees. If you deliver for Doordash you are self-employed. That's an important distinction that we'll discuss more in a bit.
Does it make sense to deliver for Doordash? For some, absolutely. For others, it's not really the best thing to do. There are a lot of factors in determining if delivering for the popular food delivery service makes sense for you.
It starts with what you're trying to accomplish. It also depends on your market and how you operate your business (because you ARE operating a business when you are a Dasher).
I started delivering for Doordash in early 2018, and I've delivered for several gig economy delivery companies. I thought my review and experiences delivering for Doordash could help you get a feel for if it makes sense for you. In this article, we'll talk about:
- Why delivering for Doordash isn't actually a job
- What delivering for Doordash involves
- What is different about being an independent contractor for Doordash
- How do you get started delivering for Doordash?
- The pros of delivering for Doordash
- The cons of delivering for Doordash
- My take: Is Doordash worth it?
- Is Doordash better full time or part time?
- Things to think about to help you decide if Doordash is worth it for you
- Other articles in the Doordash delivery driver series
About this article
Note that this is written from the perspective of being a Doordash delivery driver in the United States. Doordash may do some things slightly differently in other countries, and different countries have different regulations about using independent contractors.
There's so much involved in being a Dasher that it's impossible to cover everything in one article. This is part of a series on delivering for Doordash, and you'll find links to other articles throughout this post. At the end, you'll see a list of other articles in this series.
Why Doordash is not a good job (but still could be very much worth it)
It's a bit of a trick question to ask if Doordash is a good job. That's because it isn't a job. Doordash will not hire you as an employee. Instead, you are an independent contractor.
In other words, if you deliver for Doordash, you will do so as your own business that provides delivery services for another business.
CONTRACTOR understands and expressly agrees that they are not an employee of DOORDASH or any restaurant, other business or consumer and that they are providing delivery and other services on behalf of themself and their business, not on behalf of DOORDASHFrom the Doordash independent contractor agreement, which you have to agree to in order to deliver for them
I know I'm repeating myself, but this is incredibly important to understand. Delivering for Doordash is not a job. All you are is a contractor with no other affiliation to Doordash at all.
It's a business opportunity. Your relationship with them is as a business providing a service to another business, NOT an employee/employer relationship.
This means a lot of things. It enters into a lot of the pros and cons. You will not have an employee's protections (including minimum wage, FMLA, workers' compensation, and other insurance). At the same time, you have a lot of freedoms that an employee would not have.
Delivering for Doordash is not a good job because it's not a job at all. If you are looking for an actual job or the protections that go with being an employee, you don't have to read any further. This is not a good fit for you.
However, Doordash can be a good business opportunity if you approach this as a business.
What delivering for Doordash involves
Here's how it works in a nutshell:
- A customer orders food or merchandise from a local restaurant or merchant.
- Doordash offers the delivery opportunity to the most suitable independent contractor in the area.
- When a Dasher accepts the delivery opportunity, they pick up the item from the merchant and deliver it to the customer.
- The Dasher is paid a delivery fee plus any tip from the customer after completing that delivery.
It's pretty much as simple as that.
Let's break that down a little. Then, let's take a closer look at how the process is different when you deliver for them as a contractor than if this were a Doordash job.
1. The customer places an order from a merchant.
A customer wants food or merchandise delivered. In most cases, the customer will place their order through the Doordash website or mobile app. Sometimes, the customer orders from the restaurant, and the restaurant reaches out to Doordash to request delivery service.
Doordash started as a food delivery service. Lately, they've expanded into convenience stores and other merchants. They've even expanded into shopping at grocery stores to compete with companies like Instacart and Shipt.
2. Doordash offers the delivery opportunity to the most suitable contractor.
This is where we come in.
It starts with logging in to the Dasher app and telling Doordash that you are available to receive delivery offers. We don't know precisely how Doordash chooses who to offer what delivery to. Somewhere along the line, Doordash sends you an offer with the details of an available delivery trip.
The offer screen will typically give you the following information:
- A map showing where you pick up items and the delivery location
- The name and location of the restaurant or merchant
- The type of delivery (such as whether it's a package or grocery delivery that involves shopping)
- How far they expect you to have to go for the delivery
- The time they expect the delivery to be completed
- The number of items to be delivered
- The minimum amount Doordash expects you will receive for the delivery (sometimes the pay will be more)
You have the option to accept or reject the delivery offer. If you decline, the offer is sent to the next available courier.
3. Once you accept an offer, you deliver the food or merchandise.
Put simply, you go to the merchant or local restaurant, pick up the food or package, then deliver it to the customer.
There's a bit of variety to how that happens. You may drive your car or deliver by bike, e-bike, or scooter. I've heard of some who deliver on foot in densely populated areas (think downtown New York City).
Picking up items.
To begin with, you will head to the store or restaurant to pick up the food or merchandise.
Usually, you'll pick up food at a restaurant. You'll announce that you're picking up a Doordash order and give them the customer's name or order number. Sometimes, if the food isn't prepared yet, you may have some wait time at the restaurant.
Some food delivery orders require you to place the order with the restaurant and pay for it with a debit card provided by Doordash (called the red card). Usually, this happens with local restaurants that don't have a direct delivery agreement with Doordash.
A third possibility is that you may have to shop for items at a grocery store or other store. In this situation, you will shop for the items, then pay for them with the Doordash red card.
In my experience, shopping orders are optional. Doordash gave me a chance to opt in or out. The Doordash offer screen tells you if it's an order-and-pay or shop-and-pay delivery, and you can decline that offer.
Delivering the items.
Once you have the food or merchandise, it's time to take it to the customer. Doordash gives you the customer location and provides navigation from within the app. You may have instructions about what to do when you arrive or special instructions like entry codes to get you into a building.
The customer will have chosen for you to either leave it at the door as a contact-free delivery or to hand it directly to them.
Before the pandemic, handing food to the customer was the norm. It typically involved taking the customer's order to their door, knocking, ringing, or calling them, waiting for them to come to the door, and giving it to them.
When the pandemic hit, Doordash added a contact-free option, which continues to be the most-used option. The customer may leave instructions on where to leave the food. Follow the instructions, take a picture of the food, and leave information about where it was left.
All of this is directed by instructions in the Doordash app. You can message the customer or call them when needed through the app. When the delivery is complete, you can mark in the app that it's done, which opens you up to new offers.
4. Getting paid for your delivery
An earnings tab in the Dasher app shows how much money you've accumulated on your deliveries. It acts like a sort of virtual wallet. Each time you complete a Dash (when you go unavailable or choose to end your Dash), the money earned during that Dash is deposited into your virtual wallet on the app.
Doordash sends earnings accumulated through Sunday night to your bank via direct deposit on Monday (or the next business day if Monday is a holiday). For most Dashers, the money shows up in their account on Tuesday. Turn around time can vary depending on the processing time of your particular financial institution.
If you don't want to wait until next week for your pay, there are two early payment options. Doordash's fast pay is an instant pay feature that lets you transfer accumulated earnings to a debit card once a day for a $1.99 processing fee. Doordash also offers their DasherDirect debit card, where earnings go immediately to your card with no processing fee.
There's another way Dashers can be paid using Doordash's cash-on-delivery feature. Instead of paying with a credit card, Doordash customers can pay cash to the delivery driver for the entire order. The Dasher can get their delivery fee out of that payment and keep the remainder as an advance payment for further deliveries.
In the end, how much money you make on Doordash in a given time is simply the sum of all the delivery fees, incentives, and tips that add up from your deliveries completed in that time.
How much do Doordash drivers make in delivery fees?
Understand that you are paid for each delivery, not your time. There's no hourly wage or salary. Actual earnings are made up of one or more of the following:
- The delivery fee from Doordash
- Incentives that Doordash offers (especially during high demand periods)
- The tip from the customer.
Doordash says they base their delivery fee (base pay) on estimated distance, duration, and desirability. Depending on these three factors, the base pay is between $2 and $10.
Doordash usually practices a little bit of higher minimum pay than the two dollars listed in the pay model. In my market, that minimum has been $2.50. Lately, the base pay isn't increasing much regardless of how far I have to drive. If Doordash offers multiple deliveries at once, the additional trips will only earn the two-dollar minimum.
Desirability is the wildcard in the Doordash pay model. If Doordash doesn't think an order will get accepted by delivery drivers (usually due to a meager tip or a very long distance), they may increase the base pay to make it more attractive to Dashers.
During peak hours, Doordash may offer a bonus called Peak Pay. Peak pay is a bonus added to every delivery. The purpose is to encourage more drivers to get out and deliver at those peak times or to try to draw Dashers into a busier part of the market.
There are times that Doordash may offer other incentives or minimum guarantees in return for completing a certain number of deliveries.
How do customer tips factor into Doordash pay?
Customer tips are a significant part of a Doordash driver's pay. If customers are not tipping well, you likely won't make much money. If the average delivery time is about a half hour and you're only getting the $2.50 base pay for each delivery, that adds up to an hourly rate of $5.00 per hour.
For that reason, you have to consider tips part of your total earnings. It also means you may need to reject the lowest paying deliveries.
Most customers add their tip when they place their order. Once they've chosen what they want, a default tip is added to the order when they go to check out. The customer can edit or delete that tip.
Unfortunately, I've found that Doordash recommends a much lower tip than Uber Eats or Doordash. If I go to each site and start orders for the same food at the same restaurants, Uber Eats and Grubhub tend to recommend higher tips than Doordash.
That seems to be reflected when I'm delivering. I get higher-paying offers far more frequently from the other delivery apps than from Doordash.
Customers can always leave a cash tip when you complete the order, though I find that doesn't happen often.
How delivering as an independent contractor differs from doing so as an employee:
You may have noticed that you can choose if, when, and where you want to deliver. You set your own schedule. Doordash cannot dictate when and where independent contractors can deliver. You decide for yourself the best times to seek out delivery requests.
You can choose whether to accept or reject any delivery offer. When Doordash decided to use contractors instead of employees, they forfeited the right to control when, how, or where Dashers work.
Your relationship with Doordash is a business-to-business relationship. Ultimately, they are your customer, not your employer. You are paid by the task. There is no hourly rate or salary. Minimum wage pay rates do not apply.
Doordash can't give you a job performance as though you were an employee because they can not legally tell contractors how to do their work. Because it's a contractual relationship, all they can do is evaluate whether you completed the task you agreed to complete. This is why their deactivation policy focuses on terminology like “contract violations.”
Your obligations and agreements with Doordash are on a delivery-by-delivery basis. Once you accept a delivery offer, you make an agreement to complete that delivery, and the contract is in effect. Once it's completed, the contract is off. You have no obligation when you are not on an active delivery.
How does Doordash work with this independent contractor relationship?
Using contractors can make things challenging for gig economy companies like Doordash. They're not allowed to control their contractors or dictate what work needs to be performed. All they can do is offer delivery opportunities and hope drivers accept them.
At the same time, if they don't successfully fulfill delivery orders, they can lose business. How do they ensure orders are completed if they can't control the Dashers? There are generally three things they do:
- Pay more for some deliveries
- Offer incentives to get Dashers to take more deliveries
- Manipulation and pressure tactics
Paying more: This is where the desirability part of the pay model comes into play. If the offered pay isn't enough for Dashers to want to accept, Doordash has room to increase the delivery fee. However, it's not a great solution for Doordash as their business model is built around minimum labor costs.
Incentivize higher acceptance rates: Doordash incentivizes high acceptance rates without paying out of pocket with their Top Dasher program. By meeting minimum customer rating standards and accepting 70% of offers, you can be called Top Dasher. The only real benefit of the status is the ability to Dash in any zone at any time regardless of whether there's an opening in the time slot for another driver to log in.
Manipulation and pressure tactics. Doordash will often send out incentives that are worded to look like they're offering a perk when they really aren't. You must read their emails like a lawyer, looking for promises like “you may get up to.” Sometimes they'll pause or end Dashes if someone rejects too many offers.
How do you get started delivering for Doordash?
Here's another difference between being an employee and being a contractor.
There is no interview process. New drivers are not hired, but instead all you are doing is signing up for the opportunity to deliver for Doordash.
If you meet the Doordash driver requirements and can pass a background check, and if there's a need for contractors in your area, that's pretty much all there is to the application process.
When signing up, you can choose whether to deliver by car, scooter, or bike (or on foot in some markets). Doordash lets you switch back and forth which mode of transportation you use.
Basically, you sign up, agree to the background check, upload copies of documents as requested, and wait. Once approved, download the Doordash driver app, log in with the credentials you set up when you signed up, and away you go.
After your first order, Doordash sends a welcome kit or activation kit with a hot bag and a red card for paying for deliveries. From there, you just need to have the right tools for Dashing. It starts with a smartphone and a mode of transportation. You can read more in the linked article for other ideas that can be useful.
The pros of delivering for Door Dash
In my opinion the best things about delivering for Doordash is being my own boss.
I love the freedom to set my own schedule and go out and make money whenever I want. In some areas, you may have to schedule a time slot ahead of time to reserve your time slot, but it's entirely up to you when to do so.
The ability to choose which delivery offers I want to accept is huge. I can decide if it makes sense to take an offer or not.
No boss is looking over my shoulders and no micromanagement. Dashing is a far less stressful way of making money than just about any job I've worked.
I love the fact that Doordash is my customer, not my boss. It's a great way to get a feel for what it's like to operate a business. I'm free to make my own decisions and experience success and failure. Experience like this is excellent for future career options or for branching out into starting other businesses.
Dashing pays surprisingly well. I tend to average around $25 per hour on Doordash deliveries before expenses. As they say, past performance is not a guarantee of future results. However, it does show what the higher end of the pay scale can look like.
Doordash is the dominant food delivery service. This means in most markets, there's a steady stream of orders available. You're less likely to wait as much between orders as you might with other companies.
I wrote in a lot more detail about what I loved about being an independent contractor doing deliveries in the gig economy. Towards the end of that article, I listed 11 things that were definite benefits.
The cons of delivering for Doordash
As an independent contractor, there are no guarantees. There's no minimum wage, no Doordash overtime, and no guarantee. You could earn well below minimum wage or operate at a loss. There is no safety net. For many Dashers, income is very inconsistent.
Like any business, there's a risk of losing your source of income. If too many Dashers are logged into your zone, you can wait a long time between delivery offers. The Doordash app crashes a lot, leaving you unable to earn while it's down. Finally, with the Doordash deactivation policy, it's too easy to lose your ability to deliver for Doordash because of things outside your control.
You may be uninsured while delivering for Doordash. Most personal insurance policies specifically say they won't cover you while using your car for commercial purposes. Doordash doesn't cover your vehicle with any policy, so you may have to upgrade your auto insurance if you want to deliver.
Compared to other delivery companies, the pay per delivery tends to be lower. Doordash doesn't increase pay as much for longer distances, and in my experience, they're most likely to recommend a lower tip.
There's not much good support for you as a Dasher. It's all managed by the algorithm, and your only option for live, personal support is to call into their overseas call center. Sometimes that's helpful, sometimes not so much.
You can read more here about some of the warnings you should consider before becoming an independent contractor.
My take: is Doordash worth it?
In my experience and opinion, my Doordash review is ultimately that it's worth it. However, they're worth it because I'm looking at them as customers, not employers.
I don't trust Doordash. I think they lie to us, manipulate us and abuse the independent contractor relationship.
So how could I feel like it's still worth it?
It's because I choose not to let Doordash have control. I embrace the fact that I'm running a business and that Doordash is my customer. Part of the territory when you run a business is that some customers will try to screw you over. Doordash is that customer.
However, you can manage the relationship if you understand who your customer is. Despite Doordash being Doordash, you can still benefit from the opportunities. Seeing them as customers is the key, in my opinion. Every offer is a bid for services; if it is enough, take it. If not, pass.
Personally, I choose to work with multiple apps. When Doordash doesn't meet my price, Uber Eats or Grubhub or someone else will. I often turn on several food delivery apps and review offers until one meets my price.
For that reason, even if Doordash has a lot of flaws, there are plenty of delivery opportunities that pay well enough to meet my price. In my area, even though Doordash tends to pay less per delivery, I still earn the most from them than any of the others. There are just more offers from Doordash to choose from than from the others.
It's not about one being a better employer. Instead, it's about the opportunities. As such, having Doordash as one of many customers is a great way to go.
Is Doordash best part-time or full-time?
Because it's an independent contractor relationship, you get to make that determination yourself. The vast majority of Dashers do this as a side hustle. However, a numberchoose to do this fulltime, either exclusively with Door Dash or in combination with other delivery apps.
When I'm focusing heavily on my website and other content, Doordash is a fantastic side gig for me. It's a fantastic way to earn extra income. The flexibility of working around my own schedule makes it a great way to make extra cash for whatever I need.
It is possible to deliver for Doordash as a replacement for a full-time job. However, the lack of a safety net can increase your risk and vulnerability if you rely only on Doordash for your income.
Personally, I would never deliver Doordash exclusively as a full-time gig. I treat it as a business where Doordash is one of several customers. I've delivered full-time for several years but have never relied exclusively on one delivery platform.
There's a lot extra you have to do to make it work as a full-timer, including setting aside money for taxes and future car expenses before taking any earnings for yourself. Doing that is the best way to get a real feel for what you are truly earning.
In the end, full-time gig delivery is a definite possibility. Just proceed with caution.
How to decide if Doordash is worth it for you
In the end it all boils down to what you are looking for.
If you're looking for a good job, Doordash isn't your answer. If you are looking for steady, guaranteed income or any of the protections that go with employment, this isn't your answer. You can't go into this with an employee mindset and do well.
That's not to say there's anything wrong with wanting the perks of a traditional job. There's definitely a place for that. I'm just saying that if that's what you want, don't sign off on an agreement that says explicitly that you will not be an employee.
Are you willing to be accountable for the additional taxes Doordash income will cause you to owe? Do you feel comfortable keeping track of the miles you drive and any other expenses related to running your own business?
How important are the freedom and flexibility? If you love the idea of making your own decisions and working your own hours around your personal schedule (not your boss's), this could be a great way to go.
Are you intrigued by the idea of going into business for yourself? I think this is a relatively low-risk way of dipping your toes in the water. Who knows where that could take you?
As you can tell, a lot of this is my opinion and my take on what it's like delivering for Doordash. What's great about Doordash in my eyes may not be so great for you, and the things I don't like may not be an issue for you.
For me, the freedom, flexibility, and opportunities outweigh the downside of being independent. But in the end, I hope that this at least helped you get a better picture of what Doordash is like. Only you can determine if Doordash makes sense.