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Does Top Dasher Really Mean Better Offers? Surprising Results of my Test

I've had a lot of people tell me they get better delivery offers from Doordash when they are Top Dasher.

I've also heard from enough who insist their experience is just the opposite.

Who's really right here? They can't both be right, can they? How can two different groups of people get results that are very different from one another? One of them has to be lying, right?

I don't think anyone's lying when it comes to this kind of thing. They really do believe things have changed for better or for worse.

The thing is, if you don't have the data to evaluate, all it ever will be is perception. People will perceive the results they think they'll get. It's a phenomenon known as confirmation bias.

That's why I felt I needed to find out for myself. Would I really get better delivery offers as Top Dasher than I would when my acceptance rate is rock bottom? Does Doordash quietly reward people for a better acceptance rate?

This is the story, and the results, of my attempt to find out if anything changed once I became Top Dasher.

Meme with three steel balls labeled Top Dasher Delivery Offers, and three steel balls labeled Non Top Dasher Delivery Offers, with both sets balancing one another on a balancing board.

My 200 Delivery Challenge

I decided to accept 200 straight delivery offers, and track all the details of every trip. Starting in February, 2022 with a 28% acceptance rate, I accepted one hundred straight offers to not only get top Dasher, but Top Dasher with 100% acceptance rate.

Then starting the next month, as Top Dasher, I continued to accept the next 100 offers.

This would give me information that I could compare. Some of the information I kept track of things like

  • All of the offer details (pay, distance, deliver by time, etc.)
  • Payment details (base, tip, peak pay)
  • How far each delivery went
  • How long each delviery took

Keep in mind, this is far from a scientific test. I'm not sure you can draw any clear conclusions from just 200 deliveries. There are a lot of variables involved from one day to the next.

Someone else in a different market could do this and get entirely different results. So, as you read this, please understand, I wasn't looking for proof one way or the other.

But I did want to find out if there was solid evidence that orders were better or worse as a Top Dasher.

In the remainder of this article I'm going to discuss:

How I did this test and why I chose to do it the way I did

I wanted to get as thorough an evaluation of the deliveries that Doordash was offering as possible. And the thing is, you can only know so many things about a delivery from the offer screen. How much was base pay, how much did the customer tip? Are there any hidden tips?

In my opinion, the best way to measure a delivery and compare it to others is profit per hour. How much did I profit (earnings minus cost of using my car) for the time that I was on that delivery?

I felt like the only way I could really evaluate the delivery offers was to take every single one of them. That was the only real way to know what Doordash knew when offering the opportunity such as how much did it really pay and how was the pay broken down?

Another reason for deciding to take everything was that I didn't want my decision making to be a factor. Would I decide differently on what to take or reject to try to influence the results?

I tried to keep things as similar as possible. Most deliveries were done between 10 and 2 on weekdays, with some longer days on Saturdays. I would go available immediately to try to keep as much in the same part of town as possible. However, that's part of the problem with taking everything: you really have no control over where you end up.

Does Doordash say we'll get better offers if we are Top Dashers?

Doordash does not make that promise.

However, a lot of Top Dashers believe they do. This is because of something they do promise and the way that the promise is worded.

In spring of 2021, Doordash sent out an email offering a new perk for Top Dashers.

Qualifying as a Top Dasher will now give you priority access to high-value orders (customer orders of $35+), helping you get up to 50% more of these delivery opportunities on average.

From Doordash email announcing a new perk for Top Dashers.

The way that's worded, it sounds like you'll get more good offers, doesn't it? I read one site that explained this as saying you would get 50% more high value orders.

However, that's not what Doordash said. They said “helping you get UP TO 50% more of these opportunities.”

If you're familiar with how Doordash, Grubhub and other gig economy platforms work, that “up to” is very important. It's a great way to make it look like you'll get more without actually promising.

Here's the other thing: You have to remember the context. They're talking about when you get into a tie with another Dasher. So are they really saying you get 50% more high value deliveries? Or do you just win the tie 50% more?

They explained it in more detail:

This new Top Dasher perk will prioritize nearby Top Dashers for high-value orders (those with subtotal value above $35). This means that if we have two nearby Dashers who can take on a high-value order, we will break the tie in favor of the Dasher with Top Dasher status.

Doordash explanation of the so-called new Top Dasher perk.

Doordash used misleading language to look like they're promising something they never promised.

A lot of Dashers walked away from that thinking they'd get better offers.

But the only thing that Doordash promised to do was to “break the tie” in favor of a top Dasher.

I have two questions:

  • How often is there really a tie between two Dashers for an order?
  • Of those times, how many times is it a tie between a Top Dasher and non top dasher?

The algorithm for Doordash is so dialed in as to how they determine who's getting an offer that I'm not sure there really are very many ties, if any.

With that, there's a lot to think about. First, remember that Doordash is pointing out it's high-value orders, not high paying orders. Now you'd think that if a customer was paying more they might tip more.

But the thing is, the way they throw that “50%” wording around, if Doordash were really offering more of “these opportunities” you would think that it would be noticeable pretty quickly, wouldn't it?

How do you define “better offers?”

The thing about trying to decide whether you get more “good offers” is, how do you define a good offer?

Doordash framed their email around the idea of high-value orders. Unfortunately that was one thing I could not measure, as I could not get access to the subtotal on most of these orders.

And honestly, while a delivery with $35 or more worth of food is more likely to include a sizeable tip, that's not always the case.

Is getting paid $20 for a delivery a good offer? It often is. However, there were plenty of high dollar deliveries that really weren't all that great because of the distance and time involved.

The truth is, there are a lot of different opinions as to what constitutes a “better offer.” For that reason, I wanted to look at several ways of measuring whether the offers were better as a Top Dasher or not.

  • Payment amount of the deliveries
  • Size of the tip
  • Dollars per mile
  • Hourly rate

Comparing the numbers before and after achieving Top Dasher status

What did the numbers tell me?

Remember, this was far from a scientific study. I don't think it's possible to control all the different variables. Two hundred deliveries is probably not enough of a sample size to draw a clear, absolute conclusion.

However, with Doordash throwing out their crazy “up to 50% more” of the higher value deliveries claim, you'd think there'd be some pretty clear evidence of improvement here, wouldn't there?

For not being a scientific study, I was pretty amazed at how similar numbers were. Even when I broke them down into groups of 50, such as comparing the trips I took when my acceptance was below 70% to the ones where I was above 70% but not yet Top Dasher. Even with smaller sample sizes, the numbers were very comparable.

While it's not a scientific study, there is one thing I did to try to balance the numbers. For the 100 deliveries I did in February, $66 of payments were in Peak Pay. There was only $11 of Peak Pay in March. I felt like that skews the numbers somewhat in favor of non-top dasher deliveries. Therefore I decided to only include the total of base pay and tips.

I'm not sure that totally evens things out. I definitely see evidence that the base pay is lower when there is peak pay, so eliminating peak pay may actually skew numbers slightly in favor of Top Dasher status. In hindsight it may have been better to try and only deliver when there was no peak pay.

I'll talk about this more in the conclusion, but overall, I did not see any evidence that my offers were better because I was top Dasher. But we'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Did I get more high paying deliveries as a Top Dasher?

I looked at several different things here. Did I get a higher percentage of high paying delivery offers? Were there fewer ultra low paying offers? Was the average payment better?

This was one area where the numbers were slightly better in March (as a Top Dasher) than in February when I didn't have that status.

The biggest difference was actually in how many extremely low paying offers there were. Five of my 100 deliveries paid less than $3 in February, while only one did in March. As top Dasher I had only eight offers that paid less than $4 compared to thirteen in the previous month.

But what about much higher paying deliveries? There were a few more deliveries that were in the $8 to $10 range as top dasher, however I had more offers over $10 as a non Top Dasher than I did with that status (nine compared to eight)

Infographic comparing the number of higher and lower paying deliveries as top dasher to those of non top dasher.

Finally, the average amount per offer was a little higher as a Top Dasher. Average for base pay plus tip was $6.75 in March compared to $6.44 in February.

If I had included Peak Pay, the average pay per deliver would have been $7.10 as non-top Dasher compared to $6.86 as top Dasher.

If all you look at is just the total amount, you could make a case that the offers were slightly better as a Top Dasher. However, the time and distance of the offers in March were significantly higher as well. That's why it's a good idea to look at other numbers.

Did Doordash give me offers with better tips as a Top Dasher?

I see something similar this on Driver forums and groups quite often: “I rarely see a delivery without a tip as a Top Dasher.”

So maybe Doordash is taking care of their top Dashers by giving out more deliveries where the customer tips well. Or perhaps at least not giving out as many zero tip deliveries.

My results don't support that.

The number of zero tip deliveries was exactly the same both months. Thirteen times each, I took deliveries where the customer didn't tip at all.

In fact, as Top Dasher I received a slightly higher number of low tip deliveries (23 to 20). I did have a few more medium high tips (between $5 and $10) as a Top Dasher, with 26 compared to 21. However, I had three deliveries that had $10 or higher tips as a non-TD compared to only one as Top Dasher.

Infographic comparing tips received as a Top Dasher compared to a non-top Dasher.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic was that the average tip amount was exactly the same: It was $3.41 both months.

In fact it was really interesting that when I run the average on the first 50 of each month, the average tip is within three cents either way of each group of 50 deliveries.

When it's all said and done, I see little or no difference in tips between either designation. There definitely isn't a clear indication that tips were better or worse for me as a Top Dasher than they were before.

Were the dollars per mile better as a Top Dasher?

As I mentioned above, the average payment was slightly higher as a Top Dasher. However, the average distance was higher.

In February, the average delivery was 4.52 miles. In March as Top Dasher, it was 5.02 miles.

Dollars per mile is a popular measurement for many Dashers. I see a lot who use this as their criteria for choosing the best delivery. So I thought it would be a good idea to compare the dollar per mile rates.

This was one area where I think there was a pretty clear difference that favored the deliveries prior to achieving Top Dasher.

Fifteen deliveries paid less than a dollar per mile in February compared to 19 in March. When you broaden that to deliveries under $2 per mile, it's now a total of 37 deliveries when not a Top Dasher compared to 45 as one.

On the high end, there were 23 deliveries that went more than three dollars per mile in February compared to 14 as a Top Dasher.

Infographic that shows the differences in dollar per mile earned as a top dasher compared to non top dasher.

The average dollar per mile as a non-top Dasher was $1.63 compared to $1.47. That's an 11% difference, which is fairly significant.

Did I earn a higher average hourly rate on deliveries as a Top Dasher?

In my opinion, the only real way to determine whether a delivery is a good one or not is what it paid in relationship to the time that it took. In fact, I take it a step further and look at profit per hour. What were my earnings, minus car costs, for the time that it took to deliver?

One thing about delivering is that time is finite. There's a certain amount of time you put into your deliveries. If you make more in that amount of time, you're doing better than if you make less. The only way to measure that is your earnings per hour.

I broke down how many deliveries had higher and lower hourly rates. I also looked at the overall average rate for all deliveries. Finally, I calculated a profit per hour average based on the 35¢ per gallon that I've determined it costs to use my car.

All numbers are based on actual pay and time involved to complete the delivery (which is why I felt it was important to take and complete every delivery offered in this experiment).

Doordash gave me 29 low paying deliveries as a Top Dasher compared to 21. By low paying, I mean less than $15.00 per hour before expenses. Eleven of those TD deliveries were under $10/hour compared to five as a non-top Dasher.

Thirty seven deliveries paid higher than $25 per hour in February when I was not a Top Dasher. That's compared to only 23.

Infographic detailing the number of high paying and low paying deliveries based on hourly rate comparing Top Dasher to Non Top Dasher.

Somehow the hourly rate came out closer than you would think, given those numbers.

A look at some of the averages:

I put together this chart to give an overview of all the numbers. This looks at the average delivery both as a Top Dasher, and previous to achieving Top Dasher status.

Many of these were on previous charts, but it just gives a good look at everything.

Infographic showing the differences between the average delivery prior to being Top Dasher and the average delivery as a top dasher.

I should point out that these numbers are based only on the time and distance spent on the deliveries themselves. Dead time and miles weren't added into this.

That's one part that really stood out to me while doing these deliveries. I was surprised that I was less frustrated by the lower paying deliveries than I was the long distance trips. Some of these deliveries went as far as 19 miles.

That usually means making the long haul back. Unfortunately when you're taking everything, you can't just wait for a delivery that brings you back where you came from, so at some point you have dead miles where you're driving and not making money.

It's harder to break those dead miles down. What I can tell you is that by the time I add in ALL them miles driven and time taken on these 200 deliveries, I averaged right at $16 per hour, or less than $11 profit per hour. I'm accustomed to earning over $25 profit per hour, so this was a challenge for me.

What does this tell me about if Top Dasher means better deliveries?

If I take a look at everything, I don't feel like there was any change whatsoever in the type of delivery that was offered.

If anything, you could make a case that delivery offers were slightly worse as a Top Dasher than they were in the month before. The number of low/high tip deliveries, dollars per mile, and hourly rates all lean slightly towards delivery offers getting worse.

Why would they be worse? One could theorize that Doordash knows you're going to take the bad deliveries. If there's an offer that most Dashers are refusing, might they be more likely to kick it out to someone who they know would accept it?

I don't believe that's happening here. But I don't know. I'm actually pretty amazed at how similar the numbers are when you get down to it.

Top Dasher status saw me getting slightly higher paying deliveries overall, but those deliveries went further and took a little longer.

I think you could make a case that nothing at all changed about the delivery offers I received. I see absolutely no evidence that there was any improvement in the deliveries that Doordash was dispatching based on whether or not I had Top Dasher status.

Obviously, I could do this all over again and possibly get different results. I have no idea if it would be different in different markets.

I'd love to get more data. But honestly, I'm not interested in trying this again. In the end, I feel good in that for the first time, I have actual data that shows exactly what I was receiving before and after achieving Top Dasher status.

In the end, it doesn't seem at all like deliveries offered to me improved because of Top Dasher status.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.