Amazon Flex

Amazon Flex

Everything you need to know about making money with Amazon Flex

Written by Emma Kansiz

Published 2022-07-05 / 4 min read

Want to be part of one of the world’s biggest companies? Want the peace of mind of working for a top brand with over a billion customers around the world? Love online shopping and want to be a piece of the puzzle that makes it all possible? Keep reading.

What is Amazon Flex?

Amazon is pretty much the center of the ecommerce world. It has revolutionized shopping, seasonal lifestyle trends, and the brick and mortar retail industry. Did you know that Amazon delivered over 5 billion Prime items last year alone? This rapid growth means that Amazon needs to take control over the delivery and postal systems it uses to ensure rapid and timely distribution. It does this by contracting with companies like LaserShip and UPS. But more recently, it decided to put its own skin in the game with Amazon Flex. Currently, Flex is available in more than 50 U.S cities and is gaining momentum in the ‘last mile’ portion of package deliveries - namely, getting the item from the warehouse to its final destination.

Amazon Flex enables packages to be delivered by independent contractors (that’s you) - people who have vehicles of their own and want to earn side income delivering packages to consumers fast and efficiently. If you love driving and don’t mind putting some miles on your car to make a bit of money fast, this might be an enticing side gig for you to consider.

How does Amazon Flex's earning structure work?

In general you can earn about $15-$25 an hour working for Amazon Flex, before expenses and fuel are taken into account. After expenses, this can be as low as $10 per hour, lower than the minimum wage in most states. Keep that in mind when tallying up your income. Expenditures and car related maintenance costs will eat into your hourly rate, and it's better to have realistic expectations before getting started than be unpleasantly surprised further down the road. Flex is known for having a fluctuating workload, making it hard for those who want to build a stable side gig. 

The shifts that pop up will be in blocks of time, as mentioned above. The pay will be listed for that given block. It could be $40, $60, $70 or more, depending on the length, distance, and difficulty of the trip. You also have the option to make tips. Drivers keep 100% of their earned tips. We like that you get insight into your earnings in advance, enabling you not to accept a shift that isn’t worth the hassle. 

Amazon pays out twice a week, helpful for those who are strapped for cash or who get motivated by frequent boosts to their savings accounts. They pay via direct deposit. The earnings from a given shift will be available in your account 2 to 3 business days after the delivery date. They pay out on a Tuesday and on a Friday.

What is the time commitment for Amazon Flex?

You can choose to drive as frequently as you want. One of the benefits of Flex is that there is always work because of the sheer market capitalization of Amazon. You can work late at night, early in the morning, and everything in between. There are always packages to be delivered, although the nature of the recipients (households, office buildings, retail businesses) may differ. Some days you may be circling the suburbs dropping off consumer goods and the next you may be dodging downtown traffic bringing office supplies to skyscrapers. 

The benefit of this arrangement is that you can choose when you feel like working, and how often. Flex offers jobs in ‘blocks’ of time. So you can choose a block of time and deliver the packages that are assigned to you (this could be 50+ packages, and over 10 drop-off locations to use an example). The block time is an estimate but keep in mind that if you go over the allotted time you won’t get paid extra for those additional hours.

If you have spare time it pays to check the app frequently as Instant Orders pop up, as do cancellations, and you can easily snag an unexpected shift if you’re keen for some extra income.

That being said, if you want to log a total of ten hours worth of blocks - go for it. If you want to net a couple bucks from your two hours of spare time, have at ‘er! The drawback of this is that you never know for sure whether you will get any given gig. Other drivers might snatch them up or they may not be economically worth your while. So a ten hour day might actually entail two hours of waiting around. It is always worth reminding you that you won’t be paid for the time spent waiting.

Another thing to mention is that you won’t get paid for additional driving time. If you have to take a different route to avoid a toll bridge, or if you have to return to the Amazon warehouse to drop off undelivered packages, you won’t get additional income.

How to get started with Amazon Flex?

Download the app. Choose your location. Some cities don’t have Flex yet - in that case you will just have to wait and keep checking back. Fill out your basic contact information. You will be required to provide proof of auto insurance and a copy of your driver’s license. Provide your social security number and banking information. 

Flex will conduct a background check on you. After this you will be prompted to watch a series of 19 videos explaining the mission of Flex and demonstrating how to pick up and deliver packages, and the logistics involved. These videos are followed by mini quizzes so you actually have to actively listen - not just have them running in the background.

It can take weeks to hear back from Flex about your success in the application process. So factor this in if you need to start earning money stat. Once accepted, you can start accepting jobs as they pop up on your homepage in the Upcoming Offers tab. Instant offers will also pop up, which require less time to complete (think 30 minutes). Available shifts will be listed in blocks of time, typically two/three hours and longer. Once accepted you will be directed to the Amazon warehouse to pick the packages up.

Amazon Flex requirements

Required Resources

You must have your own vehicle or access to a vehicle. This must be a mid-sized sedan, SUV, or a car or truck with an enclosed bed. Open-bed trucks may not qualify. It must be a four-door vehicle. This can be restrictive and might disqualify you straight out of the gates. We also recommend having a reliable car with a low/moderate mileage on it as you will be putting in lots of additional driving hours on the car.

You must have a smartphone and a means to charge it throughout the day.

Required Skills

You must be 21 years of age to drive for Flex.

The ability to go above and beyond is vital in this role. Even when you don’t feel like it. Amazon has high standards for its workers behavior (even if it doesn’t pay accordingly) and jealously guards its corporate reputation. That means that you have to be ‘on’ whenever you are interacting with customers using the platform. Being timely and communicative are non-negotiable traits. Patience and graciousness in the face of rude or demanding customers is necessary. Amazon is notorious for casually suspending drivers from the app without clear indication of wrongdoing on the drivers part. So be aware that you are expected to be on good behavior when you’re signed up for a gig. 

You need to be in adequate shape to be an Amazon driver. Many of the boxes you will be delivering weigh upwards of 20 pounds. Factor in walking to different houses, up stairs, and into offices and you could be well over your step count each day. Ensure you have upper body strength so you aren’t straining your body and putting yourself at risk of developing injury.

Required Documents

You must have a valid driver’s license and current auto insurance. 

You need a valid social security number. 

You must have a valid American bank account for direct deposit.

Other important details

You will need to check ID from customers when delivering alcohol. Failure to comply can result in termination, or even a large personal fine.

Speaking of fines, Amazon explicitly outlines that it is not responsible for any speeding or parking tickets accrued while a driver is on the job. Traditional behemoths in the delivery game, like UPS, pay their drivers fees because they are classified as employees (and may or may not be in a union). But you are an independent contractor and that means you get the responsibilities, as well as the freedoms, that this work arrangement entails. Keep this in mind as parking regulations in many urban centers are strict and you don’t want to be on the hook for a parking ticket for doing a $10 delivery job! 

The algorithm favors new drivers, who will be drawn into the service by getting the best rates and being shown the best jobs. This can be problematic for drivers who have been working long term, and who have proven themselves reliable. Be aware that your first few weeks might be heady and exciting but that you should monitor how consistent your earnings are over time before making any big purchases or constructing a budget.

You must cancel any bookings you’ve committed to 45 minutes in advance or it will be marked as a missed order and you will be penalized with less shift opportunities, and potential suspension if it happens frequently.

Our review

As with many jobs in the gig economy, there are no protections working for Amazon Flex. You don’t have access to health insurance or paid time off, nor do you get any professional support in claiming taxes and organizing your expenses. You are kind of left to your own devices. While this is a major risk that comes with participating in the gig economy, it still warrants repeating. You need to be your own advocate where your time, earnings, and lifestyle are concerned. You need to ensure that you aren’t burning out cramming all your spare hours into a side gig (or full time role, for that matter). It can be frustrating when one of the world's richest companies - Amazon - won’t offer protections or basic health insurance to their full time drivers. That doesn’t negate the reality that this is a practical side gig, but it should give you pause if you want to dedicate your working life to this role. 

An intriguing article in The Atlantic pointed out that the average driver pays about 50 cents per mile for driving related expenses when costs are aggregated over time. That can add up fast if you are driving thousands of kilometers a year for your side gig - literally in the thousands. Be very cognizant of your outgoing expenses. Your time is your most valuable asset after all. 

These major caveats aside, we think Flex is as good as any side gig in its class (think Uber, Instacart, DoorDash). If you enjoy driving and aren’t easily frustrated by traffic jams and poor directions then this might be a breezy job for you to slot into your schedule. Because of the stressful nature of the gig we don’t recommend it as a full time role, simply because you won’t necessarily be well-compensated for the stress and irritations that come with the job. If you have ten or so hours a week to spare, this is definitely a reliable and consistent way to make side income, though. You can earn upwards of $20 an hour if you complete your deliveries in a timely fashion and if you accrue tips. An extra $200 or so every week? Not bad, especially seeing as you will get paid out twice. This is a solid option to have running in the background in addition to other employment, family obligations, or school commitments.