Everything you need to know about making money with DoorDash

Written by Emma Kansiz

Published 2022-07-05 / 4 min read

Whether it's a hungover afternoon or a late night study sesh, we’ve all ordered from a food delivery service. It’s a staple of urban existence and it makes all of our lives that much easier. Have you ever thought about being on the other side of the door, delivering instead of receiving the goods? DoorDash might be your dream gig.

What is DoorDash?

DoorDash, founded in 2013, is an online delivery service. They operate in nearly all major U.S cities, and are in a total of 5000 cities around the world! They have branched out into grocery deliveries, ensuring that their business model will stay strong and viable for years to come. Their drivers were a big help for many communities during the pandemic, and there is no shortage of work available for those who want to get involved.

How does DoorDash's earning structure work?

Most DoorDashers make $10-$20 per hour for delivering food plus any tips accrued from customers. In general, you will earn $2 to $10 guaranteed delivery payment per delivery, depending on the distance, or whether there is a promotion on. When a delivery request comes up in your app, a base pay will be shown which factors in how challenging the delivery is and the distance required. This reflects how much you will earn, including tip, but doesn’t factor in any tips you might receive in cash (which are rare, but occasionally happen). This makes the service transparent to use, and allows you to have a clearer understanding of how much you could be earning. It also lets you know whether any individual delivery is worth the effort and driving distance for you.

We like that the tip is reflected in the delivery order request so you know ahead of time whether the trip is worth your while. Anecdotes from DoorDash drivers make it clear that tips will make up half of your income in many cases, and that they add up fast. If you take tips out of the equation, you will typically be making around $10 on average per hour after factoring in expenses if you are going at the average speed. If you are hustling and focusing your efforts on working during peak hours it is not unheard of to be making upwards of $23 per hour, which is compelling indeed.     

DoorDash also offers promotions to boost your earnings. Similar to Uber and Lyft, it has a peak pay tier where you can earn more for busy, high demand delivery hours like the dinner or weekend rush. DoorDash also offers challenges here and there, which incentivize you to complete a certain amount of deliveries within a certain time frame to earn a small bonus. 

You can access your earnings in the Earnings tab of the app. DoorDash transfers your money from the previous week every Monday. It typically takes two business days for the money to enter your bank account. You can set up a Fast Pay option in order to cash out daily. This costs $1.99 and is only available in the U.S.

What is the time commitment for DoorDash?

You can choose to drive whenever it fits your schedule, making DoorDash a convenient option for those with work, school, or child care responsibilities. Some drivers make DoorDash their main source of income and work upwards of 40 hours a week, but many pick up a few hours worth of work per weeknight to supplement their pre-existing income.

Once you have been accepted as a delivery driver you can go on the app and start delivering. But let’s get into more detail on that. If there are not enough drivers on the road delivering you can select the ‘Dash Now’ option on your dashboard. This allows you to accept order requests when they pop up, screening them for the distance and effort involved for you. When Dash Now isn’t available that means that there are too many drivers on the road and not enough orders coming in. Supply and demand at its finest.

One way to get around this limitation is to schedule your Dash hours in advance. You can choose dates and time slots and schedule yourself in, but be aware that time slots fill up fast with other drivers scheduling themselves in. You can see the schedule up to five days in advance. This is a great feature though as it allows you to take ownership of your schedule and adds some consistency into your week. It also allows you to see DoorDash as a part time job, rather than just an occasional side gig. DoorDash has recently created an Early Access Scheduling system for those with a 4.6 rating, 95% completion rate, and who have completed over five deliveries in the previous week. This allows those who qualify to schedule themselves up to six days in advance.      

One of the benefits of DoorDash is that it doesn’t penalize you for being inactive. You could go silent on the app for a few months and then just pick up right back where you started. 

How to get started with DoorDash?

To begin the sign up process, download the Dasher app, available for iOS or Android phones. Accept notifications, location services, and camera access. Enter your email, contact information, and location.

You will be asked to fill out the details of your vehicle, including year and model. You will need insurance in order to drive. You must then submit to a motor vehicle check (unless you are delivering by bike). You must also submit a background check disclosure and an authorization for them to conduct this check. This may take a few minutes to process. DoorDash uses Chekr, a third-party background checking service. DoorDash also conducts recurrent, randomized checks on its current drivers to ensure the safety of its customers and partners.  

After this point, you can add in your bank account details so you can get paid via direct deposit through the app. Once you have completed these steps the sign up process is almost complete on your end. Sign up to complete one Dash successfully, and then move on to the last step: becoming a full-fledged driver. Enter your mailing address in the app so DoorDash can send you a welcome pack, which includes your insulated courier bag and your Red Card for payments at select restaurants.     

Once you are approved and signed in to work, you will receive order requests, which you have 45 seconds to confirm or reject. After you have accepted you make your way to the restaurant or grocery store to pick up the order and then bring it to the customer. Simple. When you are onboarded DoorDash provides you a Dasher Red Card which can be used to pay for orders at restaurants or stores when the customer hasn’t directly paid (no, you don’t have to spend your own money and wait to get reimbursed - bonus).

DoorDash requirements

Required Resources

You need to have a mode of transportation, whether that is a car or motorized bike. If you don’t want to drive you are able to bike in most urban areas, but be aware that this will limit the trips you can complete. You probably won’t want to be biking 10 km to a restaurant and then another 5 km to a customer’s residence. That being said, many Dashers prefer using a bike to reduce the wear and tear on their vehicle.   

One thing we like about DoorDash is that the vehicle requirements are way more lax than Uber or Lyft. You don’t need a new car with low mileage in order to begin working as a Dasher. You also don’t need to bring your car in for a vehicle inspection, reducing the time it takes to start working! 

Required Skills

Drivers must be over 18 and must not have had any major driving violations in the last seven years. You must also be able to multitask and manage minor irritations, like driving in busy traffic while trying to deliver in a timely manner. Having stress reduction techniques will be vital to your success on the app. You must also be able to establish a friendly rapport with both clients and restaurant workers, as you will be liaising with them throughout the day.  

Attention to detail goes a long way here. Even if you are in a rush, confirming that the entire order is there and separating hot and cold items is paramount. Ensure that there is cutlery and napkins and read the delivery instructions carefully. Some people want to ensure contactless delivery and don’t want personalized service while others want a pleasant interaction with you at the door. Be cognizant of different, individual desires.

Required Documents

Prospective DoorDashers must pass a criminal record check and a driving record check. Prospective dashers must provide a driving license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance if applicable during the sign-up process.

Other important details

They have created a new feature for drivers called DoorDash Drive which enables you to complete larger, more time consuming orders. For this option you need at least two of the DoorDash catering bags as these orders are generally for larger groups or catered events. In order to qualify for this tier of service you must have completed 100 deliveries and have a cumulative rating of 4.8 stars and a 90% delivery completion rate. 

As a DoorDash worker you are considered a contractor rather than an employee. This means that you must keep track of all your own expenses and income. You will be asked to fill out a 1099 form when you file your taxes. We recommend putting aside a percentage of your weekly earnings to cover any tax liabilities so that you’re prepared, rather than stressed, for tax time. Consider hiring a CPA who has experience working with self-employed and contract workers. 

You must check and confirm ID for all alcohol deliveries. If the customer seems intoxicated you are within your rights and duty of care to deny them the delivery of the alcohol.

Our review

DoorDash is a tried-and-true, well respected side gig option. It has a great customer support team and a thorough, well-designed, user friendly website that has lots of FAQ and help pages for new users. We like that they allow you to see whether you have received a tip or not, and the distance of the delivery, before confirming an order. We also like that they have protocols in place if customers are unresponsive, such as leaving the food in a safe space and describing your actions in the delivery log on the app. DoorDash is supportive in most cases and works with its drivers, rather than against them. 

Although every gig comes with a cost, consider how DoorDash will fit into your personal and social life. The busiest times are generally weekday nights, weekend mornings, and weekend evenings. You may have to sacrifice plans and weekend leisure in order to work during peak hours and make the most money. 

DoorDash is a consistent, reliable way to earn a side income but be aware that you will be putting more mileage on your car and must consider the extra maintenance fees this will necessitate. You are also responsible for your own fuel costs and as the prices are currently high, you need to be strategic about where you deliver to. Keep a detailed balance sheet of expenses and income. Look at your DoorDash gig as your own business and keep track of every little expenditure. This mindset will also come in handy when it comes to filing your own taxes. 

One of the drawbacks of platforms like DoorDash is that they classify their workers as independent contractors, even when they are working upwards of 30 hours per week. They don’t offer healthcare, benefits, or tax support which is not a great deal considering how much work some of their drivers put in. But if you’re looking to work part time, or a few days a week, in addition to another source of income then this won’t be such an issue for you, and DoorDash is a reliable way to start earning money fast.