Driving for a rideshare company is one of the most popular ways to earn extra cash, so if you’ve been thinking of becoming a Dasher, the question is: Is DoorDash worth it?
DoorDash Delivery (alongside Uber Eats) is one of the leading food delivery apps, but like most side hustles, driving with DoorDash is what you make of it. Earnings can vary widely depending on where, when, and how often you deliver food.
To help you decide whether driving with DoorDash is worth a try, we dug into how much money you can make, studied feedback from actual DoorDash drivers, and put together some tips to help you maximize your hourly earnings.
Before you decide whether or not DoorDash is worth it, here’s what you need to know:
1. How do you become a DoorDash driver (aka a “Dasher”)?
DoorDash is a user-generated food delivery app, which means they hire independent contractors to pick up and deliver meals from restaurants. DoorDash is available in 7,000 cities across the U.S., so really anyone can sign up to be a Dasher.
You can start by filling out a quick form on DoorDash.com. As far as requirements go, drivers must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a valid driver’s license and vehicle insurance
- Own a mode of transportation (i.e., car, scooter, or bike)
2. How much can you make driving with DoorDash?
According to DoorDash, the average earnings for U.S. drivers is $25 per hour, which includes tips. But realistically, drivers report earnings all over the map.
So how does DoorDash pay their drivers? You get a base pay amount for each delivery — between $2 and $10 depending on the time, distance, and delivery type. Typically, the longer and further the drive, the higher your base pay, especially for deliveries during peak hours.
On top of your base pay, you’ll get a tip from the customer, 100% of which goes to you, the driver. Obviously, your tip will vary depending on the generosity (or lack thereof) of the customer (and of course, your overall performance with the delivery).
From there, you can also boost your earnings by completing Dasher challenges or through DoorDash’s Guaranteed Earnings program. Both of these require you to complete a certain number of deliveries within a designated time frame.
3. Other factors (like location and weather) can impact how much you make with DoorDash.
DoorDash pay is largely dependent on the surrounding area.
Are you working near a busy city, a college campus, or a quiet suburb? Highly concentrated neighborhoods with loads of takeout options nearby will give you more opportunities to deliver in a smaller driving radius. According to Indeed, Doordash Drivers in New York City earn an average of $18.75 an hour, which is 15% above the national average for hourly pay.
However, busier cities also offer more opportunities for DoorDash drivers, so there are likely more of them to compete with. In that case, you may face more of a “you snooze, you lose” situation if you don’t accept a drive right away.
Weather can make or break your DoorDash pay.
As pointed out by Dashers on Reddit, inclement weather is the best time to cash in. When it’s extremely cold or hot or when you’re facing heavy rain or snow, that’s when everyone likes to order in. So naturally, that’s your time to shine as a Doordash driver. Be safe though; you don’t HAVE to drive during inclement weather. If conditions are too bad, it’s not worth the risk.
Gas prices can lower your overall DoorDash pay.
When gas prices surged in 2022, Dashers and other rideshare drivers had to pay more to fuel up, therefore cutting into their existing profits. Even though DoorDash offered a temporary 10% cash back on gas incentive for drivers, that relief is no longer available.
So unless DoorDash raises the base pay to keep up with rising fuel costs — or customers magically become more generous with tips — gas prices are likely digging into your pay more than you’d like them to.
Driving during peak hours means higher earnings.
Driving during peak hours is how you’ll get the most bang for your buck, especially on weekends and holidays. Peak hours tend to align with meal times since that’s when customers are more likely to order delivery. For lunch, peak hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For dinner, peak hours are from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
DoorDash usually gives drivers even higher peak pay rates on weekends and major holidays, so you could make even more than you would on a normal day during the week.
4. Keep in mind: your pay as a DoorDash Driver can be sporadic.
If you ask existing drivers if they think DoorDash is worth it, you’ll get some mixed answers. Some will say yes, driving with DoorDash is definitely worth it. Others will say it’s a lot of sitting in your car for a not-so-big payoff. However, they all seem to agree that while it’s a great way to earn extra cash, you probably shouldn’t quit your day job to do it.
Some days you might earn $32 an hour, but other days you might earn $13 an hour. It’s really hard to predict how much you’ll earn, especially when you’re still learning the lay of the land. If you’re doing it for extra pocket money, then great! But if you’re relying on DoorDash funds to keep the electricity on, just know that it’s not a guaranteed income stream.
5. Follow the $2 (or more) per mile rule for base pay.
Dashers say if you’re getting a base pay of at least $2 per mile for a delivery gig, you’re earning a good wage. So let’s say a potential delivery pops up in your DoorDash app. If the drive is four miles and the base pay is $8, it’s worth accepting the drive. But if the base pay was only $6, it’d be better to pass.
6. Pull double (or triple) delivery duty to earn more as a driver.
Once you get the hang of driving for DoorDash, you can sign up for other services to make the most of your driving time. Many drivers do Instacart deliveries in the daytime hours and DoorDash in the evenings. Or you can do restaurant pickups for DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats to reduce the time you’re sitting around in parking lots waiting for jobs.
7. Take advantage of bonus programs for more driver perks.
If you qualify for the “Top Dasher” program, you’ll get extra perks, but you’ll have to meet a bunch of criteria first including strong customer ratings, a high completion rate, and a minimum number of completed lifetime deliveries and deliveries per month.
8. Don’t forget — you have to foot the bill for gas and car maintenance.
The biggest pros to driving with DoorDash are the flexible hours and the ability to be your own boss. But like all things, there’s a flip side.
Unlike delivery jobs where you might drive a company car or use a prepaid gas card, it’s all on you as a Dasher. That’s why income for rideshare drivers took a hit when gas prices rose sharply in 2022.
You’ll also have to pay for regular car maintenance, like oil changes, tune-ups, windshield wipers, and other upkeep costs.
9. Independent contractors are also responsible for paying their own taxes.
While full-time employees get taxes taken out of every paycheck, independent contractors get full pay and tips up front without tax deductions. While that sounds great and dandy on the surface, you’ll be less enthused when tax season hits. Since your taxes aren’t taken out of your pay, you’ll have to pay them in full when taxes are due.
So it’s important to be disciplined as a DoorDash Driver. Be sure to set aside some of your paycheck — about one-third of it — in a separate account to cover your yearly taxes.
TIP: You can deduct expenses like gas mileage from your earned income, which helps lower your tax dues. But unsurprisngly, the government asks for FULL and proper documentation to back up your claim. So this also means you have to keep the receipt every time you fill up and carefully maintain those records throughout the year.
10. Is DoorDash better than driving for other competitors?
Each third-party delivery app has its perks, and drivers may swear by one over another. Whether or not DoorDash is best for you comes down to how many other Dashers are working in your vicinity, how many nearby restaurants participate, and what the order volume is like in your area.
If DoorDash is not prominent in your city, it wouldn’t be the best app to choose. That said, in big cities, all of the major delivery apps are certain to have good coverage, so it really comes down to a matter of preference.
One consideration is that DoorDash has a lower driving age requirement for their drivers than some other apps, like Uber Eats. For example, an 18-year-old can sign up to drive for DoorDash, whereas UberEats requires you to be at least 19 years old to deliver goods.
Money-wise, it’s tough to say which delivery app comes out on top. Fares tend to fluctuate based on time, location, and distance, and drivers report a range of hourly earnings across various apps.
The Bottom Line: Is DoorDash Worth It?
Whether or not DoorDash is worth it for you comes down to your money-earning goals and how much time you can dedicate to deliveries. It also depends on whether you drive a gas-guzzling car or an eco-friendly vehicle. But if you can strategize to earn more money in your area and stack multiple deliveries at once, you can do pretty well driving with DoorDash.
DoorDash is best if you’re hoping to supplement your income. If you want to spend your free time earning extra cash instead of sitting at home binge-watching bad shows, give it a shot!