DoorDash Review: Is Dashing Worth It? (Advice from a Dasher) (2024)

Even if you’ve never had food delivered from an app, you’ve probably heard of DoorDash. It’s the largest food delivery company in the US, and it’s a popular option for delivery drivers looking for work.

If you’re thinking about becoming a delivery driver, you’re probably wondering how DoorDash compares to its competitors, such as Uber Eats and Instacart. To untangle this, we’ve put together a full review. Keep reading to find out if working for this gig app is worth it.

01.What is DoorDash and how does it work?

DoorDash is a food delivery app. Customers can browse restaurants near them, select the items they want, and get their orders delivered straight to their door.

DoorDash has also expanded its services to offer delivery from grocery, liquor, pet supply, and convenience stores. They even do package pickup for UPS, FedEx, and USPS.

How deliveries work in the DoorDash app

When you sign up to be a DoorDash delivery driver, called a Dasher, you’ll be the one making these deliveries. You can work on your own schedule.

Scheduling in DoorDash

In the beginning, you’ll need to pick DoorDash shifts in advance, but once you’ve spent a while on the app and have earned a high rating as a Dasher, you’ll be allowed to start and stop working whenever you like.

DoorDash Review: Is Dashing Worth It? (Advice from a Dasher) (1)

DoorDash zones

When you start working, you’ll pick a “zone” to deliver in. DoorDash’s interface will tell you which zones are “hotspots,” meaning they have a lot of available orders, either currently or typically.

You’re not necessarily locked into the zone you pick. If you have “Top Dasher” status (discussed below), you can switch to any zone you like at will. Even if you don’t, you may be able to switch zones under more limited conditions (e.g., if an order originating in your current zone takes you outside of it and the new zone is busier).

DoorDash Review: Is Dashing Worth It? (Advice from a Dasher) (2)

Collecting DoorDash orders

You’ll see orders in the app, including the pickup and dropoff locations and how much you’ll earn. Sometimes you may be able to pick up multiple orders from one business, in which case DoorDash will plan the most efficient route for you.

DoorDash Review: Is Dashing Worth It? (Advice from a Dasher) (3)

Delivering DoorDash orders

If you accept an order, you’ll drive to the restaurant or other business, pick up the order, and drive to the customer’s location. Like most delivery apps, DoorDash provides a map feature that you can use to navigate.

Depending on what the customer selected, you might have to hand the order off to them (and, for certain packages, potentially get their signature), or you might just leave it at their door.

DoorDash Review: Is Dashing Worth It? (Advice from a Dasher) (4)

You can deliver using practically any vehicle, including a car, bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle. DoorDash automatically provides free accident insurance for all Dashers and all vehicle types, although they also require you to have your own primary auto insurance for this to apply.

How much can you make with DoorDash?

Online sources generally claim that Dashers earn between $15 and $20 per hour. We collaborated on this article with Luis Jara, an experienced DoorDash driver, who confirmed that this matched his experience.

To some extent, your earnings will depend on where you drive (known as your “market”). In general, dense, urban areas have somewhat higher rates, but they’re also usually more expensive places to live. They also tend to be more expensive to drive in—you’ll typically burn more gas and put more wear and tear on your vehicle driving in the middle of the city than in the suburbs.

Jara told us that in his market (southeast Los Angeles and northern Orange County, California), he’s sometimes been able to push his earnings as high as $22 per hour. He also said that he tends to make more in the summer.

Factors that affect your earnings on DoorDash

Several factors contribute to your pay for each job on DoorDash:

  • Base pay: This is the minimum you’ll make for the order. It’s determined by the time it will take you to complete it, the distance you’ll have to travel, and how much you’ll actually have to deliver. According to Jara, base pay averages “around $2 to $7 for most orders.”
  • Tips: Many of your dashes will include a tip from the customer. You get to keep 100% of your tips. Customers can include a tip when they check out or add one after you complete the delivery.
  • Promotions: DoorDash sometimes offers “Peak Pay” promotions, which boost your earnings during times when they want to encourage you to drive. In Jara’s experience, Peak Pay is available “during extremely late hours on any given night into the very early hours of the morning.” You can see your promotions as part of the total pay you’ll receive before you accept an order.

Note that DoorDash’s site also lists a second type of promotion, called “Challenges.” With these, you’ll earn a reward if you complete a certain number of deliveries in a set timeframe. Challenges are a relatively new feature and they aren’t available everywhere yet—Jara said he’d never seen one in his market.

Some markets allow hourly pay

DoorDash also recently introduced an “Earn by Time” feature. If you enable it (which you can do in the app), you’ll earn a guaranteed hourly rate rather than getting paid per individual order. Your hourly rate will vary by time of day and location, but you’ll still get to keep 100% of your tips and will be eligible for promotions.

Like Challenges, Earn by Time isn’t available everywhere yet (Jara said he’d never seen it in the Los Angeles area).

How you’ll get paid

You have a lot of options when it comes to getting paid by DoorDash. Consult the table below for a full breakdown:

Payment Options on DoorDash

OptionWhen you’ll get paidAssociated feesAdded benefitsRequirements
Direct deposit to personal bank accountEvery Sunday, but it may not appear in your account until WednesdayNoneNonePersonal bank account
Fast PayUp to once per day (to your personal bank account)$1.99 (US and Canada)

None (Australia)

NoneCompleted 25 deliveries

Active for 14 days

Added debit card at least 7 days ago (no prepaid cards)

DasherDirect (US Only)Instantly after every dash (to your prepaid DasherDirect debit card)None2% cash back on gas and other purchases

Prepaid debit account

Mobile banking app access

Wellness perks offered by Avibra

Apply for this card in the Dasher app and provide your personal information (including your Social Security number)
Cash on DeliveryCollect cash payment directly from the customer (amount is deducted from your next payout)NoneNoneOpt in to receive Cash on Delivery orders in your preferences within the app

As DoorDash is a large and well-established company, you can trust them to pay you regularly and on time (if they don’t, you can contact their customer support team in the app to resolve the issue).

Jara told us that he considered the potential for instant payment a significant perk of the app.

Where can you work for DoorDash?

DoorDash is available in more than 7,000 cities in every US state, as well as several other countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

On their website, you can find a list of the top cities where they operate. That list isn’t complete, so if you don’t see your location, enter your address to find out if you’re able to drive for them.

02.Pros and cons of working for DoorDash

Becoming a Dasher can be a great way to make money, but like any gig, it’s not without its drawbacks. Let’s look at some pros and cons of working for DoorDash.

03.Who's eligible to work for DoorDash?

It’s relatively easy to qualify for DoorDash. You have to meet the following requirements:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Have an iPhone or Android smartphone
  • Have a car, scooter, motorcycle, or bicycle (depending on your area)
  • Valid driver’s license (if you plan on using a vehicle)
  • Auto insurance (if you plan on using a vehicle)
  • Clean driving record

Most people will be able to meet these criteria and register successfully. That said, if you experience any hiccups during the signup process, they’ll probably be in one of these three areas:

Obtaining auto insurance

If you plan on driving a vehicle (instead of riding a bike), your biggest hassle will be making sure your auto insurance will cover you.

Jara said that in the past few years, fewer auto insurance providers have been willing to provide coverage to drivers who use their personal vehicles for delivery or ridesharing (taxi) purposes.

“If someone is considering becoming a Dasher … they’ll have to check with their current auto insurance to see if they offer coverage for it,” he said. If your insurer doesn’t cover commercial activities like delivery driving, you’ll need to switch to one that does.

(As mentioned, DoorDash does provide its own accident insurance, but in order for it to kick in, your personal auto policy has to meet your state’s minimum coverage requirements. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get out of the need for adequate insurance.)

DoorDash’s background check

You also have to provide your Social Security number and consent to a background check. This will be performed by Checkr, a third-party company.

The check isn’t too stringent; you’ll probably pass unless you have major criminal convictions or recent traffic violations on your record (with “recent” meaning “in the past 7 years”). A moving violation has to be fairly serious to disqualify you—a ticket for speeding probably won’t, but a DUI probably will.

This background check will usually take a few days. We’ve heard a few anecdotal reports of would-be Dashers getting stuck at this point in the process (e.g., because Checkr confused them with other people with similar names), but Jara said he hadn’t experienced anything like that and that his signup process was smooth.

Being placed on a waiting list

If your market is saturated with Dashers, you might be placed on a waiting list instead of being allowed to start delivering immediately.

This is relatively uncommon, but if it happens, there’s nothing for it—you’ll just have to wait (usually for a few months).

04.How to sign up for DoorDash

To sign up as a Dasher, go to the DoorDash website and enter your zip code to register. You’ll need to fill out the rest of your profile information:

  • Provide your full name and password
  • Select your vehicle type
  • Verify your identity
  • Consent to a background check
  • Choose your preferred payout method

Again, it will take a few days for your background check to go through, so sign off and wait for DoorDash to email you. Once they do, you’ll be able to start dashing right away. To do so, download the Dasher app using the appropriate button below.

Get the DoorDash app

App Store Google Play

Equipment and supplies

You don’t need to have any special equipment to accept your first order. Once you complete your first dash, DoorDash will send you an activation kit with a food warming bag, hand sanitizer, a face mask, and a Red Card, which you’ll use to pay for any orders that the customer hasn’t prepaid for.

Optionally, you can also buy a DoorDash pizza bag (or, if you have your own insulated pizza or delivery bag, you can take a photo of it and submit it to DoorDash for approval). You don’t absolutely need to complete this step, but you’ll be eligible for more orders if you do.

DoorDash Review: Is Dashing Worth It? (Advice from a Dasher) (5)

As you can see in the screenshot above, some restaurants may be able to provide their own pizza bags, but Jara told us this is rare and that getting your own bag is still worth it. (“I’ve only been lucky once,” he said.)

05.What is driving for DoorDash actually like?

It can be hard to get a sense of what working for a gig app is like just from reading reviews. How hard is the work, really, and is the pay commensurate with the effort (and stress)? How is dealing with traffic? Are customers and business owners usually polite or rude?

To shed some light on this, we asked Jara what his day-to-day working experience was like. Here’s what he told us.

The work is relatively pleasant

To hear Jara describe it, dashing is a “laid-back occupation compared to most conventional jobs.” He said that he particularly likes:

  • Working independently and only having to answer to himself and his customers
  • Not being micromanaged
  • Receiving daily payouts and tracking his earnings in real time
  • Scheduling his working hours around his life, as opposed to the other way around
  • The ability to work while listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts

It’s worth noting that the last point is probably the single most commonly cited perk of delivery driving. Dashing is a job that you can easily do with half of your brain engaged, which means you can listen to whatever you like, even if it’s something mentally demanding. (Jara said he often uses the time to study a foreign language.) Of course, if you prefer to relax by listening to music, that’s fine, too.

Customer service is important

The level of social interaction that the job entails depends on whether your customer wants you to hand their order off to them or just leave it at their door, but as a rule, Jara told us that you can’t neglect customer service.

“Doing the little things can go a long way,” he said. He mentioned:

  • Proactively communicating and delivering updates, especially if there’s an issue with an order
  • Sending an arrival message when you’re about to complete the delivery
  • Delivering a simple and enthusiastic “thank you” afterwards

Your customers aren’t the only people you’ll have to please. It’s also important to be polite to the staff who prepare each order. Jara said that adopting a pleasant attitude can translate into free snacks, drinks, and even meals—as well as higher tips.

The point is that, although delivery driving is a relatively solitary job, you can’t completely vanish into your own world. It’s important to be friendly to the people you have to deal with.

The job does come with frustrations

Although Jara was quite positive towards dashing overall, he was upfront that it wasn’t a completely idyllic job. The issues he’s had to deal with include:

  • Heavy traffic and long waits: It probably goes without saying that busy periods are exactly that. During peak hours, you may encounter reckless and angry drivers, long wait times at restaurants, and flustered and harried staff. You may also find that your working zone is oversaturated with Dashers, which can lead to gaps between orders. All of this will cut into your profits.
  • Glitches in the app: Jara noted that the Dasher app glitches from time to time, and sometimes you’ll lose connectivity in the middle of a delivery. He said this wasn’t a huge deal, but that “it happens.”
  • Unreasonable customers: It’s relatively uncommon, but Jara has had customers rate him poorly for factors outside his control (such as failing to fulfill requests that they forgot to communicate, or restaurant errors). He said that rarely, DoorDash customers engage in “tip-baiting,” meaning they’ll provide a placeholder tip to entice you to travel a long way to deliver an order and then remove it once you do.

In addition to the difficulties the job itself entails, as a DoorDash driver, you’ll also be responsible for tracking your expenses and setting aside enough of your earnings to pay your self-employment taxes (more on this below). Fortunately, there are apps and tax programs that make this less of a headache. (Jara uses Everlance, which partners with DoorDash and often offers a subscription discount to Dashers.)

“Being a Dasher can feel a little chaotic and stress-inducing sometimes, but only if I let it,” Jara said. “I try not to sweat the small stuff and understand that the things that are out of my control are not mine to fret over and all I can do is my best (and drive defensively).”

06.Is working for DoorDash worth it?

When you work for DoorDash, you’re classified as an independent contractor. This essentially means that you’re running your own business (albeit one with just one employee—you).

This, in turn, means that you won’t get to keep every dollar you earn from the app. Some of it will go toward business expenses.

How much will expenses eat into your profits with DoorDash?

Determining your true income after expenses requires a bit of math, but luckily, it’s simple. Roughly 35% of the money you earn will go toward expenses, while you get to keep 65%.

Put another way, for every $20 you earn from making deliveries, only $13 of it becomes your paycheck.

When you deliver, you have to account for the following expenses:

Fuel

Plan on budgeting: 10% of your earnings

Unfortunately, Dashers aren’t given money to cover fuel costs. Gas for your car or motorcycle—or charging your scooter or e-bike—is completely your responsibility, and it’s a big one. Without fuel, you can’t make deliveries.

The amount you’ll need to budget will depend on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, your location, economic conditions (i.e., gas prices), and other factors. There’s no hard and fast rule, but usually, reserving 10% of your earnings for fuel will be enough.

Maintenance

Plan on budgeting: 10% of your earnings

Because you depend on your car for your income, it’s important to keep it in good working shape. More driving means more wear and tear. You’ll need money set aside for regular maintenance or occasionally major repairs.

These costs can also be unpredictable, but most delivery drivers recommend that you save 10% for vehicle maintenance.

Taxes

Plan on budgeting: 15% of your earnings

Taxes are another major expense, and you’ll have to report and pay them on your own (DoorDash won’t withhold them for you, since you aren’t an employee, just a contractor).

The good news is that you can deduct business expenses to reduce your tax liability. Try out this self-employment tax calculator to get an idea of how much you might owe.

Start by setting aside at least 15% for taxes. Many business owners save even more so that they’re never surprised by an unexpectedly large bill when tax time arrives.

What you’ll be left with

After all those expenses—10% of your revenue going to fuel, another 10% going to maintenance, and 15% to taxes—your income will have been cut by 35%. That gives you 65% of what you started with, or $13 of that original $20.

We ran these calculations by Jara and he agreed they were reasonable. Enough factors contribute to them that they may differ somewhat for you, but they’re a decent estimate.

$13 per hour isn’t the most attractive rate for a part-time gig, but it isn’t embarrassingly low, either. It’s higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, but at or below the minimum wage in 14 states and the District of Columbia, as of February 2024. 1

It’s up to you whether driving for DoorDash is worth it at that rate. Keep in mind that virtually all driving-based gigs have similar expense ratios, so DoorDash isn’t an anomaly in this respect.

Advice from an expert: who should become a DoorDash driver?

We asked Jara who he recommended DoorDash to. Although he recommended it to anyone looking to supplement their income, he particularly singled out:

  • Full-time students with textbook and tuition bills
  • Part-time employees in need of a second job
  • People with full-time jobs who have big expenses on the horizon (such as an upcoming vacation)
  • People in between jobs who need a reliable wage until they find new employment

Factors to consider when evaluating DoorDash

To decide whether you want to give DoorDash a try, Jara advised considering:

  • Whether or not you enjoy working independently
  • How bad traffic typically is in your area
  • Whether you already have a fuel-efficient vehicle
  • How much you’ll actually enjoy driving (or riding a bike) for hours at a time
  • Whether you’re willing to change your auto insurer and possibly pay a higher premium
  • What your local market looks like (in terms of the businesses and customers you’ll be dealing with)

One point that Jara emphasized was the need for self-discipline. Being your own boss can be both a pro and a con—you get a great deal of freedom but you’re also responsible for keeping yourself on task.

He also mentioned that Dashers should have “a general sense of navigational ability and directional awareness,” which makes sense for a gig that involves staying alert while driving, as well as navigating to unfamiliar addresses.

How to boost your earnings on DoorDash

If you’re able to push your earnings higher than $20 per hour, you’ll see a corresponding boost in your profits. Jara shared his advice with us on how to make sure you’re spending your dashing time efficiently.

Do your best to maintain “Top Dasher” status

DoorDash has a “Top Dasher” label that it bestows on certain drivers. It comes with several perks, including priority status when accepting orders (if two Dashers try to claim an order at the same time, the Top Dasher will get it).

Critically, only Top Dashers get guaranteed access to the “Dash Now” button in the app, which lets them start working whenever they want. Without this, you’ll have to schedule your shifts in advance, and if you fail to start your Dash within a 45-minute grace period (a 15-minute block before it’s scheduled to start and a 30-minute grace period afterward), you’ll have to reschedule for another time. This makes DoorDash a lot less convenient to work for.

DoorDash Review: Is Dashing Worth It? (Advice from a Dasher) (6)

According to DoorDash’s FAQ, to achieve Top Dasher status, you need:

  • A customer rating of 4.7+
  • 100 completed deliveries in the current calendar month
  • At least 200 deliveries on DoorDash in total
  • An acceptance rate of 70% or higher
  • A completion rate of 95% or higher

If you meet these criteria at 11:59 pm on the last day of the month, you’ll be a Top Dasher for the duration of the following month.

Keep your eye on these, particularly the last two criteria. If you’re an active driver who provides good customer service, you’ll meet the others fairly easily, but you may need to actively work to keep your acceptance and completion rate up.

Only accept worthwhile orders

On virtually all gig apps, not just DoorDash, some of the orders you see will be worth your time and others will be low-ball offers that you should ignore. Jara said that he only accepts orders if the payout is $7 or higher and his earnings will approach $2 per mile for the entire trip. Anything less than that and the costs of maintenance and fuel eat into his profits too much.

However, he did cite several exceptions when he’s willing to bend this rule:

  • The order is worth at least $5–$6 and the driving distance is very short
  • He’d be driving toward the destination anyway (e.g., if he just completed another order and it’s on the way back to his starting location)
  • He’s delivered to this customer before and knows they usually tip well (or their order promises they’ll tip well)
  • He needs to increase his acceptance and completion rate before the end of the month to keep his Top Dasher status

Keep an eye out for DashLink orders

DoorDash has a program called DashLink, a package delivery service that involves “picking up and dropping off packages at multiple locations in succession.”

Jara told us that DashLink orders popped up relatively infrequently, but that they were usually worth taking.

“DashLink orders don’t come up very often for me, but when they do, the payouts are greater … compared to regular deliveries on DoorDash,” he said.

Be aware that DashLink orders can sometimes be quite large, so you may have a tough time with them if you’re driving a smaller vehicle (e.g., a scooter or motorcycle) rather than a car. However, if you have the capacity for them, they can be very lucrative.

Drive at the right times

We asked Jara what the best time to dash is. He said that in his area, “There seems to be an uptick in the amount of orders that come through the app after 5 pm during weekdays, since that’s when most people have clocked out of their 9-to-5 for the day and are ready to have dinner.” He also mentioned briefer windows between 9 am and 10 am and 10 am to 1 pm.

He added that weekends (Friday–Sunday) tend to be the busiest days overall, and that he generally tries to refrain from working after 9 pm during the week.

“Most restaurants don’t have dining room hours that go past that, and more often than not, the drive-thru ends up being a real time-dampener in terms of a dollars-to-hours ratio,” he said.

07.How does DoorDash compare to other side hustles?

To evaluate whether DoorDash is right for you, you need to compare it with its competitors. We’ll look at some of those below, starting with other delivery apps and then moving on to gig apps in general.

DoorDash vs. other gig apps

DoorDash’s direct competitors include:

  • Uber Eats
  • Instacart
  • Grubhub
  • Postmates
  • Shipt

These apps all work basically the same way that DoorDash does; you can sign in whenever you want and accept or reject jobs freely. They also tend to offer roughly the same rates (you can earn about $20 per hour on all of them).

Which delivery app should you pick?

Many delivery gig workers have one app that they prefer—generally whichever one has the most customers in their area, which varies. Jara said that he prefers DoorDash, as he heard that it offers the best rates, but that he recommends installing multiple apps and using them in tandem. (This is a very common practice, and won’t get you banned from any of these apps or affect your rating.)

“In the gig economy, time is literally money, so the more time I spend picking up and delivering orders, the more money I will likely earn,” he said. “Multi-apping really is the way to go to decrease the amount of time waiting between orders and increase the rate of actively fulfilling deliveries.”

Our advice: don’t trick yourself into thinking you have to pick just one app. Install two or even three and use whichever one is offering more money at any given time.

DoorDash vs. other gig work that anyone can do

If you’re looking for accessible gig work, you should also consider other types of apps (not just delivery apps). Popular types of app-based work include the following:

How DoorDash Compares to Other App-Based Gigs

Side HustlePopular AppsBase Pay (Hourly)
Delivery drivingUber Eats
DoorDash
Grubhub
Instacart
Postmates
$20
Ridesharing (providing taxi services)Uber
Lyft
$20–$44
Helping people moveDolly
Bellhops
Lugg
$30–$50
Lawn careLawnGuru
Handy
TaskRabbit
$40–$50
Microtasking (taking online surveys, etc)SwagbucksUnder minimum wage
Mystery shoppingiSecretShop$15
Pet sittingWag!
Rover
Care.com
$12–$19
Teaching or tutoring onlineWyzant
Preply
$10–15+
Walking dogsWag!
Rover
$10–$17

As you can see, DoorDash is in the middle of the pack as far as pay goes.

If all you care about is maximizing your earnings on an hourly basis, you can earn more with either manual labor (e.g., yard work) or ridesharing. These gigs pay a bit more than delivering food because they’re less relaxing and not as many people are willing to do them.

On the other hand, if you don’t need to squeeze every possible dollar out of your side hustle and you just want a reasonable rate of pay for relatively undemanding work, DoorDash is a decent gig to get into—particularly if you’re looking to do it part-time or to supplement your income from another job.

Article Sources

  1. The Economic Policy Institute."Minimum Wage Tracker"Retrieved November 14, 2023.
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