DoorDash Review: A Guide to Earning More Money As a Dasher

Daniel Langley
Jun 22, 2021

Earning extra money while in college can be beneficial to your wallet and your mental health. If you’re looking for a way to stay active and earn some extra cash, Doordash should be on the top of your priorities. 


College students can always use a little extra cash, but the demands of study mean an extra part-time job can be difficult to fit into your schedule. You might not be able to work during regular hours, especially if you study full time, while working long night hours can easily lead to exhaustion and impact your GPA.


Part-time job, work-study or side hustle? What type of job is for you?


For most students, a side hustle offering a flexible way of earning is an ideal solution. The extra income can improve your budget, without needing the commitment in time and energy so that school can still be your first priority.


Becoming a DoorDash driver is a popular side gig for students thanks to its high versatility and reputation for useful earnings potential. But what do you need to know before signing up? And just as importantly, how much does DoorDash actually pay? Read our DoorDash review to find out.


Sign up for Doordash



How does DoorDash work? 

DoorDash is a food delivery service but with a twist. Rather than being tied to a single outlet or chain, the service adds a delivery option to restaurants which have none of their own. A customer can order food from a participating restaurant's regular menu using a central smartphone app, and the meal is collected and delivered to their home for a fee.


The collection and delivery is done by what DoorDash call a 'dasher', and it's here that the side hustle potential lies. If you have a viable mode of transportation, and live in a city that DoorDash services, you can sign up to become a dasher. You can take on delivery jobs whenever you have a little time to spare, with no long-term commitment or fixed hours to work.


And while most dashers deliver using a car or motorcycle, in some areas it's perfectly acceptable (and more cost-effective) to use a bicycle, scooter, or even a skateboard. So long as you can deliver reliably and on time, you don't need a lot to get started.


To become a Dasher, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have access to the DoorDash app via a smartphone to pickup deliveries
  • Have a valid driver's license, insurance, and good driving record. (Note: Not all locations require access to a vehicle).
  • Ability to provide your social security number to run background check.


How do you get DoorDash work? 

DoorDash deliveries are distributed through an app, which you log in to when you're available for work. When a delivery job comes up in your area, it's offered first to the active driver who's closest to the collection point. Full details for each job are supplied, including minimum earnings, delivery distance, locations, and so on.


When you receive an assignment offer, you can either accept it and get to work, or reject it and it'll be offered to the next nearest available driver.



How does DoorDash pay their dashers? 

DoorDash makes their money by charging the restaurant for each order, but they also add a delivery charge that the customer pays. This charge is paid to the dasher, and the amount for each order will be shown in the job offer before you accept or reject it. The delivery amount varies depending on the size of the order and a few other factors, but has a set minimum of $2 per delivery.


However, as a dasher you'll also receive 100% of any tip given by the customer. In many cases, the tip is paid during the ordering process, so you can see the amount before taking on an assignment. In others, the tip is paid in cash by the customer when you deliver the food.


And of course, in some rare cases, there may be no tip at all. But for most DoorDash drivers, the tips element adds up to become one of the most lucrative parts of the gig.



How much money can a DoorDash driver earn? 

The DoorDash website estimates average driver earnings of $15-$25 an hour before expenses, but of course this can vary widely. A typical delivery pays between $7 and $10, so depending on the distances involved and how busy the area is, three deliveries an hour would see you getting paid roughly that rate.


When you're starting out, you could be earning substantially less until you learn how to get the most out of the program, as more experienced drivers snap up the available work.


On the other hand, hourly rates of up to $40 are regularly reported, so there's plenty of potential there. But to reach those levels requires making the most of the system and maximizing your earnings.



How to make more money: 6 Tips for maximizing your DoorDash earnings 

As with most things in life, approaching the DoorDash gig in the right way can greatly improve your success. There are several ways of giving your earnings a boost, with these six tips potentially the most lucrative.


1. Use a sign-up bonus incentive 

DoorDash is expanding rapidly, and they're always looking for new and reliable drivers. In many areas, there's a sign-up bonus available for new dashers which can be as high as $750. It's worth checking if there's anything available in your city before joining, along with finding out what specific tasks you'll need to complete to receive the bonus.


2. Referral bonuses 

You can also get a bonus for referring other drivers to the system. Once the new driver becomes established and completes their allotted number of deliveries, you'll get a cash sum added to your account.


3. Take even low-paid deliveries

When you work with DoorDash, the system will keep a record of the percentage of jobs you accept. While it's attractive to cherry pick only the best and most lucrative assignments, this can work against you.


If your acceptance rating falls too low, you'll be pushed down the priority list of dashers and receive fewer job offers. Taking on at least some lower-paid deliveries to keep your acceptance rate up will increase your long-term success.


4. Choose your areas carefully 

Time is money, and you don't want to be caught up in traffic while the food goes cold. Check both the collection and delivery points before accepting a job to make sure you won't be passing through bottlenecks, such as downtown in rush hour. Also, try and avoid any deliveries where you'll need to pay parking fees, which will quickly eat into your earnings.


5. Choose your times 

The greatest earnings potential will be at peak times such as lunch and dinner, when most delivery orders are placed. What's more, in busy periods DoorDash can add a 'peak pay' amount to your earnings as an incentive to provide quick service at these times. You can see in the app when these peak periods are for your area, so try and work them if you have the opportunity.


6. Hang out at hotspots 

The app also shows a map of current ordering activity, with hotspots highlighting where a lot of collections are being made. Hang out nearby these busy areas and you've more chance of grabbing the gigs as they come up, thanks to the way assignments are offered to the nearest driver that's currently available.


Downsides of the DoorDash gig 

However, while becoming a DoorDash driver has the potential to put more cash in your pocket, it's not without its downsides. Here are four potential problems to consider before signing up.


1. No guaranteed pay 

There's no hourly rate for DoorDash work, and if you're active at a time when there aren't many orders, you could be waiting for hours yet come out with nothing. If you need solid, reliable income, a regular part-time job may be a better option.


2. Importance of tips 

Your potential earnings are also strongly linked to the amount of customer tips you get, which in the end is beyond your control. Even with the best service and the quickest delivery, you can't guarantee you'll get a tip. Many drivers report that tips make up around half of their income, so if you have an unlucky spell, your hours worked could wind up paying well below the minimum wage.


3. No job security 

Few side gigs offer much long-term security, but DoorDash has a clause in their agreement that can terminate your account for any reason more or less. If DoorDash decides you've committed a 'contract violation', you can be removed from the program with little or no comeback.


For example, there are reports of unscrupulous customers claiming that their meal wasn't delivered, and then charging their fees back from the credit card company. If this happens to too many of your orders, there's a chance you could carry the can, however unfairly.


4. Costs are on you 

Lastly, as a dasher you're responsible for all your expenses. From gas costs to phone data charges, vehicle wear and tear to car insurance, you need to pay all the bills and keep detailed records for tax purposes. This can make the gig much less attractive once the figures are worked out and the effective hourly rate drops.


So, should you signup for DoorDash?

If you're looking to earn some extra cash without too much commitment, DoorDash could be the gig for you. You can work on your own terms whenever you have the time, and although it won't make you rich, the earnings potential is definitely there.


However, it's vital to treat your DoorDash activities as a genuine business, no matter how small-scale it is. At the end of the day, you're responsible for all the expenses and tax implications, it's important to keep detailed records to avoid any nasty surprises down the line.


But if you want a flexible, straightforward way to add some income to your budget, DoorDash is definitely worth a look.