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How to Be The Highest Paid DoorDash Driver [Complete Guide]

Earning high with DoorDash is not about making a Guinness world record of delivering the most number of items every day. Here's practical advice to cash in.
Table of Contents

Earning lots of cash with DoorDash is not about setting a Guinness world record for delivering the most items every day. Nor is it about delivering a few high-paying deliveries.

It's more about how you use your time, where you choose to work, your delivery order types, and your efficiency. There are certainly ways to maximize your pay as a dasher.

DoorDash base pay is between $2 and $10 per order. When you add promotions and tips to this, the total can be around $15 to $20. But accessibility to tips and promotions may vary.

Some days, you might not choose to work at all, whereas others, the earning opportunities may be so good that you skip out on movie night with your friends.

This comprehensive guide is intended to help you increase your DoorDash earning potential. Here, we summarize the approach used by some of the highest-paid Dashers who've made an effort to understand the role of the algorithm in calculating payouts.

Let’s take a closer look at DoorDash driver earnings and how you can get into the 'top earners club.' 

How Does DoorDash Work?

DoorDash, like any other delivery service, has three segments. One is the customer segment, where they can place orders and make payments, etc. Another is with the merchant, who will prepare the order and accept payment. The third is your portal, wherein you will accept the order, deliver it, and your payment gets added to a separate withdrawable account. 

The three portals work in sync to ensure that the customer gets the accurate order on time. To start working as a DoorDash driver, you need to sign-up, which is a one-day process, and you can start dashing after being accepted. 

Maximizing your earnings with DoorDash comes from experience and understanding the process. Seasoned DoorDash drivers learn a few things on the road and implement them to save or earn more. 

For instance, you need to learn how to accept and decline orders. Sometimes, declining an order is more beneficial than accepting. Strange, right? We will talk about this in further detail.  

DoorDash Rating System

DoorDash has a rating system, which is important to understand and master if you want to maximize earnings with DoorDash. Good ratings mean you will potentially get more orders, and more orders mean more money. 

Lower ratings on DoorDash can also lead to account deactivation. The benchmark is set at 4.2. Any Dasher with a rating of less than 4.2 can lose their account access, which means they will no longer be able to deliver with DoorDash. 

DoorDash ratings are calculated on the basis of the last 100 customer deliveries, which can unfortunately impact job stability.

Customers are known to sometimes give bad ratings even when everything went fine. This is sometimes unavoidable. However, if you make deliveries on-time and maintain a professional demeanor, your good ratings should make up for this. DoorDash also has an appeal system for unfair ratings.

New Dashers should not worry too much about getting lower ratings. As they get more experience, their ratings generally improve. Also, once they complete over 100 deliveries, the old ratings are phased out. So, ratings from three months ago may not even affect the driver's standing.

DoorDash does not play unfairly when it comes to ratings. They operate under a policy. Under the guidelines (see the image below), any rating below five stars will not be accepted if any pre-stated situations apply to your delivery order.

So, ratings have an essential role to play in your DoorDash earnings. Yes, ratings are not in your control to some degree, but the way you work is. Work as expected, deliver on time, and make sure the order is in good condition. If you follow these basic recommendations, you will see a lot of differences in customer ratings. 

Customers are likely to reciprocate when good service is provided. Your overall rating is an average of the ratings from your last 100 deliveries.

Ratings matter more when you get closer to that 4.2 cutoff rating. It's not ideal, but if this happens, be sure to only take on orders that you are sure you can deliver successfully.

What Do You Need to Become a DoorDash Driver?

All you need is a driver’s license a vehicle that passes inspection. Most dashers use a car, so our discussion on the costs will also be more focused on those cars. 

There is no specific requirement degree requirement or anything like that to become a dasher. Nor does your educational background matter.

The minimum requirement is age (18 years or older), and you must pass a background check. There is an orientation process that you must go through. As soon as this is over, you can be on the road working as a Dasher. 

Understanding traffic routes in your city goes a long way towards increasing your efficiency as a dasher.

Plus, there are costs involved in working as a DoorDash delivery driver. Your DoorDash earning potential can go in either direction, depending on cost-optimization strategies. 

Read on to understand the cost of working as a dasher and how it can affect your earning potential. 

Cost of Becoming a DoorDash Driver? 

Dashing involves some costs. The biggest portion of the pie goes to gas and insurance, including commercial insurance. Here is a guide to help you understand the best insurance for delivery drivers

Costs will be higher if you are using your car instead of a scooter or a bicycle. Using a car is safer than other options, plus you can ensure the intact delivery of the food when you are working on four wheels. 

The cost of gas is a daily expense. The more you drive, the higher the cost of gas is. It's important to track these expenses on a daily basis.

Gas costs are one of the reasons why you need to be selective in accepting orders. Initially, you will want to accept all the orders and deliver them, because there is an urge to earn more. However, a 5-mile drive, which pays only $2 and no tip, is not worth it. It's best to avoid orders like this.

Another cost is your taxes. You are not an employee of DoorDash, but only a contractor. DoorDash does not file taxes for you. This is something you have to do yourself.  

All your earnings are taxable. Consider these costs alongside others to know your final payout. With your earnings, DoorDash will provide you with a form 1099, which is needed to declare your earnings. 

DoorDash has a Fast Pay Program, wherein you will be charged an extra fee if you want to get your payment earlier than the standard payout day. Our recommendation is that you don't use this option unless you need the money urgently. Otherwise, it will cost you $1.99. Lastly, as a driver, sometimes you have to pay for parking. 

Tips and Tricks to Increase your DoorDash Earning Potential

That was an introduction to the different cogs that make up the DoorDash machine. Now, for the most important part.

Here is how you can increase your DoorDash earnings. 

The entire section includes different methods, tips, and tricks collected from DoorDash drivers.  

Location, Location, Location

Find the zip code in your city that has the highest value housing and residential areas.

Work in these areas, and you will get higher DoorDash earnings. 

The area you choose to work in matters to a great extent for DoorDash earning potential. 

This is because more orders means more deliveries, which means more money.

Imagine yourself living downtown, and you have to make X amount just to cover rent. Then, you will have other expenses as well, not to mention tuition, if you are a student. 

You, like many other people in the area are trying to make ends meet. They also want to save money and not pay an extra $5 on a $4 food order. Tips are proportional to the amount spent on food, so you can expect to learn less on lower value orders.

Plus, parking is a disaster in tightly packed areas. In highly dense cities, it could sometimes cost more than what you'd stand to earn from an order itself. Plus, if you do not find the right parking spot on time, the delivery will be delayed, which could jeaordize your rating and your tip as well.

The better way is to choose high value residential blocks for deliveries. Suburbs and residential areas are usually a good bet. They may also have free parking!

Find the high-value residential areas in your city and work the hours when orders are in demand.

The costs of delivering orders in these areas also increase as you might have to travel a greater distance from the restaurant to the address, but the trip is worth it if you receive a higher tip. 

Also, if you are taking orders from a high-end restaurant, you can expect to receive a higher tip as well. The logic is that if a customer can afford to pay more for their food, they can spare some money for your tip as well. 

DoorDash gives customers the option of tipping a predetermined percentage, based on the overall cost of the food.

To sum it up, choose areas with a high cost of living. Find the spots with the most restaurants concentrated in a few blocks and start dashing from there. 

Find Out the Best Time to Deliver Orders (Dash)

This tip works for all sorts of delivery drivers and not just DoorDashers. Time is money. Understand this, and make sure to remember it every day before you go out dashing. 

The more time you take to deliver one order, the less time you will have throughout the day.

If you are doing 20 deliveries a day and wasting three minutes on every delivery, that means you'll work for one less hour and miss out on three potential orders. 

With the emergence of no-contact delivery, things have become a lot easier for the delivery drivers and restaurants. All you have to do is put the order at the door and leave, take a picture to use as proof. But that’s it!

You don’t have to talk or chitchat with the customer to get a better tip. Customers care more about timeliness and accuracy.

Here are a few more tips about when to work.

6:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Try this out if you're an early bird. This is when people order breakfast, and they are in a rush to get to work. So, they will prefer fast deliveries. You can capitalize on this to increase your DoorDash earnings. 

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

During lunchtime, orders are usually concentrated in office and commercial areas. Make sure to give this a try as well. Look for areas with lots of restaurants to start your orders. You might have issues finding parking in such areas, so work accordingly. Full-time dashers never miss lunchtime deliveries and neither should you! 

5:00 PM to 9:00 PM

These four hours are prime time for a dasher and every other delivery service, plus the restaurants. You will get most of working during these hours. Capitalize on this by trying out different parts of your city to find out which is best. 

Post 10:00 PM Deliveries

Tips tend to increase during late-night hours, especially in cities with many single-family homes. It's no secret that parties and occasions where customers are drinking may be prone to paying out exceptionally good tips.

Of course, this could also come with additional complications that are not always desirable.

Some experienced dashers find this time the most profitable. Things can be different in your city, but it wouldn’t hurt to try working these hours at least a few times.

The point is to discover which work hours are most rewarding, while fitting into your lifestyle as well.

Oce you've figured out what hours work best for you, start scheduling your time accordingly.

Don’t Chase Orders - Chase Time

This pointer is consistent with the ones above. 'Chasing orders' basically means taking on all orders possible, irrespective of when they are, how small their are, or where they are.

This is a surefire way to waste your time, while leaving better opportunities on the table that other, more experienced drivers will take advantage of.

Never do this. You may think that this is the best way to increase your DoorDash earning potential, but it’s not. Working during peak hours is the best way to maxmize the value of your time.

Not every city will have starkly different peak hours, but there can be some differences, especially when different time zones are considered. The benefit of working in peak hours is that you can earn up to $150 to $200 in 3 to 4 hours on a Saturday. 

You cannot earn this amount chasing orders on a Tuesday for the entire day. Imagine the difference! Three hours vs. 8 to 10 hours of sitting behind the wheel. 

That’s why experienced dashers don't chase orders. They align their work time with peak hours. 

There is no better time to work than dinner time. Find out when people in your city like to eat dinner, because this may vary from place to place!

Promotions During Peak Hours

DoorDash gives extra money when you work during peak hours. As the number of orders increases during these hours, the company doesn’t want its customers to wait for a long time to get their food. 

So, DoorDash pays extra to incentize more drivers to work during the busy hours. You need to leverage this opportunity and work in these hours to get the benefit. The extra pay ranges between $2 to $5 per order.

Saturday and Sunday evenings are something special. We have heard some dashers say that they work on weekends during peak time and one or two days during the week. They still make more money these days compared to what others make working throughout the week. 

So, although this is a gig economy job, that doesn't necessarily mean you should work whenever you feel like it! You'll have to work the hours that are highly rewarded to maximize your income. 

Learn to Decline Orders Selectively

Yes, we are asking you avoid working certain hours. One of the many reasons for you to be selective in your orders is simple; not every order is worth the trip. Once you have accepted an order, you have got to deliver it, and you won’t get any new orders until the first one is complete. 

Here’s how to select the orders. Every time you receive a request, you will get four things listed: restaurant, earnings, order value, and distance to the restaurant. 

You will also see a map showing your locatrion as well as that of the restaurant and the delivery location. DoorDash gives you 90 seconds before the same request jumps off to another dasher. 

Understand the work that needs to be done here. Look at the time and distance you need to travel to deliver the order. If the distance and time does not justify the payout, don’t accept it. Remember, you have to pay for the gas yourself. 

Also, check take a look at the delivery location. Does the pay seem right for you to have to drive that distance? If yes, then you can move ahead with the delivery. While doing so, remember that DoorDash asks you to choose an area where you want to dash. 

So, if your delivery is in another zone, you must choose “End Dash” in your existing region and then start “Dash Now” in the region you are going to. This will save you the trip back to your original region. This applies only if the opportunities in the other area are better. 

The last filter is “ease of doing this delivery.” Do you have to carry 4 to 6 bags of food and 10 soda cans up the stairs or into a complex housing building? If yes, then it is better to decline that order. 

Dashing is not always about the money. Other factors are involved, and ignoring them could cause you more trouble than it's worth.

New Dashers get worried about their acceptance rate. But the acceptance rate does not make a difference on your DoorDash earning potential. So, keep on declining those orders until you get some high-paying ones. 

There is a Reddit forum that we found named “Declining shit orders.” DoorDash drivers collectively decline low-paying orders so that the company has to raise payouts in general. 

Following this, a #DeclineNow strategy was put into place with a similar motive. This movement is aimed at pushing the base pay up for the dashers by exercising your right to decline any order on the platform. 

Accepting an order may be tempting, but you need to be smart if you want to earn more with DoorDash. So, learn the art of selective decline, and you will be better off. 

Find Offers and Promos for Gas

Money saved is money earned. At the end of the day, you need to deduct your expenses from your earnings to find your net earnings. As a Dasher, gas plus insurance is going to be your highest cost. 

So, what you must do is find ways to save money on gas. DoorDash has partnered up with GetUpside, which is a mobile app that provides promos and discounts on gas. You can get between 15 and 50 cents off for every gallon purchased.

Sharing the app with others using your referral link gets you another 15 cents off, if they use it. Lastly, for a Dasher, there is an extra 20 cents off. 

So, you are looking for a discount of 50 cents to $1 for every gallon, you should use this application. It may not seem like a lot, but it definitely adds up, especially if you will be using four to five gallons of gas for every 100 to 125 miles traveled. 

Dash in Snow, Rain, and Storm to Earn More

This is a bit risky, but it will earn you more money. People don’t like to go out during rain or snow or in bad weather. They are more likely to stay home and order food. This can become your window of opportunity. 

Since the number of Dashers working in bad weather is less and orders tend to rise, bad weather dashing earns peak pay.

Plus, in bad weather, customer ratings are not considered.  

Working as a Dasher requires some research and experience. Do not expect to make record earnings on day one. It will take time, but you will get there with the top DoorDash Dasher earnings club. 

The central point of all the discussion above is that you need to understand your city and its people to make good money. Once you understand them, locate the regions with high-value neighborhoods, you're ready to dash around the restaurants in that area. 

Avoid dashing between hotspots. Stay a little outside of that perimeter, and you will get more quality orders near residential single-family homes. Don’t forget to dash on the weekends and use the GetUpside application to reduce the cost of gas. 

DoorDash Drivers Earnings in the USA, Compared

All across the USA, different Dashers have different earnings and potential. Every city is built differently. Some have high-value homes and residential areas, while others aren't quite as good. 

You must take on the task of finding out where are the most expensive areas in your city and start delivering orders for people there. 

These are the cities where DoorDash has the highest market share. This means that 74% of people in San Francisco routinely use DoorDash delivery services to get their orders. 

As a Dasher, if you live in San Francisco, you will naturally have a higher DoorDash earning potential because the numbers of users are enormous. Such factors come into play while understanding how to maximize your cash as a DoorDash driver. 

Let’s compare these with the city-based earnings of DoorDash drivers.

To some extent, a Dasher’s earnings and city-wise DoorDash company earnings align. In New York, the company has a smaller market share, but its dashers nonetheless earn more than those in most other cities. 

This means that DoorDash gets fewer orders from New York (34%), but they are high-paying orders making the Dashers more money ($56,041 per year). Earnings in New York are roughly equal to those in San Francisco, a city with a 74% share of orders coming to DoorDash. 

Dashers earn double in New York what they earn in San Francisco. This is how a city makes a difference. 

Some Useful Tips from Dashers Who Have or Are About to Complete 10,000 Deliveries

Completing 10,000 DoorDash deliveries is some feat to accomplish. Dashers who have been able to do that may have traveled thousands of miles and delivered to all types of customers. 

Here are some of the things these dashers would share with new DoorDash drivers. 

Manage your Expectations

Experienced Dashers claim that dashing is an addictive job, mostly because of the money involved. If on your first day of dashing, you make $100 bucks, great! On the second day, you could make the same amount, but as the day goes by, you start to learn and anticipate things. 

When dashers start earning daily, they might expect consistent earnings. This thought process quickly turns into a qualifying aspect, “I will be productive if I earn $150 a day.” It's important to temper your expectations when you're just starting out.

Don’t Wait Until the Pickup Time

As soon as you get the order, head directly to the pick-up location. Make yourself known when you arrive!  

You may have to wait a few moments if there is a line or if there is some issue with the staff. So, don't waste any time in getting there!

Also, be sure to be friendly with the restaurant staff. They should tell you exactly how much more time it will take to process your order. Use the extra time to deliver another order if you can. It takes practice to master the art of stacked orders. 

Lastly, Dashers have the option to Dash out of their State. There is a process to it. Learn it, and try dashing out of state for a change. 

These are a few things that you can start doing from the get-go. Be ready to face some challenges along the way and be smart enough to navigate the system correctly.  

Also, dashing is not always just a part-time gig anymore. People have turned it into a business, and one example of that is tandem dashing. 

Tandem Dashing

Tandem Dashing means you can dash with another person in the car. Here is how it works. Out of the two people in the car, one is the runner, and the other is the driver. The runner runs around the restaurants picking up orders, and makes the final trip from the car to the delivery address. 

The driver, in the meantime, waits or moves the car around to avoid parking fees. There are perks and some drawbacks to this form of dashing. Money is an issue, probably the biggest one. 

With tandem dashing, you can clear more orders, but whatever you earn must be split after deducting the costs. To make it work, you need to build a robust strategy as to how you can cover more ground and deliver more orders with teamwork. 

Conclusion

Working as a Dasher is nothing short of a business, and it should not be approached like a set of mindless tasks.

There are other factors involved, and you need to consider them to build your business. 

Money isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Yes, earning money is the ultimate goal, but there is a way to earn more money with the resources you have. 

Follow our guide to increase your DoorDash earning potential, and you can be better off than most of the Dashers in your city.

Andrew Wise. Side Hustling since 2009
Andrew Wise, Side Hustler Since 2009
Founder, Wurk.cc
I have spent my entire adult life maximizing my money. At age 6, I was selling my lunch, at age 16, I was a Power Seller on eBay, and at age 26 I was helping Postmates manage their $10M annual Adwords budget. Today, I'm helping gig workers maximize their money on Wurk.
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