How Much Does DoorDash Pay? I Tried Delivering to Find Out

Tommy Tindall
By Tommy Tindall 
Published
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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Looking to the gig economy to make some side money? If you’re considering delivery jobs, you’ve probably thought about DoorDash given its popularity. I’m Tommy, a NerdWallet personal finance writer, and I moonlighted as a DoorDash delivery driver for a week to find out if it’s worth it.

I worked in a suburb of Baltimore, used my own vehicle and delivered everything from burgers and tacos to poke bowls and auto parts. I chose to dash — the DoorDash term for a shift — on weekdays during lunchtime.

Here’s how I did:

  • I made $86 over the course of three dashes that totaled 6.5 hours.

  • I put 90 miles on my personal vehicle, a full-size pickup truck. 

  • At an average rate of 17 mpg and with gas going for around $3.60 per gallon at the time, I racked up $19 in fuel expenses. 

  • Subtract that from $86, and I earned $67 after expenses, or $10.31 per hour. 

A part-time job in Maryland that pays the $15 basic minimum wage rate could be more lucrative but probably not as flexible. The average Dasher spends less than four hours a week on delivery, according to DoorDash’s internal data from 2022.

The ability to make money on the fly is the appeal of this side hustle, even if it’s just a few bucks. Here’s what I took away from the test. I also filmed my Dasher experience if you’d rather watch than read.

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7 takeaways while delivering takeout

1. Sign-up was a cinch

I downloaded the Dasher app and logged in with my existing DoorDash account (the one I use to order food). I followed prompts to enter my vehicle details, scan my driver’s license, take a selfie and authorize a background check. Within minutes, my background check was complete and I was cleared to dash. DoorDash says background checks are typically done in a day but can take longer.

2. More restaurants means more action

I studied the Dasher app before I hit the road, monitoring order volume in my town. A heat map in the app gives a real-time look at activity in your area. As you’d expect, it’s busiest during lunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dinner (4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.), and areas with more restaurants have more action and show red on the map.

My smallish town was never slammed and sometimes showed gray in the map (meaning the ability to dash right away was not available), but certain pockets became moderately busy around lunchtime. I completed 11 deliveries in the 6.5 hours I worked over three days, but might have been able to take more if I were delivering in a busier, more densely populated area.

3. Customer tips made up half of my earnings

Earning by delivery is pretty straightforward. You get a base rate that reflects time, distance and desirability of the offer, plus tips and any promotions, such as a “peak pay” bonus on orders during a busy stretch. Base pay tends to be higher on longer-distance delivery offers that require more time.

I didn’t get any peak pay bonuses but did well on tips. In fact, 50% of my total earnings came from tips. I’m not sure if it made a difference, but I tried to move quickly, handle food with care and be as pleasant as possible when I handed an order directly to a customer. As a full-time remote worker, I enjoyed the interaction. Plus, the DoorDash app allows customers to add to the tip up to 30 days after the order.

4. You can earn by the “hour” in some cities

Rather than roll the dice on per-delivery pay, you can choose to earn a set hourly rate (plus any tips) in select cities. On one dash, for example, I had the option to select a $16.75 hourly rate. I opted against it because I read the fine print. The DoorDash website explains you only get paid for the time spent “actively” making deliveries in this mode, which excludes the time in between orders. I earned $21.50 that day for an hour and two minutes of “active” time.

5. This side hustle pays (and costs)

I chose to be paid on a weekly basis when I signed up. I did my first dash on a Thursday and the $23.25 I earned hit my bank account via direct deposit the following Tuesday. DoorDash also offers an option to cash out after each dash with its DasherDirect prepaid Visa card.

My primary vehicle is a full-size pickup truck, and I watched my average mpg decrease with each jaunt. A more economical (and compact) vehicle would have improved my earnings and overall experience. I pulled into the wrong driveway on one delivery and had to make a 10-point turn to get out. In some markets you can go greener with a motorcycle, scooter or bike.

6. Taxes are your responsibility

DoorDash does not automatically withhold taxes. Dashers are considered independent contractors, and those who earn $600 or more receive a 1099-NEC (Nonemployee compensation) for filing taxes, and can explore self-employment tax deductions.

“One of the most important tax deductions for gig drivers is their mileage deduction,” said Robert Finley, a certified financial advisor in Chicago, in an email.

You use deductions to lower your amount of taxable income. The current IRS mileage rate for self-employed workers is 67 cents a mile. DoorDash may provide an annual mileage estimate, but you should keep your own records. Finley recommended finding an app to make tracking delivery miles automatic and accurate.

7. Flexibility is the name of the game

I could have done better if I was open to inconveniencing myself.

It was just after 7 p.m. on a Sunday evening, and a Dasher app notification let me know activity was unusually high in my town. I could have crushed it with an influx of orders and a peak pay bonus had I gone out right then. But I wasn’t feeling it. It was Sunday night, I was tired, hungry and had kids to bathe.

As a DoorDash delivery driver — especially if you're doing it for extra income — it’ll likely be your down time, family time or fun time you have to give up to earn the most.

If you’re OK with that, you’ll probably do better than I did. And if you’re successful, you may be able to up your monthly savings with this side hustle.

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