Driving for a living doesn’t always mean becoming a taxi driver or long-haul trucker. With the rise of the gig economy and on-demand services, there are now many ways regular people can earn extra cash simply by using their own cars to deliver food, packages and more right in their own communities.
This can be a flexible side hustle, great for students, stay at home parents or anyone looking to supplement their income. Read on to learn all about the options, requirements, pay rates and tips for getting started making money by driving for delivery apps and services.
An Overview of Driving for Delivery Apps and Services
Here are some of the most popular delivery driving gigs:
- Food Delivery – Apps like UberEats, DoorDash and Grubhub pay drivers to pick up and deliver restaurant meals. You’ll earn per order plus tips.
- Grocery Delivery – Instacart and Shipt drivers shop and deliver groceries and household items. Get paid per order plus tips.
- Package Delivery – Become an Amazon Flex driver and earn $18-25/hour to deliver Amazon packages from a warehouse.
- Parcel Delivery – Apps like Roadie allow drivers to deliver packages, luggage, medicine, pet supplies and more between locations.
- Alcohol Delivery – Drizly, Saucey and Minibar drivers must be 21+ and deliver beer, wine and spirits to customers.
- Vehicle Sharing – Make money renting your car out on Turo or Getaround when you’re not using it.
Requirements to Drive for Delivery Apps
To start earning, there are some basic requirements:
- Driver’s License – Have a valid driver’s license and clean driving record. Some services require 1-2 years of experience.
- Car – Have a 4-door, reliable vehicle insured in your name. Must pass inspection for delivery apps.
- Smartphone – Have an iPhone or Android phone to run the delivery apps. May need a mount/charger.
- Background Check – Consent to a criminal record check. Driving history and insurance status will be verified.
- Registration – Download the app(s), register as a driver, and get approved before starting.
Vehicle Requirements and Insurance
You don’t need a fancy car to deliver food or packages, but it does need to meet some basic criteria:
- For food delivery, a compact or mid-size 4-door sedan is best. Apps may require a 2002 or newer model.
- Delivery vehicles should be in good condition with no cosmetic damage. Interiors should be clean and odor-free.
- Your auto insurance provider needs to cover you for food delivery or commercial driving. Most standard policies don’t! Adding a rideshare rider costs $100-$200 extra per month.
How Much Can You Earn Driving for Delivery Apps?
Income varies a lot depending on which service you drive for, and when, where and how frequently you drive. Here are some averages:
- Food delivery drivers typically earn $10-$20 per hour including tips. Minimum payout per order is around $2-$5.
- Amazon Flex drivers earn $18-$25 per hour. Hourly guarantees depend on demand.
- Instacart pays $7-$20+ per grocery order, but shoppers spend 30-60 minutes in stores per order.
- Roadie drivers earn 45-65% of the delivery fee for each gig. Average fee is $8-$20 depending on distance.
- Turo takes 25% of what car owners charge per rental. Getaround takes 40%. Average earnings per rental are $50-$150.
Pro tip: Sign up for multiple apps like DoorDash and UberEats to get more orders coming in. Only accept profitable gigs with upfront tips.
Gas, Taxes and Other Delivery Driver Expenses
Don’t forget about these costs:
- Gas – At 20 MPG and $4/gallon, driving 100 miles costs $20 in fuel. Long deliveries add up fast.
- Car Maintenance – Oil changes, new tires and repairs are deductible. Budget for extra maintenance costs.
- Insurance – Rideshare insurance costs $100-$200 extra per month to be covered while driving for apps.
- Taxes – You’re an independent contractor so taxes aren’t withheld. Save 20-30% for income taxes and self-employment taxes.
Use mileage tracking apps like Stride, Everlance or Triplog so you can write off mileage on your taxes. Deduct other costs like car washes, phone mounts, insulated bags and monthly cell service too.
Scheduling and Maximizing Earnings
Here are some tips for earning the most possible:
- Drive during peak times – Late mornings to afternoons, evenings and weekends tend to be busiest for food orders. Early morning (6-9 AM) is best for Amazon Flex.
- Multi-app – Run multiple apps at once to get more orders. Pause ones that are slow.
- Acceptance rate – You can reject orders, but avoid going below 75-80% acceptance or you risk being deactivated.
- Group orders – Where available, opt into Walmart and grocery orders with multiple dropoffs to maximize earnings.
- Quest bonuses – Meet trip minimums during busy windows to earn UberEats and Lyft bonuses.
- Utilization rate – Minimize unpaid downtime between orders and miles driven without orders. Stick near busy zones.
Signing Up and Getting Approved to Drive
The application process isn’t too stringent since demand for drivers is high. Here’s how to apply:
- Download the app(s) you want to drive for. Common options are DoorDash, UberEats, Instacart, Uber/Lyft (for passengers), Amazon Flex, GoPuff and more.
- Submit your info – name, contact details, driver’s license, car details like model year and insurance.
- Consent to background check and moving violations reports. May have to submit proof of insurance.
- Attend an onboarding meeting or webinar if required. Some apps require watching training videos.
- Get approved and start driving! The whole process usually takes 1-2 weeks.
- Complete orientation deliveries to get familiar with the app. Then you can work open shifts.
Getting Set Up for Delivery Driving Success
Invest in some essential gear to work efficiently and safely:
- Phone mount – Secure your smartphone to your dash and have the delivery apps ready to go.
- Portable charger – Plug into your power outlet to charge on the go and avoid low battery.
- Insulated bag – A must for food deliveries to keep orders hot and prevent spills/tampering.
- Flashlight – Helpful for house numbers in the dark.
- Safety gear – Keep a reflective vest, cones, first aid kit and emergency car kit on hand.
- Mileage app – Track miles for tax deductions. Apps like Stride do this automatically.
- Car Organization – Use dividers, trays and bags to neatly store drinks, small orders and personal items.
Maintaining Excellent Customer Service
To get great ratings and maximize your tips as a delivery driver:
- Communicate with customers about pickup and arrival times, delays, out of stock items etc.
- Follow delivery instructions carefully – entering gate codes, knocking vs ringing bell, etc.
- Keep hot food items hot with insulated bags. Check orders for accuracy.
- Be super polite and friendly, even when customers don’t reciprocate. Kill them with kindness!
- Dress neatly and appropriately. For food delivery, wear a company t-shirt if provided.
- Smile! You’re the face customers associate with the service so make it a positive experience.
- If an order is cancelled after pickup, Enjoy the free snacks or meals! Just don’t abuse this.
Safety Tips for Driving Solo
As a solo driver, here are some important safety tips:
- Only work in familiar areas you feel safe in, especially at night. Avoid high crime neighborhoods.
- Don’t enter homes or buildings. Leave orders at door.
- Carry pepper spray and a safety alarm. Don’t engage confrontational people.
- If you ever feel unsafe, call support and leave. Don’t risk a bad situation.
- Tell someone your route and check in with them. Share your location via your phone.
- Don’t leave car running unattended or valuables visible inside to avoid break-ins.
- Report damaged packages, food tampering or incidents to the delivery service immediately.
- Drive carefully to avoid accidents. Don’t rush for faster deliveries. Your safety comes first!
Alternatives to Driving for Delivery Apps
If working for on-demand delivery apps doesn’t appeal to you, consider these options:
- Pizza delivery driver – Major chains like Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s hire delivery drivers. Earn hourly wage plus cash tips.
- Newspaper or magazine delivery – Toss papers from your car at dawn. Subscription magazines are delivered monthly.
- Flower delivery – Local florists and national services need dependable drivers for floral arrangements.
- Pharmacy courier – Healthcare providers hire drivers to deliver medical supplies and prescriptions.
- Auto parts delivery – NAPA, Carquest, AutoZone and O’Reilly’s need drivers for wholesale parts delivery.
- Food distributor – Drive established routes delivering wholesale foods and beverages to restaurants and businesses.
Frequently Asked Questions About Driving for Delivery Apps and Services
How much does it cost to start driving for a delivery app?
There are minimal startup costs. Just having a relatively new smartphone and a qualifying car are the basic requirements. You may want to get a phone mount, insulated bag and other useful gear which costs $50-$100 total.
Can you make a real income delivering full time?
It depends on your market but in busy cities, you can potentially earn $700-$1,200 per week driving 30-50 hours for UberEats, DoorDash and similar apps. Part time 10-20 hours per week brings in $200-$500 typically.
Is delivering flexible with a full time job?
Yes, most delivery apps allow you to set your own schedule. You can drive evenings and weekends or squeeze in a couple hours between other obligations. Instacart offers the most schedule flexibility.
Is delivering food or packages better for earning potential?
Food delivery averages $15-$22 per hour after expenses while package delivery is $18-$25 per hour in most cases. Multi-apping between apps optimizes earnings. Grocery deliveries earn a bit less but involve less mileage.
What are the biggest expenses driving for apps?
Gas and vehicle wear and tear are the biggest costs. Also factor in taxes (save 20-30% of earnings), rideshare insurance ($100-$200 monthly) and maintenance like oil changes. Deductions help offset expenses.
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Is delivery driving safe?
It can be if you follow safety best practices like avoiding risky situations, notifying someone of your plans, bringing protection gear and focusing on driving safely. Choose orders in lower crime areas only. Don’t enter homes or linger in unsafe parking lots.
Can you get deactivated from delivery apps?
Yes, for serious violations like intoxication or tampering with orders. You may be suspended for low ratings, order disputes or a poor acceptance rate. Apps give warnings first and have an appeals process though.
Driving for delivery apps like DoorDash, UberEats and Instacart can be lucrative side income in the right market. It offers flexible work, a fun way to explore your city, and decent hourly pay after expenses.
Just be prepared for the costs and maximize your profits with tips above. Focus on stellar service and safety. Apps have high driver turnover so getting approved is fairly easy if you meet the basic requirements.
If you love driving, turn on some music or podcasts and give delivery gigs a try! With so many apps and options now, you can piece together a decent income delivering food, groceries, packages and more.
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