Updated January 2022
You want to be your own boss, set your own schedule, deliver when you want to and how you want to. You’ve heard tales of people making good money delivering with food delivery apps and think it might be worth a go. The good news is that you have many options for delivery app gigs to choose from.
A Few Basic Requirements
While some delivery gigs may come with additional requirements – and we’ll cover those when needed – to be a delivery driver, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Meet the minimum age requirement for your city
- Have access to a vehicle
- Have a valid driver’s license and insurance
- Own a smartphone (iPhone or Android)
Additionally, if you want to also deliver groceries – use Shipt Shoppers, for example – you need to be able to lift at least 40 lbs. (According to their website, Instacart shoppers are required to be able to lift at least 50 lbs with or without accommodation.)
Beyond those simple and basic requirements, grocery delivery and delivery apps are open to anyone and everyone to sign up. They are an increasingly popular side hustle for people with a valid driver’s license who want to make money in today’s gig economy.
In no particular order, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the best delivery apps to deliver with.
Dispelling a Few Myths
In order to give you an objective factual representation of the best food delivery apps, it’s important to dispel a few myths that are circulating on the web about the food delivery business.
You Can Make Your Own Schedule
You can deliver when you want to. If you want to maximize your earnings delivering food, you might need to deliver during the lunch rush and dinner rush. If you are interested in delivering groceries, you have a bit more flexibility, as orders tend to come in with more frequency and with no respect to any particular time slot.
You Need to Own Your Own Reliable Vehicle
As surprising as it may sound, you don’t actually need to own a vehicle to deliver food. In fact, in many instances, it may be favorable not to use your own vehicle. While it’s still a good idea to have auto insurance, you can rent a car for the day or week through apps such as HyreCar.
When you rent a car to deliver food, you don’t need to worry about vehicle depreciation, and you can benefit from low ride-sharing car insurance.
You Will Make a Lot of Money in Tips
This means that tipping was not available within the app when it launched, as it could inflate the perceived cost of the service. For this reason, many users are not accustomed to leaving tips.
However, since its launch, Uber Eats has changed its app’s functionality, making tipping an easy and highly visible option. Other delivery apps have followed suit. So, slowly but surely, users are getting into the habit of tipping their delivery drivers, but you shouldn’t expect to receive a tip in all of your deliveries.
The Best Delivery Apps to Deliver with
How much one delivery app pays over another will depend on several market values, including which city or state you are in. And how positive an experience it will be for you depends on so many uncontrollable and unforeseeable factors that it doesn’t make sense to present the list of best delivery apps in any hierarchy.
A popular food delivery app in the US, Uber Eats makes it relatively easy for delivery drivers to get started. To qualify in most cities, you need to be at least 18-years old to deliver by bike or on foot. You need to have a valid driver’s license and insurance. And you’ll need to complete the background check process.
Like any app-based delivery platform, the pay rate varies from location to location and from time frame to time frame. The amount of money you can make per delivery also depends on other factors – the price of the order, the time spent, the distance traveled when the order was placed, and any promotions that may apply. Depending on the service you provide and the generosity of your customers, you can expect to make extra money in tips, too.
There are a number of wide-ranging claims as to just how much money drivers can expect to make delivering food with this app. There are too many variables involved to give an accurate estimate.
A consistent stream of orders – Uber Eats is a very popular food delivery app, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Instant payout – You don’t need to wait until the end of the month or even until the end of the week. You can cash out up to five times per day, with Instant Pay. Terms apply
Frequently available promotions – These promotions include, but are not limited to, payouts when you complete a set number of deliveries in a given time frame. Check the app for available promotions in your area.
Referral bonuses – Send a customer or a driver to Uber Eats and get a reward.
Waiting at the restaurant – It can be quite frustrating when you arrive at a restaurant to pick up an order and then have to wait and wait and wait. And you could spend a considerable amount of time waiting for your order to be ready before you can head off on your delivery.
Insulated delivery bags are not provided – Unlike with the other popular food delivery apps DoorDash. Uber Eats does not give their delivery drivers free insulated bags that keep the food either warm. You might choose to spend around $25 to $60 or risk disappointing customers with lukewarm food and suffer the consequences of low customer ratings and low tips.
Despite its flaws, Uber Eats is a good app to deliver with. In order to really make it worth your while though, you will need to put in the hours and get familiar with their Boost Incentives (which delivery times and delivery zones pay a premium).
If you’re looking to make money as a delivery driver, you should sign up to deliver with Uber Eats. But you don’t need to deliver with Uber Eats exclusively – nor should you. Drivers often take on several delivery gigs at the same time. That way, they can take advantage of peak times and promotions, which might differ from delivery service to delivery service.
Postmates offers opportunities for drivers who are at least 18-years old to make some extra money. While most deliveries with Postmates are for food, they offer their users more than just the option for food delivery. As a delivery driver with Postmates, you also have the opportunity to pick up products from stores – that could be anything from electronics to clothes. Some things are not available for delivery like pets, people, weapons, or anything illegal.
Expanded shopping options – Since Postmates is more than a food delivery app, you have the opportunity to deliver non-food items from a variety of different stores. This means that while some food delivery apps can experience a lull between lunch and dinner times, you don’t have to be inactive. You can fulfill non-food delivery orders if they are available.
Limited markets – Postmates is quite popular in some locations while, in others, it is either rarely used or non-existent.
Whether Postmates is the best food delivery app on the market or not is up for debate – and dependent on which market we’re evaluating. However, if you do decide to deliver food as a way to earn money, you should definitely include Postmates on the list of delivery gigs you’re signing up for.
On its own, Postmates might not receive enough requests for drivers to make a decent living; but used in conjunction with other delivery apps, you could round out your income quite nicely.
Like with most of the best-paying delivery jobs, GrubHub has its fair share of proponents as well as its detractors. Depending on the city or town you live in, working for GrubHub alone might not be enough.
Their system for drivers is quite different than similar apps on the market, which may or may not suit you. For example, to work for GrubHub, you will need to sign up for shifts in advance. This means that if the work is slow, you can’t log off and do something else with your time – you’re still on the clock.
While signing up for shifts in advance does mean that you lose a bit in terms of schedule flexibility, GrubHub does guarantee a minimum wage in most markets. (The minimum guaranteed wage they offer depends on the market you live in.)
Guaranteed minimum earnings – This advantage is not available in all markets. It depends on how much traffic GrubHub generates in a given location and if that location has a minimum wage law. Additionally, to take advantage of this benefit, you need to accept all delivery requests that you receive during your chosen shift.
Increased earnings for maintaining a good record – To a large extent, GrubHub works on an incentive-rich basis. They divide their delivery drivers into 3 categories. If you maintain perfect attendance and a high acceptance rate of the deliveries you’re offered (85% or higher), you can access the upper categories and increase your income.
Less flexibility – Technically, you don’t need to schedule your shift in advance (or, as GrubHub calls them – blocks). You can simply toggle on to the app whenever you are free to deliver. However, while this is an option, GrubHub does not encourage this. And if you don’t schedule your shifts in advance, you won’t maximize your earnings, and you may miss out on chances to deliver.
Independent contractor status – When you deliver food for a delivery service, you are considered an independent contractor. (This is the case for all the food delivery apps mentioned in this article.) This means that you are responsible for paying any insurance – employment and medical – and you are responsible for filing your year-end income tax report.
When you calculate your earnings, don’t forget that the food delivery service app you’re working for doesn’t take out any taxes. You will have to do that yourself, and, depending on your location and the specifics of your situation, the taxes can be quite high.
With GrubHub, you’re sacrificing some flexibility for a slightly more reliable income stream. Depending on where you live and what your priorities are, this may be a worthwhile exchange. However, it’s worth pointing out that because you need to sign up for shifts (or ‘blocks’) in advance, you won’t be able to work with or try out several delivery apps at the same time. Working with GrubHub is pretty much a de facto exclusive work relationship.
DoorDash is one of the very first food delivery apps on the market, dating back to 2012. Since then, DoorDash has developed a good reputation both in the eyes of its users and, for the most part, the drivers that choose to work for them. It’s easy to sign up for DoorDash and start making money.
Guaranteed minimum earnings – Unlike some of their competitors, DoorDash offers their drivers a minimum guaranteed earning. However, while this may sound appealing, it’s worth noting that they only offer a guaranteed minimum hourly rate during peak delivery times. So, for all intents and purposes, you would be likely to surpass that minimum anyway.
Schedule flexibility – Drivers who work for DoorDash have the option of logging on to the service when they want or signing up for shifts in advance. And they don’t penalize drivers for not signing up for shifts.
More flexibility in accepting deliveries or not – Unlike their competitors, DoorDash does not penalize (or disincentivize) their drivers when they frequently refuse a delivery request. This is a particularly nice advantage if you live in a city or town with neighborhoods you don’t care to venture into. A low acceptance rate of orders received will not have an effect on future order possibilities, nor will it lead to being deactivated or booted from the app.
Inconsistent workload – A frequent complaint made by drivers who work with DoorDash is the relative inconsistency of deliveries they can make. How much of a problem this is for you will largely depend on the city or town you live in. However, it’s worth noting that in reading the many reviews and posts offered by DoorDash drivers, the lack of any consistent workflow ranks high on their lists of downsides of working with DoorDash.
Depreciation of your vehicle’s value – When you work as a delivery driver, by definition, you will put a lot of miles on your car. Not only will you need to pay for the fuel you consume, but the wear and tear on your car will inevitably lead to the need to have your vehicle serviced or repaired more frequently. Additionally, the added mileage will translate to a lower resale value if or when you decide to sell your car.
This complaint is not exclusive to DoorDash. (Drivers for all the various delivery apps mention this as a significant downside.) But it is a disadvantage that can easily be removed from the equation – don’t use your own car. It’s possible to rent a car for the day, week, or month and use the rented car to make money delivering food. Of course, you’ll need to pay for the rental, but you will avoid the high long-term costs associated with vehicle depreciation.
While DoorDash does have its fair share of detractors and disgruntled drivers, the reviews of the service left by those who have used it tends to be quite positive (at a higher frequency than similar apps on the market).
Depending on where you live and your financial needs, it’s unlikely that DoorDash will provide you with enough work. But you should consider using it in conjunction with other delivery apps if you want to deliver food full-time.
Instacart Shopper, Amazon Flex, and Shipt Shopper
Pros of Amazon Flex
Not all deliveries need to come from a restaurant. Some apps, such as Instacart Shopper and Shipt Shopper, allow for grocery delivery. Amazon Flex, on the other hand, is simply a delivery service where you pick up packages from your local Amazon location and deliver them to the customer’s doorstep.
Very little wait time – Since you don’t need to place an order or wait for the order to be prepared, you don’t have to suffer the inconvenience of standing around waiting at the restaurant for your order to be ready.
Odor-free cargo – After making dozens of hot-food deliveries, your car can begin to smell like an overused kitchen. This isn’t the case with Amazon Flex, where none of the deliveries involve hot food.
Cons of Amazon Flex
Physically demanding – While no individual package you deliver will be excessively heavy or cumbersome, if you do many deliveries in one day, the accumulative weight really does add up. If you’re not used to carrying boxes, you could find yourself physically exhausted at the end of the day.
Higher age requirement – Unlike other delivery services where you only need to be 18 years of age to get started, with Amazon Flex, the minimum age for drivers is 21.
Pros of Instacart Shopper and Shipt Shopper
Customer service – These apps require you to be more in contact with the customer (notably, to discuss substitution options) than other food-delivery apps require. This could allow you to hone your customer service skills, determine if customer service is something that interests you, and eventually put it on your resume for future customer service positions.
Discovering a variety of products – Everyone has to shop for groceries, but it’s easy to fall into a rut. When you are tasked with shopping for and delivering groceries for other people, you will invariably learn a lot about the variety of products and produce available.
Cons of Instacart Shopper and Shipt Shopper
Reduction of orders after 4 weeks – Many drivers complain that the number of orders they received significantly dropped after 4 weeks of using the service. This might be due to the app wanting to appear more attractive to new drivers – focusing more on recruitment than retention.
Stress in finding suitable replacement products – Shoppers who use these apps frequently complain about the added stress when it comes to fulfilling orders, and the items the customer wants are not available. In these situations, you need to contact the customer and discuss various replacement options. This can either be a welcome challenge or a frustrating hassle, depending on your disposition.
Variety is the spice of life. And when you set out to make money using delivery apps, it’s best to explore all your options. There are specific difficulties or challenges to working with Instacart Shopper, Amazon Flex, and Shipt Shopper that you won’t come across with strict food-only delivery apps. However, these difficulties or challenges could add much-needed variety to your workweek.
It is possible to make money using food delivery apps (otherwise, they wouldn’t be as popular as they are). You do need to keep in mind that you will need to pay your own taxes and insurance. Also, it’s worth noting that you could add a hefty amount of wear and tear to your vehicle.
Eliminate the cost of vehicle depreciation. Consider renting a vehicle through Hyrecar.
Additionally, it can be a bit overwhelming, tracking your mileage, tax deductions, and earnings. Consider using a delivery drivers assistant app like Gridwise or Hurdlr to take some of the headaches away from these tasks. Also, keep your options open. Browse all the freelance opportunities available in your area with Steady. Or, rent out your space for storage with Neighbor.
If you decide to devote your efforts exclusively to food delivery apps, you don’t need to commit to only one app. Try them all out and find the one that works best for you, in your market, and with your specific priorities.