Earn Money on the Side as a Delivery Driver with Postmates

 

When I was in college, I’d earn a little extra money before breaks by offering rides to the airport for $30 per head. The airport was an hour away and most of the transit options were more expensive than my service. Since I had a car and some free time before exams, this was a great side hustle for me.

Fast forward two decades and the sharing economy and delivery apps have opened up a wide new world. Apps like Postmates offer great money-making options for motivated college students (and others) who have their own wheels. Now that Postmates is available in all 50 states, nearly everyone can take advantage of this money-making opportunity.

Unlike other delivery services, Postmates allows customers to order restaurant food, groceries, alcohol, or any other goods from a participating retailer. This means Postmates drivers have more opportunities to earn money–and not just during lunch and dinner rush.

Postmates allows drivers in all 50 states to deliver goods, which includes restaurant food, groceries, and other goods on their own schedule. Drivers do not have to sign up for shifts, just log on and drive when it’s convenient. Postmates drivers earn a base amount with each delivery, plus 100% of all tips.

Check out our Postmates review to learn how you can earn money as a delivery driver:

Signing Up with Postmates

Potential drivers in the Postmates Fleet are only a few clicks away from starting their new job. To join the fleet, you must be at least 18 years old and have access to an insured vehicle.

To get started, you can either download the Postmates fleet app, or visit their Postmates fleet website.

From there, you open an account with your email address. Postmates will ask for the following information from you:

  • Mailing address
  • City where you will make your deliveries
  • Vehicle type. Cars are supported in every city, and some locales also allow you to deliver on a motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, or your own two feet.
  • Driver’s license number (if you will be driving)

Postmates also asks you to authorize a background check and review their agreement for drivers.

Once you have uploaded a profile photo (so customers will know who to expect with their food) and set up your direct deposit, Postmates will mail you the Welcome Kit. This includes the insulated Postmates bag and your Prepaid Card. You will use this card to pay for any orders that have not been prepaid. When you activate your card on the app, that’s when Postmates will initiate the background check, and you will receive an email within 24-48 hours that you are ready to start delivering.

Postmates Fleet Price: Free It’s free to sign up and fast to get started. There are no fees or time commitments, so you take home 100% of what you earn every time you complete a delivery. Buy Now Postmates Fleet We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Driving with Postmates

Now you’re ready to start making some sweet delivery money!

One of the benefits of Postmates compared to similar delivery driving apps is that you don’t schedule shifts in advance. Instead, you simply log onto the Postmates fleet app whenever you have some time available. You can work as much or as little as you like.

Once you’ve logged on, you will receive a notification on your phone when there is a delivery available for you. If you’d like to take the delivery, just hit accept. You can also choose to auto-accept the next delivery that is offered. There are no penalties for declining a delivery.

After you have accepted your delivery, head to the restaurant or store, pick up the order, and take it to your customer. The app provides you with driving directions to both the retailer and the customer.

Unlike other delivery driving apps, Postmates does not ask customers to rate you on a 5-star rating system. This is to help protect drivers from getting negative feedback for issues outside of their control (like if the restaurant was out of an item). Instead, Postmates asks customers to give the entire delivery experience either a thumbs up or thumbs down. And their choice does not affect your ability to keep delivering for Postmates.

Delivering the Goods

The huge scope of delivery options is another major difference between Postmates and other delivery services.  In addition to restaurant food (which does appear to the be average Postmates driver’s bread and butter), you may be asked to deliver groceries, booze, or other goods. 

Here’s how it works:

Postmates has relationships with a number of retailers, including Walmart, Walgreens, 7-11, and many others. (This is in addition to their restaurant partnerships). Customers place orders through these partners for things like groceries, alcohol, diapers, chicken soup for someone home sick, etc.

When a customer orders through a partner, the products will be already be set aside for you. That means if you have a grocery delivery order, you do not have to spend an hour wandering the supermarket as a personal shopper.

However, if your customer puts in a custom order with a non-partnered retailer, you may have to do the personal shopping yourself. Depending on the size of the custom order and the size of the non-partnered store, this can put a crimp in your hustling time.

One last potential issue with non-restaurant delivery is when you get an order for alcohol. To start, no Postmates drivers under the age 21 are legally allowed to fulfill those orders. In addition, you will be required to scan the ID of the customer when you drop off the booze order. This is something to keep in mind as you decide which orders to accept.

Learn more about driving with Postmates here

How Much Do You Earn?

The payment system for Postmates is a bit complex and varies from city to city. Your earnings per order is calculated using the following elements:

  • An amount paid for each completed pickup
  • An amount paid for each completed dropoff
  • A per-minute-waited rate for the amount of time you spend at the pickup
  • A per-mile rate for the distance you drive between the pickup and the dropoff
  • Any Blitz pricing bonuses offered when you accept the delivery (more on this below)
  • 100% of all tips

The amounts paid for each of these elements (other than Blitz pricing bonuses and tips) are determined by Postmates and are set for each city. For instance, in my hometown of Milwaukee, drivers will receive:

  • $1.40 per completed pickup
  • $0.60 per completed dropoff
  • $0.07 per minute waited at pickup
  • $0.64 per mile between pickup and dropoff.

This means a standard delivery in Milwaukee with no wait and a 4-mile drive between the restaurant and the customer will earn $4.56, not including any potential Blitz pricing bonuses or tips.

You receive your payment via direct deposit for all of the deliveries you made the previous week between Monday and Sunday. You can also cash out your earnings prior to your weekly scheduled deposit. Instant deposit will allow you to transfer your earnings to a debit card.

The amount of money you can earn per hour is very difficult to pin down since it depends so much on the specifics of each order you take. However, there are a couple of earnings maximizers that can help you make the most of your Postmates driving:

Increase Your Postmates Earnings

1. Blitz Pricing

Postmates offers Blitz pricing when demand is especially high. The app will indicate anytime Blitz pricing is in effect on a delivery offered to you. The app will indicate to you how much you can expect to make with the Blitz pricing.

However, even if Blitz pricing is in effect in your area, that doesn’t guarantee that your next order will have the bonus. Blitz pricing is done on an order-by-order basis.

2. Drive During Peak Times

Even if demand isn’t high enough to trigger Blitz pricing, you’ll want to make as many deliveries as possible during your shifts. So plan to work during peak times, which Postmates lists as 10:30 am to 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. In addition, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday have the highest demand.

Get started here. 

3. Take Advantage of Incentives

Postmates offers a number of incentives to help increase driver earnings.

Bonus-per-delivery incentives pay out a bonus for every delivery you accept and complete during a specific time frame. (For example, Postmates might offer a $2 bonus for each delivery completed between 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm).

Guaranteed earnings will give you a guaranteed minimum payout when you complete a minimum number of deliveries within a certain time period. (For example, you might earn a guaranteed $500 for 50 deliveries in a month).

Crushers are incentives that will pay out an additional bonus when you complete a certain number of deliveries within a specific time frame. (For instance, you might earn an extra $30 for completing 10 deliveries over the weekend).

Invite incentives pays you if you refer a friend to Postmates and they complete a certain number of deliveries within a set time period.

4. Maximize Your Tips

Finally, Postmates drivers get to keep 100% of every tip offered to them. You might think that you have no control over the size of your tips, but you can increase your tips with some strategic thinking. Full-time Postmates driver Heather offers 10 suggestions on how to make sure you maximize your tips in this video:

The Postmates Fleet Downsides

While joining the Postmates Fleet can be a great way to earn some extra cash in your free time, it’s not necessarily the right side hustle for everyone.

To start, it’s pretty difficult to figure out exactly how much you can expect to earn per hour. You may be able to see that as a positive–as Heather recommends in the video above. Maintaining a positive attitude about the potential earning for each delivery can keep you motivated, smiling, and going after tips and incentives.

But if you know you need to earn a certain amount per hour, this could be a tough hustle to enjoy.

You also need to remember that you are an independent contractor for Postmates, which means you are 100% responsible for paying income tax on your earnings.

Postmates will not withhold taxes from your paychecks, although the company will send you a Form 1099-MISC so you can file your taxes. If you don’t think to set aside money from each Postmates paycheck to pay your taxes, you might face an unpleasant surprise the following tax season.

Finally, you will be taking on the costs of using your car (or other vehicle) to make deliveries. Extra gas, maintenance, and wear and tear on your vehicle are all costs, and some are more difficult to calculate than others. 

That said, you can deduct your mileage at the rate of $0.58/mile (as of 2019). Just remember to keep good records of your mileage.  (You can use Hurdlr to track your mileage easily.)

Postmates vs. DoorDash and UberEats

So how does Postmates stack up against its competitors? DoorDash and UberEats are the main competition in this delivery space, and they each have their own benefits and drawbacks.

For all three delivery services, the amount you make per hour will depend a great deal on your ability to hustle and the demand during your shift. DoorDash does require you to schedule shifts in advance, unlike Postmates and UberEats. This means Postmates and UberEats both offer good flexibility for those who want to deliver when they have time.

All three services have well-designed apps with easy-to-use interfaces. However, the DoorDash app does not provide map directions for drivers, like Postmates and UberEats. This gives Postmates and UberEats an edge since their drivers do not need to switch to a different app to navigate.

With Postmates, you may find yourself having to place the order or do the shopping yourself. You do receive payment for your wait time through Postmates (which would include shopping time), but it’s a relatively low payment. UberEats drivers will always have their food already pre-ordered, which makes it easier to hustle from job to job.

The payment structure is complex for all three services, so it can be difficult to calculate your hourly wage. Postmates structure is at least clearly spelled out (even though it is complicated). In addition, Postmates ensures that you receive 100% of every tip you get. It’s also good to remember that the customer app on Postmates encourages a 20% tip.

Finally, the biggest difference between Postmates vs. DoorDash vs. UberEats lies in what you will be delivering. The majority of Postmates deliveries do seem to be takeout. That makes it very similar to DoorDash and UberEats, which exclusively deliver takeout food.

However, Postmates also provides deliveries of any kind of goods available from partner retailers–or through the custom order function with non-partner retailers. This could potentially open up your earnings as a Postmates driver since there are more opportunities than just the daily lunch and dinner rush. 

 PostmatesDoorDashUberEats
Scheduled ShiftsNoYesYes
In App DirectionsYesNoYes
Order Ready for PickupNot alwaysYesYes
Deliver Exclusively FoodNoYesYes

See also: Make Money Delivering Food with DoorDash

Bringing Home the Bacon with Postmates

Joining the Postmates Fleet offers a great deal of flexibility and potential earnings. Without a preset schedule, you can take deliveries whenever it fits in your life. You can maximize your payments by working during peak hours, taking advantage of incentives, and providing the kind of great customer service that’s rewarded with good tips.

All-in-all, Postmates offers flexible money-making opportunities to anyone from college students to dedicated debt-crushers to retirees. Nice work if you can get it!

Postmates Fleet Price: Free It’s free to sign up and fast to get started. There are no fees or time commitments, so you take home 100% of what you earn every time you complete a delivery. Buy Now Postmates Fleet We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Have you driven for Postmates? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Earn Money on the Side as a Delivery Driver with Postmates
About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher and respected personal finance blogger. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her engineer husband and two high-energy little boys. She has written four books: The Five Years Before You Retire, Choose Your Retirement, Making Social Security Work For You, and End Financial Stress Now. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.