Signing up to be a food delivery person is a great way to earn extra cash on a flexible schedule. I recently signed up as a Postmates driver and tried out the service myself to see exactly what the process looks like.
4 Things to Know Before Delivering for Postmates
What Is Postmates?
Postmates is a food delivery and takeout service that lets customers order from nearby restaurants. If a customer places an order to be delivered, the nearest delivery person (or "Postmate") is alerted to pick it up and complete the delivery.
There are two different apps for Postmates including the food delivery app for customers (iOS and Android) and the delivery app for freelancers (iOS and Android). Both apps are free to download and accounts are free to create. Of course, if you're interested in delivering for Postmates, you'll only need the delivery app, called Fleet.
Depending on where you live, Postmate delivery jobs may be available for drivers, bikers and/or walkers. Regardless of how you decide to deliver, you'll still use the same Fleet app.
Postmates does business in all 50 states. To see if it's available in your area before signing up, enter your address online or in the Postmates app.
How Much Do Postmates Drivers Make?
How much you can make will also depend on where you're delivering and what time of day you're working. I've been using Postmates in Lexington, Kentucky, and tried to pick up shifts during lunch and dinner. I ended up earning between $8-$12 hourly as a Postmates driver.
Postmates' base pay includes a set amount for picking up an order, for dropping off an order, for each minute you wait in-store, and for the total distance you drive. In addition to Postmates pay, earnings also include customer tips. You get to keep 100% of customer tips which, in my experience, were usually added after I completed the delivery.
Above, you can see the rates in my area, but rates vary from one location to the next. To see how much Postmates pays in your area, find your state on the company's website.
Keep in mind that as a freelance delivery person, you'll need to hold out your own taxes. As a general rule, try to set aside 30% of your earnings for estimated quarterly tax payments.
To Maximize Your Earnings as a Postmate, Follow These Tips:
- Take advantage of incentives. Postmates occasionally offers additional pay in exchange for completing a certain amount of deliveries. For example, when I first signed up, I had the opportunity to earn an additional $200 if I completed 30 deliveries before a certain time and date. Since then, a few incentives have popped offering an additional $60 for completing 15 deliveries by a goal date. These incentives may vary by location.
- Go to high demand areas if you're waiting for orders. When you open the app, you'll see high demand areas on the map. These are areas where a lot of orders are being placed. If you're waiting on orders, hang out near these areas to maximize your chances of getting an assignment.
- Accept multiple deliveries at once. You may have the opportunity to accept "batched" or "chained" deliveries. This is when multiple orders are available from the same or nearby restaurants that are to be dropped off in the same direction. Accepting these deliveries improves your hourly earnings since you'll be completing more orders.
How Does Postmates Work?
You'll earn base pay for each delivery, bonuses when incentive qualifications are met and 100% of the tips that customers leave.
To get started, download the Fleet app for iOS or Android. Once you open the app, click "Create Account." You'll be asked to enter an email address and a password as well as your phone number, your name, your address, where you plan to deliver and how you plan to deliver (car, bike, etc.)
To start accepting deliveries, you'll need to be in a blue zone (shown in the screenshot above) and click "Go Online." You can go online or offline at any time without having to schedule your shift in advance.
Unfortunately, you can't see many details about the order, such as estimated pay or total distance, before you accept it. You'll see only the restaurant and delivery destination indicated on the map as a labeled banner and a blue dot, respectively.
Once you've arrived at the restaurant, you can click on "Pickup Details" to verify the order is correct. Then you'll slide the bar across the bottom of the screen to complete the pickup. Once you've picked up the order, you'll see delivery details including the address, customer notes and if a contact-free delivery method is preferred.
You'll receive payments via direct deposit to the bank account you listed when signing up. Postmates pays drivers weekly on Mondays for the work completed the previous Monday-Sunday.
If you don't want to wait for Monday, you can use your debit card to cash out instantly at any time for a fee of $0.50.
Final Thoughts (Pros & Cons)
Overall, delivering for Postmates can be a great way to earn extra money. While the demand in my particular area isn't as high as it may be in others, I was still able to earn around $9.50 an hour.
In my particular area, I was able to earn more on average by delivering with DoorDash. That service's "Peak Pay" function made it easier to earn more per delivery, and I was able to see more information about each delivery before I decided whether or not to accept it.
If you do decide to start delivering for Postmates, be sure to hold back enough of your earnings to cover your estimated tax payments. If you make $600 or more in a calendar year, you'll receive a 1099-MISC form. Even if you don't earn that much, you'll still be expected to pay the appropriate taxes.
Have you ever worked for Postmates or a similar food delivery company? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
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