DoorDash vs Grubhub: What’s Best for Food Delivery Drivers?

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Should you deliver for Grubhub or DoorDash? You could make money — on your own schedule — with either food delivery app.

Both food delivery services are growing in large and small U.S. cities; both have grown even busier because of the coronavirus pandemic.

So we’ll need to dig a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of the DoorDash vs. Grubhub experience to answer this question.

DoorDash vs Grubhub: Pay Structure

The driver pay structures for both food delivery apps have gotten more complex — and more fair — as the services have grown.

DoorDash Pay Structure

DoorDash’s structure is easier to understand, so let’s start with it, Dashers get paid like this:

Base Pay + Promotional Pay + Tips

  • Base Pay ranges from $2 to $10 per delivery, and it is calculated based on the distance you drive, the amount earned from the delivery, and the amount of time you spent waiting for the restaurant to prepare the delivery.
  • Promotional Pay could add to your base pay if it’s a peak time for deliveries or if you’ve met a specific challenge like making 3 deliveries in one hour.
  • Tips are self-explanatory. If your customer leaves a $3 tip, you get to keep 100 percent.

How does this look in real life? Let’s say you have an $8 base pay for a takeout order, a $1 promotion because it’s a peak hour and a $3 tip from the customer.

You’d make $12 on this delivery. If it took you 45 minutes from start to finish, you’d be earning at a rate of about $16 an hour.

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Grubhub Pay Structure

Grubhub’s pay structure resembles DoorDash’s, but it’s a little more complex.

Grubhub no longer pays a base rate. Instead, it reimburses you per mile driven and per minute you spend on the delivery. You get paid for driving and waiting.

Here’s a look at the Grubhub equation:

Mileage Driven (0.22¢/mile) + Minutes Spent (0.13¢/minute) + Tips

How does this look in real life? Let’s say you drive 6 miles to a McDonald’s and 9 more miles to the customer’s home for a total of 15 miles. You’re in the car for 35 minutes.

You also had to wait 10 minutes for the McDonald’s crew to cook and bag the food. This means you spent 45 minutes and 15 miles on the delivery. (And you got a $2 tip.)

  • Mileage = $3.30
  • Time = $5.85
  • Tip = $2
  • Total Earned = $11.15 for the delivery

Translated into an hourly rate, you’d be earning about $14.86 an hour.

🏆  Winner: Edge to DoorDash because you can increase your pay rate with promotions.

DoorDash vs Grubhub: Driver Qualifications

  • If you’re 18 or older you could drive with DoorDash.
  • If you’re 19 or older you could drive with Grubhub.

Both food delivery services require you to have a valid driver’s license and auto insurance, of course.

And neither service will let you drive for them if you have a major traffic violation or three minor traffic violations within the past three years. These services also will not let you drive if you have a felony on your record.

🏆  Winner: DoorDash because it is open to drivers 18 and older

DoorDash vs Grubhub: Tip Earnings

Both of these food delivery apps now let you keep all of your tips. In 2019 DoorDash was sued in federal court. The lawsuit accused DoorDash of keeping a percentage of customer tips while implying the tips went to the driver.

In response, DoorDash changed its policy to direct 100 percent of tips to the driver.

🏆  Winner: Tie, but with a nod to Grubhub for not needing a lawsuit to make sure drivers keep all tips.

DoorDash vs Grubhub: Pay for Waiting

For a while, food delivery drivers in the gig economy had to eat most of their wait-time losses. Whether a takeout order took 15 minutes to prepare or 30 minutes to prepare, the driver had to wait for it, without pay.

This was a problem back when I delivered for Postmates. Inevitably, I had to wait longest during the busiest hours when I could have been making the most money.

Now, Grubhub and DoorDash have addressed this problem within their pay structures, as you could see in the section above about pay:

  • Grubhub pays you per minute on the delivery, from the time you depart for the restaurant until you reach the customer’s door.
  • DoorDash builds wait time into your base pay for the delivery.

If you like transparency and simplicity, you’ll like Grubhub’s approach because it’s built on simple multiplication.

Although DoorDash calculates wait time as a variable into your base pay for the delivery, the end result is similar: You don’t have to endure long waits for food without pay.

🏆  Winner: Grubhub because of its transparency.

DoorDash vs Grubhub: Self Scheduling

The gig economy is great for earning money on your own schedule.

If your plans with friends fall through, you can switch on the app and make a few deliveries for extra cash.

Or if you’re off work at your regular job because it’s a weekend or a holiday, you can keep earning by spending the day delivering food.

But these jobs work both ways. Sometimes, when you have time to work, the apps are swarming with delivery drivers, and you can’t get any deliveries.

To help with this problem, DoorDash and Grubhub let you schedule yourself in advance so you can claim your hours. This helps spread the workload across all hours of the day, so you’ll have more chances to get deliveries when you’re out driving.

  • DoorDash: Let’s you claim blocks of time up to a week in advance or as short as an hour in advance. You also still have the spontaneous “Dash Now” button on the app, which becomes available when the food delivery service needs more than just its scheduled drivers on the road.
  • Grubhub: Let’s you schedule yourself in advance, but you can also drive whenever you want. Priority for deliveries will always go to the scheduled drivers.

🏆  Winner: DoorDash because of its more flexible scheduling options and because of the “Dash Now” button, which combines spontaneity with scheduling.

DoorDash vs Grubhub: Technical Requirements

To deliver takeout, you’ll need a reliable car and a smartphone. Seems simple enough, right?

But before you apply, you’ll want to be sure your phone can support the apps.

  • Grubhub: You’ll need iOS 11 or higher or Android 5.0 or higher.
  • DoorDash: Will work with any iPhone or Android device.

You can expect fewer technical difficulties with newer phones on a reliable data network. Occasionally, these apps do glitch on any phone, which can be frustrating.

🏆  Winner: DoorDash because it works on more phones.

DoorDash vs Grubhub: Accessing Pay

When you earn money on an app, whether it’s Survey Junkie, Instacart, Postmates, or Uber Eats, translating your app balance to actual cash is important. The less friction, the better.

DoorDash and Grubhub are both reliable and seamless when payday rolls around.

  • Grubhub: Pays via direct deposit every Thursday into your checking account; transfers could take several days to complete.
  • DoorDash: Pays via direct deposit every Friday into your checking account; these transfers also take several business days. DoorDash has an accelerated pay option that costs $1.99 per use.

🏆  Winner: DoorDash because of its accelerated pay feature, even though it requires a service fee.

DoorDash vs Grubhub: Market Share

None of this comparison will matter if DoorDash or Grubhub doesn’t serve your city — or if either food delivery service has only a handful of restaurant partners in your area.

  • Grubhub: Works in 3,200 U.S. cities across all 50 states. Unless you live in a tiny town, chances are good Grubhub will be available.
  • DoorDash: Works in 4,000 cities across the U.S. and in Australia. (About 80% of business is in the U.S.).

If you’re not sure, just log on to either service’s website and start an order for takeout. If your area has delivery available, you should have options to become a delivery driver.

Both of these apps work with national chains like Taco Bell and Applebee’s and with local restaurants that are unique to your area. Customers are limited mainly by the restaurants in their area. You could be delivering fast food or caviar.

🏆  Winner: Tie because both services are expansive and growing even more in response to COVID-19.

DoorDash vs Grubhub: At a Glance

DoorDash Grubhub
Age to Drive 18 or older 19 or older
Cities Available  ~4,000 ~3,200
Background Checks Yes Yes
Special Training Orientation Req. Orientation Req.
Driver Keeps Tips? 100% 100%
Paid for Mileage? Built in Base Rate 0.22¢/Mile
Paid for Waiting on Orders? Built in Base Rate 0.13¢/Minute
Promotional Pay Varies Not Included
Payment Method Direct Deposit Direct Deposit

FAQ’s About Food Delivery Apps

You can get answers to some of these questions by experience or by reading the policies on Grubhub and DoorDash’s websites.

But these are all good questions that come up when you’re considering driving for a food delivery service.

Do I get paid even when it’s a free delivery?

Both DoorDash and Grubhub offer free delivery on a customer’s first order as a promotion to get new customers in new markets.

Even when a customer takes advantage of this offer — or any other promo codes — you’ll get paid the same amount.

Do I earn any of the delivery fee?

Customers pay a delivery fee and a service fee when they order from their favorite restaurants. In addition, they can add a tip to the order.

As a delivery person, you will receive only the tip directly. Funds from the other fees help pay your base pay and promotional pay.

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Can I use my iPad to deliver food?

No, you’ll need a smartphone with location enabled and a data plan to deliver food.

Do food delivery apps deliver alcohol?

This will depend on your state and local laws. Some areas allow Postmates, DoorDash, and Grubhub drivers to deliver alcohol.

Do I get paid when it’s a subscription service order?

As more people discover food delivery apps — either because of the pandemic or simple word of mouth — these services have started subscription services to build brand loyalty.

If your customer has Dashpass or Postmates Unlimited and gets a lower cost on the order delivery, this shouldn’t cut into your earnings.

In fact, it could increase your earnings. A customer who pays a lower price should have more money for your tip!

Do Grubhub or DoorDash take cash?

No. As a delivery person, you’ll never be required to handle cash. But the customer could choose to tip in cash.

Can I see my tip in advance of taking the order?

Yes. Customers enter a tip amount when they order food. They may also enter “tip in cash” which means you won’t know the tip amount — or whether the customer will tip at all — until you arrive.

Are there any vehicle requirements?

No. Unlike Uber and Lyft, which have to consider passenger comfort, Grubhub and DoorDash do not have minimum vehicle requirements. You’ll want a reliable vehicle, though. And a car that gets great gas mileage will put money right back into your pockets.

What’s up with the orientation?

Both Grubhub and DoorDash require drivers to take a short orientation. This was often in-person before the coronavirus pandemic but is now available online.

It’s not a huge deal. The company just wants to make sure you can use the app. That way, you can focus on achieving great delivery times without having to figure out the app as you go.

The orientation will also cover how to get paid and how to deal with customers.

Grubhub vs DoorDash: Which Food Delivery Service Should You Drive For?

You can do well with either Grubhub or DoorDash. If I had to choose, I’d go with DoorDash because of its promotional pay and its accelerated payday option.

But, as you may already know, you don’t have to choose. You can deliver for both food delivery services.

To make the most money in the shortest amount of time, I’d use just about any food delivery app that offers a fair and reasonable payment model.

Uber Eats has been growing, especially for fast food orders. Postmates is still a good delivery company. I delivered for Postmates in Chicago and earned enough to buy an engagement ring.

If you live in a huge city like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, you could do fine as a delivery person for one app.

But if you live in a smaller market like Roanoke, Va., Green Bay, Wis., or Salinas, Calif. — all of which joined the Grubhub family last year — you’ll do a lot better working for more than one service simultaneously.

And don’t forget Instacart, which pays you for delivering orders from grocery stores. And, if you don’t mind delivering people to their destinations, you could add Uber and Lyft to your smartphone and optimize your time on the road.

Just don’t overdo it and try to combine trips. You’d have to sacrifice quality at some point, which isn’t good for your earning potential.

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