Before you get started, consider these four things to know about 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?
Whether you sign up as Postmates driver, biker or walker, you’ll be able to choose how often you work. Because of the extreme flexibility, earnings vary greatly.
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.
Over the course of 10 hours, I averaged around $9.50 hourly and earned a total of $95.09. Below, you can see a breakdown of how much I made per delivery on a couple of the days I drove:
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.
Of course, there are expenses that come with the job if you decide to drive. These expenses include gas and the wear and tear on your vehicle.
You’ll receive a summary email each Friday that includes a breakdown of how much you’ve earned and how many miles you traveled while completing deliveries. That information should help you calculate your true earnings.
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.
Keep in mind that your earnings will vary from hour to hour depending on where you live, how you’re delivering (driving, cycling or on foot), when you’re available and whether customers leave a tip.
How Does Postmates Work?
Postmates works by connecting customers to nearby restaurants and freelancers using the Fleet app. As a freelancer, you’ll be expected to use your smartphone to accept and deliver orders. You may also have to use your car, bike or another vehicle, but walking is an option in some locations.
You'll earn base pay for each delivery, bonuses when incentive qualifications are met and 100% of the tips that customers leave.
If you’re thinking about delivering for Postmates, follow these steps to sign up and start earning money.
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.)
You’ll also be asked to enter your driver’s license information, social security number and birthdate so the company can do a background check on you. While you’re waiting on your background check to be approved, you can take a profile photo for the app. I got background clearance on the same day I signed up.
After you’ve completed these steps, your free delivery bag and a prepaid card should be shipped to the address you entered. You’ll get a link so you can track the shipment of your delivery bag and card.
When you get your card, you’ll need to activate it to start taking deliveries. Note that, in some cities, you may not need to use the Postmates card. According to the website, in these instances, your welcome kit will be sent after you complete your first delivery.
While I never received a free delivery bag, my card did arrive in the mail eight days after I applied.
Before you get started, you’ll be prompted to set up direct deposit and enter your vehicle information if you plan on driving. Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you’ll be ready to go online and begin accepting orders.
Once you’ve created an account, your background check has been cleared and you’ve activated your Postmates card, you can log in and start delivering.
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.
When an order is placed near your location, you’ll receive an alert in the app notifying you. You’ll have a limited time to accept or decline the order in the app before it’s given to the next available Postmate.
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.
If you do accept the job, you’ll see the address for the restaurant that’s preparing the customer’s order. You can click “Navigate” in the app to open up the map app of your choice.
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.
When you arrive at the customer’s address, you’ll be able to take a photo of the order, send a text or call from a secure number to let them know you’re dropping it off.
Once you’ve completed the delivery, the app will immediately begin searching for new assignments. You’ll also see a quick summary of your earnings across the top of the screen.
In my experience, the tip was usually added afterward. You’ll get a notification when a customer adds a tip whether you’re online or not.
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.
After trying out Postmates myself, here are the biggest pros and cons I found in freelancing for the company:
- You can go online at any time
- Keep 100% of customer tips
- Incentives make it easy to earn bonus pay
- Cash out instantly at any time
- You may be able to drive, bike or walk depending on your location
- No hourly pay means you could spend a lot of time waiting for orders and not getting paid
- You can’t see the details, such how many miles you will travel or how much the delivery will make, before you accept an order
- Because shifts aren’t scheduled, a lot of freelancers may be online at once. This can cause your earnings to be lower than expected, even during rush hours
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.
For me personally, the DoorDash app was a little easier to use and easier to earn with. Still, I can definitely see the potential in signing up for Postmates. How much you get paid per delivery varies greatly by location, and the incentives can lead to big bonuses. Also, being able to cash out instantly is a big perk.
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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