People are ordering takeout more frequently, which has contributed to a rise in the popularity of delivery apps such as DoorDash and Postmates.

people at a park eating takeout

Whether you’re new to delivery apps or a seasoned user, you might be wondering how much to tip delivery workers on these platforms. Keep reading for a breakdown on how gratuity works in delivery apps, and how much you should leave in tips.

Why You Should Tip Delivery Workers

While regulations vary state-by-state, app delivery workers are usually classified as independent contractors, not as employees.

Although this means that they can set their own hours, it also prevents them from receiving employee benefits and legal wage protections, including minimum wage or overtime pay. Without employee protections, delivery workers might take home less than $5/hour if there’s extremely low demand.

DoorDash Drivers Tipping

While both DoorDash and Postmates provide their workers with base pay rates, base pay is often far below state minimum wage. Plus, as independent contractors, delivery workers pay for their own gas and payroll tax. Tips are critical to helping delivery workers make up the wage gap and ultimately make ends meet.

How Does DoorDash Pay Its Workers?

DoorDash is a popular food delivery app that’s active in 4,000 US cities, as well as in Canada and Australia. You might be wondering how DoorDash calculates payments for its drivers and delivery workers.

Following controversy regarding its previous pay model, the company announced a completely new payment structure in 2019:

formula breakdown of doordash pay

For each delivery, DoorDash calculates a base pay rate. This rate is calculated with an algorithm that factors in the delivery time, distance to delivery, and the desirability of the delivery location. Base rates vary between $2 to $10; deliveries that are expected to take more time, are farther away, or are in less popular neighborhoods have higher base pay rates.

Delivery workers can also participate in company promotions, such as delivering during peak times or taking part in local challenges that add a few more dollars to their base pay.

Related: The 6 Best Restaurant Picker Apps to Help You Decide Where to Eat

100 percent of a customer’s tip goes directly to their DoorDash delivery worker. If a customer adds in a tip at checkout, delivery workers can see a breakdown of their total pay, including tip, base pay, and promotion rate, before deciding whether or not to pick up the order. Customers can also tip a delivery worker once their items are delivered.

How Much Do DoorDash Workers Make? According to Indeed, the average DoorDash delivery driver in the US makes $14.29/hour. It’s unclear if this rate includes tips.

How Does Postmates Pay Its Workers?

Takeout Food DoorDash Postmates

Operating in almost 3,000 cities, Postmates is a delivery service that couriers food, groceries, prescriptions, store orders, and anything else that you might want to have picked up and delivered for you. Postmates delivery workers operate by car, bike, walking, or public transport.

Like DoorDash, Postmates also uses an additive pay model to determine how much to pay workers for each delivery. Pay is calculated according to:

  • Pick-up Rate: the amount for each completed pick-up
  • Drop-off Rate: the amount for each completed drop-off
  • Wait Time: the per-minute-waited rate for the time spent waiting at the restaurant, coffee shop, or store
  • Mileage Rate: a per-mile rate for the distance between pick-up and drop-off
  • Tips

Sometimes, Postmates asks its delivery workers to pick up stacked orders. These are multiple orders at the same restaurants or stores. By having one worker pick up multiple orders at once, Postmates increases efficiency and reduces the wait time fees that need to be paid to the delivery worker. With stacked orders, workers make less money on each delivery.

However, Postmates delivery workers keep 100 percent of the tips customers give. Postmates even designed the app’s user experience to nudge customers into tipping.

If an order is submitted without a tip, the customer will receive a notification asking them to leave one. Customers can’t place their next order until they take action on the previous order’s tipping page.

How Much Do Postmates Workers Make? According to the rideshare website Ridester, the average Postmates delivery worker in the US makes $12.00/hour before tips.

How Much Should You Tip Delivery Workers?

In the US, it’s customary to tip 15 to 20 percent in restaurants, and the same applies to delivery workers. Delivery companies and labor groups suggest tipping at least 20 percent to your delivery worker.

In some situations, it makes sense to tip your delivery worker even more than 20 percent. Examples include:

  • If you had a very large or complicated order
  • If your delivery worker is especially courteous or friendly
  • If your delivery was made during inclement weather (rain, snow, winds)
  • If your delivery worker faced unsafe or complicated conditions (pandemic, local unrest)

Related: The Ultimate Sandwich Cost Calculator: How Much Does a Sandwich Cost?

Should You Tip on the Subtotal or Final Price?

It’s common to wonder whether you should calculate your tip based on the subtotal (how much your items total) or on the final price (your subtotal plus the company’s service fees and delivery fees).

For in-person restaurant visits, it’s customary to tip based on the subtotal. However, there is no clear answer for the delivery market, so it’s suggested to tip on the total price.

Is the Tip Different from the Delivery Fee?

Yes, the tip is different from the delivery fee. If you see a delivery fee on your order, this is a cost imposed by the company to help ensure that delivery services can reach your area.

Delivery workers won’t receive any amount from the delivery fee. Don’t assume the delivery fee covers the tip and do not subtract the delivery fee from your tip amount.

Should You Tip In-App or in Cash?

Both DoorDash and Postmates pass along 100 percent of your tip to the delivery worker, so it doesn’t matter if you leave the tip in the app or hand it to them in cash. You can choose whichever approach feels more convenient and safer for you.

What If You Forget to Tip?

If you forget to leave a tip with your order before you checkout, don’t fret. In both the DoorDash and Postmates apps, you can leave a tip after your order has been delivered. In fact, Postmates won’t let you start your next order until you take action on the previous order’s tip page.

Do Delivery Workers See Your Tip Amount?

Yes—DoorDash and Postmates delivery workers have their own versions of the company’s app on their phones, and they’ll see your tip amount. If a customer leaves a tip during checkout, delivery workers will usually see the tip amount before accepting the order, and it will be listed immediately in their earnings.

If customers tip after delivery, workers will receive a push notification when the post-delivery tip is added, and will have their earnings breakdown updated.

Don’t Forget to Tip Next Time You Order

Delivery workers are an essential part of our community infrastructure, helping us all access the food and supplies we crave or need. Keep these tipping practices in mind next time you’re using these apps to order dinner, send a gift to a loved one, or buy lunch for a far-away friend.


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By Clark