4 Ways DoorDash Helps Pay For Dashers’ Gas Costs

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By Phil Grossman

GigWolf Contributor

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By Ryan Shaw

Gig Pro

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By Faith McLaughlin

Gig Pro

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By Scott Jones

Gig Pro

Last Updated on 2024-01-05

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, tax, or insurance advice. The content contains general information and may not reflect current developments or changes. Any reader should consult with a tax professional to obtain tax advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

As a Dasher, you’ll likely be driving a lot (unless you choose to dash on a bike, scooter, or motorcycle), and unless you’ve got an electric car, you’ll be using more gas than normal. Given the high price of gas these days, you may be wondering: does DoorDash pay for gas?

Unfortunately, DoorDash does not provide a 100% reimbursement for gas purchases. However, DoorDash does realize that gas prices are taking a toll on Dashers, and the company has rolled out the Gas Rewards program, which provides 2% on gas purchases made with a DasherDirect card, to help cover that burden. 

Plus, there are several other ways you can make fueling your dashing a bit easier on your wallet.

Ways you cannot save on gas

Before we go over some tips to help you save on gas, it’s important to get a few big no-no’s out of the way. 

Using your DoorDash Red Card for gas

First, although it may seem tempting to pay for gas with your DoorDash Red Card, you absolutely should not do so. The DoorDash Red Card is only to be used for prepaid DoorDash orders — nothing else should go on there. 

Scott Jones, who has been dashing since 2018, says “you are NEVER authorized to ever use the Red Card without the explicit authorization of DoorDash, only the app or Staff can give this to you. Using it any other time is tantamount to felony-level credit card fraud.”

Using your DoorDash virtual card for gas

Second, although it’s totally fine to use your DasherDirect (subject to program approval) card to pay for gas, you can’t use your DasherDirect virtual card to pay for gas. Your virtual card can only be used for online purchases, transfers, bill pay, and anything else that doesn’t require you to swipe a card. 

Because your virtual card is available immediately upon approval for DasherDirect but your physical card will come a few days later, it can be tempting to start cashing in on those 2% cash back gas rewards right away with your virtual card. But you’ll need to wait — there’s no way around that. 

With that out of the way, let’s go over four ways that you can save on gas as a Dasher. 

1. Choose orders with mileage that will offset your gas costs

Not every DoorDash order pays the same — base pay typically ranges from $2-$10 per order. You’ll often find that high-distance orders result in higher base pay. So technically, DoorDash might indirectly pay for your gas by offering a higher base pay for a higher mileage order.

Of course, you can’t rely on DoorDash to make the calculations that make sense for you personally. As a Dasher, you’re under no obligation to accept every order that’s offered to you (unless you choose “Earn By Time” instead of “Earn By Order”)  — in fact, most Dashers recommend only accepting dashes over a threshold that you set for yourself. 

To set that threshold, take your gas costs into account. For example, if you’ve got a car with a fuel economy at the US average of 25.4 miles per gallon, and you’re paying $3.80 per gallon, then your fuel cost will be around $0.15 per mile. 

Now, you can use this number to figure out which dashes are worth your while. For example, if a Dash will require you to drive 14 miles and only pays $2 in base pay, you might be better off skipping it: if the customer ends up not tipping you, you’d actually be losing $0.10 (14 miles * $0.15/mile = $2.10).

That said, keep in mind that if you pass on too many orders, your acceptance rate will go down, and eventually, that will make you ineligible for Top Dasher status, which brings a bunch of benefits along with it. 

Scott also recommends Dashers check out the Solo app: “I have heard amazing things about the app called Solo: Your Gig Business. It does mileage tracking, tax projections, income insights, and pay predictions for your city.  You can load it with all your apps, meaning Grubhub, Instacart, DoorDash, etc., and it will keep it straight and advise you where to go to make the most money at any time. Pretty neat.”

Ryan Shaw, who has been dashing for three years, says that Dashers should also pay attention to how far away the drop-off location is. If the customer lives outside your dashing zone, you could find yourself unable to accept more orders until you drive back to your zone. In that case, a 6-mile order could turn into a 12-mile order — first you’ll drive 6 miles to get to the customer, and then you’ll have to drive another 6 miles back to your zone, whereas normally you’d be able to accept a new Dash as soon as you deliver your last order. 

2. Write off your gas costs as tax deductions

When you work as a Dasher, you’re self-employed, and that means you can write off certain purchases as business expenses. Taxes are pretty complicated, so we won’t go into too much detail here, but the main thing you need to know right now is that write-off claims (aka tax deductions) reduce your taxable income, which ultimately lowers your tax bill. 

For example, if your income is $30,000 and you spend $1,000 in business expenses, you could write off that amount, lowering your taxable income to $29,000. Then, your tax bill will be calculated based on the adjusted amount, which means you’ll need to pay less.

As a Dasher, gas counts as a business expense, and you can use it as a deduction. But there’s a catch: you can only deduct the amount that you’re actually using for your dashing. So, if you use the same car for your personal life and for your dashing, then you can’t deduct the full amount. If it’s an even 50/50 split between the two, you would only be able to write off 50% of your gas expenses.

Please note: most Dashers don’t calculate the exact dollar amount they’re spending at the pump. There’s an alternative way to deduct gas expenses called the standard mileage rate method. This means you just need to calculate your total miles driven for DoorDash, multiply it by that year’s standard mileage rate value (67 cents in 2024), and you deduct that instead of trying to calculate your specific gas expense.

3. Sign up for DasherDirect and get 2% cash back on gas purchases

In 2022, when gas prices were at their highest, DoorDash introduced the Gas Rewards program. Originally, the program offered Dashers 10% cash back on gas purchases, but it has since been scaled down to 2%. 

To start getting your cash back, all you need to do is apply for the DasherDirect card and, pending program approval and once you receive it in the mail, use it when paying for gas at qualifying stations. You can find participating gas stations and redeem your cash with the DasherDirect mobile app. 

The DasherDirect card comes with a bunch of other perks, like the ability to get paid immediately after every dash, so it’s worth signing up for even outside of the gas rewards. 

If you don’t want to sign up for DasherDirect, there are loads of other rewards programs and cards that offer cash back on gas purchases, such as the Upside app, Wells Fargo Autograph card, or Visa SavingsEdge

You’ll have to do some research to find the best savings solution for your needs — they’re not all created equal. “The Upside app is okay, but most of the benefits are short-lived,” says Scott. “And, to quote one Reddit user I saw today, using the Upside app is like, ‘save 10 cents if you go to the shell station over here.’ Unfortunately, that shell station is 15 cents higher than the one across the street, so no savings!”

4. Use a fuel efficient vehicle — or one that doesn’t run on gas

Let’s assume that you drive 75 miles per day for DoorDash. Taking that $0.15 per mile figure from earlier, that comes out to something like $11.25 in gas each day. 

If you want to save on gas, you can take advantage of DoorDash’s extremely lax vehicle policy — you can use any car you want, and you can even dash without a car on a bike, scooter, or motorcycle. If you use an electric vehicle or bike, you’ll eliminate your gas costs entirely (but you’ll need to pay for electricity for an electric car instead), and you can reduce them by driving a fuel-efficient vehicle. 

But there is a tradeoff: dashing on a bike, scooter, or motorcycle is usually more dangerous than dashing in a car, so you should figure that into your decision process as well. The risk varies depending on your location, so check out some statistics for the area you’d be dashing if you want to make an informed decision. 

Get started being a Dasher

Ready to ditch the boss and work on your own schedule? Sign up now to become a Dasher — it takes just 5 minutes, and you can start earning within days (subject to Dasher approval and local availability). 

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