Last Updated on 2023-11-03

Why You Should/Shouldn’t Use DoorDash’s Earn By Time Mode

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Ryan Shaw

5 years of experience as a DoorDash Dasher

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Faith McLaughlin

8 years of experience working across DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, Uber, and Lyft

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Michael Vaness

6 years of experience working across DoorDash, Instacart, and Spark

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Scott Jones

7 years of experience working across DoorDash, Lyft, Amazon Flex, and Instacart

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

When DoorDash released the ability to ”Earn by time” in 2023, Dasher sentiment was mixed. It seemed like it might result in less pay and less flexible work than what they were used to with “Earn per offer”.

However, as some Dashers gave it a try and reported back, it became clear that there were some compelling benefits to using Earn by time:

  • Your acceptance rate gets a nice boost. Because you are paid by time, you no longer worry about accepting “bad” offers.
  • Your pay is more predictable. You’re not playing the lottery hoping that good base pay offers come up in hour 2 of your dash vs. hour 1.
  • It’s easier to calculate whether an order is worth it. No need to account for traffic or long distances that make some orders less profitable in Earn per offer.
  • The work is less stressful. If a restaurant is making you wait for a meal, you’re still getting paid for your time.

But there may be certain situations where you’re able to use Earn per offer to make more money. Let’s dig into the comparison.

Which earning mode is right for you?

Earn per offer pays you for each completed delivery, plus tips. This is the standard earnings system for DoorDash drivers.

Earn by time is the newer option that basically means that DoorDash pays hourly: you get a guaranteed hourly rate while you’re actively on delivery, plus tips. Dashers report that tips on Earn by time orders tend to be lower than tips on Earn per offer orders, but it’s not clear whether this is intentional or consistent.

A history of “Earn per offer”

Earn per offer is the traditional way that Dashers have earned money. Under this system, Dashers are paid a base pay for each order they accept, plus any tips that customers leave. 

Base pay used to be higher, but as of 2023 was lowered to a minimum of $2 per order. DoorDash claims that, depending on your market demand and the order you are serving, base pay could go as high as $10+.

This base pay applies even if you are picking up a stacked order: DoorDash doesn’t pay you double, you only get the $2 once. However, Ryan Shaw, a Dasher who has been working since 2019, reports that this appears to not be consistent across locations, “I'm still getting base pay for each order on stacked orders, which is nice. I don't know why this is, and I don't know how it works but if I had to guess maybe it's related to the way their features tend to roll-out in different areas at different times, and that change just hasn't gotten to me yet?”

In the image above, a Dasher did a double-stacked order. He drove more than 7 miles each way (assuming he had to come back to his original location), and for both orders and his mileage combined, he was paid the grand total of $2.00. It’s hard to imagine that fee covering the Dasher’s expenses.

Of course, Dashers who choose to Earn per offer have the flexibility to pick and choose which orders they want to accept. This can be a great way to maximize your earnings, especially if you're familiar with which restaurants are Dasher-friendly, and which customers tend to tip well. However, it can also lead to periods of downtime if you’re on the app reviewing and declining bad orders.

Enter “Earn by time” to offset some of these concerns

With its launch in 2023, Earn by time mode guarantees Dashers to earn a certain hourly rate, regardless of how many orders they complete. The hourly rate varies depending on the market and the time of day, but Dashers report that it’s usually around $7-19 per hour.

Dashers who choose to earn by time are still able to decline orders, but they must accept at least one order per hour. If a Dasher declines more than one order per hour, their dash will be ended and they will have to wait 30 minutes before they can start dashing again.

Another caveat: the hourly rate only counts toward your active time on a delivery. This means that you won’t get paid when you turn on your app, or are waiting for orders after an order is complete, even if your order caused you to drive many miles outside of your zone. And different zones offer different amounts per hour. So if you see a rate of $15/hr come up, do know that spending an hour dashing probably won’t result in exactly $15 in your account, assuming you spend at least 10-15 minutes waiting in between orders.

Some Dashers report that Earn by time orders tend to be longer trips - perhaps trips that Earn per offer Dashers have turned down. This is fine when you’re Earning by time; you get paid for every minute you’re on the road.

Another impact of using “Earn by time” is that you won’t be negatively impacted by situations outside of your control. Restaurant making you wait? You’re getting paid. Construction on the road? You’re getting paid. Traffic? You’re still getting paid. Dashing can otherwise be a stressful job: you feel rushed to get done with this order and hurry up to go get the next one. It’s all about how many big orders you can do in your small shift during the lunch/dinner rush. With the Earn by time earning model, you can just let that stress all go. You are on the clock.

Do beware, however, that being on the clock doesn’t get you off the hook for potential Contract Violations. Ryan reports, “I wish they would take traffic into account when it comes to contract violations, but they don't. You would be getting paid, yes, but could still end up with a contract violation over something entirely outside of your control - which happened to me recently.”

Lastly, a surprising benefit of Earn by time turns out to be a boost to your Dasher Acceptance Rate. Because “bad offers” are rarer in Earn by time mode, you’ll be accepting a lot of orders in a row. Dashers report that as their Acceptance Rates went higher and higher, DoorDash made a point, as they commonly do, of offering deliveries that skewed towards better and better tips. If the Dasher decided to do Earn by time for one shift, they now had this high Acceptance Rate, they are then more often offered “Diamond Orders.” Many of those were catering, high-paying gigs, with lucrative tips.

Michael Vaness, a Dasher with over a year of experience, was pleasantly surprised to stumble into this subtle benefit, “I was at around 69-70% and after only a an hour or 2 of doing hourly, the next day my acceptance had jumped by 10%, putting me at 80%, and that was even after turning down an order or 2!”

How should you choose between Earn by time and Earn per offer?

Is Earn by time “worth it”? The best way to decide which option is right for you is to consider how you want to work. If you don’t mind the stress and are someone who likes to cherry pick the best orders, Earn per offer is probably right for you. If you’re looking for a stress-free experience that’ll get you a more reliable paycheck, then go with Earn by time.

And maybe you choose to mix and match. Do a few hours of Earn by time to boost your acceptance rate. Then get back to Earn per offer to take advantage of your elevated status.

Either way you go, you are still self-employed, and not an employee. So, even though you are working for an hourly wage, this is 1099 work, not W-2 employment. Meaning, you need to keep track of your expenses: taxes, gas, etc; and using this earning mode doesn’t change anything about the kind of benefits you receive (such as health insurance, car insurance, or anything else).

How to maximize your earnings in Earn by time mode

If you’ve decided that you want to give Earn by time mode a try, here are some tips to maximize your earnings while doing it:

  • Dash during peak hours. Peak hours are typically between 5 pm and 9 pm and on weekends. During these times, there are typically more orders available and customers are more likely to tip well.
  • Dash during Promotional Peak Pay. This can be as much as $5 extra per delivery on top of your hourly pay. You could rack up serious money in Peak Pay hours.
  • Be efficient and avoid downtime. This means having a plan for after you get to the customer's location. Once you deliver an order, you are off the clock and not getting paid. It is important that you quickly take another order so that the clock starts up again, otherwise you will not be earning.
  • Provide excellent customer service. This means being polite, communicative, and on time. Smile. Customers are more likely to tip well if they have a good experience. Many times customers will tip in cash on delivery rather than via the app.

Switching earning modes in the app

If you’re ready to make a switch, you simply toggle the earnings style to the left or right in the app. All deliveries you make during the dash that follows will earn with that mode.

Get started dashing

If you haven’t signed up yet, you can get going by signing up today. It takes just 5 minutes, and you can receive your first payout within just days.

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