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If you’re a DoorDash Dasher, one of the most important things for your bottom line is understanding all the bonuses available to you.
Bonuses like Peak Pay and Challenges can significantly increase your earnings but require strategic thinking and practice.
And if you’re thinking about becoming a Dasher, there might be big bonuses and promotions for signing up.
This article covers the bonuses available to Dashers and how you can decide whether they are worth your time.
- The DoorDash pay formula
- Peak Pay
- Bonuses for becoming a Dasher
- Referral bonus for signing up new Dashers
A quick refresher on the DoorDash pay formula
Dashers are paid according to this formula: Base pay + promotions + 100% of tips.
Base pay is a calculation of time, distance, and ‘desirability.’ Promotions include bonuses like Peak Pay and Challenges.
For each order request, the DoorDash app displays an estimated payout that includes the base pay, some or all of the tip (if the customer tips during checkout), and Peak Pay (if applicable).
Being selective about the orders you accept can be the key to higher earnings.
You are free to decline as many orders as you want if you’d prefer to wait for higher-paying orders.
Peak Pay: A bonus for each delivery when it’s busy
Peak Pay on DoorDash is a bonus for each delivery that you complete when Peak Pay is activated in a delivery zone. Peak Pay is not available if you choose Earn by Time mode.
DoorDash activates Peak Pay during busy times or when DoorDash needs to incentivize more Dashers to move to a delivery zone with a high volume of delivery requests.
Example of a Peak Pay offer: “Earn an extra $3 per delivery during 11:30 am – 3:00 pm.”
Peak Pay is indicated with a tag over a region that says “Busy +$x.xx.”
Tap a Peak Pay icon on the map to see when and where the bonus is available.
Dash Now is typically available when Peak Pay is active, so any Dasher can travel into the zone to try to catch the bonus.
The Peak Pay bonus is included in the estimated payout on the order request screen, but it isn’t listed separately from base pay.
Instead of the estimate saying “$3 base pay + $3 Peak Pay + customer tip,” it will only say “$6, includes DoorDash pay + customer tip. Total may be higher.”
When Peak Pay is active, you can use the Peak Pay bonus amount to figure out if a customer tipped or not.
If Peak Pay is $2 and base pay is typically around $3, a $5 estimated payout means the customer hasn’t tipped.
It might be worth waiting for the next order if an order only seems to be base pay + Peak Pay without a tip,
One downside of Peak Pay is that it can do its job too well. Peak Pay can lure too many drivers onto the road, oversaturating the area and leading to lower order volume.
Is Peak Pay worth it?
Peak Pay can significantly increase your earnings when it is available. The only downside is that it’s not frequently available in some areas, and Peak Pay may lower order volume by attracting too many Dashers into the zone.
Peak Pay is so common in busy markets—like the bay area of California—that many Dashers only schedule hours that are likely to have Peak Pay.
But in other markets, Peak Pay signals that the market will be flooded with Dashers hunting for the bonus.
Too many drivers = lower order volume = lower overall pay.
You’ll have to experiment to see if Peak Pay is genuinely a bonus or if it’s your cue to log onto another app for the day.
If you have a DashMart in your area, it may be a good way to stack several Peak Pay bonuses. Often, DashMart orders are batched together so that you can receive multiple Peak Pay bonuses for one batched set of orders.
Challenges: A bonus for completing a set of deliveries
Challenges are a bonus for completing a certain number of deliveries during a time period.
An example of a Challenge: “Earn an extra $100 for 60 deliveries before October 15th.” Challenges can be small, too: For example, another recent challenge was “Earn an extra $10 for 7 deliveries.”
You do not have to opt in or take any action to participate in a Challenge. You are automatically enrolled if you are eligible.
The app tracks your progress on the Dash map after you begin a Challenge. When you finish one, you’ll see a popup screen summarizing the Challenge. The bonus will then appear on your earnings statement.
You can technically earn both Peak Pay and a Challenge simultaneously, but many Dashers say that when one is available, the other probably isn’t.
For example, you might see Peak Pay frequently for a few weeks. Then a Challenge appears, but Peak Pay becomes a rare sight.
Dashers speculate that DoorDash is experimenting to see which bonus is the cheaper way to get more drivers on the road.
Are Challenges worth it?
Most Challenges offer less than $2 extra for each delivery if you do the math. It might not be worth going out of your way to meet a Challenge unless you already planned to do as many deliveries as the Challenge requires.
On the positive side, meeting an easy Challenge that fits your schedule is a nice boost that might not require any extra effort.
How can you get more Challenges?
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to get more Challenge offers. DoorDash doesn’t say exactly how they offer Challenges, so you’ll have to wait and hope a Challenge comes your way.
Bonuses & promotions for becoming a new Dasher
You can get a signup bonus in some cities for becoming a new Dasher. Bonuses are typically a cash referral bonus and an earnings guarantee.
Referral bonus for new Dashers
A referral bonus for new Dashers will typically promise a cash payout after completing a set number of deliveries by a certain date.
An example: “Do 270 deliveries by 11/28 for a $500 referral bonus!”
Earnings guarantee for new Dashers
An earnings guarantee promises that you will earn a guaranteed minimum amount for completing a number of deliveries.
For example, “Earn at least $1375 for your first 200 deliveries if you complete those first 200 deliveries within 45 days.”
If your earnings from the 200 deliveries come out to less than $1375, you’ll receive a one-time bonus so that your total earnings match $1375. If you receive more than $1375, there is no bonus.
How to get a bonus when you sign up
To be eligible for the new-Dasher referral bonus, sign up using a referral link or input a referral code in the application.
If you know someone who Dashers, ask them for their referral code. Both of you may get a bonus.
Bonus availability varies, so not every Dasher will get a bonus for signing up.
You may not need a referral code to get a new Dasher promo if you find an application page that promises a promotion for new Dashers.
Referral bonus: Get paid to sign up a new Dasher
Like many other gig companies, DoorDash has a referral program that offers big bonuses when you help to sign up new Dashers.
Referral bonuses vary quite a bit: Some markets have huge bonuses, while others have none at all. And the bonus amount changes often, so keep an eye on the app to see exactly how much a bonus is if you refer a friend.
To earn a referral bonus, your referral must sign up with your link and complete the required number of deliveries within the specified time period.
To refer a friend and see the referral payout for your market, head to the Account area of the app and tap on “Refer friends, earn $x.xx.” The referral terms will be listed alongside several options to share your referral link.
After your referral successfully signs up with your link, the app will begin tracking their progress. You’ll be able to see how many deliveries they have completed, so give them a nudge if they need some motivation to complete those final deliveries.
Are referral bonuses worth it? It’s always worth chasing after a referral bonus if you know someone interested in Dashing. Ignore the haters who say that adding new drivers saturates the market with too many drivers. Your $200+ bonus is well worth it.
Why are there different bonuses for different Dashers?
Many Dashers report seeing different Peak Pay and Challenge offers for different Dashers.
Two Dashers waiting for an order might compare their apps and notice that one Dasher is getting Peak Pay offers while the other isn’t.
Does DoorDash offer different bonuses based on a driver’s metrics? Is this a glitch, or is it something else?
Here’s what DoorDash had to say: “Peak pay promotions may vary depending on the area and also the time frame of the bonus. It doesn’t vary [based on the Dasher]. It only depends on the area and time frame of the promotion. It works the same way for Challenges.”
According to DoorDash, promotions don’t depend on the Dasher. That means factors like ratings, acceptance rate, number of deliveries, etc. don’t affect the promotions you receive.
But with DoorDash regularly changing the way things work without informing their support agents of the details, there is still some doubt about how things actually work.
Didn’t get your bonus? What you can do
DoorDash is mostly reliable when paying out bonuses, but sometimes system errors or app downtime might cause you to miss out on a bonus.
Start by contacting support and letting them know exactly what happened.
The best way to protect yourself against missing bonuses is to take a screenshot of the bonus that was active while you were out driving.
Taking a screencap of the Challenge you’re going for is easy, but it might not be as easy to take a screenshot of Peak Pay.
If you’ve had issues with Peak Pay in the past, the extra trouble might be worth it.
Which bonuses are worth going after?
You’ll have to experiment to see how bonuses affect the conditions in your market. Earnings can change based on the time of day, the day of the week, the month, or any number of factors.
You might find that driving during Peak Pay is the best way to boost earnings, or you might find that Peak Pay can actually reduce your earnings because too many other Dashers are out chasing the same bonus.
And for Challenges, do the math to see how much extra work you will have to do to complete the Challenge. Skip it if it doesn’t fit into your schedule, or forces you to take low-paying orders.
More help for Dashers