As a Postmates delivery driver, you can earn money on your own schedule. But the freedom to set your own hours comes with an income that can fluctuate.
Luckily, there are a number of Postmates tips and tricks to help you earn extra money — to the tune of $20 an hour.
Whether you’re new to Postmates or a seasoned driver looking to level up, this guide has got the insider advice for you!
1. Claim your signup bonus
First things first. When you sign up with Postmates as a new courier, you can earn a cash bonus of up to $1,000. Note the words “up to” — the bonus varies based on factors like:
- Your location
- How you sign up
- Your delivery activity in your first 30 days after joining
To qualify for the signup bonus, you generally need a referral code from an existing driver.
You can find these online with a quick search. People tend to be generous with their referrals because they also earn a bonus when new drivers sign up using their code!
Speaking of which…
2. Don’t be shy with your referral code
If you know someone who might be interested in becoming a Postmates driver, give them your code! Once they complete a certain number of rides, you’ll earn a bonus.
Tax tip: Did you know that taking someone to lunch to talk about work is considered a business expense? Business lunches are a great way to share your referral code and get a tax break.
You can go to lunch with a friend or family member who’s thinking of joining Postmates, tell them all about your experience as a driver, hand them your referral code — and write the cost off as a business meal!
This brings us nicely to our next tip for how to make more money as a Postmates courier…
3. Track business write-offs
Postmates drivers are considered independent contractors, so they have to pay self-employment taxes — also known as 1099 taxes.
If you’re used to your employer deducting taxes from your paychecks, filing and paying taxes on your own can come with a learning curve. Luckily, we’ve got a guide that covers the nuts and bolts of filing your Postmates 1099 taxes.
One of the best ways to save money and set yourself up for success is keeping track of the money you spend on your job throughout the year. You can write off these expenses when you file your taxes, which means good money back in your pocket at tax time!
Here are some of the most common Postmates expenses you can write off:
- ⛽ Gas
- 📄 Vehicle registration
- 🚗 Lease payments
- 🛡️ Car insurance
- 🛠️ Maintenance
- 🧰 Repairs
- 📉 Annual depreciation of your car
- 🛂 Parking and toll fees
- 🚲 Bike and helmet
- 🎒 Insulating bags
- 📱 Part of your cell phone and phone bill
- 💵 Postmates commission fees
To deduct these costs from your taxes, you’ll need to make sure you keep records of everything you spent. Or you can download the Keeper app. It'll scan your bank accounts and automatically identify and keep track of all your eligible write-offs — delivering you with the maximum amount of savings.
4. Buy a good insulated bag for food deliveries
As a delivery driver, you’ll often have to buy the tools needed to get orders safely to your customers. Since you’re making food deliveries, you’ll need something to ensure that your orders arrive in good condition. No one wants to receive a cold pizza or soupy ice cream.
So you’ll likely want to invest in a good insulated bag. Good news: You can write the cost off as a business expense in your taxes! Here are a couple with positive online reviews (with links to order):
- KIBAGA Premium Insulated Food Delivery Bag. This bag is big enough to fit multiple orders, and reviewers say its extremely durable and waterproof.
- Freshie Insulated Food Delivery Bag with Cup Holders. It has all the basic functions of an insulation bag — but it also comes with cup holders to ensure you don’t have to deal with any spills!
- Homevative Thermal Insulated Food Delivery Backpack. The backpack styling makes it a good option for anyone delivering from a bike or scooter. (More on that shortly!).
Tip: If you’re doing an in-person drop-off, wait until you’re with the customer to remove the order from your insulated bag. This will show them you’ve taken all possible precautions to ensure their order gets there in good shape!
5. Get to know other drivers
If you're a new delivery driver, you can pick up on lots of Postmates tips and tricks by joining online groups. That's where other drivers tend to share stories and suggestions.
When it comes to learning how to snag better tips, or which local restaurants to avoid, there’s no better teacher than someone who’s been at it for a while. You might even make a friend or two along the way!
You can find many of these groups on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular platforms. For instance, check out the popular Uber Eats (Postmates) Drivers Facebook group, which has almost 12,000 members, with new posts every day.
6. Proactively communicate with customers
When you can, try to position yourself as the first point of contact for your customers. If you anticipate changes or delays with the delivery, reach out to let them know as soon as you can. That way, you have a better chance of hanging on to your potential tip.
Reaching out first also means your customers won’t have to contact Postmates support, which can turn a minor issue into more of a palaver.
Even if the problem is beyond your pay grade, you should be the one to contact support directly — not your customer.
7. Follow drop-off instructions
Customers often specify how they’d like their orders to be dropped off. Some want it handed directly to them, while others prefer contactless options, like leaving the order outside their door or in the lobby of their building.
Make sure you check each order for potential instructions. If there aren’t any, a safe bet is to ring their doorbell (or buzzer) to let them know their order has arrived.
8. Check to see if there are pick-up instructions
Customers aren’t the only ones who can make delivery requests. Restaurants might also have instructions for how drivers pick up orders. This might include things like where to park or which door to use.
Of course, with both pick-up and drop-off instructions, use your discretion: your safety comes first. If you’re asked to do something that feels like it can put you at risk, you can explain why you feel uncomfortable or even cancel the request.
On that note…
9. Don’t be afraid to cancel an order
You don’t want to get too well acquainted with the cancel button. Low completion rates can lead to Postmates giving you the boot. So ideally, you’ll develop a knack for learning which orders to avoid off the bat.
Unfortunately, the Postmates app doesn’t offer a crystal ball function. So if you face unexpected complications after accepting an order, don’t be afraid to cancel.
Postmates — and customers — tend to be understanding if there is a legitimate reason for your cancellation. There’s even a pre-vetted list of reasons to cancel right in the app.
For instance, Postmates advises drivers to cancel if they’ve waited longer than 15 minutes for a food order to be prepared. In this case, just choose “Excessive wait time” as your reason for canceling , and let the customer know that another driver will be picking up their order when it’s ready.
10. Familiarize yourself with the area
Getting to know your locale can make your journeys a lot smoother and more enjoyable. You’ll benefit from inside knowledge such as:
- The quickest routes — and shortcuts — to your delivery locations
- Busy streets that should be avoided during rush hours
- The best places to buy customers’ items in terms of availability, pricing, and proximity to your delivery location
As reliable as Google Maps can be, think of it as your assistant, not your boss.
11. Stick to nearby deliveries to start
When you’re first starting out, it’s a good idea to keep your “service area” fairly close to home. This will help cut down on travel time, save money on gas, and develop a delivery routine more quickly.
Once you’ve got a bit more experience — and a better understanding of which requests to accept — you can start to tackle long-distance deliveries.
Speaking of which…
12. Don’t accept every request
As Postmates 1099 driver, you are your own boss. That comes with some perks. A big one: When Postmates sends you a request to pick up a delivery, you get to decide whether it’s worth it.
It's all about minimizing your drive time — not to mention your shopping time. For instance, unless it’s a huge order, sitting in a drive-through or traveling long distances probably isn’t worth it. You might also want to avoid restaurants that you know are slow to prepare orders.
There are no consequences to passing up a request, so feel free to pick the deliveries that work for you.
13. Capitalize on Auto Accept
The Postmates app’s “Auto Accept” feature can help you make every moment count when you’re on the clock.
Here’s how it works. Auto Accept works in the background when you already have a delivery in progress. When activated, the feature will automatically accept new delivery requests near the dropoff location of your current order. That way, when your delivery is complete, you’ll already have the next one queued up.
To turn on Auto Accept, simply open the account preference options in your Postmates Fleets app, then toggle on the “Automatic Accept” feature.
14. Learn to juggle multiple orders
Auto Accept can help down on idle time by queueing up offers so you don’t have to review each one by hand.
But pair Auto Accept with the “Multiple Orders” feature, and watch out! You’re about to become a delivery efficiency pro.
This feature will notify you about multiple orders that can be fulfilled on the same delivery route, allowing you to squeeze more dollars out of each mile you drive. (Unlike with Auto Accept, you do have the ability to review and reject these orders.)
Keep in mind: Postmates promises customers that their deliveries will arrive within one hour. It also requires drivers to drop off deliveries in the order they were picked up. So you’ll need to be strategic about the order in which you pick up and complete batched deliveries.
15. Stay on top of Postmates’s perks
Postmates’s perks don’t end with the sign-up bonuses. They have a number of different promotions that give drivers the opportunity to ramp up their earnings.
Postmates perks include:
- Rush hour bonus: Earn an extra $5 on deliveries made between 5:30-8:30 PM.
- Evening bonus: Earn a $20 bonus by delivering at least nine orders between 6-99 PM.
- Milestone bonus: If you deliver at least 50 orders within five days, you can earn a whopping $500 bonus.
- Friday dinner bonus: Fulfill seven orders between 5-9 PM on a Friday for an $80 bonus.
- PerkSpot: While this one doesn’t necessarily earn you money, it can help drivers who complete up to 10 trips per week save money through discounts with partner companies.
16. Keep your running costs to the minimum
This ties back in with the tips on getting to know your area and avoiding long-distance orders.
You might be tempted to accept every offer that comes your way. But if you’ll be earning less than $2 per mile, it’s probably not worth the cost of gas.
In addition, you don’t want to drive around aimlessly while waiting for new orders. So scouting out a few parking lots or spots where you can park and wait can help cut down on driving time and costs. (Make sure you’ve got some good reading material or podcasts queued up!)
17. Hang out at the mall
Speaking of parking lots, do you know what tends to have lots of parking space? The mall.
Malls are also often home to multiple restaurants, which means you’re more likely to be within the radius of a delivery request. You can even stack up multiple orders from the same mall!
18. Capitalize on blitz hours
Blitz hours occur when there’s more demand than there are drivers, causing a surge in pricing. Typically, this occurs during peak order times.
For food, peak hours would be:
- Lunch time: 11:00am to 2:00pm
- Dinner time: 5:30pm to 9:30pm
The surge in pricing means increased earnings for drivers. So keep an eye on your phone, because the Postmates app will send you a notification when blitz pricing start.
19. Leave the car at home
Working during rush hour? You can save money on gas and waste less time idling in traffic if you ditch your car and hop on a bike or scooter.
If you’re worried about orders being too heavy, rest assured: Postmates gives delivery people on bikes or scooters comprehensive order details before they accept. So you can decide which orders you can comfortably carry!
In addition, the Postmates app offers a bike-friend navigation setting. To turn it on, tap the menu icon, then go to Account > App Setting > Navigation. You can make the change there!
20. Consider working for more than one delivery service
If you’re looking to expand your clientele, you’ve got a number of options! DoorDash, Uber Eats, Amazon Flex, Instacart, and a number of other delivery apps operate in the same areas as Postmates. Dabbling with a few different companies lets you minimize your downtime when you’re on the road.
Of course, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. IFor new couriers, it’s a good idea to get a groove going with one app at a time, then slowly build up your roster of food delivery services.
The main thing behind all these Postmates tips and tricks can be summed up in two words:
You want to make the most of each moment you spend on the road, by getting as many orders done in as little time as possible. You should also keep customers in the loop to make sure their Postmates experience is a great one.
While the Postmates app offers features that can help you power through orders, it’s up to you to take advantage of them. Little investments of your time and energy — think getting to know your area or giving customers a heads-up when you’re going to be late — can make sure your delivery gig stays profitable.
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At Keeper, we’re on a mission to help people overcome the complexity of taxes. We’ve provided this information for educational purposes, and it does not constitute tax, legal, or accounting advice. If you would like a tax expert to clarify it for you, feel free to sign up for Keeper. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.