On June 28, 2023, DoorDash rolled out a new, flexible feature for drivers: Earn by Time. This offers DoorDash food delivery drivers, called Dashers, an alternate way to earn cash on a time mode instead of per delivery.
Many drivers and gig economy workers wonder exactly how this feature works and whether or not it’s worth it.
Our review article will cover how Earn by Time works and its similarities and differences to earning by time vs earning per order drop-off. We’ll cover pay, coverage, and the most common questions readers have.
How DoorDash Earn Per Order Works
This is the standard way that most Dashers, and gig couriers in general, get paid. There’s a base pay amount that a driver is offered for completing a delivery, with the pay based on drive time and distance, as well as any customer tips.
The driver won’t know exactly how much the customer has tipped until after completing the order, but based on the pay offered per delivery, they have a good idea whether or not the customer has tipped and if accepting the order is worth their while.
How DoorDash Earn By Time Works
This option is available to Dashers in select cities in Canada and the U.S. It enables delivery personnel to dash for a guaranteed hourly minimum wage. When logging into the app, a driver can see the guaranteed hourly rate and choose to accept or decline it.
If a driver does choose the Earn by Time option, they select that payment mode for their entire dash session. If Peak Pay is in effect, this additional incentive or bonus pay will get added to the guaranteed, active time hourly rate.
With this payment mode, a higher acceptance rate is required. Dashers can decline or unassign up to one order per hour. If you decline more than one per hour, you will automatically be shifted to the Earn per Offer payment mode for the rest of your dash session.
In addition to your guaranteed hourly rate, Dashers can still keep 100% of any customer tips.
The idea is to offer Dasher a guaranteed amount of pay when they log into the app and to provide better coverage for customers when it comes to lower-paying orders and not just the high-paying ones.
DoorDash is one of the best delivery apps because it pays a minimum rate per delivery (DoorDash will make up the difference if your pay per delivery is below their threshold!), and encourages generous tips that you keep fully.
How Active Hours Count with Earn by Time
With Earn by Time, you are paid for the active hours or minutes that you are working on an active delivery.
Active time begins the moment that you accept an offer and it ends once the order has been completed or is canceled. Active time includes any wait time at the restaurant or the store. And for batched or bundled deliveries, you are paid the guaranteed rate for when you accept the first order in the batch until you complete the final one.
What Happens if You’re Locked Out of Earn by Time?
At times, a Dasher will not be able to select the Earn by Time option. A lock icon will be displayed in the app and a message that this earning mode is not available.
A lockout can happen periodically, and usually, it’s because too many DoorDash drivers have already selected the Earn by Time method for a guaranteed hourly wage. In this instance, a driver can still make deliveries via Earn per Offer. Earn by Time could become available later that day.
Pros and Cons of Earn per Time
While many Dashers are excited about the hourly payout for time orders, it does come with cons as well as pros.
- Guaranteed pay rate, which can vary based on market and demand.
- Greater flexibility for drivers to choose what they value — set wages or maximum earning potential.
- Get paid for waiting time; drivers are still on the clock when waiting for food to be prepared at restaurants.
- Potential to earn comparable money here as you would with Earn by Order, as drivers can still earn tips.
- Creates a moral hazard; drivers are incentivized to be as slow as possible. This can lead to delayed payment if DoorDash “determines” that a Dasher used this payment mode in an abusive or suspicious manner.
- Fewer hours; in markets that do have this new feature, it’s not always available to Dashers
- Not a true minimum hourly wage; you are not paid for time spent waiting for orders in between deliveries.
- Priority access to high-paying priority orders isn’t available; Time Dash is meant to incentivize drivers to pick up low-paying orders without having to increase the order base pay
Rideshare insiders and experts are highly critical of this new Earn by Time feature, labeling it a way for the app to dupe drivers into taking undesirable orders in exchange for an hourly wage that is not enough to cover the vehicle wear and tear, not to mention reduced earnings from lower-paying orders.
Pros and Cons of Earn per Order
While Earn by Time is meant to offer Dashers more stability in their side hustle, some drivers find more certainty and agency with the Earn per Order payout method. Here are the pros and cons that come with Earn per Order compensation.
- Available in all markets that have DoorDash, unlike Earn per Order which is available only in select cities in North America.
- Higher total pay. There are more hours or deliveries available — enough to earn full-time Drivers can opt for higher-paying orders to maximize their time on the road.
- More flexibility and control. Drivers can decline orders (more than one per hour) that they don’t want to take, including deliveries that would require substantial mileage on their vehicle.
- Priority access to high-paying orders — for Dasher with a rating of 4.5 stars or higher and a completion rate of at least 50%.
- Less consistency. With no guaranteed hourly wage, you could log into the app and find only low-paying, high-driving orders available and make less in your shift than you would have with Earn by Time.
- Not paid for restaurant wait times. With some DoorDash orders, the driver has to place the order and then wait for the food to be cooked at the restaurant. Long wait times take you off the road and away from earning money.
Overall, drivers generally seem to prefer the Earn by Order, although thus far most have limited experience comparing one payout method to the other.
Should You Earn by Time or Order?
Most industry experts and drivers are skeptical, to put it mildly, but it’s fair to say that every individual will have a unique experience. For curious drivers, it might be a good experiment to try out one or two Earn by Time shifts.
However, DoorDash’s aim with this program is to incentivize couriers to pick up less desirable orders with lower tips (due to lower order amount) and more driving. And it also limits a driver’s ability to decline low-paying deliveries.
But if you’ve ever been burned by long wait times at a restaurant, getting stuck forever in traffic, or having some really low-paying work shifts, then the guaranteed wages with Earn by Time may be an attractive draw.