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Working As A Deliveroo Rider In The UK: My Experience And Tips! 

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Working as a Deliveroo Rider as a side hustle

In recent years, the gig economy has exploded, offering numerous opportunities for people to earn extra income alongside their main jobs. The cost of living crisis has meant that people have had to cut back on their expenses to help make ends meet, but there is only so much you can cut back, and so in any situation where not having enough money is the issue, and you can't cut back any further, the only other option is to increase the amount of money coming in, and so having a side hustle can help with that, by offering that extra needed income, which is always handy and can make a real difference to a families budget.

One popular option in the UK is working as a food delivery driver, and it's a side hustle I've been doing for a couple of years now, working as a Deliveroo rider (driver), delivering takeaways and groceries to Deliveroo's customers in my area. I've mentioned this a few times on my social media pages and recently, I've been asked to give a bit more information about what the role requires, what you can get paid, and ultimately if it is worth doing, so here's my guide to working as a UK Deliveroo rider, which will give details of what it's like to work as a Deliveroo rider in the UK, including the hours, pay, and the pros and cons of this role.

Hours and flexibility

One of the most attractive aspects of working as a Deliveroo rider is its flexibility. As a rider, you can choose your own hours and work around your existing commitments.  This makes it an ideal side hustle for those who would like to be able to work to earn some extra money, with the flexibility to choose exactly when they work, with no commitment to be working at any particular time.

For me, and many other riders, I'm sure, this means I can work for Deliveroo when I have spare time. I have a full-time job and other work commitments, so being able to go online and start delivering orders to hungry customers when I want is invaluable.

There'll be weeks where I might only do a couple of hours of delivery work, maybe none at all, and then another week when I'll be working all weekend or on an evening after I've finished my main job, and that is the big plus for me, I can pick and choose my shifts, and there's nobody saying that you must work on X day and at this time, which is would you'd expect from most jobs, I can log into the app when I'm available to work and start earning money. I love that aspect of working for Deliveroo! 

There is no cap to how many hours you can work for Deliveroo, in theory you could work all day every day if you wanted to!

Peak times for food delivery typically occur during lunch and dinner hours and on weekends. If you want to maximise your earnings, these are the best times to work. However, the beauty of this side hustle is that you can also choose to work during off-peak hours if that better suits your schedule, but if you work during quieter times, you'll likely earn less money, purely because there are fewer orders to deliver. So you're competing against the other Deliveroo drivers for work, and as a result, your shift may not be that profitable! 

How it works delivering for Deliveroo

Deliveroo riders use a dedicated Deliveroo driver/rider app to work for Deliveroo. Once you turn the app on, you can see which areas are busy and which areas aren't, which will help give you an idea of whether it’s worth going out to deliver at that point in the day. If it is, click on the go online button, and you are then 'on duty'. You can turn it back off at any point you like.

The app looks for delivery opportunities and if you are close to one, it'll give you the option to take/accept the order. The app will tell you:

1. Where the collection is from and where it’s going 

2. the rate of pay for the job

3. How much you've already earned during the shift

If you want to make that delivery, just hit the button and head off to the collection address. If you don't want to deliver that order, you can reject the order and wait for the next one. You aren't obliged to accept any order, and you won't lose any rankings or good standing for not accepting an order. If you reject three orders in a row, it’ll ask you if you want to take a break and go offline; if you don’t, say no, and wait for the next delivery offer.

The app will link to Google Maps or Waze (for navigation), so you'll need at least one of those on your smartphone. Once you collect the order to deliver (which often means youve needed to scan the order number of the item to be delivered using the app, which the app will guide you to do), you will click on the go to customer button, and this will launch the sat nav. Once you've arrived, click on arrived, and this will tell the customer you are with them, and they'll, hopefully, be looking out for you. Once you've reached the customer, you'll be prompted to ask for a two-digit code they have, which you put into the app to tell the app you've found the right customer. You'll then be prompted to check any ID for orders requiring age verification, which you need to do, and then enter the customer’s date of birth into the app. At that stage, click on the order complete button, and you are then all done and can be off to your next job!  It's a pretty simple process! 

Pay and Earnings - If the wheels aren't turning, you're not earning! 

Now, this is the important part: what will you get paid? The answer is ... it depends! There are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to working for Deliveroo! You might have a fantastic shift, when it's busy, and you don’t stop working, constantly dropping off a delivery and getting a notification straight away for another pickup and delivery, and you are off again and likely be quids in at the end of your shift; alternatively, you could be sat in a lay by for ages with zero delivery opportunities coming in, then suddenly get a job, go and deliver it, and then wait for another age for another order, slowly getting more and more fed up and wondering why you are bothering. It's a real mix of emotions and financial success, and no shift will be identical!

When you work for Deliveroo, you work as a private contractor. This means that you and all the other Deliveroo riders are working as self-employed contractors, and Deliveroo is your customer. You are NOT an employee of Deliveroo. This means you have no employee benefits such as holiday pay, sick pay, pension options or any other benefits of being employed. You'll also not have deductions for tax etc made from your payments, which might sound wonderful, but in reality, means you're going to need to register for assessment if it's likely you will earn over £1,000 per year in extra revenue, from any of your side hustles, (in total for everything). So you'll need to factor in that you’ll have to pay tax for your pay at some point, so make sure you put money aside for this! Don't assume you'll get away with not registering for assessment. Deliveroo is one of the companies legally required to share your earnings with the HMRC so you will be found out, and you don't want that!

You can claim mileage or fuel costs (not both) on your tax return, and this will decrease the amount of tax you have to pay considerably if you claim per mile for tax relief:  45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles of work travel in a year, to pay, or 25p per mile for any additional travel after that. You can also claim some other expenses as well. 

The only financial support you can claim from Deliveroo, is that new parents who regularly work with Deliveroo can claim a one-off payment of £1,000 on the birth or adoption of a child to help with loss of earnings and additional expenses.

Deliveroo will normally supply you with great quality Deliveroo safety kit and thermal bags for keeping the food hot/cold while transporting the orders, plus some app-based rider perks which might give you discounts on products and services as well as the odd free drink, free food items from specific restaurants/stores. As an example, you used to be able to claim a free drink each day you worked from KFC restaurants, but sadly, KFC is no longer in the Deliveroo app, so that perk has ended, but it was a perk I took full advantage of! 

As a self-employed contractor, Deliveroo workers receive no guaranteed minimum amount of pay for being online and being available to deliver to Deliveroo customers. Although there are attractive earning opportunities for working for Deliveroo, you'll soon realise that you have to take the good days with the bad days, and frankly, you are not going to get rich working for Deliveroo; this is a side hustle, and although there are people who deliver for Deliveroo as their main job, I wouldn't want to take Deliveroo as anything other than a way to earn some extra cash every so often.

I've used Deliveroo to help fund things such as car repairs and a larger-than-expected credit card bill, and it's been helping me pay for my upcoming wedding, but as a full-time job, it's unlikely that I'd earn enough to pay all my bills, unless I was out from all day, every day.

There are many shifts I perform for Deliveroo where I don't earn the national living wage for being available to deliver orders; I've had shifts where I've not delivered anything for a couple of hours, so it's been a total waste of time, but again, I’ve had shifts where I’ve earned £20+ per hour, and this is the key message: you never know how busy you'll be and how much you might earn, so you cannot rely on the income it generates! 

The Deliveroo Rider app shows you the areas you’re working in on a map and will tell you if that area is not busy, moderately busy, or busy, helping you decide whether you should move to somewhere busier.

I work in a medium-sized town, and my delivery area covers 30 square miles, or so, which means I can move around to different areas when it’s quiet where from where I am currently, hoping it'll be busier there. The Deliveroo Rider app shows you the areas you’re working in on a map and will tell you if that area is not busy, moderately busy, or busy, helping you decide whether you should move to somewhere busier.

I tend to stay put and wait it out and hope it gets busier, as in the past I've moved to busier areas, using up my fuel, to find then the maps changed and the area you just moved to is now showing as not busy and the area you've moved from which was showing not busy, is now showing as moderate, and that's really annoying!

I tend to let everyone else move to a busier area, which means that there are now fewer drivers in my area, increasing the chance of me getting an order to deliver!

It's all about playing the game; after all, not being busy on a map doesn’t mean there are zero deliveries to be made; it just means it is not very busy, but if everyone else moves away, you'll likely get to deliver those orders that do need to be delivered! 

Deliveroo riders are paid a variable distance fee for delivering orders. In a nutshell, this means that the further away the delivery address is from the pickup location, the more you'll be paid.

Deliver an order to a customer a mile down the road, and you might earn about £3.30. Deliver to a customer 8 or 9 miles away, and you might earn around £7.50 or so. You may be offered a double order, which means you have two collections from (normally) the same restaurant or store and deliver to two different customers, and you'll get a higher pay rate. This normally happens when the two customers are located reasonably close to each other, generally within a couple of miles of each other, or you'll be passing very close to one of the customers on the way to another. These tend to be close to each other to avoid food getting cold or making the customer wait a long time for delivery.

These double orders will often add about a 30% extra fee to your income, and you have to weigh up if it's worth the time and fuel to deliver more than one.  You may also find extra surge bonuses for delivering at peak or busy times. The app will show the bonuses on the map part of the app.

It will display the surge bonus amount with a lightning bolt image and an amount, such as 1.2, which means it's the normal fee, plus 20% ( so if the fee was £1 normally, you'd be paid £1.20), and bonuses can go up to 1.5, so normal fee plus 50% (rare amount!), and these bonuses can help boost your earnings! I have to say there are fewer of these surge bonuses these days in my area, I guess as we seem to have a lot more drivers at the moment, so they don't need to 'bribe' drivers to come out, and work, which is the reason they have these surge bonuses as they increase the fee when they need drivers, and drivers will often head out and earn some extra cash! 

Income examples

So you're probably readiung this because you want to know what you can earn working for Deliveroo, so let me give you some of MY recent Deliveroo income figures.

Remember, these are MY figures and everyone will have different figures depending on when and where they work. If I were working in a big city, such as London, I might earn way more than I do, as there are more restaurants/shops and more customers to deliver to, so I might be busy all the time; equally, there will likely be more Deliveroo riders working so my income might be the same; you never know! 

The worst hourly rate was Friday, where I earned £9.22 per hour. This was over one weekend, no weekend/shit pattern is the same!

Recent Income Example

Sunday 30th June - £52.07 - Working 08:05 until 13:04

Saturday 29th June - £89.83 - Working 17:42 until 22:09

Friday 28th June - £55.29 - Working 12:22 until 18:30

Total £202.06 - hours worked 15.5 - Hourly wage average over the whole weekend £13.04  The worst hourly rate was Friday, where I earned £9.22 per hour. This was over one weekend, no weekend/shit pattern is the same!

The weekend before:

Sunday 23rd June - £19.24 - 08:30 until 09:19 

Friday 21st June - £97.69 - 12:26 until 21:26

Total £116.94 - hours worked 10 - Hourly wage average over the whole weekend £11.69 

These are not awful figures, right? I will add that they include tips (which shouldn't be relied on as they are few and far between in the UK!); there are many shifts where I've earned maybe £7 an hour, maybe £8, which is less impressive.

I always go into a shift with the approach/mindset that it's just my time I'm wasting working for Deliveroo (not strictly true, as you’ll see from the next section), and if I don't earn much, then it's still better than nothing. Having been in a very poor financial place previously, I'm of the mindset that I would rather be out earning at least something than sitting at home on my bottom watching TV, earning zero, whilst worrying that I'm skint, even an extra £20 for a few hours work is £20 more than I would have sat at home!

Now, here comes a REALLY important part:

Insurance and fuel

Remember, you are a self-employed contractor, and as such, all your expenses need to come out of what you get paid by Deliveroo, and these include:

Fuel: You are responsible for your own fuel cost. So, every drop of fuel you use to deliver that order comes from your income. The more fuel you use to deliver, the less you earn, plain and simple, and this is why those delivery drivers you see riding bicycles to deliver are probably earning the most, as they have zero fuel costs! Scooters are reasonably fuel efficient, and so the scooter drivers are still making a decent amount, but drivers like me, driving gas-guzzling cars or, in my case, a big old transit van, are likely using lots of fuel, decreasing the amount of profit they make! My van hates short journeys, and a full tank of diesel, delivering locally, with all those stop-starts, gives about 450 miles range - if that was a full tank with the van on a motorway, with cruise control on, at a steady 70 mph, it’d give me 650 miles of range, so massively more miles for my money! As a guide, I put £50 of diesel into my van to deliver the £202.06 of income generated in the first income example above. So that means that my hourly rate for working that weekend, taking out the fuel cost, dropped to £9.81, and that's not including:

Insurance: Most people's vehicle insurance doesn't cover them for using their vehicle to deliver food in return for payment. To do this, you need what is known as hire and reward insurance, and this is very expensive! It's expensive because the more you are on the road, the more likely you are to have an accident, so the higher the risk, the more you pay! You can buy this hire and reward insurance from specialist insurance companies, but it costs several thousand pounds a year, and that's not realistic for someone who just wants to deliver a few pizzas a couple of times a week!

Luckily, especially designed for side hustles such as food delivery, you can purchase top-up insurance, which works in conjunction with your regular motor vehicle insurance and is charged by the hour. If you work for, say, 4 hours, you'll pay for those 4 hours of top-up insurance, but no more, so it's a pay-as-you-go service; you pay for what you use. You need to check with your normal vehicle insurance company before you start working for Deliveroo using the top-up insurance, as not all insurance companies will allow you to do this! 

I use Zego for my insurance, and I pay 99p per hour. This works alongside the driver Deliveroo food app (and for other delivery platforms as well). It will detect when you log on to work with Deliveroo, which means you'll be covered for the whole time you are working and then once you go offline and stop working, the insurance will stop as well, (they do charge for a full hours use, so if you work 4 hours and 5 minutes, you'll be charged for 5 hours of insurance). 

The insurance has its own app, which is linked to the Deliveroo Riders app, and it's pay-as-you-go, which means you need to top up the app in order for it to take payment. It's just like a pay-as-you-go phone; if there's no credit, it won't work, so you have to keep a balance on your insurance app. If you fall below £5 of credit, the app will automatically deduct £20m from your linked payment card to top you up, which is a bit annoying, if I’m honest, to suddenly have £20 taken off you, especially if you have had a bad shift already, and so I always keep my balance above £15 to cover me for my insurance without triggering the auto top up - I top up £5 each shift unless I'm only working for a couple of hours, to make sure I don't get close that £5 auto top up trigger! 

So you have to calculate the insurance costs into your income as well. Again, using the first income example, I have to take 16 hours of insurance off my income, which is £15.84, which means my hourly income has now dropped to £8.79 per hour. The 2024 National Minimum Wage for those over 21 is £11.44, meaning that I earned £2.65 less per hour than legally allowed had I gone and worked for a supermarket or some other kind of business! This is where my comment earlier, 'that it's just my time I'm wasting working for Deliveroo’ comes into play for me; I would rather have that £8.79 per hour in my pocket than nothing, and if you look it at that way then it’s ok, especially as some shift are much higher earning than £8.79 an hour, but also some are less! 

Deliveroo’s only free insurance is Deliveroo’s free rider insurance cover, which covers cyclists and walkers when working. It also covers scooter and car riders when they’re ‘off-vehicle’, for example, when walking to pick up and deliver orders.

You can get £1,000,000 of cover in case you cause injury to someone whilst at work. It also protects you if you damage someone else’s property whilst working, such as other vehicles or buildings. Legal costs are included in the cover.  Riders working regularly with Deliveroo may also be eligible to claim up to £35 per day if you're unwell or have suffered injuries as a result of an assault, and are unable to work. 

You also need to factor in vehicle depreciation. The more you are on the road, the more wear and tear on your vehicle, and the sooner you'll need to replace tyres, oil and other fluids, bulbs, wiper blades, etc. It’s easy to bury your head in the sand about these costs as they aren’t payable every shift, every month, etc., but they will get you in the end, especially tyres!

The Good Points of Being a Deliveroo Rider

1. Flexibility: As mentioned earlier, the flexibility of this role is a major plus. You can work when you want, for as long as you want, making it easy to fit around other commitments

2. Physical Activity: Delivering by bicycle can be a great side hustle if you choose to stay active and fit while earning money! Even in a car, the exercise you get delivering can be good! 

3. Explore: As a rider, you’ll have the opportunity to explore different parts of your city or town that you might not otherwise visit. I’ve discovered lots of interesting places I would have never come across if I hadn’t been delivering in the area. I also now know my way around the area like the back of my hand! 

4. Quick Start: The barriers to entry for becoming a Deliveroo rider are relatively low. You don't need specific qualifications, just a mode of transport. The app uses a satellite navigation system to get you from the pickup place to the delivery place, and it is normally pretty accurate, bar the odd issue! 

5. Potential for High Earnings: During busy periods, especially if you work during peak times, you can earn a good hourly rate.

6. Instant Access to Earnings: Deliveroo's system allows you to cash out your earnings on demand, providing quick access to your money when you need it. They charge you 50p for withdrawing the money to your bank account, but if you leave the funds in your Deliveroo app, they'll automatically be free to your bank every Tuesday. They'll also auto-generate an invoice to them from you, which gives the info on the services you performed for them, which is great for you to keep for your financial records for the HMRC, plus older payments and days/hous worked are on the Deliveroo rider app for you to see if you need to.

7. Keep 100% of Tips: Any tips you receive from customers go directly to you and are added to your Deliveroo earnings part of the app immediately. 

8. Meet New People: This job provides opportunities to interact with restaurant staff and customers, which can be enjoyable for those who like social interaction; I enjoy this aspect, as you get to meet a wide range of different people.

The Challenges of Being a Deliveroo Rider

1. Income Instability: Your earnings can be unpredictable and vary greatly depending on factors outside your control, such as weather conditions, time of day, and customer demand. Poor pay or low pay is best to be expected; if it turns out to be great earnings, then it’s a good day. Expect the worst, but hope for the best! 

2. No Employee Benefits: As an independent contractor, you don't receive benefits like sick pay, holiday pay, or pension contributions.

3. Equipment and Maintenance Costs: You're responsible for providing and maintaining your own vehicle (whether it's a bicycle, scooter, or car). This includes vehicle costs for repairs, fuel, and insurance.

4. Weather Exposure: If you're delivering by bicycle or scooter, you'll be exposed to all weather conditions, which can be challenging, especially in the UK's often unpredictable climate! You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to find someone’s house, while driving, at night, in the pouring rain, with a sat nav giving you an incorrect delivery location; it’s never a great experience! 

5. Physical Demands: The job can be physically demanding, particularly if you're cycling long distances or carrying heavy orders. Remember, not everyone lives in a house with a driveway and easy parking outside. They may live in a top floor flat, with no lift, or parking may be difficult, so you need to be able to park elsewhere and then finish the job on foot, often with packages, possibly heavy things like water (you can guarantee any order with cases of water will be in a flat!),  so a degree of fitness is a good idea. However, I’m the least fit person you’ll meet, and I’ve never not managed to not deliver an order yet! 

6. Safety Concerns: Riding in traffic, especially at night, can pose safety risks. It can also be quite hard delivering at night as house numbers can be hard to see from the road, especially when driving. My tip is to look for people’s bins. I find people are better at putting big house numbers on their bins than on their doors, and so looking for a customer’s bin out front can make life much easier! 

7. Lack of Job Security: Deliveroo can terminate your contract anytime, and consistent work is not guaranteed! 

8. Tax Responsibilities: As a sole trader, you're responsible for declaring your income and paying the appropriate taxes, so you need to factor that in. You shouldn't need an accounant as its pretty straightforward completing a self-assessment form, especially if you kept hold of all your receipts, Deliveroo invoices plus have kept track of your mileage!

Getting Started as a Deliveroo Rider

The application process is relatively straightforward if you want to become a Deliveroo rider. You must be over 18 years old to apply. You'll need to provide proof of your right to work in the UK, proof of address, and proof of your delivery insurance and vehicle license if you’re using a vehicle. 

Once accepted and awaiting being able to deliver, you'll perform online training, including watching videos on how the app works and how to deliver and how to deal with things such as asking for ID, as you'll often deliver age-restricted items such as alcohol, tobacco products, and medication; you would believe the number of times I've had to ID people for delivering Calpol! 

The equipment you'll need depends on your mode of transport. Cyclists, for example, need a reflective jacket, helmet, phone mount, small thermal bag, and an insulated backpack, some of which may be supplied by Deliveroo. I suggest investing in a decent torch with a strong beam so you can light up house numbers from the road and always have pen and paper on you, as it comes in handy.

My Tips for Success as a Deliveroo Rider

1. Work During Peak Hours: To maximise your earnings, work during busy periods like lunch and dinner and on weekends. That doesn't mean there isn't work at other times, but it makes sense to be working when customers are most actively ordering!

2. Maintain Your Vehicle: Regular bicycle, scooter, or car maintenance can help prevent breakdowns and ensure you can work when you want to! Fill up with fuel before you get busy, don't chance running out of fuel miles from anywhere!

3. Know Your Area: Familiarise yourself with your delivery area to improve your efficiency and increase your earnings. Find places that offer parking close to popular restaurants, shops, etc; the closer, the better; the app looks for the closest driver to allocate a delivery, so if there is another driver closer, they'll get the order, so try and get as close as possible! I've found a great spot just next to a popular convenience store, so wait there, as it's unusual for anyone to get much closer without actually going into the store! Don't park in taxi bays or on double yellow lines. You are a Deliveroo driver, not a police officer, and you will likely get a ticket; been there, done that! 

4. Provide Good Customer Service: Being friendly and efficient can lead to better tips and ratings; it also makes for a better working environment; a quick hello, how has your day been? Chat while you get the food out of the bag can cheer up someone’s day, and good manners cost you nothing but could earn you a tip! 

5. Stay Safe: Always prioritise your safety, especially when riding at night or in busy traffic. Don't use your phone while driving!!!

6. Keep Track of Your Expenses: As a sole trader, you can offset certain expenses against your tax bill, so keep good records. If that means using finance software, do it; it's not worth the stress of not keeping accurate records!

7. For £10 a month, you can use the Drivers Note app, and this app will log every journey you make and allow you to classify the journey as business or personal. If it's business, the app will tell you your journey mileage, show you your route, and how much you can claim for mileage on your tax return, and send you a weekly report to sum it all up. It's the best £10 a month you'll spend as it makes claiming for mileage a breeze, plus should the HMRC want proof of your mileage, you'll have it all to show them! The app runs in the background and automatically detects when you've set off on a journey, so you don't have to do a thing! 

8. Join a local Facebook group for Deliveroo riders, and you’ll then be able to communicate with a community of fellow riders who give good advice, tell great stories, and can be a real wealth of knowledge! 

9. Stay hydrated! Take drinks with you as its thirsty work, and part of that is to figure out where any local toilets are located! Many larger restaurants have a loo, but smaller takeaways don't and if your delivering later in the evening, you may struggle to find somewhere open to use the toilet. Most Shell petrol stations with an M&S grocery department, have a loo you can use!

10. When its quiet hang our near local convenience stores. There's a Co-op and a Sainsbury's local near me that are pretty steady for orders and so if I park up near one of those I'll generally pick up a few extra orders, especially on a Sunday morning before the big supermarkets open as people do want breakfast staples such as bread, bacon and eggs delivered, or later on a Friday or Saturday night when people order snacks and of course some extra drinks to finish off the night, or some tobacco!

To sum up; Is it worth working for Deliveroo?

Working as a Deliveroo rider in the UK can be an excellent side hustle for those seeking flexible work and the potential for good earnings. Choosing your own hours and working around existing commitments is a significant advantage, making it suitable for a wide range of people.

However, it's important to consider the challenges, such as the lack of employee benefits, potential income instability, and the responsibility of being a sole trader. You should also factor in the costs of providing and maintaining your equipment.

Ultimately, whether being a Deliveroo rider is a good side hustle for you depends on your circumstances, including your location, available time, and financial goals. For many, the flexibility and earning potential outweigh the challenges; I quite enjoy it as I enjoy driving, I’m good with people, and the money helps out. As I said earlier, you won't get rich from Deliveroo, but you will get 'richer' - it's a side hustle I enjoy 75% of the time. There are good days and days when you vow never to turn that Deliveroo rider app on again, but you have to take the good with bad; like most jobs, it is what it is; it kept my family fed and with a roof over our heads during difficult times, so I'm certainly sticking with it... maybe I'll see you out on the road; perhaps I'll be delivering your next pizza; if so, please don't forget to tip if you can, getting a tip can really brighten up your day!


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