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Amazon Flex Guide: How It Works & Whether It’s Worth It

Amazon Flex
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Amazon advertises that it pays its team of independent Amazon Flex delivery drivers $18 to $25 per hour — a tempting offer when you’re interested in driving as a side hustle. 

But can you really earn that much money, considering you’re on the hook for your own gas, insurance and vehicle maintenance? And is there enough work available on the platform to make it a better option than food delivery apps like DoorDash and UberEats?

This Amazon Flex guide explains everything you need to know about getting started, including how to sign up and how much you can realistically expect to earn.

What Is Amazon Flex?

As an Amazon Flex driver, you deliver packages directly from Amazon to customers. This includes both regular packages that contain online orders and fresh grocery items ordered through Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods. 

  • Flex delivery is for Amazon Prime orders. Drivers pick up a batch of packages from a warehouse and deliver them to customers.
  • Amazon Fresh is a grocery delivery service. Flex drivers pick up batches of grocery orders from a single location, then deliver them to customers along an assigned route.
  • Whole Foods offers delivery through Amazon. Flex drivers pick up orders at Whole Foods stores, then deliver those orders to customers. 

All three of these delivery methods are available on Amazon Flex, and you can choose which type of deliveries you’d like to make when you schedule shifts (more on this down below). 

You work as an independent contractor and you’re paid for a set block of deliveries (not by the hour). You use your own vehicle to make deliveries, and you’re responsible for gas, parking, tolls and any additional business expenses.

To drive for Amazon Flex, you must be at least 21 or older and live in a city that offers Flex. You must also have a valid driver’s license, a midsized or larger vehicle (i.e., a midsize sedan, truck or van), and a compatible smartphone. 

Amazon Flex Reviews and Consensus

Amazon Flex is ideal for people who live in urban or dense suburban areas and want a part-time job or a side hustle. Drivers (especially students and single moms) appreciate the flexible, work-when-you-want schedule. Former Uber and Lyft drivers appreciate that there are no riders to deal with — just packages and grocery bags. 

Note: The review scores below were collected on September 15th, 2022. We update this table periodically throughout the year to keep the data current.

Review SiteReview ScoreNumber of Reviews
Glassdoor3.6/54,213
Indeed3.4/52,455

As with most gig economy apps, Amazon Flex has its snags and problems. The main complaint from drivers is that the advertised pay rate doesn’t account for the cost of gas

For instance, Amazon might pay around $36 for a two-hour delivery block, which works out to $18 per hour. Not bad for a flexible side hustle. But when you factor in gas, tolls, parking, insurance and wear and tear on your personal vehicle, that number goes down substantially. 

After accounting for the time to drive to the Amazon pickup location (which isn’t reimbursed) and gas for a 60-mile round trip (or more), some drivers end up making substantially less than the touted $18 to $25 per hour.

This varies depending on the delivery block: some blocks are quick, easy and lucrative, while drivers make very little on others. Unfortunately, a Flex driver has no way of knowing the exact delivery route of a given block, nor how profitable it will be, before selecting it.

There’s also been a growing sentiment that Amazon has misclassified Flex drivers as independent contractors when they should be considered employees with corresponding benefits and protections. One former driver has filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon for this reason.

Amazon Flex Earning Potential

As independent contractors, Amazon Flex drivers are responsible for the expenses of running their business. So how much are Amazon Flex drivers really earning after all is said and done? Is it the $18 to $25 per hour that Amazon claims on the program’s website?

The "other factors" mentioned in the screenshot above can dramatically eat into your hourly rate.
The “other factors” mentioned in the screenshot above can dramatically eat into your hourly rate.

There’s obviously some variability here, but Amazon is fairly transparent with one element: the base pay for each delivery block. 

For each delivery block, Amazon contributes a minimum of $15 per scheduled hour. So they would pay $45 for a three-hour block. You keep 100% of any tips you receive, though tipping is more common for Fresh and Whole Foods deliveries than standard Amazon Prime orders. 

How much does this translate to in take-home pay?

Let’s say you drive for Flex for one three-hour block Monday through Friday. You’ll make a minimum of $225 per week in gross income for 15 hours of work. 

However, mileage can vary significantly between blocks. 15 miles is low, and 70 miles is high. Using 25 miles per delivery block as an example, your fuel and maintenance costs would be $15.63 per delivery block (or $78.13 per week) based the government’s standard vehicle use reimbursement rate of 62.5 cents per mile.

Taxes take an additional 12% to 15% out of your profits, or $17.62 to $36.71 per week.

Given that, you’ll make around $125 per week (on the low end) in net pay. That’s just $8.40 per hour — a far cry from Amazon’s advertised rate range. 

And that figure does not account for parking, tolls, insurance or other expenses.

Amazon Flex Surge Pay

Experienced drivers recommend taking advantage of surge pricing during peak times and inclement weather, as this can substantially increase your per-hour pay rate.

Surges are often seasonal or event-based — i.e., on winter holidays and Prime Day — and frequently occur immediately prior a delivery block’s start time (since no drivers have signed up to take the block).

Payment for peak time work can be up to $69 per hour.

Potential Fuel Savings With the Amazon Flex Debit Card

Flex drivers have access to a free online checking account and debit card, called the Amazon Flex Debit Card. Amazon states that drivers can earn “up to” 6% cash-back on a fuel and EV-charging purchases when paying with the card, but the company has not published a list of specific offers.

There are also occasional promotional offers that boost the cash-back rate. For example, when we were researching the program for this guide, Flex drivers could earn up to 12% on gas purchases by using the card:

Example of an Amazon Flex Debit Card promotional offer for bonus cash-back.
Example of an Amazon Flex Debit Card promotional offer for bonus cash-back.

The card is part of a broader program called Amazon Flex Rewards, which offers discounts at partnered retailers, free tax and financial planning resources, and a preferred scheduling program that gives you better access to delivery shifts depending on your performance as a driver.

All Amazon Flex workers are automatically part of the Flex Rewards program, and there’s no way to opt out. However, you are not required to use the Amazon Flex Debit Card or its associated checking account.

How Amazon Flex Works

Becoming an Amazon Flex driver is a fairly simple process, but you can’t get approved overnight. Here’s a quick rundown of the onboarding process and what you can expect.

Step 1: Sign Up

To sign up as an Amazon Flex driver, you’ll first need to download the Amazon Flex app. Use your Amazon credentials (or create an Amazon account) to sign in.

Note: This app isn’t available in the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. You have to get a link or QR code from the Amazon Flex website. You may also need to change some of your phone’s settings for the app to install correctly.

You can sign up with Amazon Flex regardless of whether or not there’s a present need for drivers in your area. You’ll be placed on a waitlist if there aren’t any current openings. 

Step 2: Answer Screening Questions

The Flex app will ask you what zip code you want to deliver for, what type of car you’ll be using, and what time of day and days of the week you prefer to drive.

Step 3: Pass a Background Check 

Amazon uses a third-party organization to conduct background checks on all their drivers, including Flex drivers. They look for criminal history (such as theft, reckless driving or domestic violence) that would be problematic for a driving job.

If your background is fairly clean, this process should only take a few days. If you have prior offenses, it will likely take longer. You can see the results of the background check in the Flex app.

Step 4: Register for Shifts 

One of the benefits of Amazon Flex is that you get to pick when and how much you want to work. However, unlike other gig economy delivery apps (such as UberEats and GrubHub) that let you work on-demand, Flex drivers are required to sign up for shifts, which are called delivery blocks.

To register for a shift, simply open the Flex app and choose the blocks you’d like to accept. Each block displays how long it will take to complete, as well as how much you’ll be paid. Each block must be completed by the stated deadline. 

Step 5: Make Deliveries 

When you’re ready to make your deliveries, go to the specified Amazon warehouse to pick up your packages. Each delivery block has around 25 to 30 packages.

Once your packages are loaded, follow the instructions in the Amazon Flex app to navigate to the first address. The app will create your driving route automatically. When you make your delivery, scan the package, drop it off, and snap a photo in the app to verify it has been delivered. 

Amazon Flex Guide FAQs

Is there a limit to how much you can work on Amazon Flex?

Amazon has not published specific rules about how many hours you can work per day or per week, but many Amazon Flex drivers report that the number is not unlimited, and that once you reach the maximum for your market, you’ll stop seeing available delivery blocks.

The most commonly reported maximums are 10 hours per day and 40 hours per week in the United States, and these caps often get lifted for the holiday season and Prime Day.

Where is Amazon Flex available? 

Amazon says that Flex is available in more than 50 cities, but it does not publish a specific list of those cities. You see the cities for which the company is “actively recruiting” Flex drivers here, but remember that this is not a complete list. The only way to find out if Flex is available in your area is by going through the application process.

One important note is that Amazon Flex is available to independent contractors in California, and there are some added benefits for those workers as a result of recent state-level regulations that address the welfare of gig economy workers.

Specifically, California-based Flex drivers have a higher earning floor and get a monthly health insurance subsidy if they meet an hours-worked threshold. You can learn more about the details here.

How do Amazon Flex drivers get paid?

Payment is issued twice weekly via direct deposit, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Unlike other food delivery job apps, there is no instant cash-out option.  

Does Amazon Flex pay for your expenses?

No. As an Amazon Flex worker, you are an independent delivery driver, not an Amazon employee, so you are responsible for your gas, insurance, tolls, car payment and other expenses.

Amazon does give Flex drivers a free “Amazon Commercial Auto Insurance Policy,” which provides additional liability coverage. However, you’re still required to maintain the necessary insurance policy required by your state.

Can you deduct your expenses from your earned income so you pay less in taxes?

Yes. Because you are an independent contractor, any expenses that are directly related to your business — in this case, you independent delivery business — can be deducted if reported properly on your annual tax return.

This would include the gas that you use for making deliveries, but not your auto insurance (because you would have to buy insurance anyway). Similarly, you cannot deduct you car payment unless you use your car exclusively for deliveries.

In some cases, you can deduct a portion of an expense when an asset is used for both personal and business purposes. For example, you may be able to deduct a portion of the interest you pay on a car loan. If you’re interested in maximizing your deductions, we recommend consulting with a tax specialist.

Does Amazon provide health insurance for Flex drivers?

Amazon provides Flex Drivers with access to the Stride healthcare marketplace, but it doesn’t subsidize the plans available there, and you’re likely to get a better plan at a better price by going through a state or federal health care exchange. 

How long does the background check and approval process take?

The answer depends on the demand for Amazon Flex drivers in your area. The background check process only takes a day or two, but getting accepted as a driver can take days, weeks or a year, as each geographic area can only sustain a limited number of drivers.

What is the Amazon Flex delivery radius

Amazon hasn’t published a set maximum delivery radius. Flex drivers report that delivery blocks can take them 20 miles or more from the original pickup point. Drivers in some areas complain that the distance they have to drive substantially eats into their profits. You’re more likely to make good money using Flex in a dense, urban area.

Can you combine Amazon Flex and another gig economy side hustle?

While multi-apping — the practice of using multiple gig economy apps simultaneously — can be a helpful strategy to make the most out of your drive time, experienced drivers don’t recommend trying this with Amazon Flex.

It’s technically against Amazon’s terms of service to work for another company during your block, and your DoorDash or Grubhub deliveries may take you out of your Flex area.

Moreover, Amazon can use your mobile data to track your delivery route and may start asking questions if you deviate too far from your delivery route. 

What is “Standing” and how does it affect Flex workers?

Standing is the metric Amazon uses to monitor your performance on the platform, and it accounts for factors like on-time arrival at the warehouse and on-time completion of your assigned deliveries. If your Standing drops too low, you may be removed from the Flex program. You can learn more about how Standing is calculated here.

Do Flex Drivers deliver Amazon restaurant orders?

The “Amazon Restaurant” program was shut down in 2019 and there are currently no prepared food delivery options available on Amazon. 

Amazon Flex Guide: Final Thoughts

Despite some of the issues outlined in this article, many drivers love Flex as a side hustle. However, the future of Flex remains unclear; some drivers have noted that Flex blocks are drying up, as Amazon relies more heavily on DHL, other delivery service providers, and its own delivery trucks. 

Given the relatively good pay rate, we think signing up for Flex is a solid choice if you need to make extra money quickly. It pays twice per week, you have the potential to earn tips, and the work is more consistent than with food delivery apps like UberEats and DoorDash (where orders depend on time of day and demand). 

At the same time, the lack of benefits, paired with the numerous expenses that can cut into your bottom line, means that it’s not the best long-term side hustle.

Jenni Sisson
Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor focused on personal finance, technology and entrepreneurship. A serial side hustler, Sisson has started businesses selling maple syrup, teaching piano lessons, transcribing medical records, selling on eBay, mystery shopping and more. You can read more of her work on her blog, Family Size Finance.

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