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I don’t know about you, but for me, the opportunity to make some extra cash is always an interesting one. Pepper in the fact that this particular opportunity is with Amazon – a company that is ubiquitous nowadays – and now you’ve really got my attention.
But just because we all know Amazon, a company that is headed up by the world’s richest man, does that mean Flex is a good deal? Let’s find out.
How Does Amazon Flex Work?
Like jobs from Uber, TaskRabbit, and PostMates, driving for Flex is a part of the “gig economy.” A quick Google search tells us the gig economy is “a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.”
In reality, this is just a buzzword for contract work. And that is nothing new. In fact, the New York Times says that employment agencies began in the United States during the WWII area.
But, of course, these temporary work agreements are much easier to coordinate in today’s economy. That is thanks to the prevalence of the smartphone and their accompanying internet access.
After becoming an approved Flex driver, all drivers have to do is open the app and find an available shift that works for his or her schedule. They then pick up packages from the warehouse and deliver them to the assigned addresses.
Amazon delivery drivers are among the few who have the ability to negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment. Amazon Flex drivers have to provide proof of a valid commercial driver’s license, undergo a background check, and complete a training program before being allowed to drive for Amazon Flex. The Amazon Flex app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. This app is also used to manage and monitor your hours, earnings, and taxes.
Amazon delivery service partners (DSP) are classified into three groups: urban, suburban, and rural. Each group has its own rate structure, which means drivers can work at any level they want as an Amazon DSP. Amazon package delivery jobs are an easy way to make some extra money and deliver the packages quickly.
Barring complications (more on this later), it is really that simple! The hourly rate can vary, but Amazon says this number is between $18 and $25.
A couple of caveats to this: I listened to several drivers discuss their actual experiences. Typically, they mentioned $18 as the standard rate; I don’t believe any of them even mentioned $25. For example, in this video, Luke Ducklow mentions several rates above $18, but the highest one is $22.
There are delivery stations all over the United States from San Francisco to Seattle, to anywhere in the states and drivers can work at one station or across the country. The flexibility of this service is what makes it so popular. A 10-hour shift with Flex can make up to $3,298 weekly. The delivery associates are also paid hourly, and their minimum wages are negotiable.
Delivery business owners are generally happy with the flexible hours and earnings. Drivers can also choose to drive for multiple delivery services at once, which makes the gig economy even more appealing.
Additionally, drivers must provide their own transportation. This also means that expenses such as gas, oil changes, and other ongoing expenses are not reimbursed by Amazon.
“Flex” is for Flexibility
Flex is all about delivering packages. Amazon takes care of the delivery and has warehouses all over the country. Drivers will pick up packages from these warehouses and deliver them to designated addresses.
One of the really nice things about Flex is the ability to pick and choose your own schedule. Although we often think this way about services like Uber and Lyft, it turns out that Flex has even more flexibility. However, driving for a rideshare service can be inconsistent. Sometimes, there are more riders than other times. Market conditions can make a big difference, as well as the time/day you are driving.
On the flip side, with Flex, you simply decide when you want to work. That is, assuming there is availability at when you want to work. In that sense, Flex is also more predictable and consistent, which is a definite pro for drivers. Picking up packages is centralized and tightly controlled by Amazon, so you know what you’re getting yourself into before you start the shift.
Things to Keep in Mind
I mentioned earlier that Amazon does not cover any of your expenses related to transportation. Not only that, but they actually will not cover any expenses at all, even if they are incurred while on the job.
Amazon also does not provide health insurance or worker’s compensation for drivers. If you are carrying an extremely heavy package and are injured, Amazon will not cover medical expenses or offer paid time off.
Another important thing to know is that you are an independent contractor when driving for Flex. This means you work on a 1099 basis, so the money you are paid is not taxed up front. You still must pay tax on that money, though, so that is yet another way in which your earnings will be reduced.
If you want to be a part-time driver, you can also apply to drive for Flex. In that case, your earnings will be calculated on a weekly basis. But since you are working for Amazon and not on your own, you are still classified as an independent contractor.
If you have a valid driver’s license, you can apply to drive for Flex. Your own vehicle is required, and you must be of the legal age to drive. Your driving record is also a factor in your application.
I also came across stories from a few current (and former) drivers who expressed frustration over the lack of information provided to them from Amazon’s spokesperson. For instance, Paul Yeo had his driving privileges revoked due to what he described as a minor offense that was outside of his control.
When this happened, he had to contact Amazon through support. Because you are an independent contractor with no home base, you do not have a manager with whom you can ask any clarifying questions you may have. Yeo also mentioned having to wait two weeks to hear back from support.
Is Amazon Flex Right for You?
All in all, there is a lot to like about Flex: Flexible, yet reliable work arrangements. Plus, you aren’t obligated to work a certain number of shifts. In other words, if something comes up, you can simply decide not to take a shift that day.
Of course, it’s not all good: the perks are very limited in that Amazon does not reimburse drivers for expenses. In addition, no health insurance is provided, and you still have to pay taxes after receiving your money at the advertised rates.
Despite its shortcomings, there are many drivers who are very satisfied with Flex. It offers a decent hourly rate while allowing drivers to set their own schedules. This can be especially nice for those who also work a full-time job or have other commitments that can change frequently.
When it comes to working for Flex, there are a few things to consider. First, you will have to sign up with the company and wait for approval. Then, you can set your schedule and earn money while you wait for approval.
All in all, it comes down to how much you appreciate the flexibility of working for Flex. If this is extremely important to you, you might just have the right gig here.