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What is the Cheapest Delivery App in 2024? Find Out Here!

Find the most budget-friendly food delivery service: Our comprehensive comparison of popular apps like Uber Eats and GrubHub helps you identify the cheapest options.

The Cheapest Delivery Apps of 2024 [Overview]

What is the Cheapest Food Delivery App?

The cheapest food delivery app tends to be DoorDash. This is because their service fees and overall pricing generally come in at a lower rate than their competitors.

Additionally, there is no minimum order requirement when using the app, which helps to keep the cost down if you are only ordering one or two items.

What is the Cheapest Grocery Delivery App?

The cheapest grocery delivery app is Instacart, especially if you are doing your large weekly shop.

Instacart delivery prices are set based on whether you order more or less than $35 worth of goods, and are capped at $9.99.

This means that no matter how large your grocery order is, the delivery will not fluctuate – which significantly keeps the overall price down.

Best ForRecommended AppReasons/Notes
Large OrdersPostmatesSet delivery rates, not based on order size. Ideal for restaurant delivery.
InstacartSet delivery rates, not based on order size. Ideal for grocery delivery.
Small OrdersDoorDashLower fees compared to competitors, no minimum order requirement.
Maximizing EBT PurchasesInstacartOffers a wide variety of groceries that usually fit EBT guidelines.
Peak Time OrderingGrubhubNo fluctuating or peak time pricing. Cost-effective during lunch or dinner time.

The Most Popular Delivery Apps We Reviewed

Here is a brief overview of the most popular delivery apps to give you a better idea of what we will be comparing

  • DoorDash: Founded in 2013, DoorDash is now the most popular delivery app in the United States. It offers restaurant and grocery delivery services to over 20,000,000 users.
  • Uber Eats: Uber Eats is an offshoot of the ride-hailing service Uber and is the most internationally recognizable food delivery service. Users can order food straight from their favorite restaurant, convenience store, or grocery store.
  • Grubhub: Grubhub is a United States-based food delivery service, offering delivery from more than 115,000 different venues. It operates in all 50 states, making it one of the most popular delivery apps in the country.
  • Postmates: Postmates was founded in 2011 as a way for consumers to get their favorite restaurant-prepared meals delivered to their door. Now, the app offers restaurant delivery, pickup, and grocery delivery as a part of its services.
  • Instacart: Instacart’s main focus is delivering groceries (rather than restaurant orders). Users can select their desired products from a list provided by a participating retailer and have them delivered to their door by a personal shopper.

Comparing the Delivery Fees of Each App

On top of your order, each app charges a delivery fee for the driver’s services. Here is a breakdown of each app’s fee to help you get a better understanding of which is cheaper:

1. DoorDash Delivery Fee

DoorDash delivery fees vary based on the time the order was placed, as well as its size and how far the driver has to travel to deliver the items to you. However, typical delivery fees range from $1.99-$5.99.

2. Uber Eats Delivery Fee

Like DoorDash, there is no flat delivery rate for Uber Eats orders.

Instead, it varies based on the time, location, and size of the order. Because of this, users can expect to pay a delivery fee ranging from $0.49–$7.99.

3. Grubhub Delivery Fee

Grubhub’s delivery fee is calculated by looking at what percentage of the overall order the particular store or restaurant gets to keep.

This means that delivery fees can range from $0.99-$12, and can also vary based on the size of the order.

4. Postmates Delivery Fee

The Postmates delivery fees are a lot more straightforward than the other options.

Placing an order on the app will incur a $0.99 – $3.99 delivery fee for Postmates-partnered restaurants and $5.99 – $9.99 for all other food outlets.

5. Instacart Delivery Fee

Instacart has very straightforward delivery pricing. For orders under $35, you can expect to pay $7.99 for delivery in more than two hours and $9.99 for delivery in under an hour.

Orders over $35 incur a $3.99 delivery fee for two or more hours of delivery and $5.99 for delivery in under an hour. 

Service and Subscription Fees

vector graphic showing the different types of Uber Eats fees that make up the cost of uber eats orders

Service Fees

All apps charge an additional service fee to ensure the driver and the restaurant are properly compensated. Uber Eats is the only app that has a flare service fee rate, charging an additional 15% on top of the order.

DoorDash, Grubhub, Instacart, and Postmates all calculate their service fees based on the percentage of the order total that they give to the specific restaurant. Therefore, it varies based on where you shop.

Subscription Fees

All of the apps also offer an optional subscription fee, which allows you to waive certain elements such as delivery costs and access special discounts.

  • DoorDash Subscription Fees: For $9.99 a month or $96 a year, DoorDash offers DashPass which allows for $0 delivery fees and subsidized services fee on all eligible orders that meet the minimum outlined by the app.
  • Uber Eats Subscription Fees: Uber Eats offers Uber One for $9.99 a month. This gives purchasers access to $0 delivery on eligible orders, 5% off eligible rides and orders, and priority delivery.
  • Grubhub Subscription Fees: Grubhub has Grubhub+, which entitles users to unlimited free delivery on orders of more than $12 at eligible outlets.
  • Postmates Subscription Fees: For $9.99 a month or $99 annually, Postmates offers Postmates unlimited offers a $0 delivery fee for eligible grocery and food orders, as well as up to 10% off the total price of eligible deliveries and pick-up orders
  • Instacart Subscription Fees: Instacart Plus offers unlimited free delivery on orders over $35 as well as reduced service charges for just $9.99 a month.

Minimum Order Requirements

Minimum order requirements are a set amount that the value of a customer’s order must meet before it becomes deliverable.

This is typically in place to avoid restaurants and drivers needing to spend time and money fulfilling minuscule orders.

For Grubhub, this amount is usually set by the restaurant but usually comes in at a $10 minimum. Similarly, Instacart orders must be at least $10 in value before they become deliverable.

However, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Postmates do not have a minimum order requirement, making them much more effective if you are wanting to purchase a very small order.

Surge Pricing and Peak Times

Some apps have introduced surge pricing, which means they increase the price of food and delivery where there are more users on the app and fewer drivers.

Additionally, some apps also increase costs during “peak times” which are times of the day in which the app is typically busier (for example, around noon for lunchtime).

1. DoorDash Surge Pricing and Peak Times

DoorDash’s service and delivery fees fluctuate throughout the day based on how many orders they are receiving.

This means that ordering during the daytime (as opposed to the evening around dinner time) will result in a lower total cost.

2. Uber Eats Surge Pricing and Peak Times

Uber Eats uses both surge pricing (when the demand within the app is suddenly higher) as well as peak time pricing, which means they increase their delivery fees depending on the time of the day.

3. Grubhub Surge Pricing and Peak Times

Grubhub calculates its service and delivery fees based on its agreements with each restaurant, so it is unlikely you will experience surge pricing or peak time pricing when using the app.

4. Postmates Surge Pricing and Peak Times

Postmates uses surge pricing when there are fewer drivers active on the app, which they call  “blitz pricing.” Therefore, you can expect to pay a higher delivery or service fee when this is in place.

5. Instacart Surge Pricing and Peak Times

During peak delivery times, Instacart will add an additional fee to your order. Customers are notified of this during checkout, and this typically starts at $1.

Special Offers and Promotions

To incentivize users to buy through the app, most apps have many special offers and promotions in place!

Keep in mind that while cash is accepted on many of these options, you typically need to pay via the app to benefit from the special offers and promotions.

Many of these are targeted at new users. New users of DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Instacart can expect to receive at least $0 delivery fees on their first order.

Some apps also offer discounts for new users; however, these types of promotions change throughout the year.

Postmates take it a step further and currently offer $5 off your first 5 orders on the app, for a total saving of $25!

Special offers and promotions aren’t limited to just new users. All the apps introduce special offers throughout the year to celebrate certain events or to simply show their appreciation for their existing users.

Keep an eye out on the apps’ homepages to see when these special offers are running.

DoorDash also offers an ongoing referral program, where you can earn discounts by referring friends and family to the app.

You should also keep an eye out for food delivery promo codes that are released throughout the year. These can be offered by the app themselves, or by a third party, and can often lead to incredible savings on your orders!

When Is the Best Time to Use Each App

Now that you have a better understanding of all the fees and prices you can expect with the most popular food delivery apps, you may be wondering which ones to use (and when).

Here are our app-specific recommendations for some commonly found scenarios:

Best For: Large Orders

The best and most cost-effective apps to use for large orders are Postmates for restaurant delivery and Instacart for grocery delivery.

This is because they have set delivery rates that aren’t calculated based on the size of your order, so you don’t need to worry about paying a higher percentage!

Best For: Small Orders

The best app for smaller orders is DoorDash.

DoorDash’s fees appear to be significantly lower than their competitors, especially their service fees – which are not nearly as high as those at Uber Eats!

Plus, there is no minimum order requirement, so you don’t need to worry about reaching a certain amount.

Best For Maximizing EBT Purchases

If you are looking to maximize an EBT purchase while using a food delivery app, your best choice is Instacart.

This is because what you can purchase with EBT can be very limited; however, the wide variety of groceries offered on Instacart usually fit within the guidelines.

Best For Peak Time Ordering

Grubhub does not appear to use fluctuating pricing and peak time pricing in the same manner as its competitors – so if you are looking to save a few dollars when ordering during lunch or dinner time, this is your most cost-effective option!

Tips to Save Money on Delivery

Here are our top tips to save money on food delivery:

  • Sign up for the subscription service: If you are a frequent user of a food delivery app, it may be worth signing up for their subscription service. Often, the amount you save on delivery more than outweighs the subscription fee
  • Shop around: If you know an app uses fluctuating pricing, check to see if that restaurant is offered on another app and if its prices are offered. You may be shocked at how drastic the price difference can be!
  • Look for promo codes: Keep an eye out on your social media and on the app homepages to be notified when any money-saving discount codes are offered!

A great tip is to follow your favorite food delivery app on Instagram or Facebook to be immediately notified of any special offers.

Note:

Don’t skip the tips! While you might want to save as much money as possible when using food delivery services, you need to remember to tip your drivers.

This doesn’t just apply to restaurant orders – remember to tip grocery delivery drivers too!

Wrapping Up

Food delivery apps are a great way to conveniently have access to groceries or restaurant-made meals without needing to leave the house.

Generally, DoorDash is the cheapest option for food delivery as their fees are low and they often offer some great promos.  

However, if you want to have a hefty grocery haul delivered, your best bet is Instacart as this app has capped delivery fees.

Ultimately, the best app for you is the one that best suits your needs. Each app offers different services and amenities, so make sure you take this into account when shopping online to find your perfect match!

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