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Seamless vs Grubhub: What’s the Difference?

Last updated: October 6, 2021
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vector graphic showing seamless vs grubhub comparison

Over the past year, food delivery services have flourished.

More people are staying at home, and restaurants are doing to-go only.

Everyone is trying to be safe during the coronavirus pandemic, and as such, the demand for meal delivery comes meal delivery apps.

Finding the perfect one can be confusing – especially if they all seem to do the same thing.

From Postmates to Caviar, ordering dinner has never been more accessible.

Two of the best food delivery services are Seamless and Grubhub.

Both will get you what you’re craving in a matter of minutes.

But what makes them different?

We’ve lined up the costs, perks, and shortcomings for both delivery companies.

We’ve also looked at what makes them unique.

Read on to find out how you should order tonight’s meal.

Key Points to Understand About Seamless vs Grubhub

First, let’s explore the primary aspects of both services and what they do/offer.

Seamless and Grubhub provide users with:

  • Ability to get their favorite meals delivered through online orders
  • Easy way to support local small businesses
  • Perks that can lead to discounts and free food

1. Are Grubhub and Seamless the Same Thing?

The simple answer is – yes and no.

Seamless was a company before Grubhub but is now under the Grubhub portfolio of brands.

Seamless began in New York City and served all the boroughs their favorite food.

No diner had to endure treacherous city traffic.

Seamless and Grubhub are both meal delivery services, but they are separate companies.

Grubhub owns Seamless, technically, despite it being a newer company.

They’re similar, but they have separate websites and apps.

2. The Merger of Seamless and Grubhub

In 2013, the long-adored Seamless announced they were merging with Grubhub Inc. to reach more customers across the globe.

Seamless had previously only served cities like New York City, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

Grubhub predominately served the Chicago area.

While their reach was far, they wanted to provide for customers in more rural or suburban areas.

Six months after the merger, the companies completed about 130,000 orders every day.

3. Both Serve Nearly the Same Purpose

Seamless and Grubhub are pretty much the same things.

They each have similar goals and intentions.

You’re probably wondering why there are two companies or why you should choose one over the other.

Read on for our explorations of what makes these delivery platforms tick.

Main Similarities Between Seamless vs Grubhub

The two services have separate apps, costs, and websites – so let’s see how similar they are.

vector graphic showing seamless vs grubhub comparison

1. The Ordering Experience

For Seamless, the ordering process is as follows:

  1. Make an account
  2. Provide your address
  3. Choose delivery or pickup
  4. Look for restaurants in your area or search for a specific one
  5. Select menu items and go to checkout to give your deliverer instructions
  6. Track your delivery with the Seamless app – or less efficiently with the desktop version

If you choose pickup instead of delivery, follow the steps above.

Then head to the restaurant when your order is ready.

Picking up orders eliminates the sometimes steep delivery fee.

To order delivery from Grubhub, you have to:

  • Enter your address, or your work address
  • Select delivery or pickup
  • Find your favorite local restaurants
  • Check out and provide special instructions
  • Track your order and tip your delivery driver

As you can see, these two processes are the same.

Each service lets you order your favorite takeout.

You can do this without having to talk to anyone or see anyone face-to-face.

2. The Delivery App

Seamless and its parent Grubhub also have nearly identical food delivery apps.

Both apps are free to download, and they provide perks (such as free delivery) for using the app.

They do continue to exist as separate mobile applications, but there are no differences from an ordering experience or design perspective.

You can see this when you compare screenshots of the two apps taken from the iOS app store.

Here’s what the Seamless app looks like:

For comparison, here are some screenshots of Grubhub:

The way the screenshots are presented is a bit different, but the apps are virtually identical.

That’s about the only noticeable difference, aside from the names of the apps themselves.

Seamless and Grubhub have the following features on their apps:

  • Location services give you the most accurate delivery times
  • Deals, discounts, and promotions
  • Messaging to discuss your order with your driver
  • Restaurant recommendations based on your past orders

Since Seamless is under the Grubhub company, its app is as user-friendly as the Grubhub app.

3. Cost of Using the App

What about price? Is one app cheaper to use than the other?

Once again, there is no difference here.

Yes, both apps are free to download – however, that does not mean that the apps remain free.

When you order from Seamless or Grubhub, you aren’t just paying the restaurant’s price to order food.

You are also paying:

  • Grubhub delivery fee: varies – gets more expensive the further away a restaurant is
  • Service fee: benefits restaurant partners and supports Grubhub
  • Local taxes
  • Tip: not included, but recommended

The food prices on Grubhub and Seamless are typically a bit higher than they would be in the restaurant.

Local restaurants charge more than chain restaurants.

Grubhub also charges a 20% marketing fee to restaurants, a 10% service fee, and additional fees for credit card purchases.

As a note, just like Uber doesn’t take cash, Grubhub and Seamless do not take cash payments for orders.

All payment is handled via credit card or gift card, directly through the app.

Did you Know? Grubhub Plus is the company’s monthly subscription, and can save you a load of money on fees.

4. Availability and Coverage Areas

Are there some cities where Seamless is available and Grubhub isn’t (or vice versa)?

Once again, the answer is no.

Grubhub originally had a much smaller reach than Seamless, but after the two companies merged, they also expanded their operations to each other’s markets.

Now, Seamless and Grubhub have the same restaurants available.

They both started in major cities but have expanded to most places in the United States.

In 2018, Grubhub extended its reach to Little Rock, AR, Charleston, SC, and Boise, Idaho.

It’s even available in Hawaii!

Grubhub reaches about 4,000 cities across all 50 states.

Seamless, though, has a smaller reach.

The app serves 450+ cities.

5. Restaurant Options

Are there some restaurants that Seamless offers that Grubhub doesn’t?

Not as far as we can tell.

With the scale of both companies’ operations being so large, it’s impossible for us to review every city on each platform.

However, the fact that both companies are available in the same set of cities (and due to the way that working as a delivery driver for Grubhub and Seamless functions), it appears that you can order the same food from both companies.

One thing we will note is that on the Seamless FAQ page the company mentions, “We are still working to get some restaurants on the new site, and they should be available soon!”

This could mean that, for the moment, the selection on Grubhub is a bit larger.

This is just a temporary situation, however, as Seamless updates their website.

Main Differences Between Seamless vs Grubhub

Honestly, finding differences between these two services is a challenge – but there are some minor discrepancies.

1. Restaurants Prefer Grubhub

A lot of restaurant owners have spoken negatively about the service Seamless provided for them.

A pizza place in New York City, for example, pleads customers not to order from Seamless on the front page of their website.

Restaurants do not dislike Grubhub quite as vocally.

Some restaurants have stated they would still prefer customers not to use the Grubhub platform.

A few reasons restaurants prefer Grubhub are:

  • Delivery drivers from the restaurant can continue to drive
  • Grubhub can post an order – online link on restaurant websites
  • They offer a point of sale integration to keep up with orders

Grubhub is more widely used by local restaurants than Seamless, too.

2. Company Branding

As previously mentioned, Seamless and Grubhub started as two completely separate entities.

Seamless was the most popular meal delivery service app in New York City, and Grubhub has its roots in Chicago.

Each company’s branding is so similar it’d be easy to get them mixed up.

They each bear the logo of a white house with a knife and fork cut out.

Grubhub’s font is thicker and in all caps.

Seamless’ font is thinner and all in lowercase.

The font is the biggest visible difference in their branding.

Grubhub and Seamless have a simple marketing strategy.

They use creative ads, perks, and offers to entice customers to purchase food from their affiliated restaurants more often.

3. Company Founding & History

Both companies began with individuals fed up with the classic call-in delivery service.

They created websites that allowed customers to get what they wanted.

Jason Finger, a law firm employee, founded Seamless (then SeamlessWeb) in 1999 in New York.

He wanted to create online menus to make takeout easier.

That led to online ordering.

Grubhub came along in 2004 when Chicago-based Mike Evans and Matt Maloney got frustrated with online restaurant information.

As our world became more digital and we relied more on the internet for everything, including ordering at restaurants, each company found success.

4. User Base

Seamless and Grubhub serve diners all over the globe, but Grubhub is more popular.

Seamless, though, is very well-known in New York City and is a local favorite.

Seamless vs Grubhub for Drivers

These two apps are some of the best food delivery services to work for, but is there any difference between delivering for Grubhub and Seamless?

The delivery driver is the most crucial player in the world of online delivery services.

Read on to find out which company is better for its drivers.

vector graphic showing the answer to the question,

Does Grubhub or Seamless Pay More?

Both apps give 100% of tips to drivers.

But, since Grubhub is well-known, drivers tend to profit more driving for them than they do for Seamless.

Grubhub calculates its driver payments by the following criteria:

  • Mileage per order
  • Time spent on the road
  • Tips
  • Special Offers

The exact payment varies, but the larger the order, the bigger the pay.

Which Is Easier to Work For

As far as employment, Seamless and Grubhub are equals.

Seamless and Grubhub both let you choose your hours, and there’s an app specifically for Grubhub drivers.

All orders placed through the Seamless app go through Grubhub.

Is Grubhub or Seamless Busier?

Grubhub is more popular than Seamless, which makes it inherently busier.

However, since all Seamless orders go to Grubhub drivers, there’s not too much difference.

Delivery drivers will work frequently and stay busy with either one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still curious about meal delivery services?

Read on to find out more.

What is the cheapest food delivery service?

Uber Eats is reportedly the cheapest delivery app to use due to low delivery fees.

Can you use a Seamless gift card on Grubhub?

Yes! A Seamless gift card is usable across all Grubhub affiliated brands.

Is dashing for DoorDash worth it?

Is DoorDash worth it?

Yes, if you need extra money!

DoorDash pays around $20/hour on average.

However, they rely on tips, so Dashers tend to pick orders with the highest promised amount.

Is Seamless or Uber Eats better?

If you’re on a budget, Uber Eats is cheaper than Seamless or Grubhub.

Seamless has better reviews and is reportedly more reliable, though.

The one you choose depends on what you prioritize.

Wrapping Up

So, are Seamless and Grubhub different?

Yes and no.

Their operating platforms are similar, along with their reach and general concept – but they differ in popularity and user base.

Seamless and Grubhub are both spectacular food delivery service options.

You’re bound to find what you’re craving with their user-friendly apps.

Their driver-friendly policies and subscription memberships make them even better.

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