By Karen Lynch | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
7 Min Read | May 11, 2020 in Money
More Americans are turning to home delivery of groceries and restaurant orders. In early 2020, reports showed double- and triple-digit growth in the downloading of mobile food delivery apps and in related food sales.1 Eight out of 10 people were already using restaurant delivery at least once a month in 2019,2 with mobile/online restaurant orders growing more than 20% a year.3
Food delivery can be pricey, though restaurants and delivery services may waive some fees during times of hardship. You could end up paying subscriptions, delivery fees, location surcharges, peak pricing, fees for small orders, and, notably, markups on the original menu or store item.4 This article suggests ways to save money on food delivery, including comparison shopping, complimentary subscriptions, cash back, promo codes, sign-up bonuses, rewards, and other (often limited-time) promotions.
Most people ordering restaurant delivery use third-party delivery apps, though more restaurants are developing their own courier services. A recent New York Times analysis found that food purchased via those apps can include hefty markups. It compared four delivery services, showing that the same sandwich cost 25% to 91% more than if you picked it up yourself.5 Clearly, a good step toward saving money on food delivery is to understand the different fees each restaurant and delivery service charges.
They’re not easy to compare, though. To begin with, some restaurants charge more for food ordered for delivery, and some don’t. Some delivery companies have relationships with the restaurants they cater to, which could mean lower fees for you, but others don’t. Prices can be a moving target, depending on the time of day, availability of drivers, proximity to the restaurant, and other factors. You’re also expected to tip the courier.
But there are ways to save money on food delivery. Tips gathered from around the web include:
Many of the tips for saving money on restaurant deliveries also apply to groceries—and some of the same delivery companies do both. But national retail chains, e-commerce giants, specialty food suppliers, and local outlets provide a wider range of options for delivering groceries. Here are more tips:
Whether in the best of times or in times of hardship, Americans value getting food delivered right to their door. This convenience comes at a cost, but there are ways to save money on food delivery. You can start by comparison shopping, then looking for discounts, rewards, coupons, and other promotions.
2 “National Restaurant Association and Technomic Unveil Industry Findings on Technology and Off-Premises Sales Channels,” National Restaurant Association
4 “The Best Food Delivery Apps for 2020,” Digital Trends
5 “Up to 91% More Expensive: How Delivery Apps Eat Up Your Budget,” New York Times
7 “Chick-fil-A Promotion for Dashers,” DoorDash
8 “10 Best Credit Cards for Subscription Services,” cardrates.com
10 “How Restaurants Are Taking Control of Delivery in 2020,” Restaurant Dive
11 “What Does the Service Cost?,” Peapod
12 “6 Best Grocery Delivery Services,” Clark