In the aftermath of the pandemic, food delivery has become a routine for many. Multiple sources report that one-third of Americans get food delivered twice a week.
But this convenience comes at a literal cost. So how much does delivery food cost, and how can diners reduce the expense? The short answer is, it depends on what you order, and where you order from.
Anecdotal research aside (we use the apps too), our team at FinanceBuzz collected data to find out which food delivery platforms have the highest food markups and delivery costs, and how much you can save at popular restaurant chains by ordering pickup (or dining in) instead.
- Delivery apps:
- Including tip, PostMates has the highest markups (92% higher than menu price) of any platform, followed by DoorDash (83%) and GrubHub (80%).
- Uber Eats has the lowest markups (69% over regular menu price).
- Popular chains:
- Chick-fil-A has the highest delivery app markups of all the popular chains. It charges between 71% and 134% markup over the regular menu price.
- Think twice before ordering Starbucks delivery on Postmates: You can expect to pay more than double the in-store price when ordering a coffee and muffin for delivery.
Are you overpaying for delivery from your favorite restaurants?
For anyone trying to figure out how to save money, food delivery is an obvious place to scale back. While these delivery apps can be convenient, it’s also easy to overlook how much that convenience actually costs.
While fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A are traditionally seen as relatively inexpensive places to eat, it can cost $15 to $20 (or more) to get a $10 meal delivered instead of purchasing it in-store.
For instance, the fees on a basic $9.85 Chick-fil-A order (chicken sandwich, fries, and a drink) increase the cost by anywhere from 71% on Uber Eats ($16.87) up to 134% on GrubHub ($23.01). And those added costs do not include a tip for the delivery person, meaning they only account for unavoidable fees and taxes charged by each service.
Heads up Chick-fil-A loversAcross all four apps, Chick-fil-A had the biggest markup of any restaurant evaluated. It was notably higher than the extra amount being charged for food and delivery service from its peer establishments.
Even at a restaurant with more reasonable markups, however, costs still add up. While a chicken burrito bowl with guacamole, a side of chips and salsa, and a drink costs $19.62 at Chipotle, getting that same meal delivered costs between $28.33 (DoorDash) and $34.73 (PostMates).
That means customers would have to pay an additional 44% to 77%, plus tip, to have their lunch delivered. And yes, guac still costs extra.
Comparing food delivery app fees and added costs
Our team took the complete data from 10 food orders to find the average amount each app charges for food, fees, taxes, as well as suggested tips. We then added those costs together to find the average all-in total for each delivery app to see how much extra customers pay for their food.
On the whole, Uber Eats was the delivery app where added costs were lowest, with an average markup of 69%, including all taxes, fees, and suggested tip. Uber Eats had the highest average service fee of any app at $3.59, but it also had the lowest recommended tip amount on average.
Postmates was the app with the largest markup, charging customers an extra 92% on average. That means customers using Postmates for delivery pay more than double what it would cost to pick up their food themselves.
Earn bonuses on your favorite food
- Get rewarded when you eat at top-rated restaurants. Not in the mood to cook? Some of the best credit cards for dining out offer cashback options and 3X to 5X points on qualifying purchases.
- Explore food delivery side hustles. If you’re a foodie (and avid shopper), working for a food delivery service could help you make more money in your free time.
- Cut your food costs in half. Grocery shopping might be cheaper than food delivery, but it can still get expensive. Luckily, there are popular budgeting apps to help you track your spending and automate your savings.
FinanceBuzz looked up the cost to deliver a meal (an entree, side, and a drink) for one person from 10 popular chain restaurants on Uber Eats, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates. When a restaurant was not offered on a specific app, a meal of comparable cost and substance was ordered from a different chain. All orders were placed in the same city and set to be delivered to the same location, and all restaurants were located within 3 miles of the designated delivery point. All orders were placed on the same day within 45 minutes of one another.