5 Tricks to Save Money on Your Next Food Delivery

Two people jokingly eat their takeout Chinese food together on the floor in their living room.
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Let’s be honest, there is nothing better than ordering food from your couch and having it delivered directly to your front door. But services such as Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats can cost you a pretty penny for food, especially with delivery fees.

There are a few tips and tricks to save money when ordering from a food delivery service, so you can enjoy that Thai food from the comfort of your couch with a bit more dough in your bank account.

1. Compare Different Delivery Services

While the food might be the same across food delivery services, the price can vary. Depending on the app, you may be charged different delivery fees, so it is always worth it to check out the same restaurant on a few different apps.

If that local pizzeria is on Grubhub, there is a good chance it might also be on Uber Eats. Compare prices across the popular food delivery apps in your area to find the best delivery fees and save a bit of money on your next food delivery.

Many people deliver food from restaurants as a side gig but which app should you sign up with? Check out our recommendation in the DoorDash vs. Uber Eats debate.

2. Choose Restaurants With Free Delivery

On most food delivery services, restaurants can choose how much to charge for delivery. Some restaurants may opt to offer free delivery. Others may charge you quite a dime. We’ve seen some restaurants charge over $5 for delivery.

Keep a sharp eye out for the delivery fee a restaurant charges. If you have multiple options, consider choosing a restaurant that offers free delivery to its customers. Your wallet — and your stomach — will thank you in the long run.

3. Keep an Eye Out for Coupons and Promos

Nearly every food delivery service offers promotions and coupons. Sometimes you’ll find the promotions listed directly in the app. Other deals require some searching on the web. Before ordering, see if any deals are available for a specific food delivery service or restaurants.

Often promos are offered within food delivery apps for trying a new restaurant or ordering a  specific combination from a restaurant. You may end up trying a new restaurant instead of an old favorite, but a bit of an adventure may lead to even more savings. Also, who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favorite restaurant.

4. Invite Friends and Snag a Few Discounts

Most food delivery apps offer the ability to refer friends and family in exchange for a discount. You send a referral link to someone, then you may see a credit added to your account when they place an order. Inviting friends is a great way to share your favorite food delivery service while earning a bit of money yourself.

Typically, you only get the kickback when your invitees make their first purchase. It isn’t enough that they simply sign up. Next time you split food with friends, consider having them order via your link to put a little money back in your pocket.

5. Get a Delivery Subscription

If you order food frequently, consider signing up for a delivery subscription. Many food delivery apps — such as DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats — now offer subscriptions to help you save money on delivery fees, and nab free delivery from restaurants that normally charge a fee. Some apps even offer unlimited free deliveries with a subscription.

Food delivery subscriptions run about $10 a month and may include other perks. For example, Grubhub+ gives you a $10 monthly credit for a pickup order, which essentially makes the subscription free.

Bonus: Order Directly From the Restaurant

Here’s a bonus idea to save money: Skip the delivery app and call the restaurant directly. Most restaurants need to add fees — and sometimes increase food prices — to cover the cost of using delivery service.

If you order the old fashioned way, you may be able to have food delivered without the cost of a middle man. It’s also a great way to support local businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can You Save Money with Food Delivery?

While we love having food delivered without leaving the comfort of home, there is no doubt that food delivery is going to cost you more. 

If you really want to save money on your next order, consider picking up the food from the restaurant yourself. You’ll avoid the delivery fee and a tip for the driver.

How Can I Save Money on Delivery Apps?

There are a couple tricks to give your wallet a fighting chance and still order takeout delivered to your door. Try comparing prices between different apps, looking for restaurants with free delivery, checking for coupons or promos, sending a referral link to friends and getting a subscription to DoorDash, Uber Eats or Grubhub.

Which Food Delivery Service Is the Cheapest?

Food delivery services are constantly changing fees and what restaurants charge for delivery can change based on your location. To find the cheapest food delivery service for you, download a few different apps and compare the cost to order from your favorite food spots.

Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.