We Broke Down the Top 5 Grocery Delivery Services So You Don’t Have to

a woman holding an instacart groecery bag full of produde
Photo courtesy of Instacart

Here’s the problem with grocery delivery services.

It’s not that they’re too expensive. It’s not that the inventory options are limited. It’s not that having someone else pick your produce feels weird.

The real problem is it’s hard to figure out how much they really cost.

Every grocery delivery service that lets you order online before dropping bags at your door distills its “How it Works” page down to about three steps. Order, pay, receive. None of them are upfront about how much the service costs per month or per order. 

I’m not trying to tell you the cost, whatever it is, isn’t worth it. I’ll be the first to leave the shopping and driving to someone else who can do it more efficiently than I can. 

But when you have to dig around for pricing, restrictions, delivery times and other information about the steadily increasing number of grocery delivery services, you can lose sight of sensibility. You can get sucked into the novelty of ordering leeks through an app without thinking about how the service fits into your grocery budget.

So to cut through all the marketing speak, I’ve broken down the details on five of the best widely available grocery delivery services. Review the list before you sign up for a delivery service, and order those leeks with confidence.

5 of the Best Grocery Delivery Services Compared

1. Instacart

a woman holding flowers and a green shopping bag
Photo courtesy of Instacart

What: Delivery is available from a variety of grocery stores in your zip code, including drug stores, pet supply stores and, in some areas, liquor stores.

Where: Instacart is available in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. Check out the full list of locations.

Pricing: Instacart’s rundown of available stores in your area includes notes on each retailer’s pricing policy. While most locations offer “everyday store prices,” others make it clear that the convenience of Instacart means you’ll pay higher prices for groceries than you would in stores. 

Membership: Membership isn’t required to use the service, but if you’d rather skip the delivery fee every time you place an order, you can sign up for Instacart Express. In exchange for a fee of $99 per year or $9.99 per month, you’ll get free delivery for every order over $35. Express service also exempts you from peak pricing when Instacart is busy.

Delivery cost: Delivery costs between $5.99 and $7.99 per order for nonmembers. Orders under $35 cost more. If you want your order in an hour, that adds up too. Tipping your shoppers is permitted.

Coupon policy: Instacart doesn’t honor sale prices in stores or manufacturer’s coupons. Instead, it offers special promotions you’ll see when you log in to your account. Once you order the required amount or type of items, the discount automatically applies to your order. 

2. Shipt

a shipt shopper holding out a carton of eggs
Photo courtesy of Shipt

What: Shipt delivers products from a variety of grocery stores. Liquor delivery is also available in some locations.

Where: Shipt is available throughout the U.S..  

Pricing: Shipt prices are slightly higher than if you had taken the trip yourself. “Our members can expect to pay about $5 more using Shipt than they would on a $35 order purchased in the store themselves,” the company’s website explains.  

Membership: Shipt charges you $99 annually or $14 per month for unlimited free delivery. 

Delivery cost: Members must make a minimum order of $35 to get free delivery. If your order is less than that, you have to pay a $7 delivery fee. You could also be charged $7 for alcohol purchases. Tips are permitted.

Coupon policy: Shipt offers in-app specials on items, but it doesn’t allow you to use manufacturer’s or store coupons. 

3. Walmart

 a walmart associate loading groceries into a car
Photo courtesy of Walmart

What: Walmart has two grocery ordering options. In some locations, you can have your order delivered to your doorstep. In many more locations, you can place your order for a pickup window, then get your groceries delivered to your car at the store. Some stores even allow you to pay for your groceries with an electronic benefit transfer card.

Where: Same-day delivery is available in 46 states. Walmart allows customers to reserve a time and location for pickup in all states except Hawaii.

Pricing: Delivery and pickup prices are the same as if you had shopped in the grocery store yourself, but there is a $30 minimum order for the services.

Membership: None required.

Delivery cost: Although it’s unclear whether there is a regular delivery cost, Walmart does have a program called Delivery Unlimited, which costs $98 per year or $12.95 per month. You can sign up for 15 days of free delivery. 

Coupon policy: Walmart does not accept coupons for pickup or delivery orders. If you use the Savings Catcher app, it’ll verify that you received the lowest possible price and give you reward dollars.

4. Amazon Fresh

grocery shopping
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

What: Available to Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Student members, Amazon’s grocery delivery service offers attended and unattended delivery, although the service does not deliver to dorms. Pickup is also available in some cities.

Where: Amazon Fresh is not available nationwide. Visit the website to see if it’s available in your city. 

Pricing: As far as we can tell, it’s regular ol’ Amazon prices.

Membership: Membership is limited to Amazon Prime members ($119 per year) and Amazon Prime Student members ($59 per year).

Delivery cost: Most regions offer a free two-hour same-day delivery fee on orders of $35 or more.

Coupon policy: Save your coupons for somewhere else!

5. Peapod

a man delivering Pea Pod boxes
Photo courtesy of Peapod

What: Items skip the store and go from the Peapod warehouse directly to your home. It’s affiliated with Ahold-Delhaize grocery stores, including Food Lion, Giant and Stop & Shop. Unattended delivery is available in some areas, so you don’t have to be home when your groceries arrive — Peapod leaves it in an insulated container.

Where: Peapod is not available nationwide. Enter your zip code to see if the service is available in your area. available in New England, the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.

Pricing: A Peapod spokesperson confirmed to us that delivery prices are comparable to in-store prices, but “there are some differences since Peapod’s warehouses operate separately.”

Membership: None required. Peapod offers PodPass, which provides unlimited deliveries for orders of $100 or more at a set price. The rate for 12 months of unlimited delivery is $119 plus tax. There are also three- and six-month subscription options that cost $49 and $69 before tax, respectively. If you pay for PodPass but place an order between $60 and $99.99, you’ll pay for any delivery fees beyond $7.95.

Delivery cost: The minimum order is $60 worth of groceries to get delivery, which costs $67.95 to $9.95 — the larger your order, the cheaper the delivery fee. You could pay as little as $2.95 for delivery with certain discounts. Peapod offers delivery discounts if you choose off-peak times. You can schedule delivery for as soon as the next day or up to two weeks in advance. Tipping is permitted. Peapod also offers a pickup option in some areas; there is a $30 minimum order and a $2.95 charge for pickup.

Coupon policy: Peapod accepts manufacturer’s coupons and doubles them up to 99 cents.

Lisa Rowan is a former senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.