The cheapest way to order takeout? Don’t. But since even the biggest cheapskates slip up once in a while, it’s worth knowing whether Grubhub or DoorDash is cheaper. Both delivery apps, two of the largest in the United States, offer similar pricing models, charging for service and delivery fees on top of what you’re paying for food.
That said, their pricing algorithms are a bit of a black box. So we did the math for you and built four orders at four price points to determine which app is cheaper (and better): DoorDash or Grubhub.
How We Calculated Costs
We built identical orders at four different restaurants in Los Angeles: a local coffee chain, a Chipotle, a Thai restaurant, and an Ethiopian restaurant. Although you should always tip your delivery driver, we didn’t account for gratuity, as it’s technically an optional charge. To make sure both apps were on equal footing, we also avoided any special deals, such as restaurants offering free delivery or discounted meals.
Explaining DoorDash and Grubhub Fees
Service fees cover DoorDash’s operating costs. They start at 60 cents and increase based on your order total.
Delivery fees cover the cost of delivery and vary depending on factors such as the merchant and location. In our experience, they ranged from $0 to $3.
Small order fees, a flat $2.50 charge, help cover the cost of small orders below a certain amount.
Other fees include charges required by regulators and local laws.
Service fees cover the app’s operating costs, ranging from $1.50 to $9.
Delivery fees are set by restaurants, ranging from $0 to $2.49 in our experience.
Small order fees, a $2 charge, are added to orders under $10.
Other fees include locally mandated charges.
DoorDash vs. Grubhub: Price Comparison
Orders $25 and Under
|Local Coffee Chain||$21.35||$20.97||DoorDash|
Overall Winner: Tie
Since both competitors were within a dollar or two, it’s safe to say that smaller orders cost about the same on both food delivery apps.
Orders $25 to $50
|Local Coffee Chain||$44.66||$44.30||DoorDash|
Overall Winner: DoorDash
Again, prices were quite similar when we compared both food delivery services, though DoorDash had a slight edge.
Orders $50 to $75
|Local Coffee Chain||$62.21||$62.45||Grubhub|
Overall Winner: Grubhub
Although two of the order prices were nearly identical, Grubhub had far lower service fees at the Thai and Ethiopian restaurants we selected.
Orders $75 and up
|Local Coffee Chain||$86.25||$87.29||Grubhub|
Overall Winner: Grubhub
If you’re ordering for a large group and spending over $75, then it’s a safe bet that Grubhub will be cheaper. On both of our orders from local restaurants, Grubhub’s orders were about $10 cheaper — a significant difference.
In a straightforward DoorDash vs. Grubhub head-to-head, the latter of the two is clearly the cheaper option. That said, DoorDash and Grubhub also offer memberships, DashPass and Grubhub+, which could tip the scales ... except their premium options are nearly identical.
Free delivery and lower service fees on orders over $10-12, depending on your area
5% DoorDash credits back on pickup orders
Free delivery from eligible restaurants on orders over $12
Donate your extra change to charity — and DoorDash will match your donation
The truth is that there are so many variables that go into Grubhub and DoorDash pricing that it’s impossible to say whether one is always cheaper. In select cities, DoorDash may offer more competitive pricing, though a CNET analysis in New York City yielded similar results. The bottom line is that neither app is wildly cheaper than the other. But if we have to choose a winner, then Grubhub takes the crown.