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The cheapest way to order food? Don’t. But since even the biggest cheapskates slip up once in a while, it’s worth knowing which food delivery app is the cheapest.

That might seem like a simple task. After all, most apps have similar online ordering systems. But since their pricing algorithms are a bit of a black box, we had to actually use Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Postmates to declare a winner. (Note: Uber acquired Postmates for $2.65 billion in 2020, so they're effectively the same company.)

Food Delivery Services Amid the PandemicPhoto credit: hapabapa/istockphoto

How We Tested

To compare prices, we built identical orders at four different restaurants in Los Angeles: Dunkin', Chipotle, a Thai restaurant, and a deli. Although you should always tip your delivery driver, we didn’t account for gratuity, as it’s technically an optional charge. We tried to avoid discounts and free delivery promotions, though they're so commonplace that we couldn't always skip them.

We also went beyond price comparisons, making sure to look at the different platforms' fees and delivery plans. 

In the end, our advice remains the same: If you're trying to find cheap food, you won't find it on delivery apps.

Popular Food Delivery Apps and Their Fees

When you order food online, you'll encounter a minefield of fees. Some, like the ones listed below, will be clearly visible on your electronic bill. But other extra costs are baked into the prices delivery apps show you as well, with restaurants inflating online menu prices and apps combining taxes and fees into a single line on your bill.


  • Service fees cover DoorDash’s operating costs. They start at 60 cents and increase based on your order total.

  • Delivery fees cover the delivery costs 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.

Uber Eats and Postmates

  • Service fees cover "costs related to your order," with 10 cents going to Uber.

  • Delivery fees cover delivery costs based on location and availability of nearby drivers. They ranged from 49 cents to $11.99 in our testing.

  • Small order fees are added when orders are under a certain amount. These vary by city.

  • Delivery adjustment fees are added when you make changes after you've made your order, such as changing your address.

  • Marketplace fees apply to orders that businesses deliver themselves, offsetting Uber Eats' operating costs.

  • Other fees include locally mandated charges.

DoorDash Delivery Worker PortraitPhoto credit: hapabapa/istockphoto

Food Delivery App Price Comparison

Orders $25 and Under

RestaurantGrubhubDoorDashUber EatsPostmatesWinner
Dunkin' $18.35 $18.09
 $13.59 $14.10 Uber Eats
 $18.80 $21.68 $18.18 $20.09 Uber Eats
Thai Restaurant $18.06 $19.17 $19.91 $19.42 Grubhub
 $21.20 $20.98 $15 $14.51 Postmates

Overall Winner: Uber Eats

When it came to small orders, Uber Eats had the lowest prices at both fast-food chains. And even when other delivery apps beat Uber Eats, it was never more than around $2 more expensive than competitors.

Orders $25 to $50

RestaurantGrubhubDoorDashUber EatsPostmatesWinner
Dunkin'$34.65 $33.69$29.87$29.75Uber Eats
Chipotle$33.78$36.12$28.30 $29.53Uber Eats
Thai Restaurant$33.38 $34.24$38.36$37.24Grubhub
Deli$47.18 $45.70$29.37$28.15Postmates

Overall Winner: Uber Eats and Postmates

Although Uber Eats had the cheapest price twice, Postmates boasts the lowest total cost when you add up orders across all four restaurants. It helped that both offered $5 and $10 off promotions.

Orders $50 to $75

RestaurantGrubhubDoorDashUber EatsPostmatesWinner
$63.72$67.24$59.58$59.66Uber Eats
Thai Restaurant$64.42 $66.48$64.70$61.21Postmates

Overall Winner: Postmates

Not only did Postmates have the cheapest prices at three out of four restaurants, but it also had the lowest overall total in this category. Uber Eats was a close second, with total costs amounting to just $9 more than Postmates.

Orders $75 and up

RestaurantGrubhubDoorDashUber EatsPostmatesWinner
Thai Restaurant$94.65$98.73$97.53$94.04Postmates

Overall Winner: Postmates

If you’re ordering food for a large group and spending over $75, then it’s a safe bet that Postmates will be cheaper. The Uber-owned company dominated in this category, aided by $5 and $10 discounts for orders at all of the restaurants save for Dunkin'. Although Uber benefited from the exact same promotions, it couldn't compete with the category winner.

Grubhub Bag on BenchPhoto credit: Grubhub

Membership Programs

In a straightforward matchup, Postmates is clearly the cheapest option. That said, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber also offer memberships, which could change the math ... except their premium options are all nearly identical. Note that since Postmates is owned by Uber, you will have access to Uber One's benefits on both platforms.

DashPass ($10/month)

  • Get free delivery and lower service fees on orders over $10-12, depending on your area.

  • Receive 5% DoorDash credits back on pickup orders.

  • Access exclusive offers.

Grubhub+ ($10/month)

  • Enjoy free delivery from eligible restaurants on orders over $12.

  • Donate your extra change to charity, and DoorDash will match your donation.

  • Access exclusive perks.

Uber One ($10/month)

  • Enjoy complimentary delivery on food orders exceeding $15 and grocery orders totaling over $30.
  • Receive a 5% price reduction on qualified rides, and save up to 10% on Uber Eats purchases.
  • Travel with highly-rated drivers and benefit from the Uber One Promise, which provides $5 in Uber Cash if the estimated delivery arrival time is inaccurate.
  • Access premium member assistance, exclusive offers, and entry to exclusive, invite-only experiences.

Uber EatsPhoto credit: Uber

Why Food Delivery Apps Aren't the Cheapest Option

According to a 2017 survey shared in Harvard Business Review, 90% of Americans don't like to cook. While that statistic is staggering, it makes sense. We live in an era where convenience is king. But when you choose convenience over affordability or health, it has real consequences, especially if you rely on food delivery apps for your meals. Here's why:

  • Fees and Delivery Charges: When you order food on an app, the majority of your cash goes to the restaurant. But you're also covering the platform's operating expenses, the delivery driver's wage, government-mandated charges, and more. All those charges add up, which is why DoorDash charges $21.68 for a basic chicken burrito from Chipotle. That's 120% more than it costs at the restaurant.
  • Inflated Menu Prices: What's more, menu prices are often higher on apps. For example: A Chipotle burrito starts at $12.50 on Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Postmates — a nearly 40% markup on the $8.95 in-store price.
  • Impulse Ordering: With their shiny photos, enticing deals, and persistent notifications, food delivery apps are designed to get you to spend money impulsively.
  • Subscription Costs: While subscription services like Uber One and Grubhub+ offer benefits like reduced fees and special offers, they still cost extra money at the end of the day. For infrequent users, this cost may not offset the savings, making the subscription a waste of money.

Food Delivery PersonPhoto credit: RichLegg/istockphoto

The Bottom Line: Choosing the Best Food Delivery App

The truth is that there are so many variables that go into food delivery app pricing that it’s impossible to say whether one is always cheaper. Case in point: In a CNET analysis of DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats prices in New York, Uber Eats failed to win in a single category. The bottom line is that while we found that Postmates and Uber Eats were the cheapest apps overall, it's best to compare prices yourself in real time.

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