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DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats: We Finally Figured Out Which One Is Cheapest

We did the math to break down which food delivery app will save you the most money.

A delivery person on a bicycle holding a brown takeout bag
It's time to find out which food delivery app will save you the most cash.
Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty

Are you looking for the most cost-effective food delivery app? You're certainly not alone. The speed and ease of food delivery these days is a true modern marvel. And let's not forget the choices. My god, there are so many choices! Food delivery apps are plentiful nowadays, but they all have their own pricing structures, fees and charges, making some better -- and cheaper -- than others.

We Do the Math badge

If you want the cheapest takeout, your best bet is to call the restaurant directly and pick up your order. Or use the restaurant's own delivery platform if they have one. As a bonus, when you go direct through the restaurant, you'll be giving more of your money directly to the business since most delivery apps charge significant fees to use their platforms and marketing.

But, more often these days restaurants are defaulting to the big delivery apps to get food to you, and sometimes it's the only system they'll use. True story: I've called several restaurants to order delivery directly only to be asked to use a delivery app instead. 

So if these third-party takeout and delivery services are here to stay, and perhaps even necessary for your favorite joints to survive, you probably want to know which delivery app has the lowest fees and charges. To see which is the cheapest food delivery platform, I compared three of the biggest players: Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. It turns out that it really depends on how much you're ordering. Between these three, there was a clear winner for small orders, and another that's cheapest for midrange and large orders. 

Grubhub is the cheapest for orders of around $50

For three food orders between $20 and $80, Grubhub had the cheapest average totals. For orders of around $50, it was the lowest cost by a healthy margin. For smaller midsized orders of around $25 or $30, Uber Eats was typically less, but only by a dollar or so. If you're consistently ordering for two or three people, your bill is probably in the range that would make Grubhub the cheapest option.

Orders $20-$75


DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Total cost $158.54 $152.26 $162.64

DoorDash is the cheapest service for small orders

Another consistency that emerged after calculating these delivery bills is that DoorDash is the cheapest if you're placing a small order. For all three orders under $20, DoorDash had the cheapest total cost, sometimes by a significant margin. In total, DoorDash was nearly $10 cheaper than Grubhub and about $6 cheaper than Uber Eats.

Orders under $20


DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Total cost $71.79 $81.45 $77.87

Grubhub is the cheapest for large orders

Conversely, Grubhub offered the best bottom-line prices for large orders. In every instance when the food costs topped $75, Grubhub was either the cheapest or essentially tied with Uber Eats, and both Uber Eats and Grubhub were cheaper than DoorDash. This is likely due to DoorDash's fixed 15% service charge that climbs in congruence with your bill. (More on that later.)

Orders over $75


DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Total cost $400.49 $379.61 $394.20

How I did the math

Because the charges and fees vary from restaurant to restaurant, and no single app is completely transparent about exactly how those fees and rates are set, there isn't a scientific method for determining which app is cheaper. The best system at my disposal is simply logging several orders from the same restaurant with each platform -- so that's exactly what I did.

To find out which delivery app had the lowest total cost for delivery in my Brooklyn neighborhood, I built 10 orders from 10 different restaurants using all three apps, and logged the fees and charges along with the total cost for each. I used restaurants of varying distances from my apartment and also orders of varying sizes to see if there were any trends for large or small orders. I built the carts for each order between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on a Tuesday evening to keep things fair. 

I didn't include the driver tip in these figures, since it's up to the customer and would be a wash depending on what percentage you decide to tip. None of the apps require a driver tip but, please, always tip your delivery driver.

DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats compared



Dunkin

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $9.22 $9.38 $9.22
Delivery Fee $0.49 $1.99 $2.99
Service Fee $3.00 $1.88 $2.90
Small order fee N/A $2.00 N/A
Tax $0.82 $1.36 $0.82
Total $13.04 $16.61 $15.93






Deli

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $11 $11 $11
Delivery Fee $1.49 $4.99 $4.99
Service Fee $3 $2.50 $2.90
Tax $0.98 $1.64 $0.98
Total $16.47 $20.13 $19.87






Wings

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $11.95 $11.95 $11.95
Delivery Fee $0 $3.99 $0.49
Service Fee $3 $0.63 $2.90
Tax $1.06 $1.47 $1.06
Total $16.01 $18.04 $16.40






Indian

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $21 $21 $21
Delivery Fee $1.49 $1.99 $0.49
Service Fee $3.15 $2.10 $2.90
Tax $1.86 $2.23 $1.86
Total $27.50 $27.32 $26.25






Pizza

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $20 $20.00 $20
Delivery Fee $1.49 $1.99 $0.99
Service Fee $3 $2.50 $2.90
Tax $1.78 $2.18 $1.78
Total $26.27 $26.67 $25.67






Chinese

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $50 $52.50 $52.50
Delivery Fee $1.99 $0 $2.99
Service Fee $7.50 $2.50 $7.67
Tax $4.44 $4.88 $4.66
Total $63.93 $59.88 $67.82






Thai

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $54.75 $54.75 $54.75
Delivery Fee $1.49 $2.99 $0.99
Service Fee $8.21 $2.50 $7.97
Tax $4.15 $4.82 $4.86
Total $67.11 $65.06 $68.57






Greek

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $84 $84 $84
Delivery Fee $5.49 $4.49 $0.49
Service Fee $12.60 $4.41 $9
Tax $7.46 $8.25 $7.46
Total $109.55 $101.15 $100.95






Italian

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $110 $110 $110
Delivery Fee $4.49 $4.49 $0.99
Service Fee $14.30 $5.46 $9
Tax $9.32 $10.12 $9.76
Total $133.62 $130.07 $129.75






American

DoorDash Grubhub Uber Eats
Order $123 $123 $141
Delivery Fee $2.49 $0.99 $0.99
Service Fee $20.91 $12.30 $9
Tax $10.92 $12.10 $12.51
Total $157.32 $148.39 $163.50

Grubhub fees explained

placemyorderpage-a

Grubhub orders come with two extra fees on top of your meal cost, but it may still be the cheapest food delivery option for you.

Grubhub

When you order from Grubhub, you'll see two charges in addition to the food itself and tax. 

The delivery fee is set by the restaurant and goes to them if it provides delivery and is set by Grubhub if the restaurant uses Grubhub drivers. It can be anywhere from $1 to $12, but is typically between $2 and $5. If you subscribe to Grubhub Plus, you can pay $10 a month to get free delivery on orders over $12 from participating restaurants. Some restaurants don't charge a delivery fee at all, whether or not you subscribe, to entice customers to choose them over a competitor.

The service fee varies but is typically a percentage of the order that goes to Grubhub to "help cover operating costs." This fee in my area of Brooklyn is typically around $2.50 per order but can jump as high as $7 or $8 for some restaurants. 

The total cost of a Grubhub order will be the cost of your food, plus taxes, plus the service fee, plus the delivery fee, plus a tip. If you spend less than $10, there may also be an additional $2 minimum charge fee. 

Why Grubhub can be more expensive is that restaurants set the delivery fee, since it's variable from establishment to establishment. Some restaurants charge as much as $10, but as mentioned, most charge around $2 to $5. This is to offset the service fee that Grubhub charges the restaurants themselves (15% to 30%) in addition to the 10% delivery fee it takes if restaurants use Grubhub drivers. 

In total, Grubhub nabs anywhere from 15% to 40% of each order depending on what plan the restaurant has signed up for, but those figures are not made available to the customer.

Uber Eats fees explained

Uber Eats app screen

You can choose to pay a priority order fee to get your Uber Eats food faster.

Angela Lang/CNET

Uber Eats operates with a similar model to Grubhub and DoorDash but with some slight differences. When ordering from Uber Eats, you'll see a delivery fee which is set by the restaurant as well as "taxes and other fees." Within that second bucket lies the Uber Eats service fee which varies, sometimes dramatically, depending on the restaurant you're ordering from. While Uber Eats doesn't disclose exactly how this fee is calculated, factors such as the distance from the restaurant to your home, the size of your order and the time of day your order is placed are part of the equation.

The Uber Eats delivery fee can range from $0 to $8. In my neighborhood, the delivery fee set by restaurants is typically between $0.49 and $2.49. The total cost of an Uber Eats order is will be the cost of your food, plus taxes, plus the service fee, plus the delivery fee, plus a tip.

For really hungry customers, Uber Eats offers priority delivery, a small charge to ensure that your driver comes directly to you first without making other stops or deliveries along the way. 

Uber Eats also takes up to 30% of each order from the restaurant. But those figures are also not made available to the customer.

DoorDash fees explained

doordash app open on phone

Unlike its competitors, DoorDash charges a flat service fee of 15% of your bill.

Angela Lang/CNET

Like Uber Eats and GrubHub, DoorDash also charges a delivery fee set by restaurants and a service fee that goes to the app in addition to the cost of your food. According to the app and website, the delivery fee "varies by restaurant and may be determined by your location," among other factors.

Unlike GrubHub and Uber Eats, DoorDash charges a flat service fee of 15% of your total bill, with a minimum charge of $3. This is good for transparency, since the service fee is easily quantified, but means the fees can also get pretty high, especially as your bill goes up.

Similar to GrubHub and Uber Eats, DoorDash takes anywhere from 15% to 30% of each order depending on which tier the restaurant has signed up for. Again, these percentages are not made available to the public.

All three apps have subscriptions for unlimited free delivery

Grubhub app with Grubhub plus open

Subscription services like Grubhub Plus cost $10 a month but will waive the delivery fees on all your orders.

Grubhub

If you're a habitual delivery orderer, those fees can add up in the course of the month. All three services mentioned here now offer a monthly subscription for $10 that gives you free delivery on all orders. Uber Eats has Eats PassGrubhub has Grubhub Plus and DoorDash has DoorDash. Keep in mind, this will eliminate the delivery fee but not the service fee. You can give each one a free 30-day trial.

For more price comparison, see how much meal kits cost versus buying groceries, and how much you can save shopping at Trader Joe's or Costco.