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DoorDash vs. Uber Eats: Which food delivery app is best?

We compare two of the most popular food delivery apps in the US on price, app layouts, customer support and more.

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With many restaurants limited to pickup and delivery in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, food delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats have become a particularly convenient way to grab some grub. DoorDash and Uber Eats are currently the biggest food delivery services in the United States. On the surface, these apps have similar features -- they're both available in various cities, have thousands of restaurant options and, most importantly, allow you to order food directly from your phone. 

I wanted to find out how these apps compare not only for food delivery, but for equally important, albeit less obvious features like price, app layout and customer service. To test which food delivery app was the strongest overall, I ordered the same meal from both services and compared delivery prices at various times of the day.

DoorDash's straightforward menu layout, individualized customer support, and frequent exclusion of the small order fee for one-person orders makes it the app I use most. Still, because it's difficult to know which service will be cheaper once you start ordering for a group, I keep both downloaded and will opt for Uber Eats if it's more affordable.

Read more: Best food delivery service: DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and more compared

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While both apps charge a small order fee if your subtotal falls below a specific minimum, DoorDash often has a lower order minimum than Uber Eats, meaning the small order fee is typically excluded if you're only ordering a single item. So, DoorDash tends to be the cheaper option for small orders.

Angela Lang/CNET

Both apps offer promotions, but Uber Eats has some pretty useful ones. For instance, they're constantly offering free and 99-cent delivery fees for various restaurants. Additionally, for select restaurants, your delivery fee will be waived if you share your driver with a customer near you.

Which app is cheaper? A full breakdown of fees, promos and subscription services

When I started comparing these apps, I was immediately curious whether one was more affordable than the other. DoorDash and Uber Eats charge a delivery fee, a service fee and, occasionally, a small order fee. Delivery fees vary with time of day and restaurant distance. DoorDash's service fees are typically equivalent to 10 to 11% of the order subtotal, while Uber Eats' run as much as 15%. If your subtotal falls below a certain amount, you'll be charged a small order fee of $2 to $3. In my experience, DoorDash's order minimum is lower than Uber Eats, but this varies by location. While I thought a lower service fee would make DoorDash consistently cheaper than Uber Eats, I was wrong.

When I ordered two California burritos from a local Mexican restaurant about 2 miles away, the final cost on DoorDash was $3 more than Uber Eats. Yet, prices fluctuate depending on the time of day, and I ordered my burritos within the nonpeak hours of 2 to 4 p.m., so I checked what they would've cost during the busier hours of lunch and dinnertime. At lunch, Uber Eats was pricier than DoorDash because the delivery fee increased by $9, but at dinner, the delivery fee went back down and DoorDash was the pricier option again.

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Costs also change with restaurant distance, so I checked what my total would've been if I ordered from a Mediterranean restaurant a half a mile away from me, and a Mexican restaurant 4 miles away from me. If I ordered two falafels from the Mediterranean restaurant, DoorDash always would've been $5 more than Uber Eats, because Uber Eats has an exclusive 99-cent delivery fee for this restaurant.

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As for ordering two burritos from the Mexican restaurant, DoorDash was only a little cheaper at nonpeak hours and dinner time. Yet, at lunchtime, DoorDash was significantly less expensive than Uber Eats because its delivery fee decreased by $4.

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At the end of the day, there isn't one service that's consistently cheaper than the other. Prices change in unexpected ways depending on when you place your order and restaurant distance. Additionally, as the Uber Eats 99-cent delivery fee shows, both apps offer promotions that can end up making one a lot cheaper than the other.

If you're only ordering for yourself, DoorDash's frequent exclusion of the small order fee will most likely make it the more affordable option. Once you start ordering for more than one person, it's nearly impossible to know which app will be cheaper. I recommend keeping both apps downloaded and checking each before ordering.

If you plan on using these apps frequently, both offer $10-a-month subscription services with no delivery fees. DashPass from DoorDash gives members lowered service fees on orders above $12, while Eats Pass on Uber Eats offers a 5% markdown on orders over $15. Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders get DashPass at no additional cost for two years.

DoorDash's menu layout and customer support are unmatched

When I first opened DoorDash and Uber Eats, they looked pretty similar. They both have filter options at the top and icons to find specific items like fast food. As I began scrolling through restaurants, I liked how the thumbnails on Uber Eats gave plenty of information on pricing, type of food, and ratings without taking up too much of the screen. 

In contrast, DoorDash just displays the restaurant name, delivery time and fee, only giving you more information when scrolling down. However, any doubts I had about DoorDash's interface were quelled by its user-friendly menu. Both use an infinite scroll with a navigation bar at the top, but DoorDash also allows you to switch into a category view that sorts items into groups like "Appetizers" and "Dinner." I'm a fan of this option because I like how it allows me to quickly find items, without having to scroll through an entire menu. I also appreciate that DoorDash provides more personalized customer service with phone numbers, live chat and a comprehensive FAQ page. While Uber Eats also answers many frequently asked questions, it doesn't have a chat option.

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DoorDash and Uber Eats have nearly identical checkout processes

After customizing your order and adding it to your shopping cart, you may add specific drop-off instructions and can tip your driver during checkout or after your food has been delivered. Both services have received backlash over how they treat driver's tips, so one way to ensure your tip makes it to your driver is to place some cash at your doorstep. 

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Both accept credit cards or Apple Pay for iOS users, while Uber Eats also takes Venmo and Uber Cash. DoorDash also takes Google Pay if you use Android. 

DoorDash and Uber Eats are also offering a no-contact delivery option in light of the pandemic. Check out the full video for my reactions on how my food arrived, but, overall, I was pretty happy with how things looked once they made their way over to me.

Support your local restaurants

These apps are a convenient way to discover new restaurants, but it's important to note that they can also charge restaurants 15- to 30% commission fees. So, once you come across some top-notch restaurants on these apps, try to place an order directly through them, because that is the most effective way to support the restaurants near you.