Food fight: DoorDash vs Grubhub vs Uber Eats

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DoorDash vs Grubhub vs Uber Eats

In order to partially make up for increasing the Sapphire Reserve card’s annual fee from $450 to $550, Chase has added $60 per year in automatic statement credits for DoorDash food delivery purchases.  I tried it out the other day and found that it worked exactly as expected.  I charged the order to my Sapphire Reserve and the full cost was quickly reimbursed:

Chase has also thrown in DoorDash DashPass memberships for Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred cardholders through the end of 2021.  Even Freedom and Slate cardholders can get in on the fun with 3 months of membership for free and then 9 months at half price.  DashPass gives you free delivery and reduced service fees.  You can read more about this new benefit here.

Chase vs. Amex

Chase isn’t the only credit card issuer that’s offering credits towards food purchases.  The Amex Gold card offers up to $10 in statement credits each month when the card is used for purchases at GrubHub and Seamless (also at Boxed.com, Shake Shack, Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse).  Further, the Amex Platinum card offers $15 per month in Uber credits ($35 each December) which can be used at Uber Eats.

DoorDash vs Grubhub vs Uber Eats

Food delivery benefits can be great if you use these services often.  However, if these benefits encourage you to use more expensive services, you’ll get far less value than advertised.

To find out if there were big differences in price between the delivery services, I tested them out in three cities: Ann Arbor (where I live), New York City, and Los Angeles.  In each case, I tested out two separate delivery orders from different restaurants.  In order to compare apples to apples, I made sure that I picked restaurants that were available to all three delivery services.  I clicked all the way through to the final check out screens in order to record the full price of each order.  For DoorDash, I recorded prices with and without DashPass in order to help determine the value of that subscription service.

Equal Food Prices: In almost all cases, food prices were identical with all three services.  The differences kicked in on the checkout screen when they added service and delivery fees.

Tips: I recorded subtotals before tip and totals after tip.  In every case, I simply recorded the tip that was automatically suggested by the app.

Overall Results

DoorDash vs Grubhub vs Uber Eats
This table shows results averaged across six food delivery orders in three cities. The DashPass Savings column shows savings compared to the cheapest alternative option.

If you look only at the bottom line, above, it looks like all three services are roughly equal and that the DashPass subscription will save you, on average, 5.7% per order.  That’s not the whole story though…

Take a look at the subtotal line.  There you’ll see that, before tip, GrubHub averaged slightly cheaper than DoorDash with DashPass (but the numbers are so close as to be basically identical).  Meanwhile, Uber Eats appears to be the most expensive.

The reason that the findings with the bottom line totals and the pre-tip totals are so different is that each service varies wildly in how much of a tip they recommend.  Uber Eats always suggests $4 even.  GrubHub always suggests 20%.  DoorDash uses a formula that I haven’t yet figured out.  The result is that, on most orders, GrubHub suggests the biggest tip and Uber Eats suggests the smallest.

If you are someone (like me) who usually just accepts the suggested tip, then overall we can say that all three services are roughly equal and that the DashPass subscription will save you, on average, 5.7% per order.

However, if you tend to tip in cash or pick your own tip, the results show that GrubHub and DoorDash with DashPass are the best (and are roughly equal).

Location Matters

The high level results mask the fact that the trends vary by location (and probably by the restaurants I happened to pick as well).  Let’s look at each…

In Ann Arbor, DoorDash with DashPass offers significant savings regardless of whether the tip is included in the results.

In Manhattan, GrubHub was the cheapest pre-tip option.  With one of the two restaurants, GrubHub was offering an automatic $5 off plus free delivery.  So that helped GrubHub come out ahead.  Also note that DashPass didn’t do as well here because one of the two restaurants wasn’t eligible for DashPass savings.  Despite these exceptions, DoorDash with DashPass was still the best option after including the suggested tip.

In Los Angeles, like in New York, GrubHub was the cheapest pre-tip option.  After tip, DoorDash with DashPass was the cheapest.

Bottom Line

In most cases I found that the total cost when including the suggested tip was roughly equal across all three services.  As a result, the DoorDash DashPass membership consistently offered better prices since it reduces fees.

I found two surprising details about the pre-tip prices:

  • GrubHub was often cheaper in New York and Los Angeles when considering only the pre-tip price.
  • Uber Eats was almost always more expensive when considering only the pre-tip price.

If you tend to tip your own way rather than going with suggested tips, you might be better off ordering through GrubHub rather than DoorDash with DashPass. And you’ll likely be better off with either of those services rather than Uber Eats.

Do your own comparison

In my little experiment, fees varied so much from location to location and restaurant to restaurant that it’s hard to say definitely which service is cheapest.  If you order out a lot I recommend doing your own comparison with restaurants that you frequently order from.

In my case, I was very happy to see that DashPass resulted in real savings in Ann Arbor (at least with the two restaurants I looked at).  This means to me that I’ll easily be able to get full value from the $60 per year Sapphire Reserve reimbursement and I’ll continue to save money after that thanks to the DashPass membership.

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