The 12 Best Ways to Save Money on Restaurant Food Delivery

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably been ordering takeout a lot more than you’ve been sitting down to eat in a restaurant. And who could blame you? Restaurant delivery services, including services such as Grubhub, Doordash, and Postmates have become a much more convenient – albeit more expensive – way to enjoy your favorite meals. But break the bank no more; read on to find out how to save money on restaurant food delivery.

It Pays to Shop Around

And not just on the delivery services themselves. Unless you’ve struck a specific craving for Taco Bell, you can save money by not being picky about which restaurant you eat from. If you spend a bit of extra time browsing the internet, some restaurants offer free delivery promotions for a limited time. Don’t feel like browsing? A quick Google search may also do the trick.

Sign Up for Subscriptions

This is especially effective if you order delivery frequently. Many sites, including GrubHub and DoorDash, offer unlimited free delivery for as low as $9.99 a month. If you spend $2-$3 on delivery fees each time, this subscription will pay itself off after as few as 4-5 orders a month. Some even offer yearly subscriptions. Although this will mean paying more up front, which may sometimes be a hassle, you will end up saving money in the long run.

Look for Coupons

Restaurants will often provide coupons, and these can be found easily with a quick Google search. Many restaurants will also provide coupons in the paper, in magazines, and even in their own ads. Always, always search for coupons and promo codes before submitting your food delivery order. Or, better yet, select which restaurant you eat at by the existing coupons and promo codes in your possession. This is a fast and easy way to save money that requires relatively little work on your part.

Check the Tip

If you’re the kind of person who likes to provide a cash tip at the door, check to make sure that you’re not double-tipping. Most delivery services include a built-in tip that can be as high as 20%, so double check to make sure that you aren’t tipping that twice. In most cases, you can easily modify or eliminate the tip if you’d prefer to pay in cash… or even just a lower tip of 15%, if you’d rather save money that way.

Shop Around Services

One of the best tips for saving money on delivery is to shop around delivery services. Once you’ve decided on your order, try putting that same order into each service’s website to see what the final cost would be for each. Many of them have different built-in service or delivery fees, so if you don’t have a strict subscription for one, you can tell over time which one typically provides the cheapest services.

Sign Up for Restaurant Promotions

If you have a favorite restaurant, don’t be afraid to sign up to receive newsletters or e-mail promotions from them. Often, this takes as little work as going to their website and typing in your e-mail address. This will also save you time in the long run, as you won’t have to search around for promotions and will already have them all, ready and available, when you are ready to order your meal so you can make sure that you’re really getting the best deal.

Capitalize on Gift Card Promotions

At special times of the year – usually around the holidays – many restaurants will offer gift card promotions. This means that if you buy a certain value in gift cards, you get a certain percentage of extra gift cards free. For example, some restaurants will allow you to purchase a $100 gift card, and then receive an extra $10 gift card free. You may have to spend more money up front, but you can then use these gift cards to purchase free food later on down the road.

Get Cashback with Rebate Apps

Ever heard of apps like Ibotta or Fetch Rewards, which allow you to earn money back while you shop? A lesser-known secret is that these rebate apps can also be used when ordering food online. You can earn up to 15% cash back when you pair certain apps with certain delivery services or restaurants. The best part of using these apps is that you can log the same meal order into each app, so it can be redeemed on Ibotta, and Fetch, and Rakuten if you have each one.

Follow on Social Media

Following delivery services on social media may feel cringe-worthy, but it can be well worth your time. Many times, they’ve been known to offer promo codes solely through Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. Make sure to check these out before placing your order, or check on them frequently to have your promo codes ready to go beforehand to spare you the trouble of searching for them later.

Invite Friends

Most services will allow you to invite friends through a specific link or code that is attached to you. This way, if they sign up for the service using your unique identifier, you’ll be credited for their purchase. This often means discounts, waived fees, or even free meals if you invite enough people.

Use Local Services

Although the big-name brands such as Grubhub and Doordash are probably the first services that come to mind when thinking of food delivery, many major cities have lesser-known local services that may be much cheaper than the nationally known ones. And even if they’re not, they’re usually more likely to offer promotions, coupons, and deals in order to compete with their much larger neighbors, allowing you the opportunity to save more money on food delivery.

Take Advantage of Bundles

Ever heard of the Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN bundle deal, where you pay one subscription fee per month that is smaller than each individual one combined, yet provides you with access to each? Some delivery services offer this deal with other types of services, so you can capitalize on this if you already subscribe (or want to subscribe) to another service. Additionally, some banks partner with delivery services to provide discounts and cash back when you use a certain bank card to pay (such as Chase).