The Critical Points: How Much Are Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats Really Costing You?

Each week in his column “The Critical Points,” TPG Loyalty and Engagement Editor Richard Kerr presents his opinion on a loyalty program, card product or recent news that he believes is overlooked, unsung or the result of groupthink taking mass opinion in a direction with which he doesn’t agree. His goal is not necessarily to convince you to agree with his position but rather to induce critical thought for each of the topics and positions he covers.

When Chase announced changes to its popular Chase Sapphire Reserve card — including a higher annual fee along with the addition of Lyft benefits, DoorDash credits and a DashPass membership — I wanted to know the exact impact to cardholders. After all, a $100 increase in an annual fee should include a proportional boost to the card’s value proposition. So I began scrolling through the local restaurants in DoorDash, and I quickly saw the prices listed through the app seemed to be noticeably high.

This (naturally) got me thinking about food delivery apps in general. The area I live in (south of the Atlanta metro area) only entered the service area for companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub within the last year. While I’ve used them a few times, I’ve always paid with Uber credits from The Platinum Card® from American Express or the monthly $10 in Grubhub credit from the American Express® Gold Card.

This has kept me from truly paying attention to the food prices and the overall amount I am paying for the convenience of food showing up at my house. I know that many people use these services daily, so I thought it’d be interesting to show how much these apps are really costing you.

I decided to do a quick research project comparing the cost of food on a restaurant’s own menu with the prices for the same food in the food delivery apps. I priced hypothetical meals for two people, then added in any stated service charges, applicable delivery fees and tax. Here are the results for four restaurants in my local area that are available on all three apps.

Key takeaways

Based on the above results for the four restaurants that were in all three platforms in my local area, here are some key data takeaways:

  • The platforms were (on average) 22% more expensive than ordering directly from the restaurant for table service or take out.
  • Based on averages, Uber Eats carried the smallest premium (17.4% more expensive than ordering directly from a restaurant), followed by DoorDash (21.8%) and Grubhub (26.7%) — again, not including any tip.
  • The variation among the data was dramatic for both DoorDash (a low of 9.03% and a high of 51.08%) and Grubhub (10.29% to 44.95%), whereas Uber Eats was the most consistent.
  • Grubhub taxes the service fee and delivery fee at the same rate as the food cost, while Uber Eats and DoorDash do not.

Paying a 17-27% premium to have food delivered directly to you may seem like a fair deal for the convenience factor, but sadly, there are outliers that go far beyond these reasonable levels.

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