5 of the Cheapest Grocery Delivery Services (Actually Worth Ordering From)

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Whether the coronavirus pandemic increased your supermarket bills or not, you might be wondering about the cheapest grocery delivery options are.

Fortunately, doing your grocery shopping online and having your purchases delivered to your doorstep has never been easier. Still, you’ll need to find the best and cheapest grocery delivery service specifically for your busy lifestyle and your budget.

We surveyed the costs, pros and cons of five of the top delivery services to help you find the right fit.

Cheap grocery deliverersGood option for…
1. InstacartComprehensive grocery selection
2. Amazon Fresh, PantryPrime members and Whole Foods customers
3. ShiptCommunication with your personal shopper
4. PostmatesShopping local grocery stores
5. FreshDirectEastern U.S. customers who want to support farms
Plus: Other food and grocery delivery services worth checking out

1. Instacart: a comprehensive selection

Instacart.com

Instacart costs

  • Cost: $99 annual Instacart Express membership to avoid delivery fees on $35 or more, plus a 5% service fee on orders (not including alcohol)
  • Delivery fee: Same-day delivery starts at $3.99
  • Availability: Cities across all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Instacart pros

One of the fastest food delivery services on this list, Instacart lives up to its name. Same-day delivery is standard, with the option for one-hour delivery for an additional fee. Instacart can deliver any item you want from stores such as BevMo!, Costco and Petco to your door.

Instacart also has some neat features, including a shopping list tool and a coupon section. It also has a relatively wide service area, so chances are good it includes your home address.

Marcey Rader is a busy life and productivity coach based in Raleigh, and Instacart is her go-to for frozen and fresh produce alike. “The shoppers pick even better produce than I do,” she said. Plus, “it’s so convenient to carry over the same list from week to week with a few edits here and there.”

Rader acknowledged that the service does add a bit to your bill. “But it saves you that in time, gas and getting those items that you really didn’t want, but got sucked in due to advertising or the display.” She also likes that Instacart will alert her via the app when they’ve started the shopping and send her a text message when they have to make a substitution.

Instacart cons

The big thing to watch for with Instacart is the pricing, which can be higher on certain items or stores. You don’t need a Costco membership to order through Instacart, for instance — but you’ll also pay more for items ordered there. A pack of diapers that may usually cost $35.50 at Costco, for instance, was priced at $52.50 on Instacart, plus the $6 delivery fee.

There are a couple of other charges to watch for, too. Service fees on your order (5%) and alcohol purchases (about $2 per $35 of alcohol) can add up quickly. These fees don’t go to your deliverer, so there’s still the option to tip them on top of this fee.

Bottom line: When you want to get everything on your list without leaving the house, Instacart will do the trick. While it might not always be the cheapest grocery delivery choice, Instacart makes up for that with convenience and fast delivery.

2. Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry: perfect for Prime members

Amazon.com

AmazonFresh cost

  • Cost: The price of your Amazon Prime membership
  • Delivery fee: If your order is less than $35, your fee could be as low as $5.99
  • Availability: Log into Amazon or enter your ZIP code on its website to check services

AmazonFresh pros

With same- or next-day delivery (depending on when you order), AmazonFresh can be a fast way to get the items you need.

“Since having a baby last year, my husband and I have been getting a lot of use out of AmazonFresh,” said Stephanie Kibler, founder of personal finance blog Poorer Than You, where she has reviewed AmazonFresh. “Being a one-car household, it really helps to be able to get groceries without needing the car, and without having to load an infant into a car seat and then a shopping cart, too.”

You also have the convenience of setting a specific two-hour delivery window, so you can be home to make sure groceries get directly from your door to your fridge. If not, Amazon will package perishable items with appropriate coolants and insulated containers to keep them fresh.

Speaking of fresh groceries, the now-Amazon-owned Whole Foods chain also offers free delivery to Prime members placing orders of at least $35. You’ll also receive an additional 10% discount on sale items.

If you’re buying snacks, beverages or household supplies (that don’t necessarily require immediate refrigeration), you could also check out Amazon Pantry. Unlike Fresh and Whole Foods via Amazon online delivery, Pantry is accessible for non-Prime members. You could pay the $5.99 delivery fee as a non-member or, if you spring for a Prime membership, all orders over $35 will be free of charge.

If you have an Amazon Echo connected to your account, you can also ask Alexa to place AmazonFresh orders for you or add items to your cart. Plus, “the ‘Past Purchases’ feature and Dash Wand save us even more time,” Kibler said.

Additionally, AmazonFresh has a wide variety of items and makes it easy to compare prices and shop around. “The time savings alone pays for the monthly fee, but I ran the math and realized that we can actually save a bit of money versus our usual grocery store,” Kibler added. “The ‘Fresh Deals’ and my 5% cashback Amazon credit card save us even more money.”

AmazonFresh cons

Unfortunately, AmazonFresh isn’t available everywhere, though you can visit the website and enter your ZIP code to see if it services your neighborhood.

The costs of Amazon Fresh, if you include a Prime membership, aren’t the cheapest, either.

Bottom line: For those who value convenience and relatively fast arrival, AmazonFresh can be a smart fit. The cost isn’t as steep as it once was (as Amazon has done away with grocery delivery memberships beyond its Prime subscription fee), but it could be well worth it if you’re already a Prime member and order frequently, or if you’re a dedicated Whole Foods shopper.

3. Shipt: customization and control

Shipt.com

Shipt costs

  • Cost: $99 annual fee, or $14 per month for unlimited delivery of orders over $35
  • Delivery fee: $7 delivery fee for orders under $35 for members, $10 for non-members
  • Availability: Over 260 cities

Shipt pros

If you’re looking for a subscription-based but cheap grocery delivery service, Shipt is worth considering. Its $99 annual fee is competitively priced.

A standout feature is that you can set delivery times within an hour or more of placing your order — without adding on an extra fee. You can use Shipt to shop your usual list at several major grocers, including Target, Costco, Meijer, and Harris Teeter.

If you want to make sure your order is correct, you can add notes to your order for your shopper. Plus, Shipt allows you to set substitute preferences in case the store doesn’t have a particular item you request. You also have the option to edit your order within the first hour of placing it. And your Shipt shopper will text you while in the store to let you know they’ve started putting your order together, and to check in if they have any questions about your order.

Heather Johnson, founder of the blog Food Hussy, said she’s tried many grocery delivery services and Shipt is her favorite. The Shipt shoppers are what won her over: “They’re very thoughtful in their selection of produce, communicative when there’s a substitution to be made, and just all-around friendly.”

Johnson added that if she wants an item she knows is in the store but not listed in the Shipt app, she can add a note to her shopper and still get it added to the order.

“Since I started using Shipt, I haven’t been to the store,” Johnson said. “Plus — the shoppers bring the groceries into my kitchen for me. It’s the best.”

Shipt cons

Shipt currently only serves communities across 260-plus cities — so it won’t be an option for everyone.

Shipt also charges a bit more for products on top of its membership fees: “Our members can expect to pay about $5 more using Shipt than they would on a $35 order purchased in the store themselves,” according to the service’s FAQ section. That equates to about a 15% price increase.

Bottom line: A big concern with grocery delivery services is the quality of your items when someone else picks them out. With the option to change your order after placement, send notes to your shopper, or select substitution preferences, Shipt gives you way more control over the process. These features and the built-in line of communication with your shopper make it easier to ensure your items are up to par. That could make it worthwhile to pay for its relatively high delivery fees.

4. Postmates: shopping local grocery stores

Postmates.com

Postmates costs

  • Cost: Postmates Unlimited subscription runs $99.99 a year and wipes away delivery fees on orders of at least $12, though you’ll still face percentage-based service fees (varies) and “small cart fees” ($1.99)
  • Delivery fee: $0.99 to $9.99 depending on the merchant (unless you’re an Unlimited member)
  • Availability: Postmates claims to serve 80% of households nationwide

Postmates pros

The highlight of Postmates is that it’s a national company that allows you to shop small. Like when ordering from restaurants online, Postmates lets you search and compare local grocery stores. If you have favorite stores within delivery distance, this app could be the most seamless way to place orders without having to visit the store yourself.

Like with other service providers above, you can also schedule your delivery for a later day or time. You can choose from 30-minute time slots up to seven days ahead of time.

Postmates could also be convenient as your one-stop-shop. Acquired by rideshare company Uber in July 2020, Postmates also delivers non-grocery orders, including prepared food and alcohol.

Postmates cons

Grocery store “menus” on Postmates aren’t as user-friendly as others among the cheapest grocery stores that deliver. Some supermarkets, for example, only make their deli options available within the app.

Even if there are good, Postmates-approved grocery merchants near you, you’re not able to reschedule an order once it’s placed. Although a funky workaround, you could cancel the order and replace it on your preferred schedule.

Bottom line: If you frequently order takeout via Postmates, it could make sense to also do grocery shopping via the app. Just don’t expect to do it all one “trip.” Postmates grocery merchants don’t have nearly the same inventory as competitors like those listed above. Its not-so-transparent service fee calculation is also a turnoff.

5. FreshDirect: for Eastern U.S. foodies

Freshdirect.com

FreshDirect costs

  • Cost: A DeliveryPass membership runs $79 for six months and includes free delivery (and the ability to reserve delivery timeslots)
  • Delivery fee: $5.99 to $15.99 depending on your location (with a minimum order of $30)
  • Availability: Eastern U.S.

FreshDirect pros

While not exactly like navigating the grocery store on foot, FreshDirect stands out for its easy-to-scan — and expansive — menu of grocery departments. It features gluten-free, organic and kosher selections in case your diet is tailored.

The website’s search-bar functionality also makes finding niche items much easier than it would be if you were physically in the store (while pushing a cart).

FreshDirect also promises many other perks associated with the cheapest grocery deliverers:

  • Fresh meat, fish and produce sourced directly from farmers and fishermen
  • “Fresh Deals” calls out discounted items
  • Flexible delivery windows
  • Alcohol, plus kitchen or household supplies

Its pricing is also more transparent than certain other grocery delivery services.

FreshDirect cons

Its $158 annual membership cost is steeper than other delivery services.

And even if you’re willing to fork that sum over, unfortunately, Fresh Direct is only available for home delivery in select counties in the following states:

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware
  • Washington, D.C.

Bottom line: If you live in the Eastern U.S. and order groceries online often enough to make up for the high biannual membership fee, FreshDirect could be worth your while. It’s a great option for consumers who prioritize farm-to-home food of the organic variety.

Other food and grocery delivery services worth checking out

These are just some of the cheapest grocery delivery services out there, and some offer a completely different approach.

Many grocery stores are jumping on the train with options to order online and pickup in-store.

  • Regional grocery stores: Whether you shop at a chain like Safeway or Albertson’s or a smaller market, it’s likely to offer online ordering, pick-up and possibly delivery. Check with your favorite supermarkets about their options. Then you can compare pricing with the cheapest online grocery services.
  • Wholesalers: Big-box stores like Costco and Walmart (which previously acquired delivery expert Jet.com) have joined the grocery delivery business. If you shop with these outlets, see if their service meets your needs at an equal or lower cost.
  • Community-supported agriculture (CSA): If you want truly fresh produce, joining a CSA co-op can be a great choice. You typically buy a “share” or pay an ongoing subscription fee, and get to pick up a basket of freshly-picked fruits and veggies every week or two. Many CSAs also offer delivery.
  • Meal kit delivery services: This is a trendy way to simplify cooking at home. Popular options like Blue Apron and HelloFresh deliver all the ingredients you need to make a complete meal, right to your door. You don’t need a shopping list, you’ll waste less food, and you’re sure to expand your palate and pick up some new cooking techniques.

So which is the best or cheapest grocery delivery option for you? Only you know the right balance between cost versus convenience in your life.

In most cases, getting your groceries through a service will cost more than going yourself. But if a grocery delivery service can free up more sanity or time, they can be worth every penny.

Money might not buy happiness, but if you use money to save time and limit stress, that’s almost the same thing.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 6.66%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.89% – 5.90%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.99% – 5.34%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.97% – 8.54%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of December 1, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 11/13/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.97% to 8.54% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.