Your Guide to the 5 Best Grocery Delivery Services

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Americans keep spending more and more on dining out, and in 2016, spending on food away from home outstripped grocery spending for the first time, according to an analysis from Quartz. In fact, the average millennial spends $2,900 eating out each year — money you could save by cooking at home, instead.

If you learn to cook on a budget and eat at home more, grocery delivery services can be a smart investment. And a grocery delivery service can bring some of the convenience of eating out to cooking and dining at home.

But you’ll need to find the best grocery delivery service for your busy lifestyle, and your budget. We surveyed the costs, pros, and cons of top delivery services to help you quickly find the right fit.

1. Google Express: Free delivery, no membership needed

grocery delivery services

Google Express costs

  • Free delivery when you meet each store’s minimum purchase amount of $25 to $35
  • If your order amount is below the minimum, a $5 fee applies

Google Express pros

Google Express is one of the cheapest grocery delivery services out there. For most buyers, purchase and delivery fees are waived. I also liked that I could shop and compare prices across multiple stores including Target, Walmart, and Costco — all at once.

With a service area that includes 90 percent of zip codes in the U.S., Google Express might be your best bet for grocery delivery in smaller cities or underserved areas.

In her review of Google Express on La Jolla Mom, blogger Katie Dillon said that the service was a time- and money-saver. “I will save money because I tend to impulse buy random things at Costco (and elsewhere) when shopping in person,” she wrote. “I am more risk averse on the computer.”

Dillon noted that the service would let her use her own Costco membership to avoid a 15 percent surcharge. Google Express also beat online ordering; items she ordered from Target showed up faster than if she’d ordered through the store’s site.

Google Express cons

Unfortunately, Google Express doesn’t currently offer perishable foods — you won’t be able to get produce, dairy, eggs, or similar items through this service.

On top of this, Google Express delivery times vary widely. There’s no same-day delivery option. Some stores and items can be delivered next-day, while others might arrive in a week or longer.

Bottom line: Google Express is a low-cost, low-commitment option. You probably can’t use it to replace grocery trips altogether, due to the lack of perishable items. But it still offers a lot of convenience at the can’t-be-beat price of free.

2. Instacart: A comprehensive selection

grocery delivery service

Instacart costs

  • $6 per store on the delivery, for purchases of $35 or more
  • Or free delivery for all orders over $35 with a $149 annual membership
  • One-hour delivery for $8

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 just $2 more. Instacart can deliver any item you want from stores such as Smith’s, Kroger, Whole Foods, Costco, and Petco to your door.

Instacart has some neat features, including a shopping list tool and a coupons 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. “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 me via the app when they’ve started the shopping and text me when they have to make a substitution.”

Instacart cons

The big thing to watch for with Instacart is the pricing, which can be higher for 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 usually costs me $35.50 at Costco, for example, was priced at $52.50 on Instacart, plus the $6 delivery fee.

There are a couple of other charges to watch for. There’s the “optional” 10 percent service fee that is added by default, for instance. You can lower the amount or skip the fee altogether, but you’ll have to remember to do so manually. This service fee doesn’t go to your deliverer, so there’s still the option (or obligation, as it were) to tip them on top of this fee. The costs here can quickly add up.

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 option, Instacart makes up for that with convenience and fast delivery.

3. AmazonFresh: Perfect for Prime members

best grocery delivery service

AmazonFresh cost

  • You must be an Amazon Prime member to enroll in AmazonFresh, so make sure you’re accounting for that $99 per year
  • $15 a month gets you unlimited free deliveries on purchases of $40 or more
  • For orders under $40, a $10 fee applies
  • AmazonFresh pickups are free with a Prime membership: Place your order and then pick it up at a local Amazon pickup rather than have it delivered to your door

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 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- to three-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.

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.

AmazonFresh has a wide variety of items and makes it easy to price compare 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 — although you can visit their site 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 — $280 a year.

Bottom line: For those who value convenience and relatively fast arrival, AmazonFresh can be a smart fit. The $15 per month might seem a little steep, but it could be well worth it if you’re already a Prime member and order as frequently as once a week.

4. Peapod: Shopping list assistance

best grocery delivery service

Peapod costs

  • $10 for orders of $60 to $100 (with a $60 minimum for delivery)
  • $7 for orders $100 or higher
  • $3 for pickup orders
  • May add a fuel surcharge in certain service areas

Peapod pros

If putting together your shopping list is your grocery store stressor, Peapod has some great features that make it a snap.

Peapod saves past purchases list you can easily refer to, and has a tool to build out and save a standard list of staples. It even has a tool, Order Genius, that will suggest items based on what you’ve bought in the past.

Lastly, its item sorting options are the best in the group, making it easy to price compare per-unit or view the most popular items.

Leah Ingram reviewed Peapod on her blog, and pointed out that shoppers can buy both alcohol and meal kits through the service, along with usual groceries. Peapod also has features to help savvy shoppers save more, such as a “buy more, save more” section, coupons, and emails with special coupon codes or other offers.

“In the end I’ve saved money and I’ve saved time,” Ingram wrote in her review. “Plus, I feel like I can do a better job of keeping my grocery spending in check by shopping via a website.”

Peapod cons

The weak point of Peapod’s service might be the timeline of its deliveries. It offers next-day delivery only, and you must be at home to accept your order. Peapod states on its site, “we cannot leave your groceries on your doorstep for safety and freshness concerns.” In fact, if you are not home at that time and miss your order, you could face a re-delivery fee of $15.

Bottom line: Peapod’s shopping list-building tools and item filters are standout features that can save time and simplify purchase planning. Its fees are $3 to $5 higher than other grocery delivery services’ prices listed here, and the $60 and $100 order minimums are steep. However, a friendly and useful interface can still make it worth the cost.

5. Shipt: Customization and control

grocery delivery service

Image credit: Shipt

Shipt costs

  • $99 annual fee, or $14 per month for unlimited delivery of orders over $35
  • $7 delivery fee for orders under $35
  • Possible $7 delivery fee when ordering alcohol (Must be 21 or older and have valid ID to order and receive alcohol delivery)

Shipt pros

If you’re looking for a subscription-based grocery delivery service, Shipt is the least expensive option. Its $99 annual fee beats Instacart’s by $40, and AmazonFresh by $81.

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 Kroger, H-E-B, 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 Food Hussy blog, said she has 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, and 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 certain communities — mainly in the Southeast, Midwest and East Texas — 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 a price increase of around 15 percent.

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.

Other food and grocery delivery services worth checking out

These are just some of the top grocery delivery services out there, and some offer an entirely different approach.

Many grocery stores are jumping on the train with options to order online and pick up in-store. Kroger and Smith’s grocery chains offer online ordering, pick up, and even home delivery at many locations through ClickList, for instance. The online grocery ordering options are also relatively low cost, with ClickList charging $5 per order, or $8 for expedited orders.

If you want truly fresh produce, joining a community-supported agriculture (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.

Lastly, meal kit delivery services are a trendy way to simplify cooking at home. Popular options such as 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 grocery delivery service for you? Only you know the right balance between cost versus convenience in your life.

In most cases, getting your groceries through a service a 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.

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% 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 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% 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. 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
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
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2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
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2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
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2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
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2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
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2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.