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8 easy strategies to save money on food delivery and takeout

May 05, 2020
15 min read
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We can probably all agree we're living in very unprecedented times.

From travel to hospitality and everything in between, nearly every industry has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Restaurants have been hit particularly hard by the outbreak, as dining rooms and seating areas have been forced to close. And while some parts of the country are slowly starting to reopen dining rooms with limited seating, the massive pivot to offering takeout and delivery to stay afloat continues. If you're able to, ordering food from local restaurants is a great way to support small businesses during this challenging moment. Thankfully, there are ways you can save money on food delivery and takeout at the same time you're supporting your favorite local businesses.

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Try new features from Uber Eats

Uber recently announced it added a new feature to the Uber Eats platform that's sure to make ordering food even easier for many people. Previously, Uber Eats was only available through smartphone apps or an internet browser. But now, users in the states of New York and Florida can call 1-833-USE-UBER (1-833-873-8237) to get food from their favorite restaurants on Uber Eats. The service is available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, for both pick-up and delivery.

People are encouraged to stay at home and use the contactless delivery feature to receive meals safely whenever possible.

Callers will be paired with a live team member who can confirm the meal request and provide an upfront price quote using the same technology that powers Uber Eats delivery.

"As people, and older adults in particular, continue to stay at home, we built this feature to bring the food you love safely to your doorstep [with] a live conversation and ease of use," Jenn Boldt, general manager of Uber Eats, said in a statement.

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Related: The best credit cards to use for food delivery services

The company plans to roll out the feature to other locations, including Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey and Arizona.

So, how can you save money on your Uber Eats order while also giving back? Uber Eats also recently launched Eats Pass, a $9.99 monthly delivery subscription. With it, you'll receive unlimited free delivery and can save up to 5% on all orders over $15. You can still apply promotions for even more discounts, too, and the first month is free.

And right now, Uber is donating $1 for every new Eats Pass subscriber to the Restaurant Employee Relief fund, so know your dollars are going even further.

Take advantage of dining credits on your cards

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Food delivery benefits: Cardholders of the Amex Platinum card receive $15 monthly Uber credits (with a $20 bonus in December for a total of up to $200 credits annually), (for U.S. services) but these credits don't just apply to Uber rides — they apply to Uber Eats, too. That means you can put your monthly credits toward a discount on Uber Eats pick-up and delivery orders. With this recent news from Uber, there's never been a better time to put these credits to use.

Welcome offer: You can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Those 100,000 points are worth $2,000 according to TPG's latest valuations.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)

Further reading: 3 ways to use your Amex Platinum Uber credit while stuck at home

American Express® Gold Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Food delivery benefits: If you're an Amex Gold cardholder, you'll receive up to $120 in annual dining statement credits. Those credits are distributed monthly, so you'll get $10 each month to use at restaurants such as The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations. The credit also works with Seamless and Grubhub orders on both pick-up and delivery.

Welcome offer: You can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on your new card in your first six months of card membership, worth $1,200 according to our valuations.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Further reading: How to register for the Amex Gold dining credit

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Food delivery benefits: The Chase Sapphire Reserve now gives cardholders an up to $60 DoorDash credit for 2020, and another $60 credit in 2021. You'll automatically receive a statement credit whenever you make an eligible purchase, up to the $60 cap. Better yet, the credit is an added savings on top of the 3x bonus points you'll earn thanks to the card's dining bonus category. The card also comes with a year of complimentary DashPass, which can save you money on DoorDash orders. (The Sapphire and Freedom cards also have this 5x promo with the same timeframe and limits.)

Welcome offer: You can earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, worth $1,000 according to TPG's most recent valuations.

Annual fee: $550

Further reading: Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card review

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Food delivery benefits: This card hasn't traditionally offered dining benefits, but American Express recently announced it was making some limited-time perks across a wide variety of cards in light of the coronavirus pandemic. From June through August, purchases made at U.S. restaurants — including takeout and delivery — will now count toward the up to $250 Hilton resort credit benefit. This includes diners, pizzerias, fast food chains, cafés and more, as well as delivery services like Seamless, GrubHub, UberEats and Postmates. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Welcome offer: You'll earn 150,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Those 150,000 points are worth $900 according to TPG's latest valuations.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Further reading: The only card you need for your next Hilton stay: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire credit card review

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)

Food delivery benefits: Similar to the Hilton Aspire, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant hasn't offered food credits until now — but from June through August, you'll be able to use your up to $300 Marriott Bonvoy annual statement credit on dining. This applies to all U.S. restaurants, as well as popular delivery platforms including Seamless, GrubHub, UberEats and Postmates. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Welcome offer: You can earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. This is worth $600 according to TPG's latest valuations.

Annual fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Further reading: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card review

Redeem credit card miles

Normally, we'd tell you to refrain from using your points and miles on food delivery orders. By doing so, you're usually throwing money down the drain, since you'll typically get far more value out of your points and miles by redeeming them for travel (when it's safe to do so).

But these are unprecedented times, and saving money where it counts is more important than ever.

Thankfully, as of recently, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Spark Miles for Business and Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business cardholders can redeem their Capital One Venture miles for food delivery (through April 30, 2021). Your miles will be worth 1 cent per point, and are redeemable on platforms including DoorDash, Uber Eats and Postmates.

You can always use your American Express Membership Rewards points on Seamless and Grubhub orders — just be sure to make sure that's how you want to spend your hard-earned points. You can't redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for food delivery, although you can use points (or cash) to purchase gift cards for restaurants, as well as GrubHub through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Look for credit card offers

Credit card issuers such as American Express and Chase typically offer cash back or bonus points-earning opportunities for cardholders. They vary from person to person, depending on the card you have and your spending habits. But it's not uncommon to save money (or earn bonus points) on your favorite restaurants by using these offers.

For example, we've seen recent Amex Offers such as spending $10 on dining to get $10 back, or receiving bonus points for purchases at California Pizza Kitchen.

Related: Your ultimate guide to Amex Offers

It's always worth a quick check on all of your cards to see if you're eligible for any additional savings or bonus points to restaurants that you might want to order from anyway.

Use promo codes

Even if you don't have any of the aforementioned cards or valuable credit card offers, all is not lost. Many popular delivery platforms offer promotional codes or delivery credits. New users can almost always get a discount on their first few orders by using a promo or referral code to sign-up for a service. For example, DoorDash offers $15 off for new referred users -- $5 off each of the first three orders. Uber Eats is offering $7 off the first order for referred new customers (eats-ubermommypoints should work if entered in the promo code section on your first order).

We've recently seen services such as Seamless and Uber Eats offer $10 off a $30 purchase between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. daily in support of local businesses, with no code needed. Pay attention to your emails and run some basic promo code searches online. While these codes are often targeted, we've recently seen $0 delivery fee promotions and discounts on larger orders, such as 30% off an Uber Eats order of $50 or more.

Sign up for subscriptions

The Uber Eats subscription isn't the only way frequent users can save even more money on food delivery.

For example, Seamless offers a program called Seamless+. For $9.99 a month, you'll get 10% cash back for every $100 you spend, as well as unlimited free delivery from eligible restaurants. Participating restaurants will have an S+ next to their names on the app or website. If you need help, you can speak directly with a Seamless+ Elite Care representative.

Postmates also offers a $9.99 per month (or $99.99 per year) service called Postmates Unlimited. With it, you'll receive free delivery on orders over $12. You'll also get special offers just for members, and access to exclusive giveaways and events.

And DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service, also offers subscribers free deliveries on orders of $15 or more, like the Eats Pass. Similar to its competitors, it costs $9.99 per month — but if you're a Chase cardholder, you might be able to get it for free.

Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offer complimentary DashPass for at least one year. The Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards will get you three months for free and then a 50% discount for at least one year. You’ll also be eligible for that latter offer with the Chase Freedom Student Credit Card, along with Chase Slate.

The information for the Chase Freedom, Chase Slate has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: The best credit cards for dining out, taking out and ordering in

Check for the best price

If you're really trying to bargain hunt, do yourself a favor and take some time to compare prices across platforms. It's more time-consuming, but when every dollar counts, you could really find yourself saving quite a bit of cash.

As TPG's loyalty and engagement editor Richard Kerr pointed out, menu prices can vary from platform to platform, as can delivery fees and additional costs. If your desired restaurant is available on a handful of platforms, we'd definitely recommend comparing the final all-in price on all of them before you confirm your order to make sure you're getting the best available price.

In fact, to get the absolute lowest price, we found that you're better off ordering from the restaurant directly. In our study, platforms were, on average, 22% more expensive than ordering directly from the restaurant for table service or take out.

This math can of course change if you have promo codes or credit card offers to use. You'll want to use all the tools in your toolbox to get the price of take-out and food delivery as low as you can.

Rack up bonus points

No matter which strategy (or strategies) you choose, you're also going to want to earn as many bonus points as possible on your takeout.

First things first: Use a card that earns bonus points or cash back on food delivery. Our favorites are the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x), American Express® Gold Card (4x at restaurants), American Express® Green Card (3x at restaurants) and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card (4% cash back), just to name a few.

The information for the Amex Green Card and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Using a credit card isn't the only way to earn valuable points and miles that will fund your next trip, though.

You can also take advantage of a new promotion from Wyndham and DoorDash running until May 4. If you're a new DoorDash customer, you can get 3,000 Wyndham Rewards points after you place your first order. In addition, all Wyndham Rewards members will earn 500 points for every eligible order they place in the U.S.

Similar to airline shopping portals, many airlines and hotels also have dining rewards programs that are largely underrated. By enrolling in one of these programs, you could be collecting hundreds of bonus points on top of the points you'll earn on your credit card every time you order from one of the participating restaurants.

For rates and fees of the Platinum card from Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

Related: Earn bonus points on takeout with these dining rewards programs

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.