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Hungry for miles? Use these tips to maximize earnings on your next food delivery order

Sept. 28, 2020
10 min read
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There’s no doubt that the coronavirus outbreak has changed how we eat. In cities worldwide, in-restaurant dining is completely shut down, leaving foodies with two options for a restaurant fix: takeout and delivery.

I’ve ordered more delivery than I care to admit while quarantining here in New York City. Being a points and miles fanatic, I made it a point to find all the ways to maximize points and miles earnings on meals. Throughout the process, I’ve earned thousands of points that will help me get back on the road once it’s safe to do so.

That said, many of the point-earning opportunities I’ve taken advantage of are hidden within hotel websites and cash-back apps. To save you the trouble, I’ve compiled a list of all the ways you can earn extra points, miles and cash back on food delivery and how to build the perfect food delivery stack.

Let’s get started!

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Earn up to 11x Membership Rewards on Grubhub with Rakuten

Chicago-based Grubhub is one of the most popular food delivery services in NYC, offering everything from deli sandwiches to high-end dining. I use the service often and was ecstatic to find the Rakuten app lets me earn bonus Membership Rewards points on all Grubhub deliveries.

For some background: Rakuten is typically a cash-back shopping portal. However, the portal recently began partnering with American Express to offer Membership Rewards in lieu of cash back at a rate of one Membership Reward point per 1 percent in cash back earned. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents apiece, so you’re effectively doubling your return by earning points over cash.

Grubhub offers a whopping 11% — or 11x Membership Rewards points – back on your first Grubhub delivery. After that, you’ll earn 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on all other Grubhub purchases, which is a pretty solid return when combined with a points-earning credit card.

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To earn bonus points, sign up for a Rakuten account and download the app to your smartphone. Then, click through the Grubhub link in the Rakuten app and process your order as you usually would.

Related: How much are Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats really costing you?

Earn IHG points at Grubhub

Alternatively, you can order through the IHG Rewards Club portal and earn 500 IHG Rewards Club points on your first Grubhub order. After that, all other orders earn 250 points.

(Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images)

Earn 2x Aeroplan miles on Uber Eats

Air Canada’s Aeroplan loyalty program recently partnered with Uber Eats to offer 2x Aeroplan miles per dollar spent on Uber Eats orders in the U.S. and Canada. To earn points, you’ll need to head to Aeroplan’s Uber Eats page and enter your Aeroplan number before you place a food delivery order.

Related: Food delivery promo codes to help you save money on your next meal

Use the MileagePlus X app for extra points on Uber Eats and Grubhub

United’s MileagePlus X app offers bonus miles when you buy instantly-redeemable gift cards through the app. The number of miles you earn varies by merchant, which includes several popular delivery apps. Here’s a look at the merchants and their respective earning rates as of the time of writing:

Grubhub – 1x mile per dollar
Uber/Uber Eats – 1x mile per dollar
Domino’s Pizza – 5x miles per dollar
Papa John’s – 5x miles per dollar

The only issue with using this app is that your purchase may not code as dining when you use a card that awards bonus points on dining purchases. You may want to make a small test purchase with your credit card of choice to see if it awards bonus points for dining before you use the MileagePlus X app for all your food delivery purchases.

Use the Seated app to earn gift cards for delivery

The Seated app normally lets you earn gift cards when you make reservations at restaurants in major U.S. cities. Lately, though, the app has switched to offering gift cards on food delivery from select partner restaurants. You can cash out rewards for merchant gift cards like Delta, Uber, Airbnb and others.

Related: Complete list of Amazon Fresh, Instacart and Walmart Grocery promo codes

Earn bonus points on food delivery app gift cards

Another way to earn bonus points on food delivery is by stocking up on gift cards at office supply stores, grocery stores or wherever else your credit card offers bonus points. For example, if you have an Ink Business Cash Credit Card, you may want to buy Uber gift cards (for Uber Eats) at Staples to earn 5% cash back within the office supply category (on the first $25,000 spent each account anniversary year). These rewards can be turned into Ultimate Rewards points if you have another card that earns these points.

Similarly, if you have the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you may want to buy Uber gift cards (for Uber Eats) at grocery stores to earn 6% cash back within the U.S. supermarket category (up to $6,000 per calendar year in purchases; then 1%). Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Doing this can be a good way to budget your food delivery expenses. If you only buy a set number of gift cards, it’s easier to stick to a budget while still maximizing points.

You may be able to purchase these gift cards online if you’re working to maximize your Ink Business cash office supply store bonus. For example, Staples sells DoorDash, Uber and Grubhub gift cards on its website. Better yet, many of these gift cards offer email delivery, so you have near-instant access to your gift cards.

Keep an eye out for Amex Offers

Over the past few months, we’ve seen an uptick in Amex Offers for food delivery services. For example, I recently got an offer for an extra one point per dollar spent on Grubhub purchases. This was on my American Express® Gold Card, so the effective earning rate for Grubhub is now 5 points per dollar as the card already earns 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants. Alternately, you can stack your $120 annual dining credit from the Amex Gold Card, which applies to Grubhub. Enrollment is required.

In addition to Grubhub, I also had an offer from Caviar, a food delivery service that operates in New York City, Chicago and other cities. This offer earned 1,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $40 or more on Caviar food delivery, up to two times.

Related: Your ultimate guide to Amex Offers

Pay with the right credit card

Be sure you’re using the right credit card when you pay for food delivery. Many credit cards that offer bonus points at restaurants also earn bonus points on food delivery, even if it isn’t stated in the terms and conditions. Here’s a look at some of the best credit cards to use for dining and food delivery:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: You can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. You’ll earn 3x points on dining purchases and 2x points on travel.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: You can earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of account opening. You’ll earn 3x points on all travel and dining purchases.
  • American Express® Gold Card: 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. You’ll earn 4x points per dollar at restaurants, 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x), 3x on airfare booked directly with the airline and 1x everywhere else. ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees)

Each of these cards has awarded bonus points on delivery for TPG staff, making them some of the best ways to earn bonus points when you pay for food delivery. Better yet, the American Express Gold card offers a monthly up to $10 dining credit, which can be used on delivery from Grubhub.

Your next Shake Shack delivery order could earn you enough points for a future trip. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Stack these offers and earn even more points

The best thing about these food delivery deals is that many of them are stackable. This means that you can use multiple offers at once, maximizing your points or cash back earnings in the process. Here’s a quick look at some of the stacks you can use to earn bonus points, broken down by delivery service.

Grubhub: The American Express stack

This is the author’s “secret sauce” for earning bonus points on Grubhub purchases — here’s a look:

  • Pay with: American Express Gold Card for 4x points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants
  • Stack with: Amex Offers for an extra one point per dollar spent at Grubhub and the Rakuten app for 2x bonus points per dollar spent at Grubhub.
  • Total earned: 7x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent and $10 back once a month.

DoorDash: The Chase stack

Earlier in the year, Chase and DoorDash partnered up to offer DoorDash perks to select credit cardholders. Those with a Chase Sapphire Preferred card are eligible for a free DoorDash DashPass membership, which offers free delivery from most DoorDash restaurants. Additionally, you’ll get a $60 annual DoorDash statement credit that’s automatically applied to eligible purchases if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Here’s how to stack it with other offers for bonus points:

  • Pay with: Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3x points per dollar spent on dining, $60 back per year on DoorDash purchases and free delivery with DashPass
  • Total earned: 3x Ultimate Rewards, a waived delivery fee and up to $60 back per year.

Uber Eats: The Aeroplan stack

Finally, we have Uber Eats. Here’s a look at a creative way to maximize points earning by purchasing gift cards before you eat:

  • Pay with: Ink Business Cash Card to buy Uber gift cards at Staples for 5x points at office supply stores
  • Stack with: Air Canada Aeroplan’s Uber Eats portal for 2x miles per dollar spent
  • Total earned: 5x Ultimate Rewards and 2x Aeroplan miles per dollar spent

Bottom line

Food delivery can be expensive, so make the most of your expenses by using food delivery portals, Amex Offers and the right credit card when you pay. Do this every time you order food delivery and you’ll inch closer to redeeming miles for a post-coronavirus trip.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.

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.