Your definitive guide to online grocery delivery services
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From Amazon Fresh to Instacart, it’s no surprise grocery delivery services have been on the rise.
Shoppers love these services for their convenience and efficiency. In normal times, groceries are often delivered within hours — a godsend for those of us with busy schedules who like to have fresh food at home. And yes, in some cases, you can get your wine and beer delivered right along with your bananas and bread.
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In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, though, these services have been experiencing more demand than ever. Major cities from Los Angeles to New York are effectively all but shut down, with people only allowed to leave their houses and apartments for essentials.
Even people not under a specific order are opting to stay inside by all means necessary, especially if they fall under the “high-risk” category of people who are especially susceptible to COVID-19 complications. Grocery delivery services that used to fulfill orders within hours may now take days, but they are all still generally up and operational even in these unpredictable times.
Related: Earn 5x points on groceries from April 1 to June 30 with the Chase Freedom (up to $1,500 quarterly max) (No longer open to new applicants).
With all that in mind, we rounded up some of the best grocery delivery services, as well as what credit cards you should use to pay for your orders to earn maximum rewards. That way, you’ll be racking up points, miles or cash back for each dollar spent on groceries, all without leaving your home.
You’ll need to have an Amazon Prime account to access Amazon Fresh, the company’s grocery delivery service. In eligible areas, if you spend $35 to $50 on groceries, you can receive delivery on your perishable items.
Since Amazon purchased Whole Foods in August 2017, the majority of the food you can buy comes from within the market itself or other local stores. The main draw of the service is that you can order perishable items from stores in your area all through this Amazon-based service.
Right now, unfortunately, doorstep delivery is booked solid in some areas for at least three weeks out, largely due to the coronavirus outbreak. Amazon is ramping up its hiring efforts to alleviate the strain on its supply network. During normal times, you can typically get deliveries much faster.
Amazon also has a service called Amazon Prime Now. It’s also exclusively available to Prime members who can get fast, same-day delivery, depending on their location. Delivery, though, isn’t just limited to groceries; you can also order household items, clothing, toys, personal care products and more.
Shipt sources from local stores in your area, and delivers in as little as one hour during normal demand. Just type in your zip code, and it will show you which stores are available. Expect to find stores such as Target, CVS, Best Market, Fairway and more available for delivery. It’s not just for groceries, either — you can also order household items and essentials.
You can start with a free, four-week trial, and then get an annual membership for $99 for unlimited orders of $35 or more. If you’d rather pay monthly, you can sign up for a $14 monthly membership — again, there’s no delivery fee on orders over $35. All orders under $35 have a $7 delivery fee. There’s no surge pricing, either.
To see if Shipt is available in your area, type in your zip code here.
Instacart is a very big player in the online grocery delivery space. You can use it everywhere from New York City, to Disney World hotels and East Texas. Instacart uses the grocery stores in your area — you get to pick which ones — and delivers to your doorstep within an hour or two during normal times. Right now, you may need to schedule a delivery five days or so into the future to get a delivery window, though same-day slots are sometimes still available. (Note that many Instacart shoppers may soon be on strike.)
You can join Instacart for either $9.99 a month or $99 per year, though you don’t have to join to place an order. Being a member of Instacart Express exempts you from the $3.99 to $5.99 delivery charge when ordering $35 or more, and allows you to shop multiple stores in one order while reducing your service fee per order. If you only use Instacart a couple times a year, it doesn’t make sense to join. But if you’re using it every week, you’ll want to go ahead and join — or at least try out the 30-day free trial.
Prices for items are generally a bit higher than if you did the shopping yourself, and please be sure and tip. The default amount is set to 5% of your order, but if you can afford to increase that a bit while Instacart shoppers are braving the stores for you, please do.
We’ve occasionally seen Amex Offers that will save you money on Instacart, so keep an eye out.
Best credit card for Instacart: Earn 4x points with the American Express® Gold Card
A more cost-effective form of grocery delivery may be available through Walmart.
With Walmart, you can choose same-day or next-day delivery time slots and shop the grocery items available in Walmart while paying Walmart prices. There’s a fee of $7.95 -to $9.95 for delivery in our tests (with a $30 order minimum), though you can avoid the delivery fee by joining the Delivery Unlimited service for $98 per year. There’s also a 15-day free trial available.
Freshdirect is a more niche grocery delivery product than Instacart, as it’s currently only available in select locations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore during the summer.
The Freshdirect model aims to shorten the supply chain by delivering food from the source, such as farms, fishermen and artisans within just a few days to maintain product freshness. That said, Freshdirect also delivers packaged products and isn’t limited to just fresh kale and free-range chicken.
Deliveries cost $5.99 to $15.99 each, or you can sign-up for DeliveryPass for $129 per year. There’s also a 60-day free trial available.
Local grocery delivery
It’s also possible your local grocery chain will have its own delivery service available. For example, the HEB grocery chain in Texas has its own online grocery system where you can choose to have groceries delivered to your home for a $5 delivery fee.
Best cards for groceries
Once you’ve narrowed down which service fits your needs, it’s time to do a bit more research and find the right card to maximize your expenses. While not all online grocery delivery systems code as grocery purchases, many do. We rounded up our top picks, depending on what type of spender you are.
- Chase Freedom: (No longer open to new applicants) Best for grocery purchases made during the second quarter of 2020.
- American Express® Gold Card: Best for big grocery spenders.
- The Amex EveryDay Preferred® Credit Card from American Express: A solid choice for frequent shoppers.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for earning cash back.
- Target REDcard: Best for shopping at Target.
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card: Best for Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.
- The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express: Best for shoppers who want to avoid an annual fee.
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred, Target REDcard, Amazon Prime Visa and Amex Everyday 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 groceries
Online grocery deliveries are great time-savers no matter the situation. Whether you’re using them right now when life is especially upside down, or are planning to use them in the future to have food waiting for you on your next trip to Disney World, there’s no doubt they can save you a ton of time and potential headaches.
Featured photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images.
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