Your definitive guide to online grocery delivery services
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From Amazon Fresh to Instacart, grocery delivery services have had a busy year.
Shoppers love these services for their convenience, efficiency and even for built-in distancing for those having their groceries delivered. But even in normal times, having groceries delivered to your doorstep within hours is a godsend for those with busy schedules who like to have fresh food at home.
In light of this year’s coronavirus outbreak, though, these services have experienced more demand than ever. At times this past spring, grocery delivery services that used to fulfill orders within hours took days. Thankfully, most are again now operating within normal limits.
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.
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In eligible areas, if you spend $35 to $50 on groceries, you can receive free delivery on your perishable items.
Since Amazon purchased Whole Foods, 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.
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 pay per delivery or there is 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.
You can join Instacart for either $9.99 a month or $99 per year, although 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. There are also reduced service fees for members. If you only use Instacart a couple of times a year, it probably 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 10% of your order.
We’ve occasionally seen Amex Offers that will save you money on Instacart, so keep an eye out.
Great credit card for Instacart: Earn 4x points with the American Express® Gold Card (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
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 $35 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.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: New cardholders earn 10x points at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during the first six months of card membership
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 4x points at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (then 1x)
- The Amex EveryDay Preferred® Credit Card from American Express: A solid choice for frequent shoppers, 3x points on groceries (up to $6,000 each year) with a 50% bonus on all points earned with 30+ transactions in a billing cycle
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for earning cash back at 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per calendar year (then 1% back)
- Target REDcard: Best for shopping at Target with 5% off Target purchases
- Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card: Best for Amazon and Whole Foods purchases at 5% back in those categories
- The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express: Best for shoppers who want to avoid an annual fee. Earn 2x points at U.S. grocery stores (up to $6,000 annually, then 1x), plus 20% bonus on all points with 20 transactions in a billing cycle.
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred, Target REDCard, Amazon Prime and Amex EveryDay 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.
There are some other great limited-time grocery store bonus offers, too. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can now earn 3x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from Nov. 1 through April 30, 2021, including on pickup and eligible grocery store delivery services. You can also use your Sapphire Reserve travel credit toward grocery purchases until June 30, 2021, and redeem Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents each against grocery charges until April 30, 2021.
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 a bit complicated, or are planning to use them in the future to have food waiting for you on arrival to an RV park or 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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- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
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- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
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