Your definitive guide to online grocery delivery services
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
From Amazon Fresh to Instacart, grocery delivery services have grown tremendously over the past few years.
At the beginning of the pandemic, grocery delivery services that used to fulfill orders within hours took days. Thankfully, most are again operating within normal limits in 2022.
Shoppers love these services for their convenience, efficiency and even for built-in social distancing. Getting groceries delivered to your doorstep within hours of placing an order can be a godsend for those with busy schedules who like to have fresh food at home.
Related: The best credit cards for groceries
With that in mind, we rounded up some of the best grocery delivery services — along with which credit cards you should use to pay for your orders to earn maximum rewards. That way, you can rack up points, miles or cash back for each dollar spent on groceries, all without leaving your home.
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You’ll need to have an Amazon Prime account to access Amazon Fresh, the company’s grocery delivery service. It is included at no extra monthly cost with Prime accounts. In February, Amazon Prime increased its annual membership to $139 (from $119), so that cost is something to factor in.
If you live in an eligible area and spend at least $35 to $50 on groceries (it depends on your exact location), you can receive free delivery of your items. (Delivery fees range between $5 and $8 if the minimum is not met.)
Since Amazon purchased Whole Foods, the majority of the food you can buy comes from Whole Foods or your local Amazon warehouse. The main draw of the service is that you can order perishable items from stores in your area.
Originally, Amazon Prime members were able to have complimentary delivery from Whole Foods (if the order minimum was met) as a part of their Prime membership. On Oct. 25, 2021, Whole Foods introduced a $9.95 delivery fee, regardless of membership status and order total. Whole Foods claimed that the fee was introduced as an alternative to raising overall prices because it was losing money on the delivery service.
Amazon also has a service called Amazon Prime Now. It’s exclusively available to Prime members who can get fast, same-day delivery, depending on their location. Delivery isn’t just limited to groceries: You can also order household items, clothing, toys, personal care products and more. Amazon Prime Now offers complimentary delivery in select regions.
Owned by Target, Shipt sources from local stores in your area and delivers items 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 ($10 per order) 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 $10.99 monthly membership — like with the annual membership, there’s no delivery fee on orders over $35. All orders under $35 — even with a Shipt membership — incur a $7 delivery fee. Orders with alcohol (where available for delivery) can also incur a $7 alcohol fee. Luckily, there’s no surge pricing.
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 to Austin. 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.
Instacart’s paid membership is known as Instacart Express and is available for either $9.99 a month or $99 per year. Users without the membership can use Instacart for a small fee, starting at $3.99 plus a service fee.
Being a member of Instacart Express exempts you from the $3.99 to $5.99 delivery charge when placing orders of $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 test out the service with a 14-day free trial.
Prices for items are generally a bit higher than if you did the shopping yourself, and you should be sure to tip (the default amount is set to 5% of your order), but that is well worth it for the time-saving and convenience factor.
Earlier this year, Delta launched a partnership with Instacart so that Delta flyers can earn SkyMiles without leaving their home by linking their SkyMiles and Instacart accounts. General members will earn 1 mile per dollar spent on Instacart grocery deliveries, excluding taxes, fees and tips. However, if you subscribe to Instacart’s Express membership ($99 per year), you’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend on eligible orders.
Great card for Instacart: Earn 4 points per dollar with the American Express® Gold Card (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar).
In September 2020, the budget superstore launched its new expedited delivery program, Walmart+. A membership currently costs $12.95 per month or $98 per year. Walmart+ is not only a grocery delivery service but also an Amazon Prime competitor. Thousands of Walmart items are available for free next-day and two-day shipping, with no minimum required. Grocery orders require a $35 minimum. If you are not ready to commit, there’s also a 30-day free trial available.
If you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’re in luck. The premium travel card began offering cardmembers statement credits toward Walmart+ membership of up to $155 per year, essentially knocking the cost of a membership to nothing (Plus Ups are excluded). It is important to note that while the annual cost of Walmart+ is $98, Amex statement credits are billed monthly. To get a complimentary Walmart+ membership, Amex users will have to opt for the monthly option.
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 and Washington, D.C. — plus 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 farmers, fishers and artisans, within just a few days to maintain product freshness. That said, FreshDirect also delivers packaged products, so your order isn’t limited to just-picked kale and free-range chicken.
Delivery costs can vary from $5.99 to $15.99, or you can sign up for DeliveryPass and unlimited free deliveries for $129 per year. There’s also a 60-day free trial available.
Local delivery stores
Many local delivery stores also offer their own delivery services, usually for a small fee and with a required minimum. A great example of this is Stop & Shop, which offers up to $50 off your first two orders of $100 or more and two months of free deliveries for new customers. Be sure to check out what your local grocery store offers and choose the best delivery service for your grocery needs.
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: The new Amex benefits cover the monthly cost of a Walmart+ membership.
- American Express Gold Card: Earn 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year (then 1 point per dollar).
- The Amex EveryDay Preferred® Credit Card from American Express: A solid choice for frequent shoppers, this will earn 3 points per dollar on groceries (on up to $6,000 each year) with a 50% bonus on all points earned if you make 30-plus transactions in a billing cycle.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Earn 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per calendar year (then 1% back). Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
- 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 2 points per dollar at U.S. grocery stores (on up to $6,000 annually, then 1 point per dollar), plus a 20% bonus on all points if you make 20-plus transactions in a billing cycle.
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred, Target RedCard, Amazon Prime and Amex EveryDay cards 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. Activate your Chase Freedom Flex to earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases on eBay and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Target and Walmart) through March 31.
Online grocery delivery services are great timesavers no matter the situation.
Whether you’re using them right now to make life less complicated, or are planning to use them in the future to have food waiting for you on arrival at an RV park or on your next trip to Disney World, there’s no doubt these services can save you a ton of time and potential headaches.
Additional reporting by Christina Ly.
Featured photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images.
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