How I save hundreds of dollars on food delivery and takeout
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Between the pandemic and moving to a New York City studio with a very small kitchen, my eating habits have shifted quite a bit over the last year and a half. Specifically, I’ve been taking out and ordering in more than I ever have in the past.
From delivery fees to service fees to tips and potential menu markups, food delivery may seem expensive. However, by maximizing my credit card benefits and some lesser-known tricks, I’ve been able to save hundreds of dollars and rack up a lot of points in the process.
Free food delivery subscriptions
The first way I’m able to save on my orders is by taking advantage of the complimentary food delivery subscriptions I have access to through my cards.
Now through Dec. 31, 2021, I’m able to enroll for a complimentary Uber Eats Pass Membership for up to 12 months thanks to my American Express® Gold Card. This membership normally costs $9.99 per month and gets me unlimited free delivery and discounts on orders of $15 or more at eligible restaurants. As an added perk, I even get discounts on some Uber rides in the U.S. Uber Eats will auto-bill starting 12 months from initial enrollment at the current monthly rate.
Next, thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve, I get a year of complimentary DashPass membership (normally $9.99 per month) when claimed by Dec. 31, 2021. This provides free delivery and reduced service fees on eligible DoorDash (and Caviar) orders of more than $12. Plus, I automatically get 5% back in DoorDash credit on all pickup orders. According to DoorDash, DashPass members save an average of between $4 and $5 per order by having a membership.
Although not advertised directly by Chase, my Sapphire Reserve also gets me Grubhub+ free of charge. I get these memberships as a part of the Lyft Pink subscription I get from my card. Similar to the other subscriptions, these programs offer free delivery, as well as some other perks like VIP access to customer service in the event of delays or other issues, access to exclusive rewards and donation-matching through Donate the Change on all Grubhub+ orders.
If you’re a Sapphire Reserve cardholder and haven’t activated your free year of Lyft Pink, keep in mind that the deadline for activating the benefit is March 31, 2022.
Credit card dining credits
In addition to free food delivery subscriptions, several of my cards give me outright statement credits for food delivery spending.
My Amex Gold card comes with a $10 monthly dining statement credit that can be used toward participating dining partners (enrollment required). There are several different merchants to choose from but the one I always use it toward is Grubhub. While $10 might not seem like much, that’s typically enough to cover a sandwich or salad each month.
At the beginning of the year, the Amex Gold also added a $10 monthly Uber Cash (up to $120 annually; enrollment required). Since I typically use public transportation to get around, I use this cash toward Uber Eats orders in the U.S. Again, while $10 might seem insignificant on the surface, it gets me a free lunch each month. Card must be added in Uber account to receive Uber Cash benefits.
Likewise, my Chase Sapphire Reserve provides up to $60 in DoorDash credit in 2021. This credit is automatically applied whenever I make an eligible purchase, up to the $60 cap.
For those keeping track, that’s already $280 in food delivery credits for this year. But it doesn’t end there.
Several of my American Express cards, such as my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, are temporarily offering up to $20 back per month at U.S. restaurants, including food delivery services (up to 11 times). So, that’s another $220 in dining credits per eligible card this year. (Enrollment is required through Amex Offers before redeeming.)
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex 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.
Promo codes and shopping portals
Most major delivery platforms routinely offer promotional codes that can help you save cash on your orders. New users can almost always get a discount on their first few orders by using a promo or referral code when signing up. For example, DoorDash is currently offering newly referred users up to $30 off ($10 off your first three orders).
Additionally, we frequently see discounts for existing users. Keeping track of these promotions can be tough so I built this guide to regularly round up the best discounts available.
On top of that, I’m sometimes able to stretch my savings further by going through an online shopping portal. For instance, when redeeming my Amex Gold’s dining credit on Grubhub, I first go through Rakuten to earn an extra one Membership Reward point or 1% cash back on my order. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents apiece so I’m effectively getting 2% back on my orders. Similarly, I’m able to earn two Aeroplan miles per dollar on Uber Eats orders. Keep in mind, any rewards earned through a shopping portal are in addition to the points and miles you earn for paying with a dining credit card.
Travel credit cards are no longer just about travel. Many now also offer a number of food-focused benefits and credits. Stack those perks with promo codes and online shopping portals and you’ll easily save hundreds of dollars each year as I do.
Featured photo by Getty Images/Katleho Seisa.
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