3 ways to maximize purchases on food delivery

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Nothing beats the convenience of getting your food delivered to your doorstep and now thanks to the coronavirus pandemic it’s fast becoming the only way to get your fix from your favorite restaurant. Ordering takeout or delivery is also a great way to support your local eating establishments and the delivery drivers as well.

For those that are unable or unwilling leave the house, these strategies can also apply to grocery delivery services and meal kit subscription memberships. Saving on your food delivery purchase could be as easy as using the right cash-back credit card or using an online shopping portal.

There are easy ways to save on delivery. (Photo by Yuriy Golub/Shutterstock.com.)

How to maximize food delivery purchases

Earn bonus rewards

When you’re ordering take out or having groceries delivered, the easiest way to save extra is by using the right rewards credit card for the purchase. But picking the right card isn’t always as simple as using one of the best credit cards for dining when ordering take out or one of the best credit cards for groceries when using a supermarket delivery service. The reason for this is that bonus points or cash back are awarded based on how the payment network (VISA, Mastercard, Amex, etc.) codes the merchant.

Many times specific purchases can code as bonus categories with one card issuer and not with another, so it’s always best to test it out for yourself. But you can get a good idea of what to expect from different services by asking around or reading your card’s terms. For example, super stores (Wal-mart, Target, etc.) generally won’t earn bonus points for groceries and American Express cards will only earn bonus points at U.S. supermarkets. Here is what you can generally expect when it comes to earning bonus points on each of the three main food delivery options, with the caveat that there are exceptions to each of these:

  • Grocery delivery – Yes, grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh and Instacart will code as groceries in most cases.
  • Restaurant delivery – Yes, most delivery services, like Caviar, GrubHub and DoorDash code as dining. But there are mixed reports for Postmates, and UberEATS often codes as travel, not dining.
  • Meal kit services – Mixed, bonuses for meal kit subscriptions (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, etc.) vary a lot based on the service and what card you’re using. Hello Fresh seems to code as groceries or supermarket fairly consistently, but others are a case by case basis.

If you’re making a purchase that doesn’t code as a bonus category then use a credit card that’s great for everyday purchases, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (1.5% back), Citi® Double Cash Card (unlimited 2% back – 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay) or The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x Amex points on the first $50,000 in spending per year, then 1x).

The information for the Chase Freedom and the Citi Double Cash Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Take advantage of card perks

A handful of cards have specific perks or credits that can be applied to food delivery. The American Express® Gold Card has $10 in dining credit a month for purchases at specific restaurants, including Grubhub/Seamless. (enrollment required). Plus, the American Express® Gold Card earns 4x Amex points on dining purchases, including Grubhub.

If you prefer to use UberEATS, The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with up to $200 in Uber credit each year that can be applied to UberEATS purchases. The credit is added to your Uber account as Uber Cash on a monthly basis once your Amex Platinum card is added to your Uber account. You’ll get $15 per month and $35 in December.

Recently, Chase partnered with DoorDash to add food delivery perks to a handful of Chase credit cards. Cardholders with the following cards can enroll for a complimentary DashPass membership:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Chase Freedom®

A DashPass membership normally costs $9.99 per month and gets you waived delivery fees and lower service fees on DoorDash orders of $12 or more from restaurants that participate in the DashPass program. If you have the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred you are eligible for at least one free year of DashPass when you activate the membership by Dec. 31, 2021. With the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited you can enroll for three free months of DashPass and you’ll get 50% off the next nine months.

On top of the DashPass perk, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will get up to $120 in DoorDash credits – $60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021. The credit will be automatically be applied as a statement credit when you use your Sapphire Reserve card to pay for your DoorDash delivery.

Use an online shopping portal or dining rewards program

One of the easiest ways to earn bonus cash or points is by making your online purchases through a shopping portal. There are all sorts of different types of shopping portals including, hotel, airline, cash back or bank portals. The way it works is you go to the shopping portal site and search for the purchase you want to make. Then you just need to click through the link to the site you were going to buy from anyway and voila, bonus rewards! The exact bonuses you can earn will vary day to day, but as I’m writing this there are discounts for Blue Apron, Intacart, UberEATS, Caviar and many others.

Be sure to review the terms for each site because you can often invalidate your shopping portal bonuses if you use a promo code on the purchase. For more details on how to make the most of shopping portals check out our full guide to online shopping portals. And be sure to use Cashback Monitor, which is a great tool for searching through shopping portal rates from dozens of portals at the same time.

If you can’t find a shopping portal deal that works, you might be able to take advantage of an airline or hotel dining program at certain restaurants. The way these programs work is, you register and then add your card information to your profile. Then, whenever you make a purchase with that card at a participating restaurant you’ll earn bonus points or miles. The downside to this is that all of the dining programs are run by a single company, so you can only register a specific card with a single program at a time. Also, the network of restaurants can be limited, depending on where you live. Also, you’ll need to order directly from the restaurant (not through a service like Postmates or Grubhub), which will limit you to doing takeout orders in most cases. You can read our full guide to airline and hotel dining programs here.

Bottom line

While using delivery services is more expensive than dining in (whenever that option returns for most of us) or going to the supermarket yourself, there are ways to maximize your purchase. First off, you’ll want to be sure that you’re paying with a card that earns the most points for the purchase. And, in many cases, you can stack those rewards with the bonuses you can earn by purchasing through an online shopping portal. There are even a handful of cards that have specific perks for delivery services.

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Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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