Food delivery services, such as Grubhub, have brought unparalleled convenience into our lives. Yet, as we sift through restaurant menus and add items to our cart, we often experience sticker shock at the final price. “Why is Grubhub so expensive?” might be a question that you’ve found yourself asking. Today, we’ll dissect this puzzle and unravel 11 reasons that contribute to Grubhub’s price structure. Before diving into the details, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with the Grubhub brand.

Also Read: Grubhub Plus Benefits – Is it Worth it?

Grubhub: The Genesis and Evolution

Since its inception in 2004, Grubhub has transformed our dining habits. This online food delivery service has made it incredibly simple to enjoy a meal from our favorite restaurants without leaving our couches. While Grubhub operates across the U.S., servicing hundreds of cities, it’s crucial to understand that their focus isn’t solely on connecting customers and restaurants. They are a business, and like any business, their pricing strategy is intricately tied to their profitability.

Why Is Grubhub So Expensive

Grubhub faces stiff competition from other players in the field, such as DoorDash and Uber Eats. Navigating this competitive landscape requires a savvy pricing strategy. Grubhub has to walk the tightrope of maintaining affordability for its customers while securing profit margins for its business. Understanding this delicate balancing act provides the first clue in our quest to answer why Grubhub is so expensive.

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13 Reasons Why is Grubhub So Expensive

1: The Impact of Delivery Fees

One aspect of Grubhub’s pricing that often raises eyebrows is the delivery fee. The company uses a tiered system for these fees, which is influenced by factors like the distance from your location to the restaurant, the current demand for deliveries, and even the time of day.

During peak hours or when ordering from a restaurant located a significant distance away, the delivery fees can rise sharply. As demand surges, so does the price you pay for the convenience of delivery. This dynamic price adjustment, based on various real-time factors, contributes to Grubhub’s overall cost and is a major reason behind its perceived expensiveness.

Related: Does Taco Bell Accept 50 Dollar Bills?

2: Service Fees Explained

Another element that adds to your Grubhub bill is the ‘service fee.’ This is essentially a commission that Grubhub charges for facilitating the transaction between the customer and the restaurant. Typically, this fee ranges from 5% to 15% of the total order cost.

While the percentage might seem trivial, when applied to the total cost of a large order, it can significantly impact the final amount you pay. This service fee is integral to Grubhub’s revenue model, ensuring their continuous operation and business growth.

3: Dealing with Order Minimums

If you’ve ever placed an order on Grubhub, you might have noticed that some restaurants have a minimum order requirement. If your order doesn’t reach this threshold, you could be charged an extra fee. This measure ensures that restaurants receive a reasonable return on each delivery, making it worthwhile for them to partner with Grubhub.

This minimum order requirement is agreed upon between Grubhub and the restaurants. It’s a safeguard for restaurants to ensure a reasonable return on each transaction. However, for customers, it’s another factor that can make Grubhub orders more expensive.

4: Navigating Dynamic Pricing

Dynamic pricing is another business strategy that Grubhub employs. In this model, prices can change in real time, based on factors such as demand, time of day, and even the day of the week.

For example, if you’re craving a pizza on a busy Friday night, be prepared to pay more than you would for the same pizza on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. While dynamic pricing helps Grubhub maximize its revenue during high-demand periods, it can lead to price fluctuations that customers perceive as Grubhub being expensive.

5: Menu Markups

Grubhub doesn’t only deliver your food; they’re also the conduit between you and the restaurant’s menu. However, the prices you see on Grubhub might not always match what’s on the restaurant’s in-house menu. Sometimes, there is a markup, and these increased prices contribute to Grubhub’s overall cost.

Restaurants can choose to increase their prices on Grubhub to cover some of the cost associated with the delivery service. While Grubhub states that they encourage restaurants to keep prices the same as their in-house menu, they do not mandate it, leading to these potential markups.

6: Tips and Tipping Policies

Tipping isn’t mandatory on Grubhub, but it is strongly encouraged, and the app often suggests tip amounts during checkout. While tips primarily go to the delivery drivers, they still add to the total cost of your order.

Grubhub’s tipping policy recommends a tip of $5 or 20% of the order total, whichever is more. While tips contribute to a fair wage for delivery drivers, they can also significantly increase the total cost, adding to the perception that Grubhub is expensive.

7: Operational Costs

Running an online food delivery service is not without its overheads. Grubhub has operational costs, including but not limited to, payment processing fees, app maintenance, customer service, and marketing. All of these contribute to the final price you pay when ordering through Grubhub.

These operational costs are a part of doing business for Grubhub, and like any company, these costs are factored into the price of the service. This explains a portion of the service and delivery fees you see on your bill.

8: Promotional and Discount Policies

Who doesn’t love a good discount? Promotional codes and discounts can make your Grubhub order more affordable. However, these are often available to first-time users or during specific promotional periods.

Once these promotions end or after you’ve used your first-time user discount, you’ll be paying full price for your orders. This sudden absence of discounts can make Grubhub seem more expensive.

9: Restaurant Partnership Agreements

The agreement between Grubhub and restaurants isn’t one-size-fits-all. Different restaurants may have different agreements, affecting the prices you see on Grubhub.

Some restaurants may choose to bear some of the costs associated with using Grubhub, leading to lower prices for the customer. In contrast, others may pass these costs directly to the customers, leading to higher prices on the app.

10: Competition and Market Dominance

In many markets across the U.S., Grubhub is one of the dominant food delivery services. In regions where they face less competition, they may be able to charge higher fees.

Competitive markets often drive prices down due to businesses competing for customers. However, in less competitive markets, businesses have more flexibility to set prices to their advantage.

11: Convenience and Demand

Finally, the biggest reason Grubhub can charge high prices is because they offer a service that’s in high demand. The convenience of having your favorite meal delivered right to your door is something many people are willing to pay for.

As long as the demand for this service remains high, Grubhub and similar services will continue to thrive, despite their high prices. After all, convenience comes at a cost, and that cost is reflected in the price you pay when ordering through Grubhub.


1. Is Grubhub more expensive than other delivery services?

Comparatively, Grubhub’s pricing is on par with other delivery services such as Uber Eats and DoorDash. The prices vary due to different delivery fees, service fees, and restaurant markups. However, Grubhub’s tiered pricing system can sometimes make it seem more expensive.

2. Why does the price increase at checkout on Grubhub?

The final cost at checkout on Grubhub is often higher than just the cost of the food. This is because it includes the delivery fee, service fee, and any applicable taxes. Additionally, if you choose to tip your delivery driver through the app, this amount will be added to your total at checkout.

3. Are there ways to save money when using Grubhub?

Absolutely! Keep an eye out for promotional offers and discounts. Additionally, consider subscribing to Grubhub+, their subscription service, which offers free delivery on orders from eligible restaurants.

4. Why does the same food item cost different at different times on Grubhub?

This is due to Grubhub’s dynamic pricing model. Prices can fluctuate based on demand, time of day, and even the day of the week. For example, you might find that your favorite pizza is more expensive on a busy Friday night compared to a slow Tuesday afternoon.

5. Can restaurants charge more on Grubhub than their in-house prices?

Yes, restaurants can choose to increase their prices on Grubhub to cover the cost associated with the delivery service. While Grubhub encourages restaurants to keep their prices the same as their in-house menu, it is not a requirement.

6. What is Grubhub’s policy on tipping?

While tipping is not mandatory on Grubhub, it is strongly encouraged. The app often suggests tip amounts during checkout. Grubhub’s tipping policy recommends a tip of $5 or 20% of the order total, whichever is more.

Concluding Thoughts

While it’s clear that several factors contribute to the cost of using Grubhub, it’s important to remember the convenience and accessibility it provides. The ability to have meals from your favorite restaurants delivered to your doorstep at any time is a service that many of us are willing to pay a premium for. However, understanding the components of Grubhub’s pricing structure can help you make informed decisions and possibly save money on your future orders.

So, the next time you ask, “Why is Grubhub so expensive?” remember the eleven reasons we’ve explored today. The Grubhub pricing model is complex, and these reasons help explain why the final bill can sometimes cause a bit of sticker shock.