Grocery delivery services ranked from worst to first

More and more, people are turning to grocery delivery services in order to get their groceries. While these services only accounted for about three percent of grocery sales as of 2019, it's expected to grow into a $143 billion industry by 2025 — and that estimation was made before the coronavirus pandemic caused an explosion of interest in these delivery services.

While the specifics of the services vary by provider, the basic principle is the same: you make a grocery order online using a website or app and then someone delivers the groceries to your home. What varies from service to service are the types of fees that are charged, the cost of those fees, and the amount of time it takes for the groceries to make it to you.

With more than a dozen grocery delivery services available at your fingertips (depending on your location), we'll save you some time and rank these services in order — starting with the worst and ending with the best.

Prime Pantry

If you enjoy being frustrated, you'll love trying to order groceries through Prime Pantry. This Amazon service has so many hoops to jump through in order to get a good deal, it's inevitable that you'll be annoyed at some point during the shopping process.

First of all, to have any hopes of getting free shipping for your Prime Pantry order, you will need to have an Amazon Prime membership. Currently, that membership costs $119 per year or $12.99 per month. However, even if you have a Prime membership, you still need to spend at least $35 to get free shipping. If you don't spend $35 or don't have a Prime membership, you have to pay a $5.99 shipping fee.

You can get either five percent or ten percent off of your Prime Pantry order but you need to order at least five items to get the five percent discount or at least ten items to get the ten percent discount. While that may sound like a positive, the problem you'll discover is that if you find a good deal or two, you'll be tempted to fill your Amazon cart up with overpriced items in an attempt to get the five or ten percent discount and qualify for free shipping.

To make matters worse, Prime Pantry only has non-perishable food. Save yourself the aggravation and skip this service.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market looks like a great place to order groceries from if you are interested in saving the planet, as they have a ton of organic food and they offer shipping that is carbon-neutral and packaging that's completely recyclable.

The problems begin with the fact that Thrive Market has a $59.95 membership fee that is due annually. Then, even if you're a member, your order needs to be at least $49 to get free shipping. It's also difficult to even browse their groceries unless you've signed up for a membership.

Moreover, Thrive Market's reviews on their Facebook are unimpressive, at best. Many of their customers complain that the products are overpriced, that it was difficult to cancel their membership (you can only cancel via chat), and that their customer service leaves a lot to be desired.

While your intentions to save the planet are noble, Thrive Market is best to be avoided.

Boxed

Boxed sounds good, in theory. Buying grocery items online in bulk at warehouse club prices without an annual membership fee? That'd be great. Unfortunately, Boxed doesn't quite live up to the hype.

Firstly, their prices don't truly compete with other warehouse clubs. For example, Costco's prices were found to be 17 percent lower than Boxed prices in one comparison. If you aren't going to save money buying in bulk, there really isn't a good reason to buy in bulk, especially because you're more likely to just create waste.

Secondly, Boxed does have a membership option and it costs $49 per year. You don't have to have a membership but if you don't, you'll need to spend $49 in order to get free shipping and you'll miss out on exclusive discounts.

Finally, the selection on Boxed is limited compared to other grocery delivery services. There's a good chance that what you're looking for won't be available, which usually makes it a waste of time even searching their inventory.

Postmates

Most people know Postmates as a company that will deliver restaurant food to you. However, they also are able to deliver grocery food.

Before you even consider going with Postmates for grocery delivery, though, you should check to see if it's offered in your city. While their service area is growing, Postmates' grocery delivery is far from being available everywhere.

You also need to realize that the delivery people you will deal with are likely to be much more experienced at delivering food from a restaurant than from a grocery store. As a result, there's a very real chance that your order could end up being wrong.

Additionally, the price tag when using Postmates can really add up. On top of the price of the food you order, you'll be on the hook for a delivery fee of up to $5.99, a service fee of about nine percent, and then you'll be asked to tip the delivery driver. While the drivers are almost always friendly and worthy of tipping, the rest of the fees make this a difficult service to recommend.

Jet

Big things were expected when Walmart bought Jet back in 2016 for $3 billion in cold, hard cash and another $300 million in stocks. However, while the acquisition of Jet has helped Walmart grow their online business, Jet itself is mostly ignored these days.

While you are unlikely to find amazing grocery deals on Jet, it's actually worth checking out from time to time. Although they offer a mostly unexciting shopping experience, the prices are fair, a lot of their products ship within two days, their 30-day return policy is generous, and they offer a few interesting innovations. For example, they'll give you a price break if you bundle certain items together or if you opt out of getting free returns.

That said, there are a few issues you should know before you order your groceries from Jet. For free shipping, your order needs to be at least $49. Shipping can also take as long as five days, depending on the products you want to buy.

Hungryroot

Hungryroot is different from most grocery delivery services because they make most of the decisions for you. If you're too busy to even think about going to the grocery store, this is a service that you could love.

When you sign up for a plan, you answer some questions so that Hungryroot can learn your preferences and dietary restrictions. Once you've completed registration and answered all the questions, you'll be sent groceries once a week. You'll also be given recipes in order to give you an idea of what to make using the specific food that was delivered.

There are, however, some drawbacks. Hungryroot is undeniably expensive; you can buy the same food for cheaper at your local grocery store. Plans start at $69.99 per week for an individual and go up to $129.99 per week for a family. And while you can pick and choose the specific groceries you order each week, the process is cumbersome.

Albertsons/Safeway Delivery

Albertsons and its subsidiary Safeway offer identical grocery delivery services. You can go online or use their app to select your groceries and schedule your delivery. Most of what you can buy in the brick and mortar store is available for delivery, which is handy.

Usually, your first delivery is free. After that, it gets a little bit pricey. You will be charged a delivery fee of $9.95 and a service fee of up to $4.95. If you spend more than $150 on groceries, your delivery fee will be reduced. You don't have to worry about tipping, however, because their delivery drivers don't accept tips.

While you may be able to live with that pricing, what really hurts the grocery delivery service by Albertsons and Safeway is their lowly-rated app. It's very difficult to use — so difficult, in fact, that you should just use their website and forget about the app.

FreshDirect

If you want the freshest produce available, FreshDirect should be on your radar. While other grocery delivery services are apt to saddle you with some yucky looking produce, FreshDirect makes sure all your fruits and vegetables are in tip-top condition. That fact alone makes this a worthwhile service.

Beyond fresh produce, FreshDirect also has a gigantic selection of groceries. Their apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android make it easy to order, have built-in recipe ideas, and the check out process is a breeze.

The delivery fee for FreshDirect is usually $5.99 but can be as expensive as $15.99 depending on the location of the delivery. While the $5.99 fee is very reasonable, it gets more difficult to swallow if it's much more than that — especially since there is a $30 minimum order.

Unfortunately, FreshDirect is only available on the East Coast. It's by far most popular in New York City, where delivery is typically $5.99.

Peapod

If you live in one of the 12 states where Peapod is available, this is a grocery delivery service that could save you money. To find out if they are in your area, all you have to do is enter your zip code on their website.

There are a lot of reasons to like Peapod. First of all, their prices are very competitive. Don't be surprised when you find lower prices on their site than if you actually go inside of a grocery store. You can also order meal kits, easily find organic food, and save even more money on their frequent sales. Peapod offers next-day delivery to everyone and even same-day delivery in some locations for no extra fee.

Peapod has been in the grocery delivery business since 1989, so they are experts in this field. Their workers know what they're doing and you can be confident that you'll be getting the right order.

The one downfall with Peapod is the delivery fee. Unless you spend more than $75, the delivery fee is $9.95 — and there is a $30 minimum.

Prime Now

By using Prime Now by Amazon, you can easily order groceries from Whole Foods and get it delivered very quickly. If you cherish Whole Foods, this is a very compelling service.

After Amazon bought Whole Foods for more than $13 billion, many wondered what would come of Whole Foods. Well, it turns out that they now have a supercharged delivery services that is extremely easy to use.

To use Prime Now, you have to have an Amazon Prime membership. Without it, you're completely out of luck. If you have a Prime membership and Prime Now is available where you live, you can get your groceries delivered in two hours for free. You can even get delivery in one hour, however there is an extra charge for that. There is also an extra charge if you order less than $35 worth of groceries.

Beyond needing a Prime membership, Prime Now's prices aren't always the best because the pricing depends on Whole Foods — and we all know Whole Foods isn't always the cheapest option around.

Shipt

If you need groceries to be delivered often, Shipt is a very useful service. For an annual membership of $99 or a monthly membership of $14, you get free grocery delivery of orders more than $35. For orders less than $35, there's an additional fee of $7.

With Shipt, you can get your groceries delivered as soon as one hour. If the store you're shopping from is open 24 hours, delivery will also be available 24 hours a day. So, if you're hankering for a midnight snack, Shipt could come in the middle of the night to satisfy your needs.

What keeps Shipt from being higher on this list is the fact they charge you more than the grocery store charges you for the same items. They say that, on average, $35 worth of groceries if you went shopping yourself comes out to be about $40 if you let Shipt do the shopping. That price increase on top of the delivery fee is a bit much.

Kroger Grocery Delivery

Kroger Grocery Delivery is one of the few services that doesn't have a minimum order requirement. That alone makes it quite valuable and helps them stand apart from the competition. If you only need one or two things from the grocery store, Kroger may be the service it makes the most sense to turn.

No matter how much you order, the cost is a flat $9.95. The Kroger Grocery Delivery app and website are both very easy to use. They have in excess of 70,000 items available for delivery, so you're very likely to find what you're looking for.

What's super cool is that Kroger even offers delivery via a self-driving car. The future is here, ladies and gentlemen. Unfortunately, it's only available in one city in the United States so far: Houston, Texas. The cost? Only $5.95, which is less than it costs for a delivery by a car driven by a human.

Google Shopping

What used to be called Google Express is now called Google Shopping. Google has made it easy to shop for groceries from multiple stores at the same time. Everything is well organized, picking the products you want is a snap, and you can check out easily.

Not only are there no membership fees at all when you use Google Shopping, as long as you meet the minimum order requirement for each store, there are no delivery fees, either. You will receive your groceries on the same day, next day, or within two days, depending on the store.

What's not to love about Google Shopping? Unfortunately, there are no perishable foods available, so you can't use it for all of your grocery shopping. Plus, it can get confusing when you're shopping from multiple stores at once and you're trying to get free shipping from each store. Without the free shipping, your savings will usually go out the window.

Instacart

If you want groceries delivered from a certain store in your city, there's a good chance that Instacart can do it. It's estimated that they reach nearly 90 percent of the households in America and they continue to grow quickly.

Instacart's service is top notch, their apps work perfectly well, the prices are straightforward, and you can usually get your groceries in your hands in about two hours. The fee for a delivery starts at just $3.99 and the minimum order is only $10. There's also a service fee of either $2 or five percent, whichever is greater. If you plan to use Instacart a lot, they also offer Instacart Express, which includes an unlimited number of free deliveries and a reduction to the service fee.

Instacart has a relationship with more than 350 grocery store chains, so if you can live with the fees, there's a good chance they could do virtually all of your grocery shopping.

Walmart Grocery Delivery

Walmart Grocery Delivery is so easy to use it feels like magic. The app and the website are equally great. Just about everything you can buy in the store is available with the same low price tags attached. Everything from adjusting the quantity of items to checking out couldn't be easier.

Depending on the time you select for your delivery, you will be charged a fee that typically varies from $7.95 to $9.95. Generally speaking, the times early in the morning and later at night are the cheaper rates.

If you use Walmart Grocery Delivery often, Delivery Unlimited could save you quite a bit of dough. For $98 a year or $12.50 a month, you get unlimited deliveries of groceries to your home. Unlike most of the competition, there are no service fees or any other types of hidden fees.

If you want to save even more money, you can order online and then go to Walmart and pick it up for free without any type of membership or service fee at all.

Amazon Fresh

As long as you have a Prime membership, it's almost impossible to beat the grocery delivery service that Amazon Fresh provides. All you do is shop for groceries like you shop for anything else on Amazon. Just about anything you can imagine is available — from eggs and milk, to ice cream and pineapples — and it will be delivered to you for free within a two-hour window for any purchase of at least $35.

Amazon takes extra care to make sure your order stays fresh during the transportation. Cold items are adequately chilled, so you can confidently order anything you'd typically buy at your local grocery store.

Perhaps best of all, the prices when you order from Amazon Fresh are outstanding. You can legitimately save money by ordering groceries from home and waiting for them to arrive at your front door. Try it out — if it's available where you live — and you may never enter a grocery store again in your life.