Convenience usually comes at a price, and with food delivery apps like GrubHub, UberEats, and DoorDash, that price can be awfully steep.
What starts off as a cheap meal, can quickly spiral out of control when you factor in menu item upcharges, delivery fees, service fees, driver tips, and other miscellaneous charges. That dinner you thought would cost $30, it’s actually $50.
To counter these fees, we can stop using food delivery apps altogether or look for ways to make them work for us. We opted for the latter. Specifically, we wanted to know if DoorDash’s premium service DashPass was worth the charge.
As you’ll see, you don’t really have to use Doordash all that much for DashPass to pay for itself.
What is DashPass?
DashPass is a subscription service where users pay a monthly or annual fee in exchange for a bevy of benefits, including:
- Free delivery on all orders of $12 or more from eligible restaurants
- Free delivery on all orders of $35 or more from eligible grocery stores (recently up from $25)
- Reduced service fees on both delivery and grocery orders, typically down from 15% to 5% of the subtotal
- 5% credit back on pickup orders
- Exclusive DashPass member promotions
- Priority customer service
- Ability to redeem benefits on both DoorDash and its high-end sister site Caviar
Overall, DashPass offers users more and better benefits than most competing programs. The one that really sticks out is the reduced service fees, which are slashed from 13-15% to just 5% of your order’s subtotal. This can result in significant savings, especially on bigger orders.
Another nice perk is that DashPass doesn’t force users into long commitment periods. If you’re unsatisfied, you can cancel at any time, and your benefits will expire at the end of the current billing cycle. There is no additional cost.
DashPass has two available pricing plans:
- A monthly membership costs $9.99 per month
- An annual membership costs $96 per year
The annual plan is by far the better bargain, working out to just $8 per month. That’s a cost savings of 19.9% over the monthly plan.
However, it does require a longer commitment period and is non-refundable after the first 48 hours of your subscription.
DashPass does offer a 30-day free trial. Use this to gauge your spending habits before diving into a paid plan.
DashPass eligible restaurants
One question we had was, “Are all restaurants DashPass eligible?” The short answer is no, but most of them are.
We surveyed over 3,200 restaurants throughout the U.S. and found that 90.2% of them were DashPass partners. The numbers skewed a bit lower in smaller cities, falling as low as 69.9% in Scranton, PA, but were sky-high in major metropolises like NYC (90.8%) and San Francisco (97.4%).
Before you take the plunge, we do recommend that you head on over to the DoorDash and do the following:
- Enter your zip code.
- Click or tap the “DashPass” icon located near the top of the page to filter by DashPass eligible restaurants.
- Scroll through the list to see how many restaurants there are in your area that you would actually consider ordering from.
DoorDash, and subsequently DashPass, is available for both iOS- and Android-powered devices. Just make sure to download the delivery app, and not the Dasher app.
Can DashPass save you money on DoorDash deliveries?
That’s the big question, isn’t it? Well, as is the case with most data-driven analyses we conduct, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.
DoorDash claims that DashPass subscribers should expect to save about $4-$5 per order, which places the break-even point at just about two orders per month. To our surprise (and joy), we found that unless you mostly make micro-orders, this estimate was selling the service somewhat short.
From the detective’s desk: In the nature of full disclosure, the following data was collected via a sample of several dozen restaurants in the NYC metro area. For the purposes of this analysis, it paints a pretty accurate picture.
Delivery fees savings with DashPass
DashPass savings are broken into two components: Delivery fees and service fees. Let’s start with delivery fees.
First off, it’s worth noting that there appears to be a positive correlation between distance and price. So if you consistently order from places around the corner, then you’re likely to get less mileage out of DashPass.
However, restaurants that are even a few miles away might charge upwards of $6-$9 per delivery. We sampled restaurants both near and far and found the following:
|Restaurant Type||Avg. Delivery Fee|
Delivery fees ranged from $1.99 to $8.99, with $2.99 being the most common price point.
Service fees savings with DashPass
Then there are the service fees. From what we found, DoorDash charges a rather alarming 10-15% upcharge on all subtotals, which the company explains away as the cost of doing business.
With DashPass, the service fee drops to a flat 5%, at least for the restaurants we sampled.
Let’s put the impact of this discount in perspective with an example. Say you order $50 worth of food from a restaurant and are charged a 15% service fee (which is by far the most common amount). That’s an additional $7.50 you’ll have to pay. Drop the fee to 5% and the service fee is now only $2.50, representing a $5 savings — enough to cover more than half the cost of your DashPass subscription.
Here’s what our data had to say about service fee discounts:
|Restaurant Type||Avg. Service Fee||Avg. Service Fee (DashPass)|
The bottom line
By now, it’s probably becoming clear that you can offset a big chunk of DoorDash’s fees with a DashPass subscription. In fact, our data showed that:
- On small orders (average $37.90) we saved an average of $7.07 per order.
- On larger orders (average $104.77) we saved an average of $12.30 per order.
However, we wanted to give you a more detailed analysis than that. So we looked at a few different scenarios, with the goal of finding how much you’d have to spend per month on DoorDash to cover the $9.99 monthly cost.
This is extremely telling. Even if your local hotspot only charges a $1.99 delivery fee and offers a conservative 8% service fee discount, you’ll only have to spend $100 on one order or as little as $50.25 across three orders per month to cover the cost of a monthly DashPass plan.
If you have the annual plan, then those break-even points drop to $75.13 and $25.38, respectively. Anything more is a side of gravy.
From the detective’s desk: The more you order from DoorDash, the less you’ll have to spend per order to reach the break-even point with DashPass. This applies doubly so if you’re ordering from restaurants that charge high delivery fees.
See the negative numbers? That means that the cost of DashPass is covered on just the delivery fees alone. So, if you order twice a month from a spot that charges $5.99 per delivery, you’re already $1.99 in the black. If those two orders total just $50, you’re saving $5.99 with a DashPass subscription.
We’ll conclude our analysis on a bit of a downer. One of the reasons why it’s so easy to benefit from a DashPass subscription is because DoorDash charges such high fees. For most, it makes a DashPass membership almost mandatory.
It’s worth noting that the same break-even points apply to grocery deliveries as well, with the caveat that in order to qualify for free delivery, you’ll have to spend at least $35.
DashPass: 5% credit back on pickups
We’ve established that DashPass is well worth it if you regularly order deliveries using the DoorDash service. How does it benefit users who opt to pick up their food?
The short answer is not so well. With pickups, users do not pay service or delivery fees, regardless of whether they have DashPass or not. However, DashPass users do receive a 5% credit on the subtotal of their pickup orders, credited as a DoorDash credit.
In order for the DashPass subscription to pay for itself, users would have to spend roughly $200 per month, before taxes, on pickup orders. Even then, they’d only receive the discount as site credit, and not as a cash discount.
From this, it’s easy to see that DashPass is far more beneficial to users that have their food delivered, or at least have it delivered the majority of the time.
Other DashPass benefits
In addition to free delivery and discounted service fees, a DashPass subscription comes with a couple of additional perks.
The one that caught our attention is the member-exclusive promotional bonuses. In our experience these promos don’t occur as often as we’d like and only generate decent, but not spectacular value. You might get a free cheesecake from a specific restaurant or perhaps $5 off $20+ orders at Dunkin Donuts. DashPass is getting better in this area, but it’s not quite there yet.
View these promos as a small extra and not a primary reason for subscribing.
Other DoorDash promotions and discounted offers are available to the public. This is obviously a good thing, but it does dampen the upside of having a DashPass membership a bit.
As a DashPass member, you’ll also receive priority customer service, which we assume allows you to jump the line, much like you would if you held a first-class airline ticket. Nice, but it’s not a big deal unless you’re constantly reaching out to support.
How to get DashPass for free
If you want to absolutely ensure that you’re generating value from DashPass, you’re in luck, as there are currently several ways of grabbing a membership for free.
DashPass free trial
Users can claim a 30-day free DashPass trial. In order to receive this benefit, you will have to register an account and provide a credit card number.
As long as you cancel your DashPass trial before it ends, you won’t get charged a penny. You’ll still get to enjoy the full DashPass experience for the duration of the trial period.
Once the trial ends, users that did not cancel the subscription will be charged $9.99 on a recurring monthly basis. However, they’re still free to cancel at any time.
Get a free membership through Chase
DoorDash is partnered with Chase, and you can receive DashPass for free by signing up for a Freedom, Slate, or Sapphire branded credit card.
Sapphire cardholders make out the best, with members receiving a minimum one-year membership, valued at $119.88 annually. Chase has recently extended its partnership with DoorDash, so now, Sapphire cardholders that activate their DashPass subscription receive benefits until 12/31/2024. Those that activate their sub anytime in 2024, are guaranteed a full 12 months of DashPass benefits.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders receive an additional benefit, in the form of a $5 per month DoorDash credit. The credit carries over for a maximum of 2 months, so users can accrue $15 in credits before spending them. Including the free DashPass membership. the total value of this offer is $180. Add this to the $300 annual travel credit Reserve members receive, and you’re over 87% of the way toward covering this premium travel card’s $550 annual fee.
Just don’t let the DoorDash benefits drive your decision to apply — there’s too much value lost if you’re not using Reserve for travel.
Both Sapphire cards offer point multipliers on dining, including delivery, adding yet another layer of saving to what is already a pretty lucrative deal.
Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cardholders also score some nice DashPass perks, although they’re not quite as impressive as those put forward by its big brothers. The trade-off is that neither of these cards comes with an annual fee.
Freedom users will receive a complimentary three-month DashPass subscription, and their next nine months will be discounted by 50% ($4.99). Cardholders must activate this offer by December 31, 2024, and enrollment into the paid portion of the offer is automatic — so if you don’t want it, make sure to opt out.
This offer is also available to Chase Slate cardholders.
From the detective’s desk #2: In order to receive DashPass benefits through Chase, you must pay with the same card that you activated the benefits through. Otherwise, your discounts will go poof.
Both Flex and Freedom offer 3% cash back on DoorDash purchases, so you’ll be stacking savings instead of plates by frequenting the service.
The Chase DashPass benefits are only available for DoorDash users that create a DoorDash account and activate their DashPass benefits in the U.S.
Get DashPass through World and World Elite Mastercard
To say DoorDash is in an aggressive acquisition phase would be putting it mildly. But hey, who are we to complain about them giving away free stuff?
The company’s latest partnership is a big one: effective April 1, 2021, DoorDash is partnered with MasterCard. Now, World and World Elite Mastercard cardholders can receive a free three-month DashPass subscription, with the caveat being that they must be new to DashPass.
On top of this, so long as you use your eligible Mastercard, you’ll receive $5 off the top of your first order each month until September 30, 2022. Thankfully, this one works even if you’re an existing DashPass member.
Read more about World and World Elite Mastercard benefits.
From the detective’s desk: Mastercard has three tiers of credit cards: Standard, World, and World Elite. Generally speaking, World and World Elite cards come with higher fees, but this is not always the case. You can tell if your MasterCard is World or World Elite by simply looking at it. If the word “World” appears anywhere on the card, congratulations.
A really unique situation arises with the Freedom Flex. It’s a World Elite Mastercard, so you qualify for the three-month comp. However, it makes more sense to activate through Chase since you’ll get the same three months free plus an additional nine months at half price. On top of that, you’ll still get the $5 off on your first order each month, and 3% cash back. What is that, like a triple…quadruple dip?
From what we’ve seen in our data analysis, DashPass will be worth it even if you use the service sparingly, but it becomes a no-brainer if you’re one of the masses that uses Chase or World Mastercard.