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How Does Postmates Work? Your Guide to the App, Costs, and More

Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Food delivered straight to your door sounds like a dream, but it’s also a reality.

Many businesses in the food industry are cashing in on the modern demand for convenience by sending food to straight to their customers. Gone are the days when you had to make a phone call to get delivery. In fact, gone are the days when you had to walk outside your house or even get dressed.

Postmates is one food ordering platform that has streamlined this entire process into a single app, bringing together local restaurants, nearby drivers, and hungry customers to offer opportunities for all.

How does Postmates work? This article will walk you through the full Postmates process, showing you how to order, what charges to anticipate, and what you should expect before your meal meets you at the door.

What Is Postmates?

Box of half-eaten donuts

Postmates is a food delivery and ordering service based in San Francisco and available throughout the United States. Since 2011, the platform has connected customers to meals from their favorite restaurants and cafes on demand, while giving drivers opportunities to earn money as couriers.

If you’re looking for convenience, with ongoing opportunities to save on delivery, Postmates is for you. One of the leading services in the industry, this platform is highly trusted for its reliability, great options, and efficient service.

Ordering Your Meal

A woman on her phone and laptop figuring out how does Postmates work

Getting a meal from your favorite local restaurant to your doorstep is simple with Postmates. The food delivery service allows you to order straight from your smartphone or computer — whichever is more convenient for you.

Don’t fret if you prefer ordering from your computer. The process is extremely similar, and you’ll likely just be navigating an expanded version of the platform on a larger screen.

Here’s a walkthrough to help you order a meal from your Postmates app.

Selecting a Restaurant

Decisions, decisions. Satisfying your cravings starts with deciding which restaurant you want to order from, and before you can do that, you need to decide on the service you want to request. Postmates offers three options:

  • Delivery: A standard on-demand delivery to your door. This is the most popular Postmates service.
  • Pickup: A pre-ordered meal to pick up at the restaurant. Stay comfortable until it’s ready. Skip the line when you arrive.
  • Party: A standard delivery from trending restaurants. Your Postmates courier picks up numerous meals from one restaurant, increasing wait times but allowing you to take advantage of free delivery.

Screenshot of the delivery, pickup, and party options on the Postmates app

Once you’ve selected one of these three tabs at the top of the page, double-check that your address is correct. The Postmates app automatically sets delivery to your current location (determined by your GPS), or the location you previously ordered from, so it’s recommended to give the address a glance. If it needs changing, just tap on the listed address and replace with your correct location.

Once your address is inputted, scroll down to browse available restaurants for your service, sorting by category if you want. See something you like? Tap the listing to open up the menu.

Submitting Your Order

Your selected menu will appear as a categorized list of menu items. Know exactly what you want? You can tap the “Categories” drop-down above the menu items to skip forward to whatever is making your stomach growl.

Upon finding your desired meal, go ahead and tap the item, customize the order to your liking, and tap the “Add” button, which displays the cost of the menu item.

Screenshot of submitting an order on the Postmates app

Continue adding as many items as desired, then tap “View Order” at the bottom of your screen. Scroll down to review the total cost, tax and fees included, and add a promo code if you have one. Select “Review Order.”

You’ll receive a final opportunity to review your address, total cost, payment method, and delivery time (yes, you can schedule your order days in advance). Everything correct? Tap “Postmate it” to submit your delivery request.

Costs to Be Aware Of

Man taking out money from his wallet

How does Postmates work when it comes to fees? Before you spend time browsing through mouth-watering foods, be aware of additional charges that may appear on a Postmates order. Much like DoorDash and Grubhub, Postmates’ business model largely profits from fees they charge customers and restaurants. Beyond your meal and standard taxes, you’ll be expected to pay the cost of convenience.

When you decide on a Postmates delivery, you’ll see these three primary charges:

  • Delivery Fee: A flat fee that ranges from $0.99 to $3.99 for deliveries from Postmates merchant partners. For other restaurants on the platform, the delivery fee can range up to $9.99. Similar to surge pricing on Uber Eats, Postmates Blitz can drive delivery charges up as demand increases.
  • Service Fee: A variable percentage-based service charge on every order.
  • Small Cart Fee: A $1.99 charge for ordering below a merchant’s minimum price before fees. This minimum is typically $12, but can be slightly lower in high-demand cities like Los Angeles.

Postmates delivery charges can be bypassed if you select a trending merchant through Party. You’ll receive free delivery and service if you have a Postmates Unlimited membership and spend over $15. However, the most affordable method of bypassing all Postmates charges is selecting Pickup and avoiding the potentially expensive cost of sending a delivery person to you. Regardless of the order situation, cancellation fees will apply if you change your mind after ordering.

Whether the delivery fees are worth it truly depends on how much extra cash you’re willing to dole out for convenience. Postmates isn’t outrageous in its delivery pricing, especially if you’re ordering with a friend, but if you’re ordering alone, the temptation to bypass small cart fees with additional menu items can add up.

Then again, when is it not worth it to receive a morning Starbucks before you crankily walk out the door?

The Delivery Process

How does Postmates work? One key factor is getting the food order right

As soon as you’ve submitted your order, your request will be forwarded to the restaurant you ordered from. They’ll accept your request — only in rare cases will a restaurant ever decline — and start preparing your order exactly as they would if you were dining in.

If you opted to pick up your order, you’ll be alerted when your order is almost ready. If you selected a delivery option, you’ll be matched with a Postmates courier who will be sent to pick up the completed order before they drop it off at your location.

The Postmates app enables customers to see this process in real-time, sending notifications to your mobile device as your order moves closer to you and your grumbling stomach.

Frequently Asked Questions

KFC chicken nuggets, sandwich, and fries

Understanding how Postmates works from the customer perspective will leave you with no surprises throughout the order and delivery process. Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers to help you become an expert at navigating this on-demand service.

1. What can I do if there are issues with my order?

Receiving an incorrect order and never receiving an order at all are two unfortunate scenarios that can happen when ordering through Postmates, especially when restaurants and delivery drivers are caught in a lunch rush. To provide a quick response for your troubles, Postmates has plenty of channels for you to contact support.

Two of the easiest ways to get help: Reach out on their website or get customer service on social media. Postmates has team members that will respond to you on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Where is Postmates available?

Postmates is available in all 50 states and most major American cities. Even if your city doesn’t have Postmates, you can submit a request and select “I want Postmates in my city.”

3. Can I tip my Postmates courier?

Yes, tipping is highly encouraged, though not required, by the platform. Postmates supports cashless tipping straight through their app and website. You can also opt to tip your delivery person in cash.

Get Food Delivered Straight to You

Postmates delivery is an excellent option for anyone who doesn’t mind paying for convenience. We hope this article answered the question, “How does Postmates work?” and helped you gain a full understanding of the Postmates process from start to stomach. If you’re a first-time user looking for big savings, you can sign up here for $100 in free delivery fee credits.

Want to make money on the other end of the spectrum? Sign up as a Postmates driver to start a flexible gig that’s all about helping hungry customers satisfy their greatest cravings.

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