The Definitive Guide to Postmates: Everything You Need to Know

The on-demand delivery space is a crowded one right now, with lots of different competitors offering to bring you food, or whatever else you need, right to your door whenever you want it. Postmates was one of the first apps to enter the space, and it made a big splash when it did. It was...

The on-demand delivery space is a crowded one right now, with lots of different competitors offering to bring you food, or whatever else you need, right to your door whenever you want it. Postmates was one of the first apps to enter the space, and it made a big splash when it did. It was founded in 2011 in San Francisco by by Sam Street, Sean Plaice, and Bastian Lehmann, then quickly expanded out into the Bay Area, and then became a mainstay in cities across the United States (and now beyond).

Postmates is whatever you need (more or less) delivered. They’ll bring you a meal from your favorite restaurant, party supplies from the local convenience store, or that extra bottle of alcohol when the party is dying down.

Basically, it’s an on-demand app that allows you to get what you need delivered to your door.

How Much Does Postmates Charge for Delivery?

The Postmates delivery fee ranges from $1.99 to $3.99 when you order from one of their Partner Merchants (Partner Merchants are denoted by a green check mark in the app next to the business name). For all other businesses, the fee ranges from $5.99 to $9.99.

Ten bucks for a delivery might seem like a lot, but what sets Postmates apart from some of its other competitors is you can really get stuff picked up from wherever you want in your city. Yeah, they’ll get you a burrito from Chipotle, but if you need a hammer from the hardware store, they can (probably) go and get that for you. Need a new external hard drive from the local electronic shop? They’re on it. This isn’t just a food delivery service — though it is that, too — it’s a whatever delivery service.

Do Prices Ever Surge?

Yes, there is sometimes surge pricing. They call it “blitz pricing” and it’s implemented when the demand for services is more than the number of couriers they have available to bring stuff. Blitz pricing tends to happen during the lunch rush and dinner rush, though it can happen at odd hours (the very early morning, for example), when not a lot of couriers are on the road.

There is a way to avoid blitz pricing — with an Unlimited Membership. (More on that to come.)

How to Get Started

To get started, you download the mobile app, put in your home address, and start shopping for what you need.

When you check out, Postmates will also ask for a form of payment. If you have an iPhone, you can set it for your Apple Pay account, or you have the option to insert your own credit card or debit card information if you’d prefer. You can also insert information for multiple bank accounts and choose which one you want to use for each order.

How to Order on the App

The home screen of the Postmates app will give you a brief tour of their most popular merchants, as well as their Partner Merchants, which have a lower delivery fee. They’ll also have a “Get it Fast” menu which will allow you to browse what food can get to you quickly, along with more general categories if you want to explore what’s available. Here’s an example from their iOS app:

postmates app home page

From there, it’s just about glancing at the menu, picking what you want, confirming the price, and ordering.

If you want to order a specialty item from just about anywhere in your city, you can do that as well. Say you need a tape measure from a hardware store. You can search: “Hardware store” and it’ll give you options available locally.

postmates app restaurant search

From there, describe what you want to pick up in “Add an item.” The more specific the better.

postmates restaurant example

If they don’t have a price estimate for the item, the courier will reach out to you directly and let you know some options and what the pricing is. From there, you sit tight and wait for that tape measure to show up at your door, delivered by a Postmates courier.

Where to Find Postmates Promo Codes

Postmates has plenty of coupon code offers depending on the season, the city, and more, and the best way to stay up-to-date on those is to follow Postmates on any of their social media accounts — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, especially.

It’s also good to check out Postmates.com for more up-to-date offers. There are limited-time specials on your first delivery for new customers, and keep your eye out for specials that will give you a free delivery credit or more.

Their best, long-standing offer is their referral offer: If you send a friend a referral link to use the app and they make a purchase as a new user, you instantly get a $100 referral bonus towards delivery as long as they sign up using your Postmates referral code. So if you haven’t used the app yet, maybe check with a friend to see if you can help them out by giving them a referral. (And if they’re nice, maybe they’ll share some of that delicious free delivery with you.)

If you work for Postmates and use a driver referral code, you can earn a lot of money if someone becomes a courier as well, and they’ll get a nice sign-up bonus too.

What Is Postmates Unlimited?

Postmates Unlimited is, as its name suggests, an unlimited delivery service that allows you to pay a flat monthly fee and get free delivery on all orders over $15, no minimum cart fee, and no blitz pricing. It costs $9.99 a month, but if you pay for a year up front that drops to $7.99 a month, and it comes with a seven-day free trial to see what it’s all about.

If you order out a lot (no judgment if you do!), it could be worth it for you pretty quickly, though by making the commitment you’re going to want to make sure Postmates is the app you prefer. (And there are a lot of competitors!)

How Does Postmates Compare to Other Delivery Apps?

There are a lot of competitors in the on-demand delivery space. In food delivery or meal delivery, you have to consider Seamless, Grubhub, and DoorDash as well. Uber just entered the food delivery space with Uber Eats. (Lyft isn’t there yet, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they entered the space soon.)

And that’s not even mentioning more boutique, new options offering delivery from more fine dining establishments that don’t typically offer pickup or delivery, like Caviar.

It seems crazy, but you can also order delivery from some restaurants themselves. By just calling them. Seems old-fashioned, doesn’t it?

If you use Postmates to order alcohol to a party, there are other competitors to consider like Drizly and Saucey.

And if you use Postmates for more routine things delivered to your door, like a hammer from a hardware store or something brought to you from an electronics store, you have to consider Amazon a competitor, or TaskRabbit.

The appeal of Postmates is that it can do all of these things, more or less. The price of delivery may be more than Seamless, which can often just have a $1 delivery fee at certain restaurants, or Amazon Prime, which offers free shipping for members (though you do have to pay an annual fee).

But if simplicity is your goal in life, Postmates can solve a lot of problems. And unlike the Uber service Uber Eats, which asks that you meet their driver on the street to pick up your food, or Amazon, which will drop a package off on your porch, Postmates will always have a driver meet you in person to hand something off.

So it’s really about what you value and what’s important to you. If you like stuff the same day, delivered to your hands, bought from stores that are in your city, Postmates is an attractive option.

What Restaurants Are on Postmates?

The appeal of Postmates is that, well, just about any restaurant is on it. As long as they allow people to pick up food (some restaurants don’t), Postmates will send someone to pick it up. It might cost more than their preferred vendors in the app, but if you love a restaurant and they allow you to take out food, Postmates will let you order from them.

Does Postmates Offer Gift Cards?

You absolutely have the option to give a gift card via the app. A Postmates gift card can be used on any delivery, and is a pretty great last-minute gift for people who love to order food.

While they don’t offer a physical gift card in the app, you can send virtual gift cards by going to the options section of the app and selecting “Send A Gift Card.” It will allow you to make some design choices for what you want the gift card to look like.

postmates design options

You can also visit the company’s website at postmates.com/gift, sign in to your Postmates account, and buy gift cards at their gift card page there.

There’s no expiration date on the gift card, and it’s a perfect gift for a loved one who likes online gift cards, or loves food delivered to their door.

How to Join the Postmates Fleet

The couriers who work for Postmates tend to be folks looking for new jobs or that side hustle we see in this demand economy. Some might also work as an Uber or Lyft driver, some don’t use a car at all and just work right from a bicycle.

A Postmates driver needs to go through an application process, have a background check, a driver’s license, and their identity verified to begin working for the company.

If you want to drive for Postmates, they offer nice offers to new Postmates drivers. To sign up, go online to fleet.postmates.com/.

From there you sign up with your email, they do a quick identify verification, and then in the mail you’ll receive a prepaid card and a welcome kit which will get you set up. From there it’s just signing the Fleet Agreement, getting the Postmates Fleet app (on iOS and Android), linking a bank account for instant deposits, and you’re on your way.

Any incidents? Contact support and the Postmates Fleet Help Center will get you sorted out.

Do You Have to Tip Your Postmates Delivery Person?

Like with most things, tipping etiquette is a matter of personal choice, though it’s a nice thing to do.

For what’s appropriate for a tip amount, most people go with a few bucks to 20 percent of the order, depending on what you feel like. Most of these couriers rely on tips, and especially for difficult pickups or times they have to go into a store and buy a specialty item, it’s good form to give your courier a tip.

With new flat rates for deliveries, you won’t get hit with a huge service fee for specialty items. That’s great, but it also means that you should make sure you tip someone well if they go above and beyond, as doing so might make the difference between that courier making minimum wage or not. There’s an in-app tipping option, which makes it easy.

You also have the option to tip cash. Whatever is easier for you.

Is Postmates in My City?

Postmates is currently operating in over 550 cities, from Los Angeles to New York to Chicago to San Diego to Boston to Tampa…you get the idea. They just expanded into Mexico City as well, its first city outside of the United States. You can see a full list of cities here.

Is Postmates Worth it?

It depends on what you’re looking for. If you work from home, like supporting local businesses, don’t want to be limited by what you order, and like having things delivered right to your hands, Postmates is a great option in the on-demand delivery space. If you want to make it your go-to app, the Unlimited option is a decent deal. You can also use it like a lot of people do, as another option for delivery, and something to use in a pinch if you need that random thing delivered…and need it quickly.

Postmates might charge more for products and delivery than an Amazon or a DoorDash, and a Postmates delivery driver won’t be able to also install the ceiling fan they picked up for you, like someone on TaskRabbit might. It’s about what you need, what’s offered, and what’s important to you. But we find it to be a solid app that’s easy to use and can make your life just a little bit easier.

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