How Postmates Works

FT Contributor
A closeup of a smartphone in a pocket displaying the Postmates app.

What Is Postmates?

Postmates is a delivery service that brings food, groceries, and nearly anything you need straight to you. Whether you order alcohol — or the aspirin for the hangover the next day — a Postmates driver will bring it to your door. The Postmates app is simple to use. You’ll be able to order easily and track your order until it arrives, so you don’t have to wonder how long it will be.

Postmates is a bit different from other food delivery apps, such as Instacart, UberEats, and Doordash. It doesn’t partner exclusively with restaurants, so you can order much more than food. The driver or courier can go into any retailer or merchant, purchase the item you requested, and deliver it. Consider Postmates your own personal assistant or concierge.

How Does Postmates Work?

Here’s a closer look at how Postmates works:

Using the Postmates App

To use Postmates, download the app or log in to the website. Once you set up your account with payment and delivery information, you should be ready to go. Search through restaurants to view the menus. Or, search stores to order from the merchant catalogs and add items to your cart.

If you don’t see the merchant you’d like to purchase from, you can create a custom order. The more specific the item you’d like, the more accurate the delivery will be. For example, if you’d like to order specific vitamins, you should enter “Vitamin C chewable vitamins in grapefruit flavor.”

You can choose to have your order delivered or select pickup or curbside pickup. The difference between the two is where you’ll find the items. When you choose pickup, you’ll be sent a pickup point through the Postmates map. Some merchants offer curbside pickup in which someone from the location brings your order to your car. Once you arrive, tap on “Check-In” through the app to let them know you’ve arrived.

Group Orders is a unique Postmates feature. If you’re planning on hosting a group of friends at your place, you can start an order and share it with friends. Each person can choose their items from their own device, which will be added to a single order to be delivered to your home.

Postmates orders come with a delivery fee that varies between $0.99 and $9.99. There’s also a service fee, charged as a percentage of the cost of the items, that averages 10%. The charge will display on the order details before you confirm it. If you plan on ordering often, consider signing up for Postmates Unlimited to skip the fees and pay a flat rate of $9.99 per month to get free deliveries on orders over $12.

Partnering with Postmates

A restaurant can sign up as a partner to feature their menu. There are no fees — the customer pays the delivery cost. Signing up isn’t necessary, but may add visibility. A restaurant might already be in the Postmates directory, even if it’s not signed up and another customer ordered meals from the restaurant before.

First Time Purchase Incentives?

Postmates offers a variety of deals to its new customers. Currently, they’re offering $100 in free credit that’s good towards delivery fees. The $100 delivery fee credits are good for seven days from the date of application.

Postmates Unlimited is also currently offering a free 30 day trial of unlimited deliveries which also includes reduced fees on eligible orders and exclusive deals. Cancel anytime.

Be sure to check or their app frequently, as their new and existing customer exclusive promotions are always changing.

Can You Use Cash for Postmates?

Postmates doesn’t support cash payments for the user or the driver. If the merchant is a cash-only business, Postmates advises drivers to cancel the order and not use their personal cash to pay for the items. Customers can use a credit card or debit cards with the Mastercard or Visa logo for payment.

Do You Tip Postmates?

Yes, you should tip. Postmates will remind you to add a tip at checkout. The tip is in addition to the delivery fee and service fee. The full amount goes to the driver.

Should I Use Postmates?

Postmates could come in handy if you have a hectic schedule and could use the extra help sometimes. The service is ideal if you need something from a specific store across town and don’t have the time to go and purchase it.

But the fees can add up, so think carefully before you order a toothbrush on Postmates. You’ll save money by planning ahead and not using Postmates as a replacement for your regular errands. Always look for and take advantage of any promotions or free delivery offers to help with cost.

It’s best to group your order to make the most out of the delivery charges. But if it’s late, you’re tired, and you’ve run out of milk and your favorite type of cereal for your morning’s breakfast, the convenience of having someone deliver the items can far outweigh the costs.

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