Looking to send flowers to a loved one that are both beautiful and affordable? We set out to determine the best place for cheap flower delivery by comparing prices, customer service, and quality from 1-800-Flowers, FTD, ProFlowers, Teleflora, The Bouqs, and Amazon, as well as independent florists across the country. If budget is your bottom line, our price survey suggests Amazon or 1-800-Flowers is the way to go, depending how flexible you are on the delivery date (more on that later). However, online reviews indicate that the quality of the bouquets from all the big names can be hit or miss. With scores of complaints about late deliveries, missing or incorrect orders, and last-minute fees, no major flower delivery site is a slam-dunk. Using a local florist is a better bet for shoppers willing to pay a small premium in hopes of getting that perfect gift.
Related: Awesome Gift Ideas Under $250
|Local Florists||Roses: $59.95 - $82.95|
Tulips: $29.95 - $69.99
|$8.95 - $15|
No extra charge for same-day
|Free (varies by seller)|
No same-day delivery
+$2.99 for same-day
+$4.99 for same-day
+$4.99 for same-day
+$2.99 for same-day
|The Bouqs||Roses: $64|
No extra charge for same-day
* $14.99 to $19.99 depending on value of order.
For our cost comparison, we gathered prices for two simple floral arrangements: a dozen long-stem white or pink roses, and 12 to 15 multicolored tulips, both presented in (or with) a glass vase. Our analysis includes delivery fees, which can add a hefty amount to the bill for any floral arrangement.
Amazon was the cheapest overall, with roses available for about $40, tulips for $60, and no delivery fee charged by the sellers offering the flowers closest to what we were looking for. But that comes with a big caveat: We couldn’t pick a specific delivery date. It’s also important to note that recipients would have to arrange the Amazon flower bouquets themselves (though, to be fair, that’s also the case with most orders from The Bouqs and select orders from ProFlowers).
The cheapest traditional flower service was 1-800-Flowers, which would deliver roses for about $60 and tulips for $50 — plus $17.99 for delivery. ProFlowers and FTD offered nearly identical pricing (about $75 for roses and $50 for tulips), which isn’t surprising considering both companies were acquired by the same private equity firm in 2019. Teleflora was the most expensive service, charging $64 for roses and $69 for tulips.
When we surveyed 10 local florists across the country, in a mix of higher- and lower-cost areas, the average cost of flowers and delivery landed in the middle of the pack. On the high end, a Los Angeles florist quoted a total of $154.90 for the two bouquets of flowers and delivery (still less than Teleflora), while on the low end, a florist in Seattle asked only $102.90 (just a bit more than Amazon). Moral of the story: Check prices from a couple of local shops before ordering online.
We did not factor in any special offers when pricing out flowers, as availability is always changing, but all the major flower delivery services frequently offer coupon codes. Be sure to check deal sites like RetailMeNot before ordering. Independent florists also may offer promotions or coupon codes on their own websites.
Flower Quality and Variety
Clearly prices can vary widely even for the same types of flowers and number of stems. A dozen roses at the supermarket might fetch $15 or $20, while a rose bouquet at a flower shop may eclipse $100. Is the extra cost worth it? Possibly. Higher-quality flowers generally look better and last longer. Higher prices don't necessarily translate to higher quality, however.
Plenty of consumers reviewing the big flower delivery services online were incredulous at pricey arrangements that showed up looking substantially less healthy than in online photos. If you order flowers online, it's important to remember that the pictures will typically show all the blooms artificially tilted toward the camera, creating the impression of a larger arrangement than you'll actually receive. Flower deliveries are often made by FedEx or UPS, and depending on weather and handling, flowers may arrive damaged or wilted.
Recent hands-on expert reviews of the top online floral companies are extremely mixed. Good Housekeeping gives the nod to 1-800-Flowers, saying its bouquet was the only one that actually lasted more than a week. Of the services we examined, Teleflora was the favorite of Wirecutter testers, who were underwhelmed by FTD, 1-800-Flowers, and The Bouqs. An Insider review praises FTD for its delivery options but says its arrangements from 1-800-Flowers and The Bouqs were subpar.
Consumer Reports compared bouquets of a dozen multicolored roses from FTD, ProFlowers, and 1-800-Flowers, no provider came up smelling like roses. Although the review is older, it illustrates why ordering flowers online can be so uncertain. The ProFlowers arrangement had only five intact flowers when it arrived, and the roses from 1-800-Flowers were substantially less full than the online picture showed. FTD's arrangement was the best of the three, but still lackluster compared with what was promised.
FTD, 1-800-Flowers, Teleflora, and sometimes ProFlowers and The Bouqs actually turn to local florists to fulfill orders, which helps explain the inconsistency, and why some arrangements fall short of expectations. Amy McCord Jones of Oklahoma-based Flower Moxie, an online business that sells blooms to do-it-yourself brides nationwide, told Cheapism: “Over the years, these large companies began adding additional charges that resulted in ‘death by fees’ to the small, local florist fulfilling the orders. The result of these extra charges means consumers are not getting the full value of their money, because the fulfilling florist has to cut corners by using cheaper, filler flowers or older product to make it slightly profitable.” Buying direct often results in nicer flowers, she said.
Although the primary flowers in an arrangement should be comparable to an online photo, the finished product still depends on available inventory of fresh flowers. Most sites post a disclaimer alerting customers that they reserve the right to make substitutions, and they will — sometimes quite liberally. A number of customer reviews indicate this is a relatively frequent occurrence when ordering flowers online. Sydney and Cornelia Peterson, owners and founders of Sacred Thistle in Denver, pointed out that most online services promise customers certain types of flowers year-round, which means prices can spike when those flowers aren’t naturally in season, and they won’t always look their best. Independent florists have the flexibility to offer better bouquets for the money, they say. “We handpick everything at markets weekly, ensuring we are delivering the freshest and best quality we can, and seasonally utilize local farms,” the mother-daughter duo told Cheapism via email.
By calling up a local florist, you can discuss what's in stock, potentially eliminating any nasty surprises. Going into the shop in person, if possible, lets you see what you can really get, instead of a too-good-to-be-true photo. If you're not sure what to choose, the florist can steer you toward flowers you may not have considered that can make for a unique arrangement, especially for someone who has already received their fair share of roses or tulips. Another approach is to leave it up to the florist to choose the best-quality flowers within a set price range. “Local florists usually have their own flavor of arrangements, as well as a more seasonal selection of floral elements, to best reflect what’s looking good at the time,” the Petersons said in their email. “We custom-make every arrangement, and work with each individual to make sure they get something special.”
Online flower delivery sites make the ordering process easy, letting you choose from hundreds of flower arrangements, vases, and other gifts from the comfort of home. But reviews of the major flower delivery services contain numerous reports from customers who claim to have turned to local florists after bad experiences with online providers. While there are certainly some positive reviews of flower delivery services, the overall impression is "buyer beware."
In a recent customer satisfaction survey by J.D. Power, ProFlowers emerged as the best flower delivery service among the major online retailers — for the seventh year in a row — followed closely by FTD. 1-800-Flowers finished last. Other services we examined — Teleflora, The Bouqs, and Amazon — were not ranked. Most services get poor customer reviews on sites like Yelp, Sitejabber, Consumer Affairs, and Trustpilot, though The Bouqs, a newer company, seems to fare better. Among the litany of complaints: undelivered orders, rude and unhelpful phone representatives, and floral arrangements that looked completely different from the online description. To be sure, angry consumers may be more motivated than satisfied ones to post feedback, and some flower delivery reviews are positive. But overall, we were struck by the preponderance of negative reviews and found that many consumers have vowed to buy only from local providers. (Amazon, of course, is a special case, since it offers fresh flowers from a wide selection of sellers. As with any purchase, we recommend scouring reviews carefully to figure out what to expect from a particular seller.)
Local flower shops, on the other hand, earn mostly favorable reviews. For instance, the local florists we researched have received plenty of 4- and 5-star reviews on sites including Yelp and Google from customers who rave about the quality of the arrangements, helpful service, and reliable delivery. McCord Jones said the better reviews of local shops are not at all surprising. “When you order from a local florist with a solid reputation, you should receive higher quality blooms, less filler, and better service, because that business has more skin in the game and has a larger profit margin to create better arrangements.”
Delivery Charges and Taxes
The major flower delivery sites come in for particularly scathing criticism in reviews for tacking on myriad service or shipping fees toward the very end of the ordering process. Delivery charges can rise on weekends and around major holidays like Valentine’s Day or Mother's Day; they also may be costlier for larger arrangements and same-day delivery.
Standard delivery fees were fairly consistent in our analysis, with the exception of Amazon and local florists. Our two arrangements would cost $17.98 to deliver from ProFlowers (including a $2.99 "care and handling" charge); $17.99 to deliver from 1-800-Flowers, FTD, and Teleflora; and $18 from The Bouqs. Same-day delivery was more expensive, with another $2.99 charge from 1-800-Flowers and Teleflora, and an additional $4.99 from FTD and ProFlowers. The Bouqs didn’t appear to add a charge for same-day delivery, but its same-day selection was small and limited to certain ZIP codes, which didn’t include ours.
For delivery the day before Mother's Day, FTD and ProFlowers added a $12 Saturday surcharge to the standard delivery fee for one of our arrangements (tulips) but not the other (roses). The tulips, it’s worth noting, were shipping directly via UPS or FedEx, while the roses were to be arranged and delivered by a local florist. In the case of 1-800-Flowers, the standard Saturday delivery surcharge is $2.99, but we weren’t even allowed to place an order (in early April) for the Saturday before Mother’s Day; the closest we could get was the Wednesday before, or the following Tuesday. Teleflora added a $3 surcharge for the Saturday before Mother’s Day but not for other Saturdays. The Bouqs adds a $9 surcharge for every Saturday delivery. There was no shipping charge for the flower bouquets we selected on Amazon, but this varies by seller. Sellers that did tack on shipping tended to charge roughly $10 to $15.
Among the independent florists we surveyed, delivery fees ranged from $8.95 to $15. The average was just under $12 — more reasonable than the nationwide delivery services (the exception, of course, being Amazon). Notably, none of the 10 local florists we surveyed charged a higher fee for delivery the day before Mother's Day or any other Saturday, although there were a few shops that didn’t deliver on Saturdays as a rule. None charged extra for same-day delivery, and all allowed free in-store pickup — a big money saver if you're giving flowers to a loved one nearby and are willing to do a little legwork.
A word about sales tax: You don't always have to pay it if you go through an online flower delivery service. For instance, Teleflora charges sales tax for delivery to only three states, while 1-800-Flowers collects tax for delivery to 15 states. The Bouqs adds tax in 29 states. FTD is most likely to tack on sales tax; customers pay extra for delivery in almost all states. Of course, you're always on the hook for sales tax with a local florist.