Instacart is a grocery pickup and delivery service based in the US. The platform was founded in 2012 and is available in over 5500 US cities. As an Instacart shopper, your job is to visit grocery stores to make purchases on behalf of customers, before delivering the groceries to them on the same-day. Instacart is a great side hustle option for people who want to get paid to exercise and shop.
- 2 types of work available – you can either be a full service shopper (shopping and delivering groceries) or an in-store shopper (just shopping).
- Earn up to $10 per order – get paid at least $5 for a delivery-only order or $7 to $10 for a full-service (both shopping and delivery) order.
- Referral bonus – get $10 for each friend you refer to become an Instacart shopper once they complete their first delivery, up to a maximum of $50.
- Flexible hours – work whenever you want as a full-service shopper. In-store shoppers can work up to 29 hours per week, based on their schedules.
- May involve some heavy lifting – all Instacart shoppers must be able to lift 30+ pounds. Thus, you may sometimes need to lift some heavy groceries.
- Vehicle expenses – Instacart will not cover your vehicle expenses such as fuel, maintenance and repairs. These can cost up to 40% of your earnings.
Jump to: Full Review
Compare to Other Gig Economy Jobs
Earn $25 per hour plus keep 100% of your tips (4000 cities in USA)
You can use any mode of transportation: your car, bicycle or motorcycle
You have the freedom to pick and choose which orders you want to accept
Experienced delivery drivers can earn up to $21 per hour ($13 on average)
Choose when you want to work based on your schedule in 1000 cities
Delivery snacks, drinks, grocery, quick meals, cleaning supplies and more
How Does Instacart Work?
Instacart allows you to;
- Get connected to customers who need groceries
- Find orders, then shop and deliver those items to your customers
- Get paid, and cash out instantly
- Earn even more with tips for great service
How Much You Can Make With Instacart?
On the other hand, in-store shoppers are Instacart employees earning an hourly wage of $13 on average. You can schedule your shifts based on your availability, up to 29 hours per week.
Who is Instacart Best for?
How to Make Money With Instacart?
Instacart hires two different types of shoppers: a full-service and an in-store.
As a full-service shopper, you will shop and deliver the orders. You will need an active driver’s license and access to a car, work as an independent contractor and you may choose your own work hours. You will then earn money per item in an order and per delivery. Instacart pays full-service shoppers weekly.
As an in-store shopper, you will work in the store, shopping and preparing orders for pick-up. Therefore, you don’t need access to the car.
As an in-store shopper, you are a part-time employee of Instacart and not an independent contractor. However, you are still able to have a flexible schedule.
Let’s take a look at a simple step-by-step process of earning money as an Instacart shopper.
To check if Instacart is available in your area, visit the locations page and enter your ZIP code.
Step 1 – Get approved to shop
Go to shoppers.instacart.com and follow the signup instructions. Instacart will review your application and notify you when you are approved.
Step 2 – Fill out the paperwork
You need to sign an independent contractor agreement and W-9 tax form.
Step 3 – Choose the orders you want to shop
Once you are approved, you will see orders near your current location in the app. You can pick the order that you want to fulfill and start earning.
Step 4 – Take your Instacart shopping card
All Instacart shoppers use a preloaded payment card to purchase customer orders. It usually takes 5 to 7 business days to claim your registered shopper’s card.
Step 5 – Shop your customers’ orders
Once you pick your order within the app, it’s time to actually shop. Go to the indicated store and pick all the products your customer has ordered.
Step 6 – Communicate with your customer
Update your customers when the product is out of stock and ask how to replace it using a built-in messenger.
Step 7 – Deliver the order to your customer
After you have purchased all the products, it’s time to deliver the order. The app shows you the exact address of your customer on the built-in map.
Step 8 – Cash out instantly and earn tips
After delivering the order successfully, your earnings are available to you instantly. Some customers will leave tips for you, which are always 100% yours.
Step 1 – Submit an online application at shoppers.instacart.com
Step 2 – Attend an in-person orientation
This step is a part of the onboarding process. You can choose the session that works best for you from your app.
Step 3 – Fill out the paperwork
As an in-store shopper, you need to sign an employment offer and W-4 tax form.
Step 4 – Prepare your customers’ orders for pick up
You shop on your customer’s behalf and pack the order for pick-up.
Step 5 – Communicate with your customer
If you have questions regarding an order, you can use the built-in messenger within an app to contact your customer.
Step 6 – Get paid weekly
Instacart will pay you as an in-store shopper weekly, according to the hours you have worked.
Instacart Benefits: What Does Instacart Offer?
Instacart operates in more than 5,500 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Locations range from large urban areas such as San Francisco and New York to smaller communities such as Spring Creek. This gives many shoppers an opportunity to make money.
Sign Up is Free
Unlike other platforms, signing up with Instacart is free. Once you’ve filled out an online application and get approved, you are free to get started.
Manage Your Own Shifts
With Instacart, you can manage your own shifts directly from the app.
Easy To Use App
Instacart’s app is also simple and easy to use.
Anyone can become an Instacart shopper regardless of their experience. However, there are some basic requirements to meet in order to be considered for a job.
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be eligible to work in the US
- Pass a background check
- Have an up-to-date smartphone (iOS 9 / Android 4.4 or later)
Full-service shoppers must also have:
- An active driving license
- Unlimited access to an insured vehicle
- Ability to lift 50 lbs
- A set of insulated bags or a cooler to deliver orders.
Instacart Costs to Consider
As a full-service shopper, you are an independent contractor. Therefore, Instacart doesn’t provide you with employee benefits, such as insurance, gas, etc.
There are several costs to consider when you think of doing business with Instacart. Your monthly expenses will include buying insurance as well as paying for gas and maintenance of your vehicle. You are also responsible for filing your own taxes.
However, if you wish to become an in-store shopper, car-related expenses won’t apply to you.
Instacart Payout Terms and Options?
Instacart has different payment policies for full-service and in-store shoppers. It pays full-service shoppers per batch completed. The number of items per order, type of items, the effort involved in shopping and delivering as well as driving distance determine the amount you will earn per batch.
If you are a full-service shopper, your earnings are instantly accessible after completing the orders. This means you can transfer your funds to your debit card anytime. If you don’t request the withdrawal, the company will release your payment every Wednesday.
As an in-store shopper, you are an Instacart employee earning an hourly wage. In this case, Instacart pays you every Friday by direct deposit or a check.
Instacart Reviews: is Instacart Legit?
Instacart is a legit and reputable business that provides a safe, convenient way to buy groceries without needing to visit stores. Having a rating of 1.8 on Sitejabber, 1.3 on Trustpilot, and 2.6 on consumer affairs, most negative reviews revolved around poor customer service. Others also think that rating them according to what’s in the store is unfair.
Other users also complained about extremely high fees, including as much as 20 percent of the cost of groceries.
That said, Instacart has gathered a few positive reviews with most reviewers praising it for being prompt and having good communication. Others also loved the fact that they can track and ensure the item is delivered.
What Are the Instacart Pros & Cons?
- No minimum hours are required to shop
- You can earn $3 for every 5-star rating.
- Most customers will tip you for the good service
- It’s easy to use and never has any issues.
- No guaranteed number of orders
- As tipping is optional, some customers won’t tip.
Instacart Express is a subscription option that waives delivery fees and lowers service fees, and it’s ideal for people who order grocery delivery regularly.
How Good is Instacart Support and Knowledge Base?
Instacart Review Verdict: is Instacart Worth It?
Instacart is a solid choice for grocery delivery, especially if the stores you regularly shop at participate in the service. It’s also the best platform for gig jobs online that allows you to make between$9 to $48 per hour. Whether you are looking for the best gig jobs or delivery services, the regular Instacart service should be a good option.
How to Start Earning With Instacart?
First, you need to create an account at shoppers.instacart.com. After providing some basic information, you need to download an app from the App Store or Google Play. Once you complete the signup process you need to take a background check through the app.
The online application process takes about 5 minutes and doesn’t require writing a motivation letter to get accepted. However, a background check takes a bit longer. At this step, you need to provide the company with more information about yourself and your background.
Once you submit your online application, Instacart needs time (up to 10 business days) to review your profile. As Instacart shoppers state, the review process usually takes much less than that.
How to Earn More With Instacart?
Tip 1 – Work in Hot Spots
Some areas are busier than others. Find out locations with high demand and get orders in those hot spots. Instacart highlights the zones of high demand with red rectangular areas. Pink color indicates moderate demand, while greyish-white shows normal (or weak) demand.
Tip 2 – Work Fast
This doesn’t mean you should be in a rush all the time. However, if you shop fast to manage many orders, you will increase your earnings. Instacart also offers bonuses to shoppers who are the fastest in the area and on top of the leaderboard.
Tip 3 – Maximize Your Opportunity for Tips
Being positive, caring and polite maximizes your opportunities for tips. Make sure to communicate with your customer when things don’t go as planned. Let them know if the product in their order is out of stock or when you get stuck in traffic. Remember that lack of communication, rudeness and being late means no tips from your customer.
Tip 4 – Go online during peak hours
Each area has its own peak hours – the time when there is more demand for the service than usual. Find out the peak times in your area and always try to go online during those hours. The Instacart app doesn’t directly highlight peak times, however, you will recognize peak hours after working as a shopper after a week.
Tip 5 – Leverage bonus and promotion opportunities
As the best place to get gig work from home, Instacart offers you a number of bonuses and promotions based on your work. So make sure you keep up-to-date with what they offer and try to grasp as many promotions as you can. You will see available promotions and bonus opportunities in the dashboard section of your mobile app.
Sites Like Instacart
|Pay per hour||$9 to $48||$20||$12 to $13||13|
|Best for||Shopping and delivering goods||Food delivery||Food delivery||Delivery services|
Instacart vs. Doordash
Like Instacart, you must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid driving license to join Doordash. Both platforms also require you to provide your name, phone number, email, and vehicle type while signing up. Instacart is a grocery delivery service, while DoorDash mostly delivers food from local restaurants to your home or office.
In terms of payments, Instacart full-service shoppers earn between $9 and $48 per hour with an average of $29 per hour compared to Doordash’s average of $20/hour. While Doordash is the clear leader here, there is no significant difference between the two.
Instacart vs. Grubhub
Grubhub is a food delivery app that provides side hustlers with an opportunity to make money delivering food. Similar To Instacart, Grubhub is free to sign up and start using. While drivers for both of these delivery services average a similar amount per hour, the pay range for Instacart is $29 compared to Grubhub drivers at a range of $12-$13/hour.
Like Grubhub, Instacart drivers aren’t paid a flat hourly rate Grubhub also gives their drivers more chances to increase their earnings through promotions like Peak Pay.
Instacart vs. GoPuff
Similar to Instacart, GoPuff is a platform that helps deliver essentials like food, toilet paper, and other foodstuffs. While Instacart Operates in over 500+ cities across Canada and United States, GoPuff functions in more than 650 US cities, including Philadelphia, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Austin, and more.
As a work for yourself job, GoPuff delivers products usually found in convenience stores such as drinks, snacks, and toiletries compared to Instacart which delivers goods through personal shoppers. As for delivery fees, Instacart charges $3.99 for an order of $35 compared to GoPuff’s $1.95 delivery fee.
Instacart vs. Amazon Fresh
Amazon Fresh is a grocery delivery service for Amazon Prime members and the biggest alternative to Instacart. Personal shoppers of Amazon Fresh earn a fixed fee of $15 to $17.25 per hour. This is almost similar to what you can earn as an in-store shopper for Instacart. However, as an Instacart full-service shopper, you have an opportunity to earn more than that if you leverage the bonus and promotion opportunities.
Instacart vs. Shipt
Shipt is another alternative to Instacart. According to Glassdoor reports, Shipt personal shoppers make $11 to $14 per hour. Instacart shoppers typically make more money for larger orders and during busy times.
Instacart vs. Postmates
Another alternative to Instacart is Postmates. The payout at Postmates fluctuates based on the service area. As a Postmates driver, you have an opportunity to make a minimum of $4 per order. You also earn $1 for every pick-up and drop-off and $0.10 per minute while waiting for your order.
At Postmates you might lose time waiting for restaurants to prepare your orders. As this is not the case while shopping with Instacart, you can fulfill more orders within an hour and earn more.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats
Uber Eats is one of the best gig jobs apps paying the drivers $10-14 per hour. However, as Uber Eats also offers food delivery, you as a driver might lose some time waiting for restaurants to prepare your orders. Taking this into consideration, you might be able to manage more orders and earn more hourly as an Instacart shopper.
Other Sites Like Instacart
Alternative Gig Economy Jobs
What is Instacart?
Instacart offers Free Delivery on Your First Order $35 or more.
What are the delivery hours?
The typical delivery hours are between 9 am and 10 pm. Visit Instacart’s site for more information about the general service hours and available delivery windows in your area.
Is Instacart free?
Instacart is free to sign up and use.
How do I contact Instacart customer service?
To contact Instacart customer service, go to the website and click contact. Next, fill out the contact form and submit it.
Is driving for Instacart worth it?
Instacart is competitive but worth it. You can work when you want, but make sure you keep up your customer service skills.
Can you make 500 a week with Instacart?
If you become a full-service shopper you can add a few hundred dollars to your weekly paycheck and make up to $500 a week.