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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.
Best Gig Economy Jobs
Earn $15 – $25 per hour + keep 100% of your customer tips (4000 cities)
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
Make around $12 per hour + tips and create your own flexible schedule
No resume, interview or delivery experience required, and no dress code
Cash your earnings out up to $500 a day (free for Chase Bank customers)
What is Instacart?
Instacart is a grocery delivery service connecting customers with personal shoppers online within the United States and Canada.
Customers can either use a website or a mobile app to order groceries and other household goods online. Instacart promises deliveries at customers’ doorsteps within 1 or 2 hours after placing an order.
Instacart offers Free Delivery on Your First Order $35 or more
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. As a full-service shopper, you will work as an independent contractor and you may choose your own work hours. You will earn money per item in an order and per delivery. Instacart pays full-service shoppers weekly.
Another role to work for Instacart is an in-store shopper. 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.
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 an 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 hours you have worked.
How Much Does Instacart Pay?
The amount you will earn with Instacart varies based on which type of shopper role you choose.
If you choose to be a full-service shopper, you have the flexibility to work on your own time schedule. This means that the amount Instacart will pay you totally depends on how much orders you will fulfill.
According to FastCompany, you will get paid a minimum amount of $7-$10 per order as a full-service shopper. This amount doesn’t include customer tips, which is directly transferred to your earnings. Instacart also gives you different types of bonus and promotion opportunities to make even more money.
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.
How Does Instacart Pay?
Instacart has different payment policies for full-service and in-store shoppers.
Instacart 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.
How to Sign Up for an Instacart Job?
Applying for an Instacart job is quick, simple and completely online.
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.
If you meet all the requirements above and want to submit your application, here’s the step-by-step process:
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.
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.
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 the 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 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
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 your dashboard section of your mobile app.
Instacart Pros & Cons
- Flexibility – no minimum hours are required and you choose your own time to shop.
- Weekly payments. Many zones also have an instant cashout option allowing you to transfer your funds to your bank account anytime.
- Bonus opportunities – you can earn $3 for every 5-star rating. There are many other bonus opportunities specific to different locations.
- Tips – most customers will tip you for the good service, either in the app or cash.
- App functionality – it’s easy to use and never has any issues.
- Performance leaderboards – it might increase your motivation to fulfill orders faster to see your name at the top of the zone leaderboard.
- No guaranteed number of orders – no orders means no money. However as demand for the service increases over time, more shoppers should be able to get busier fulfilling orders.
- Tipping – as tipping is optional, some customers won’t tip.
- Taxes – you have to track your earnings and make calculations. If you make more than $600 with Instacart, you will receive an income form for tax season.
- Vehicle-related expenses are not covered by the company including gas, vehicle wear, maintenance and insurance.
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 a very popular alternative to Instacart, 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 preparing your orders. Taking this into consideration, you might be able to manage more orders and earn more hourly as an Instacart shopper.
Is it Worth Working for Instacart?
Overall, it’s a great option to earn money at your own schedule with Instacart. However, you shouldn’t forget some extra costs the company doesn’t cover if you work as an independent contractor.
You should take into consideration expenses such as gas, insurance and maintenance of your vehicle.
Time needed: 10 minutes.
How Instacart works? (ordering groceries)
- Sign up with Instacart
Enter your Zip code to check availability (Free delivery on the first order $35 or more).
- Shop your favorite markets
Albertsons, ALDI, Costco, CVS, Kroger, Loblaw, Publix, Sam’s Club, Sprouts, and Wegmans, among others. 500 million products, 40,000 stores, 5,500+ cities in USA and Canada.
- Schedule delivery
As fast as an hour, or for later in the day or week to fit busy schedules. $7.99 for one-hour delivery or $5.99 for two-hour or more delivery.
- Get your groceries
Meet your Shopper at your door or choose a pickup option.