Side hustles offer a terrific way to make money with a flexible schedule. In particular, delivery app gigs like Instacart Shopper allow you to earn an hourly wage of $20+ on your own time.
If you don’t mind grocery shopping, the on-demand platform is a good way to put extra cash in your budget. Our Instacart Shopper review evaluates the side gig to see if it’s a reliable way to boost your income.
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What is Instacart Shopper?
Instacart Shopper is an app that connects personal shoppers with customers who place orders for groceries to be delivered to their homes.
When you drive for Instacart, you claim orders, go to the grocery store to purchase items, and deliver them to customers.
The company operates in over 6,000 locations across the United States. If you live in a big city, you can likely earn money as an independent contractor for the company.
Additionally, the app partners with thousands of stores, from Costco to CVS.
Instacart differs from a service like DoorDash, where you only deliver restaurant meals. Read our analysis of DoorDash vs. Instacart Shopper to see how they compare.
How Much Do Instacart Shoppers Earn?
Instacart Shopper pay is determined by several factors, including time spent shopping, tips, and the cost of the order. It is possible to earn up to $20 per hour when working for Instacart.
Increasing your pay requires being efficient and selecting the right orders since there is no fixed hourly wage. This differs slightly from Shipt Shopper, which offers base pay plus a percentage of the order.
Read our Shipt Shopper vs. Instacart Shopper review to learn more about how the two compare.
Payment is sent weekly via direct deposit to your bank account. The platform sends payment on Wednesday for work completed the previous week. You also get to keep 100 percent of the tips you receive.
*Related: Are you looking for other ways to earn money on the side? Read our guide on how to make $1,000 fast to find something that works for you.
Does Instacart Pay Daily?
If you’re short on money, it is possible to access earnings early with Instacart Shopper. The company gives contractors the ability to cash out instantly.
You must pay a $0.50 fee for Fast Pay, but it can be helpful if you need cash now.
Read our guide on other same-day pay jobs that let you get paid today with minimal fees.
Instacart Shopper Requirements
It’s relatively simple to start working for Instacart. After applying, it can take up to one week to start this gig economy opportunity.
Here are the requirements to become an Instacart Shopper:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Be able to lift up to 50 pounds
- Have valid insurance
- Be able to pass a background check
- Have a valid Social Security number
- Be able to access a reliable car
- Own a current smartphone (iPhone 5/Android 4.4 or newer)
- Maintain a clean driving record
- Have a bank account to accept payment via direct deposit
If you meet the above requirements, you can apply to deliver groceries via Instacart Shopper.
How to Sign Up as an Instacart Shopper
Applying to work for Instacart is straightforward. You download the app, create an account, and give the company basic information to become a full-service shopper.
It usually takes several days for the company to process your information. Once your application is approved, you complete the necessary training within the platform.
The app also has helpful videos to learn how to become an Instacart Shopper and maximize your earnings. Everything, including payment, is handled in the Instacart app.
After you complete the necessary training, you can accept orders and start grocery shopping.
How Do Deliveries Work?
You can either schedule shifts in advance or see if there are current needs within the platform.
To claim orders within the Instacart Shopper app, you will see a map that says “Looking for orders.” Click on that, and it opens a map with various zones in your city with open orders.
Once you choose an order, you get started with the shop.
When your scheduled shift begins, you need to access your account within the Instacart Shopper app. This is where you will locate all available job listings.
You don’t need to accept each order, but the company does measure acceptance rates. If you want to earn extra cash, you can accept multiple orders and shop for both simultaneously.
Each order highlights numerous items of importance you should consider before accepting. These include the following:
- Order size
- Estimated pay
- Delivery area for the customer
If you want to accept multiple orders at once, the app does allow you to work in batches to be more efficient.
Unlike Shipt Shopper, Instacart Shopper doesn’t typically require shoppers to complete an order in a certain timeframe to stay active.
Deactivation can happen for reasons like having too many cancellations or lying about completed orders. If you can avoid those missteps, you should be able to make money on Instacart with minimal issues.
Shop For Orders
Shopping for orders is simple with Instacart. Every order includes the items the customer is requesting and any potential store they choose.
When you claim an order, you go to your local store to shop for and purchase groceries. If there is a problem with the customer’s order, like an item being out of stock, you can live chat with them to resolve it.
The customer can also request you to add items to their shopping list. Being responsive to their requests is a fantastic way to get a better tip.
Instacart gives shoppers insulated bags for any cold or warm items they need to keep insulated.
Pay for the Order
Instacart makes it easy to pay for completed orders. Shoppers receive a pre-loaded debit card to purchase items when they are on shops.
These are mailed once you’re approved to work for the app. You can’t claim shops until you receive and activate it.
Additional funds are added to the payment card as customers place orders. There is no need to pay for items with your own money.
Deliver Groceries to the Customer
The last step is to deliver items to your customer. They will specify in their order how and where they would like you to bring them their items.
This can include no-contact delivery by leaving the groceries by their front door. They can also request that you bring items to their door and personally give it to them.
If you leave bags at the door, you must take a picture of where you placed them. You send this picture to the customer so they can see where they are located.
After completing the selected shops, you choose additional orders until the end of your shift.
Earn up to $20+ per hour
Deliver groceries with just a car from nearby stores. Get started today!
Ways to Earn More as an Instacart Shopper
Driving for Instacart is a great way to make extra money. In fact, it’s one of the best driving gigs you can do to supplement your income.
Here are some tips to follow to increase your earnings.
Know the Store
Knowing where to find items in the store is vital to being timely when shopping. More completed orders typically translates to increased earnings.
Look at the shopping list before entering the store, and use signs to find the necessary aisles you need.
It’s best to shop in an orderly fashion. This allows you to finish quickly and leave time for any problems with long checkout lines or extended delivery distances.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Providing great service is an easy way to make money on Instacart. One strategy to do this is to stay in regular communication with the customer using the app.
Customers may request to be contacted regarding substitutions. If they do, clearly communicate available choices.
You can also inform them when you’re done shopping and are on your way to their home or business. Be sure to thank them as well.
Treat customers the way you would like to be treated. If you do this, you’re more likely to receive a good tip.
Work on the Weekends
Regular shoppers report that Saturdays and Sundays typically have more orders than weekdays. They also tend to have larger orders.
If you want high-paying orders and can be flexible, schedule hours during those peak times.
Additionally, weeknights tend to have a higher number of orders. Working one or two evenings a week can be a great way to earn extra money.
Read our guide on the best times to do Instacart to learn more.
Focus on Smaller Orders
It is tempting to accept orders with a large number of items, but they also take longer to complete. Don’t overlook claiming smaller orders.
Smaller shops pay less, but you can do more of them, which allows you to increase your earnings and get more deliveries on Instacart.
Additionally, smaller shops let you batch orders, so you can have more money-making opportunities.
Take Advantage of Promos
Most delivery app gigs have peak hours when they’re busier than normal. Jobs like Instacart Shopper often have promotions for drivers who complete a certain number of orders.
Promos fluctuate and can appear at any time. Monitor the Shopper app to take advantage of on-demand jobs to maximize your earnings.
Does Instacart Pay For Gas?
Like other delivery app gigs, Instacart Shopper does not pay for gas. That is an expense you incur on your own.
As an independent contractor, you must also pay for tolls and deal with wear and tear on your car. These work-related expenses must be considered because they impact what you earn.
Furthermore, you are responsible for self-employment taxes. It’s best to track your expenses if you want to claim them on your taxes.
Pros and Cons
Working for Instacart Shopper is a terrific way to make money on the side. However, no side gig is perfect.
As with any money-making opportunity, you must consider the pros and cons. Here are things to keep in mind when considering driving for Instacart.
- You can work on your own schedule
- Weekly pay
- Ability to earn an average hourly pay of $20+ if you’re a fast worker
- No special skills are required
- You can work as much as you want
- Occasional promotion bonuses
- Instant payments are available
- Shoppers keep 100 percent of their tips
- Limited jobs if you live in a sparsely populated area
- You must pay for your own gas and maintenance on your car
- Includes physical activity like carrying and loading grocery bags
- Adds mileage to your car
If you don’t mind being a personal shopper, Instacart is a side hustle app worth trying to earn extra money.
Instacart Shopper FAQs
Is Instacart worth it? Readers often ask this and other questions when considering working for the grocery delivery service. Here are some answers to help you decide if the platform is right for you.
Does Instacart Shopper Take Taxes Out?
No, the company doesn’t take taxes out of your pay. Shoppers are independent contractors and are liable for self-employment taxes. It’s best to put aside a certain amount of each paycheck to pay taxes.
You may want to consult a tax professional to identify what you need to hold back for taxes.
Is There a Dress Code For Instacart?
There is no required dress for Instacart Shoppers. You can wear anything you want.
Just focus on being presentable and comfortable. You will also find this to be the case with any delivery platform.
What Day Does Instacart Pay?
Instacart pays drivers every Wednesday for work they’ve done the previous Monday through Sunday. You receive payment one week after you complete deliveries.
You can withdraw funds instantly, but that comes with a minimal service fee.
Is Driving For Instacart Safe?
It is safe to deliver for Instacart. However, there are some tips to follow to increase your safety.
Ensure you’re in a well-lit area when going into grocery stores. When you are approaching a house or place of business, make sure to act courteously.
Instacart also informs contractors regularly about best practices for safety while on a delivery. Plus, the company provides insurance coverage to customers who are injured as a result of actions by a shopper.
These tips are generally true of all driving apps, regardless of the platform you use.
Alternatives to Delivering for Instacart
Although Instacart Shopper is one of the best food delivery driver jobs, it’s not the only option. The space has exploded in recent years. Here’s how Instacart compares to other delivery services.
|App||Items Delivered||Avg. Hourly Pay||Pay Frequency||Sign Up|
|Instacart Shopper||Groceries||$20||Weekly + instant|
|Uber||Meals + rideshare||Varies||Weekly + instant|
|DoorDash||Meals||Varies||Weekly + instant|
|Shipt Shopper||Groceries||Varies||Weekly + instant|
These are the top Instacart Shopper alternatives to start earning money on the side.
Uber is one of the forerunners to make money as a delivery driver. You can either deliver restaurant meals to customers with Uber Eats, or be a rideshare driver with Uber. It’s possible to drive with both, if you wish.
The company is in 10,000+ cities and 70+ countries worldwide.
Earnings are paid weekly, but you can request Instant Pay for $0.50 with Uber. You can have a flexible schedule and accept orders when it works best for you.
DoorDash is the leading food delivery app in the U.S. It’s available in more than 7,000 locations nationwide.
Contractors, known as Dashers, deliver meals from local restaurants to customers. Like Instacart Shopper, you can work on your own schedule.
DoorDash driver pay varies depending on numerous factors, including tips. Read our guide on apps like DoorDash you can deliver for in your free time and earn cash.
Shipt Shopper is the leading competitor to Instacart Shopper. The services operate similarly since both require you to shop for groceries for customers.
Shipt isn’t as available as Instacart since it’s in roughly 5,000 locations nationwide. But, the pay is based on order size.
While the pay varies, the hourly rate potential increases after completing 100 deliveries.
Read our Shipt Shopper review to learn more.
Instacart Shopper Review
Ease of Use
Instacart Shopper Review
If you live in a larger city with lots of delivery requests, you can earn up to $20 per hour delivering for Instacart. The ability to earn tips and perform jobs quickly will increase your potential earnings.
✔️ Weekly pay
✔️ Can earn $20+ per hour
✔️ You keep 100 percent of tips
✔️ There are no passengers involved
✔️ Ability to increase earnings with promotions
❌ Wear and tear on your car
❌ Can’t see specific items in order before accepting
❌ Hourly wage varies
Is it Worth Being an Instacart Shopper?
Delivering for Instacart is a legitimate way to earn money on the side. You can work on your own schedule, either when you have the time or in scheduled blocks.
If you need a great part-time job that doesn’t have a lot of requirements and you don’t mind the work, it can be a good way to supplement your income.
What is your favorite side gig?
*Earning more on certain types of orders (ex. alcohol): Earn more per order as compared to restaurant orders. Actual earnings may differ and depend on factors like number of deliveries you accept and complete, time of day, location, and any costs. Hourly pay is calculated using average Dasher payouts while on a delivery (from the time you accept an order until the time you drop it off) over a 90 day period and includes compensation from tips, peak pay, and other incentives.
*Get paid instantly (DasherDirect): Subject to approval
*Cash out daily (Fast Pay): Fees apply
*Start Dashing today: Subject to background check and availability
*Dash anytime: Subject to availability
I’m John Schmoll, a former stockbroker, MBA-grad, published finance writer, and founder of Frugal Rules.
As a veteran of the financial services industry, I’ve worked as a mutual fund administrator, banker, and stockbroker and was Series 7 and 63-licensed, but I left all that behind in 2012 to help people learn how to manage their money.
My goal is to help you gain the knowledge you need to become financially independent with personally-tested financial tools and money-saving solutions.