Side hustles offer a terrific way to make money on the side with a flexible schedule. From a low-paying job to family commitments, it can be difficult to reach financial goals. Delivery app gigs like Instacart Shopper simplify both by allowing you to earn up to $20 an hour on your own time.
If you don’t mind grocery shopping, the on-demand platform is a good way to put extra cash back in your budget.
Our Instacart Shopper review examines the side gig to see if it’s a reliable way to boost your income.
What is Instacart Shopper?
Instacart Shopper is a side hustle app that connects personal shoppers with customers who place orders for groceries to be delivered to their home or business.
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 it’s likely you can earn money as an independent contractor for the company.
Additionally, the app partners with thousands of stores, from Costco to CVS.
You can schedule hours within the app. It’s a fantastic opportunity if you want to make money in your free time as you can work whenever you want.
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 to Become an Instacart Shopper
It’s relatively simple to start working for Instacart. After applying, it can take up to one week to start this side hustle opportunity.
Here are the requirements to become an Instacart Shopper:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Ability to lift up to 50 pounds
- Have valid insurance
- Ability to pass a background check
- Have access to a reliable car
- Own a current smartphone (iPhone 5/Android 4.4 or newer)
- Have a clean driving record
- Have a bank account to accept payment via direct deposit
Once your application is approved, you download the app and complete the necessary training there. Everything, including payment is handled in the app.
The app also contains numerous tips and training videos you can use to learn how schedule hours and complete orders.
Once you download the app and complete your training, you can start accepting orders.
How Much Do Instacart Shoppers Make?
Instacart Shopper pay is determined by a several factors, including time spent shopping and the amount 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. This differs slightly from Shipt Shopper, which offers a base pay plus a percentage of the order for pay.
Read our Shipt Shopper vs. Instacart Shopper review to learn more about how the two compare.
Payment is sent weekly via direct deposit. You receive payment on Wednesday for work completed the previous week.
You also get to keep 100 percent of the tips you receive.
Does Instacart Pay Daily?
If you’re short on money, it is possible to access earnings early with Instacart Shopper. The company allows 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 side gigs that let you get paid today with minimal fees.
Does Instacart Reimburse For Gas?
Like other delivery app gigs, Instacart Shopper does not pay for gas. That is an expense you must incur.
As an independent contractor you must also pay for tolls and wear and tear on your car. These work-related expenses must be considered as it impacts 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.
How Do Deliveries Work?
After you receive approval to work for Instacart, you can start accepting orders. You can either schedule shifts in advance or see if there are current needs in the platform.
To accept 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 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. Those are:
- Size of the order
- Estimated pay
- Delivery area for the customer
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 instances like having too many cancellations or lying about completed orders. If you can avoid those you should be able to make money on Instacart with minimal issue.
Shopping For Orders
Shopping for orders is simple with Instacart. Every order includes the items they’re requesting and any potential store the customer might choose.
When you claim an order you go your local store to shop for and purchase groceries. If an item is out of stock, you can live chat with the customer to determine if they want a substitute.
The customer can also request you to add items to their shopping list. Being alert to their requests is a fantastic way to encourage a better tip.
Instacart gives shoppers insulated bags to use for any cold or warm items you need to keep insulated.
Paying For the Order
Instacart makes it easy to pay for completed orders. Shoppers receive pre-loaded cash cards that you use to purchase items when 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 card as customers place orders. There is no need to pay for items with your own money.
Delivering 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 them 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 select 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 Increase Earnings
Driving for Instacart is a great way to make money without a job. 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 in your shopping. More completed orders usually translates to increased earnings.
Look at the shopping list before entering the store and use signs in stores to find the necessary aisles you need.
It’s best to shop in orderly fashion. This allows you to finish quickly and leave time for any problems with long checkout lines or traffic.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Providing extra effort is an easy way to increase the likelihood of better-paying tips. One way to do this is to stay in regular communication with the customer in 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. Also make sure to thank them.
Treat customers the way you would like to be treated. Do this and you’re more likely to receive a good tip.
Work on Saturdays and Sundays
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 more.
Read our guide on the best times to do Instacart to learn more.
Focus on Smaller Orders
It is tempting to accept only large orders, 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 easier and allow you to have more money-making opportunities.
Take Advantage of Promos
Most delivery driver apps have peak hours where they’re busier than normal. Apps like Instacart Shopper 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.
Pros and Cons
Working for Instacart Shopper is a terrific way to make extra money. However, no side hustle is perfect.
As with any money-making opportunity, you must balance out 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 make $20+ per hour if you’re a fast worker
- No special skills are required
- You can work as much as you want
- Occasional promotion bonuses
- Instant cashout is available
- Shoppers keep 100 percent of 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
If you don’t mind being a personal shopper, Instacart is a side hustle app worth trying.
Instacart Shopper FAQs
Readers often have questions when considering working as a food delivery driver. Here are some common questions we receive about Instacart Shopper.
Does Instacart Shopper take taxes out?
No, the company doesn’t take taxes out of your pay. Instacart Shoppers are independent contractors and they are liable for self-employment taxes.
It’s best to put aside a certain amount of each paycheck to pay for taxes to avoid a surprise.
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?
No, there is no required dress for Instacart Shoppers. You can wear anything you want and what you’re most comfortable in.
Just focus on being presentable and comfortable and you will be fine.
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 fee.
Is driving for Instacart safe?
Yes, 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 a store. 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.
The company provides insurance coverage to customers who are injured as a result of actions by a shopper.
Alternatives to Delivering for Instacart
Although Instacart Shopper is one of the best ways to make money as a delivery driver, it’s not the only choice. The space has exploded in recent years.
|Services||Items Delivered||Avg. Hourly Pay||Pay Frequency||Review||Sign Up|
|Shipt Shopper||Groceries||$22||Weekly + instant||Read the review||Try|
|DoorDash||Meals||Varies||Weekly + instant||Read the review||Try|
|Amazon Flex||Packages||$18||Weekly||Read the review||Try|
Some platforms let you deliver food or groceries, whereas others focus on packages. Here are the best alternatives to working for Instacart Shopper.
Shipt Shopper is the leading competitor to Instacart Shopper. The services operate similarly, as both require you to shop for groceries for customers.
Shipt isn’t as available as Instacart as it’s in roughly 5,000 locations nationwide. But, the pay structure is clearer.
Hourly pay can reach $22 after completing 100 deliveries.
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 drivers 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.
Amazon Flex is an excellent gig economy app to use if you don’t want to deliver food. As a Flex driver you deliver packages for Amazon in your city.
The company doesn’t provide you a vehicle; you must deliver them with your car. Pay varies, but drivers report that earning $18 to $25 an hour is typical.
Unfortunately, drivers often don’t earn tips and you must be at least 21 years old to deliver for Amazon. But, if you need a good-paying part-time job, Amazon Flex is worth considering.
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?
Choosing to become an Instacart Shopper is a great way to earn extra money if you don’t mind grocery shopping. The pay can be better than other side hustles, and the schedule is flexible.
If delivering groceries for money intrigues you, the delivery app is worth trying.
What are some other unique ways to make money on the side?
*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