If you want to make extra cash, delivery app gigs are a smart move.
Side hustles like Instacart let you make money on the side, giving you the freedom to work as much or as little as you like. Plus, you normally make more than minimum wage.
However, working efficiently is critical for gig economy success. A large part of this means driving at the busiest times, so knowing the best times to Instacart is essential for shoppers.
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What Are the Peak Times for Instacart?
Because shoppers deliver groceries, busy Instacart hours are different from the best times to DoorDash (which mostly center around mealtimes).
Peak Instacart hours follow normal grocery shopping habits more closely and include:
- Weekdays: Generally, this includes very early morning deliveries or 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. as people get home from work.
- Weekends: Instacart is busiest during the entire weekend because this is when people usually shop for groceries and are home to receive orders.
If you want to work late-night weekend shifts, food delivery apps like DoorDash or Grubhub are a better option to find work.
That is especially the case if you have a tight schedule and want to maximize earnings. Consult our guide on how to make money in one hour to identify other, similar, opportunities to earn quick cash.
What Are the Best Days to Work for Instacart?
The best days to deliver for Instacart Shopper are Saturday and Sunday. You generally get more batches during the weekend shift, and batches are steadier as well.
The only catch is that you might face more competition with other Shoppers.
To avoid missing out, try shopping at several different times during the weekend to get more Instacart shopper orders and high-paying orders.
What Are the Peak Times for Customers?
Peak Instacart hours are whenever customers are placing the most orders. This is typically on the weekends.
So, as a gig driver, it’s important to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and plan ahead to ensure that you’re online during the busiest times.
Early Weekday Mornings
Mornings are typically lower-earning periods for food delivery gigs. However, with more people working from home these days, this is changing.
If you live in a large city, you might find enough early-morning batches to make it worth your while.
Many drivers also alternate between DoorDash and Instacart in the morning to ensure they get enough orders.
Weekdays are another popular Instacart time because people want groceries after a busy workday but don’t want to shop for them.
To earn more money during this time, make sure you’re waiting at nearby grocery stores in your area so you can accept batches and begin shopping quickly.
All Day During the Weekends
Weekends are the busiest times to Instacart for customers and shoppers. This begins as soon as grocery stores open on Saturday morning and continues late into Sunday.
What Does Instacart Say Are the Best Times to Deliver?
Gig jobs like DoorDash outline busy times and tips for drivers to potentially maximize earnings.
Unfortunately, Instacart doesn’t give shoppers much direction on the best time to accept new orders. The only help you get is a “best times to shop” button within the Instacart Shopper app.
However, this feature isn’t available in every market.
This feature is a general guideline for busy Instacart times each day, but it’s not a guarantee. As a result, you should still test your market to find peak times on Instacart.
How to Find the Instacart Peak Hours
As mentioned, you can use the “best times to shop” button if it’s available in your market. This can help you find the busiest times to deliver for Instacart.
However, another nifty trick is to look for peak pay on Instacart batches. Peak pay is a bonus on top of base pay that Instacart pays shoppers per batch if it’s extremely busy.
You can tell if a batch has peak pay if it has a small flame icon next to the earnings estimate.
In short, if you spot peak pay on a batch, you’re delivering at a busy time. It’s a good idea to keep shopping since higher-paying batches are more likely.
Feedback From Drivers on the Best Instacart Shopper Hours
One of the best ways to succeed in the gig economy is to learn from more experienced drivers.
The on-demand grocery delivery platform isn’t an exception, and there’s tons of information on the best Instacart hours and tips for success.
For example, this Reddit thread on the best Instacart times actually has some surprising tips on how to make more money:
- User Dirty-Ears-Bill says: “More often than not a fantastic batch drops first thing in the morning at 6:50 and I love snagging those.”
- User Biancanevenc says: “I’m usually up and looking at the batches at 6:45…other days it’s closer to 8:00 when more good batches appear.”
- User LePetitPrince_33 says: “7-12, 5 days a week for regular cash. I add weekends if I need extra.”
- User RockyMtnRivulets says: “11:00 a.m. til 6:00 or 7:00.”
The key is that many shoppers check their Instacart Shopper app early to accept orders before other shoppers.
This means waking up around 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. to snag the highest-paying morning batches.
As noted in our Instacart Shopper review, your minimum batch payment is commission-based on the order size. Tips increase your earnings.
Starting early in the day will help you maximize your earning potential.
Earn up to $20+ per hour
Deliver groceries with just a car from nearby stores. Get started today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Figuring out the best Instacart times is important for making more money. However, there are plenty of other common questions shoppers ask about ways to maximize their earnings.
What Are the Slowest Days for Instacart?
The slowest Instacart days are typically Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday is often busy if people neglect to do their grocery shopping on the weekend.
Thursday and Friday aren’t as slow because people are preparing for the weekend.
How Can I Make the Most Money With Instacart Shopper?
Delivering at peak Instacart hours is one of the best ways to make more money.
Other Instacart Shopper tricks to boost your earnings include:
- Be Selective: High-paying batches are ideal, but also factor in how many grocery items are in an order and how far you have to drive to ensure batches are worth it.
- Talk To The Customer: Message your Instacart customer about important replacements and alert them when you’re done shopping. Customer service goes a long way in scoring generous tips, so the extra effort is worth it.
- Use Insulated Food Bags: Using insulated food bags is important when shopping to keep frozen goods at the right temperature. Again, customer service is critical for any gig job.
- Leverage Promotions For Drivers: Instacart sometimes pays you bonuses for completing a certain amount of deliveries within a day or certain timeframe. If you want to maximize your earnings as a delivery driver, take advantage of these pay boosts.
Ultimately, the best tip is that going the extra mile when accepting Instacart orders can be a terrific way to earn more.
Does Instacart Pay Mileage?
Instacart doesn’t pay you for gas or vehicle expenses because you’re an independent contractor. Jobs like Uber Eats and Amazon Flex have the same policy.
Working as a W-2 employee for a company means you likely get paid for mileage. This could include jobs like being a truck driver or delivery worker for companies such as UPS.
Does Instacart Pay More on Holidays?
Instacart doesn’t pay shoppers more on holidays. However, you usually get more deliveries on Instacart during the holidays. This enables you to select higher-paying opportunities.
People may also tip more generously during the holidays. Overall, the holidays are one of the best times if you want to make money on Instacart.
Can I See if There Are Any Shoppers in My Area?
The Instacart Shopper app used to have a speed leaderboard.
This leaderboard listed how many shoppers were in an area and how fast shoppers were so that you could compare your batch times to others.
Unfortunately, this leaderboard isn’t available anymore for most markets. Instacart is gradually removing features that let you know how many shoppers are in your market.
How Do You Get High Paying Batches on Instacart?
The best way to get high-paying batches is to wake up early to claim them before other shoppers. Working at busy Instacart times also increases the odds of peak pay.
Additionally, you can try accepting double batches. These are orders that require shopping for two orders at the same store and then making two separate deliveries.
Typically, double batches pay more than normal batches since it’s two orders.
What Time Do Instacart Hours Unlock?
In the past, Instacart Shoppers could claim batches starting at 9:00 a.m. and schedule shifts in advance.
However, scheduling isn’t available anymore. Instacart hours unlock when grocery stores are operating.
According to Instacart, hours begin as early as 9:00 a.m. and end at midnight.
Can I Do Instacart at Night?
You can get paid to shop as long as grocery stores are open in your area.
However, peak times usually end around 9:00 p.m. Mornings and mid-day are generally busier times.
How Can You Tell if Instacart is Busy?
Checking for batches is the simplest way to see if Instacart is busy. This is because more batches equals more demand.
Peak pay is also a reliable indicator that it’s a busy Instacart time.
How Often Do You Get Paid From Instacart Shopper?
Instacart pays you weekly through direct deposit for the batches you completed between Monday and Sunday of the previous week.
It normally takes a few days to receive funds, so earnings typically reach your bank account on Wednesday.
Alternatively, you can use Instacart Instant Pay and cash out daily earnings instantly for a $0.50 fee.
Can You Make $1,000 a Week With Instacart?
If you live in a big city that’s busy, hourly earnings can reach $20 to $25 when shopping for Instacart. This means you can earn $1,000 per week if you work 40 to 50 hours.
However, using several side gig apps is more realistic because it’s hard to get enough batches to do Instacart full-time. Most drivers alternate between DoorDash, Instacart, and Uber Eats.
The gig economy is a viable way to make more money every month. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to build your emergency fund or want some fun money.
These jobs can help you reach your goals.
You need to work smart and hard to make the most money. If you try delivering for Instacart or other food delivery apps, make sure you work at peak times.
This strategy will give you the best chance of success.
How do you work to increase earnings from a side hustle?
*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
Tom is a freelance personal finance writer and blogger originally from Toronto, Canada. Tom’s writing has appeared on numerous personal finance websites, including Bankrate, Money Crashers, Yahoo Finance, and dozens of personal finance blogs. He also shares personal finance advice and teaches young adults how to earn more money on his blog ThisOnlineWorld.com.