How to Get Paid to Shop and Deliver Food with Instacart as an Instacart Shopper

Written by Melanie

September 18, 2020

instacart logo

In the age of the coronavirus, more and more people have become conscious of their shopping habits, with many of them choosing not to risk going out at all.

This has led to an unprecedented rate of adoption of grocery shopping and delivery apps.

According to Apptopia, grocery delivery apps saw record daily download numbers over the last few months.

One of the most popular grocery delivery apps available for download today is Instacart.

In this article, I’m going to show you how you can make extra money as an Instacart shopper.

I’ll tell you how Instacart works, how to sign up, and a few tips and tricks that you can use to supercharge your earnings.

grocery shopping delivery with instacart
shop and deliver food with Instacart

What is Instacart?

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that works with local stores to deliver items straight to customers’ homes.

As a platform, it lets people shop from their local grocery stores online and have “personal Instacart shoppers” fulfill and deliver the orders.

Of course, this is great for people who value their convenience, or, as in a pandemic situation, their safety.

Since Instacart relies on part-time workers and independent contractors to fulfill and deliver orders, it also creates job opportunities for people to make money on the side as Instacart shoppers.

Instacart shoppers shop and deliver groceries for Instacart customers for a fee.

How To Make money with Instacart

There are two main ways to make money as an Instacart shopper.

You can either be a full-service shopper or an in-store shopper.

These two classifications have different requirements, responsibilities, and the way you earn money.

What we described earlier on, and the most popular way that Instacart shoppers earn money is the full-service shopper option.

Let’s take a closer look at how these two differ:

Instacart Full-Service Shopper vs In-Store Shopper Comparison

Full-Service ShopperIn-Store Shopper
Works as an independent contractorWorks as a part-time employee with flexible work hours. Is eligible for benefits like 401(k) savings
Shops and delivers groceries, car requiredDoes in-store shopping only(doesn’t do deliveries so a car is not required)
Can work an unlimited number of hours a weekShould get in at least 15 to 20 hours per week(including Sundays or Mondays)
This role is available wherever Instacart is availableIn many areas, there are temporary in-store jobs to help meet the increasing demand for shoppers
Sign up to be a full-service shopper here
Apply to be an in-store shopper here
Instacart full-service shopper vs in-store shopper comparison

Requirements for becoming an Instacart Shopper

To make money with Instacart, you have to meet the following basic requirements:

  • You should be at least 18 years old. Since some of the grocery items you’ll be required to shop for could be alcoholic drinks, some states will require you to be at least 21 years old.
  • You should be able to lift relatively heavy objects or weights. Workers may be required to lift heavier than normal loads of 30 or more pounds from time to time. Groceries can get pretty heavy, especially when you are bulk shopping for multiple customers at the same time.
  • You must have a smartphone. The Instacart app only works on iPhones with iOS 9 or later and Android phones with Android version 5.0 or later.
  • You must complete and pass a background check. Depending on where you are, meeting this requirement might take a while. Generally speaking, though, it should take about 10 days to complete.
  • You also need to have an active checking or savings account. Shoppers are paid via direct deposit to their bank accounts only.

Additional Requirements to become a full-service shopper:

  • You must have a valid driver’s license and access to a car. You’ll also need to have a valid car insurance plan.
  • You’ll also need to buy several insulated bags. Instacart requires you to have enough insulated bags to hold three normal-sized paper grocery bags worth of items. These insulated bags should be able to close completely and should also be safe for food storage, which means they need to be BPA free and free from other harmful chemicals. If you do not have access to insulated bags, coolers are also allowed for the transportation of grocery items.
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Step by step process to sign up to be an Instacart shopper

  1. Download the Shopper app
  2. Provide your basic information like your name, address, and location.
  3. At this point, you’ll be prompted to give the company permission to perform a background check on you.
  4. Once you pass the background check, you will be notified both in-app and via email. You should now be able to use the app to set your availability, get Instacart jobs, track your earnings, and seek help from Instacart’s support team if you run into any issues.
  5. Other steps:
  • Attend an orientation: This is an in-person session that is only available for in-store shoppers. Use the app to choose your preferred session. This is part of the onboarding process.
  • Fill out some paperwork: If you want to work as an independent contractor, you’ll have to sign a contractual agreement and a W-9 tax form.
  • Get your Instacart payment card registered: Instacart shoppers use a preloaded card when they check out with a customer’s order. New shoppers usually receive their cards within 5 to 7 business days.

How does being an Instacart Shopper work?

how instacart works for shoppers
how instacart works for shoppers

If you want to make money with Instacart, you’ll have to sign up to be a personal Instacart shopper.

Your job will then be to fulfill and deliver grocery orders made by other users of the app.

Instacart does not stockpile fresh produce in warehouses or anything like that.

This means you have to shop at major grocery stores in your area.

An Instacart user will shop online at their favorite store. Instacart will then send the order directly to you as a personal shopper.

You’ll then head to the store and pick up everything on the shopping list, then drive over to the customer’s house and deliver their groceries.

While this is a great money-making opportunity, it is obviously not something that everyone can do.

Of course, the demand for Instacart shoppers has gone up significantly over the past few months due to the pandemic.

So there is no shortage of work.

However, you still have to weigh the risk you’ll be exposing yourself to as Instacart shoppers face an increased risk of contracting the coronavirus in the course of performing their duties.

Instacart Locations

It is possible to use Instacart in more than 5500 cities and small towns in the U.S and Canada.

The locations range from huge urban areas like New York and San Francisco to smaller communities like Nevada and Spring Creek.

instacart works on web, android, and iphone
instacart works on web, android, and iphone

How Instacart jobs work

instacart shopper at checkout
instacart shopper at checkout

Instacart shoppers work in shifts and on an as-needed basis.

For example, in-store shoppers may be assigned shifts on different days every week.

You are also allowed to drop shifts and pick up additional ones at your convenience.

On average, an in-store shopper can expect to work about 30 hours per week.

Full-service shoppers also get to dictate their schedules. As a full-service shopper, you can pick up Instacart jobs in the following two ways:

  • Setting your availability in the Shopper app. Once this is done, you will be sent a heads up of open delivery opportunities shortly before your availability window is opened. It will be totally up to you to accept or reject each offer. You only have to fulfill orders that you accept.
  • Picking up on-demand shopping opportunities. To get these opportunities, shoppers have to set their app to alert them whenever an open order is available near them. You’ll first have to agree to a few details before you can accept the offer, including the store location, number of items, and estimated payment. Once you accept the order, you can then go ahead and fulfill it.

Throughout the shopping process, both in-store and full-service shoppers have to update their progress on the app.

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Any changes you make and any returns or refunds also have to be noted in the app. This allows Instacart customers to track their orders.

Once you finish fulfilling the order, you’ll check out using the specially-issued Instacart payment debit card.

Thereafter, as a full-service shopper, you are also responsible for the delivery of the order straight to the customer’s doorstep.

How much money do you make as an Instacart shopper?

making money with instacart
joining instacart

Like most freelance jobs, the amount of money you stand to make will depend on how much work you are willing to do.

That said, I want to give you actual figures that will help you estimate exactly how much you can expect to make every week or every month.

In-store shoppers are paid fixed, hourly rates depending on location.

The rates range from $7 to $21 an hour. Busier, higher-traffic locations and cities will generally make you more money.

On average, you can expect to earn about $13 an hour as an in-store Instacart shopper.

Full-service shoppers are paid per order.

You will get an estimate of how much you can expect to make for each order on the app.

Generally speaking, you are guaranteed to make at least $5 per delivery-only order and between $7 to $10 per shop-and-deliver or full-service order.

Larger, heavier orders pay more than smaller orders. Also, the earning potential spikes when customer demand is on the rise.

Full-service shoppers have been making way more money over the last few months with the pandemic, for instance.

Working on Sundays or during popular events like the Superbowl will also make you even more money.

Instacart Tips

It is also common for Instacart customers to tip upon delivery.

The recommended Instacart tip amount is $5 or 20% of the total cost, whichever is higher.

With the coronavirus, the average tip has actually been quite a bit higher over the last few months.

Most people really appreciate the sacrifice that Instacart shoppers are making during these trying times, and their tips reflect that.

How do Instacart shoppers get paid?

When you work as an Instacart shopper, you will be paid every week via a direct deposit to your checking or savings account.

If you want to access your money sooner than that, you can use the Instant Cashout feature.

Keep in mind that Instant Cashout only works once you’ve completed 5 orders or batches.

Once you hit this milestone, you can cash out at any time and as often as you’d like as long as you have a minimum of $5 in your account, excluding tips.

Tips are not eligible for Instant Cashout.

Another important thing to mention here is that full-service shoppers are considered independent contractors.

This means you are legally required to file your taxes by making estimated quarterly tax payments.

Final Thoughts: Is Instacart worth it?

As an Instacart shopper, you get paid on commission based on the order size, the type of items you’re buying, and the distance you have to drive, plus tips.

If you wake up early and work weekends, it is quite possible to make over $2000 a week.

Of course, the shopping landscape has changed dramatically with the coronavirus.

There might be more work for shoppers, but it’s also a lot riskier.

At the end of the day, it’s all about weighing the risks and figuring out what would work for you.

So, is Instacart worth it?

I think it is. If you are looking for a way to make some extra cash on top of your regular income, it’s a good place to start.

Plus, you can also decide to do this as your full-time job, in which case the earning potential grows even more.

If becoming an Instacart shopper sounds like something you can see yourself doing, you can get started here.

Need other ideas to help you make money?

Check out our post featuring simple methods that you can use to make money today. If launching your own business sounds more like what you had in mind instead, check out this post.

Are you an Instacart shopper? What is your experience with the platform? Let everyone know in the comments below!

And if you found this post useful, please do not forget to share it in your circles!

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