If you want to learn how to become an Instacart driver, it can be a super flexible way to make extra money. You get to pick the hours you work, meaning it’s a solid side hustle that can help you pay off debt, save for emergencies, or fund your next vacation.

But before you apply to become an Instacart delivery driver, there are a few things you should know…

9 Things to Know Before You Become an Instacart Driver

Before I explain the requirements and how to apply, here are a few things you’ll want to consider before you become an Instacart driver.

1. There are Two Types of Instacart Shopper Positions

The first thing you need to know is that you can work as a full-service or in-store shopper. Here are the differences:

  • Full-service Instacart shoppers are independent contractors who accept orders in the app, shop for the orders, and deliver them to customers. You get to choose your hours and the days you work, although Instcart encourages full-service shoppers to work during peak hours. That’s generally weekday evenings and all day on the weekend.
  • In-store shoppers are W-2 employees based out of a specific grocery store or warehouse in Instacart’s network. They fulfill orders through the Instacart app, which includes shopping for the orders and preparing them for delivery. Full-service shoppers pick up the orders and deliver them.

Because in-store shoppers are W-2 employees, they’re guaranteed at least the minimum wage that’s in place based on federal and state laws. Most in-store shoppers still get to pick their own hours, but you can’t work more than 29 hours a week.

2. How Much do Instacart Shoppers Make?

Full-service shoppers can make $15-$20/hour, and in-store Instacart shoppers average about $13/hour. Remember, in-store shoppers are W-2 employees, so they’re paid a fixed hourly wage that varies by location.

Instacart pays full-service shoppers by batch or order, and what you make for each order is based on the number of items, type of items, driving distance, and effort.

Larger orders typically pay more, and you usually earn more per order when it’s busy. Holidays or popular events (think the Super Bowl) can mean more money for Instacart drivers.

Instacart shows shoppers their guaranteed earnings in the app before they accept the order, and you’ll also see an estimated potential earnings total. Full-service shoppers will earn at least $5 for each delivery-only order and $7-$10 for each full-service order.

3. When Instacart Shoppers are Paid

Instacart pays shoppers every week via direct deposit to a checking or savings account.

Full-service shoppers can use the Instant Cashout feature and immediately transfer funds to their debit card. There’s a $0.50 transaction fee each time you Instant Cashout. You’ll need to complete 5 orders before you can use Instant Cashout for the first time, and you’ll need at least $5 in earnings.

4. You’re an Independent Contractor

This is important if you want to learn how to become an Instacart driver: full-service shoppers are considered independent contractors, which means you’re responsible for reporting your earrings and withholding money for tax time. You may have to make estimated quarterly tax payments too. Independent contractors are also responsible for their expenses, including gas, insurance, etc.

The tax implications I just mentioned only apply to full-service shoppers. Again, in-store shoppers are W-2 employees.

One of the biggest concerns for drivers is the wear and tear on their car and the cost of gas. You should be tracking your miles to take a mileage deduction at tax time (it’s 58.5¢ for 2022), and Everlance is a great mileage tracking app.

Instacart and a handful of other delivery companies are helping to offset rising gas prices with a temporary fuel surcharge of $0.40 charged to customers. You can learn more in How DoorDash, Instacart, & More are Helping With Surging Gas Prices.

5. Instacart Shopper Requirements

Before you apply to become an Instacart driver, let’s take a look at the requirements you’ll need to meet.

Instacart requirements for full-service shoppers

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Be able to lift at least 50 pounds with or without accommodation
  • Have regular access to a reliable vehicle and insurance
  • Have access to a smartphone that’s capable of running the Instacart app
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Clean driving record

Even though you only need to be 18 years old to work as a full-service shopper, you’ll need to be at least 21 if you want to be able to accept orders with alcohol. Those types of orders often result in larger tips, so keep that in mind.

The requirements are almost identical to other food delivery services like DoorDash and Shipt. So if you’re thinking about applying for other services — many drivers work for a couple of apps to increase their chances of making more money — know that their requirements are pretty much the same.

Instacart requirements for in-store shoppers

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be legally able to work in the U.S.
  • Be able to lift at least 50 pounds with or without accommodation
  • Have access to a smartphone that’s capable of running the Instacart app
  • Pass a criminal background check

Working as an in-store shopper could be a good option if you don’t have a vehicle or if you have issues on your driving record that would prevent you from being approved.

6. You Must Pass an Instacart Background Check

The Instacart background check is a safety measure that all shoppers, in-store and full-service, must complete to be hired. If you want to learn how to become an Instacart driver, know that this is the longest part of the application process, and it can take anywhere from 5-10 business days.

Instacart uses Checkr to perform all background checks, and they’re the same company that does background checks for other food delivery services and rideshare companies.

Here’s what you need to know about the Instacart background check:

  • The background check uses your name, driver’s license number, and Social Security number to run a series of checks through local, state, and national databases.
  • It looks for anything related to your criminal history in the past 7 years (this part is only required for full-service shoppers).
  • Felonies, violent crimes, sexual offenses, driving-related convictions, and misdemeanors related to intoxication will result in disqualification.
  • Your driving record will need to show no more than 3 minor violations in the previous 3 years and no major violations in the previous 7 years.

Instacart will ask you to consent to the background check during the application process, and you’re legally required to provide consent before running it.

7. Instacart Requirements for Insurance

To become a full-service Instacart shopper, you will need vehicle insurance coverage that meets state requirements. You may want to look into rideshare insurance because Instacart doesn’t offer any additional protection if you get into an accident while working, and your car insurance company might not cover you if you’re using your car to make money.

This additional layer of coverage costs around $15/month.

8. How to Become an Instacart Driver in 7 Steps

The steps to becoming an Instacart shopper and driver are really pretty easy, and the application process takes 15 minutes or less. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Step 1: Head to the driver sign-up page

Here’s our referral link to the Instacart driver sign-up page. You’ll need to enter your zipcode first, and then Instacart will ask for your first and last name, email address, and cell phone number.

Step 2: Download the Instacart Shopper app

You’ll be sent a link to download the Instacart shopper app, and you can download it to your smartphone.

Step 3: Enter basic information about yourself

You’ll enter your name, email address, zip code, and phone number. Instacart will text you an SMS code to enter to verify your information.

Instacart Sign-up


Step 4: Decide on full-service or in-store shopper

Full-service shoppers shop and deliver, are independent contractors, can start working without an interview, get paid per order, and keep 100% of tips.

In-store shoppers only shop for orders, work as part-time employees, get paid by the hour, and receive 401(k) savings perks.

Step 5: Confirm that you meet requirements

You’ll need to click through all of the boxes to let Instacart know that you understand and can fulfill the shopper requirements. For full-service shoppers, this includes having access to a car, valid driver’s licenses, and auto insurance coverage.

Instacart Requirements

Step 6: Verify your driver’s license

Upload a photo of the front and back of your driver’s license.

Step 7: Follow the remaining prompts

The remaining process is consenting to a background check, and full-service shoppers will need to sign a contractor agreement and W-9 tax form. Part-time employees need to sign an offer letter and W-4 tax form.

As soon as you’ve uploaded all of those documents, Instacart will start the background check process, and that can take anywhere from 5-10 days.

You’ll receive a preloaded payment card in the mail once you’ve been approved. Some Instacart shoppers will have the option to pick up their card in person, depending on where you’re located.

9. What to Expect After Applying to Instacart

Once you’ve submitted your application and your documents, you have to wait and see whether or not they approve you. Here are some questions you might have about what happens next:

How long does it take to become an Instacart driver?

It can take up to two weeks for Instacart to approve your application, and most of your time is waiting on the background check.

Checkr, the company Instacart uses for background checks, is the same one that most other food delivery and rideshare companies use. Checkr can get backed up during periods when there are lots of people looking at side hustles like this.

How will I know if Instacart approved or denied my application?

Instacart will email you saying whether you’ve been approved or denied, but you can always check the status of your application in the Instacart shopper app.

What if Instacart waitlists me?

You’ll be put on the waitlist if there are more drivers in your area than customers need. As soon as the customer need increases or as drivers become inactive, you’ll be notified.

It would be a bummer to be waitlisted but think of it as a good thing. They don’t want the market to be over-saturated because you’d never get enough orders to really make any money.

Pros and Cons of Driving for Instacart


  • Flexible hours: Shoppers can schedule their hours in the app when they have extra time to work.
  • Two types of work to choose from: You can work as a full-service shopper or become an in-store shopper. Both make anywhere from $10-$20/hour.


  • May need additional insurance: Instacart doesn’t offer additional vehicle insurance while you’re delivering, and your personal policy may not cover accidents that happen while you’re getting paid to drive.
  • Vehicle expenses add up: Instacart doesn’t cover vehicle expenses like gas, maintenance, repairs, and additional insurance if necessary

Alternatives to Delivering for Instacart

Whether you’re waitlisted, not interested in Instacart, or want to deliver for multiple companies, you’ve got a lot of options these days. Here are my top two alternatives if you want to become an Instacart shopper:


Earnings vary by delivery

Earn $10-$20/hour



Read our DoorDash review

Read our Shipt shopper review

Sign up for DoorDash

The Final Word on How to Become an Instacart Driver

Instacart is the largest grocery delivery service in the U.S. right now, and that kind of market share makes it one of the best food delivery services to sign up for.

Before you apply to become an Instacart shopper, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to become a full-service or in-store shopper. Full-service shoppers are independent contractors who are paid per order, while in-store shoppers are paid a flat hourly rate.

Once you know that, you can apply to become an Instacart shopper here.

But if food delivery isn’t for you, check out these other great side hustles.


How much does a driver for Instacart make?

Instacart drivers make around $15-$20/hour, and they’re considered full-service shoppers who both shop for orders and deliver them using your vehicle.

Can I just be a driver for Instacart?

You can decide if you just want to be a shopper for Instacart, and those are in-store shoppers. Some full-service shoppers end up doing a lot of driving, but you’ll probably have to shop too.

How does Instacart driving work?

Drivers accept orders in the Instacart app, and they either pick up and deliver an order that’s already been put together by an in-store shopper or you shop and deliver the order. The Instacart app gives you all of the instructions for each order, including driving directions to and from customers’ homes and stores.

Can I become a full-service shopper with a bike or scooter?

In big cities and urban areas, it’s possible to become a full-service shopper with a bike or scooter. You may need saddlebags to deliver the orders, and you’ll need to pay attention to the size of the order before accepting it.

Can I drive for Instacart full-time?

Yes, you can drive for Instacart full-time or as many hours a week as you want. The only caveat is that full-service Instacart shoppers are considered independent contractors, meaning there aren’t any full-time benefits.

DoorDash disclaimer:

  • 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