At a Glance

Overall Rating


Working as an Instacart shopper has become a flexible and decent way to make extra money, and the demand for grocery delivery services like Instacart will continue to grow well into 2026 according to industry experts at Supermarket News.

Instacart can be a great side hustle if you work a full-time job, need to supplement your income, build an emergency fund, or pay off debt. Our Instacart review explains exactly what you can expect, from pay, shopper requirements, how it works, alternatives, whether it’s worth your time, and more.

Key Features:

  • Shopper pay averages $15-$20/hour
  • Options for shoppers who don’t have access to a vehicle
  • Pays weekly via direct deposit


  • Flexible hours
  • No minimum hours required to work
  • Two types of work to choose from
  • Paid quickly


  • May need additional insurance
  • Driver expenses
  • Orders aren’t guaranteed

What is Instacart?

Instacart is an on-demand grocery delivery service that partners with groceries stores, pharmacies, super-centers, and wholesale club stores to deliver orders directly to customers’ homes.

Customers place orders in the Instacart app or through the website, and the deliveries are made by an Instacart shopper within the next 1-2 hours. Instacart is widely available across the U.S and much of Canada, partnering with over 40,000 stores and more than 5,500 cities

In 2023, Instacart began rolling out a new shopper feature called Scan & Pay that makes it easier and faster for shoppers to complete each order.

DoorDash logo

DoorDash now delivers groceries!

DoorDash is the largest food delivery service in the U.S., and shoppers can stop and start when they want.

Types of Instacart Shoppers

If you’re interested in becoming an Instacart shopper, know that there are two different types:

  • Full-service shoppers are independent contractors who shop and deliver orders, and this role requires a car. It’s a contract position, and you get to choose your hours and the days you work, although Instacart encourages full-service shoppers to work during peak hours. That’s generally weekday evenings and all day on the weekend.
  • In-store shoppers are Instacart employees who prepare orders at one store instead of shopping and delivering from several. In-store Instacart shoppers are not required to have a car, and you can schedule shifts up to 29 hours a week.

Instacart hires for both types of shoppers, and one of the most significant differences is needing a car or not. If you don’t have access to a vehicle, working as an in-store shopper might be a better fit for you.

How Much Instacart Shoppers Make

Full-service Instacart shoppers make approximately $15-$20/hour. We’ve pulled pay from speaking to Instacart shoppers and from real Instacart shopper reviews on Reddit and other forums to figure out that number.

Full-service shoppers aren’t paid a flat hourly wage, but you can estimate hourly pay by taking the total you make for the week and dividing it by the number of hours you work.

Here are some examples from Instacart shopper reviews on Reddit:

  • $250-$350/week working 20 hours = $12.50 to $17.50/hour
  • $100/day working 4-5 hours = $20 to $25/hour
  • $400/week working 20 hours = $20/hour
  • $100-$300/day working 5-6 hours a day = $16.50 to $60/hour
  • $70/day working only 3-4 hours = $17.50-$23/hour
  • $1,200 in 42 hours = $28.50/hour

You can see that’s a wide range of pay for Instacart shoppers, and most veterans tell newbies that pay gets better once you learn how to optimize your time. We’ll explain how to earn more than the average shopper further down in our review, but the point is that you can make $20/hour or more with some simple strategies.

In-store Instacart shoppers make closer to $13/hour according to Instacart shopper reviews on Glassdoor. In-store shoppers are paid an hourly wage which varies on location, and Instacart details pay in an initial offer letter.

Instacart Shopper Requirements

There are slightly different requirements for in-store vs. full-service shoppers, and we’ve broken down the requirements for both:

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 top 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.

How to Sign Up as an Instacart Shopper

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

  • Step 1: Head to the Instacart shopper sign-up page. You’ll need to enter your zip code first, and then Instacart will ask for your first and last name, email address, and cell phone number. Then Instacart will send you a link to download the shopper app.
  • Step 2: Enter your details. Instacart asks for your driver’s license number, Social Security number, and your bank direct deposit information (used to pay you). You will also be asked to consent to a background check, which is standard practice for many side hustle apps.
  • Step 3: Get approved. It typically takes 5-10 business days to be approved, and then you’ll need to go through an online onboarding process. The Instacart shopper onboarding process explains how to accept orders, shop for them, and use the app.
  • Step 4: Start shopping for Instacart. You can start shopping as soon as you’re approved. Instacart will mail you a payment card to checkout and pay for groceries. You will not use your own credit or debit card to buy groceries. You’ll find orders in the app and choose which ones to shop for. Make sure you communicate with customers in the app and follow their instructions for shopping and delivery.
DoorDash logo

Deliver groceries for the largest food delivery service in the U.S.

DoorDash drivers can now deliver takeout and groceries. It takes 5 minutes or less to apply.

How Instacart Works for Shoppers

You can start working and making money with Instacart as soon as you’re approved. But how it works depends on what kind of shopper you sign up as.

For Full-Service Shoppers

Full-service shoppers are independent contractors, so you can schedule and work as many hours as you want each week. There are no limits, and you do need to schedule your hours in the app to start shopping.

When it’s time for your shift (or block), you open the app and see available orders, and you’ll see details about:

  • What’s included in the order
  • Store location
  • Batch pay
  • Estimated tip

You can accept or decline the order and let another shopper fulfill it. It’s okay to turn down some orders, but declining too many may affect the number of orders you’re offered.

When you accept an order, the Instacart shopper app gives you driving directions to the store and a detailed shopping list. Customers occasionally add notes about approved substitutions, and everything is paid for in advance. You do not need to pay for the order with your own money or mess with coupons.

Once you have paid for the order, the Instacart app gives you instructions for delivering it to your customer’s home. And that’s it! You will see your earnings in the app as soon as the delivery is complete.

For In-Store Shoppers

In-store shoppers are Instacart employees and are limited to no more than 29 hours a week. You can schedule those hours when you want as long as there’s availability, but they can’t exceed the 29-hour limit.

You will be assigned to work at a specific store, and you’re responsible for:

  • Accepting orders
  • Shopping for them
  • Staging the order for pick-up

Depending on the order, either a customer will come to pick up their order or a full-service shopper will deliver it.

The limit on how many hours you work might seem like a bummer for some people, but in-store shoppers earn a guaranteed hourly wage instead of being paid per hour. It’s usually less than what full-service shoppers earn, but you’ll know exactly how much you’re making each week.

Making More Than the Average Instacart Shopper

Below are a few tips from Instacart shopper reviews about how to make even more than $15-$20/hour. These strategies can help you boost your per order/batch pay and earn more in tips:

  1. Become an efficient shopper. Familiarize yourself with how stores are laid out so you can shop more efficiently. Most follow a very similar layout with dairy and meat in the back and produce upfront, but look at the customer’s order to plan out your route through the store.
  2. Make yourself available during the busiest hours. The busiest hours for Instacart shoppers are M-F from 5-8 p.m., all day on Saturday and Sunday, and during major televised events. There are usually Peak Boosts available during those hours to increase your total per order pay.
  3. Go after bigger orders. Larger orders almost always pay more. It’s more time in the store, the difficulty level is up, and so on. Most Instacart shoppers find that one large order pays better than small ones, even two or more small orders at a time.
  4. Avoid double or triple batches in the beginning. New Instacart shoppers can easily get overwhelmed shopping for multiple orders at once.
  5. Take batch orders once you have experience. Once you feel more comfortable, you can start taking multiple orders from the same store at once. This is easier with small orders, but there’s no reason you can’t take a couple of larger orders at the same time.

Undertanding Instacart Shopper Pay

In 2019, Instacart released a new pay model that gives shoppers a higher guaranteed compensation floor. They haven’t shared the algorithm, but we know the minimum batch payment is now $7 to $10 for full-service batches and $5 for delivery-only batches.

The amount you’re paid per batch depends on the number of items, type of items, driving distance, and effort involved in shopping and delivering. Shoppers keep 100% of their tips.

Large, heavy orders pay more based on Instacart’s pay model. There’s also higher earning potential during busier hours when customer demand spikes, like on Sundays (which is one of the busiest days for Instacart) or during the Super Bowl or other popular televised events when people want to stay home.

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.

Instacart Shopper Expenses

Full-service shoppers should be aware of several costs that will effect them as independent contractors:

  • Fuel costs: Gas is your responsibility as an independent contractor, and the kind of fuel mileage your car gets can have a dramatic impact on your total earnings. Many drivers are saving on gas by using apps like Upside (you can earn up to $0.25 back per gallon).
  • Maintenance and repairs: When you drive your car for work, you’ll need to do more frequent maintenance, like changing oil, brake pads, new tires, fluid changes, etc.
  • Insurance: Instacart shoppers may need special rideshare insurance to be fully covered in the event of an accident. You can expect to pay about $15/month or more.

Those expenses are the same whether you drive for Instacart, DoorDash, Shipt, and so on. You can write them off when you file your self-employment taxes, and you can take a standard mileage deduction of 58.5 cents per mile driven, according to the IRS.

M$M tip: Use Everlance to track your miles so you can take the correct mileage direction at tax time. Everlance is built specifically for delivery drivers and gig workers. Read our full Everlance review to learn more.

Instacart Alternatives

Whether you want to find another delivery service to work for or work for multiple at once, here are the best Instacart alternatives:

Learn more about how each delivery app stacks up in these comparisons:

The reality is that most food delivery service drivers work for multiple services, and there’s no issue with it when you’re an independent contractor.

Working for Instacart and DoorDash would be a solid combination because DoorDash drivers aren’t required to schedule their hours in advance. During busy times, you can open the app and “Dash Now.”

Instacart Pros and Cons


  • Flexible hours: Shoppers can schedule their hours in the app when they have extra time to work.
  • No minimum hours required to work: If you get sick or have a busy week, you don’t have to worry about losing your gig.
  • 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.
  • Paid quickly: Instacart shoppers are paid weekly, but if you want to get paid even faster, you can use the Instant Cashout feature for $0.50 to have your funds immediately deposited in your bank account.


  • 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.
  • No guaranteed orders: You only make money if there are orders coming through the app, which doesn’t seem to be a problem, but it’s worth mentioning.

Is Instacart Worth It For Shoppers?

Becoming an Instacart shopper is a solid way to make extra money. It’s a great side hustle if you are working a full-time job already, but it can also be a fun part-time job. Both in-store and full-service shoppers have flexible hours, and there are no minimum hours a week that you need to work.

There are side hustles that pay more than Instacart offers, and you can learn about your options in Ways to Make Extra Money.


Is Instacart worth it as a shopper?

Because it’s flexible and often pays $20+ per hour, many shoppers feel that Instacart is worth it for them. You can schedule the hours you want to work, there are no minimum working hours per week, and Instacart offers incentives and bonuses to help drivers earn more.

Do Instacart shoppers make good money?

It’s not uncommon for Instacart shoppers to make $300 to $500/week working part-time.

Are Instacart shoppers trustworthy?

Instacart requires that all shoppers go through a criminal background check, which protects customers and the reputation of the Instacart brand.

What is the downside of working for Instacart?

Driver expenses and irregular pay are what most Instacart shopper reviews site as the biggest downside. You have to pay for expenses like fuel and vehicle maintenance, but you can write them off at tax time. And pay can vary from week to week because full-service shoppers are paid differently for every order they complete, not a flat hourly wage.

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