Are you ready to start shopping with Instacart and make extra money?  I’ve been an Instacart shopper for just over a year, and I enjoy it and recommend it!  I’ll explain your two main options — full-service shopping versus Shop Only Shopping (including which one makes more money!)

    Maybe you’re a little hesitant – are you really ready to handle a full-service order? The shop-only option sounds so much simpler and maybe that’s right for you. But what if you’d really enjoy full-service shopping? 

    Below, I’ll break down each type of Instacart shopping service and help you decide which one is right for you.

    This post is sponsored by Instacart but, as always, opinions are our own.

    Full-Service Shopping with Instacart

    Full-service is exactly what it sounds like. It’s straightforward:

    1. Accept an order via your Instacart app
    2. Go to the store where your customer has placed their order
    3. Shop!
    4. Deliver that order to your customer

    Example of a full-service batch

    Full-service shopping gives you the opportunity to get tips, either via the app or in person. 

    It also spaces your day out more. You aren’t “stuck” in one store all day shopping. Instead, you get breaks in between where you get to jam out to your favorite songs, listen to an audiobook, or podcast.

    In addition to the option of being tipped, in my experience, most orders are larger with full-service meaning more money from those tips. If the delivery is further away than normal, you’ll get paid extra for driving farther, and you’ll see that when you pick the batch.

    A typical full-service order will make more than a typical shop-only order.

    Even still, there are ways to increase your earnings for shop-only orders as well.

    For example, savvy Instacart shoppers know you need to shop for someone else the way you’d shop for yourself. 

    • Don’t just grab the first banana you see, make sure it has no spots on it, and that it will be good long enough for the customer to enjoy it. 
    • Check the dates on things and make sure they won’t expire soon, or worse, are already expired (it happens!). 
    • Make sure the fragile items, eggs, bread, etc. are completely safe and intact when you pick them all the way until you hand them to the customer. 
    • Channel your inner Tetris skills to pack more efficiently – as an Instacart shopper myself, I can guarantee this will make you a better shopper even for your own family!
    • Before you leave the store make sure that everything is bagged right. If the customer requested paper bags, get them. Put cold things in bags together, and don’t overfill the bags.

    Never underestimate the small things that can make a huge difference – smart Instacart shoppers know these “little” things can make the difference between a small tip and a large one!

    Shop Only Shopping with Instacart

    Shop only shopping means that you personally accept shop only orders. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to set the app up where you only get these orders, you’ll get the shop only and full-service orders. You can mix and match, though, if you want to shop-only and then do a full-service shop.

    Okay, while I did say full-service shoppers earn more than Shop Only shoppers, I still have to say Shop-Only Shopping is my favorite way to shop with Instacart. Why?

    It comes down to being able to stay in one grocery store (which I’ve memorized) and feeling more a part of the “shopping team.” 

    In addition, I shop with my wife (she’s also an Instacart Shop Only shopper!). Shopping with Instacart has been great for us, as we’ve used our earnings to pay down debt and build savings.

    An example of what Shop Only and Full-Service requests look like

    As a Shop Only Instacart shopper, all your interactions with customers are through the app. So, how do you make the right impression?

    My wife and I make sure we shop for customers as we would shop for ourselves. We:

    • Pick the best produce 
    • Take a few more minutes to find the exact item they want 
    • Check for expiration dates – it’s a lot of the same advice as if you were shopping as a full-service shopper. 

    One thing is different as a Shop Only Instacart shopper, though. Once you’re done bagging, you will need to place the bagged items in the staging area. 

    My pro-tip in this case? I stay organized – for the customer’s benefit! If the regular groceries are on shelf A, then I try to get the refrigerated groceries on shelf A in the fridge and frozen on shelf A in the freezer. It may seem small, but I think it makes it easier to find later when the customer comes and picks it up.

    Once you’ve done that, you’re done and can right away start looking for the next shop-only batch. 

    3 Insider Tips for Shop Only-Shoppers

    What makes Shop only shopping a great option for Instacart shoppers who are on the fence about signing up

    1. For those with mobility concerns, there is no climbing upstairs to apartments, no making many trips to get all the groceries to the door, and no having to find houses in the dark. You simply move on to the next Shop Only batch!
    2. One thing you won’t get, unfortunately? Tips! However, I’ve found that being able to do multiple orders back to back at the same store more than makes up for it.
    3. Another pro to Shop Only shopping (I told you I was a fan!) – it’s the perfect gig for those of you who have tight schedules. Only have 4 hours in between dropping off the kids and picking them up? Head to your local participating store and shop with Instacart!

    Which Instacart Shopping Experience Is Right For You? 

    As you can see, there is no one size fits all answer to this question. In general, you’re going to make more money with the full-service orders because you’ll get paid for driving and the tips, but full-service shopping does require more work. If that sounds good to you, then full-service shopping for Instacart can be very lucrative!

    However, maybe you’re pressed for time, can’t go up and downstairs, or just want to dip your toes into shopping with Instacart. In that case, try Shop Only shopping!

    With Full-Service shopping I’ve made as much as $143.86 in an 8 hour day.  With Shop Only shopping I’ve made as much as $46.26 in a 3 hour day. 

    Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer on which one is better for you, but hopefully, this article will help you decide.

    Are you an Instacart shopper? Did you sign up with full-service or shop-only shopping first?

    Batches are subject to availability.  Additional terms and conditions apply.  See

    -Tyler @ RSG

    Tyler Philbrook

    Tyler Philbrook

    Tyler Philbrook is a part-time Rideshare driver and freelance writer focused on finding the best ways to make money while enjoying life. Published on Disease Called Debt, Saving Advice, featured on The Penny Hoarder, and a mention in Pat Flynn's Superfans book. My favorite app for rideshare driving is Waze and Gridwise.