Shopping for Instacart

    If you’ve gone to the grocery store and noticed someone using an app to shop, you may have seen an Instacart Shopper at work. Working for Instacart is like other types of delivery driving gigs, with one big exception. 

    Instead of simply picking up orders and delivering them, Instacart shoppers shop at stores for the items their customers want delivered, then personally take them straight to the customers door. If you’re interested in becoming an Instacart Shopper, below is some information to help you get started. 

    What is Instacart?

    Instacart is a food delivery service that allows customers to order groceries via the company’s website or through their mobile app. 

    Unlike most delivery driver gigs, Instacart Shoppers not only take the order to the customer, they also work as personal shoppers to select the items in the order that they will later deliver. 

    How To Become an Instacart Shopper

    Becoming an Instacart shopper is a fairly straightforward process that begins by signing up on Instacart’s website or by filling out the form on their app.  

    We’ll get to the requirements to work for Instacart next, but the first thing you’ll discover after you’ve provided your contact information is that you’ll need to decide whether you want to work as a ‘Full-Service Shopper’ or an In-Store Shopper.

    Full-Service Shoppers are independent contractors who shop for groceries and deliver them to the customers. They are not limited to certain shifts and can work as much or as little as they desire.

    In-Store Shoppers are considered part-time employees. They select and fill the customer orders, then get them ready for pickup. In-Store Shoppers can only work up to 29 hours per week, but there is no guarantee you’ll receive that many hours. Instead, the number of hours you’ll receive depends on the number of orders that come in. Since the needs of the customers can vary, you’ll work at whatever store they have assigned to you for each shift. 

    There is neither a right nor a wrong answer as to which type of shopper position you should choose. If you don’t have a car, just need some spending money, or prefer not to make deliveries, you may find working in-store as an employee best fits your needs. 

    If you want more independence and the ability to control how much you make and work, however, you may prefer to work as a Full-Service Shopper.

    Once you’ve selected your preference and fill out the necessary information, you’ll still need to pass a background check. Once you’re approved, simply open your app and you’re ready to start shopping.

    Instacart Shopper Requirements

    The requirements to become an Instacart Shopper are comparable to the requirements to other types of delivery gigs in the industry.

    • Are at least 18 years of age and eligible for work in the United States
    • Have consistent access to a vehicle
    • Have a valid driver’s license
    • Have consistent access to a smartphone that is at least an iPhone 6s, an Android, 5.0, or higher. Plus, the ability to understand and operate it.
    • Can lift at least 30 to 50 pounds with or without accommodation (weight limit appears to vary by area)
    • Own or have use of insulated bags for deliveries
    • Pass a background check

    How old do you have to be to do Instacart?

    To shop for Instacart, you must be at least 18 years old.

    Instacart Vehicle Requirements

    Unlike some delivery driver gigs, Instacart does not have any vehicle requirements other than you must have one if you want to make deliveries. 

    This means if you want to work as an In-Store Shopper, you would not need a vehicle, just a way to get to the stores they assign you to work in. 

    Instacart Hiring Process

    There’s really not a whole lot to the Instacart hiring process. Once you fill out the paperwork, you will have to pass a background check. This typically takes three to four days. 

    Instacart will then send you a card that you will use to purchase the items for the customer. 

    We don’t recommend you shop for Instacart without their card! It’s difficult to impossible to get reimbursed if you shop for Instacart using your own credit card, so always make sure to wait to start shopping with Instacart until you’ve received your card.

    How much does Instacart pay?

    Read our Instacart Pay article for more information on expected earnings.

    Is shopping for Instacart worth it?

    There is more work involved with Instacart shopping than with some of the other delivery gigs out there these days, but many drivers seem to prefer it.

    Instacart shoppers say that not only is there less wear and tear on their vehicles, they also get to keep more money in their pockets because less driving means lower fuel costs.


    • Earn on your own schedule – Most Instacart shoppers receive orders during the day or on the weekends, which makes it easier for those who need to do gig work while kids are in school
    • No night time driving – In the majority of cases, you’ll never have to shop or deliver for Instacart at night, as Instacart orders mostly come from grocery stores during typical business hours
    • No one in your car! – You’ll never have to take passengers around while shopping for Instacart


    • Earnings not as lucrative as rideshare driving – Since you are driving during the day and not taking passengers, your earnings are typically lower with Instacart
    • Sometimes have to climb stairs or carry heavier items – While you can decline heavy orders, sometimes you may have to climb stairs to reach your delivery location

    Instacart Shopping Tips & Tricks

    Wondering what our top tips are for becoming an Instacart shopper? Avoid these mistakes!

    1. Be careful of parking tow zones! While it can be hard to find parking in busy areas, it never pays off to park in a tow zone.
    2. Don’t drive too far away from where you live. Keep your distance short to minimize your time driving. This will help you earn more per hour!
    3. Focus on a few stores and get to know them really well. This will increase your pick speed and your hourly rate. Not every store is laid out the same way!
    4. Play to your strengths. Don’t know the spice aisle so well? Don’t accept orders that ask for a lot of spices, as this will cause you to spend more time searching and less time throwing things in your basket and heading out!

    Ready to start shopping with Instacart? Sign up here!

    -Kate @ RSG