How Much Does Instacart Pay Shoppers?

At The Rideshare Guy, we’ve been covering rideshare and delivery apps since 2015. We’ve tried and tested dozens of different delivery apps ourselves, but being an Instacart shopper still remains one of our favorite ways to make money today.

Instacart is one of the most popular grocery delivery apps, and they rely on everyday people like you and me to operate. Instacart hires in-store shoppers who grab customers’ items off the shelves and deliver the items to a person’s home.

Like rideshare driving, Instacart is a flexible way to earn extra money because you can choose your own schedule and get paid weekly.

There’s a reason why Instacart is one of the best food delivery services to work for – it’s very flexible, and earnings potential is high based on base earnings + tips.

But how much does Instacart pay drivers? If you’re wondering how much Instacart shoppers get paid and whether or not it’s a good alternative to Uber or Lyft, we’ll break it down for you below.

Instacart Pay Structure & Breakdown

Instacart implemented updates to their pay structure on July 24, 2023, here is how Instacart Shoppers can now expect to be paid:

The smallest, quickest batches like delivering a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream will pay at least $4, which is 2x higher than the minimum of other major delivery platforms, in addition to customer tips.

More complex batches like a larger business delivery, for example, may pay $10 or more, in addition to tips. Instacart may pay more for batches based on the size and complexity of each order.

Additionally, Instacart notes that heavy item batches, which are orders with items weighing at least eight pounds and a total batch weight of 50 pounds or more, will have a heavy item pay of at least $2 added to the batch minimum.

Pay will differ between Full-Service Instacart Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers:

Full-Service Instacart Shopper

A full-service Instacart shopper is an independent contractor who gets paid to shop for groceries and deliver them with Instacart.

In-Store Shopper

Instacart has in-store-only shopping positions, but this is a part-time job and not an independent contractor role. If you don’t own a vehicle and want to try simply shopping for Instacart, the process is pretty simple.

How Much Does Instacart Pay?

Instacart pays shoppers around $15 -$25 per hour, including tips which are usually 5-20%+ of the order. Instacart shoppers keep 100% of tips. The most efficient Instacart shoppers are earning up to $45/hour.

Our hourly estimate is higher than other blogs you might read, and that’s because we take into all factors that affect an Instacart Shopper’s pay rate, such as tips, mileage deductions, and more.

As one of the largest blogs in the gig economy space, we have years of experience interviewing delivery workers including hundreds of Instacart shoppers.

One major complaint of Instacart drivers is just how expensive gas is. Luckily, more companies are helping drivers save money and earn cash back for filling up, and one of those apps is Upside.

How Are Instacart Shoppers Paid?

Instacart shoppers can cash out at any time. Instacart shoppers are paid via direct deposit into your bank account.

You keep 100% of your tips. Thanks to recent updates from Instacart, you no longer have to give customers 24 hours to decrease their tip. Instead, you can access your full earnings, including the tip, two hours after a drop-off.

Customers also have two weeks to increase their tip. If they do, you can cash out on these additional earnings instantly.

Instacart Pay Guarantees

In certain regions of the US, Instacart is offering guaranteed earnings!

For example, in California drivers are guaranteed to earn at least 120% of minimum wage and $.30 per mile spent on shopping and deliveries.

In addition, Instacart drivers do get referral bonuses for referring new drivers, as long as your referral makes sure to apply your code during the signup process!

Instacart Tips

Instacart allows all shoppers to keep 100% of their tips, which is why we always recommend Instacart shoppers stay in touch with their customers and communicate if they have to make any substitutions.

In general, we’ve found that the more you communicate with your customer about substitutions, the more likely you are to get tips because the customer feels like you’ve listened and made an effort to find their (potentially now out of stock!) item.

Instacart Tip Baiting

One thing new Instacart drivers should pay attention to is tip-baiting! Unfortunately, with more people using Instacart for delivery orders, people are getting desperate to get their grocery deliveries quickly.

In order to beat out other orders, some unscrupulous customers will offer a large tip (the ‘bait’) to get you to accept their order first, then remove the tip after the delivery has been completed.

Unfortunately, if a tip looks too good to be true, for example, a $100 tip on a $20 order, you may want to pass or at least wait for a better order to come along.

Instacart drivers we’ve spoken to say you’ll get better at identifying tip bait the more you shop, but at the beginning, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Tip-baiting is such a big topic on conversation that the Senate launched an inquiry into the problem.

In response, Instacart announced that customers would have to provide feedback if they decided to change tips after deliveries, and emphasized their commitment to deactivating customers who are abusing the platform.

The biggest step Instacart took was limiting the window for decreasing a tip to two hours.

Instacart Driver Expenses

While Instacart full-service shoppers and deliverers are getting paid more than minimum wage, it’s important to realize this is an independent contractor role and your earnings will decline due to your expenses and taxes.

Since you are working as an independent contractor, you can write off the miles you drive when delivering groceries for Instacart.

According to the IRS, in 2024, the standard mileage rate is $0.67 per mile driven for business purposes.

1. Mileage Expenses

Instacart full-service shoppers need to consider mileage as one of their biggest expense factors. You have to pay for your own fuel, auto insurance, and maintenance which can add up. You can use an app like Stride to track your mileage, as this will be crucial at tax time.

2. Gas Costs

Many drivers have been saving on gas by using some of these best gas apps, including the Upside app. If you have a car payment, that’s another expense you might want to tack on.

Use promo code RSG25 for a 25¢/gal signup bonus.

Download Upside

3. Insulated Bags

You may want to invest in some insulated delivery bags so you can keep certain foods chilled while you transport them to the customer. Quality versions of these bags can cost $35+ to order on Amazon.

Instacart Shopper Requirements

There surprisingly aren’t a ton of Instacart requirements to be a shopper or driver!

The basic requirements for being an Instacart shopper are:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Access to a vehicle/car
  • Own a recent smartphone such as an iPhone 6s/Android 5.0 or newer
  • Able to lift up to 40 lbs with or without assistance

These requirements are quite simple and basic compared to other apps we’ve reviewed.

Instacart Shopper Locations

Want to drive for Instacart but aren’t sure if they’re in your city? You’d be surprised – we’ve found Instacart everywhere, even in small cities, looking at you, Waddell, AZ.

Instacart is available nationwide, so there’s a really good chance that you can sign up to be a shopper in your local area. For the best pay and hours, we recommend signing up to be an Instacart Shopper in a major metropolitan area.

How to Sign Up to Be an Instacart Shopper & Start Shopping

Becoming an Instacart shopper is easy! Simply follow these steps:

1. Download the Shopper App & Pass a Background Check

Download the shopper app and pass a background check, you can fill out everything online or through the app. There’s no orientation to become an Instacart shopper – once you’ve passed the background check and are approved to shop, you can get started!

You will need your driver’s license information, your Social Security number, and your bank direct deposit information. These three items will verify you can drive for Instacart, you’re authorized to work in the US and allow you to get paid instantly.

Instacart says your background check should only take 10 days to process. The sooner you can sign up, the better!

Once approved to shop with Instacart, you’ll be mailed a payment card from Instacart to use to checkout and pay for groceries. Do not use your own credit or debit card to buy Instacart groceries. It’s, at best, annoying to be reimbursed by Instacart, and, at worst, you won’t be reimbursed.

It should only take 5-7 days for your Instacart payment card to be mailed to you once you’ve been approved to become an Instacart shopper.

2. Accept An Order

Accepting Instacart jobs is simple – log in to your app, and wait for an Instacart request to pop up! The order preview will show you things like:

  • Where the grocery store is
  • What items you’d have to grab
  • A general idea of how far away the delivery location is from the store
  • The amount you’ll be earning from Instacart
  • The customer’s tip

Once you accept an order, start heading to the store so you can shop.

3. Shop

When you get to the store, you can pull up your list for that particular shopping trip in the app and check off each item as you put it in your cart.

The app helps you shop efficiently because it may tell you which aisle certain products are in If you can’t find an item or it’s not in stock at the store, you can suggest a replacement item that the customer can approve via the app. Or, you can report that the item wasn’t found in the store.

4. Deliver

Make your delivery and cash out when you want!

How to Contact Instacart Shopper Customer Service for Help

Need to contact Instacart as a shopper?

There are several ways you can contact Instacart customer and driver support:

  1. In your app, go to the Contact Us section and start a live chat
  2. On their website, head over to the Contact Us section to chat with a live representative
  3. Call Instacart customer support at: 888-246-7822

Instacart Pay vs. Competitors Pay

There are other jobs like Instarcart out there that you can also side hustle for to earn extra cash, let’s see how they compare:

Instacart vs DoorDash

DoorDash courier’s pay varies based on our experience. DoorDash offers incentives and other bonuses, making it different from Instacart.

With Instacart, there aren’t really any bonuses to strive for, but you can view orders ahead of time and make decisions based on your location and your knowledge of the grocery store.

One of our best tips is to know your grocery store! You’ll be able to accomplish the shopping task a lot faster, boosting your per-hour earnings.

With both Instacart and DoorDash, you can stack orders, but drivers we’ve spoken to say stacking orders with Instacart is easier and more profitable than stacking orders with DoorDash.

Instacart vs Shipt

Shipt shoppers can earn up to $22 per hour, and Shipt shoppers we’ve talked to say what you can earn depends on your market and when you’re able to work, plus how large your orders are.

Interestingly, Shipt shoppers get to keep 100% of their tips and Shipt offers an Earning Standard that guarantees you make at least $16/hour, or higher in some markets. Shipt also offers shoppers bonuses.

Instacart vs Uber Eats

Uber Eats drivers pay varies based on location, though there are also incentives and other bonuses that are offered, making it different from Instacart.

With Instacart, there aren’t really any bonuses to strive for, but you can view orders ahead of time and make decisions based on your location and your knowledge of the grocery store.

How To Earn More Money with Instacart

There are a few things you can do to increase your overall Instacart pay:

1. Become a Faster Shopper

If you’re a full-service shopper, start learning how grocery stores in your designated shopping area are set up. Also, learn where certain popular items are located so you can work more efficiently.

If the deli is located near the produce section, grab a number and grab some of the fruits and vegetables on the list while you wait. Shop in sections so you can grab everything you need and if an item isn’t available, use Instacart’s replacement suggestion without overthinking it.

While you can’t control much regarding how Instacart’s algorithm works, you can control your own efficiency so you can get more orders completed in less time.

Of course, you can always pick up some of the best efficient shopping tips from veteran Instacart shoppers.

A Bon Appetit article shared some great insider tips:

 A veteran Instacarter named Mo noticed me struggling throughout my shift and offered a few tips: Don’t bag your produce until you’re at the register, weigh all your produce at the same time to avoid running back and forth, and multitask by parking your cart and grabbing a bunch of things at once. My biggest takeaway was to never bag produce. Ever. It’s a waste of plastic and time, even if four mushrooms rolling around the cart might drive me insane.

I think the important thing to realize is that you don’t have to shop for Instacart orders just as you would for your own personal groceries. In fact, you shouldn’t do this if you want to work more efficiently.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t pay close attention to detail. Definitely make sure you’re getting the right items and communicating clearly with the customer as needed, but realize that they don’t want you to spend all day on the order.

As you gain experience and learn the layout of each store, you’ll probably find that it just makes more sense to do some of these things so you can get in and out quickly, then on your way to the next order.

2. Go After Bigger Orders

Sure, bigger orders may mean more time in the store, but if you’re an efficient shopper or simply delivering the food, it won’t really matter. Bigger orders that pay well are worth the extra work compared to a small 8-item order that may only pay a couple of dollars.

3. Work During Peak Times & Holidays

Test out different times to work for Instacart to see which hours are the most profitable for you. You may not even need to do much testing because Instacart announced that they’d be showing shoppers which shifts contain peak hours where they could possibly earn bonuses.

These ‘Peak Boosts’ are only available at select times and in select places.

4. Refer Customers to Instacart

Another way to make more money with Instacart is by referring not just other new drivers, but new customers too.

If you haven’t signed up to be an Instacart customer yet, sign up with our referral code and we’ll both get free credit on our next order.

Once you have your account, you can share your Instacart promo code for new customers with your friends and family and earn money when they sign up.

Simply go into your profile and click on “Invite friends, earn money”. From there you’ll see this page:

instacart refer a friend

From here, you can share your link however you like. Whatever the current offer is for referring, it’ll show at the top banner.

As you can see from the image above, the current referral code will get you $10 for signing a new user up, but depending on the promotions Instacart is running, it can be more!

Interview with an Instacart Driver Making $16.50/Hour

We recently interviewed an Instacart full-service shopper who’s working in the Chicago suburbs and getting paid around $16.50 per hour.

Heather M. started working for Instacart back in May of this year. She usually picks up the 10 am – 2 pm shift Mondays through Fridays and may pick up a weekend shift here and there.

I started to work for Instacart because I work for the school district and we were off for 3 months, so I’m able to have a flexible schedule with my kids. I only work around 20 hours per week and only accept orders that are local with less than 5 miles of travel distance for drop off, so for me, it’s worth it.
Heather M. Instacart Shopper

Heather makes $330 per week with 20 hours of work with Instacart, but this can differ if she works more or fewer hours. Still, this is a solid $16.50 per hour for shopping and delivering groceries in her area with Instacart.

Tips do play a big role in Instacart shoppers pay. Instacart offers a 5% tip option for customers to add to the shopper/deliverer’s payment, but Heather says she’s learned to carefully weigh her costs and only accept Instacart orders that would be worth the time and effort.

In most cases, assume shoppers won’t tip and only accept orders that work with your schedule and are worth the effort.

Due to the expenses associated with working for Instacart, Heather admitted she doesn’t accept every order throughout her shift.

I generally only accept orders that are $25 or more and ones that I know will take me less than an hour to complete.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if you don’t have a car to become an Instacart Shopper?

If you don’t have a car to drive for Instacart, you may be able to sign up to just do in-store shopping.

If you want a mode of transportation there are options for renting cars for delivery driving. One such company is HyreCar where you rent a car from an individual as opposed to renting from a company. You can rent the car on an as-needed basis.

There are also other delivery options, such as for Postmates, where you can use a bicycle instead of a car since it’s typically for smaller deliveries instead of a full grocery order.

How much does Instacart pay per day?

An average “batch” for Instacart pays between $15-20, and shoppers can do about 1 batch per hour, more or less. This means for an 8-hour shift, you can expect to earn a minimum of $120-160 per day shopping for Instacart.

Does Instacart do a background check? (and how long does it take?)

Yes, Instacart conducts background checks on shoppers. The background check for Instacart should only take 10 days.

Instacart uses Sterling to process background checks. You can find an extensive FAQ page here that details Sterling’s background check process for Instacart shoppers.

Does Instacart pay weekly?

You can choose to be paid by Instacart weekly, but you can cash out with Instacart immediately.

Can I cash out my Instacart earnings instantly?

Yes, Instacart has an instant cashout feature that you can use to cash out your earnings instantly, no waiting! To use this feature, just navigate to the earnings page in the app like you normally do, and follow the steps to cash out. You’ll see an option to cash out immediately if the feature is available for you.

Will Instacart still pay if no orders?

If you cannot complete orders because they are not available, you will not be paid by Instacart.

How much does Instacart pay in Canada?

According to Glassdoor, Instacart pays around $9 per batch – very similar to what it is here in the US, and you can increase your pay by working efficiently and following our strategies listed above.

What is an Instacart pay bump?

Occasionally, you will receive an Instacart pay bump if you’ve had a difficult or heavy order, but they are rare. In addition, if you choose to participate in an Instacart survey, video interview, study, or in-person shop, Instacart will provide you a shopper bump deposited directly into your Instacart shopper app.