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Ultimate Instacart Guide: Everything You Need to Know as an Instacart Shopper

This guide will cover all you need to know about being an Instacart Shopper – basic information, responsibilities, earnings, and a comprehensive review – in order to prepare you for a different type of delivery service. 

Justin C.
Justin C.
Last Updated: 
August 28, 2021


As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, many people have adapted to living life without taking a step outside of their houses. In fact, people have started to use grocery delivery as a more convenient way to shop for groceries online and then have those groceries delivered to their doorstep. The immense popularity of grocery delivery has led to the creation and rise of many different grocery delivery apps, such as Instacart. As Instacart continually grows, the number of shoppers also needs to expand to keep up with the increase in demand, allowing for the opportunity for you to become an Instacart Shopper.

This guide will cover all you need to know about being an Instacart Shopper – basic information, responsibilities, earnings, and a comprehensive review – in order to prepare you for a different type of delivery service. 

What is Instacart?

Founded in 2012, Instacart has become a behemoth in the grocery delivery service operating in more than 5,500 cities in the US and Canada. Partnering with more than 350 national and local stores such as Costco, CVS, and Wegmans, Instacart offers same-day grocery delivery directly to customer’s homes. Currently, Instacart employs around 130,000 full-service shoppers and 12,000 in-store shoppers.

Worker Requirements

If you want to be an Instacart shopper, there are still some requirements that you need to meet: 

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Instacart does offer alcohol delivery, which usually have large tips, so you may need to be over 21 years old in certain states
  • Ability to lift 30 pounds
  • May need to also be able to lift 50 pounds “with or without accommodation”
  • Have a smartphone
  • iPhone (iOS 9 or later)
  • Android (5.0 or later)
  • Pass a background check
  • Have checking or savings account
  • Instacart shoppers are paid through direct deposit, so you must have a checking or savings account in order to receive money

Full-service Shopper vs Part-time Shopper

Instacart relies on two types of delivery people: full-service shoppers and part-time shoppers

Full-Service Shoppers

  • Independent Contractor
  • Shop and Deliver groceries to homes
  • Flexible work hours

In-store Shoppers

  • Part-time employee
  • In-store shopping only
  • No car is required
  • Work at least 15 hours per week
  • Receive Employee benefits

Pay Model and Earnings

In-Store Shoppers

In-Store Shoppers have a fixed hourly wage dependent on your location. In-store shoppers earn an average of $13/hour.

Full-Service Shoppers

Total Earnings = Base Pay + Tips + Bonus/Promotions

  • Base Pay
  • At least $5 for each delivery-only batch
  • From $7- $10 for each full-service batch
  • Tips
  • You keep all the tips that are given to you 
  • Bonus/Promotions
  • Instacart offers bonus incentives to reward you for continually working
  • Instacart also has “peak hours” which allows you to earn additional money when you delivery during those times

You can expect to earn around $10 - $20 per batch, however this is highly dependent on where you live, the market you serve, and the amount the customer is willing to tip. Since the amount of time to finish a batch can vary, you may earn $15 or more per hour on average.


By being an independent contractor as a full-service shopper, Instacart does not provide any direct employee benefits such as medical insurance, overtime, vacation days, or retirement plans. Instead, you will have to cover all of those by yourself. Additionally, Instacart will also not withhold a portion of your paycheck to pay taxes. This means that Instacart will give you your full paycheck and you have to file and manage your own taxes liabilities yourself

Payment Details 

In-store and full-service shoppers are paid weekly via direct deposit to a checking or savings account. Full-service shoppers can also use Instant Cashout, which allows for an immediate transfer to a debit card. The first time you can use Instant Cashout is after you have completed five batches. Then, you can cash out at any time, max limit of 5 times per day, as long as you have at least $5 in earnings with a $3,000 daily limit.


  • Shoppers have the responsibility pay off their own expenses
  • Gas
  • Car Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Cell Phone Data
  • Parking Fees, Toll Booths, Parking Tickets etc.
  • Any other driver-related expense
  • As these expenses are business-related, you have the ability to write these taxes off (More detail below)


As an independent contractor, Instacart gives you a 1099-NEC tax form to fill out. When filing tax reports for the IRS, you need to file your own taxes. Many business-related expenses are tax-deductible. As a shopper, it is imperative to keep track of all your earnings and expenses throughout the entire year related to being a shopper. This will allow you to report all these expenses when you file taxes and reduce the amount of taxes you pay. When you are ready to file taxes, you must file a Schedule C Form 1040 to determine your profits for the IRS to assess taxes and refunds.

Tips to Maximize Income 

  • Larger orders pay more than smaller orders
  • Be wary of Instacart Tip Baiting
  • Some individuals who want their order carried out quickly will purposefully give a very high tip ($20 tip on a $10 batch) and then change the tip amount once the order is accepted
  • Know the layout of the stores that you are shopping
  • By knowing the stores you are shopping, you increase your shopping efficiency which can dramatically decrease the time for each individual batch
  • Always stay in contact with you customer
  • By opening a solid line of communication with the customer, you are able to ask more questions about replacement items and delivery location
  • Work during peak times
  • Peak times are times where there is an increased amount of demand for grocery delivery. As such, you have a higher chance of getting more batches as well as higher tips
  • Use fuel efficient cars
  • Since you will be traveling a lot, you should minimize gas expenses of all the traveling done
  • Know and track your shopping list
  • Before you even start shopping, you should always take a look at your grocery list to know which items you need to buy. When you are shopping, you should always check off each individual item on the list as you obtain it. This ensures that you do not need to check off the list all at once when you have all the items, which can save time.

Pros and Cons

In-store Shopper

  • Work as a part-time employee
  • Guaranteed minimum wage
  • Access to employee benefits
  • Can only work a maximum of 29 hours
  • No Health Insurance benefits
  • Inability to choose 
  • Assigned hours instead of picking them

Full-Service Shopper

  • Flexible Hours
  • Weekly Payments with Instant Cashout Option
  • Bonus Opportunities
  • Instacart Driving Perks
  • Access to Perkspot
  • Can only switch between Full-Service and In-Store shopper every 6 months
  • Main source of income is tips, which are highly encouraged, but optional
  • Instacart Tip Bait
  • Peak hour shift times are not always available due to high demand

Is Instacart Worth It?

If you’re looking to make some extra cash, Instacart is a platform that you should consider. We expect you can earn $15 or more per hour on average. While you can work a maximum of 29 hours, we believe Instacart is a great opportunity to supplement your earnings.

Justin C.
Justin C.

Justin is a contributing author at GigSpace and currently is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Journalism. He is passionate about the future of work and also delivers for Uber Eats and DoorDash with over 500+ deliveries made.

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