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Are Instacart Prices Higher Than In Store? Why?

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Grocery delivery has been a boon for the gig industry.

Shopping for companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash, or Instacart¬†is an easy way to make money while taking the annoyance of grocery shopping off a customer’s shoulders.

But as an Instacart customer, you might’ve noticed that some items on your grocery delivery order cost less in-store than when you order through the Instacart app.

In some cases, you might see prices that are 15-17% higher than those in the store.

Is that a glitch, or are Instacart prices higher in store?

This article will break down how Instacart and its partners set their prices and what you can do to save yourself a bit of cash.  

What Are Instacart’s Prices?

When you place an order through Instacart’s grocery delivery app, you’ll see a short list of fees attached to your total.

These include delivery fees and shopper tips included in the final total for your bill.

vector graphic showing a hand holding an instacart credit card and putting it into a card reading machine

Delivery Fee

Instacart doesn’t have one standard delivery fee.

Instead, there are a few fees that account for delivery costs.

First is the primary delivery fee.

This fee starts at $3.99, but if your purchase totals more than $35, Instacart will waive the cost.

A second fee you might see is a long-distance Instacart delivery service charge.

If you’re ordering from a store outside a specific range, Instacart will add this fee to account for the added time it takes to complete your order.

A third fee that will appear is a service charge.

This fee is 5% of your total bill.

You’ll also see a small fuel surcharge on your bill.

This fee was implemented in March of 2022 and is temporary, according to Instacart.

The fuel surcharge is to compensate for the increase in fuel prices.

Tips

Instacart automatically populates a 20% tip on all grocery orders.

You can either keep this amount or adjust it as you see fit.

You should always consider leaving at least 10% or $5, whichever is higher.

Are Instacart Prices Higher Than in Stores?

When you go into the Instacart app, you might notice that prices at some of your favorite stores are higher than what you’d see in the store.

vector graphic showing an image of a person wondering are instacart prices higher - two thought bubbles with one showing instacart prices on the app and the other showing a person buying things from a store shelf

How Do Instacart Prices Work?

Instacart acts as a place for physical retailers to provide a grocery delivery service to local customers.

Some grocers are Instacart partners, while others have no affiliation with the company.

Retailers Set the Price

When shopping in the Instacart app, the important thing to remember is that the retailers set the prices.

So, if your gallon of milk from Acme is $4 in the app but only $3.50 in-store, Acme opted to increase the cost, not Instacart.

One of the reasons for price increases is that Instacart receives a commission on each sale through its partnered stores.

To alleviate that loss in revenue, stores will increase prices for app users.

Keep in mind that if you shop directly through your store’s app, you likely won’t see that upcharge.

What “Everyday Store Prices” Mean

Some retailers use “Everyday Store Prices” for their Instacart shoppers.

That means the prices you see on the Instacart app accurately reflect what you’d pay in-store.

You’ll still be responsible for any delivery fees and a tip.

If you’re not sure whether you’ll pay higher prices when you shop in Instacart, you can check your retailer’s pricing policy in the app.

1. Open the Instacart app

2. Go to your favorite retailer’s page

3. At the top, select “View Pricing Policy”

Here, you’ll see if the prices are higher than in the grocery store or if the retailer charges Everyday Store Prices.

If you want to know which stores charge more, simply find the store in the retailer list in Instacart.

An “In-store Prices” badge will appear on the retailers that don’t upcharge.

How Much More Than In-Store Pricing are Instacart Prices?

Because retailers set their prices in Instacart, there’s no set fee or percentage you should expect to see when you shop in the app.

Some Instacart users have reported average increases of 15-17% on grocery items, which seems to be average.

In addition, you may not always benefit from in-store sales when you shop through Instacart, which can cause the increase to seem even higher.

Can You Use a Coupon on Instacart?

Savvy couponers know that coupon shopping is an excellent way to cut back on your shopping bills.

But unfortunately, one of the trade-offs to online grocery delivery is that you can’t wield your pile of coupons as a payment method when you shop.

That said, there are Instacart-specific coupons and promotions you can use to slim down your bill.

vector graphic showing an instacart driver dropping off an order to a waiting customer - to go in instacart promo code coronavirus post

Coupons and Promo Codes You Can Use on Instacart

Instacart often runs promotions that allow you to apply a code or coupon to save on one or more orders.

For example, new users can earn free delivery on their first order when they sign up.

You can also get unlimited free delivery if you sign up for a trial of Instacart Express.

Instacart will also run dollar-off promotions, in which you’ll save a set dollar amount on your order.

Other 2022 promotions include

  • Earning airline miles on qualifying orders
  • $30 off of a pickup order
  • $30 off when you use PayPal
  • $10 off any order with 2 free months of Instacart Express

Be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions for each promotion before using it.

Some are only valid for new customers, while others might limit how often you can use them.

How to Use a Coupon

Using coupons on Instacart tends to be easier than using them in-store.

In most cases, all you have to do is load a qualifying order into your cart, and Instacart will automatically apply the promotion when you check out.

In other cases, you’ll need to enter a promotion code in the app.

There are two ways to add a promotion code to your account.

The first option is to enter the code during the checkout process.

When you go to your cart, scroll to the bottom.

You’ll see “Add promo code or gift card.”

Tap the link and enter the code.

You’ll see it included as a line item on your bill in your cart.

The other way to add a promo code or coupon is directly in your account to use later.

1. Open the Instacart app

2. Click the three lines at the top

3. Tap “Credits, promos, and gift cards” or “Track credits and promos”

4. Tap “Add promo or gift card”

5. Enter any Instacart gift cards or promo codes

The code will be applied automatically when you put a qualifying order in your cart.

Is Instacart Worth It?

Instacart has a few pros and cons, but overall, it’s a helpful app that offers a service many consumers benefit from.

vector graphic showing a hand holding a phone running the instacart shopper app on the screen

Pros of Instacart

1. Widely available throughout the United States

2. Offers same-day delivery to many areas

3. Makes it easy for someone with disabilities to shop

4. Wide variety of local stores to choose from

5. Choose your own delivery window

Cons of Instacart

1. Many stores charge more on Instacart than in-store

2. Not all store sales are available on the app

3. Delivery charges can rack up significantly

4. Need an Instacart Express membership to decrease delivery fees

Final Thoughts

Instacart provides a valuable service to anyone who struggles to get their groceries or is looking to save time.

However, the trade-off is that prices in the Instacart app are often higher than those in the store.

Ultimately, you’ll need to decide if those higher prices are worthwhile.

So, if you’re wondering whether your favorite stores charge more, look in the Instacart app to find out.

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