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Become an Instacart Shopper: Apply to Shop or Drive

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You may have noticed them before when you’re out doing your normal run to the store for groceries:

  • wearing their green shirt
  • using their phone
  • scanning items as they place them in the cart

They are Instacart shoppers, and they are part-time employees offering a grocery delivery service for those who may not have time or capabilities to shop for themselves.

Amid a boom of economy gigs and side hustles like Postmates, Uber, and Lyft, there’s never been a better time to become an Instacart shopper.

Have you considered joining the ranks and applying to shop or drive for Instacart?

Below, we’re sharing everything you need to know about the sign-up process and what to expect.

Become a Shopper
Become an Instacart Shopper Now

Applying as an Instacart Shopper is a legitimate way to earn extra money, while working a flexible schedule.

  • Two types of Shopper options are available - Shop and deliver, or shop only.
  • Enjoy a flexible schedule, working whenever is most convenient for you.
  • Develop a new skill set by fresh groceries and become a master of the grocery store.

Reasons to Become an Instacart Shopper

There are various reasons why becoming an Instacart shopper would be beneficial, but three reasons stand out in particular.

Instacart shopper picking items off a shelf - how much does instacart pay?

1. Make Extra Money

If you want to make money outside of what you’re making as an employee elsewhere, you can earn easy extra cash by shopping for other people’s groceries.

2. Kill Time

Another benefit is that you can work on your own schedule, serving as your own boss.

This flexibility allows you to decide when your next shift will be and what kind of flexibility you need to be able to perform the job duties.

3. Develop a New Skill Set

Another highlight of the gig economy, in general, is that you get to pick up a new skill or service.

In this case, that’s learning how to find fresh groceries and essentials and navigate a shopping cart through the sometimes busy grocery aisles.

Things to Understand to Become an Instacart Shopper

If you want to become an Instacart shopper, there are a few things you should know about the app and the service and the type of work you’d be doing.

1. The Difference Between Shopper Types

There are two kinds of shopping positions you can fulfill when working for Instacart: full-service shoppers and in-store shoppers.

the two types of instacart shoppers

Full-service shoppers are independent contractors who work for themselves and receive various customer orders through the app (which works well on any smartphone, including iOS and Android).

Then, they can decide if they want to accept or decline an order based on what their payout would be, and fill the order at the store of choice.

After that, they then deliver straight to the customers’ doors.

Usually, these workers work in batches, with up to three customer orders at one store to save time and boost efficiency.

Full-service shoppers receive payment from Instacart at a variable rate based on delivery distance, mileage reimbursement, and incentive payment.

In-Store shoppers, on the other hand, are actual W2 Instacart employees based at a grocery store within Instacart’s network.

They work for the store, receive orders through the app, go grocery shopping for the orders, complete checkout, and hand off the deliveries to Instacart drivers for final fulfillment.

These in-store shoppers are guaranteed minimum wage payments, but they can still set their hours.

However, they’ll earn more if they work during peak hours.

2. How Much Do Instacart Shoppers Earn?

How much someone makes as a shopper for Instacart depends on multiple factors.

These include how many hours of work you put in, which hours you’re shopping in, and what your customer experience is like (tips).

As a full-service shopper, you can work as many hours as you’d like with no cap, while in-store shoppers are limited to 29 hours per week.

That means there’s potential to make more if you are willing to be an independent contractor and drive the deliveries to customers’ doors.

3. Does Instacart Pay Weekly?

Instacart offers weekly pay for its shoppers every Wednesday rather than offering an instant cashout setup.

For any work done Monday through Sunday, you’d get your earnings the following Wednesday.

4. You are an Independent Contractor

If you are a full-service Instacart shopper, know that you are not an employee of the company and you are an independent contractor.

This means you are responsible for expenses and taxes just like a freelancer would be.

This means you’ll likely need to pay estimated taxes throughout the year to lessen your tax burden when it’s time to file.

It also means you need to be meticulous in your book-keeping so you can keep all of the information about your earnings and your taxes straight.

Read More: Instacart Taxes – Everything you need to know about saving for tax season

Instacart Shopper Requirements

Do you want to become an Instacart shopper to put some extra cash in your wallet and fill the dead space in your day with something productive and helpful?

Here are the minimum requirements you should familiarize yourself with before you apply.

If you meet all of these qualifications, you may want to get started on your application.

Requirements for Full-Service Shoppers

To become a full-service Instacart shopper, make sure you satisfy the following requirements:

  • 18 years or older
  • Eligible to work in the United States or Canada
  • Consistent access to a smartphone with iOS 9 or later or Android 5.0 or later
  • Possession of a registered, insured vehicle that works
  • Ability to lift at least 30 pounds
  • Ability to satisfy all of Instacart’s food safety policies

Requirements for In-Store Shoppers

If you want to work the in-store shopper role, there is a different set of requirements you’ll need to reach before you can become a part-time W2 employee of Instacart.

  • 18 years or older
  • Eligible to work in the United States or Canada
  • Consistent access to a smartphone (same operational requirements as above)
  • Ability to lift at least 30 pounds
  • Ability to satisfy all food safety policies

As you can see, the only real difference between the two requirements is the vehicle.

Since you’ll be driving for deliveries, to be a full-service shopper, you need to also have a car that is registered, insured, and functioning.

To become an In-Store Shopper, you won’t need this part.

Become a Shopper
Become an Instacart Shopper Now

Applying as an Instacart Shopper is a legitimate way to earn extra money, while working a flexible schedule.

  • Two types of Shopper options are available - Shop and deliver, or shop only.
  • Enjoy a flexible schedule, working whenever is most convenient for you.
  • Develop a new skill set by fresh groceries and become a master of the grocery store.

Instacart Insurance Requirements

As touched on above, Instacart does require some of its workers to have insurance before they can become a shopper.

However, this requirement is only for those who wish to apply to be a full-service shopper.

If you only want to shop in-store without delivering any orders, you don’t need to have insurance at all.

If you are applying for the full-service role, you don’t need to have any special commercial coverage.

You just need coverage that, at a minimum, meets your state requirements.

Instacart Background Check

As a form of vetting potential employees and contractors, Instacart runs a background check on all of its applicants before accepting any new positions.

What is an Instacart Background Check?

Instacart uses Checkr, Inc. to perform all background checks.

When they extend a conditional offer and you accept it, that authorizes them to perform this check.

According to Checkr, they provide AI-powered background checks that may include criminal, civil, driver, drug/health, and international data to verify personal information.

The Background Check Process

The background check process usually takes place within about 10 days.

However, if there are special circumstances such as court closures or high volumes, it may take a bit longer.

If you want to check in on your Instacart background check, you can use the Checkr applicant portal for updates.

What Disqualifies Shoppers from Instacart?

You must meet the basic requirements outlined previously in this article, but you also may be disqualified if you don’t have a clean driving record if you have a felony or other serious convictions on your background check.

How to Become an Instacart Shopper

Applying to drive for Instacart is a very simple process and only takes a few minutes to complete.

Documents You’ll Need

You’ll need to show a driver’s license if you’re applying to be a full-service shopper, otherwise, any ID will work.

Other than that, you just need to hook up a debit card to the account so you can get paid.

How to Apply for Instacart [Tutorial]

vector graphic showing man in the process of trying to become an instacart shopper

Follow these instructions to become an Instacart Shopper.

Total Time: 2 minutes

1. Click the Referral Link

To join the company and become an Instacart driver, first click our referral link that will take you to the driver sign up page on the Instacart website.

Once there, enter your first name, last name, email address, zip code, and referral code if you have one.

2. Download the Instacart Shopper App

From there, the application will prompt you to download the Instacart Shopper app.

Enter your phone number in the box and appears, and a download link will be sent to your mobile device.

3. Enter Basic Information

Fill in the form with your first name, last name, email, cell phone number, and ZIP code.

You can also enter a referral code if another Instacart Shopper referred you to drive for Instacart.

Then, tap “Create account.”

4. Confirm Account

You’ll then receive a verification code via text.

Enter the code in your app.

Enter that into the screen that says “Enter SMS Code”

5. Confirm You Meet Requirements

Confirm you meet the Instacart Shopper requirements.

6. Confirm you have a car.

You will then need to confirm that you have a vehicle to drive.

7. Choose Role

Select the “Shop & Drive” gig, read through the details about the gig, and tap “Choose this role.”

8. Begin questionnaire

Tap “Start” to begin the questionnaire.

It will ask you about your experience working at grocery stores or in customer service roles and what you would do in relevant situations.

9. Take Photo

Once you’ve finished the questionnaire, tap “Take photo” to submit images of the front and back of your driver’s license.

10. Follow Remaining Prompts

Follow the remaining prompts to submit the required personal information and authorize a background check.

Once your documents and questionnaire answers are accepted and your background check comes back clean (usually in about a week), Instacart will mail you a prepaid debit card.

Once you receive your card, which you’ll use every time you check out at the store, you can start your first delivery.

What to Expect After Applying for Instacart

Once you apply, what’s next?

In between your application and your approval, here’s what to expect.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Instacart Shopper?

The approval process is usually only held up by the background check, which takes an average of ten days.

However, it can become a longer process if there is abnormally high volume or any distinct court closures.

What Does the Instacart Shopper Approval Process Entail?

The approval process entails verification of the details you provided, including checking to see that you meet the basic requirements for the role you’ve applied for.

How Will I Know if Instacart Approved or Denied Me After Applying?

You can go into the Shopper app and look for your signup status.

If it says “Awaiting Approval”, that means the team hasn’t had time to review your application yet.

What if I Get Waitlisted by Instacart?

If you get find yourself on the Instacart waitlist, that just means the zip code where you live is already too saturated with drivers or shippers.

Over time, as things change, you may be accepted.

If you’re willing to shop in an area other than your own zip code, you can reach out to
Instacart customer service.

You can start a live chat with an Instacart agent or send them an email to share these new zip codes.

You may be able to skip the waitlist by working outside of your immediate area.

What Happens if I Get Denied by Instacart?

If you get denied, you have legal rights to fix any mistakes that may have led to this or even sue for damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Things to Keep in Mind After Applying for Instacart

Once you apply and are accepted, there are a few things you should keep in mind as you get started working your new part-time gig.

1. There is a Learning Curve

The first thing you need to know is that yes, there is a learning curve.

Even if you’re a pro-shopper for yourself, shopping for others and learning how to use the Instacart shopper app can be a bit challenging at first.

Don’t expect to complete your order shopping as fast as you would your own, and give yourself time to get the hang of it.

2. Gain Experience from Other Shoppers

You can learn a lot about the Instacart experience from other shoppers.

You’ll see them in the stores, with their branded shirts and carts full of insulated Instacart bags.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, help, or even stories of their experience working for the grocery delivery service.

It’s a great way to ease yourself into the job and get to know others doing the same thing.

Instacart Alternative Career Choices

Instacart also offers alternative career opportunities.

The company quite often employs people for their customer service department.

The requirements for this are less specific than driver and shopper requirements.

If you prefer something similar to a desk job, this might be a more appealing opportunity.

While you won’t be having face-to-face contact with customers, you will have to reply to emails and answer the occasional phone calls.

The customer service office can also require you to assist shoppers.

Training is usually provided which means that you don’t need to have previous experience in customer service.

The benefits for customer service employees can also be more attractive.

Fuel and transportation expenses are not provided but you do get medical benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Starting your career as an Instacart driver is simple, especially when you’re confident you meet all the requirements for the role.

Read our answers to these frequently asked questions for additional information about the Instacart Shopper gig.

Do Instacart Shoppers Get the Delivery Fee?

Yes, they must pay for delivery unless they are an Instacart Express member.

Can I become a full-service shopper if I have a standard bike or electric scooter?

Unfortunately, Instacart does not allow bike or scooter deliveries.

All full-service shoppers must have access to a car that can transport groceries safely.

We recommend at least having a standard sedan with a roomy trunk, as grocery delivery orders tend to be larger than your typical food delivery requests.

Do Instacart Shoppers Get a Discount on Delivery?

No, they do not get a discount on delivery.

However, Instacart offers other perks through Perkspot.

If you’re looking to save on your grocery orders, then consider signing up for a separate customer account using an Instacart promo code.

Who pays the Instacart Shoppers?

Instacart pays their shoppers either hourly wages for in-store shoppers or a wage based on the order for full-service shoppers.

It’s worth noting that, Instacart Shoppers don’t pay for groceries out of their own pockets.

Instead, the company issues them a card that can be used to charge the groceries to the company.

Can I drive for Instacart full-time?


If you’re looking for a full-time opportunity rather than a part-time job, Instacart can definitely be an option.

The company doesn’t limit the hours you work, so you can potentially pick up a 40-hour equivalent of batches per week if enough demand is present.

However, as an independent contractor, you won’t qualify for any benefits or be guaranteed a specific amount of orders.

Final Thoughts

You have two options if you’ve thought about joining the Instacart ranks.

You can either become an in-store shopper and part-time Instacart employee (no car needed), or you can be a full-service shopper working as your own boss using your car to deliver groceries.

As long as you meet the company requirements and pass the background check, it’s an easy sign-up process.

Become an Instacart shopper when you sign up today.

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