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How to Become an Instacart Shopper

Last updated: May 25, 2021
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Instacart shopper picking items off a shelf - how much does instacart pay?

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We could all do with some extra cash in our pockets.

Lucky for us, we live in a digital age and services like grocery delivery app Instacart now make it easier to make extra cash than ever before. Customers order groceries from their favorite local stores, and Instacart Shoppers then handpick the items which then get delivered to the customer.

Sound like something you want in on? You can apply as a shopper and start making money on your own terms.

Become an Instacart Shopper
Applying as an Instacart Shopper is a legitimate way to earn extra money. Customers order groceries from their favorite local stores, and Instacart Shoppers handpick the items for delivery to the customers.
  • Two ways to earn: full-service shopper (shopping and delivery) or in-store shopper (shopping only)
  • Minimum average hourly wage across the country is $10 per hour
  • Work on your own schedule with no minimum hours required

To be an Instacart shopper, there are just a few things you need to be aware of:

  • Must be 18-21 years old (depending on which state you reside in)
  • Have a newer model phone (running iOs 9 or later or Android 5.0 or later)
  • Can lift 30-plus pounds of groceries
  • Follow Instacart’s Food Safety Policy
  • Must have a passion for customer service
  • Must have your own car (only if you’re applying for the Full-Service Shopper role)

If you meet all the above criteria, this is an ideal opportunity for you to make some money. And In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to sign up.

Let’s dive right in.

How Much Does an Instacart Shopper Make?

How much a shopper makes depends on multiple factors, but it all starts with the hours of work you put in. The longer you sign up for, the more chances you have of getting orders.

Some Instacart shoppers that have been a part of the company since the beginning managed to make quite a lot of money. However, with the increase in customer demands, Instacart was also forced to accept new applicants faster. This means that there’s more competition now than there was a couple of years ago.

But, if you work hard and do a great job, there’s still plenty of money to go around. Depending on how much time you put in, you can make Instacart shopping a side job or a full-time career.

The two options available are Full-Service Shopper (own hours with no maximum cap) or In-Store Shopper (maximum of 29 hours per week). The 29 hours per week is not a guarantee and will fluctuate depending on customer demand.

No matter which option you choose, almost all of your earnings are delivered on a weekly basis. This is pretty standard for jobs in the gig economy, and allows shoppers to access money without having to wait weeks or months to get it.

Additionally, tipping is a part of Instacart as with any other delivery service, so customers are offered the option of tipping through the app.

If the customers choose the latter, Instacart will include all the tips you received in your weekly payment. Since you can receive tips upon delivery or via the app, some of your earnings can go into your pocket as soon as you deliver your order.

Some customers will be extra generous and others will not. The customer’s decision on whether or not to tip can also be swayed by your rating and by your Instacart shopper reviews. Feedback also has a say in how much money makes its way into your pocket. A bad rating can affect your ability to receive orders. It can also affect your tips.

Instacart Hourly Wage

The minimum average hourly wage on Instacart across the country is $10 per hour. The geographical location usually sets the hourly wage, so some will make more in certain states or cities. The location is usually the main difference-maker in how much you can earn per hour as an Instacart shopper.

Because of this, becoming an Instacart in-store shopper or full-service shopper is not a recommended full-time job for everyone. In some areas of the country the customer base limits the potential earnings of Instacart shoppers.

How to Become an Instacart Shopper
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Sometimes an in-store shopper can make as much as $28 per hour. Because the area of operation is a huge factor in determining the hourly rate, full-service shoppers can make less, sometimes just $11, even though they tend to do more work and have more responsibilities.

Although the differences may seem big they are somewhat justified. Big cities have infernal traffic and long lines at the counter. Since it is more time-consuming for a shopper to complete his or her order in largely populated areas, it makes sense to offer a higher hourly wage.

The Instacart hourly wage can be guaranteed or directly tied to your ability to get orders. When the concept was in its infancy, all Instacart shoppers were offered an hourly wage for the number of hours they logged in. This applied even in instances when no orders came in.

While some locations still offer the same luxury, it is not the case nationwide. Because of the high acceptance rate of new shoppers, highly populated areas cannot guarantee an hourly wage. Payments are sometimes made based on how many orders you have completed.

Instacart Shopper Salary

Instacart likes its privacy and doesn’t disclose much about shopper earnings. You can find additional information on dedicated websites. However, keep in mind that the information submitted can be influenced by the employee’s experiences.

It’s important to take note of the differences in payment before you apply. Some people may find it confusing to read about a certain salary and be offered an entirely different sum when applying

Become an Instacart Shopper

Instacart shopping can be a side job or a full-time job. Although it has the potential to be highly lucrative, there are many factors that contribute to how well you can make a living as an Instacart shopper.

There are three main job descriptions for becoming an Instacart shopper. You can be responsible for…

  • shopping and deliveries
  • delivering only
  • or shopping only

Based on your previous experience and capabilities you can apply for any position, given you are at least 18 years of age.

Instacart Shopper Requirements

If you’re at least 18 years of age, you can already cross the first requirement of being an Instacart shopper off the list. Although most states allow people to work legally as soon as they turn 16, the extra two years of maturity go a long way. Instacart wants its employees to be able to cater to any kind of customer.

Nationality and citizenship are not important if you want to apply for a job with Instacart. The service hires people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. However, you should be eligible to work in the United States to become a member of the Instacart team.

Whether you’re picking up groceries or just delivering them, manual labor is part of the job description. Because sometimes this involves heavy lifting, all shoppers are required to be able to lift at least 30 pounds.

Having a smartphone is mandatory regardless of which position you want to apply for. Almost all orders and deliveries are handled through the Instacart app. In order to apply, receive and track orders you need constant access to the internet. Smartphones are your best friend in this situation.

If you plan on applying for a position that involves deliveries, you should know that you need your own vehicle. On top of that, you have to provide evidence that you have at least two years of driving experience; a clean record with no traffic violations or incidents goes a long way towards improving your chances.

Applying for Instacart Delivery Jobs

If you own a vehicle and have been driving for at least two years, you can apply for this job.

If you don’t own a vehicle, you have options. These include peer to peer car sharing services like HyreCar, Turo, and Getaround. Or long-term car rental like Fair car rental or Maven.

It is up to you if you want to just be responsible for picking up the products and transporting them to the customer. If you want more, you can also choose to take on the shopping aspect of the job. This often means dedicating more time to an order.

The schedule freedom can sometimes make more of a difference for drivers than for in-store shoppers. If you can only spare two hours a day after work, it doesn’t hurt to try and earn some cash in that time period. If you work a regular 9 to 5 and you aren’t in a rush to get home, why not make a delivery on the way and earn some extra money?

Keep in mind that a background check will be conducted on you. This is done to ensure that you are in good standing with the law and don’t pose a threat to potential clients. It also helps make the employee community friendlier.

You should also consider if you think you can accept the vehicle requirements. Not all drivers feel comfortable using their personal car to make deliveries. Although working for Instacart is not the same as being on the History Channel’s “Ice Road Truckers,” you never know how much space an order actually takes.

Applying for Instacart Shopper Jobs

If you plan on becoming an in-store shopper you don’t need to own a vehicle. How you choose to get around the city is up to you. However, you do need to have a smartphone at all times.

You will also have to either provide a history of your criminal record or pay the fee associated with doing a background check. Instacart is an equal-opportunity employer, but they do have to uphold certain standards to ensure their customers’ safety.

While you aren’t required to own a vehicle to be an Instacart in-store shopper, it can make your job easier. It sometimes takes too long to switch between subway trains and buses. Just because you aren’t inclined to use your car for deliveries, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it to travel between locations. As long as your orders are fulfilled on time your expenses should get covered every week.

Instacart doesn’t ask for much but they do have a few requirements from shoppers. Whether you want to be an in-store shopper or a full-service shopper you have to meet the following criteria.

Does Instacart Pay for Gas?

Instacart works by hiring people that can provide a service for its customers. This means that if you sign up for a delivery position you will have to pay for all expenses. More often than not, this also includes maintenance and health benefits.

Instacart lets you be your own boss. Because you have the option of making your own schedule, working for Instacart is almost like freelancing. It comes with few benefits that are hopefully outweighed by your success as a driver.

Because of how much expenses differ from one state to another it is hard for Instacart to treat all shoppers and drivers equally. To help maintain a healthy balance between earnings and to offer an equal level of assistance, all vehicle-related expenses have to be taken care of by drivers.

It wouldn’t be fair for a busy NYC driver who can earn up to $28 per hour to receive the same help from the company as a driver in Iowa that earns $12. At the same time, it wouldn’t be fair for the NYC driver’s earnings to go towards an employee located in a less-busy city.

The salary estimates made by Instacart take into account the average fuel consumption in the area. This is just one of the reasons why some employees earn more than others, as they make drive smarter or own a fuel efficient car.

Related: How to save money on gas, and save money on gas by using the Gasbuddy app

A Glimpse of the Instacart Shopper Job

An Instacart shopper can have many responsibilities. It’s up to you to decide before signing up on the app how much work you think you can handle.

Working as Full-Service Shopper

If you want to handle both shopping and deliveries, you need to be able to multitask. Your ability to manage time efficiently is also a key to success. Order schedules can be anywhere from one-hour delivery time to a few days later in the week. Keeping track of all orders will require you to pay attention to details.

Previous experience in the transportation industry can be a huge advantage, not towards getting the job but in how easy it will be for you to navigate the streets and deliver your orders on time. Couriers, taxi drivers, or food delivery drivers generally have an easier time adjusting to a career as an Instacart driver.

The main benefit of working as an Instacart shopper is the freedom to make your own schedule. Sure, there are orders with tight deadlines, but you are not obligated to take them. You can work a few hours a day or only on weekends, take your pick.

The freedom in making your own schedule is as much for the shopper’s benefit as it is for the customer’s benefit. By committing to orders only when you have the time, you can dedicate yourself to satisfy the customer’s needs. This can result in higher tips, good feedback, and potentially some repeat orders.

Of course, if you are an experienced delivery driver you know there are also some downsides. Depending on the location, finding a parking spot or driving through traffic-heavy areas may not come easy. This, however, is unavoidable for most jobs that involve driving.

Working as an Instacart In-Store Shopper

Although you are not required to own a vehicle to be an in-store shopper, you should be able to get around the city fast. Not all orders can be fulfilled at the same grocery store so there is some commuting involved.

As an in-store shopper, you will be tasked with finding and picking out all the items the customer asks for. You may have to hit multiple locations to complete an order. Your responsibilities as an in-store shopper may seem simple but it’s always best if you don’t take them lightly.

You should always take into account how much time you’ll have to wait in line or how much time it takes to find all the requested products. If you miss the deadline, you will not only inconvenience the customer but also damage the delivery driver’s reputation.

Sometimes it is up to you to replace an item from the order. If you can’t find what the customer requested, you need to use your judgment as to whether or not the customer would appreciate a replacement or not. You can’t always rely on orders containing sufficient “what if” guidelines but it is recommended to at least try and contact the client before making any replacement decisions on your own.

For this job, in particular, previous experience working in supermarkets, even if the position did not involve rearranging items on shelves, can be most helpful. Former cashiers, store managers, and kitchen managers can all benefit from their above average special awareness. They usually find items faster regardless of which store they are shopping in.

Navigating aisles and standing in line are not the only things you should be concerned about. As an in-store personal shopper, it is also your responsibility to bag all products accordingly and make sure the driver doesn’t have to spend extra time rearranging them. While the designated delivery person is responsible for delivering the bags in perfect condition, you can also be blamed if something goes wrong.

Separating or pointing out fragile products is a must. Those who work solely as drivers are rarely informed of all delivery contents. It is up to you to make sure they are well informed. Successful deliveries will turn into positive feedback for you and the delivery driver.

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.

Instacart Shopper Reviews

Not unlike Uber and Lyft driver reviews, part-time Instacart shoppers have conflicting views on the company’s business model. While some of them appreciate the high acceptance rate of new applicants, others are not pleased with the extra competition.

A large number of Instacart shoppers are in agreement that the extra job opportunities are a good thing. Most agree that this is a good side-cash option for students and that no changes to the hiring process should be made.

The schedule freedom is the main attraction for being an Instacart shopper. The drawback of vehicle wear and tear is not a deal breaker for most. It all depends on how much you can earn in your location. This is why in most cases the earnings take care of any personal vehicle maintenance costs.

Start Shopping

Instacart gives you flexibility, so if you have another job, you can still apply as an Instacart shopper. The services you provide for Instacart can be done according to your own schedule, especially since there is no minimum number of hours you need to put in each week.

Roles that require a car have an unrestricted number of hours per week, and roles that don’t require cars have a maximum cap of 29 hours per week.

Whether you want to apply as a Full-Service or In-Store Instacart shopper, this is a good opportunity to make some extra cash. So, apply to be an Instacart Shopper today.

View All Comments (8) Add A Comment

  1. Lesley Yow Says:

    I am interested in working for you.

  2. Lesley Yow Says:

    I am interested in working for you.

  3. MargaretAdamski Says:

    I am interesting to working.. but something I missed it…

  4. Lindsay Noelle White Says:

    If you ate interested in signing up to start shopping use my Code LINDSAYW59100 and email me that you used it at and I will give you 15% of the referral bonus I receive (you must complete the requirements your city sets for the bonus right now in seattle its 45 batches in 30days). In seattle 15% of the referral bonus is currently $150! You do not have to be in seattle to use my code! 🙂

  5. Gail Says:

    I could never finish the application. I did five of six steps and the last step was to go to some orientation and I needed to sign up but when I got to that point it said it was filled up. I did this constantly.

  6. Nichole TeetersRenshaw Says:

    I am signed up and have the app completed all the steps but can never get jobs. My inlays do it and love it I only wish they could help me get mine working! I am eager to start taking orders.

  7. Just saying Says:

    You can call them and they will help you. I just started two weeks ago but I noticed everyone is talking about a heating spot map to pick up jobs and I notice I don’t have that on my phone. So I called them to see if they can help and time will only tell. Don’t give up they can help. Here is my code VLAMB291C8.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I want to work for Instacart! I live in Brigatine,NJ. I’m 50 years old! Does that matter? How do I get started? My daughter gave me a I Phone! Lol. I’m not that strong with computers!

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