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How To Make The Most Money With Instacart In 2023

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If you’re looking to make some extra cash, getting signed up for Instacart jobs is a great way to do it.

The Instacart app is becoming more popular, with more customers using grocery delivery services.

In this article, we’ll explain how to make the most money with Instacart.

You’ll learn how the app works and get tips for earning a quality income as an Instacart shopper.

Whether you’re already an Instacart shopper or just thinking about signing up, keep reading for some helpful advice.

How Does Being a Shopper for Instacart Work?

vector graphic showing person shopping in an attempt to get more batches on instacart

When you sign up to be an Instacart shopper, you agree to pick up and deliver orders from customers who want their groceries delivered in a specific time frame (usually within an hour).

You can choose how many orders you want to take on at any given time, and you’re able to decline any order that doesn’t fit into your schedule.

When an order comes in, the app will give you all of the information you need, including the customer’s name and address.

The Instacart app also provides you with the complete list of items needed for the order so you can pick them up from the store.

You’ll head to the store to pick them up and then head to the customer’s house to deliver them.

Full-Service vs. In-Store Shoppers

There are two types of Instacart shoppers: the full-service shopper and the in-store shopper.

  • A full-service shopper picks up orders from customers and delivers them to their homes.
  • An in-store shopper only works at the store itself.

Generally speaking, a full-service Shopper will earn more per hour than an in-store shopper.

Where to Work for Instacart

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at the Instacart opportunity.

The first is that not all cities have the same level of Instacart business.

Like San Francisco and New York, some cities have more Instacart shoppers than others.

If you’re looking to maximize your income potential as an Instacart shopper, it’s essential to consider where the most business is.

Cities With the Most Instacart Business

It’s impossible to list all the cities where you can work for Instacart.

However, here’s a list of some of the busiest Instacart cities:

  • San Francisco, CA
  • New York City, NY
  • Washington D.C.
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Austin, TX
  • Chicago, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Miami, FL

Tips to Make More Money With Instacart

Now that we’ve gone over how Instacart works, here are some tips for making more money as an Instacart shopper.

vector graphic showing an illustration of how to make the most money with instacart

1. Have a Strategy

Like any type of delivery driver independent contractor opportunity, you need to work it with a solid plan.

  • Accept as many orders as you can handle: The more orders you take on, the more money you’ll make.
  • Decline any order that doesn’t fit into your schedule: It will help ensure that you’re not overwhelmed with too many orders at once.
  • Follow the list closely when picking up items from the store: Make sure to check off each item on the list as you pick it up from the store. It will help to avoid any mistakes that could lead to a return trip.
  • Pack the order neatly and carefully: Doing so will ensure that everything arrives at the customer’s house in one piece.

2. Go Above and Beyond for Customers

Keep in mind that Instacart workers are in the customer service industry.

Your ability to earn a tip for extra money depends on how well you treat your customers.

Here are five tips to help you do well in this area.

Communicate Well

If an item on the customer’s order is unavailable, it’s your responsibility to reach out and let them know.

Many customers will understand if there’s a delay in their order due to substitution.

However, some might not like the change.

In either case, always communicate well with the customer, so they have all the information they need.

Follow Instructions Closely

When picking up an order from the store, make sure to follow the list closely.

It will help to avoid any mistakes that could lead to a return trip.

It will also help you get a nice tip.

Deliver on Time

One of the most important things you can do as an Instacart shopper is to deliver orders on time.

If a customer expects their groceries in the next hour and it takes you two hours to get there, they’re going to become disappointed.

Your delivery times must stay short if you expect a customer to tip you well.

Be Friendly

As an Instacart shopper, you should always remain friendly to customers and other shoppers in the store.

It will help make your job more enjoyable and increase how much money you’re able to earn as an independent contractor for Instacart.

Be Ready With Substitutions

If a customer’s order includes an unavailable item, it’s your responsibility to find a substitution.

Find a list of items you can provide the customers as a replacement.

Contact your customer and ask them which item they prefer as the substitution.

3. Choose Your Hours Wisely

You can optimize the money you make on the Instacart app by selecting the best days and hours to work.

Busiest Days, Hours, and Areas

It’s essential to learn which days and times get busy so that you can plan accordingly.

The busiest times for Instacart shoppers are usually weekends.

However, weekday mornings and evenings also tend to have high demand as well.

The best way to find out how busy it will be during your shift is by checking the app.

For example, if you’re working in Washington D.C., look at how many orders exist on the app.

If 100+ orders need filling from just one location, then chances are good you should get out there to work a shift.

In addition to busy times and days, some areas are also more popular than others for Instacart shoppers.

For example, the San Francisco Bay Area is a high-demand area due to the high population density and expensive cost of living.

Consider working in a high-demand area if you’re looking to maximize your earnings potential with Instacart.

Let’s now go over additional tips to follow when your goal is maximizing your Instacart earnings.

4. Don’t Accept Far Away Orders

The Instacart app offers nearby orders first.

You can still accept a far away order if it’s convenient for you.

So how much money does an Instacart shopper make per delivery?

The answer depends on how long it takes from start to finish.

If the grocery store is close by and there’s no traffic, then an order that’s a few miles away shouldn’t take too long to complete.

If you’re getting sent to a store across town and there’s rush hour traffic, it could quickly turn into a two-hour delivery.

In this case, you’re not making as much money per hour as you would if you only accepted orders near your location.

5. Pick the Right Check-Out Lane

When you’re choosing a check-out lane at the store, make sure to pick the one that will go fast.

Some lanes have more people in them than others, which can slow down how quickly you’re able to complete an order.

For example, if there’s a long line at the express lane, you can choose a different lane so that you’re not held up.

Don’t forget to use instant cashout, as well.

6. Keep Track of Tax Deductible Items

When you’re grocery shopping for Instacart, make sure to keep track of the tax-deductible items.

Doing so will help reduce how much money you have to pay in taxes at the end of the year.

7. Save Money on Gas

If you can complete multiple orders in one trip, it will save you money on gas.

You’ll use your car for a shorter amount of time, which means less fuel consumed.

You can also help save money by using gas rewards cards and finding the cheapest gas stations in your area.

8. Use Receipt Award Apps

Consider using receipt award apps if you’re looking to increase how much money you make with Instacart.

These allow you to earn cashback on groceries already paid for through the app.

When you use a receipt award app like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta, it’s possible to earn up to $50 per month in cashback rewards.

Does Instacart Have Bonuses for Shoppers?

Yes, Instacart offers its shoppers various bonus programs to help you earn additional income.

Let’s review those now.

vector graphics showing people carrying boxes around that have the words "instacart referral code" on them

Instacart Shopper Signup Bonuses

If you’re referred to Instacart by another shopper, then you’re eligible to receive a signup bonus.

These bonuses are typically tied to completing a certain number of deliveries within your first 30 days on the job.

For example, if you sign up through a referral link and complete 20 deliveries in the first 30 days of getting approved as an Instacart shopper, then you’ll receive a signup bonus.

These bonuses range in amount depending on where you live.

You might expect to see signup bonuses from $50 to $500.

The bonuses tie to a different delivery number as well.

Some areas might want you to deliver more than 20 orders to qualify in your first 30 days.

Instacart Shopper Bumps

Once you become an Instacart shopper, you’re eligible for bumps.

Bumps are small bonuses given to shoppers depending on various situations.

How Do You Get Instacart Shopper Bumps?

Instacart pays out bumps for the following types of situations.

  • Bad weather
  • A customer cancels while you’re still shopping for items
  • You need to carry heavy items

Other incidents might cause you to get paid a bump.

For example, if you’re bit by a dog at a customer’s house, Instacart may pay out a bump payment to you.

Other situations can help you earn extra promotional money from Instacart.

For instance, if it’s a busy weekend, Instacart may offer a promo for completing a certain number of delivery trips.

You can also earn more during surge times.

Instacart shoppers can make anywhere from $15 to $25 per hour when there’s a surge.

It’s because the company pays a higher fee for each order completed during a surge.

If you’re looking to make the most money with Instacart, then it’s essential to be aware of when surges are happening.

You can do this by checking the app’s surge map or by following Instacart on social media.

Things to Bring When You are Shopping for Instacart

There are a couple of rookie mistakes that you should avoid when your goal is making as much as possible from the Instacart app.

If you don’t bring freezer bags or a phone charger, you might find yourself in difficult situations.

1. Phone Charger

It’s essential to bring your phone charger with you when shopping for groceries through Instacart.

You’ll use the app extensively to track orders and find customer addresses.

The last you want to happen is to see your phone go dead while shopping or driving to a customer’s home.

2. Freezer Bags

In some situations, you might have an item that’s going to melt or spoil if it sits too long in your car.

It’s helpful to bring freezer bags with you when shopping for customers through the app.

You can use these bags for items like ice cream, meat, and cheese.

How to Know if Instacart is the Right Side Hustle for You

vector graphic showing an instacart shopper loading groceries into instacart bags at checkout

You might still wonder if doing grocery delivery for Instacart is the best gig for you.

Let’s review the pros and cons of becoming one of the newest Instacart workers.


  • You have a flexible schedule when you drive for Instacart
  • You work as much or little as you want to
  • Wide market availability
  • Potential for tips
  • Less driving than with Lyft or Uber


  • You might not get enough work during specific shifts
  • Delays at the store cause frustration
  • Inability to find certain items can slow you down

Wrapping Up

Now you know how to make the most money with Instacart.

It’s a great grocery delivery side hustle for those who want to make some extra money.

You have flexibility with your schedule, and you can work as much or as little as you want.

If you’re good at customer service, you can make some tips on top of your earnings.

2 thoughts on “How To Make The Most Money With Instacart In 2023”

  1. I think you maybe mixing up gig jobs. On instacart you cannot pick multiple deliveries. You can get one batch with 3 customers in it, but you cannot pick different deliveries at different times. You have to complete the one youre on before you can start another. Also, when youre looking for batches they do not display the customers address until after you accept the batch. So you can accept a batch that will have 3-4 40 packs of water and then find out afterwards that the customer is in an appartment on the 3rd floor with no elevator. Also, there is no surge times. Every once in awhile there will be a batch that no one will take because maybe its high mileage or no tip…the batch is getting close to the delivery time so they will add an extra $2 to try and get someone to take it. Most of the time though, they just put it in a batch that has three customers in it and since you cannot see what each customer tips you dont realize the non tipper is in there until after you deliver the order, they sneak it in on you. Something else is they only offer the promos to people that are slowing down doing deliveries. So say you usually work 6-7 days a week 8 hours a day and then you suddenly stop for awhile or drop to 1 or 2 days a week, they will throw a promo at you to try to get you to go back to shopping more or to keep you from going to another gig and they will also some times give them to new shoppers to entice them. And usually these promos are not that good. Bumps,…bumps generally are not given for bad weather or dog bites. Generally bumps are given for a couple of reasons. One would be if you have a gand deliver only order and the customer isnt responding to your knock, doorbell, text ir calls, so you contact instacare and they try reaching the customer. They make you wait 15 minutes…usually more like 30 minutes and if the customer doesnt show up then they gove you a $10 bump if theres no alcohol and you have to return the items to the store or $15 if there is alcohol and youre mandated to return the order to the store. You will also get a $15 bump if the customer has alcohol but they dont have ID , underage, not home, or appear intoxicated and you must return the alcohol. Or you might get a bump if you get to the customers house and they say im on my way ill be there in q5 minutes and you wait for them.cthe bump amount will be determined by how long youve waited. Cancelation bumps, those are depending on a few things. If you cancel the order you get nothing. If the customer cancels the order and you already started the batch then you will get the batch pay but no tip and no bump. If the customer cancels the order but you havent started the batch then you get a $5-$15 dollar bump. But keep in mind, california shoppers do not get bumps at all because they get guaranteed earnings. Which is hilarious. California instacart shoppers are guaranteed minimum wage for the hours they work. So in california it will be 120% of minimum wage which is around $15…so they pay you $18 an hour….but….they get no bumps and for two they pay california shoppers 30 cents a mile for mileage and they pay the other states 60 cents a mile. So say you take an order, it takes you an hour and 15 minutes to shop the order and get to the customer. But the customer is not there and irs a hand delivery only order, you have to spend time trying to reach the customer, when that fails you then have to take the time to reach them, for them to try and reach the customer and then they usually ask you to wait another 10- 15 minutes even though it says we only have to wait 15 minutes and now youve been waiting say another 38 minutes. So due to my guarnteed earnings/batch pay i will automatically get about about $35 total…IF IT DOESNT GET ME $18 AN HOUR….and i do not get the tip…and then i have to take the groceries back to the store on my own time! I dont even get the mileage and i cannot accept another batch until this is complete. Now…another state in the same scenario will get the batch pay, which will be pretty close to the $30+ an hour i got here, but they will also get 60 cents a mile unlike my 30 cents and they will get the bump! Lets say the mileage was 7 miles total. I would get around $37.1…$35 batch and $2.1 milage…while the driver in the other state will get about $30 batch, plus $4.2 mileage and then get $10-$15 bumps.for a total of $44.2-$49.2…so california shoppers are losing money! Also i would like to add a couple things, instacart guarantees atleast $7 a batch, so you would think that if they gave you a batch that had three customers you would be guaranteed atleast $21 for the batch pay correct? Nope they lower the batch down and you can sometimes get a three customer batch with a batch pay of $10-$11 dollars…with 75 items to shop, one is bound to live in an upper apartment hand have cases of water and probably didnt even tip. And ad far as mileage…you have to pay attention to how many customers are in that batch. If its one customer with say 15-20 miles it will probably be a waste of your time…but if its a batch with three customers and 15-20 miles than its split between the customers and might be a good batch to pull. Now markets being in demand..
    Right now everyone is fighting for batches. In order to receieve a batch in most areas you have to sit outside of the store you want to try for and keep refreshing the app and when one pops in you have to be quick about accepting it because they go quicker than you can blink. And if your ratings are liw, or you gave a bunch of cancelations…youre screwed. Sometimes youll get lucky and youll get like a $70-$100 batch because the customer is giving a generous tip…becareful though…we get tip baited alot. They put the high tip on there so it will get shopped quickly and once you deliver they remove the tip…and sometimes they report you never delivered the order…so they get a refund and also get the order they say they never got even though you sent pictures you took of them at the front door and they will sometimes deactivate your account without even investigating it. The areas are over saturated so its not likely you can survive on this alone. Back in March of last year i made $12,000 in 30 days…no i did not accidentally add an extra 0…that is 12 thousand in 30 days. Because i worked every day all day and have superb customer service. Last year i made $59,000 in 8 months of work….however around december of last year they hired tons of shoppers….now im lucky if i make $100 a day and thats working all day. You have no value in this company…youre disposable. If your ratings drop below a 5 youre going to be scrambling to get 100 batches done to remove one bad rating…if you have multiple bad ratings you will need to do 100 for each one in order for them to clear. If you get deactivated even if its through no fault of your own. Chances are you will not be reactivated. At one time i loved working for this company…ir i should say with this company….and not just for the money, its nice being your own boss, making your own schedule and working when you want. But it takes alot of discipline and ar this time you probably wont be making the money you would lije and that you can live on….when youre hired on for the first 30 days you will be making great money, afterwards you get thrown into the shark tank with everyone else and will hope that you will atleast make the money to replace your gas you used…and now tgat gas prices are soaring…thats not looking too good! But hey welcome aboard and good luck!
    P.s….if you want to succeed you might want to multi app…get on with instacart, shopt, gopuff, cornwr shop, uber eats, grubhub, door dash, amazon, roadie and wego and run them all at once and you might be able to sfford the gas haha

    • Oh and one more thing, im not sure about other areas but here in los angeles there is a waiting list. My kids and husband have been waiting for over a year. Grab a chair and relax…its goung to be while


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