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When you have a busy schedule and a family to feed, juggling time and money can be a struggle. After a long work day, the last thing you want to do is go to the grocery store for a large haul, but grocery delivery services can cost more than you want to spend. With Instacart Express, you can alleviate both problems all with one subscription.
The subscription model is gaining traction across on-demand apps, with leading brands like Uber and DoorDash offering big savings for a recurring fee. However, the subscription program offered by Instacart — called Instacart Express — is perhaps the most practical for families across the United States. Just like Amazon Prime, it helps you access free delivery (along with other perks) for the items you already need.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about Instacart Express, from how it works to how it compares to Shipt.
- What Is Instacart Express?
- How Instacart Express Works
- How Much Does Instacart Express Cost?
- How to Sign Up for Instacart Express
- Instacart Express vs. Shipt Membership
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Instacart Express?
Instacart Express is a paid membership option that helps regular users save money on grocery deliveries. When you subscribe to Instacart Express, you gain access to all of the following benefits:
- Unlimited free deliveries on orders of at least $35
- No extra delivery fees when buying from multiple stores in one order
- Lower service fees (exact savings vary, but you’ll always pay less than 5%)
- Waived busy pricing fees when your delivery time is during peak hours
You can expect to save at least $3.99 per order on delivery fees alone when you join Instacart Express.
While a standard, free membership helps you save time by passing on the task of in-store grocery shopping, an Instacart Express membership also helps you save time with significant reductions on your usual Instacart costs.
How Instacart Express Works
Once you subscribe to Instacart Express, your benefits will automatically be applied to every single order. Once you’re done adding items to your cart, you’ll see your discounts on the checkout page.
While some subscription programs may limit your options, in terms of what products or services qualify for discounts, Instacart Express actually expands your delivery options. Instead of shopping from a single location, you can freely add items from any of your favorite local stores — from Costco and CVS to Safeway and Publix — without accruing any extra fees.
If the cereal you need is sold out at your nearest Kroger, you can simply hop onto Aldi’s Instacart page to select the item without a worry with Instacart Express.
Even when you’re shopping from multiple stores, you’ll still have access to the same-day deliveries that Instacart always offers. In addition, the final cost of each order will still be charged to the preferred credit card you have on file, keeping the overall online grocery shopping experience the same.
How Much Does Instacart Express Cost?
Instacart Express costs $99 per year (for an annual membership) or $9.99 per month (for a monthly membership). If you choose to pay the full annual price upfront, you save about $20 every single year.
Even if you choose the more expensive month-by-month membership, your subscription will still pay for itself within three orders. In most cases, you’ll already surpass what you pay before you order a third time.
The Instacart Express is automatically renewed each year or each month on a consistent billing date, but you have the power to cancel at any time. If you’re not satisfied with the program, you can end your membership before the next billing cycle comes around.
To stop the renewal of your Instacart membership, you simply need to go to the “Account” section of your app, scroll down to “Instacart Express,” tap “End Membership” next to “Membership Plan,” and follow the prompts to cancel.
If you cancel an annual subscription, you’ll still have access to your Express benefits until the end of the year you already paid for. If you cancel a monthly subscription, you’ll still have access until the end of your current month. You won’t be charged any more membership fees unless you decide to turn your renewals back on.
How to Sign Up for Instacart Express
If all the Instacart Express benefits we described appeal to you, even with the cost, you can start your sign-up process as a new user by following these steps:
1. Head to instacart.com/try-express and enter your zip code. Then, tap “Sign up for Express.”
2. Enter your first name, last name, email address, and preferred password. Then, tap “Sign up with email.”
3. Head to this subscriptions page and tap “Join Express.”
4. Select your preferred membership type.
5. Agree to the terms and conditions, add your preferred credit card, and tap “Sign up for Instacart Express.”
Once you’ve successfully joined, you can start filling your cart (reach $35 for free delivery) and get savings on your first order.
If you’re a current Instacart user, simply start the process on our third step.
Instacart no longer offers 14-day free trials of the Express membership, so make sure to sign up only when you want to start using your benefits. This way, you can take full advantage of each day you’re an Instacart Express member.
Instacart Express vs. Shipt Membership
If you’ve done your research on grocery delivery services in the past, you’ve probably come across Shipt, a Target-owned brand that is one of Instacart’s biggest competitors. Unlike Instacart, Shipt has always been a membership-based service. Instacart Express actually looks a lot like what Shipt has to offer. So how do they stack up?
Shipt and Instacart’s annual memberships both cost $99, but for customers who want to join with a monthly membership, you’ll actually save quite a bit with Instacart. While Instacart Express costs $9.99 per month, Shipt costs $14.99 per month.
Another similarity is that both memberships will get you unlimited free delivery (including one-hour deliveries) for orders $35 or higher. If your order falls under $35, you’ll have to pay a flat $7 delivery fee on Shipt or a $3.99-$7.99 delivery fee on Instacart. Shipt does provide the benefit of no additional small order fees, while Instacart Express members still need to pay a $1.99 fee if their order falls under their store’s minimum.
What really makes Instacart Express take the lead is the fact that it partners with far more grocery stores than Shipt — which means you have many more options for every single order. Unless you’re a customer who could benefit from the 24/7 availability of Shipt personal shoppers (versus Instacart’s 9 a.m. to midnight hours), Instacart Express definitely tends to be a better deal.
Frequently Asked Questions
If your grocery shopping needs are always feeling endless, joining Instacart Express can help you alleviate your time and money constraints. For more information about the subscription program, read these frequently asked questions:
1. Do I still need to tip my Instacart Shopper if I’m an Instacart Express member?
Absolutely. While tipping is never required by the company, the same Instacart tipping etiquette is usually expected regardless of what type of membership you have. Your delivery person’s pay doesn’t increase for your order just because you’re an Instacart Express member.
2. Can I still take advantage of other Instacart offers on top of my Instacart Express benefits?
Absolutely. Even when you’re an Express member, you’re still free to use Instacart promo codes and coupons, as well as purchase any grocery items that are on sale on any store page.
3. Will I get priority service if I join Instacart Express?
Joining Instacart Express will not get you priority service over your fellow customers. This means the fastest turnaround that you’re guaranteed is still a one-hour delivery, and Instacart Shoppers will not be given any incentives to take your orders first. The subscription program is mainly built to increase your monetary savings.
You will not get priority service when calling the Instacart phone number for support either.
Save More on Grocery Deliveries
Empowering you to get savings on top of savings, the Instacart Express membership makes home deliveries even more accessible to thousands of busy families. Joining the subscription program is a no-brainer for anyone who is constantly spending time on large grocery hauls, or anyone who already actively uses the Instacart app.
If you want to earn money with grocery delivery in addition to saving money, learn how to become an Instacart driver with our guide.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.