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Instacart Tipping: Should You Tip Instacart Drivers?

Last updated: September 23, 2021
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vector graphic showing instacart tipping - an instacart shopper delivering groceries to a woman standing inside a door and giving the driver cash for the order he is dropping off

Instacart has quickly grown into one of the most sought-after services in online shopping, especially during COVID-19.

A critical part of the service is the Instacart Shoppers who do the shopping on your behalf and then bring the food directly to your door.

Unfortunately, there has been controversy of late surrounding the all-important tipping policy for delivering groceries.

Some wonder if Instacart provides a personal service when a consumer buys and has groceries delivered.

However, the question remains: is the Instacart shopper providing a personal service?

The answer is simple. They are.

Buying and delivering your foods and other supplies is as personal as it gets.

Should You Tip Instacart?

Instacart tipping, of course, is a voluntary show of gratitude for good service.

Like many services, Instacart’s policy is a tip is not an obligation but an option and not part of the service fee.

The gratuity shows the employee’s work has simplified and enhanced your experience.

If they make your life easier, the driver deserves a tip.

Should You Tip Instacart Drivers?

Tips are optional and the best way to demonstrate your recognition and appreciation of service.

Instacart’s default for tipping is 5% or a percentage of your most recent order, whichever is higher.

Instacart suggests a minimum $2 tip per individual delivery.

Should You Tip Instacart Curbside Pickup?

While it is simple to understand why you should tip Instacart Shoppers, who are the full-service divers who shop and delivery to your door, curbside it different.

Curbside pickup might seem tricky.

You assume the delivery person only brought the bags to your car, and that alone doesn’t deserve a tip.

However, the chances are that the person who brings out the order also did the shopping.

Now, in general, food programs specify shoppers not to accept tips.

Instacart is not one of them.

Show your appreciation with the Instacart app by including the bonus with the order or giving the shopper cash from the window during curbside pickup.

While you can undoubtedly give cash, using the app is often preferred.

When managing Instacart tipping etiquette, take into account that drivers currently lean towards contactless interaction.

When picking up, your best bet is to not get out of the car.

Go ahead and roll down the window, greet and thank them, but let the Instacart workers put the bags in the trunk.

Yes, it might seem rude, but chances are, if nicely tipped already, the shopper won’t care.

Does My Tip Go to Instacart Drivers or Shoppers?

With Instacart, your shopper or driver is usually the same person.

Any tip goes to the individual delivering from grocery stores.

That’s 100% with no fees attached.

Pro tip: if you’re looking to lower the price of your order, instead of lowering your tip, look into claiming an Instacart promo code for free delivery credit or signing up for Instacart Express to save on delivery fees.

Why Should You Tip Instacart Drivers?

Your driver depends on tips to balance out their stream of income.

Since the entire tip goes to the driver, your tip has a noticeable impact on their budgets.

1. They Work Hard

The driver provides an invaluable service.

They save you who knows how many hours it would take to go to the supermarket, pharmacy, or other stores yourself.

When you use Instacart, you don’t have to go shopping when the heat is scorching, or the rain is drenching.

If you suddenly realize you missed an ingredient for dinner or suddenly find yourself with a house full of guests, you can have whatever you need at your door in one to four hours (in most cases).

The shopper works hard to provide a unique service, and that tip motivates them to get the job done fast and effectively.

2. They Keep 100% of Tips

All drivers get the entire tip. No exceptions.

3. The Tip Is Not Included in Instacart Cost

The tip is not part of Instacart’s delivery fee.

Instacart calculates and expenses you for items, taxes, and delivery.

No mandatory tip gets added to the expense.

The bonus is a privilege that you and only you are responsible for.

You can give your driver a tip upon delivery or, better, tag the tip onto the order with the click of a button.

Before placing the order, the platform will suggest a tip at checkout.

There is an option to change the amount at this point.

In the app, you can do the same, scrolling for the delivery tip and, if you choose, changing the suggested amount.

How Much Should You Tip Instacart Drivers?

Here are some calculations to determine what to tip your Instacart driver.

Tip Amount for Poor Service

It can be hard to take the tip out of the equation, even when you get below-par service.

We don’t want to seem rude.

Yet, a tip is also a judgment of the service, and forcing yourself to pay for bad service can be a hard pill to swallow.

We’d advise before you choose to eliminate the tip, see what you can do to rectify the situation.

Call the store or Instacart to resolve the matter.

If the shopper missed the deadline, see if you can find out why.

There might be a good reason that was out of the shopper’s control.

If the poor service was unavoidable, leave the default tip of 5%.

That will provide a lot more feedback than taking the tip away completely.

Tip Amount for Average Service

The average tip for service is 15%–18%.

It demonstrates that the service filled the basic requirements.

After all, regardless of any issues you may have, the Instacart employee still did the shopping and brought the delivery to your door.

Tip Amount for Great Service

When you get good service, the driver deserves some reward.

Take into account the collection of items you needed, the travel time it took the shopper to bring it to your home if you got everything you asked for, and how much time they’ve saved you.

Let them know you appreciate the effort with big tips of at least 20%.

Example: Calculating a Hypothetical Tip

Here are the most common methods for calculating an Instacart tip.

  • Move the total bill’s decimal one to the left and double that number.
  • Take the tax of the bill and double it. (You can’t use this method with food items as they aren’t taxable, but it’s suitable for everything else.)
  • Double the pretax bill and move the decimal over one space.
  • Take 10% of the bill and add 50% to that number.
  • Use Instacart to help you establish standard tip percentages or use a custom tip of your choosing.

Ways to Tip Instacart Drivers

vector graphic showing instacart tipping - an instacart shopper delivering groceries to a woman standing inside a door and giving the driver cash for the order he is dropping off

Anytime you’re ordering on Instacart, you can select your gratuity amount before your driver arrives at your door.

The checkout page will automatically set a suggested 5% or $2 tip, which you can adjust by tapping the “Change” button in this section.

Instacart does understand that your chosen tip amount may need to be adjusted after the actual delivery, at which point you’ll know whether poor or excellent service has actually occurred.

Because of this, customers have the option to change their tip up to three days after the completed delivery.

If you want to increase or decrease the tip you initially chose, there are a few ways you can do so.

If you’re adjusting immediately after delivery, you should see a receipt pop-up within your Instacart app that allows you to adjust your tip.

Your emailed receipt will also provide a direct link to adjust your tip.

Here’s how to add a tip to your order using Instacart.

1. On Instacart’s Website

During the checkout, you’ll find a page for Instacart tipping.

Choose one of the tip suggestions or customize the tip.

The final step will be to place the order.

2. Modifying the Tip

  • Click Menu at the top left of the screen (what looks like three horizontal lines)
  • Select Your Orders
  • Find the specific order and click on View Order Detail
  • At the top of the order, click on Rate Order
  • After the rating, update the tip

2. Using the Instacart App

  • Tap Go to Checkout and scroll to the Delivery Tip
  • Tap Change.
  • Select the amount you want to tip and select
  • Save Tip

3. Tip Through the App After an Order

  • Find the “Menu” button (the three horizontal lines) in the upper left-hand corner
  • Select “Your Orders”
  • Tap the relevant order
  • Select “Rate and Tip”
  • Select the tip amount and save

4. Tipping Instacart Drivers in Cash

You always have the option of giving your driver a tip upon arrival.

If you plan to do this, we advise you to leave instructions for the driver to ring the bell or text that they’re outside.

Many deliveries are set to be contactless.

So drivers are unlikely to ring the bell.

This tipping rule also applies to curbside pickups.

You can message them within the app to let them know you’d like to leave a tip in cash.

Can You Tip on Instacart After Delivery?

If you were happy with your driver’s service in going above and beyond for you, there are ways to show your appreciation.

You can increase the tip amount used when you first placed the order.

You have up to 24 hours to change the tip after the order’s delivered.

If you’re comfortable with it, you can also give the driver an additional tip upon delivery.

How to Change the Tip on Instacart

Instacart gives buyers the option to change a tip within 24 hours of delivery.

If you lower the tip, you will have to provide a reason.

Consumers who do it too often risk getting banned from Instacart.

Can Instacart Drivers See the Tip?

Before receiving a shopping assignment, drivers will see the following info:

  • Number of items on the shopping list
  • The distance of the trip from the store to your door
  • Earnings estimate that includes payment from Instacart and the tip

The information helps the driver decide if they want to accept the order or not.

If you apply a tip to the order, the driver sees the tip on the request and is more likely to take the order.

What Happens if You Don’t Tip Instacart?

A tip is a motivator for excellent service.

Restaurant and hotel staff understand their tip is only guaranteed via customer satisfaction.

The difference between those venues and Instacart is your shopper sees the tip before getting to work.

The size of the tip might motivate them to work harder.

At the other end of the spectrum, drivers who see a shabby tip may not operate as quickly as they could, especially if you’ve placed a large order.

Don’t forget.

Drivers are not obligated to accept orders.

A lack of a tip will certainly incentivize someone to put your order to the side.

What is Instacart Tip Baiting?

Tip baiting is manipulating your tips to promote better service.

The practice started in the early stages of the current health crisis.

Isolation prompted great caution in shoppers who were suspicious of delivering orders.

What customers started to do was leave a large tip in the order.

Once they received their groceries, the customer went into Instacart and reduced the tip or removed it.

The practice has been a public point of contention over the last few years.

Why Should You Avoid Doing It?

To start, it’s an unfair practice.

People who work for Instacart are lucky to make minimum wage, and tips are an essential part of the job.

It is cruel to promise them something based on their service and renege after they’ve fulfilled their obligation with the best intentions.

To counteract the practice, Instacart has put a set of guidelines in place for clarity.

  • Customers have 24 hours to change the tip amount.
  • Regular tip baiters can expect Instacart to ban them from using the service.
  • When changing a tip, the customer must leave a reason why.

The rules cannot stop tip baiting, of course.

However, it discourages the practice, especially if an individual wants to use Instacart regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are common questions asked by consumers regarding Instacart tipping.

How much do Instacart shoppers make before tips?

According to Glassdoor.com user reports, full-service Instacart Shoppers make an average of $10 an hour, with the average being between $7 and $20 an hour.

There is technically no hourly rate.

How much do Instacart shoppers make in tips?

If a driver is making the high-end $20 per hour, you can factor in tips of 5% at the low end, and the 20% Instacart may suggest.

The most efficient drivers are making the $20 an hour and earn up to $45 an hour with tips.

Are Instacart tips taxable?

Instacart drivers fall under the category of independent contractors, freelancers, and gig workers.

They have the same tax obligations as the rest of us.

They have to pay state and federal taxes, as well the self-employment tax.

Unfortunately, the IRS sees their tips as taxable income.

So drivers do have to include tips in their returns.

Do Instacart shoppers know what you rate them?

Yes, store shoppers can review customer comments and ratings.

What you cannot do is trace the info back to a specific customer (unless, of course, you only had single delivery on that day).

The Instacart employer may use common sense to track a customer.

A customer may complain about not getting a particular product or a squashed melon.

The comment makes it easy to find the source of driver reviews via customer orders.

Wrapping Up

Committing to Instacart tipping is the best way to ensure your helpful Shoppers are making a living wage.

While tips may be listed as optional on the Instacart platform, always remember that your drivers are providing a service,  just like waiters at your favorite restaurants, and a zero-tip order can cause their hourly earnings to take a hit.

The responsible way to order through this food delivery service is to view 15% as the average — and give a little extra when your Instacart Shoppers deliver your order perfectly and are friendly as can be.

Related tipping guides:

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