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Your Complete Guide to Instacart Tipping Etiquette

By: // Updated: September 23, 2020

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When you’re looking to save time on your errands and chores, having someone else check off your to-dos for you is often the best choice. These days, finding local shoppers to bring ingredients to your door is as easy as using a grocery delivery app like Instacart. But when you’re first getting started, you need to learn Instacart tipping etiquette to budget out the cost and keep delivery workers happy.

Just as with the tipping customs of other food delivery apps, the proper way to tip Instacart Shoppers can be unclear for first time users. After all, most delivery services in the modern gig economy say that tips aren’t required, but whether or not they’re expected is still left in the air.

So what’s the real standard for Instacart tipping? We’ll give you a full rundown in this article.


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Do I Need to Tip Instacart Shoppers?

Person tipping on Instacart

Customers absolutely need to tip Instacart Shoppers, who are the full-service drivers who shop and deliver to your door, for each order they complete. While it’s not technically a requirement according to Instacart’s tipping policy, it is an expectation that’s upheld by most users on the platform, since these Instacart workers are providing a direct service to you. Just as you would tip your waiter at a restaurant, you need to tip your Shopper for their efforts.

Tipping isn’t just a formality when you’re using Instacart — it helps your drivers make a living. While the company has advertised that Instacart Shoppers can make up to $25 per hour, the average user-reported base pay is only $10 per hour before tips kick in. This pay is lower than minimum wage in states like New York and California, and doesn’t reach living wage for drivers who are supporting a family.

In addition to the average pay rate being fairly low for Instacart Shoppers, these gig workers are independent contractors who are responsible for all of their own expenses, including gas, car insurance, and car maintenance. Shoppers depend on customer tips to support themselves and continue shopping at grocery stores on your behalf.

Instacart Tipping Etiquette

Variety of vegetables displayed

When you get to the checkout page on the Instacart app, the platform will automatically suggest a 5% or $2 tip — whichever is higher. However, this default tip is actually much lower than what you should actually add on to your order total. Instacart tipping is no different than tipping at restaurants or at the hair salon, which means a 15% or 20% tip is considered the standard.

Your service fee is different than your tip and does not go directly to your Shoppers. As long as your Shopper correctly delivers your Instacart order and provides decent or average service, it’s typical to tip 15% in the United States. If your request involves lots of items or heavy items, like cases of water, or your delivery person provides great service, you should consider upping your tip amount to 20% of your order total. Some Instacart customers tip as much as 25% or more if their Shopper truly goes above and beyond, or if they simply have the means to support their hard work.

Of course, there are unfortunate cases where you may receive poor service from an Instacart Shopper. In these cases, you can lower your tip (usually to 10% or so), but we never recommend opting out of Instacart tipping altogether. Choosing not to tip can cause a significant drop in your driver’s hourly earnings and drop them below the already low average wage.

We also recommend thinking about whether or not poor service was actually your driver’s fault before you choose to decrease your tip. For example, a delayed delivery is often the result of traffic that is out of your driver’s control. However, if your Instacart Shopper is rude to you in person, this is grounds for a lowered tip.

How to Tip Instacart Shoppers

Woman in pajamas holding phone

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.

To update your tip through your account, follow these simple steps on the Instacart app:

  1. Tap the “Account” icon.
  2. Tap “Your Orders.”
  3. Select the order you want to adjust your tip on.
  4. Tap “Rate and Tip.”
  5. Adjust your tip amount.

If you want to update your tip through your account on a desktop computer, you can use these steps instead:

  1. Log into Instacart.com.
  2. Click on the “Account” tab.
  3. Select “Your Orders” from the dropdown menu.
  4. Select the order you want to adjust your tip on.
  5. Click “Rate Order.”
  6. Adjust your tip amount.

Frequently Asked Questions

Instacart tipping: Vegetable display in grocery store

Now that you know why Instacart tipping matters and how you can give your Shoppers an earnings boost, here are some frequently asked questions to help you learn more about how Instacart tipping works:

1. What percentage of my tip do Instacart Shoppers receive?

Instacart shoppers always receive 100% of any tip you provide. While the platform’s pay structure may only offer drivers a small portion of your order total, you can rest assured that any tip you add will fully go toward your driver’s earnings and help them make a living wage.

2. Will In-Store Shoppers receive any of my tip?

While Instacart does hire In-Store Shoppers in select locations to expedite the shopping and checkout process, only the Full-Service Shoppers who shop, drive, and deliver can receive tips. This is because these delivery drivers are contracted to directly interact with customers like you, rather than just working behind the scenes, and are actually expected to provide great service.

3. If there’s a problem with my order, how can I get in touch with Instacart support?

If there’s an issue with your order that warrants more than a lowered tip, such as missing or damaged items, Instacart makes it easy to contact their support team. After the delivery, your ratings screen will offer a selection of common issues under a section titled “Were there any problems?” in addition to a “Report a problem” link for miscellaneous issues. You can take either route to submit an issue to the support team.

If you’re not seeing these options, you can also contact Instacart by tapping “Email us” at the bottom of this help page or calling the grocery delivery service at 1-888-246-7822. The phone line is open 24/7.

4. Does the rating I give my Instacart Shopper affect their earnings?

The rating you give your Shopper won’t affect their average base pay, but it can impact their ability to earn a weekly bonus in some markets. This weekly bonus is given to top-performing drivers, who are typically those who receive a large amount of five-star ratings. Because of this, it’s recommended to only give a driver less than five stars if something goes wrong that’s directly in their control.

Tip the Right Way

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.

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