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Instacart Vs DoorDash: Basics, Similarities, Differences and More

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Are you one of the few people who didn’t turn to delivery services during the pandemic?

You might be unfamiliar with Instacart and DoorDash.

What exactly are they and how do they compare?

Here’s a guide to Instacart vs DoorDash.

Whether you’re looking to try a delivery service or pick up some gig work and extra money from one, this guide is for you.

What Is Instacart?

Founded in June 2012, Instacart is an online delivery service like Amazon Fresh.

Users can place orders for the delivery of groceries and household items.

It offers same-day delivery from more than 40,000 partner stores.

Users place orders through the Instacart website and app.

A personal shopper does the shopping and delivers the items to the user’s home.

Instacart personal shoppers are freelance contractors.

They earn a small cut of the service fees and 100% of any tips.

Instacart also offers opportunities for dedicated in-store shoppers.

They work in one store filling orders.

They do not make deliveries.

Where Is Instacart Available?

Instacart provides service to metro areas in all 50 states.

They also serve all Canadian provinces except for Quebec.

What Is DoorDash?

DoorDash is an on-demand food delivery service like Uber Eats.

Founded in 2013, the delivery app lets users order from participating restaurants.

The driver, an independent contractor, picks up the orders and delivers them.

DoorDash food deliverers, also known as Dashers, earn per delivery.

DoorDash bases earnings on the estimated time and distance of the delivery.

Dashers also get 100% of tips.

Where Is DoorDash Available?

DoorDash operates in more than 7,000 cities.

They serve the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

In the U.S., DoorDash is now available in select cities in all 50 U.S. states.

Instacart vs DoorDash Differences

Instacart and DoorDash are both food delivery apps.

But they provide two very different food delivery services.

Main Difference

The primary difference between Instacart and DoorDash is the products they deliver.

Instacart provides grocery delivery and household goods from stores.

DoorDash delivers take-out from restaurants.

Both companies are looking to expand in the other’s space.

DoorDash now offers grocery delivery services in select areas.

Instacart has not yet provided delivery from restaurants.

But, they have gotten into meal delivery via ready-to-heat meals by Sunbasket.

Whether someone is a Dasher or an Instacart shopper, both are delivery drivers.

Dashers deliver orders.

Instacart personal shoppers do both the shopping and delivery.

Instacart Pros and Cons

The pros for Instacart customers include:

  • Instacart Express subscribers receive free delivery on all orders of $35 or more
  • Provides same-day delivery service in some areas
  • Widely available in large cities throughout the U.S. and Canada
  • Partners with many of the bigger grocery chains and retail stores for a wide shopping variety

Some pros of working as an Instacart personal shopper?

Shoppers pick their own hours, select their jobs, and keep 100% of their tips.

The cons of shopping through Instacart include:

  • Delivery fee unless the user is an Instacart Express subscriber
  • A service fee that applies to all orders, and some other fees may apply to specific types of orders
  • Prices may be higher than in-store since not all stores update sale prices through the app

One big con about being an Instacart shopper is that tipping by customers is optional.

DoorDash Pros and Cons

The pros for DoorDash customers include:

  • Provides food delivery services to nearly a half-million restaurants
  • Can deliver alcohol

Some pros of working as a Dasher:

  • Drivers keep 100% of their tips
  • Drivers can pick their hours (as long as there is availability)

The cons of ordering through DoorDash:

  • Fees
  • Drivers are not permitted to open orders to verify accuracy

Here are some cons about being a Dasher:

  • You must schedule shifts in advance, and there are limits on the availability
  • Tipping by customers is optional

Instacart vs DoorDash for Customers

Placing an order for delivery on either platform is pretty straightforward.

Here are some things to know about ordering from each service.

vector graphic showing the instacart vs doordash debate

Food Variety

The bigger your city, the wider variety of food options you’ll have to choose from.

This is true of both companies.

Instacart Food Options

Instacart provides grocery delivery.

There are very few food products you can’t order through them.

They even deliver fresh and frozen foods.

In some locations, you can also order ready-to-heat Sunbasket prepared meals.

DoorDash Restaurant Options

DoorDash provides restaurant delivery and, in some areas, groceries.

They have an extensive network of restaurant partnerships.

But your delivery area ultimately determines your food choices.

Delivery Tracking

Once you place either an Instacart or DoorDash order, you can track it with that service’s app.

You can track an order from the time you place it until it gets to your front door.

Instacart Delivery Tracking

After placing an order, you’ll receive a message in the app when a personal shopper starts it.

You’ll see another message when it’s time for delivery.

The app has an estimated arrival time and a map on which you can follow the personal shopper’s progress.

DoorDash Delivery Tracking

After checking out, you can see when your order is ready at the restaurant.

You can also see when the delivery driver is on their way to your house.

If, for some reason, your order is late, you can report it using the food delivery app.

Customer Service

As with any service, there may be times you need to contact someone at DoorDash or Instacart.

Both platforms provide easy ways for users to get customer support.


On Instacart, you can:

  • Connect with an issue specialist by phone or email
  • Communicate via in-app chat support

Senior Instacart customers can contact the Senior Support Service for help.


Doordash chat and call support are available 24/7 for customers.

It also has an online help center if you need answers to general questions.

Delivery Fees

Delivery service is not free.

Here are some of the fees charged by each platform.

Instacart Delivery Fees

For same-day orders of $35 or more, Instacart delivery begins at $3.99.

Fees may vary for club store deliveries, one-hour deliveries, and deliveries under $35.

To be eligible for delivery, orders must be $10 or more.

Instacart Express members pay a monthly fee for free delivery on all orders $35 or more per retailer.

A service fee applies to all delivery orders.

Tipping is optional.

It is not automatically applied to any order.

DoorDash Delivery Fees

Fees vary for each restaurant on the DoorDash platform.

Users will see any fees on the app’s checkout screen before paying.

DoorDash may charge a delivery fee and service fee, depending on the restaurant.

There may be another fee for orders below a certain minimum or orders placed during busy times.

Tipping is optional.

In some regions, users can subscribe to DashPass for one monthly fee.

DashPass subscribers do not pay a delivery fee.

They also pay reduced service fees for orders of $12 or more from eligible restaurants.

Instacart vs DoorDash for Drivers

A common question for potential delivery drivers is how drivers get paid.

Still, there are other factors to consider before signing up to work for either platform.

Driver Requirements

Both platforms have requirements drivers must meet to accept jobs.

Both companies perform background checks on drivers.

Instacart Driver Requirements

The basic requirements to be an Instacart shopper are:

  • Must be 18 years old or older
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Have regular access to both a vehicle and a smartphone (Android 5.0 / iPhone 6s or newer)
  • The ability to lift 50 lbs with or without help

DoorDash Driver Requirements

The basic requirements to become a DoorDash driver are:

  • Must be 18 or older
  • Have access to a car or scooter, or in some cities, a bicycle
  • Have auto insurance and a valid driver’s license

Driver Duties

Driver duties differ slightly between the two platforms.

Here is what food delivery drivers may have to do when working for one platform or the other.

Instacart Driver Duties

Instacart full-service shopper duties may include:

  • Driving to the store
  • Doing the shopping
  • Updating the customer on any out-of-stock items
  • Paying for the order with an Instacart card (personal shoppers do not pay for orders with their own money)
  • Driving the delivery to the customer’s house

Personal shoppers must ensure that orders are accurate and on time.

DoorDash Driver Duties

Dasher duties may include:

  • Picking up the food orders
  • Paying with the DoorDash card if necessary (DoorDash drivers do not pay for orders with their own money)
  • Delivering the order to the customer

DoorDash expects drivers to deliver orders promptly and use safety precautions.

Driver expectations include:

  • Never opening food containers or tampering with the order in any way
  • Keeping orders in a hot bag during delivery if required by a merchant
  • Keeping the food upright during transport

Driver Safety

The pandemic has spurred stricter safety protocols for both companies.

Here is a look at how both platforms are taking steps to keep drivers safer.

Instacart Driver Safety

Instacart has several procedures for protecting drivers including:

  • Shopper safety alerts via the app of unsafe conditions
  • Emergency assistance via the app
  • A Trust & Safety team for reporting unsafe conditions and situations
  • Shopper injury insurance

DoorDash Driver Safety

DoorDash provides occupational accident insurance at no cost to DoorDash drivers.

It covers any injury while delivering on the DoorDash platform.

Dashers have access to SafeDash™ by ADT through the Doordash app.

SafeDash allows drivers to quickly connect with ADT if necessary. ADT can dispatch 911 if necessary.

How Much Money Can You Make?

How much money you can make on either of these platforms depends on many factors.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect on each platform.


Instacart pays per batch.

The amount you earn per batch varies.

It depends on the number and types of items in the order and driving distance.

When you pick an order, Instacart provides an estimated amount you’ll receive for that order.

Instacart pays at least $5 for each delivery-only batch.

A batch that requires shopping and delivery pays $7 to $10 per batch.

Personal shoppers also keep 100% of customer tips.

Shoppers can also earn a referral bonus for getting others to become shoppers.

In-store shoppers earn an hourly wage.

The wage varies depending on where they live.


DoorDash drivers earn a base pay for every delivery.

It’s on the estimated time and distance of the order.

Dashers also keep 100% of customer tips.

DoorDash driver pay may also include Peak Pay promotions and challenges. These help Dashers earn more.


Here’s a look at how Instacart shoppers and Dashers schedule jobs.

Instacart Scheduling

Instacart shoppers can work whenever orders are available.

A shopper’s average customer rating may determine which orders they see in the app.

A shopper can see the details of any job before accepting it.

DoorDash Scheduling

DoorDash requires drivers to “Schedule a Dash.”

It is like scheduling a delivery shift.

DoorDash only allows so many drivers to schedule a Dash during any given period.

Drivers may not always get the desired delivery slot.

Final Take

Comparing DoorDash and Instacart for consumers is comparing apples and oranges.

They provide two different services.

However, for anyone looking to earn money working for a delivery service, which is better?

DoorDash is likely the easier gig.

You don’t have to do any of the shopping that Instacart shoppers sometimes have to do.

Also, DoorDash provides Peak Pay incentives that Instacart doesn’t.

So, there may be more earning potential with DoorDash.

But DoorDash shifts may not always be available when you are.

Instacart might be better for those with unpredictable schedules.

Signing up for either company is pretty simple.

Why not try both to see which offers more opportunities in your area?

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