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Is Instacart Worth It For Shoppers And Drivers in 2024? Unbiased Thoughts Explained

Driving for Instacart is a rewarding gig allowing you to earn extra bucks while working flexible hours. But is Instacart worth it? Read on to find out.

Key Takeaways: Is Instacart Worth It?

  • Instacart offers flexible work with potential high earnings, instant payments, and tips.
  • Drawbacks include unpredictable income, physical strain, vehicle costs, and no benefits.
  • Maximizing earnings involves strategic scheduling, customer service, and route planning.
  • Value depends on personal situation and managing gig challenges and opportunities.

Working with Instacart can be a rewarding side hustle with the potential to earn over $60,000 annually. It offers flexibility, instant payment options, and the opportunity to earn tips.

However, it also comes with challenges like variable income, physical demands, and the use of personal vehicles for deliveries, which can lead to wear and tear. The job lacks job security, insurance, and other benefits, as shoppers are independent contractors.

Ultimately, whether Instacart is worth it depends on individual circumstances and the ability to effectively manage the gig’s demands and opportunities.

Are you looking for a side hustle where you can make quick cash with the flexibility to choose your working hours?

If so, becoming an Instacart shopper is a considerable choice. The catch? You’ll only need a vehicle, a valid license, and a smartphone!

You also have the option to instantly cash out your earnings hours after completing a batch of orders. That makes Instacart an excellent choice for those in need of immediate funds. On top of earning money straight away, you’ll earn customer tips as well.

Despite its enticing benefits, is working for Instacart worth it?

Similar to every side gig, there are potential drawbacks, such as the physical demands and lack of stability. Let’s assess the pros and cons of Instacart shopping and how to make this side gig a worthwhile endeavor.

What Instacart Offers

If you have a knack for grocery delivery service, shopping for Instacart can be a lucrative side hustle you can do in your free hours.

Instacart is a grocery or shopping delivery service company founded by Apoorva Mehta, Max Mullen, and Brandon Leonardo in 2012. The Instacart app has about 10 million active users, with 85% of American households accessing its services.

It’s one of the leading online grocery shopping platforms in the country, with over 900 retail partners, making Instacart one of the most visited grocery websites in 2022, according to Statista.

What Does an Instacart Shopper Do?

Over 600 thousand Instacart shoppers are working for the delivery platform. These individuals accept or process orders, connect with customers through the app, and at the same time deliver goods to their doorsteps.

One of the perks of becoming an Instacart shopper or full-service shopper is you can manage batch orders and see your prospective earnings upfront.

The process of working with Instacart involves three easy steps—creating an account, uploading your driver’s license and bank information, and getting approved. Further, the minimum requirements for shoppers are:

  • At least 18
  • Eligible to work in the US
  • Have a bank account and smartphone to access the shopper app
  • With constant access to a reliable vehicle
  •  Be able to lift over 40 lbs of goods.

Check this out for more types of Instacart gigs.

Evaluating the Earnings Potential

According to Indeed’s data, average Instacart shoppers in the US earn between $15,000-$67,900 annually. Note that several factors influence earnings and different modes to boost your income.

image showing an overview of how much instacart pays

What Is Inclusive of Your Shopper Earnings?

Aside from receiving payment for shopping and processing batch orders, Instacart shoppers also earn from promotions, additional fees, and customer tips.

Through the Shopper app, shoppers can view available individual or batch orders (which usually pay more) and choose which orders to accept or decline with no penalty.

They can also view order details like store information, delivery distance, and the number of items. At the same time, shoppers can view the potential earnings, including tips. The minimum default tip is 5% of the order’s total.

On top of tips, shoppers earn from boosts and heavy pay. Boosts refer to the additional fee customers pay when there are limited shoppers to take the order’s demands or if the customer’s location is quite far away.

Heavy pay, alternatively, is the additional service fee for batches with heavy items and costs at least $2 per batch.

Another way to earn extra is through promotions, where shoppers can participate by sharing and applying a referral code for additional incentives.

What Are the Factors That Influence Earnings?

Your Instacart earnings heavily depend on how long you work, the type of orders you accept, the competition in your location, and the demands. Working during peak hours (especially on weekends and holidays) is one way to generate more income.

Thankfully, Instacart has a Peak Earning Times page showing which times and days high-paying batch orders usually peak. That way, shoppers can schedule their work hours based on times or days when there’s an influx of orders.

Understanding the Commitments

Though working as a full-service shopper is a readily available side hustle for many, it’s not the most straightforward job out there.

It’s crucial to understand the job’s physical demands, from selecting supplies to driving from the store to your customer’s location while adhering to traffic regulations.

But it doesn’t end there; being an Instacart shopper entails several responsibilities and expectations, too. The most crucial is ensuring customer satisfaction.

At times, you’ll have to provide customers with alternatives when their desired items are unavailable. That way, you must be prompt, organized, and attentive while maintaining a positive interaction with customers.

To summarize, here are the minimum duties and responsibilities you must observe as a full-service Instacart shopper:

  1. Deliver goods in a timely and accurate manner
  2. Handle and package items with care
  3. Maintain cleanliness and organization
  4. Communicate effectively and professionally with customers (regarding issues, queries, and substitutions)
  5. Follow privacy protocols and preserve customer’s sensitive information

The Pros of Working with Instacart

Here are some benefits of working as a full-service shopper for Instacart:

1. Work Independently and Be Your Boss

As an Instacart shopper, you aren’t obliged to work within specific schedules or process a certain number of orders a day. Whether you work on a weekend or during holidays—it’s up to you! In fact, some shoppers make Instacart shopping their full-time job.  

You also have the option of whether to accept full-service or deliver-only services. By choosing full-service, you’ll take care of shopping and grocery delivery service at the same time.

The deliver-only option saves you the hassle of picking out supplies, so you’re only tasked to pick them up from the grocery store and deliver them to your customer’s location.

2. Get Paid Instantly

If you need instant cash, you can withdraw your total earnings (including tips) two hours after delivery for only a $0.50 fee. You can also receive your earnings via direct deposit on a weekly basis.

3. Opportunity to Earn Tips

100% of customer tips go straight to your pockets, and Instacart has a program for non-order issue tips. So, if your customer zeroes a tip without indicating an order issue, you’ll still receive up to $10 worth of tip from Instacart.

4. No Commitments—Quit Whenever You Like

Cross out resignation letters, turnovers, and lengthy signing processes; if you feel like there’s no growth in this gig, you can stop anytime. Your account won’t get deleted due to inactivity (unless there are violations), so feel free to return whenever you want.

The Cons of Working with Instacart

The downsides of working as an Instacart shopper include:

1. Variable Income and Lack of Job Security

Your earnings depend on the number of orders you complete plus tips, not to mention that competition has a significant impact on this kind of job, so it’s difficult to predict income streams.

As an independent contractor, you also lack protection and stability. You won’t be paid for your time off, and the company isn’t responsible for taxes you owe.

2. Wear and Tear on Personal Vehicles

Working as an Instacart shopper involves using your personal vehicle to transport goods, so you’re responsible for your fuel costs, maintenance, and repair expenses that can eat into your earnings.

You’re also deteriorating your car with constant use, which is a major drawback if you plan to sell it in the future.

3. Physical Demands of the Job

For individuals with full-time jobs, working as an Instacart shopper on the side can be exhausting. Sometimes, you’ll have to carry heavy bags of grocery items through flights of stairs or long distances and juggle multiple orders at once.

Dealing with multiple (likely difficult) customers and problems can be stressful and draining, too.

4. Lack of Insurance and Other Benefits

As an independent contractor, you won’t receive any insurance coverage or retirement benefits.

If Instacart shopping is your sole source of income, this lack of financial security can be a threat, especially during unexpected injuries or accidents that could occur while on the job.

Real Shopper Testimonials

After reading reviews and testimonies of former Instacart shoppers from employment platforms like Indeed, there are mixed reactions regarding the gig’s benefits.

One former full-service shopper claims that delivering goods for Instacart doesn’t make enough to sustain rent, pay bills, or put food on the table.

While being able to work for people from all walks of life is a worthwhile experience, the hefty amount they have to pay for mileage doesn’t add up to the limited job availability.

Despite that, many former shoppers claim they were able to achieve work-life balance and earn a decent wage from tips.

Tips for Making Instacart Work for You

Follow these quick tips to maximize your shopper earnings and save on costs:

  1. Memorize your area and learn the best routes: Easy navigation prevents traffic while saving on mileage expenses and time. That way, you’ll complete more orders in a short span of time.
  2. Choose the busiest hours and areas: Stay up-to-date with active shopping times by analyzing data and trends to plan your schedule ahead of time.
  3. Customer satisfaction is a top priority: Boost your rates and build a loyal customer base by maintaining a professional and friendly attitude to customers, which can also help with your referrals.
  4. Strategize and stay organized when shopping: Make a list and choose lines with shorter queues.
  5. Take advantage of promotions to maximize earnings: Earn extra cash through referral programs and targeting quotas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about Instacart:

Does Instacart Pay for Gas?

No. While Instacart doesn’t offer fuel assistance, they implemented a temporary file surcharge, where they charge customers additional $0.40 for every order to ease the fuel burden on shoppers.

Where Do Instacart Shoppers Make the Most?

Instacart shoppers earn the most in cities like New York, Chicago, and California. In California, shoppers are guaranteed at least 120% of the local minimum wage for every hour shoppers spend shopping or delivering—thanks to the passing of Proposition 22.

Is Instacart Worth it As a Side Hustle?

Yes. It’s an excellent passive income source as it offers flexible working hours. It isn’t an ideal sole source of income, though, due to increased competition and lack of stability/benefits.

Wrapping Up

Is Instacart worth it? Yes, and shoppers can earn over $60,000 annually as long as you adapt effective strategies to maximize earnings. Such strategies include taking advantage of promotions, getting more batches, and working on peak hours.

That said, it’s best to consider personal circumstances before diving into this type of work.

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