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Shipt vs. Instacart: Find Out Which Service Has the Better Earning Potential

How does Shipt stack up against Instacart in terms of worker satisfaction? Our Shipt vs. Instacart guide compares the two side-by-side.

Shipt Vs. Instacart (Side-By-Side)

Shipt and Instacart may seem similar, but there are some key differences between them regarding the actual worker experience, from pay and order volume to flexibility.

This Shipt vs. Instacart comparison will help you pin down the perfect delivery service for your specific work-life balance needs, so check it out now.

Point of ComparisonShiptInstacart
CountriesU.S.U.S. and Canada
Number of Cities5,0005,500
Number of RetailersOver 130Over 1,400
In-Store ShoppingNoYes
Background CheckYesYes
Vehicle Age 1997 or NewerN/A
Lifting Ability45 Pounds40 Pounds
Average Pay$16-$22 / Order$10-$17 / Hour

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

Both Shipt and Instacart offer a great way to make money with a flexible schedule on your own time. I like both, but have specific cases for choosing each.

Choose Shipt if you value being paid per order (with an average of $16-$22), prefer selecting specific metro areas to minimize travel, and appreciate a sense of community through company-hosted events.

Shipt is ideal for those who can meet more stringent vehicle and physical requirements, including a vehicle made in 1997 or newer and the ability to lift up to 45 pounds.

Opt for Instacart if you prefer a wider geographic presence, as it’s available in the U.S. and Canada across over 14,000 cities.

Instacart suits those looking for payment by the hour ($10-$17), with the option to work as an in-store shopper without a car.

It requires less regarding vehicle age and knowledge of produce, with a lifting requirement of up to 40 pounds.

My Suggestion: This is just my own personal take. I suggest carefully considering your work-life balance needs, desired flexibility, and whether or not you prefer being paid by the hour or order.

I have built very detailed courses that walk you through the entire shopping experience – step-by-step – from start to finish.

I suggest reading this entire review, but also checking out those courses to learn more about each. The courses are free, open, and can be browsed just like a regular blog post.

Overview of Shipt vs. Instacart

Shipt is an online grocery delivery service that covers around 5,000 cities in the United States and allows members to shop from various local grocery stores and chains—Target, CVS, Costco, Petco, and more.

It lets users select items for delivery from the app or website, and then a personal shopper purchases the order and delivers it to their doorstep.

Instacart, on the other hand, is the first company to make online grocery shopping as accessible in North America (Canada included) as it is today.

The service boasts 1,400 national, regional, and local retail partners and serves over 14,000 cities.

With Instacart, users can browse inventory from local stores, pay for it, and then pick a suitable delivery window. They can even schedule grocery deliveries several days ahead of time.

Working for Shipt vs. Instacart

Don’t be quick to pick Instacart over Shipt just because the former is considered the originator and serves more cities than the latter; Shipt has plenty to offer its shoppers.

This section compares the shopper experience of both Shipt and Instacart by looking into their requirements for becoming a shopper and their pay, among other factors.


The requirements for becoming a shopper are somewhat similar for both Shipt and Instacart. The two grocery delivery services require shoppers to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a background check
  • Have up-to-date auto insurance
  • Have a smartphone (at least iOS 10 or Android 5.1)
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have a valid bank account/mailing address

There are a few key differences to take note of, though.

Your vehicle cannot be manufactured before 1997 to qualify as a Shipt shopper. This ensures that your vehicle is reliable and safe for handling multiple deliveries.

Instacart, on the other hand, doesn’t have any vehicle age requirements. If your car is in good working order, you can make the cut as an Instacart shopper.

Vehicles aside, there are physical requirements you need to meet to qualify for either grocery delivery service since, in some cases, you’ll need to carry large cases.

With Shipt, you must be able to lift up to 45 pounds of groceries. Instacart is a little less demanding, requiring shoppers to be able to lift up to 40 pounds.

Finally, basic knowledge of produce selection is mandatory to deliver groceries with Shipt. This isn’t a requirement with Instacart, though.

In Short: Instacart is less demanding than Shipt with its eligibility requirements.

Earning Potential

Though Shipt and Instacart have slightly different payment structures, they’re neck and neck as far as earning potential.

Shipt pays its shoppers an average of $16-$22 per order delivered, while Instacart pays around $10-$17 per hour, according to some reports.

As you’d expect, pay can fluctuate substantially for both services depending on factors such as:

  • Metropolitan area
  • Demand
  • Order size
  • Time of day
  • Distance
  • Experience

What’s great about both services is that they allow their shoppers to keep 100% of the tips they receive. So you can make a lot more than the above-mentioned averages per order/hour.

In Short: Pay is comparable. Pick based on whether you want to get paid per hour or per order.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

Personally, I think both platforms offer great earning potential.

I can sometimes make more on Shipt because of the base pay and relationship-building, but I like the tip transparency and the ability to cherry-pick high-paying batches on Instacart.

The tip visibility is an especially important point because I feel like it helps me make informed decisions about which orders to accept.


Whether you’re an Instacart or Shipt shopper, you can set your schedule based on when you want to work and which orders you wish to accept.

In the case of Shipt, you can enjoy more selectivity as far as the specific metro zone you want to operate in. This spares you the hassle of bouncing all over a region.

This means that Instacart shoppers may need to drive farther than their Shipt counterparts — if they choose to accept the order, of course.

With Instacart, you get to choose between being a full-service shopper or an in-store shopper. A full-service shopper is the same as a Shipt shopper; they go to specific grocers, pick up their orders, and deliver them.

In-store shoppers, on the other hand, work in a specific grocery store and aren’t required to deliver any orders. Their job is to ensure everything is ready for checkout by only shopping for groceries and staging them.

If you don’t have a car or if you don’t enjoy driving long distances, becoming an in-store shopper may just be the perfect job for you.

In Short: Both services offer a great deal of flexibility, but the in-store shopper position gives Instacart the edge.


Instacart has a serious advantage over Shipt regarding availability. The former is present in 14,000 cities, while the latter is only available in 5,000 cities.

Besides, Instacart covers both the United States and Canada, while Shipt is only limited to the States.

Both services deliver groceries from big-name chains, but Instacart has a huge advantage here as well, partnering with over 1,400 retailers compared to Shipt’s 130.

In Short: Instacart serves more cities and has more partnerships than Shipt.

App Experience

The Shipt and Instacart apps allow seamless communication with customers. They simplify order tracking from acceptance to delivery, as well as payment management.

That said, connectivity issues can impact your Instacart app experience and cause glitches. So make sure your phone is 5G-enabled and has a reliable internet connection.

The Shipt app is no stranger to glitches either, especially with separate Target delivery orders since Target owns Shipt.

In Short: No real victor here. You’ll enjoy a pleasant app experience either way, with some glitches here and there.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

It seems to me like Shipt customers have really high expectations with communication and service, which can sometimes be a bit demanding.

However, it can also be rewarding for Shoppers who excel in customer service, elevating them among other Shoppers who don’t take this as seriously.

I would describe Instacart’s process as a bit more straightforward, with less of an emphasis on customer interaction and more on just providing the correct order quickly.

In terms of order size, I don’t really like how Instacart bundles orders because things can get complicated quickly. Shipt doesn’t do this, which means an easier time shopping.

Work-Life Balance

Working as a shopper for either service involves significant effort, from shopping and communicating to driving and hauling goods. Days can be long and exhausting, and customers can sometimes contribute to stress.

However, because schedules are customizable with both Shipt and Instacart, it’s not so hard to make space for family, school, appointments, or other jobs. So, a good work-life balance is definitely achievable.

An added benefit that you get to enjoy as a Shipt shopper is a sense of community fostered by the company through exclusive events and meetups.

In Short: You can enjoy a good work-life balance with either company, but Shipt takes things a step forward with its thriving community.

Shipt vs. Instacart: Pros and Cons

The following pros and cons should help you choose between the two services.

Working for Shipt: Pros

  • Tons of Exclusive Benefits: As a Shipt driver, you can enjoy exclusive deals on lifestyle benefits, health benefits, auto insurance, identity theft protection, and more
  • Choose Which Areas to Shop In: You get to choose the metro areas you want to work in. You can select specific zones that are, for instance, close to where you live so that you save on gas and reduce the chances of vehicle wear and tear
  • Free Shipt Membership: All Shipt drivers with at least one shop in the last 90 days can enjoy a free Shipt membership, which usually costs $99/year or $10.99 per month. This means free grocery deliveries to your doorstep
  • Great Sense of Community: Shipt helps foster a lively community for shoppers by hosting exclusive events and meetups. That’s not to mention Facebook groups like the Shipt Shopper Lounge, where shoppers share many helpful tips

Working for Shipt: Cons

  • You’ll Still Be Interviewed: Meeting Shipt’s eligibility requirements won’t get you up and running right away. You’ll still have to go through an intense HR process, which can take a few weeks to complete
  • Confusion With the Target App: Target doesn’t make it known that Shipt shoppers deliver orders from Target. So, in some cases, you may not receive a tip just because the person who placed the order thinks you’re a Target employee, not a Shipt shopper
  • Stringent Eligibility Requirements: Compared to Instacart’s requirements, Shipt is a bit more stringent since you need to have a car that’s manufactured in 1997 or newer, have some knowledge of produce, and be able to lift up to 45 pounds of groceries with or without accommodation

Working for Instacart: Pros

  • You Don’t Even Need a Car: If you don’t have a car, you can still work for Instacart as an in-store shopper instead of a full-service shopper
  • More Cities and Stores: Instacart covers thousands of cities and has partnerships with thousands of retailers, so it offers more work opportunities than Shipt
  • Exclusive Deals: Instacart shoppers get exclusive deals and benefits via the Perskpot program, from discounts on auto insurance to financing and tax services
  • Less Demanding Requirements: Instacart doesn’t have any vehicle age requirements and doesn’t require you to know about produce to qualify as a shopper. Also, you’ll only be required to lift up to 40 pounds compared to Shipt’s 45

Working for Instacart: Cons

  • You Must Maintain a Good Rating: If you want to have your pick at available orders, you’ll need to maintain a rating of 4.7 stars or higher. Otherwise, you may not see too many available batches
  • Less Metro Zone Selectivity: As an Instacart shopper, you should be prepared to drive farther than the average Shipt shopper since Instacart doesn’t offer as much flexibility as far as preferred metro zones

In Summary

Working for Shipt or Instacart boils down to personal preferences and priorities since earning potential is comparable.

If you want the flexibility of choosing which metropolitan areas to work in and you prefer getting paid per order, Shipt is the way to go.

If you appreciate having the choice between being a full-service and in-store shopper and you don’t mind getting paid by the hour, Instacart should be your pick.

Remember to weigh the pros and cons of each platform carefully before making a decision. And hey, if one doesn’t work out, you can always try your luck with the other!

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