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In this Instacart review and guide, we’ll cover how the app works and strategies you can use to maximize your earnings as an Instacart shopper.

how to become an instacart shopperWe all know that eating out can be quite expensive and that eating most of your meals at home is usually cheaper over the long run. The problem is, grocery shopping feels like a chore to many people — which is why so many of us eat out more than we should.

Instacart gives people a cost-effective way to get groceries delivered to their homes. It’s a service that connects people who need to buy groceries with people who will purchase those groceries and deliver them to the person’s door.

That means that people who don’t mind grocery shopping can make money and help people by shopping for Instacart.

If you’re looking for a flexible way to make extra money, becoming an Instacart Shopper may be a solid option for you.

What is Instacart shopping?

Instacart is a grocery delivery service. Founded in 2012, Instacart’s goal is to make it easy for people to get the fresh food that they need to be delivered to their door. Buying groceries instead of relying on restaurant meals and takeout is a great way to eat healthier and to save money, but a lot of people don’t have the time to shop for groceries.

For consumers, Instacart is a simple way to buy groceries and have them delivered to your door. Just open the Instacart app, choose a local grocery store, and search for the products you’d like to purchase. Instacart will list most of the products at the store, whether they be basics like bulk produce or packaged meat, or more prepared meals like frozen pizzas. After you submit the order, the groceries will be delivered right to your door.

For people looking to make money, Instacart is a flexible job that lets you choose your own schedule and get paid to buy groceries. When you have some spare time, you can go to a participating grocery store. When someone submits an order, you’ll have the option to claim that order, then buy the requested products and deliver them to the customer’s home or get them ready for pickup. Depending on the type of shopping you do, you’ll be paid on an hourly basis or on commission.

How Does Instacart Work?

Getting Started

If you want to make money with Instacart, the first thing you have to do is sign up to work for the company.

You can sign up to be a full-service shopper, which means that you’ll be an independent contractor. You can also sign up to an in-store shopper only. This is a part-time job that comes with retirement and commuting benefits from Instacart.

Full-Service Shopping

instacart full service shopper

Full-service shoppers do it all. You’ll take orders from customers via the app, go to the grocery store, find and purchase the products, and then deliver them to the customer’s home.

To be eligible to be a full-service shopper, you must have your own car or have consistent access to a vehicle. You’re responsible for driving to the store and bringing the groceries to customers. You’ll be paid a commission based on the size of each order and the number of orders you deliver. You can also get tips from customers.

Keep in mind, you will only be paid for the time you spend shopping for customers and delivering their food. If no orders are available, you might have to wait at the store on your own time without being paid.

In-store Shopping

instacart in store shopper

In-store shoppers receive customer orders, locate all the products in the store, and bag them for the customer to pick up. You don’t have to deliver the groceries to the customer’s home, so you don’t have to provide your own car or worry about driving to different parts of town.

One benefit of in-store shopping is that you can take advantage of Instacart’s retirement and commuting benefits. You’re also paid a set hourly rate, which makes it easier to predict your income.

Signing Up

how much does instacart payOnce you’ve decided whether you want to do full-service or in-store shopping, you have to go through the sign-up process. This is relatively simple.

Fill out the form at shoppers.instacart.com to get started. You’ll have to give some information about yourself and consent to a background check. Instacart will perform the background check and usually gets back to you with the results within a week.

If your background check is good and you signed up to be an in-store shopper, you’ll be asked to attend an in-person orientation. This lasts for about two hours and lets you get a feel for the job. Full-service shoppers don’t need to attend the orientation.

Next, you’ll have to fill out required tax paperwork such as a W-9 or W-4 and sign an employee agreement.

Finally, you can download the shopper app and get started. You can use the app to set your hours, see jobs, and selects the ones that you want. You can also use the app to track our earnings and contact Instacart if you need help.

instacart apply now

Doing the Work

You can start working each day at about 9 AM and continue working until the grocery stores in your area close. In some places, this can be late into the night, so it’s easy to work whenever you have time available.

During the hours that you set yourself as available, your phone will receive notifications of orders that are available for you to claim. Do your best to claim the jobs as quickly as you can. If you don’t they’ll be automatically assigned to other shoppers.

Once you’ve claimed a job, go to the store and buy the requested products. You’ll have to note your progress in the app and also enter details for any missing products or substitutions.

In-store shoppers will need to bag up the groceries so they’re ready for quick pick up. Full-service shoppers will deliver them to the customer’s door. Once you complete a job, you can claim a new one and start the process over again.

Getting Paid

You’ll be paid weekly for all of the jobs that you finished in the previous week.

Full-service shoppers are paid by direct deposit, so you’ll need some kind of bank account to get your money. Full-service shoppers will also be responsible for paying taxes due to their status as contractors. You may want to think about paying quarterly estimated taxes if you do a lot of shopping for Instacart.

In-store shoppers can be paid by direct deposit or receive a check in the mail. The choice is up to you.

Instacart Shopper Help: FAQs

Shopping for Instacart seems pretty simple, just buy groceries and deliver them to customers, but the process can get a bit more complicated. Here are some of the most common questions people have about shopping for Instacart.

How much does Instacart pay?

The amount that you can make by shopping for Instacart can vary widely.

Full-service Instacart shoppers have the most variance in pay because their pay is based on order size and also tips from customers. Glassdoor says that most shoppers make between $10 and $15 per hour, but you can make more if you shop quickly or get tipped well.

Instacart hourly guarantee: In-store shoppers are paid on an hourly basis and usually fall in the same $10 to $15 range, but they do not have the potential to receive tips.

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How much shopping can I do?

Full-service shoppers are allowed to do as much shopping as they’d like. There is no limit to the number of orders that you can take in a given week.

In-store shoppers are limited to working fewer than thirty hours in a week. You cannot work above thirty hours a week, even if you want to make the extra money. If you need the extra cash, you might want to combine Instacart shopping with other gig-based work.

Who should shop for Instacart?

For most people, grocery shopping is a chore, but there are people who enjoy it. If you enjoy grocery shopping, have some spare time, and want to make a bit of extra money, shopping for Instacart can be a good deal. Just don’t go into it expecting to make it a full-time job. In-store shoppers are limited in how much the can work, and the variability in the number of jobs available means that some weeks might not have enough work available for them to make ends meet.

Instacart Shopper Review at a Glance

Pros

  • A flexible way to make money quickly
  • Can work as an independent contractor or part-time employee
  • Part-time employees get retirement and commuter benefits
  • Weekly pay

Cons

  • Must have access to your own car to be an independent contractor
  • You must be physically able to lift and carry heavy groceries
  • You must pass a background check

Best for: People who 1) have spare time, 2) want to make extra money, and 3) don’t despise grocery shopping.

Become an Instacart Shopper

Instacart is a great service that helps people who don’t have time to shop for groceries by delivering food to their door. For people who like grocery shopping, it can be a fun way to make a few extra dollars in their spare time.

instacart apply now

Author

TJ Porter has in-depth experience in reviewing financial products such as savings accounts, credit cards, and brokerages, writing how-tos, and answering financial questions. He has also contributed to publications and companies such as My Bank Tracker, CardCruncher, and Echo Fox. He aims to provide actionable advice that can help readers better their financial lives. In his spare time, TJ enjoys thinking up new ways to optimize my own finances, in addition to cooking, reading, playing games (of the board and video variety), soccer, ultimate frisbee, and hockey.

8 comments
Mindy Carter

I have Instacart installed but I don’t know how I can get people’s orders so I can start delivering (it only let’s me order stuff); I want to make money not spend it.

Youa Vue

You will have to be referred by a shopper (which I can do if you want, I am a full time shopper) you will click on the link and sign up. It will automatically take you to the sign up link and everything.

Therefore you will get access to downloading the Instacart shopper app and not the regular Instacart app for the customers. After you finish signing up, you will wait till they run a brief background check on you, and send you a debit card to do the shopping for members.

Once everything about your background is cleared and you received your card than you can start shopping for customers.

Kenny

You dont have to be referred. This person is trying to make $ off you.

Tiffany

Hey Mindy, you’ll actually need to register on the “shopper” app . It doesn’t seem to show up in search on the App Store but you can google it & it should be the first two that appear. 🙂 Hope that helps!

Janet

Are shoppers allowed to write off their mileage, a percentage of their phone, etc?

Hey Janet,

As a 1099 contractor you can deduct your miles (and percentage of your phone bill used for work) so long as you keep an accurate record of each.

In fact, they’re both pretty important in terms of reducing your overall tax burden.

You can read more about travel and car expenses here.

Bobbie Dunn

I tried signing up on the form the website brings me too. However, it constantly says Instacart server error and it won’t do anything.

I try going to several websites and I keep getting the run around.

I would like to sign up – does anyone know how to actually sign up?

Also, I searched everywhere but it does not tell me anywhere how the groceries you shop for are paid for? Does the customer pay for the groceries on the app or does the shopper have to pay for the groceries and then get reimbursed ?

Please let me know so I can sign up please.
Thanks,
Bobbie

Hmm — I’ve tried all the links and were able to reach and push through an application — what device are you trying to access their site from?

Re: the payment question. Instacart shoppers are mailed a company provided credit/debit card so they’re not stuck footing the bill and trying to collect payment.

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