Exploring the Earnings: Does Instacart Pay Well for Shoppers?

Wondering, ‘Does Instacart pay well?’ Straight to the point: Instacart shoppers can make an average of $15-$20 per hour, with opportunities for more. This article will detail the elements that can increase or decrease your earnings, providing a comprehensive look at what it’s like to earn with this popular gig app.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Instacart's Payment System

Instacart’s payment system, which instacart pays shoppers through, offers different structures for full-service and in-store shoppers. It’s not just about a flat rate per delivery; earnings can be influenced by factors such as order complexity, location, and customer tips.

Let’s break it down.

Full Service Shopper Earnings

Illustration of a shopper with a shopping cart

Full-service shoppers, or those who shop and deliver orders, can earn:

In Store Shopper Compensation

Illustration of an in-store shopper at a check-out counter

In-store shoppers, who shop for orders within the store but do not deliver, in store shoppers earn an hourly wage ranging from $12 to $16. Unlike full-service shoppers, in-store shoppers are part-time employees of Instacart, which offers job stability and access to a 401(k) plan. This is how Instacart pay shoppers, with different structures for different roles.

Tips And Extra Pay Opportunities

Tips and bonuses can significantly boost earnings for Instacart shoppers. They keep 100% of the tips they receive, which can average about $6.50 per trip. Additionally, shoppers can earn extra pay for large orders, high-performance bonuses, and referral bonuses.

The Real Take-Home Pay: Calculating Net Earnings

While gross earnings are important, it’s crucial to consider the take-home pay. For full-service shoppers, who are independent contractors, self-employment tax and other operational costs must be factored in.

Deducting Operational Costs

Illustration of a person calculating expenses

Operational costs such as fuel, vehicle insurance, and maintenance can eat into earnings. However, Instacart shoppers can deduct vehicle-related expenses on their tax returns, reducing their taxable income. They can either use the standard mileage rate (65.5 cents per mile for 2023, increasing to 67 cents in 2024) or the actual expense method, which includes costs for:

Tax Implications for Independent Contractors

As independent contractors, full-service shoppers are responsible for managing their own taxes. This includes making estimated quarterly tax payments and filing Schedule C to report income and deductions, and Schedule SE to calculate self-employment tax.

Comparing Instacart to Traditional Employment

How does working as an Instacart shopper compare to traditional part-time employment? While Instacart offers flexibility, it lacks the predictability and job security of conventional jobs.

Is Instacart a Viable Alternative to Part-Time Jobs?

The viability of Instacart as a stable part-time income source is debatable. Some gig workers are shifting towards traditional employment due to decreased pay rates and increased competition in the gig economy.

Understanding the Gig Economy's Pay Standards

Instacart’s pay structure, like other gig economy platforms, lacks the predictability and security of traditional employment. Income largely depends on fluctuating market demand and personal performance.

Maximizing Your Earnings as an Instacart Shopper

Despite the challenges, there are strategies to maximize earnings as an Instacart shopper. These include targeting larger orders, working during peak hours, and building rapport with customers for better tips.

Strategies for Efficient Shopping

Efficient shopping is key to maximizing earnings. Strategies include knowing store layouts, effective communication with customers, and time-saving techniques such as preparing bags and battery packs the night before, reviewing the shopping list prior to beginning, and using pre-made messages for prompt customer communication.

Working Peak Hours for Higher Demand

Working during high-demand periods, such as weekends and weekday evenings, can lead to higher earnings. Instacart offers peak pay boosts of up to $12 during these times.

Building Customer Rapport for Better Tips

Building rapport with customers can result in better tips and higher overall earnings. Effective communication, personalized service, and demonstrating time efficiency are all ways to enhance the customer experience and potentially increase tips. By understanding and meeting customer demand, service providers can further improve the experience.

Shopper Experiences: What Instacart Drivers Say

Instacart drivers report varying earnings and experiences, with instacart driver pay being a topic of discussion. While some shoppers find the flexibility appealing, others note the unpredictability of earnings as a challenge.

Earning Reports From Various Cities

Earnings can vary greatly based on location. Shoppers in New York City have the potential to earn almost $25 per hour, for example. This makes it an attractive opportunity for those looking to make extra income.

Balancing Flexibility With Financial Needs

The flexibility of being a full service Instacart shopper allows individuals to accommodate personal life events and commitments while still earning income. However, balancing this flexibility with financial needs can be a challenge.

Instacart Pay Versus Other Delivery Services

How does Instacart’s pay compare to other delivery services? While there are differences in earnings, bonuses, and incentives, many shoppers choose Instacart for its unique advantages.

Delivery Earnings Face-off: Instacart Vs Competitors

In comparison to DoorDash and Lyft drivers, Instacart shoppers may earn less on average. However, Instacart provides unique earning opportunities through its referral program, which allows shoppers to earn bonuses for each new full-service shopper they refer.

Why Shoppers Choose Instacart Over Others

Despite potential lower earnings, many shoppers choose Instacart for its job variety, potentially larger tips, and lower gas expenditures compared to platforms like DoorDash.

How to Get Started as an Instacart Shopper

Interested in becoming an Instacart shopper? Let’s walk through the process, from meeting the instacart shopper requirements to completing the onboarding process.

Signing Up Through the Instacart Shopper App

The first step to become an Instacart shopper is to sign up through the Instacart Shopper app. After downloading the app, you’ll need to create an account and provide the necessary information.

Completing Onboarding And Receiving a Payment Card

After signing up, you’ll complete the onboarding process, which includes a background check. Once you pass the background check and complete the onboarding process, verification successful waiting will be over, and you’ll receive an Instacart payment card which you’ll use for purchasing groceries during shopping tasks.

Once you start earning as an Instacart shopper, you’ll need to navigate payments and cashouts. Instacart pays its shoppers on a weekly basis through direct deposit, but also offers an Instant Cashout feature.

Weekly Payouts Via Direct Deposit

Instacart’s weekly payouts are processed via direct deposit to the shopper’s checking account. Payments cover services provided from Monday to Sunday of the previous week.

Shoppers who prefer a traditional weekly payment schedule can opt for direct deposit instead of the Instant Cashout option.

Instant Access to Funds With Instant Cashout

For those who want to access their earnings immediately, Instacart offers an Instant Cashout feature. This allows shoppers to access their earnings as soon as they complete a batch, although there is a transaction fee of $0.50.


In conclusion, becoming an Instacart shopper presents both opportunities and challenges. While the flexible work model and potential earnings are enticing, it’s important to consider the fluctuating income, tax implications, and operational costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Instacart Shoppers Make Good Money?

Instacart shoppers can make an average of $17 per hour, including tips, and the limit is $3,000 per day, making it possible to earn a significant amount of money. However, the pay per delivery typically ranges from $5 to $10.

Can I Make 500 a Week With Instacart?

Yes, it's possible to make $500 a week with Instacart by earning an average hourly rate of $11 and potentially receiving tips on top of that. While it may require working over 40 hours a week, tips might make it achievable in around 30 hours. Good luck!

Is It Still Worth It to Work for Instacart?

Yes, working for Instacart can be a solid way to make extra money with flexible hours, making it a good option for a side hustle or part-time job.

How Much Can I Earn as an Instacart Shopper?

As an Instacart full-service shopper, you can earn between $15 to $20 per hour on average, with potential to earn up to $45 per hour in high-demand areas. In-store shoppers earn an hourly wage ranging from $12 to $16.

How Is Being an Instacart Shopper Different From a Traditional Part-time Job?

Being an Instacart shopper differs from a traditional part-time job because Instacart's pay is based on a per-order basis and can fluctuate based on demand and shopper performance.