Instacart is a go-to side hustle for many hustlers looking to make extra money when it suits them. When you opt to be a full-service shopper, timing can make a big difference in how much you earn.
The fact is, not every hour or day is equally good for Instacart shoppers.
Your earnings can swing based on several factors like customer demand, the number of available orders, or batches, how far you have to drive, tips, and even special pay during peak hours.
So, understanding the best times to Instacart can really help you get the most out of this gig and make it worth your time.
The short answer is that the best time to shop varies by location and personal schedule, but early morning or evening on weekdays and the whole day on weekends seem popular with better deals. However, take note of local patterns and adjust to your lifestyle.
If you want to go into all the details like best days, seasons, etc., keep on reading as this article will guide you on finding the best times to do Instacart, supported by data and personal experiences of shoppers.
We’ll share tips on when is the best time to shop on Instacart, when is Instacart most active, and even the busiest days for Instacart.
So, let’s get started!
What is The Best Time to Shop For Instacart
When it comes to maximizing earnings with Instacart, timing is key. The best times to work are early mornings from 6 am to 9 am and late evenings from 6 pm to 10 pm on weekdays. Early mornings are the most good time to snag orders without much competition around However, these slots often have fewer batches and lower tips. By positioning yourself in a store parking lot, you can catch these batches as they come in. Evenings (4 pm to 9 pm) are a hot time slot with many people wanting grocery deliveries when they’re back from work or school. But the downside is more traffic and possibly more hassle. Weekends, especially weekend mornings, are hotspots for good tipping and busy stores. That said, weekends can also be crowded, so prepare for competition.
As one shopper mentioned: “Early mornings are the best time to work for Instacart. Fewer shoppers are online, and more orders are coming in. I can easily make $100 or more before noon.” Another noted: “I like working late evenings because there’s less traffic and parking hassle. Plus, customers tend to tip better at night.”
For the best times to shop, location and personal schedule play a role too. While early mornings, late evenings on weekdays, and all day on weekends work for most, your area might have different peak hours.
Users in some markets noticed surges in the late afternoon and early evenings during weekdays. However, personal preferences or obligations like picking up kids from school or dinner prep could interfere with these high-demand times.
Ultimately, trial and error will be your best guide. Monitor the app’s “Best times to shop” section and adapt your schedule as you go. The platform itself offers a breakdown of prime shopping times, which could help you streamline your strategy.
Make a note of your earnings at different times and chart out the best earning times after a month of experience.
Why Timing Matters in Instacart Shopping
Why does timing make a difference in your Instacart experience? Here, we’ll break down how the best times to do Instacart can influence how much cash you make, the number of orders you can grab, and how you stack up against other Instacart shoppers.
Timing Affects Your Earnings
The time you choose to work for Instacart can significantly affect how much you earn. You’re paid for each “batch,” which could be a single order or multiple orders from different customers.
While mornings and evenings are traditionally busy times, thanks to people getting off work and prepping meals, the landscape has shifted a bit since the pandemic. With more folks working from home, you’ll find that afternoons aren’t completely barren of opportunities either.
Your earnings per batch aren’t fixed either; they fluctuate based on variables like order size, driving distance, and even the time of day. During busy times, you have a chance to make extra cash through “peak pay bonuses.”
These bonuses kick in during high-demand times when Instacart needs to recruit more shoppers to handle the load. These extra bucks can range from a mere dollar to a significant $10 or more, depending on how hectic things are.
As one Reddit user shared: “I made $300 today in 8 hours thanks to peak pay. It was $5 extra per batch all day long.” Another said: “Peak pay is awesome. I made $150 in 4 hours yesterday with peak pay.”
However, peak pay can vanish as quickly as it came. So, always keep an eye on the app and grab those batches when peak pay is up for grabs.
The last piece of the puzzle is how timing can influence your competition with other shoppers.
With Instacart’s On-Demand Shopping, batches pop up on the app for everyone to see (high-start-rated shoppers get to see these orders before others), meaning you’ve got to be quick to snatch the best ones.
The batches with higher pay, shorter drives, easier-to-find items, and better tips are generally taken up fast.
If there are many active shoppers in the areas, the competition can get pretty intense. One shopper said, “The competition is tough. I have to constantly refresh the app and swipe fast to get any decent batches.” Another added, “Some shoppers use bots or multiple devices to grab batches before anyone else can see them. It’s not worth it anymore.”
If you are getting no orders due to high competition, you can try to work early in the morning and late at night to face less competition and work on your ratings in those times by providing top-notch services, so that you can get more orders during the peak times.
So, if you’re asking yourself, “When is the best time to do Instacart?”, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Various factors like your ratings determine the best times for Instacart for each shopper individually.
Extra Reading: How To Go Around Instacart Waitlist?
What Are The Best Days to Shop
The best days for Instacart are generally weekends, especially Saturdays and Sundays. According to shoppers on Reddit, these days offer more orders (known as “batches”) and better tips. It makes sense; people have more free time to do their shopping on weekends. But, that also means more Shoppers are on the hunt for those juicy batches. So, you gotta be fast!
Like this shopper says, “I always have good luck on weekends. Saturdays and Sundays are my prime Instacart days.”
Don’t dismiss weekdays, though. Mondays and Fridays are recommended by shoppers too. Some users even argue that weekdays can offer lucrative opportunities without the weekend rush of Shoppers.
You can check the app to see the best days to shop if available.
However, generally speaking, Tuesdays and Wednesdays usually see fewer batches. But, this can vary based on your location, so keep an eye on your app to find when Instacart is most active in your area.
Seasons and Holidays
Seasons and holidays also play into finding the best time to Instacart.
In winter, cold weather drives people to order groceries online, offering more batches. But you’ll also need to navigate through snow and icy conditions.
Generally, the holiday season from mid-October to New Year’s Day appears to be a lucrative time for many, with shopping activity ramping up for end-of-year celebrations.
A few shoppers make good cash on holidays, like this shopper says, “Man, did I clean up last Fourth of July! People were ordering like crzy for their BBQs.”
While holidays and special occasions like Easter and Mother’s Day used to bring in extra cash, this seems to be diminishing as more people join platforms like Instacart.
The months from January to March are often considered slow, encouraging some to switch to alternative platforms like Amazon Flex for steadier income.
Ultimately, your best bet for maximizing earnings is to pay attention to local and seasonal trends, and consider diversifying the platforms you work on.
Local Events and Patterns
Sporting events, concerts, and even community schedules like church services can influence the best hours for Instacart.
During these times, you might find more batches available as people are busy attending events or hosting parties. Just be cautious of potential traffic snarls.
Rainy days are good for shoppers as most people choose to order groceries rather than go outside. Just be careful while driving in the rain.
Extra Reading: Does Instacart Pay For Gas?
How to Figure Out Best Times for Instacart Shopping
Still scratching your head about the best time to do Instacart to rake in the most cash? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. From customer demand to the number of other shoppers on the road, many things can impact how much you pocket at the end of the day.
So, what are some good strategies for finding out when is Instacart most active, or what the busiest days for Instacart are?
1. Keep an Eye on the Instacart App’s Info
A straightforward approach to figure out the best times to Instacart is by watching the app’s own metrics.
In most markets, you can see the best shopping times in the day.
Instacart also gives you a dashboard with all sorts of numbers, like how much you’ve made, how quickly you shop, and even how happy your customers are.
Monitoring these numbers shows you the best time to shop Instacart.
For instance, you’ll find out when you’re the speediest when people give you the most thumbs-up, and, crucially, when you make the most money.
By keeping an eye on this data, you can also set achievable goals and know what to aim for.
2. Using Third-Party Tools
There are other apps you can use to get even more info. Some help you grab orders (though watch out, some of these break Instacart’s rules), while others keep track of how far you’ve driven for tax time.
Batch grabbers can automatically grab batches for you but using them might get you kicked off the platform.
Mileage tracker apps like Everlance and Stride track how far you’ve driven, making tax time a breeze.
3. Try A/B Testing to Find Best Hours for Instacart
The best option is to use A/B testing to find out the best time to do Instacart.
It’s a fancy term for trying out two different things and seeing which one’s better.
For example, you could work mornings one week and afternoons the next to find out when is Instacart most active.
You might also want to experiment with working during peak pay times or when it seems like customers are tipping more generously.
As this shopper suggested, “I did A/B testing with weekdays and weekends. Weekends, especially Saturday mornings, were definitely the best times for Instacart for me.”
By doing this, you can identify the times when customer demand for Instacart services is high, fewer competitors are around, and there’s a surge in peak pay. Here is what one shopper has to say about it:
Use a spreadsheet or an app like Gridwise to keep tabs on how much you make per hour, order, mile, and even per tip. You can then decide on the best hours for Instacart to maximize your income.
4. Listen to the Instacart Community
Lastly, there’s gold in the wisdom from other Instacart shoppers. There are tons of places online, like Reddit and Facebook groups, where people share their own tips for finding the best time to shop Instacart.
Pages like r/InstacartShoppers and r/Instacart are filled with good advice.
Whether it’s how to handle a tricky customer or get through the store quicker, other shoppers’ experiences are a valuable resource for figuring out your best times to Instacart.
Finding your ideal times to work with Instacart may be a bit like putting together a puzzle, but it’s well worth it for the financial rewards.
By testing out different times and strategies (A/B testing), and learning from the Instacart community, you’re well on your way to getting the most out of your Instacart side hustle.
Be flexible and adaptable as this will help you align your schedule with market demands. Ultimately, the best time to do Instacart will vary based on where you are and your own personal schedule, so don’t be afraid to test things out!
Extra Reading: What is Instacart Instant Cashout?
More Tips To Maximize Your Instacart Earnings
Instacart is a great way to earn some extra cash by delivering groceries to people. But, to keep your hourly pay as high as possible, you’ve got to be smart about when and how you work.
Here are some Instacart hacks to get more batches on Instacart, which can mean more money for you.
1. Working Multiple Apps at Once
Now, the great thing about gig work is you don’t have to stick to just one app.
This is known as “multi-apping,” and it’s a way to pump up your earnings. You can do Instacart while also taking jobs from apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, or even TaskRabbit.
Before you start multi-apping, get to know the best times for Instacart and other apps, and be selective about which orders you take.
Also, make sure your phone can handle running multiple apps at the same time. A Reddit user shared, “I multi-app all the time. It’s not easy but it’s doable. You just have to be smart about it.”
Here is another:
Multi-apping with grocery shopping app Instacart with food delivery apps like DoorDash can be a good tactic as they have different peak times. While Instacart is slow in the afternoon, there will be a rush of lunch orders. By navigating between the apps, you can utilize the best times of both worlds.
2. Using Promotions and Incentives
Another way to get the most out of the best hours for Instacart is to use promotions and incentives.
These are special offers that can boost your earnings. They could be anything from guaranteed earnings for a certain number of batches to bonuses for specific tasks.
To find these, check your Instacart app regularly.
But be aware, as a shopper on Quora mentioned, “Promotions are nice when they happen but they are not reliable or predictable.”
Extra Reading: How to Make $1000 In A Week?
3. Be Quick and Smart with Shopping
Being fast and smart about how you shop can seriously boost your earnings, especially when you work during the best time to shop Instacart.
Some tips include knowing the store layout, picking items quickly, and planning your route efficiently.
One Reddit user said, “I used to take about an hour to shop a $100 order, now I can do it in 30 minutes or less increasing my hourly earnings.”
4. Provide Excellent Customer Service
Great customer service can result in better tips and more ratings, boosting your income by getting batch priority as a top shopper.
Always communicate clearly with your customers from start to finish and try to exceed their expectations whenever possible.
Follow all the instructions and be smart with replacements. You can refund an item till the delivery time if the customer does not like it.
These are all excellent ways to maximize your earnings. Keep these tips in mind, especially during the best time to do Instacart, to make the most of your side hustle.
Extra Reading: Best Time to DoorDash.
So, What Is The Best Time To Instacart
As we saw, the best times are evenings on weekdays, then mornings on weekdays, and all day long on weekends considering everything else is not considered. Holidays and local event days are other busy days for Instacart shoppers.
But suppose you are not a top-rated shopper, then in a market with a fair number of shoppers most top orders will be snatched up by the top shoppers (diamond-rated then platinum-rated) during peak times. In that case, the best time for you to shop will be early morning or late night when most other shoppers are not active.
So, it all depends on your individual context, whether it’s your ratings or the market. Try different slots to find what works best for you. Use these insights and tips to boost your Instacart earnings.
Keep learning and adapting, because, at the end of the day, all that matters is how much dollars hit your bank.
If you are not yet active, sign up here to hit the grocery shelves and make some extra cash.
More Ways to Make Money:
- Is Apex Focus Group legit?
- Can you make money with Rover?
- Best things to Rent for easy cash
- How to make money with video games?
Sumeet is a Certified Financial Education Instructor℠ (CFEI®) and founder of MoneyFromSideHustle. He is an experienced side hustler who replaced his full-time income with side hustles. His work has been quoted on major finance websites like CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, GOBankingRates, MSN, Nasdaq, AOL, and more. He has helped thousands of people find side hustles and is here to help you find your extra source of income. More about him.