Instacart provides a user-friendly platform that connects people who need groceries with local shoppers willing to handle the shopping and delivery tasks.
These shoppers aren’t Instacart employees but independent contractors. They use their own vehicles to pick up and deliver orders, and their earnings come from Instacart’s payments and customer tips.
A burning question many shoppers have is, “Does Instacart pay for gas?” or “Does Instacart reimburse for gas?” This issue is particularly important because gas expenses can considerably reduce a shopper’s net earnings, especially if they’re covering a lot of miles for deliveries.
To clarify, Instacart does not cover gas costs nor does it pay mileage. However, there are ways to offset these fuel expenses. In some cases, Instacart offers a temporary gas reimbursement program, known as Instacart Fuel Assistance, available to shoppers in specific areas.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into these topics, offering tips on how to save on gas costs and shedding light on Instacart’s limited gas reimbursement initiative.
Let’s dig in!
Does Instacart Pay For Gas?
Instacart does not reimburse for gas or track your exact mileage as you are an independent contractor and responsible you your ride and associated costs. However, you can offset gas costs by taking advantage of tax deductions and using fuel-saving strategies.
As one shopper commented on Reddit, “Instacart doesn’t reimburse shoppers for gas money. According to Instacart, you’re an ‘independent contractor,’ which means you use your own vehicle and pay for your own maintenance and fuel.” That means you’ll be on the hook for your own gas expenses, as well as your taxes and insurance.
If fuel costs are a worry for you, there’s another way to earn money with Instacart, you can work as an in-store shopper. This role doesn’t require driving; you’ll be based in the store itself. While the earning potential might be lower compared to being a delivery driver, the income is more consistent, and you can also enjoy additional benefits provided by Instacart.
How does Instacart Pay?
Instacart’s payment system is based on each batch of orders you complete.
A batch can include orders from multiple customers. The earnings for each batch are calculated on a variety of factors, such as the number of items you pick, their weight, the driving distance, and even tips from customers.
Some Reddit users have expressed their concern about this: “As gas continues to head towards $5/gallon, Instacart needs to take action and either increase pay or add a gas surcharge like what FedEx or UPS does. This is getting ridiculous!”
Before accepting a batch, Instacart displays an earnings estimate, which includes:
- Batch Incentive: This is your basic pay for the batch. It varies based on factors like the number of items in the batch, their weight, and the total driving distance involved.
- Peak Boost: An additional amount added during high-demand times. However, this isn’t consistent and varies based on the availability of shoppers and orders.
- Quality Bonus: For each five-star rating a customer gives you, Instacart adds an extra $3. Keep in mind, though, that this is per order, not per batch.
- Tip: You keep 100% of whatever tip the customer decides to give you. The tip amount can be seen before you accept a batch and can be changed by the customer for up to three days after you make the delivery.
Average Earnings per Hour and Mile
Web sources indicate that the average Instacart shopper earns between $14 and $25 per hour.
But this figure doesn’t take into account whether Instacart pays mileage or gas costs, nor the taxes you’re obligated to pay.
Some highly motivated shoppers claim they earn above $20 an hour or even reach up to $1,000 a week.
However, this isn’t typical and may not be sustainable. “We pick and choose our shops very carefully; if the job isn’t paying the right amount, my car isn’t starting,” advised one savvy shopper.
To gauge whether Instacart is profitable for you, many look at their earnings per mile. This is your total earnings divided by the total miles you’ve driven.
Considering this can be particularly useful for understanding the true impact of gas costs on your earnings.
Some Reddit users suggest that good earnings per mile should hover between $1 to $2. This number can vary based on local gas prices and how fuel-efficient your car is.
One Reddit user has a strategy, saying, “I stay in my DoorDash zone and make $500 per tank of gas on average. That’s also not counting the 58 cents a mile.”
You’ll need to manage these costs yourself and should factor them into your overall earnings calculation.
Extra Reading: Is Instacart Worth It Gig?
Temporary Fuel Surcharge
If you’ve been using Instacart lately for your grocery delivery, you might’ve seen an extra 40 cents tagged onto your bill.
It’s a new fuel surcharge that Instacart says helps their shoppers deal with climbing gas prices. This extra charge doesn’t go into Instacart’s pockets; it heads straight to the shopper who handles the order.
When customers are paying for your delivery, this 40-cent surcharge gets added to the delivery fee, not the total cost of the groceries they are buying.
For instance, if the delivery fee is $3.99, they will actually end up paying $4.39 because of this extra fuel charge. This surcharge is listed clearly as the day when you’re checking out and on your receipt.
Reason For This Surcharge?
High gas prices are a real headache for everyone, but especially for Instacart shoppers.
They’re not employees but independent folks who use their own cars to bring you your groceries. Does Instacart reimburse for gas? Nope, they don’t. Shoppers pay out of pocket for their own gas, upkeep of their cars, and insurance.
The extra 40 cents you’re paying is Instacart’s way of giving a helping hand to these shoppers.
It’s not intended to cover their entire gas bill but every bit helps. So when you’re wondering “Does Instacart pay mileage or give Instacart fuel assistance?”, this surcharge is their current answer.
What Are Customer and Shoppers Reviews About It
People have mixed feelings about this extra charge.
On Reddit, one user said, “I don’t mind paying the extra 40 cents. I know it’s not much, but I hope it helps the shoppers a little bit. They deserve it for doing such a great job.” But not everyone’s a fan.
Another Reddit user argued, “I think it’s ridiculous. Instacart already charges a service fee, a delivery fee, and a tip. Why should I pay more for gas?”
And the shoppers?
Some appreciate the extra cash. One Quora user pointed out, “I think it’s a nice gesture from Instacart. It helps me pay for some of the gas I use.” But others feel it falls short. Another Quora user said, “40 cents per order is nothing compared to the amount of gas I use. Instacart should pay us more per batch or lower their fees.”
Is this going to be a forever thing?
Nope, this fuel surcharge is only for a limited time.
Instacart says they’ll check out how gas prices are moving and what their shoppers are saying before deciding to keep it, tweak it, or trash it.
And it’s not just Instacart; other app-based services like Uber have added similar temporary surcharges because of high gas prices.
In short, Instacart’s 40-cent fuel surcharge is a temporary measure aimed at helping shoppers with the rising gas prices. While it doesn’t cover the complete gas cost, it’s a step towards offering some level of Instacart gas reimbursement.
Extra Reading: What is Instacart Instant Cashout?
How to Keep Gas Costs Low and Earnings High
For Instacart shoppers, gas expenses can be a big deal.
Gas is one of the main things that can chew up your earnings, but don’t worry; there are good ways to save money on gas.
Instacart doesn’t directly cover your gas costs, however, you can still be smart about how you shop and deliver to keep those costs down.
Pick Orders That are Close By
When you look at the Instacart app, you’ll see the store and customer’s general location.
You can use this to decide whether to take the gig. Instacart does not pay for gas, so you want to minimize how far you drive.
Some experienced shoppers suggest filtering orders to only see gigs from certain stores or zones that are easy for you to get to.
One user comment added, “It’s like setting your playground; play where you want to play.”
Extra Reading: How To Go Around Instacart Waitlist?
Planning is Everything
Before you even start shopping, check your map and live traffic reports to choose the best route.
Google Maps or Waze can be a big help here. The goal is to avoid things like heavy traffic and toll roads because they up your gas expenses.
You don’t want extra miles or slowdowns. Instacart Shopper app itself has a helpful navigation feature that can make your route more efficient.
Take Care of Your Ride
Keeping your car in tip-top shape is crucial. This means not just filling up your tank, but also regularly checking your tire pressure or engine oils.
A well-maintained car is not only more fuel-efficient but also less prone to pricey repairs. Low tire pressure, for example, is a gas guzzler.
The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that just by maintaining your tire pressure, you can improve gas mileage by up to 3%.
As this Reddit user advises, “I switched to a hybrid car last year and I’m so glad I did. I used to spend over $100 a week on gas, and now I spend less than $50. It’s a huge difference and it makes a big impact on my earnings.”
So, you can still take advantage of having a fuel-efficient or even a hybrid car. These types of cars get more miles per gallon, saving you a ton of cash over time.
Extra Reading: Does DoorDash Pay For Gas?
Use Rewards Apps
Another smart move is to use a gas rewards card or app. Wondering about Instacart fuel assistance? While Instacart doesn’t directly offer this, cards like the Shell Fuel Rewards Card or apps like GetUpside do.
They give you points, discounts, or even cash back on every gallon you buy.
Quora user John Smith has this to say, “I love using the GetUpside app to get cash back on gas. I usually get around 10 cents per gallon back, and sometimes more if there’s a bonus offer. It adds up quickly and I can cash out to my PayPal account anytime.”
Track Your Mileage For Taxes
You can save a lot by deducting your mileage from your taxes. IRS lets you write off miles if you’re using your car for business, like Instacart shopping.
For 2023, the standard mileage rate is 65.5 cents.
Reddit user u/instacart_shopper_456 shares, “I always deduct my mileage from my taxes and it saves me a lot of money. I use the standard mileage rate because it’s easier and it usually gives me a bigger deduction than the actual expenses method. I use the MileIQ app to track my miles and it works great.”
Some people love apps like Everlance, Stride, or MileIQ that use GPS to keep tabs automatically. Others prefer a good ol’ spreadsheet or even a notebook.
Whatever floats your boat, just remember to jot down the date, your starting and stopping points, why you took the trip, and how far you went.
Remember, you can only write off the miles you drive for Business purposes (here Instacart). Say you drive from your house to the store, then to the customer, and back home or to another store—that’s all good for a tax break. But any miles you rack up running personal errands or for other side gigs won’t count.
Keep Gas Receipts and Invoices
Hang onto any receipts and invoices that relate to your Instacart hustle. They can be golden if the taxman ever wants to take a closer look at your finances.
Driving During Peak Hours
Want to make more cash? Drive during the busiest times, also known as peak hours. This is when people are looking for groceries, and Instacart kicks in some extra pay per delivery.
You’ll get more orders, more tips, and something called “peak boosts,” which is just extra dough Instacart adds to your base pay.
Generally, people like ordering groceries on weekdays from about 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm and during the weekends.
In short, while Instacart doesn’t offer gas reimbursement or pay for mileage, you’ve got other smart ways to save. By taking these steps, you’re not just cutting down on gas costs but actually boosting your overall earnings as an Instacart shopper.
Extra Reading: Best Instacart Shopper Tips & Tricks.
Final Words On Instacart Gas Reimbursement
If you’re contemplating becoming an Instacart shopper, keep in mind that Instacart doesn’t offer gas reimbursement or fuel assistance, and you’re responsible for your own mileage and vehicle costs.
That said, Instacart does have its merits and downsides. On the plus side, you enjoy flexible hours, pick your own orders, and have earning potential through tips and bonuses.
Real-world comments add flavor to this discussion. Some users report making $25-$30 an hour and enjoying the work, while others call it a “waste of time and gas” or even a “scam.”
Whether Instacart is worthwhile largely depends on your circumstances, your particular market and how you manage the challenges.
In essence, it’s a mixed bag, and only your own experience will determine if the hustle is worth it for you.
So, if you haven’t yet started it, give it a try here!
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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.