Instacart is a way for many of us to get groceries without stepping foot in a store. Basically, it hooks you up with someone who does the shopping for you and brings the stuff to your house. Now, if you’re thinking about making some extra cash and wonder, “Is Instacart worth it as a job?”, let’s dive in.
Instacart has been in the news for its successful IPO making a lot of money for shareholders. If you want to make money working for them, you have two job choices with Instacart: you can either be a full-service shopper or an in-store shopper.
Full-service shoppers are like their own bosses. They use their own cars to pick up and drop off groceries from different places. On the other hand, in-store shoppers just work in one store, fill up carts but don’t deliver. So, how is working for Instacart if you want to be a driver or shopper?
This Instacart review breaks down the good and the bad of working for them, what kind of money you can expect, and some insider tips to get more out of this hustle.
The big questions I am going to answer for you from the experience of pros Instacart shoppers are: Can you make good money with Instacart? And, is Instacart worth it for drivers specifically? By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know if shopping for Instacart and being a driver is the side gig for you.
So, is working for Instacart worth it? Keep reading and you’ll have a clearer picture to answer that for yourself.
What’s an Instacart Driver or Full-Service Shopper?
A full-service shopper for Instacart is an independent worker who takes customer orders through the Instacart app. They do the shopping at selected stores and then deliver the items straight to the customer’s door.
This role gives you the flexibility to choose when and where to work and how many orders you want to accept. There are also other types of Instacart jobs, like in-store shoppers and shift leads, with different job requirements and benefits.
Pros of Being an Instacart Driver
So, how is working for Instacart in terms of benefits? Here are some pros:
- Flexibility and Freedom: As a full-service shopper, you pick your work hours. Whether you want to shop for Instacart part-time or make it a full-time gig, the choice is yours.
- Variety in Your Day: You’re not stuck doing the same thing every day. You can be shopping for anything from fresh veggies to pet food. Plus, you get to discover new areas and meet new people.
- Good Tips: Can you make good money with Instacart? Well, tips can be a big part of your earnings. Customers tip based on their order total, and these tips go directly to you through the app.
- Perks: The job also comes with some cool incentives like discounts on car maintenance and insurance.
Cons of Being an Instacart Driver
But is Instacart shopping worth it when you consider the drawbacks? Let’s discuss:
- Low and Unsteady Pay: The money you get per order varies, and it’s often not enough to cover the effort and costs you put in. So, can you make good money with Instacart? It depends on various factors like the number of items and travel distance.
- High Competition: Is working for Instacart worth it when there are so many shoppers fighting for orders? Especially during busy hours, orders get snatched up really quickly.
- Stressful Work: Shopping for Instacart is not just about shopping. You have to manage your time, handle multiple tasks, and deal with customer demands. It can be mentally and physically taxing.
- Car Costs: Your car will be doing a lot of work. Gas, maintenance, and general wear and tear costs come out of your pocket.
Extra Reading: Does Instacart Pay For Gas?
Other Roles at Instacart
- In-Store Shopper: If you don’t want to deal with driving and customer communication, you can be an in-store shopper. It’s less flexible but has its own set of pros and cons like no vehicle costs but less earning potential.
- Delivery-Only Batches: Another option to consider is accepting delivery-only batches. These are orders that are already shopped for; you just have to deliver them. While it saves you the shopping time, you still face issues like vehicle costs and high competition.
If you’re looking for a side hustle, Instacart offers flexibility and variety but also comes with challenges like low base pay and high stress. Keep on reading to get a balanced view so you can make an informed choice.
Is Instacart Worth It?
In my opinion, if you’re looking for a side gig with flexibility and you’re okay with the ups and downs in income, then you will find Instacart shopping worth it.
However, if you’re seeking a consistent and reliable paycheck that can cover all your bills without 60-hour weeks, this might not be the job for you.
If you’re thinking about becoming an Instacart shopper, you’re probably asking yourself, “Is Instacart worth it as a job?” You’re not alone. Many people are curious about how is working for Instacart and whether it’s a good way to make some extra cash.
To help you out, I’ve put together some real-life Instacart reviews from folks who’ve been there, and done that. Let’s check them out.
When it comes to the good stuff, lots of Instacart shoppers love this driving job. They often rave about the flexibility.
You get to set your own hours, and essentially, you’re your own boss.
If you’re wondering, “Can you make good money with Instacart?” the answer is yes, to an extent. Shoppers enjoy getting extra income, not to mention tips.
One shopper said, “I love the ability to work when I want. It’s hard but it’s worth it.” Here is screenshot of one such user.
Another review praised how easy the app is to use and mentioned that customers are usually friendly. This makes the whole experience of shopping for Instacart even better.
Tips and occasional bonuses are also a plus. If you work in a good tipping area, you can expect to make good money like this user said.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Some people have a less rosy Instacart review.
They’re not thrilled with the pay structure, and say things like, “The base pay is garbage.” The low earnings are often a big concern, especially when you factor in the costs of gas and car maintenance when you’re driving around shopping for Instacart.
Shoppers also talk about a lack of support from the company and complain about an unfair rating system.
Challenges like finding parking and dealing with heavy grocery items add to the stress.
One shopper pointed out, “To make around $300 per week, you have to work almost every day, and even then, some days you won’t get a single order.”
So, is working for Instacart worth it? The answer seems to vary from person to person.
In a nutshell, looking at various threads on Reddit where thousands of Shoppers share their experiences, opinions about whether Instacart is worth it for drivers are mixed. Some find it a great way to earn extra income, while others think it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Mostly users multiapp along with other apps to do these jobs for full-time income. This allows them to cherry-pick the orders and never have a down time.
Your personal situation will play a big role in how much you enjoy, or don’t enjoy, working for Instacart.
Like this shopper said, it can be a flexible side hustle for some extra cash for many but rarely in a few markets can be a good source of money.
Average Earnings and Expenses of an Instacart Driver
To make a decision whether you want to do Instacart jobs, earning potential plays an important role. Your earnings as an Instacart driver depend on various things. Some of these are:
- How big or heavy the order is: The larger, the better for your pocket.
- Distance and time: Longer trips mean you’ll usually make more money.
- Where you are and how many people want deliveries: Busy areas often mean higher pay.
- Ratings and reviews: Better ratings can lead to better-paying jobs.
- Tips and special offers: Extra cash can come in tips or through promotions from Instacart.
Glassdoor says the average Instacart pay in the U.S. is around $18 an hour. It can go from $16 to $21, though. Some top-paying cities are San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, while lower-paying cities include Houston and Atlanta.
But these are averages and your earnings can vary based on your strategies and effort.
Other Roles Earnings Within Instacart
Aside from full-service shoppers, there are also in-store shoppers. They stay in the store, collect items for orders, and are paid an hourly rate between $10 and $15. They also get benefits like health insurance and paid time off.
Then there are ‘Delivery Only’ orders. Here, the shopping is already done by in-store workers, and you just deliver. These tend to pay less because you’re not doing the shopping part, but they might be quicker and easier to handle.
Taxes and the Instacart Driver
Taxes are a big deal when you’re considering, “Is working for Instacart worth it?” You’re not an employee but an independent contractor, meaning you handle your taxes.
Instacart doesn’t hold back any taxes for you. At the end of the year, you’ll get a form 1099-NEC, which will state how much you’ve made. You’ll need to file income and self-employment taxes.
Self-employment tax includes what would be Social Security and Medicare taxes. Unlike employees who pay half (7.65%), you’ll have to pay the full amount (15.3%).
To make it manageable, you’ll want to make estimated tax payments every quarter, so you don’t get hit with a huge tax bill later.
Extra Reading: How To Go Around Instacart Waitlist?
Money-Saving Tips for Instacart Drivers
The good news is you can reduce your tax burden by writing off business expenses. Keep track of costs like:
- Gas and vehicle upkeep: You can write off these costs.
- Phone bills: A portion of your mobile phone bill can be written off.
- Health and safety items: Things like masks and hand sanitizers are deductible.
You might also qualify for other deductions, like home office costs, business supplies, and even educational courses related to your work.
So, can you make good money with Instacart? It really depends on multiple factors, from location to the amount of effort you put in. But now you’ve got the full rundown, Instacart review, and all to decide for yourself if Instacart shopping is worth it for you.
How to Earn More as an Instacart Driver
Here are a few Instacart Shopper tips to make sure working for Instacart is worth it for you.
Pick the Right Times and Places to Work
Is Instacart shopping worth it when it comes to time and location? The money you make with Instacart largely depends on customer demand in your area.
The goal is to work when there are a lot of orders but fewer drivers. This way, you get more work, better tips, and good pay rates.
The best times for deliveries are usually weekday evenings and weekends. The Instacart app even offers suggestions on the best times based on customer behavior.
As for the place, pick locations where there are a lot of stores and customers to cut down on travel time. Using apps like Waze or Google Maps can help you find quick routes and avoid traffic jams.
Extra Reading: How to Get More Orders.
Choose Orders Wisely
Not all shopping tasks pay the same. Some might be easy and quick but offer low pay, while others might be more complicated but offer better earnings.
Use the Instacart app to see all the details, like how many items you need to pick, the type of items, where the customer lives, and how much you’re likely to earn.
Pick orders that match your skill set and preferences. Maybe you prefer orders with fewer items but higher tips, or perhaps you like orders from stores you already know well.
Use Helpful Apps
To answer the question “Is working for Instacart worth it?” consider your efficiency.
To make more money, you need to be quick and smart about your routes. Waze is a handy app for this. It shows you the fastest routes and any issues on the road.
Another useful app is Hurdlr, which tracks your mileage and expenses for tax purposes.
For reading: Can you get a free $750 Shein gift card?
Customer Communication is Key
How is working for Instacart when it comes to customer interaction? Good communication can lead to better tips.
Use the Instacart app to update customers at different stages, when you start shopping, if you need to make replacements, and when you’re on your way to them.
A little courtesy like greeting the customer and thanking them can go a long way.
Provide Top-Notch Service
To make sure that shopping for Instacart is worth it, aim to provide excellent service.
Choose good quality products, pay attention to expiration dates, and handle items with care. Also, be respectful and friendly both to customers and store staff.
Punctuality can also lead to better reviews and more tips.
Tips Can Boost Your Earnings
Tips make a big difference in how much you make. While Instacart suggests a 5% tip on orders, good service can often get you more.
A polite thank-you message after delivery can serve as a gentle reminder for the customer to tip.
You can also improve your chances of higher tips by working during busy hours when people tend to be more generous.
Related: Tips to make more money on DoorDash!
Don’t Miss Out on Promotions and Bonuses
Occasionally, Instacart offers promotions like “Peak boosts” for working during busy times, quality bonuses for high ratings, and referral bonuses for bringing in new drivers.
These can add a nice bump to your earnings.
Keep Track of Expenses
Remember, as an Instacart driver, you’re an independent contractor. That means you should keep track of your business expenses like gas and vehicle maintenance.
These can be deducted from your taxes, effectively increasing your take-home pay.
By taking these steps, you can make a more informed decision about whether Instacart is worth it for drivers. With the right approach, it’s entirely possible to make good money with Instacart.
Alternatives to Instacart
If you find the idea of shopping for groceries and bringing them to people’s doors appealing, then you can explore alternatives like Shipt, Walmart, and Amazon Fresh. There are many other odd job apps that can help you earn some extra cash.
Alternate Grocery Delivery Apps
Here are a few grocery delivery apps.
Shopping for Shipt operates in a similar way to Instacart. It allows you to choose your own schedule and work in more than 260 cities across the U.S.
On the plus side, you can earn up to $22 per hour and even get a free Shipt membership with special deals.
But like Instacart, you’re responsible for your own car expenses and handling customer issues. And yes, there’s a $10 fee for a background check.
Walmart’s grocery delivery lets you work through third-party apps like Spark Driver or Point Pickup.
You can make good money with up to $20 an hour and can pick from a wide array of items to deliver, not just groceries.
However, the car expenses are on you, and you need to meet the specific platform’s rules and standards.
This is part of the Amazon Prime ecosystem and works through Amazon Flex.
You can potentially earn up to $25 per hour and have a large pool of customers.
However, competition for delivery blocks can be intense, and you still have to foot the bill for your car’s gas and maintenance.
What About Other Food Delivery Services?
If groceries aren’t your thing, how about delivering restaurant meals? This brings us to DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub.
Doordash service is active in numerous U.S., Canadian, and Australian cities.
As a Dasher, you have a lot of flexibility and can make good money, up to $25 per hour. But the issues of car expenses and managing in different weather conditions still apply.
Also, if you want to cash out instantly, there’s a $1.99 fee.
Uber Eats is Uber’s food delivery counterpart. It offers potential earnings of up to $20 per hour and a busy customer base, but the daily grind of dealing with traffic, parking, and weather conditions remains.
Plus, there’s a $0.50 fee for instant payments.
Operating in more than 3,200 U.S. cities, Grubhub is another valid choice. You can earn as much as $22 per hour and have a broad range of cuisines to deliver.
However, the cons remain the same: you’re on the hook for all car-related expenses and have to navigate through traffic and parking challenges.
Other Gig economy Platforms
Let’s dig into some alternative gig economy platforms where you can make money by providing different services. Here’s a review of a few options and how they compare to working for Instacart.
Think of Taskrabbit as your gateway to helping people with chores they’d rather not do themselves.
Whether it’s putting together IKEA furniture, helping someone move, or tackling a cleaning project, Taskrabbit links you to people who need these tasks done.
Setting your schedule and pay rate is all in your hands. Plus, just like you can make good money with Instacart, you can earn tips and get your pay sent straight to your bank account every week.
So, when it comes to schedule and flexibility, apps like TaskRabbit are like shopping for Instacart, but with a wider variety of jobs.
If you’re more comfortable behind the wheel than pushing a shopping cart, Uber might be up your alley.
You offer rides to people using your car, working as much or as little as you want. The platform has its own set of requirements you need to meet, but once you’re in, you can earn tips just like you would when working for Instacart.
Uber offers another avenue for people who love to drive.
Unlike Instacart, TaskRabbit, or Uber, Fiverr allows you to sell skills that don’t require you to leave your home.
Are you good at graphic design, writing, or even voice-over work? You can offer these services on Fiverr.
You have the freedom to set your own prices and work on projects that actually interest you. Payment methods are also flexible, ranging from PayPal to bank transfers.
So, if you’ve ever wondered, “Can you make good money with Instacart?” but prefer using your professional or creative skills, Fiverr is a platform to consider.
While using these different platforms, you’ll find similar pros and cons in terms of pay, schedule, and workload.
The key is to consider what matters most to you: Is it the potential to make good money, the flexibility, or the kind of work you’ll be doing?
Each service has its own requirements, but they are generally along the lines of being at least 18 years old, having a valid driver’s license, and owning a reliable vehicle.
So is Instacart shopping worth it? That ultimately depends on how it stacks up against these other options for you.
Extra Reading: Instacart Instant Cashout Feature.
Final Words On Instacart Shopping Gig
So, is Instacart worth it as a job? Well, the straight answer is: it varies.
A lot rides on what you’re hoping to get out of the gig. Are you looking for a side hustle to make some extra money? Do you want a job where you can pick your hours? How much do you actually like the idea of shopping and delivering groceries? These are important questions.
Then there’s your own situation, like how busy your area is with Instacart orders, whether parking is a nightmare or a breeze, and the kind of tips and ratings you get from customers.
That means that Instacart isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. For some folks, it’s a solid pick for a side hustle or a way to make some extra money, especially with the flexible hours.
But if you’re hunting for a job with a steady income, a long-term plan, or zero stress, then Instacart might not be your jam.
Thinking about giving Instacart a try? You can sign up and start making money by shopping and delivering groceries. If you’ve already tried your hand at driving for Instacart or any other service, we’re all ears! Drop your thoughts, your Instacart review, and any tips you’ve got in the comments section below.
We hope you found this rundown helpful. If you’re keen to learn more about Instacart or other ways to make good money with delivery gigs, don’t hesitate to check out my other articles on the topic.
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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.