In the ever-evolving landscape of the gig economy, food/grocery delivery services stand as pillars of modern labor, offering flexibility and independence to a growing workforce.
Instacart simplifies the grocery shopping experience, allowing customers to order and receive groceries from the comfort of their homes. DoorDash, in contrast, broadens the scope, offering an array of delivery options from restaurants to retail stores.
This article on Instacart vs DoorDash earnings dives deep into the nuances of working with these platforms.
From the experience of gig workers, we will unravel the intricacies of their business models, pay structures, and overall work experience, providing a comprehensive guide for those considering joining the gig economy or curious about the potential earnings from these popular services.
As we explore the subtle differences between Instacart and DoorDash, you will get to know which platform might be a better fit for your work preferences and lifestyle.
So, let’s get started!
Understanding Instacart and DoorDash
The gig economy has been booming since the COVID-19 times, and food delivery services like Instacart and DoorDash are at the forefront of this revolution.
Let’s dive into what these platforms offer to gig workers and how they differ from each other.
Overview of Instacart’s Business Model and Services
Instacart has carved out a niche in the online grocery delivery service.
As an Instacart gig worker, you’re part of a straightforward business model: customers order groceries online, and you, as an Instacart shopper, head to the store, pick up the items and deliver them to the customer’s doorstep.
A Reddit user shares his experience: “Working with Instacart is flexible. I choose when and where I want to work. The best part? I get to help people with their grocery shopping, which feels pretty rewarding.”
Extra Reading: Is Instacart worth it as a job?
Overview of DoorDash’s Business Model and Services
DoorDash operates in the food delivery sector but extends beyond just groceries. As a ‘Dasher’ — that’s what they call their delivery workers — you pick up food orders from restaurants and deliver them to customers.
A DoorDash driver explains on Quora: “DoorDash is great for anyone who loves driving around town. I log into the app, accept orders from local restaurants, and deliver them. It’s that simple!”
Extra Reading: Is DoorDash worth it?
Comparison of the Types of Services Offered by Both Platforms
The primary difference between Instacart and DoorDash lies in what you’re delivering.
Instacart is purely focused on grocery shopping and delivery, while DoorDash covers a broader spectrum, delivering food from restaurants, as well as from grocery stores, convenience stores, and even some retail outlets.
As this Quora user says, “I’ve worked for both. With Instacart, I spend more time in stores shopping, which is great for anyone who prefers walking to driving. DoorDash, on the other hand, is more about quick pickups and drop-offs.”
The choice between Instacart and DoorDash might come down to personal preferences.
Do you enjoy grocery shopping and don’t mind spending time picking the right avocado? Instacart might be your gig. Or, if you prefer zipping around town and interacting less with grocery aisles and more with restaurant takeouts, DoorDash could be a better fit.
Both platforms offer flexibility, allowing gig workers to set their own schedules and work as little or as much as they want. It’s about choosing the one that aligns best with your lifestyle and preferences.
Comparing Earnings: Instacart vs DoorDash
Understanding Base Pay Structures
Both Instacart and DoorDash offer unique pay structures for their gig workers.
- Instacart’s pay is often based on a combination of factors, including the number of items in the order, the type of order, and the distance covered.
- DoorDash, on the other hand, calculates earnings based on a base pay per delivery, which factors in the distance, duration, and desirability of the order.
As this Reddit user comments, “Instacart’s pay can be a bit unpredictable. Some days are great, especially with large orders, but other days, it’s just average. DoorDash seems more consistent in comparison.”
Hourly Rates and Tips
On average, DoorDash drivers can expect to earn around $15-$20 per hour, while Instacart shoppers’ earnings are more variable, ranging from $14 to $25 per hour, largely depending on the area and time of day.
Tips play a significant role in these earnings.
Both platforms allow customers to tip their drivers, and these tips can sometimes double the earnings from a single delivery.
Instacart and DoorDash both have a base rate for tips, and drivers keep 100% of the tips they earn.
For most workers, tips make or break the game, as this Quora user shares, “Tips are a game-changer. I’ve had days where tips accounted for almost half of my total earnings. Customers generally tip well for quick and friendly service.”
Always aim to provide the best service, as that directly impacts the tips I receive. It’s all about being efficient and friendly.
Factors Influencing Earnings
The Role of Location and Demand
Earnings can vary greatly based on location and the demand for deliveries. Busy urban areas typically offer more opportunities and higher earnings potential compared to suburban or rural areas.
Impact of Driver Ratings
Driver ratings on both platforms can impact the accessibility to orders and potential earnings. High-rated drivers often get priority for orders, especially lucrative ones like the top dasher in Doordash.
A DoorDash driver shares on Quora, “Maintaining a high rating has helped me get more orders, especially during slow times. It’s all about customer satisfaction.”
Strategies for Maximizing Earnings
As this driver on Reddit advises, “Target busy areas and work during peak meal times. That’s when you get the most orders and the best chances for higher earnings.”
The Work Experience: Instacart vs DoorDash
Nature of Work: Shopping and Delivering vs. Primarily Delivering
Instacart and DoorDash offer distinct work experiences. With Instacart, you’re essentially a personal shopper and delivery driver, picking groceries from stores and delivering them.
In contrast, DoorDash primarily involves picking up pre-placed orders from restaurants and delivering them to customers.
So, Instacart can be more time-consuming per order because of the shopping aspect, but it’s rewarding for those who enjoy a blend of shopping and driving.
Flexibility and Scheduling
Both Instacart and DoorDash excel in offering flexibility. You can choose your hours and how much you want to work. This adaptability is perfect for those looking for a side hustle or full-time gig on their terms.
DoorDash lets you schedule your shifts in advance, which can help plan your week better.
Different Order Types
Instacart offers full-service (shopping and delivery) and delivery-only orders, while DoorDash primarily provides food delivery orders. The nature of these orders affects both work complexity and potential earnings.
For Instacart, you can also work as an in-store shopper, where you will only pack the orders and won’t do any delivery. It is a less flexible job than a full-time shopper. It offers reliable earnings but you need to work on a fixed predefined schedule.
Payment Structures and Policies
Weekly Payments and Cashouts
Both platforms pay weekly, but they also offer options for instant cashouts, allowing workers to access their earnings sooner.
A DoorDash driver comments on Reddit, “I love the Fast Pay feature. It helps me get my earnings immediately when I need cash fast.”
Peak Pay and Bonuses
Both Instacart and DoorDash offer peak pay during busy times and bonuses for meeting certain criteria. This can significantly boost overall earnings.
Beware of Tip-baiting, where customers lure drivers with high tips and then reduce them post-delivery, which can impact earnings. Both platforms have measures to address this, but it remains a concern for drivers.
Pros and Cons for Workers
Advantages and Drawbacks of Instacart
Working for Instacart offers the advantage of combining shopping with driving, which can be more engaging. However, it may involve more time per order and competition for high-paying batches.
Also for Instacart, it can get competitive to snag the best orders, so you need to grab those early batches to boost your daily earnings or reach the $200-a-day goal.
Advantages and Drawbacks of DoorDash
DoorDash’s work is more straightforward – primarily delivering food with less time spent per order. However, it might involve longer driving distances and fluctuating demand.
With all this driving mileage can add up and chew up your earnings. Therefore, my advice is to take up only smart orders (which pay at least $1.5 a mile or more). Also, keep track of your mileage for tax purposes as DoorDash or Instacart does not pay for gas.
Legal and Financial Considerations
Independent Contractor Status
As independent contractors, both Instacart and DoorDash workers handle their own taxes and expenses, which is an important consideration for anyone looking to join these platforms.
Mileage and Profitability
Mileage is a significant factor in overall profitability. While it can be tax-deductible, it’s essential to track it carefully to understand the true earnings from these gigs.
Keeping a log of your miles will be crucial for understanding your real earnings and for tax purposes.
Additional Ways to Earn
Referral Bonuses and Promotional Challenges
Both Instacart and DoorDash offer referral bonuses, incentivizing workers to bring new drivers into the fold.
Promotional challenges, such as completing a certain number of deliveries within a set timeframe, also provide opportunities for additional earnings.
“I boosted my earnings significantly last month thanks to a referral bonus on DoorDash,” mentions a Quora user.
Working for Multiple Services
Many gig workers increase their earning potential by working for both Instacart and DoorDash. This diversification allows workers to capitalize on the strengths and peak times of each platform.
Multi-apping allow many gig workers to cherry-pick the best orders and earn $1k a week without working 100 hours a week.
As this user on Reddit, states, “I juggle between Instacart, UberEats and DoorDash. It keeps the work interesting, and I can maximize my earnings by switching between apps based on demand.”
Final Words on Instacart vs DoorDash
Both Instacart and DoorDash have their unique advantages. Generally, DoorDash tends to have a steadier flow of delivery requests, which can translate to more consistent earnings. Instacart, with its variable pay structure, might offer higher earnings per delivery, especially with large grocery orders.
The choice between Instacart and DoorDash largely depends on personal preferences and circumstances like different marketplaces.
If you enjoy the shopping aspect and don’t mind spending more time on each order, Instacart could be more rewarding. On the other hand, if you prefer a straightforward pick-up and delivery job, DoorDash might be more suitable.
I’d suggest trying both to see which one fits your lifestyle and earning goals in your market.
Extra Ways to Earn:
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.