If you’re thinking about a side hustle and want a gig that offers flexibility, you might be looking at becoming a delivery driver for Uber Eats or Instacart.
These popular services are all about bringing food, groceries, and more right to people’s doorsteps. So, which one’s the better pick for you as a driver? How much money can you really make, and what’s involved in getting started?
This guide is going to break down the nitty-gritty of working with Uber Eats and Instacart. We’ll go over:
- The basics of each service: What your job will involve as a driver.
- Earnings: How much you can make and tips to boost your income.
- The good and the bad: We’ll lay out the advantages and disadvantages of each platform.
- Getting started: How to sign up and hit the road as a driver.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have a clear picture of how Uber Eats and Instacart stack up against each other. This way, you can make a choice that fits your needs and goals.
Let’s dive in and explore more!
In the world of gig apps or specifically delivery services, Uber Eats and Instacart are big names. They’re known for linking up customers with local businesses like restaurants and grocery stores.
However, these two platforms have some key differences.
Let’s break down what Uber Eats and Instacart are.
Understanding Uber Eats
It’s part of the Uber family, the same company that does ride-sharing. Uber Eats lets customers order meals from a variety of local spots – think restaurants, cafes, and even bars – using its app or website.
Then, the food gets delivered right to their doors, usually for a small charge. Customers have the option to place group orders or schedule them for later.
Uber Eats drivers, or delivery partners, are their own bosses. They use their own vehicles – cars, bikes, scooters – to pick up food from these places and deliver it to the customers.
These drivers decide when they want to work, based on the demand in their area. They can also get tips from customers, which they keep 100%.
Extra Reading: Is Uber Eats worth it hustle?
Instacart is all about online grocery delivery and pickup, working in thousands of cities in North America.
They team up with big grocery stores and retailers, offering a wide range of products – from fresh groceries to daily essentials. Customers use the Instacart app or website to order what they need and get it delivered, often on the same day.
Instacart shoppers, or personal shoppers, are independent too. They’re the ones doing the shopping and delivering orders to customers.
There are two roles for these shoppers: full-service shoppers, who both shop and deliver using their vehicles, and in-store shoppers, who just shop and hand off the groceries to delivery drivers.
While in-store shoppers work in shifts, full-service Instacart shoppers have the freedom to work whenever they want, as long as orders are available. They also keep 100% of the tips they earn.
Extra Reading: Is Instacart worth it?
Driver Requirements for Uber Eats vs Instacart
When it comes to joining Uber Eats or Instacart, each has its own set of requirements, depending on the vehicle you plan to use and the role you’re after.
Uber Eats Requirements:
- You need to be at least 19 years old, or 18 if you’re delivering on a bike or on foot.
- A valid driver’s license, car insurance, and vehicle registration are must-haves if you’re delivering by car.
- A clean driving record and a background check are part of the deal.
- You’ll need a smartphone capable of running the Uber app.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- You should be legally allowed to work in the country you’re in.
- A smartphone that can run the Instacart app is essential.
- Access to a reliable vehicle is necessary for full-service shoppers.
- Full-service shoppers should be able to lift up to 40 pounds.
Extra reading: How long is the Instacart waitlist?
Which Pays More Uber Eats Vs Instacart
When comparing Uber Eats vs Instacart and more, a common question, and the most important one for potential drivers is: which platform pays more?
It’s not a simple answer because your earnings depend on various factors like where you live, the demand for deliveries, the size and distance of the order, customer tips, and the platform’s promotions and incentives.
Let’s look at some average earnings for each platform, based on online sources and user reviews:
Uber Eats Pay: Uber Eats drivers generally make about $15-$18 per hour, according to sites like Indeed. But, earnings can vary a lot. For example, during busy times and in busy markets, some drivers on Glassdoor report earning between $20 to $25 per hour.
Uber Eats calculates pay by combining pickup fees, trip supplements, promotions, and tips – and drivers keep all their tips.
Instacart Pay: Instacart shoppers tend to earn around $15-$20 per hour, as reported on Indeed. However, this can also vary. For instance, some shoppers on Glassdoor say they’ve made up to $30 per hour.
Instacart’s pay formula considers the number and type of items, the delivery distance, and tips – and like Uber Eats, shoppers keep 100% of their tips.
In general, Uber Eats tends to pay more than Instacart since it often has more consistent orders in most markets. However, Instacart can offer larger tips, especially for big or complex orders. Sometimes, Instacart batches pay $30 to $40 or more, depending on the size and distance of the delivery.
So, how much you earn can change based on luck, your efficiency, and strategy.
Getting Paid: Uber Eats vs Instacart
Uber Eats pays through direct deposit, either weekly or daily. Weekly pay goes out on Mondays and arrives by Wednesday. For daily pay, there’s Instant Pay, which lets you cash out up to five times a day for a small fee.
Instacart also does direct deposit, either to your bank account or debit card. Weekly payments happen on Wednesdays, arriving by Friday. For daily payments, there’s Instant Cashout, available any time for a small fee.
So, there you have it. Both Uber Eats and Instacart offer unique opportunities, and your choice might come down to whether you prefer delivering food or groceries.
Flexibility in Uber Eats vs Instacart
Another key point is the flexibility of the work. Both Uber Eats and Instacart let you work when you want, but they operate differently.
- Uber Eats: You don’t have to schedule shifts or take a minimum number of orders. You can just go online or offline at your convenience. However, you might find less demand during certain times or in certain areas. Plus, there’s no minimum hourly pay, so earnings can fluctuate.
- Instacart: Offers on-demand and scheduled options. On-demand shoppers can pick and choose orders, but might wait a while for a good one. Scheduled shoppers get priority access to orders but must accept at least 80% of the orders they’re offered. Like Uber Eats, there’s no guaranteed hourly pay.
Uber Eats is generally more flexible as it doesn’t require scheduling shifts or accepting a specific percentage of orders. However, Instacart can provide higher-paying orders for those willing to accept most orders.
Extra Reading: Best alternatives to Instacart.
Customer Satisfaction in Uber Eats vs Instacart
Customer satisfaction is another factor. This can impact your tips, ratings, and overall job satisfaction.
- Uber Eats: The app is user-friendly, offering a wide range of food options and real-time order tracking. However, customers might complain about delivery fees, surge pricing, or food quality – issues not always in the driver’s control. Drivers are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars.
- Instacart: Offers a detailed app for grocery orders, including communication with shoppers, but also faces issues like service fees or product availability. Shoppers are partly responsible for the order’s accuracy and quality, and are also rated on a 1 to 5-star scale.
Both platforms have pros and cons in terms of customer satisfaction. Instacart might require more communication skills, dealing with varied and complex orders, while Uber Eats is typically faster and simpler.
Nature of Work
Uber Eats and Instacart are both popular choices, but they offer different kinds of delivery work. Let’s look at how these two stack up in terms of the work you’ll do, the tips and bonuses you might get, and how and when you get paid.
Uber Eats: Delivering Food
Uber Eats is all about food delivery. It connects folks with local eateries like restaurants and cafes. As a driver, you get paid to deliver food and other essentials. You can do this using a bike, car, or scooter in certain areas. Here’s how it works:
- You sign up and pass a background check.
- Choose when and where to work through the app.
- Get delivery requests, accept the ones you like.
- Pick up food and use the app for directions to the customer.
- Drop off the food and complete the job on the app.
- Get feedback and tips from customers.
Instacart: Grocery Shopping and Delivering
Instacart is about grocery delivery. They team up with major grocery stores to deliver on the same day in many places. The process here is a bit more detailed:
- Sign up and pass a background check.
- Pick available batches (shopping lists) in the app.
- Accept a batch and shop for the items at the store.
- Communicate with the customer for any out-of-stock items.
- Pay using a pre-loaded Instacart card and keep the receipt.
- Deliver to the customer and finish the delivery in the app.
- Get feedback and tips from customers.
Both Uber Eats and Instacart let customers tip through the app, and you keep all these tips. The amount can vary based on how big or far the order is and how happy the customer is.
Extra Reading: Instacart vs DoorDash earnings!
What Other Drivers Are Saying
To give you a better idea of what working for these platforms is like, let’s check out what some drivers have shared on Reddit and other forums.
A driver who tried both Uber Eats and Instacart shared on Quora that Uber Eats often pays more because it’s busier with more orders. But, he mentioned that Instacart could give bigger tips, and sometimes, Instacart orders could pay as much as $30 to $40, depending on the order’s size and complexity. He also noted that withdrawing your earnings is simpler and cheaper with Uber Eats.
Here are some more comments from people who’ve tried both:
“I tried Instacart for a day and wasn’t into it. Spent ages in a store shopping and only made about $20. Uber Eats is better for me. I just pick up food that’s ready and can do more deliveries, sometimes making $30+ an hour.” 1
“Some folks say Uber Eats pays more because it’s busier with more orders. But Instacart can give bigger tips, especially for large orders. I’ve got some Instacart batches that pay $30 to $40 or more.”
“I didn’t like Instacart in my city. People tipped like $2 for 100 items. Too many scammers too.”
“I prefer Instacart. I like grocery shopping and helping people with their essentials. If you pick the right batches and work smart, it pays well.”
Extra Reading: How to make $1000 a week with Uber Eats
Pros and Cons: Uber Eats vs Instacart
Each delivery service has its own set of pros and cons for drivers. Let’s summarize some of the key points for Uber Eats and Instacart.
Pros and Cons of Driving for Uber Eats
- You set your own schedule and pick the orders you want.
- Good earnings, especially during busy times and with extra incentives.
- Easy to cash out earnings, even daily if you want.
- No strict dress code – just be neat and professional.
- Avoid dealing with customer service issues that come with ridesharing or grocery shopping complexities.
- Dealing with traffic, parking, and finding places can be stressful.
- Competition with other drivers can affect how many orders you get.
Pros and Cons of Driving for Instacart
- Flexibility in scheduling and choosing which orders to take.
- Potentially higher earnings for bigger or more complex orders.
- Tips are often higher because customers value the personal shopping effort.
- Less traffic and parking hassles compared to food delivery.
- Discover new products and enjoy the variety in shopping tasks.
- Risks like accidents or issues with groceries.
- Possible long waits in stores, especially during peak times.
- Need to communicate well with customers, which can be challenging.
From these insights, it’s clear that both Uber Eats and Instacart offer unique advantages and challenges. Your choice might depend on whether you prefer delivering food or groceries, how you handle customer interactions, and how flexible you need your work schedule to be.
Extra Reading: Does Instacart track your mileage?
When you’re thinking about driving for a delivery service, how much you can make depends a lot on how many people are using the service in your area.
Both are big names in the delivery industry, but they’re popular in different places and in different ways.
Uber Eats: Wide Reach and High Demand
Uber Eats is huge, available in over 10,000 cities in 45 countries, making it one of the biggest food delivery services around. It have second highest order volume after DoorDash in the US at 23%.
With more than 60 million people using it each month, there’s a lot of demand for Uber Eats deliveries. But, because it’s so popular, there’s also a lot of competition among drivers, especially in cities with lots of restaurants and customers. On average, drivers for Uber Eats make about $16-$18 per hour.
Instacart: Leading Grocery Delivery Service
Instacart is big in North America, available in more than 5,000 cities. It has about 10 million users, which is less than Uber Eats, but it’s still a busy service.
Instacart is all about delivering groceries, and it got even more popular after the pandemic. However, it’s not available everywhere, and some areas might not have as many grocery stores to choose from. Instacart drivers generally make about $15 – $20 per hour.
Extra Reading: Best time to deliver for Instacart.
Other Things to Think About: Uber Eats vs Instacart
When you’re deciding between Uber Eats and Instacart, you should also think about:
- What kind of vehicle you need: Uber Eats drivers can use cars, bikes, scooters, or motorcycles in some places. You’ll need a valid driver’s license, insurance, and registration. Instacart drivers need a car big enough for groceries, plus a driver’s license and insurance. Instacart doesn’t let you use bikes, scooters, or motorcycles.
- Where you’ll be delivering and how flexible the job is: Uber Eats drivers can pick and choose which deliveries to take. They see how long, how far, and how much they’ll earn before they accept an order. Instacart drivers choose batches of orders and can see where the store and customer are before accepting, but they don’t see the exact items or how much they’ll earn until they accept.
Some drivers like Uber Eats because they can deliver food from all sorts of restaurants without having to shop for groceries.
Others prefer Instacart because they can deliver bigger orders that might get better tips, and they don’t have to deal with as much traffic or parking.
Here’s what some drivers who’ve done both Uber Eats and Instacart say:
- “Uber Eats is better for me. I tried Instacart for a day and didn’t like it. Shopping in a grocery store for an hour to make one delivery for $20 or less wasn’t worth it. With Uber Eats, I just pick up ready food and do more deliveries, sometimes making $30+ an hour.” – Casper007_ on Reddit.
- “Uber pays well per order, but it’s not always busy. Instacart has constant orders, but I only take the ones with few items, short travel, and good tips, which come up a few times a day if I’m lucky.” – Superbotto on Reddit.
So, whether you go for Uber Eats or Instacart might depend on where you live, what kind of driving you prefer, and how you feel about shopping versus just picking up and delivering orders.
When you’re trying to choose between driving for Uber Eats or Instacart, think about what suits you best. Here’s what to consider:
- Your Driving Style: Do you like the idea of just driving around, picking up food from restaurants, and dropping it off? That’s what you’d do with Uber Eats. Or do you prefer going to grocery stores, doing some shopping, and then delivering? That’s the Instacart way. Some people might find cruising around with restaurant orders more relaxing, while others might enjoy the shopping and delivery combo of Instacart.
- How You Feel About Grocery Shopping: If you find grocery shopping fun or don’t mind it, you might like Instacart. You need to be good at finding items quickly, picking fresh produce, and sometimes choosing substitutes. If all that sounds like a headache, then Uber Eats, where you just pick up and deliver, might be more your speed.
- Flexibility vs. Routine: Both Uber Eats and Instacart let you work when you want. With Uber Eats, you can just log in to the app and start taking orders. Instacart lets you either pick your own hours and batches as a full-service shopper or work set shifts as an in-store shopper. So, think about whether you want the total freedom to work any time or a more predictable schedule.
Extra Reading: Uber Eats driver tips and tricks
My Advice for Uber Eats Vs Instacart
If both Uber Eats and Instacart are available in your area, it’s a smart strategy to use both apps to maximize your work opportunities throughout the day. Most top earners use multi-apping to optimize their earnings without putting on the extra miles on their cars.
You can kick off your mornings with Instacart, taking advantage of the fresh batches that typically drop early in the day.
As the afternoon rolls in, Instacart often slows down since many people are at work, making it an ideal time to switch over to Uber Eats to catch the lunchtime rush of food delivery orders.
Come evening, you have the flexibility to choose between Instacart and Uber Eats again, basing your decision on your location and the types of orders available.
And for those who prefer working later into the night, focusing on food delivery with Uber Eats can be particularly beneficial, catering to the dinner crowd and late-night snackers.
This approach allows you to efficiently utilize peak times for both services, ensuring a steady flow of work from morning till night.
Extra Reading: Instacart tips to get more orders.
In Summary: Uber Eats vs Instacart
In conclusion, when deciding between Uber Eats and Instacart, you’re looking at two distinct experiences. Uber Eats focuses on delivering restaurant meals, offering a straightforward job of just picking up and delivering food, and you might earn around $16 – $18 per hour.
On the other hand, Instacart, with an average earning of about $15 -$20 per hour, involves grocery shopping for customers before delivering, adding an extra layer of task variety.
The best choice for you hinges on your personal preferences, the area you live in, and the kind of work you find enjoyable and more profitable. While some drivers lean towards the simplicity of Uber Eats, others relish the diverse nature of Instacart’s shopping and delivery.
Ultimately, consider what aligns best with your lifestyle and experiment with both to determine how you can take better advantage of both.
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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.