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In the current fast-changing workplace environment, many entrepreneurs are using technology to provide convenience services in order to make a bit of extra money. More and more people are exploring the side hustle option that is popular in today’s gig economy. One of the most popular examples of this is food delivery apps or becoming a full-service shopper and delivery driver.

When it comes to food delivery service or grocery delivery service, the two most popular apps are Doordash and Instacart.


Whether you want to become a full-service shopper for Doordash or Instacart, the requirements are more or less the same. To be eligible to work, you need a valid driver’s license, you need to be at least 18 years old, own a smartphone, be able to lift at least 30 pounds, and you need to pass a background check.

Unless you plan to deliver by bike, scooter, or on foot, you need to have a clean driving record and at least two years of driving experience.

There are no vehicle requirements for either app. In fact, you don’t even need to own your own car. Many drivers choose, instead, to rent a car, using services such as HyreCar. This option allows them to make a bit of extra money without having to worry about the depreciation of their car due to the extended mileage.

Drivers for either Doordash or Instacart are considered independent contractors. As an independent contractor, that means that if you work for Instacart or Doordash, you are responsible for filing your own taxes and you are not eligible for workers compensation or health insurance from the company.


There are no significant differences in the requirements or in the application process. Both companies seem to give anyone who is eligible a chance to prove their worth. When it comes to Instacart vs Doordash in terms of requirements and sign-up, it’s a tie.

Doordash vs Instacart – Workload and Scheduling

If you sign up to be an Instacart shopper, you need to announce your availability up to 10 days in advance. You will also need to select the shifts you want to work for the coming week. The best shifts are usually taken quickly, so it is a good idea to make your shift selection as early as possible. For instance, on Sunday early morning.

The duration of the shift varies from location to location but usually has a 3-hour minimum.

As a Doordash driver, you have the option of signing up for shifts or you can simply log on to the app at any given time and see if there are orders you can fulfil.


Doordash has a slight advantage since they do allow for more flexibility. However, if you truly want to make money, it is still best to schedule shifts in advance. Consider scheduling shifts that are likely to receive the most amount of orders, and then accept as many orders as you can.

Instacart vs Doordash – Pay Rate

Instacart has two kinds of delivery services: full-service shoppers and in-store shoppers.

Instacart Full-Service Shoppers

Full-service shoppers are independent contractors who use the delivery app to shop for and deliver groceries or deliver food to customers. They are paid per delivery, depending on the driving distance. They are also paid per order, depending on the number of items.

The earnings vary depending on where you work and what hours. However, full-service shoppers can expect to make between $7 and $26 per hour.

Instacart In-Store Shoppers

In-store shoppers are Instacart employees who shop at one store at a time and make deliveries to customers from that one store. In-store shoppers are paid a flat wage which varies from $9 to $16 per hour, depending on where you live.

It is worth noting that for Instacart customers, the full-service shopper option, in most places, is by far the more popular of the two. As an in-store shopper, you may have a hard time picking up the hours you need to really make money. Additionally, in order to maintain your part-time employee status, Instacart will cap your hours at 29 per week.


Doordash earnings are calculated based on three factors:

  • Base pay – This ranges from $2 to $10 per order, depending on the driving distance, the estimated time it will take to complete the order, and how many other Doordash drivers have refused the order.
  • Promotions – These take into account peak delivery times, incentives to complete a set number of deliveries in a set amount of time, and bonuses for completing an exceptionally large order.
  • Tips – You keep 100% of the tips given by the customers.

Both Doordahs and Instacart pay their drivers each week. However, Doordash also offers a service called Fast Pay, where, for a fee of $1.99 you can cash out your earnings early.


Doordash offers more incentives and promotions which can increase the earnings for a driver who completes more jobs. The earnings average out to slightly more per hour. And drivers report making more money working for Doordash vs Instacart.

Instacart vs Doordash – Referral Programs

Doordash drivers can be eligible to receive bonuses for referring their friends to work with Doordash. However, there are several conditions that need to be met – time using the app, the number of orders completed – and the Doordash referral program is only available in certain cities.

The amount of money you can earn through the Doordash referral program also varies from city to city. At the end of the day, there is a lot of fine print related to the Doordash referral program. The conditions and rewards vary by location and are subject to change at any time. It is unclear, and thus unlikely, that a Doordash driver can earn a significant bonus through the Doordash referral program.

Like Doordash, Instacart also has a referral program. And like Doordash, the Instacart referral program is subject to many variables and caveats. In order for a driver to be eligible for the referral program, they must be in good standing and have shopped batches within the last 6 months.

Once the referred driver passes the background check and begins shopping, they must complete a certain amount of batches within a specified timeframe. The bonus money earned varies from market to market and it also depends on the productivity of the referred driver.

What’s nice about the Instacart referral program is that both the referrer and the referee are eligible to receive bonuses. According to Instacart, while bonuses vary, if the new driver completes 100 batches in 30 days, the bonus will be a minimum of $750. Yet it is unclear whether that bonus is shared between the referrer and the referee or if they both receive the totality of that bonus.


There are simply too many variables and caveats with both Doordash and Instacart referral programs to get a good sense of whether they can actually be a good way to make extra money. However, Instacart does provide slightly more information on the subject than Doordash does, and they pay both the experienced driver and the new driver a bonus if a certain level of productivity is reached within a reasonable timeframe.

So, by a slim margin, Instacart is the winner when it comes to referral programs.

Pros and Cons of Instacart

As an Instacart shopper, you have the option of being paid per order -which gives you the option of only accepting the deliveries you want to make – or you can accept a per-hour job (albeit part-time, and your hours can not exceed 29 per week).

Surveyed drivers often complain about the difficulty of making substitute purchases when a specifically requested product is not available. This requires the store shopper to frequently communicate with the customer, and the customers aren’t always understanding.

Additionally, surveyed Instacart shoppers often complain about the limited amount of hours they can work, as there just aren’t enough customers who demand food delivery as they’d like.

The fact that Instacart is flexible in the way it conducts its delivery service is a big bonus. Drivers are paid every week. And the delivery app can be a good job for drivers who want to make a bit of extra money.

Unlike some other grocery delivery services, Instacart does not provide its drivers with insulated bags. The app is easy to use, and delivering groceries can be a good job with decent pay. But it is best used as a temporary gig or a side hustle. It is unlikely to provide a sustainable income over the long haul.

Pros and Cons of Doordash

When you sign up to shop for and deliver groceries with the Doordash app, you are sent an insulated food bag and a pre-paid debit card to be used when a customer hasn’t already paid for their order on the app.

When orders come in on the app, you can see the route, the deliver-by time, and the guaranteed minimum pay for orders. You can then decide whether to accept or decline the assignment.

The hours are flexible. You can schedule shifts in advance or simply log on to the app and accept an order if one comes in.


When comparing Doordash vs Instacart, it often comes down to which of the apps is most popular in your area. However, of the two delivery apps, Doordash gives you the option to schedule shifts in advance or simply sign in when you feel like delivering. For this reason, when we compare the two, Doordash comes out as the slight winner.

Instacart vs Doordash – The Takeaway

Instacart places a greater emphasis on company culture. When employees of both Doordash and Instacart are surveyed, Instacart almost always comes out as the winner in terms of employee satisfaction.

However, when you go beyond company culture and look at the pay and other benefits of delivering groceries with these apps, the ratings tend to favor Doordash, but not by much.

Ultimately, like with any side hustle, you get what you put into it. If you’re willing to put in the hours, being a shopper and making deliveries for either Doordash or Instacart can be a rewarding experience.


Actual earnings may differ and depend on factors like number of deliveries completed, time of day, location, and expenses. Hourly pay is calculated using average Dasher payouts while on a delivery (from the time you accept an order until the time you drop it off) over a 90 day period and includes compensation from peak pay, tips, and other incentives.