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Instacart is a grocery delivery service that allows buyers to select items from a wide array of stores and get them delivered by an Instacart shopper, often in less than an hour. The shoppers themselves benefit from a flexible work schedule and the possibility to make a few hundred dollars or a few thousand, depending on how much they want to work every week.
So how much do Instacart shoppers exactly make, and is fulfilling grocery orders the right fit for you? The answer is slightly more complicated than you might initially think, and there are many factors you need to consider before making up your mind. This article will help you learn more about working for Instacart and reveal what kind of wages you can count on when delivering groceries.
What Is Instacart?
Established in 2012, Instacart is a grocery delivery service where the bulk of interactions between customers and shoppers is contained within the Instacart app. Unfortunately, it currently only operates in the United States and Canada, so if you’re not based in either one of these regions, you may want to look into other gigs. While its primary function is grocery shopping, Instacart customers can also use the app to buy items from stores like Sephora, The Body Shop, or Staples. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the full array of stores an Instacart customer can choose from depends on their location.
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Workers and the Instacart Shopper App
When it comes to shoppers, Instacart operates similarly to well-established ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft. Customers and workers download different versions of the service’s mobile app. This means that Instacart drivers are allowed to create their own schedule, increasing or decreasing their workload in accordance with their needs and other responsibilities. The shoppers also get rated by users.
Until 2021, the rating system was identical to most other app-based delivery or ridesharing jobs, i.e., a 5-star system. However, in the fall of last year, the company changed its approach toward shopper ratings and has opted for a “thumbs-up/thumbs-down” interface. This evened out the playing field between shoppers and made it easier for new drivers to get more orders much quicker.
How Do Instacart Shoppers Get Paid?
One major difference that separates Instacart from other gig economy jobs is the distinction between full-service shoppers and in-store shoppers. As a full-service shopper, more commonly referred to as an “instacart driver,” you’re responsible for carrying out the order from start to finish: driving to the store, picking up the items, packing them up, and delivering them to their final destination. In-store shoppers, on the other hand, are based in a single store, where their only responsibility is to pack up the orders and get them ready for pick up.
These two jobs are very different in nature. Full-service shoppers can create their own schedule and need to have a valid driver’s license to fulfill orders. In-store workers are assigned shifts at specific grocery stores every week and don’t have as much flexibility in terms of choosing their work hours.
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While Instacart customers can choose from a wide variety of payment methods, shoppers can only get paid via direct deposit. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get paid via PayPal or a similar financial service. It is definitely a limitation, but it is not without its reasons. Using a single method to pay all the salaries ensures that all workers get paid on time.
If you’re an efficient shopper and try to make an extra effort, customers might tip you. The most common tip is 5% of the order value. In-store shoppers get paid by the hour; unfortunately, they’re excluded from tipping.
The vast majority of Instacart full-service shoppers make at least $5 per “delivery-only” order and anywhere between $7-10 for full-service orders that entail going into the store and actually picking out the items. However, these are just rough estimates. Your pay per order depends on a whole myriad of factors, such as the batch size, type of items, and the distance you need to travel in order to fulfill the order. Larger Instacart orders tend to pay much better. Moreover, delivering on holidays and weekends increases your earning potential. The case is slightly different for in-store shoppers because they get paid an hourly wage, which varies from state to state.
All in all, the amount of cash you can make as an Instacart shopper depends on how much you’re willing to work per day and what kind of orders you tend to accept. If you’re willing to do a lot of heavy lifting on a daily basis, you will make more money. Keep in mind that in the eye of the law, Instacart shoppers are classified as independent contractors, which means that you’ll need to take care of estimating and paying your quarterly taxes.
Withdrawing your money from the app is very easy. Full-service shoppers can get paid instantly whenever they choose to do so via the Instant Cashout option. It becomes available after fulfilling five orders, and you can do it as frequently as you please, as long as you have at least $5 in earnings and don’t withdraw more than $3,000 per day. On the other hand, in-store shoppers get paid weekly for their shifts.
Getting Started as an Instacart Shopper
Although it is fairly easy to become an Instacart shopper, there is still a set of conditions you need to meet in order to start working. Once again, these don’t differ much from the requirements set by other delivery apps or ridesharing services, so if you worked for one of these in the past, chances are that you’re all set to join Instacart. If this is your first shot at this type of job, you can find Instacart’s requirements below.
- Own a smartphone. Without a phone, you’re not going to be able to download the shopper app, sign up for the job, or pick up orders.
- Pass a background check. This process usually takes up to 10 business days, but depending on your location and background, it may take a while longer. On the other hand, some shoppers have reported getting their clearance within a week.
- Be 18 or older. Minors can’t drive for Instacart. Additionally, in order to be able to deliver alcohol, you need to be at least 21 years old.
- Have a bank account. As an Instacart shopper, you’ll be paid by direct deposit, which requires you to have a checking or savings account.
- Be able to lift at least 30 pounds. Some batches can get really heavy. Being physically capable of lifting bags full of groceries during your work hours is absolutely necessary.
Once you fulfill these conditions, you will have to sign the contractor agreement and pick up your Instacart payment card. It is a debit card used by Instacart employees to pay for the customer’s order.
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Make Your Job Easier with HyreCar
If you’re determined to become a full-service Instacart shopper, but you don’t own a car, don’t worry! Head over to HyreCar to rent a car for delivery services quickly and on fair terms. You can rent a car on a per-day basis or take it out for a longer period. Full-service Instacart shoppers frequently take up this job as a short-term way of making extra money. By renting from HyreCar, you won’t have to worry about vehicle maintenance and taking too much cash out of your paycheck for a hefty car payment. It’s also an excellent way for new shoppers to try out the job without tying themselves down to a long-term car lease.
Whatever your reason may be, renting cars with HyreCar to drive for Instacart or other similar services is a good way to familiarize yourself with the gig economy and see if this way of making some extra cash on the side is a good fit for you.