how to become an instacart shopper

How to Make Money as an Instacart Shopper

If you are looking for a side hustle to help you earn extra cash in your spare time, you should consider gig-based jobs.

In the United States, Canada, and the world at large, gig-based jobs are enjoying massive popularity.

Today, gig workers have many different options for making money on their own schedule such as driving for Uber/Lyft, walking dogs, or even using apps such as Instacart to deliver fresh groceries to people’s doorsteps.

While all these are excellent ways to earn extra cash, the focus here is Instacart and the opportunity it presents.

What is Instacart?

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that provides a hassle-free way for busy individuals to shop for groceries without the need to ever step into a store.

Customers simply use the Instacart app to select their city, add grocery items to the shopping cart, enter the preferred delivery time, and checkout.

The order is then received by the Instacart driver/shopper who then picks up the required items at the store, and then drops them off at the customer’s doorstep for a fee.

Instacart is currently available in more then 5,000 cities throughout the United States and Canada.

How Do You Become an Instacart Shopper?

It is quite easy to become an Instacart shopper. All you need to do is open an account and enter your name, phone number, email address, and other details as required. When signing up, you can choose to be either a Full-Service Shopper or an In-Store Shopper.

Full-Service Shoppers

A Full-Service Shopper handpicks groceries at a physical store, bags them, and delivers the order to the customer. A Full-Service Shopper is regarded as an independent contractor. If you apply to become a Full-Service Shopper, you will be required to provide a copy of your driver’s license.

In-Store Shoppers

An In-Store Shopper is considered a part-time Instacart employee and is responsible for shopping in-store for batch items and staging (bagging and labeling) orders to be picked up. Pick-up is done by either a delivery-only Instacart shopper or the actual customer.

If you apply to become an In-Store Shopper, you should expect to receive an email invite for an in-person onboarding session with the option to choose a date and time that works for you. In-Store Shopper positions are only available in select store locations and zone and not all stores or locations are signed up to have In-Store Shoppers.

Requirements Needed to Become an Instacart Shopper

The requirements needed to become an Instacart Shopper will vary depending on the type of shopper you are interested in becoming.

Full-Service Shopper

Full-Service Shoppers are independent contractors, which means that they are free to work as many hours in a week as they please. To be eligible, you will need to:

  • Be legally allowed to work in either the United States or Canada
  • Be at least 18 years old or older
  • Be capable of lifting 30 pounds or more
  • Have an insured and registered vehicle
  • Have a smartphone (iOS 9 or later or Android 5.0 or later)
  • Adhere to Instacart’s food safety policies

If you already have some experience as a personal shopper, in the transportation industry (e.g. as a taxi driver), or as rideshare driver (i.e. Uber, Lyft, etc.), you probably have what it takes to be a successful Full-Service Shopper.

The role will be great for you if you have a vehicle and don’t mind putting miles on it.

It can also be a great fit if you would like to make it a full-time job, because the hours are not restricted.

In addition, you can potentially earn more money in terms of tips and higher paying jobs.

In-Store Shopper

In-Store Shoppers are required to get to the assigned store in time and work the required minimum number of hours. To be eligible, you also need to:

  • Be legally able to work in the United States or Canada
  • Be at least 18 years old or older
  • Be capable of lifting 30 pounds or more
  • Have a smartphone (iOS 9 or later or Android 5.0 or later)
  • Adhere to Instacart’s food safety policies

The role is better suited to those that don’t plan to turn it into a full-time job since the hours are limited.

It can also be a great option for those looking to earn a set hourly age through Instacart but either don’t have a vehicle or don’t wish to put extra mileage on their vehicle.

How Much Money Can Instacart Shoppers Make?

Instacart doesn’t publish the exact amount of money you can expect to earn as an Instacart shopper/driver. However, your pay generally varied depending on the following factors:

  • The number of hours worked
  • The number of orders completed and the types of orders
  • Your location

A Full-Service Shopper is an independent contractor who is paid a variable commission.

An In-store shopper, on the other hand, is considered a part-time employee and is paid a fixed hourly pay. In-store shoppers can work up to 29 hours a week depending on availability.

Besides your pay, you also get to keep all the tips that you receive.

If you have been researching online the potential amount of money that you can earn with Instacart, you will see multiple references showing that $25 per hour is possible.

However, the actual average pay rates appear to be lower.

Based on shopper feedback and reviews online, it appears that In-Store Shoppers earn about $15.75 on average, while Full-Service Shoppers earn close to $24.50.

Payments are made out weekly via check or direct deposit.

Do Instacart Shoppers Make Good Tips?

You can earn good tips as an Instacart Full-Service Shopper. Instacart gives its shoppers the option to include a tip via the app.

A default 5 percent tips is set in the platform, but customers have the freedom to either change the amount or not to tip at all. Customers can also offer shoppers a cash tip upon delivery, at their discretion. I

f you want to earn good tips, make customers happy by delivering orders on time.

Personal Expenses to Expect as a Delivery Driver

If you are applying to become a Full-Service Shopper, you can expect to incur the following personal expenses:

  • Car Insurance: It is one of the eligibility requirements for one to become a Full-Service Shopper. The level of coverage will depend on the local laws.
  • Gas and Vehicle Maintenance: The only way to minimize this expense is to have a fuel-efficient vehicle. Fortunately, you can write off this expense when filing your taxes.
  • Vehicle Depreciation: Your vehicle’s resale value goes down as you rack up more miles. It might not hurt your pocket in the short term, but it is something you need to keep in mind.
  • Insulated Freezer Bag: Instacart Shoppers are required to own and use insulated freezer bags for cold grocery items.
  • Income Taxes: It is not an expense that’s unique to driving for Instacart, but it is something you need to keep in mind.


Instacart can be an incredibly lucrative side hustle if you can maximize your hours and time and be lucky enough to get large tips and bonuses.

It allows you to earn money working on your own schedule as a personal shopper/driver.

Whether or not it is worth your while will depend on how else you are able to monetize your time.

Users that have been very successful with the app recommend delivering orders o time, making customers happy, and racking up positive customer ratings as a way to significantly increase your earnings.

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