The Ultimate Guide to Making Money as a Instacart Shopper

Why deal with the crowds at the grocery store when you can order what you need online and have the goods delivered to your doorstep? With Instacart, customers can conveniently request all the items off their shopping list, remit payment, and rest assured that the delivery is on its way and will arrive in as little as one hour. Best of all, this can be done from a smartphone or computer. 

Wondering who’s taking care of all the shopping and deliveries? That’s where you can assist as an Instacart shopper. Not only is it a lucrative side gig, but they make it easy to get started. 

How Shopping for Instacart Works

There are two types of Instacart shoppers: 

  • Full-Service Shopper: An independent contractor role that requires you to have a vehicle as you’ll be fulfilling and delivering orders. Part of the role also entails jotting down notes for the buyer if select products need to be substituted or are not purchased because they are out of stock. This means you’ll be responsible for paying your taxes at the end of the year, although you can play in quarterly to minimize the bit hit at the end of the year. 
  • In-Store Shopper: A part-time role that can be done without a vehicle since you’ll only be working in stores to fill orders and the customer will pick them up from the store. You can choose to have taxes deducted from your weekly earnings by completing a W4 online or during the onboarding session. 

Service Areas

Instacart is available throughout multiple cities in the US and Canada. To see if the service is available in your local area, enter your zip code into their online search tool. If there’s a hit, you’ll be presented with a list of participating retailers, along with any introductory offers, like free delivery, you qualify for. 

Participating retailers include ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, Albertsons, Aldi, BJ’s, Costco, CVS Pharmacy, Sam’s Club, Petco, Publix, Ralphs, ShopRite, The Fresh Market, and Wegmans. 

How Much Can You Make As an Instacart Shopper? 

Full-Service Shoppers

The amount you make as an Instacart Full Service Shopper will depend on your location, the number of hours worked, and the volume of orders filled. You can expect to be compensated weekly by direct deposit for your efforts, and any tips you receive are yours to keep. 

In-Store Shoppers

In-Store Shoppers are paid by the hour, which is somewhere between $10 and $15. The exact amount is disclosed in the offer letter. If you choose this option, you’ll also be paid once per week via direct deposit. 

Referral Bonuses

To earn even more as a Full Service or In-Store Shopper, refer a friend to shop with Instacart. To qualify, you’ll need to complete a minimum of 40 hours as an Instacart Shopper, and be in good standing. They’ll also need to input the referral code that’s unique to you to receive your bonus. 

Other restrictions may apply, so be sure to follow the instructions on the dashboard to ensure you receive the full benefit. 

Benefits of Working for Instacart

Flexible Hours 

As a Full-Service Shopper, you’ll always have the flexibility to make your schedule and can work as many hours as you see fit. This means you can work when it’s convenient so you won’t have to cancel appointments and make adjustments to your schedule for prior commitments. Alerts will be sent to you via the mobile app, but you want to accept them as soon as possible as they usually don’t last long. 

But as In-Store Shopper, hours are limited to 29 hours per week. The good news is you can request specific shifts that best suit your needs. 

In general, you’ll be working from 7 am until grocery stores close in both roles.

Vehicle Not Required To Earn Money 

Because In-Store Shoppers do not make deliveries, you can get paid with Instacart even if you don’t have a vehicle. As long as you have a way to and from work for your scheduled shifts, you’re all set. 

Getting Started as an Instacart Shopper

Qualification Criteria

Before applying to work with Instacart, you want to confirm you qualify for the role. Applicants that meet the following criterion should be good to go:

  • Are at least 18 years of age (or 21 and up if you want to deliver alcohol)
  • Are eligible to work in the US
  • Have a working smartphone that you can operate (Android model of at least 4.4 or the iPhone 5)
  • Can lift between 30 and 40 pounds without assistance 
  • Possess (or have access to) a vehicle that can be used for deliveries*

*Only applies to full-service shoppers

How to Sign Up

You can sign up online or via the mobile app to start working with Instacart as a Full-Service or In-Store Shopper. The web addresses are as follows: 

  • If you’re located in the US:
  • If you’re located in Canada: 

Once you’ve submitted your application, it will undergo review by the Instacart team and you’ll receive an update via email. You’ll also be subject to a background check. 

Upon acceptance, you’ll be invited to attend an onboarding session to learn the ins and outs of Instacart so you can begin working right away. But if you choose to work a Full-Service Shopper, attendance at the onboarding session is not required. 

Is Instacart Shopping a Good Fit for You?

If you have experience as a personal shopper or like the idea of handpicking and possibly delivering groceries, Instacart may be a good fit for you. It may also be an ideal gig if you enjoy making trips to the grocery store and picking out the freshest selection of produce, meats, seafood, and everything else they have to offer. 

Not a fan of grocery stores or shopping in general? Shopping with Instacart may still be a side hustle worth considering as it allows you to put some extra money in your pocket on your terms. And the job isn’t super stressful. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

The Bottom Line 

When you become an Instacart Shopper, you’ll get paid to help people who are strapped for time and need a little help keeping their refrigerators and pantries stocked with groceries. And while it may not pay enough to replace earnings from a full-time role, this side gig is a great way to supplement your income.