Instacart Earnings Guide: How Much Can You Make?

The gig economy has revolutionized the way people work, offering flexible schedules and a chance to earn extra income on the side. One platform that has gained popularity in recent years is Instacart, a grocery delivery service that allows customers to order groceries online and have them delivered right to their doorstep. But what about the people who make these deliveries? How much can you actually make as an Instacart shopper? The answer isn’t straightforward, as there are many factors that can affect earnings, but we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you understand the pay structure and tips to maximize your earnings. In this post, we’ll break down the different components of Instacart earnings and give you insights into how much you can realistically expect to make as an Instacart shopper.

What is Instacart?

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that allows customers to order groceries from their favorite stores and have them delivered right to their door. Founded in 2012, Instacart has quickly become one of the most popular on-demand shopping services, particularly in the gig economy.

What sets Instacart apart is its ability to provide fast delivery times, often within an hour of placing an order. This is made possible by the company’s extensive network of shoppers and delivery drivers, who work together to ensure that orders are fulfilled accurately and promptly.

For shoppers, Instacart offers a flexible way to earn money on your own schedule. As an Instacart shopper, you can choose when and where you work, and how much you want to earn. This makes it an ideal option for anyone who needs a little extra income or wants to supplement their existing job.

Overall, Instacart is a convenient and reliable grocery delivery service that has revolutionized the way people shop for groceries. Whether you’re a customer looking for a quick and easy way to get your groceries delivered, or a shopper looking for a flexible side gig, Instacart is definitely worth considering.

How to Start Working for Instacart

If you’re interested in becoming an Instacart shopper, there are a few steps you’ll need to take before you can start earning money. Here’s a breakdown of the application process, background check, and training required to become an Instacart shopper:

Application Process
To get started as an Instacart shopper, you’ll need to create an account on their website or mobile app. You’ll be asked to provide some basic information about yourself, including your name, address, and phone number. Once you’ve created your account, you’ll need to complete an online application.

The application will ask you about your availability, transportation, and experience with grocery shopping. Instacart is looking for shoppers who are reliable, detail-oriented, and customer-focused. Be sure to highlight any relevant experience you have, such as working in retail or customer service.

Background Check
As part of the application process, you’ll need to consent to a background check. Instacart uses a third-party provider to run these checks, which typically include a criminal history check and a driving record check (if applicable).

It’s important to note that Instacart has strict requirements when it comes to criminal history. If you have a felony conviction or a recent misdemeanor conviction, you may not be eligible to work for Instacart.

Once you’ve passed the background check, you’ll need to complete an online training program. This program covers everything from how to use the Instacart app to how to select high-quality produce. The training typically takes 1-2 hours to complete and includes short quizzes to test your knowledge.

During the training, you’ll learn about Instacart’s policies and procedures, as well as tips for providing excellent customer service. You’ll also have the opportunity to practice using the app and placing orders.

In conclusion, becoming an Instacart shopper requires completing the application process, passing a background check, and completing the training program. If you’re reliable, detail-oriented, and customer-focused, working for Instacart can be a great way to earn money on your own schedule.

How Much Does Instacart Pay Shoppers?

Base Pay

Base Pay

As an Instacart shopper, your earnings come from a combination of base pay and commission. Base pay is the minimum amount you’ll earn for completing an order, and it varies depending on several factors.

Hourly Rate

Instacart offers an hourly rate to shoppers in some markets, though the exact amount can differ from region to region. This hourly rate is based on the time you spend shopping and delivering orders and can be an attractive option for shoppers who prefer a predictable income.

However, the hourly rate doesn’t take into account the size of the order or the time it takes to shop for specific items. So, if you’re assigned a large order with many items, you might end up earning less per hour than you would with other types of compensation.

Per Order Rate

Another way Instacart pays shoppers is through per-order rates. This system pays a flat fee for each order you complete, regardless of how many items are in the order or how long it takes to shop. Per-order rates can provide more flexibility than hourly rates, allowing you to choose when to work and how many orders to complete each day.

Per Item Rate

In addition to hourly and per-order rates, Instacart also offers per-item rates. With this system, you’ll earn a set amount for each item you shop for and deliver. Per-item rates can be an effective way to increase your earnings, especially if you’re able to efficiently complete small orders with many items.

It’s worth noting that base pay is just one component of your overall compensation as an Instacart shopper. Commission, which we’ll discuss later, can significantly affect your earnings and should be considered alongside base pay when evaluating your income potential.



Commission is an important component of the pay structure for Instacart shoppers. The commission percentage varies based on several factors, such as the type of order, time of day, and location. Typically, the commission ranges from 5% to 10% of the order total.

Instacart also offers incentives and bumps to increase shopper earnings. Incentives are additional payments that shoppers can earn by completing certain tasks or meeting specific goals. For example, a shopper may receive an incentive for completing a certain number of orders in a week or for accepting a batch with a high item count.

Bumps are another way to boost earnings. A bump is an additional payment that Instacart adds to an order if it has special requirements, such as heavy items or long distances. Bumps can range from a few cents to several dollars, depending on the complexity of the task.

To maximize commission earnings, shoppers should aim to complete orders quickly and efficiently, while maintaining a high level of customer service. Accepting batches during peak hours and in high-demand areas can also lead to higher commissions and more opportunities for incentives and bumps.

In conclusion, commission, incentives, and bumps are all important aspects of earning potential for Instacart shoppers. By understanding the various components of their pay structure and taking advantage of available incentives and bumps, shoppers can increase their earnings and achieve greater financial stability.



As an Instacart shopper, one of the best ways to increase your earnings is through customer tips. While it may seem like a small amount, tips can add up quickly and have a significant impact on your overall pay. In this section, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about customer tips, including tip-baiting and minimum tips.

Customer Tips

When a customer places an order on Instacart, they have the option to leave a tip for their shopper. Tips can range from a few cents to several dollars and are typically based on the size of the order and the quality of service provided. Customers can choose to tip either during the checkout process or after delivery.

To maximize your tips, it’s important to provide excellent customer service. This includes things like communicating with customers, being punctual, and selecting high-quality products. By going above and beyond for your customers, you’ll not only increase your chances of receiving a tip but also improve your ratings, which can lead to more orders in the future.


While most customers are honest and fair when it comes to tipping, some engage in a practice known as tip-baiting. Tip-baiting involves leaving a large tip during the checkout process to entice the shopper to accept the order, only to reduce or remove the tip after delivery.

To avoid falling victim to tip-baiting, it’s important to pay attention to certain warning signs. For example, if a customer leaves an unusually large tip for a small order or asks you to make substitutions for expensive items, they may be trying to bait you into accepting the order.

If you do fall victim to tip-baiting, there are a few steps you can take. First, contact Instacart support and report the incident. They may be able to adjust your pay to account for the lost tip. Additionally, consider leaving a review for the customer, warning other shoppers about their behavior.

Minimum Tip

Instacart has a minimum tip amount of $2. This means that customers are required to leave a tip of at least $2 on all orders, regardless of size or value. While this may not seem like much, it can add up over time and significantly impact your overall earnings.

To encourage customers to leave larger tips, consider sending a personalized thank-you message after each delivery. This simple gesture can go a long way in building a positive relationship with your customers and increasing the likelihood of receiving a larger tip in the future.

In conclusion, customer tips are an essential part of Instacart earnings, and by providing excellent customer service, identifying and avoiding tip-baiting, and encouraging larger tips, you can maximize your earnings potential.



Working for Instacart comes with certain expenses that shoppers need to be aware of in order to manage their earnings more effectively. Here are some of the most common expenses associated with being an Instacart shopper:

Mileage Reimbursement

As an independent contractor, Instacart shoppers are responsible for covering their own transportation costs. However, the company does offer mileage reimbursement to help offset these expenses. The current rate is $0.60 per mile, which can add up quickly for shoppers who drive long distances to complete orders.

To ensure accurate reimbursement, it’s important for shoppers to keep track of their mileage using a mileage tracker app or a physical logbook. This documentation will also come in handy during tax season when calculating deductions.

Equipment Costs

Another expense for Instacart shoppers is the cost of equipment such as a smartphone and a reliable vehicle. While many people already own these items, those who don’t will need to factor in the upfront costs of purchasing or leasing them.

Shoppers should also consider additional expenses related to their equipment, such as phone cases, car chargers, and maintenance costs. Keeping track of these expenses can help shoppers make informed decisions about their earnings potential.


Finally, Instacart shoppers are responsible for paying their own taxes on any earnings they receive from the company. As an independent contractor, they are required to file a Schedule C form with the IRS and pay self-employment taxes on their net income.

To avoid underestimating their tax liability, shoppers should set aside a portion of their earnings throughout the year to cover their tax bill. It’s also a good idea to consult with a tax professional to determine exactly how much they should be setting aside and to take advantage of any available deductions.

By understanding and managing these expenses, Instacart shoppers can maximize their earnings potential and ensure they are operating their business in a financially responsible manner.

Factors That Affect Instacart Earnings

Factors That Affect Instacart Earnings

As an Instacart shopper, your earnings can be influenced by various factors. In this section, we will provide you with a brief overview of the most crucial factors that can affect your Instacart earnings.

Geographic Location: Your location plays a vital role in determining your Instacart earnings. The pay structure for Instacart shoppers varies depending on the region, city, or even zip code. For instance, if you live in a high-cost area, such as New York City or San Francisco, you are likely to earn more than someone living in a low-cost area.

Time of Day: The time of day can also impact your Instacart earnings. Generally, Instacart pays more during peak hours, including weekends and evenings. If you work during these times, you could earn a higher hourly rate and receive more orders.

Day of Week: Similar to the time of day, the day of the week can influence your earnings as well. For example, you’re likely to receive more orders and earn more money on weekends since people tend to do their grocery shopping on Saturdays and Sundays.

Seasonal Demand: Demand for Instacart services varies depending on the season. For instance, during holidays and special occasions, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, demand for Instacart services increases significantly. If you plan to work for Instacart during these busy periods, you’ll have more opportunities to earn incentives and bonuses.

In conclusion, several factors can impact your earnings as an Instacart shopper, including geographic location, time of day, day of week, and seasonal demand. By understanding these factors and learning how to maximize your potential earnings, you can make the most out of your Instacart gig.

How to Maximize Your Earnings with Instacart

Efficient Shopping

Efficient Shopping

As an Instacart shopper, your earnings are largely based on how many orders you can complete in a given timeframe. Therefore, increasing your shopping speed is critical to maximizing your pay. Here are some tips for efficient shopping:

  1. Product Knowledge
    Familiarize yourself with the layout and product selection of the stores you shop at most frequently. This will help you find items quickly and avoid unnecessary searching or backtracking. Additionally, take the time to learn about new products or substitutions so that you can make informed recommendations to customers.

  2. Batching Orders
    When possible, try to batch orders from the same store or nearby stores. This allows you to save time by completing multiple orders in one trip. However, be mindful of potential conflicts such as clashing delivery times or customer preferences.

  3. Shopping Speed
    Practice makes perfect! As you gain experience, you’ll naturally become more efficient at finding items, navigating the store, and checking out. However, don’t sacrifice accuracy or quality for speed – it’s important to maintain a high level of customer service.

For example, let’s say you receive two orders from the same store. You notice that both customers have requested a specific brand of peanut butter, but it’s not in stock. Rather than spending valuable time searching for it, use your product knowledge to offer a suitable substitution and move on to the next item. This saves time while still providing good customer service.

Overall, efficiency is key to success as an Instacart shopper. By prioritizing shopping speed, product knowledge, and batching orders, you can increase your earnings while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

Route Planning

Route Planning

One of the keys to earning more money with Instacart is optimizing your routes. This means finding the most efficient way to complete multiple orders in a single trip, while minimizing travel time and avoiding heavy traffic.

To get started with route planning, it’s important to take advantage of the tools provided by Instacart. The app will automatically group orders together based on their proximity to each other, which can save you time and effort. However, this isn’t always foolproof, so it’s important to double-check the suggested route and make adjustments as needed.

Another useful strategy is to plan your route ahead of time. This can involve using a GPS app like Google Maps or Waze to find the quickest route between multiple destinations. It’s also a good idea to avoid rush hour traffic and busy times of day, since this can add significant time to your delivery route.

Finally, consider investing in a hands-free phone mount for your car. This allows you to keep your eyes on the road while still being able to follow the GPS directions. It can also be helpful to have a backup charger for your phone, since using GPS for extended periods of time can drain your battery quickly.

Overall, route planning is an essential skill for Instacart shoppers looking to maximize their earnings. By taking advantage of the app’s features, planning ahead, and staying organized, you can streamline your deliveries and ensure that you’re making the most money possible.

Customer Service

Customer Service

As an Instacart shopper, providing excellent customer service is key to earning high ratings and tips from customers. To succeed in this aspect of the job, you need to have strong communication skills and be able to solve problems efficiently.

Effective communication is essential for ensuring that customers receive the correct items and are satisfied with their shopping experience. This includes responding promptly to messages and phone calls, as well as being able to understand and follow any special instructions or requests.

Another important aspect of customer service is problem-solving. As an Instacart shopper, you may encounter various issues while shopping, such as out-of-stock items or unclear instructions. In these situations, it’s important to stay calm and find a solution quickly, whether it means finding a suitable substitute or contacting the customer to clarify their needs.

The rating system used by Instacart is based on customer satisfaction, so providing exceptional customer service is crucial for maintaining a high rating. Customers can rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, and shoppers who consistently receive high ratings are more likely to receive quality bonuses and other incentives.

By developing strong communication skills and problem-solving abilities, you can provide excellent customer service and earn higher ratings and tips as an Instacart shopper. Remember to always put the customer first and aim to exceed their expectations.

Finding Incentives

Finding Incentives

As an Instacart shopper, it’s important to find ways to boost your earnings beyond the base pay and commission. One way to do this is by taking advantage of various incentives offered by Instacart. Here are three common types of incentives you can earn:

Promo Codes

Instacart frequently offers promo codes that give customers discounts on their orders. When customers use these promo codes, they can save money, but shoppers can also benefit. Each time a customer uses a promo code on an order you fulfill, you’ll receive a small bonus payment in addition to your regular earnings. These payments can add up quickly, especially if you’re fulfilling multiple orders with promo codes.

Referral Bonuses

Another way to earn extra income as an Instacart shopper is through referral bonuses. If you refer a new shopper to Instacart, you may be eligible for a referral bonus. Depending on the terms of the referral program at the time, you could receive a flat fee or a percentage of your referral’s earnings for a set period of time. This can provide a significant boost to your earnings, especially if you refer several shoppers who stay active on the platform.

Quality Bonuses

Finally, Instacart offers quality bonuses to shoppers who consistently provide great service. These bonuses can take many forms, such as higher commission rates, additional per-order fees, or other perks. To earn quality bonuses, you’ll need to maintain a high rating from customers, complete orders on time, and avoid any issues that could negatively impact the customer experience.

To take full advantage of these incentives, be sure to keep an eye out for promotional emails, check your app regularly for updates, and always strive to provide top-notch service to customers. With a little effort, you can significantly increase your earnings as an Instacart shopper!
The gig economy offers many opportunities for those who want to work flexible hours and earn extra money. Instacart is one of the most popular on-demand grocery delivery services that provides a platform for shoppers to make extra income. In this guide, we have explored how much you can make with Instacart, as well as the factors that affect your earnings. We have also provided tips on how to maximize your earnings by being an efficient shopper, planning your routes, providing excellent customer service, and taking advantage of incentives.

Ultimately, working for Instacart can provide a viable source of income for those who want to work part-time or full-time. By following the advice outlined in this guide, you will be well-equipped to succeed as an Instacart shopper, and possibly even turn it into a profitable career. So, if you’re looking for a way to earn extra cash and enjoy shopping, Instacart may be the perfect opportunity for you.

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