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Is Instacart Worth It or a SCAM? An Honest Review From a Shopper

Instacart Shopper Review – Is It Worth It or a SCAM? (Not for Everyone)

What is Instacart?

Instacart is an on-demand grocery delivery service that allows users to shop for groceries from partner grocery stores through a mobile app or website. 

Instacart Sign Up

Users can choose groceries from various stores, place an order, and have the groceries delivered to their doorstep by Instacart shoppers within hours. Instacart partners with over 500 retailers across more than 5,500 cities in the US and Canada.

The company was founded in 2012 by Apoorva Mehta, Brandon Leonardo, and Max Mullen. Instacart started as a way for people to get their groceries without leaving home. It has since become a popular alternative to traditional grocery shopping and offers customers convenience and time savings.

Instacart Payment Methods

There are two main ways Instacart customers can pay for their orders:

Instacart Express Membership

With an Instacart Express membership, customers pay either $9.99 per month or $99 per year for free delivery on orders over $35. Customers can add tips for shoppers at checkout. The membership allows frequent users to save money on delivery fees and gain access to other perks like members-only sales and promotions. For those who use Instacart often, the Express membership can be well worth the cost.


Without a membership, customers pay a delivery fee starting at $3.99 for same-day orders over $35. Additional fees apply for orders under $35. Customers can pay with all major credit cards and select debit cards. They can also pay with EBT cards and redeem SNAP benefits for groceries. For infrequent Instacart users or those on a budget, the pay-as-you-go option may make more sense to avoid paying an ongoing monthly or annual membership fee. However, delivery fees can add up quickly for those placing many small orders.

Instacart Shopper Earning Potential

Instacart shoppers can earn money in a few ways:

Per Order

Full-service shoppers earn money per order they complete. Payment is based on the number of items, type of items (heavy pay for cases of water, etc), driving distance, and effort required. Orders can range from $7 - $20+ per order. The exact amount depends on the specifics of the order including the number of items, types of items (heavy items pay more), driving distance, and overall effort required to fulfill the order. In general, larger, more complex orders will pay on the higher end of the range while small, simple orders will pay on the lower end.


100% of tips go directly to the shopper. Customers have the option to tip before or after delivery. Higher tips make orders more attractive to shoppers. Tips can significantly supplement a shopper's earnings and the best tippers are greatly appreciated by shoppers. For customers, tipping well helps ensure the best service and fastest delivery of their orders.

Bonuses & Incentives

Instacart offers peak boosts during busy times, challenges for completing a certain number of orders, and referral bonuses. Full-service shoppers can earn an extra $3 - $8 per order during peak times. Instacart frequently offers bonuses and incentives to help motivate shoppers and ensure orders are fulfilled quickly during busy periods. Shoppers who take advantage of these bonus opportunities can increase their earnings.


Shoppers with higher ratings get access to more orders. Excellent service and communication is key to earning 5 stars. Shopper ratings are very important and directly impact a shopper's access to available orders. Shoppers with higher average ratings will see more and better paying orders. Those with lower ratings will have less access to orders. Maintaining a high rating requires consistently providing great service and communication to customers.

Available Platforms

The Instacart shopper app is available for both iOS and Android devices. The shopper app allows users to:

  • Accept and claim orders
  • Communicate with customers
  • Shop and pay for orders
  • Get customer addresses
  • Track earnings and tips

The app provides shoppers everything they need to fulfill and deliver customer orders including order details, customer info, shopping lists, payment cards, and more. The app is free to download and use as an Instacart shopper. Shoppers will need a compatible smartphone to run the app.

How to Become an Instacart Shopper

To become an Instacart full-service or in-store shopper, you must:

  1. Live in an area where Instacart operates
  2. Be 18+ years old
  3. Pass a background check
  4. Have a valid driver's license and auto insurance (full-service only)
  5. Be eligible to work in the United States or Canada
  6. Have an Android phone or iPhone

You'll also need to complete an application that covers your experience, availability, vehicle details if applicable, and more. Approved shoppers can begin accepting orders through the shopper app shortly after completing the application process. The entire application and approval process usually only takes 2-3 business days.

Pros & Cons of Working for Instacart


  • Flexible schedule - Set your own hours
  • Decent earnings - Average $15-$25/hour including tips
  • No minimum hours required
  • Get paid weekly
  • Shop and earn at the same time
  • No fees or costs to be a shopper
  • Can offset vehicle/phone costs

The flexibility and earning potential are major advantages of working as an Instacart shopper. Shoppers can create their own schedules and work as little or as much as they want. For those looking to earn extra money on a flexible schedule, Instacart can be an appealing option.


  • Need to pay for own gas and vehicle costs
  • No guaranteed wages - pay varies by order
  • Physically demanding to shop and deliver orders
  • No benefits
  • Need good customer service skills
  • Earnings depend on your area

Some downsides include lack of stability or benefits and covering your own expenses like gas and vehicle wear and tear. Instacart shoppers are independent contractors, not employees, so they do not receive any benefits. Earnings can also vary significantly based on factors outside of a shopper's control like customer tips and order volume in their area. The job requires providing good customer service and physically shopping and delivering orders which may not suit everyone.

Summary - Is Instacart Worth It or Just a Scam?

In summary, working as an Instacart shopper offers flexible earning opportunities but also comes with costs and physical demands. It can be a great option for someone looking to earn extra money with a flexible schedule. The most successful Instacart shoppers deliver excellent customer service and are strategic about maximizing their earnings with tips, bonuses and peak boosts. It may not be ideal as a full time job unless you live in a busy metro area. Overall, it's worth considering if you want to earn extra money on your own schedule.

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