How to Make Money Shopping with Instacart


Do you love shopping? If the aisles of your local grocery store bring you unadulterated joy, then perhaps it’s time you became an Instacart Shopper. Who doesn’t love extra money? Especially when you can make it with something you do every week.

If making extra money through Instacart has caught your interest, then you’re in the right place. Here’s what you need to know about making money with Instacart.

Instacart Overview

Instacart was founded in 2012 by Apoorva Mehta. Mehta came up with the idea while working for Amazon, marrying the idea of same-day delivery with fresh groceries.

Now, Instacart is one of the most popular grocery delivering apps out there. It’s partnered with over 350 local and national stores such as CVS, Publix, Safeway, and Wegmans.

Currently, Instacart employs 130,000 full-service shoppers and 12,000 in-store shoppers.

What Do I Need To Get Started?

The requirements to work for Instacart are fairly simple. Here’s what you’ll need to work for Instacart:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be eligible to work in the United States
  • Have access to and be able to use a recent smartphone that can run the Instacart app (iPhone 5/ Android 4.4 or newer)
  • Able to lift 50lbs with or more without help
  • Have consistent access to a vehicle (for full-service shoppers only)

If you already have experience working in the grocery industry, the Instacart platform encourages you to apply. They are also open to hiring those currently working for rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, who can maximize their time between rides. Feel free to make Instacart your side gig during your side gig. It’s side gig-ception.

How to Get Started on Instacart

There are two types of Instacart shoppers: full-service shoppers and in-store shoppers.

The onboarding process is completely the same, but if you want to be considered for an in-store shopping role you must mark this on your application.

The shopper application can be completed entirely online. The application only takes a few minutes, and it’s pretty straightforward. To complete the application, you need to enter basic information about yourself.

They’ll want to know your name, address, email address, and phone number. You also need to consent to a background check, but thankfully Instacart does this for you, and it’s free.  You choose what kind of shopper you want to be and note if you have regular access to a car. They don’t specify what kind of car you need, as long as it’s reliable. Just maybe make sure it’s one with AC for those hot summer days. The customers will thank you when their ice cream makes it to their house in one piece.

If you pass the background check and you signed up to become an in-store shopper, you’ll need to schedule an in-person onboarding session. It lasts for about two hours and helps you see what a day on the job will be like.

Once you’ve filled out your tax information and signed the employee agreement, you’re ready to go! You can download the Shopper app and get started. This app is your lifeline when you work for Instacart. It allows you to set your hours, see batches, and track your earnings.

When you sign up to be a full-service shopper, you become an independent contractor. You’ll be responsible for your taxes and have complete say over your hours. If you want to become an in-store shopper, you are treated as a W-2 employee. This means you get to access their commuting and retirement benefits. You are paid an hourly wage and have set work times.

What to Expect as an Instacart Shopper

Here is an overview of what you can expect when working as an Instacart shopper.

Full-Service Shopper

Full-service shoppers both shop and deliver orders. Once you go live on the app, you’ll get a notification on your phone alerting you to a new order. If you accept it, you’re navigated to the grocery store and provided with a list of items.

You have to find and purchase all the products in the customer’s list, and then deliver the products. You’ll pay for the groceries with an Instacart-issued credit card.

If a store has in-store shopper’s then your job just got a bit easier. Instead of having to shop for the items yourself, you’ll find them in a staging area. All you have to do is select the correct bags and make your delivery.

Be aware that Instacart is tracking your speed and accuracy in completing and delivering the order, so try to find the items as quickly as possible.


  • Great for rideshare drivers
  • Potential for higher-paying batches
  • Can work as many hours as you want


  • Puts a lot of miles on your car
  • Can spend a lot of time waiting during non-peak times

In-Store Shopper

The In-store shopper position is a bit different. For one thing, there is no driving or delivery involved. When you sign up for Instacart, you choose the grocery store you want to work at.

Once you start your shift, Instacart starts assigning you batches to complete. Just like full-service shoppers, you’ll need to search for and purchase products in a customer’s grocery list, but in-store shoppers have an extra step.

Stores with in-store shoppers have a special staging area. This is where batches of groceries are kept while waiting for pick up.

After you purchase the groceries, you’ll need to head over to the staging area and give each bag in a batch a special tag. The tag is produced by scanning the batch’s receipt. These tags help full-service shoppers identify which bags are part of a batch during pick up.


  • Set hours and W-2 employee status
  • No driving required/ideal for people without reliable transportation


  • Can only work up to 29 hours
  • The app selects which batches you will take
  • The app determines break times

How Much Can You Make Working for Instacart?

Instacart shoppers can opt to be paid in two ways. You can choose to have your money sent to you weekly by direct deposit, or you can use the Instant Cashout option in the app.

It’s hard to put a set number on how much cold, hard cash you can make with Instacart. In short, the amount of money you take home is based on the amount of time you spend working.

Or rather, the amount of time you spend working on orders. During non-peak times, you may sometimes find yourself without orders for quite a while.

With that said, the general range of money you can make per order is around $5 for delivery only batches and $7-10 for full-service (shop and deliver) batches. This does not account for tips given to you by customers, so you stand to make more. Busier peak times and holidays will often offer Instacart shoppers extra incentives, so you could make up $1-2 more per batch.

Keep in mind that larger, heavier orders will pay more than smaller orders. Be on the lookout for those when they pop up to make the most of your time.

If you’re in a busy area with short delivery distances, you can make $15-20 per hour if you work quickly. It’s even better when you get multiple delivery-only orders from the same store. You’re able to make all the deliveries without spending time shopping, making $15 an hour or more.

How to Make the Most Money Working for Instacart

To make the most money working for Instacart, you’ll want to work smarter, not harder.

In your Instacart shopper app, you’ll see which stores are hotspots around various times. Try to hang around those stores to get multiple batches at once.

This way, you guarantee that you spend less time sitting around and more time delivering. If possible, look for stores that have the in-store shopper option. All you’ll have to do is pick up the finished groceries and deliver them.

Generally, peak times on Instacart are from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and then all day on the weekend. Parents are picking up their little ones from school, and people are just getting home from work. The last thing they want to do is make an extra trip to the store for their groceries.

Another way to increase the amount of money you make is to decrease the amount of money you’re spending on gas. If possible, opt for a fuel-efficient car when making your Instacart runs.

Lastly, become best friends with any stores you frequent. Knowing where grocery items are located will help you move quicker when shopping. Time is of the essence, so do everything you can to avoid wasting it.

Instacart FAQ

How long does it take to sign up for Instacart?

Signing up for Instacart is fairly quick online. If you sign up to become an in-person shopper, you’ll need to wait for your background check to clear, which can take up to one week. After that, it’s up to you to schedule your onboarding session. The sooner you complete it, the sooner you can start working.

Is Instacart available in my area?

To find out if Instacart is available in your area, visit and type in your zip code.

Can I work for Instacart and another grocery delivery service at the same time?

Yes! In fact, Instacart encourages people working for other ride-share apps and delivery services to apply.

How do I reach the Instacart customer service?

When you become an Instacart shopper, you can reach them in your Instacart shopper app. If you’re not a shopper yet, you can contact Instacart customer service on their website.

What kind of phone do I need?

You can use any smartphone to work for Instacart! As long as it can run the Instacart shopper app, you should be good to go.

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