How Instacart Grocery Delivery Works [2024 Guide]

This is your guide to learning what is Instacart and how does it work? We will finally settle your answers to figuring delivery fees and how much do Instacart Shoppers make.

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One thing that we can all agree on is that life is crazy busy. Wouldn’t it be nice if you can just download an app, pick out your groceries, and get it delivered right to your door the same day?

I’ve got great news for you, it’s possible.

Only a quarter of consumers have tried an online grocery service in the past year, according to a new survey of more than 8,000 U.S. grocery shoppers completed by consulting group Bain & Co. in collaboration with Google. 

If you aren’t using grocery delivery services like Instacart, then you may be missing out on the convenience these services bring.

In this article, we will review what is Instacart, and how does Instacart work?

What is Instacart?

Get groceries delivered in as little as 1 hour. Get free delivery for 14 days with Instacart+ (previously Instacart Express).

Bottom line: Founded in 2012, Instacart is an American technology company valued at nearly $8 billion that operates as a same-day grocery delivery and pick-up service in the U.S. and Canada. You can have your groceries delivered in as little as one hour.

Instacart costs

  • All orders have a minimum of $10 with no delivery fee if the order exceeds $35.
  • Instacart has an optional membership called Instacart+ ($99 per year / $10 per month), with unlimited free deliveries on orders exceeding $35.
  • Orders placed without an Instacart+ membership incur a service fee of 5 percent of the order total with the minimum service fee being $4.

Instacart pros

  • One of the fastest grocery delivery services on the list and you can have your groceries delivered in as little as an hour, or you can pick them up at your local store.
  • Using their service saves you time, gas, and not having to pick out your own fruit.
  • Shop from anywhere using your computer, iPhone, iPad or Android device

Instacart cons

  • Many reviews state that the pricing may be higher than in-store retail costs.
  • Many different fees to watch out for so the costs of using Instacart can quickly add up.
  • Instacart uses a percentage-based service fee in place of list price markups, so the price can seem lower before you get to the checkout and see the fees get applied. Shipt does not use service fees. They instead use list item markups, which make the items seem higher priced initially.

How Does Instacart Work?

Wondering how does Instacart work?

Instacart lets you shop for your favorite products from over 350 retailers in the U.S. and Canada. Then Instacart Shoppers will pick up and deliver your items to your home. It all starts with you downloading the Instacart app and creating your grocery list.

Let’s dive more into about all of the most important features of a grocery delivering app like Instacart.

instacart referral codes

Instacart+ Cost (Previously Instacart Express)

Most people wonder what is the Instacart+ fee?

Instacart+ costs $9.99 per month, or $99 per year. At the time of writing, Instacart was offering a 14-day free trial. With Instacart+, all delivery fees are waived for grocery orders over $35. Additionally, Instacart+ users have lower service fees.

As an Instacart+ member, you can save $7 per order on average. If you order just twice a month, the membership pays for itself. Here are some of the ways you’ll save:

  • $0 delivery fees on orders of $35 or more (typically $3.99 or more for non-members)
  • 5% credit back on eligible pickup orders (excludes alcohol and prescriptions)
  • Exclusive offers from brands such as Grubhub, Delta, and Chase
  • Lower service fees

For a flat standard fee of $99/year or $9.99/month, members enjoy unlimited free delivery on orders of $35 or more (per retailer), and other benefits with Instacart+.

Instacart Grocery Stores

Now, who wants to use a grocery delivery service that doesn’t partner up with your favorite retailers like Costco, Kroger, or Target?

Instacart takes the cake by partnering up with so many more stores such as Walmart, Aldi, Kroger, H-E-B, CVS, Publix, Food Lion, Costco, Sams Club, Petco and more.

You can see more retail partnerships in the graphic below.

Image Source: CBInsights

Instacart Deals

Buying groceries can get expensive so you want a grocery delivery service has offers money-saving deals.

Instacart offers occasional promotional codes to use to save money on your order, which you can receive via email or through their social media pages.

In terms of membership and delivery fees, Instacart has the upper hand. As you can get same-day delivery or next-day delivery without any extra charges. Instacart has more membership options and an optional Express membership. Instacart wins in terms of membership options and fees.

Instacart Customer Service

You will find that you use any food delivery service sometimes an item will be out of stock or you will need to reach customer service to file a remedy an issue.

Having responsive and helpful customer service is always important.

Instacart has key lines of support with its help line (1-888-246-7822), email support ([email protected]) and in-app support.

Do You Tip People on Instacart?

According to the Instacart help center, Instacart shoppers appreciate tips as a way of recognizing excellent service and 100% of your tip goes directly to the shopper delivering your order. By default, a 5% tip is suggested at checkout, with a minimum suggestion of $2 per individual store delivery. It is similar to pizza delivery tipping.

Can Instacart Shoppers see the tip? No. So if you wanted to tip cash or want to tip after delivery, when a shopper receives your order, your order would seem like a low payout and they don’t know you intend to tip later. And shoppers currently cannot see any notes before accepting your order. Once they choose to accept the order, they will see any notes left and if you left a tip.

Want to learn more about tipping Instacart Shoppers? You can learn more about Instacart tipping here.

Instacart Referral Programs

Instacart Referral Code for Customers

You may be wondering is there a referral code for Instacart? You can get Instacart delivery discounts and bonuses here. Check out the latest referral codes from Instacart:

Promo CodeBonus AmountExpiration
NEW20OFF$20 off your first order of $50+12/14/22
Promo code is only available in the US, for new customers only, can be used with any retailer, and non-stackable but can be used on top of free delivery on your first order offer.

You can get $20 off your order with the Instacart promo code NEW20OFF in addition to getting free delivery.

Instacart Shopper Referral Code

Are you considering becoming a new Instacart Shopper and looking for a referral code? Even if you’re not, Instacart is still worth it as you can sign up and still make money referring new drivers to the app. Sign up to be an Instacart Shopper and start making money today:

Description,,, instacart shopperInstacart Shopper Referral Code
Earn $400 to $750 referring new drivers*

Sign up to be an Instacart Shopper and start making money today and you can make anywhere from $400 to $750 referring new drivers (depending on your zone).


* To invite shoppers, you must simply share your referral code with them after you sign up (free). The bonus you get paid out will vary from $400-$750 for them completing anywhere from 30 to 50 batches in 30 days. Amounts vary per zone. Learn more here.

First, you must have signed up to drive to get access to your referral code. Haven’t signed up to be a shopper yet? Sign up here.

instacart referral codes

How to Make Money as an Instacart Shopper

Did you know that Instacart plans to hire 300,000 more workers as demand surges for grocery deliveries? Instacart will hire hundreds of thousands of more workers in the new few weeks so you may be wondering how much does Instacart pay and if you should sign up to become an Instacart Shopper.

What is the best way to learn how much Instacart Shoppers make? Well, it is to go directly to the source by asking the shoppers themselves. So I headed over the Instacart Shopper subreddit and learned that they make on average, between $10-$17 per hour. In many parts of the country, this is above minimum wage.

While it may not seem like a lot — delivering with Instacart is one of our top-rated gig economy jobs and earnings can add up since the job is so flexible.

Can You Make Good Money with Instacart?

While your earnings will fluctuate depending on the order and area you are working in — it really depends on how busy your area is and how much money in tips you are able to get.

For example, if you live in a nicer area of your town then your tips can skyrocket. Here is an Instacart Shopper who received a $183 tip on Easter Sunday which was merely a 15% tip (standard).

instacart pay example
‘For Rocky’ on Reddit said, “It was a 15% tip and definitely a nice part of town. Oprah’s neighbor. They ordered a ton of expensive champagne and wine.”

While you may not working in a nice part of town, you are still likely to get paid at least 10% and 20% which is standard Instacart tipping etiquette. So if your order is $200, expect a tip of $20 to $30. While some people who use the app may not be big tippers — it all evens out in the end.

So can you make good money with Instacart? The short answer is yes. However, you’ll get a 1099 form from the IRS if you earn over $600 with Instacart so your earnings will be taxed.

If you are wondering about how fast you can earn as an Instacart shopper then you’re probably wondering how fast you can get paid. As an Instacart Shopper, you can get paid the same day via direct deposit without tips by paying 50 cents. Or you can get paid every Wednesday through direct deposit without paying any fees.

A lot of shoppers may have some questions about the grocery delivery service. Here are the most common questions people have before signing up to become an Instacart Shopper.

  • Can you bring someone with you during Instacart deliveries?

According to the Instacart Shopper account access guidelines, you cannot bring your kids or anyone else with you while you are delivering as an Instacart Shopper.

  • Can you deliver for Instacart if you have a DUI?

As long as you have an active drivers license and can drive a car, you should be all set. A DUI will not prohibit you from becoming an Instacart Shopper.

  • Does Instacart pay you if there are no orders?

One thing to keep in mind is that you are only paid if you shop and deliver an order. You won’t get paid if there aren’t any orders.

  • How can you track mileage for taxes when driving for Instacart?

According to Investopedia, here is how to log mileage for taxes.

  • Record your odometer at the start of tax year
  • Maintain driving log (If Needed)
  • Maintain a record of receipts
  • Record odometer at end of the tax year
  • Record your mileage on your tax return
  • Retain your documentation

The IRS says your mileage log should include your mileage, dates of your delivery trips, and the business purpose (delivering for Instacart).

  • When can I start shopping for Instacart?

Depending on your state as soon as you are 18-21 years old you can sign up to become an Instacart Shopper.

  • How can I get my Instacart referral bonus?

You can make anywhere from $400 to $750 depending on your zone. To invite shoppers, you must simply share your referral code with them. The bonus you get paid out will vary from $400-$750 for them completely anywhere from 30 to 50 batches in 30 days. Amounts vary zone. That’s a good amount of referral money that Instacart is doling out. You can learn more about Instacart referral codes in our article here.

The Final Word

Instacart is a widely available grocery delivery service that partners with local grocery stores in your area. Their personal shoppers shop for you and then deliver your groceries directly to your home.

Instacart operates in 5,500 cities in North America and they certainly need more workers. Currently, they are seeing the most customer demand in California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia, and Ohio.

Description,,, instacart shopperInstacart Shopper Referral Code
Earn $400 to $750 referring new drivers*

Sign up to be an Instacart Shopper and start making money today and you can make anywhere from $400 to $750 referring new drivers (depending on your zone).


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Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Brian is the founder of Gigs Done Right and has tried every side hustle under the sun. His mission with Gigs Done Right is to share valuable information regarding the gig economy to everyone from beginners looking to start a side hustle, to veteran gig workers trying to expand their empire. He teaches people just like you how to make money in the gig economy and has been featured in Business Insider, Yahoo! Finance, NASDAQ, Discover, and more. He normally shares the latest news, videos, and topics for gig workers so they can earn more money in the gig economy.


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Full Service Shoppers can see how much tip they will receive before excepting the order.