Instacart Review 2022: Pros, Cons, & Earning Potential

Updated: 5th Jan 2022 Written by Kim Pinnelli
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Would becoming a shopper for Instacart be a good fit for you? Do you even know what Instacart is?

Well, if you have been tossing around the idea of a little extra income, you may want to continue reading, especially if you love to shop!

In today’s economy, side hustles are becoming a regular occurrence. From ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to restaurant delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash, and everything in between.

Side hustles are a great way to dig yourself out of debt, make money online, and are quite popular.

And why wouldn’t they be? You can set your hours, work as little or as much as you want, and it is easy to earn a decent side income.

But what you may not know is that delivery services are one of the most popular choices for people looking to make a little extra cash.

And it goes way beyond picking up customer orders from Taco Bell or McDonald’s. You can get paid to do other peoples’ shopping for them and deliver it straight to their door.

Let us look at the grocery delivery service, Instacart, and see if it is the right choice for you. It is one of our favorite side hustles ideas, and here is why.

What is Instacart?

Founded in 2012, Instacart is a popular service where customers can place grocery orders online and have them delivered to their homes.

Instacart is currently available across all 50 states in the United States and over 500 store locations in Canada.

Instacart’s largest market by far is the United States, forming partnerships with over 350 retailers for a total of 25,000+ stores nationwide.

Customers can get their groceries and other items delivered from popular grocery stores like Giant, Wegmans, Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, and Aldi, to name a few.

Instacart even offers pickup and delivery from other stores like Costco, Target, and CVS.

How Does Instacart Work?

As an Instacart shopper, you receive available orders via their mobile app. Instacart provides a separate mobile app for both customers and shoppers.

You can see necessary information such as delivery time and the size of the order before selecting it. Once you choose to take on an order, you get access to the full order which goes into greater detail about the specifics.

When you sign up to become an Instacart shopper, you are given the choice of two options for what role you wish to fulfill: Full-Service Shopper or In-Store Shopper.

Full-Service Shopper

Full-Service shoppers do it all. They are both order filler and a delivery driver. When a customer places an order through Instacart, they can choose to have it delivered or pick it up at the store themselves.

When a customer chooses delivery, the orders are fulfilled and delivered by Instacart’s full-service shoppers.

Full-service shoppers use their personal vehicles and supply their own gas for any trips made. Instacart does not reimburse drivers for gas or mileage. However, come tax time, you can write off these expenses with the IRS.

Full-services shoppers are considered independent contractors. And there is no limit as to how many hours you can work.

As you can imagine, the full-service shoppers make the most money and benefit the most from this side hustle.

In-Store Shopper

Becoming an in-store shopper is excellent for those who want to sign up, but do not own or have access to a vehicle. These shoppers fill orders for customers who choose to pick up at the store.

In-store shoppers are considered part-time employees of Instacart. Therefore, they are restricted to 29 hours per week.

Kind of a bummer if you are looking to make serious money. But it does solve the problem if you do not have a vehicle.

Who Pays for the Food?

In case you are wondering, you do not have to front the bill for the orders you shop for. As a shopper, Instacart issues you a special prepaid debit card.

As you shop for an order, the card is pre-loaded with the proper amount for the order in progress.

This prepaid method is a smart way for Instacart to make sure their shoppers do not add any items for themselves at checkout. Not that you would do that anyway, right?

How Does Instacart Make Money?

Instacart then makes its money by charging delivery fees to the customers. Typical costs are $7.99 for 1-hour delivery and $5.99 for 2 hours or more.

Plus, these fees can fluctuate due to the price of the order and busy times of the day or week.

How Do I Make Money as an Instacart Shopper?

You, on the other hand, make your money based on the Instacart algorithm.

This algorithm factors in things like distance (for drivers), batch incentives (number of items, cost, etc.) and potentially a peak boost based on busier shopping times.

Let us not forget about those tips. Customers are encouraged to tip their shoppers, but of course, this is not a guarantee.

>> More: Best Apps to Make Money 

How to Become a Shopper for Instacart

It is quite simple to become an Instacart shopper. Here are the standard requirements based on Instacart’s website:

Full-Service Shopper Requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Access to a Personal vehicle
  • Own a Smartphone (iPhone 5/Android 4.4 or newer)
  • Can Lift 50 lbs.

In-Store Shopper Requirements: 

  • At least 18 years old
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Own a smartphone (iPhone 5/Android 4.4 or newer)
  • Can Lift 50 lbs.

Instacart Shopper Hours: Do I get to Choose When I Work?

The simple answer here is yes. You get complete freedom over the hours you choose to work.

Both full-service shoppers and in-store shoppers can pre-select their schedules for each week.

Unlike rideshare services like Uber, Instacart does not let you jump on and off the app at will. You must predetermine your hours each week and then show up for your shifts.

You can mark yourself as unavailable for a shift. Still, Instacart is looking for more of a consistent schedule with their shoppers.

Regardless, the relative flexibility Instacart affords its drivers make this the perfect side hustle for college students, young adults, and full-time parents.

How to Sign Up to be an Instacart Shopper

Signing up to become an Instacart shopper can be done online for the most part. If you meet the basic requirements, you can sign up online via

Just answer a few basic questions and enter your personal information such as your phone number and email address.

Before you can start shopping, though, you must pass a background check and go through an in-person orientation. On average, you can start taking your first orders within a week of signing up.

Overall, the process is straightforward and hassle-free — another reason why this side hustle is one of our favorites.

Instacart Pros and Cons


  • Set your hours
  • Get paid to shop
  • Flexible scheduling from week to week
  • Write off-gas or mileage expenses (full-service shoppers)
  • A great side hustle for active and outgoing individuals
  • Keep 100% of your tips
  • Get partial compensation for slow shifts.


  • No guarantees of tips or base pay
  • Drivers are not reimbursed for gas or vehicle depreciation
  • Must preschedule your hours for each week
  • Only available in the US and Canada

How Does Instacart Compare to Alternatives? 

  • Shipt — Shipt is the main competitor of Instacart and is similar in many ways. The most significant difference is that they allow you to shop for multiple orders at the same time which can give you a chance to increase your income.
  • Deliv — This service is only available in major cities. And while they do offer perks like supplemental insurance, you do not get compensated for slow shifts, leaving you at the mercy of the available orders.
  • DoorDash — DoorDash is mostly known for restaurant delivery. But they recently got into the grocery game due to their partnerships with 7-Eleven, Wawa, CricleK, and Casey’s General Store. For more information, read our DoorDash Delivery Driver Guide.
  • UberEats — Uber is known for its ride-sharing service. However, with UberEats, they are now competing in the restaurant delivery game.
  • Amazon Flex — This service is only practical if you live near an Amazon warehouse. If you happen to be fortunate enough to have that be a reality for you, it is worth looking into. Amazon flex drivers get a guaranteed income well above minimum wage.

Bottom Line: Instacart Shopper Review

All in all, Instacart is a reliable and legit way to make money. On average shoppers make anywhere from $10 to $15 per hour. In some cases, shoppers have reported making as much as $25 per hour.

Just remember, there are no guarantees, and you are the biggest factor that determines how much you make. It is simple, the more hours you put in, the more income you will generate.

So, if getting paid to shop sounds like a good deal to you, and you need a side hustle to help make ends meet, then Instacart is worth checking out.

Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli

Kim Pinnelli is a Senior Writer , Editor, & Product Analyst with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been a professional writer for over 15 years, and has appeared in a myriad of industry leading financial media outlets. Kim is committed to helping people take charge of their personal finance. Her areas of expertise spans mortgages, credit cards, credit, and loans.