How to Make Money as an Instacart Shopper

Published on October 17, 2019 by Lauren

I love shopping as much as the next person but too much spending can derail your budget pretty quickly. Ever since I started paying off debt and learning how to budget, I haven’t spent nearly as much time shopping as I used to. That’s when I got to thinking: What if you could make money by turning your love for shopping into a couple side hustles? What about becoming an Instacart shopper? Maybe you are wondering how to make money as an instacart shopper.

Getting paid to shop is like a dream come true for some people, and Instacart can make it happen. Instacart shoppers earn money by purchasing groceries for other households and delivering them to their door. Whether it’s a busy family who doesn’t have time to shop or someone who has trouble getting out of the house on their own, Instacart pays you to do their supermarket runs.

It can be a full-time gig if you wanted it to be. But the schedule is flexible, so doing it on the side in your spare time is an option, too.

Want to know more? For the inside scoop, I talked to Valencia Morton. She’s a financial coach and the CEO of Millionairess Mama who also makes money with Instacart on the side.

Keep reading to find out if Instacart could be a great side hustle for you!

How to Make Money as an Instacart Shopper

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that makes it easy for people to get fresh food in their house even if they can’t make it to the store. The company hires shoppers to buy groceries for customers and pays them to shop and deliver the orders to the customers.

Cashing in while shopping sounds like a sweet deal. As a full-service shopper, you have the flexibility to choose your own schedule. You can work as much or as little as you want – as long as someone wants their groceries shopped for and delivered, Instacart will pay you to do it.

Valencia works from home managing her business and providing financial coaching. As a single mom, she takes full advantage of the freedom to work when it fits her schedule.

She says, “I got debt free through side hustles. I started Instacart because I enjoy doing new side hustles and enjoy grocery shopping.”

Q: What do you have to do to get started? 

A: Instacart hires shoppers that are 18 years or older and eligible to work in the U.S. You should be comfortable lifting heavier items that you might find in a grocery store, such as a case of water or bag of dog food. Because you deliver the groceries after you shop for them, you also need to have access to a vehicle.

When Valencia applied, she had to fill out a few forms with her contact information and consent to a background check. If you’re worried about making a good impression on the hiring manager, you can relax. “There is no formal interview process,” said Valencia. “You go to orientation, pick up a shirt and lanyard, and get to work.”

Q: Are there any start-up costs?

A: Luckily, there’s not much to worry about because Instacart is one of the cheapest side hustles to start making extra money on the side.

Valencia says, “You will need to purchase insulated bags to keep customer food cold while you shop but they aren't too costly.” 

Instacart has insulated bags on their website that shoppers can buy but you don’t have to get it from them. Cooler bags are available at most any supermarket. 

Q: How much does an Instacart shopper make? 

A: Instacart shoppers can earn money right away. “On average, shoppers can make an extra $200 to $500 per week,” said Valencia. Although, herValencia’s experience has shown that the amount you make depends on the size of the order, time of day, day of the week, and the area. 

It makes sense. Most people do their grocery shopping on the weekend so you could get more orders and more opportunities to earn cash during peak times. 

She also says, “The bigger the batch, the more the money you make.” 

Bonus pay is also an option but only if the customer gives you the highest rating. Every time a customer leaves you a 5-star review, you earn an extra $3.

Instacart sends you a paycheck every week on Wednesday. There is an option to get paid instantly, but you have to pay an early cash-out fee which, Valencia said, “only costs a few cents.”

Q: What does a typical shop look like?

A: “Honestly, there is no typical shop. They are ALL different,” said Valencia. “You can do a delivery-only order where someone else does the shopping and you pop into the store and grab the bags. Or you can do the full-shopper experience which is doing the shopping PLUS delivery.”

Q: What tips would you give someone looking to start a side hustle with Instacart?

A: Valencia has been shopping with Instacart for a few months. Her advice to you is, “Don't get overwhelmed! It might seem like a lot of work but by job number two you will be like an old pro.”

She also recommends having reliable childcare so you don’t worry about your children while you’re shopping and delivering your orders.

Valencia enjoys working for Instacart and says, “You can make as much money as you want plus pick your own hours. It's a great hustle!”

Like any other side hustle your income with vary per week, but if you keep consistent you can earn a lot of extra cash! You can sign up to be an Instacart Shopper here.

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  • Zero chance she has done this recently. Tips are low to nonexistent, per batch pay is garbage since they lowered shopper pay. Most batches are $7-9, usually about 12ish miles total and for around 25-30 items (if you above average in speed, it’s a minute per item). Tips average about zero to $3. It’s a trash hustle.

    • I’m sorry you feel that way. A friend of mine just made $30 at a single shop, it really does depend on a lot of factors. I have a couple friends that do very well with it.

      • Been at it 3 years. It’s complete garbage now. 90% of the orders pay below minimum wage when you account the time, gas and taxes. There are big orders but way way way less than there used to be because of awful hiring practices. They don’t vet employees, train or give them a heads up on needing a cart. So because of the massive over hiring to cut cost and make people desperate for any orders the quality of service plummeted.

      • Yes, there are different factors that play into payment, but Instacart is still ripping off their shoppers. Two years ago, shoppers were making 3x what I make. They are screwing shoppers and customers alike. The customer doesn’t even realize the markup on products and they are made to believe the service fee goes to the shoppers, which it DOES NOT!

      • To get an order that pays well, chances are few…’s pure luck to get something worth taking. I don’t know who you are or where you are from, or even how long you have been shopping, But boasting about working with IC is truly an embarrassment these days. There is nothing to be proud of. And sending people to IC so you can get a referral credit is the lamest thing you can do – its already oversaturated. If you have been a shopper for more than 6months to a year – you would know all the hell it has become. Ask the people who have been sticking it out over the years – not some blinded newbie.

      • Thank You for keeping It Real!!!! .Instacart is ripping off the shopper and customers. You sitting idle for hours with no batch and when you get one $5-$7 for items21 or more and no tips .It’s even worse when you working in the country driving 15 to 19 miles to dropped off. Yes I live in Houston, TX.. Don’t said you can make a lot money in instacart. Even the liquor batch are not paying off. Buying $100 to$ 300 orders and $2. tips. That’s Suck. .If you get a $30-40 batch it’s for a less 3 orders and someone’s is not tips on the orders. Sam and Costco are worst orders because they are bulking orders and very low pay with no tips.

    • I agree! I shopped for INSTACART for about 4 years. I barely make enough to pay for my gas. It’s nice if you need a couple extra bucks, just don’t expect it to be an answer to money problems. In fact I have to deliver for UBEREats just to recoup my losses.

      • Yes keeping it Real!!! Instacart is not what it’s used be.They over hired and dropped the price on the batch..Doubled charge the Customers.

      • HOLD UP…..I did LOVE this job…I was even a Mentor for shopers…..if you LOVE this job, you must be fairly new, under 6 months…..I can show you over 10K that loved what they do, but no longer love the job.

    • Instacart is not looking out for thier shoppers or customers. They have shady practices, no transparency and since the market is so oversaturated, you will be lucky to make what instacart says you will. Every market is different. In my market I used to bring in good money, but since summer it has been $7 no tip batch offers. I would say look somewhere else if you are looking to make money consistently.

    • You blogged about how easy and great it is, but you left out reality. The company expects its shoppers, who are independent contractors, to act like employees. They are being sued all over the US for doing this. After the expenses the shopper has to pay out of their own pocket, many hours are paid less than state minimum wage. They’ve been caught stealing shoppers’ tips multiple times and they always blame it on a glitch. Finally, they’ve overhired so many markets, many shoppers find themselves unable to get any scheduled hours; and when they do, they find themselves sitting idle for hours, only to be offered a shop for $7 that will easily take an hour to shop and deliver.

  • Instacart is what you make it just like anything else. You get back what you put into it. I work Instacart like a full time job. I schedule my hours around taking my kids to school and picking them up. I work an average of 40 to 50 hours a week depending on what I have to do and just last week, working 43 hours made $1300.00. I do get a few $7 to $9 dollar batches. Some little to no tip but it comes with the territory. I love Instacarting but that’s just me.

  • Apparently someone forgot to mention you are a 1099 so during taxes season you might be paying double the amount even if you track all your miles and other expenses that come before ‘net income’

  • Brian is exactly right. I’ve been with Instacart for 2 years now. After sitting in a dark red zone for 20 minutes, I noticed shoppers going in, and coming out with bags(Deliver only orders). I called customer service, and finally got a American that I can understand. I told him my concerns, and he asked me how long I’ve been doing Instacart.I told him, he said we give new shoppers more batches in order for them to get used to how things go.
    What happens to the vets???? He was like oh well….

  • Check out my tweets about what it’s REALLY like shopping for Instacart.


    This toxic hustle culture is a scam.

  • It is a fun side hustle. I love grocery shopping so it was a good fit for me. I’m pulling 300-375 working a few days a week. Not every order is worth taking for sure but there are enough decent orders that I’m averaging 20-22 an hour. Not bad for a bit on the side.

    • I was in the transportation business for 12 years and let me tell you that even if your taking in .58 cents a mile plus $12 dollars an hour then after taxes you are only making minimum wage. The government does not give you 58 cents a mile as a tax write off for nothing. You have to ask yourself if this is so lucrative why doesn’t instacart pay you 58 cents a mile plus a living wage of at least $12 an hour? So if they cant make money that way how are you supposed to. Taxes eat up at least 20% of what you make.

  • I have been doing gig work for over a year, I haven’t made over $200 in a week in 6 months. So that is totally not true at all! Instacart has gotten absolutely horrible over the past year. Stealing tips, lowering pay and over hiring all zones, and things like this do not help us at all! Telling people “how great it is!” Its not great. Check out the Instacart National Facebook page, or the Pay Up Campaign and Working Washimgton. Instacart is a trash company. Please do some research and just because a few people tell you other wise doesnt make it true. Too many shoppers dont even understand how to take into account taxes and expenses when figuring out exactly how much they make. I really dont enjoy seeing articles like this, because there is so much left unsaid. Maybe next time share how Instacart steals and undermines shoppers. How they use them to deliver batches for $7 and 10 miles. How they treat us as employees yet say we are independent contractors so they can get around a bunch of laws and not pay taxes. Instacart is disgusting and anyone who doesnt see that truly needs to take a deeper look.

  • Unfortunately someone that has only been shopping “for a few months” can’t really give a true evaluation of Instacart. The pay on most orders, not including the tip, is generally less than minimum wage and it continues to decrease weekly. The company is also known to skim the tips and the shopper help line has been outsourced to an overseas company that does not train their call center employees very well. What was once a wonderful side gig has turned into a very sad affair.

  • Instacart used to be great! Now the pay sucks and the tips are cut. Instacart is yet another greedy company that’s taking advantage of people while they make millions

  • I used to make $300-500 a week just working 2-3 days a week for about 4 hrs a day. Now I have to be on duty all day for 6 days to make that much. Good paying batches are far and few between now! I would encourage you to look up the “Pay up Campaign” on FB. It’s not just IC that is lowering pay…most gig companies are. After taking into consideration taxes, vehicle maintenance and fuel costs most of us are making less than minimum wage.

  • We are going on strike November 3-5 because of low pay and the low default tips Instacart sets when people order. They also lable us as drivers when we shop and deliver. Our markets are overrated with shoppers. They hook new folks in that accept $7.00 to complete batches that take an hour. Stop writing articles based on lies. We’re being taken advantage of and you are part of the problem.

  • Your source is an individual who has been shopping part time for maybe a couple of months. Perhaps it would behoove you to speak with someone with more experience. The truth of the matter is that most shoppers are earning less than minimum wage. It is extremely irresponsible to promote this gig without doing adequate due diligence. For instance, are you aware Instacart is being sued in multiple court’s for its poor treatment of shoppers?

  • Hey Lauren! I’m actually one of your subscribers. I’m also an Instacart shopper. The money is not anywhere near as good as you’re promoting. Are you just posting this because Instacart is paying you? There’s actually a strike planned because IC workers are getting ripped off.

    • Deanna, I actually have a few friends that shop for Instacart and they love it. I honestly thought it would be a great article to write for people that need a little extra cash. Interviewing a current shopper was another person. I still believe that it is a great company that can provide you extra money and was not paid for writing this.

  • people who are complaining are best to look for other work. there are people who enjoy this type of job and who see this as a positive way to help others. I’m happy when i see the customer is happy and satisfied.

  • People starting IC these days are delusional. It is NOT what it used to be, and never will be. $7 orders run rampant no matter if it’s 5 items or 50. You are no longer paid fairly for the work you do. I used to LOVE doing this job, still love the concept. However, I know my worth and will not lower myself to what it has become.

  • I work for Instacart in a big city. I do it weekends only to supplement my other job. Weekends are always busy shopping time. I agree with the people that say tips are lousy. I hate apartment orders. They order a lot of stuff and they don’t tip at all after you have gone up multiple flights of stairs with their cases of water and multiple bags. I will put up to 50 to 70 miles on my vehicle with deliveries and only make 30 to 40 dollars but I only do it for 2 hours a day if I can even get the hours.

  • I have been IC shopper since 7/2018. I am working twice as many hours to shop the approximately amount of batches and I am make less than I was making a year ago. The pay has been decreased dramatically and the zones are flooded with too many shoppers. I am in the Chicago suburban area where we are busy, but the zones are over saturated with shoppers taking $7 orders changing the algorithm to keep paying low amounts.

      • Lauren-
        That’s because your friend has only been working a few months. Wait until shes been doing this a while then interview her again. Newbies get priority orders. In a few more months she will tell you she’s been sitting for hours without an order. I’ve gotten nothing on my shift before and then on demand orders are there when my shift ends…why wasn’t I sent those? I feel like you won’t take down this article because you put a lot of effort and time into it, and that’s okay, but I do suggest editing it with important information, such as the company is being sued in multiple states and that after figuring in expenses and taxes you may not be making minimum wage.

  • Forgot to mention that they steal tips (and have admitted doing so 2-3 times) and when the get caught they blame it on a “glitch”

  • Lauren,
    I shopped for IC from Aug 2018- March 2019, I started when they were paying in my zone 7-12 dollars per batch plus a 40 cents per item commission. I would regularly make 25 dollars an hour when I got orders. In Dec 2018 they changed the pay structure, took away the commission and started paying based on some black magic formula. I kept shopping, but saw My pay decrease to closer to 16 dollars an hour.

    Then in March they once again changed the pay structure. Guaranteed at least 7 dollars for a batch, but part of the guarantee is mileage. So that 7 bucks is misleading. It’s 5 miles to the customer you get 3.00 for that, and the remaining 4 is to shop for the items. So yeah 7 bucks plus tip (if you get one). But you’re going to spend 45 minutes to earn that 4 bucks.

    Sorry my time is worth a lot more than that. IC is not transparent, no idea how they calculate what each batch is worth, if we knew that it might become something that makes sense. Customers think shoppers get far more than we do, and IC wants it that way, since ic is pocketing most of that cash.

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