Instacart has built its reputation on quick, convenient grocery shopping that brings the bags right to your front door. But all of that convenience doesn’t come cheap. Instacart’s goal is to save you time – not necessarily money.
So how much does Instacart cost? Well, there are a variety of fees that make up a single order, so keep reading to learn the total cost of Instacart’s services!
How Much Does Instacart Cost In 2023?
Most Instacart orders come with a $3.99 delivery fee attached, plus tip, as well as any number of service fees and item upcharges at many retailers. However, Instacart delivery can sometimes cost as much as $10 per order during peak shopping times. Therefore, regular customers might find savings by signing up with Instacart Express in 2023.
These fees obviously need to be examined more closely, as well as Instacart’s item upcharges and tipping etiquette. Therefore, keep reading for all you need to know!
Is Instacart Expensive to Use?
Instacart can be an expensive service to use, but for many American families, the convenience is worth the extra expense.
Let’s break down all the different fees and expenses you can expect to pay when you let Instacart do the grocery shopping for you.
1. Minimum Order Amount
For all Instacart orders, whether delivery or pick-up, there is a minimum order amount that you must hit in order to use the service.
For delivery orders, that amount is $35. For pick-up orders, sometimes it’s as little as $10, but retailers can choose to make their pick-up minimum $35 as well.
When it comes to the Convenience Hub, though, which is designed for small orders delivered in as little as 30 minutes, $35 is the recommended order maximum.
2. Delivery Fees or Pick-Up Fees
Basic delivery fees start at $3.99, but can range all the way up to $7.99 or even $9.99.
Pick-up fees tend to be less, starting at $1.99, but they can go as high as delivery fees at peak shopping times, in the $7.99 range.
You can also pay an extra $2 for priority delivery if you need your groceries fast.
Also, as previously mentioned, the delivery/pick-up fees tend to scale higher during peak shopping times.
3. Service Fees
Delivery orders come with service fees, which go to Instacart and help keep the company operational.
This includes the regular service fee, as well as any bag fees (Aldi is a big offender here, since it charges for bags in stores), and even heavy item fees.
Overall, this can add on up to five percent of your grocery total to the entire order.
4. Delivery Tip
Don’t forget your full-service shoppers, who obtain the groceries and drive them to your house.
Instacart suggests a minimum of $2 for a tip, but $5 is generally more fair. If you can afford more, though, every penny goes to the driver, so be as generous as you can for good service.
You can reduce many of the service fees and nix delivery fees altogether if you use Instacart enough to warrant an Express membership.
How Much Does Instacart Cost Per Month?
If you’re looking at all of these costs and fees, and are wondering what they amount to each month, the answer is probably pretty hefty.
However, Instacart made the move to a subscription membership, which is totally voluntary (you can still use the service without the subscription).
The nice thing about Instacart Express, as it’s called, is that for a minimal monthly fee of $10 (or $99 annually), you don’t have to worry about delivery or pick-up fees.
Your service fees are also reduced, usually by more than half.
Delivery and pick-up orders still have to meet a certain threshold, $35 and $10, respectively; and sometimes, certain retailers will set the pick-up threshold to $35 as well.
However, if you’re using Instacart more than three times a month, the subscription starts to pay for itself.
For example, if you have an Express membership, and your household does one major grocery shop per week, you might also purchase one or two additional small batches of groceries.
Therefore, you may use the free delivery for the big shop, and then order pick-up for the smaller ones.
Further, Instacart offers deals and discounts for its Express members, like special pricing at times, or even cash-back on pick-up orders.
If your household uses Instacart more than three times per month, it’s worth trying the Express membership to make this convenient service a little less expensive.
Are Prices More Expensive on Instacart?
Some, but not all, retailers do upcharge on Instacart, compared to in-store prices, generally to the tune of about 15 percent more.
Often, they will do this to help offset their own Instacart partnership fees.
Fortunately, Instacart allows retailers to say front and center whether they upcharge.
When you navigate to a retailer’s Instacart storefront, under the logo, it might say “View pricing policy” or “Higher than in-store prices.”
The former means that some prices are higher, but not all; the latter indicates that all items are more expensive than in stores.
Stores that don’t upcharge will read “Everyday low prices,” or something similar.
Keep this in mind if budget is very important to your grocery shopping.
Can You Opt Out of the Instacart Service Fee?
Until 2018, you could actually opt out of the Instacart service fee, but that is no longer the case.
As Buffalo news reported in April 2018, it used to be that customers could manually change the service fee to $0.
Some customers might have been tempted to keep it at the suggested 10 percent in order to “help out” the app and keep it operating.
However, in Spring 2018, that did change, when Instacart overhauled the app and made the fee a permanent, fixed five percent (based on your order total).
Therefore, it seems that Instacart played around with different fees – including the inclusion of tips – before settling on its current model.
How Much Do You Tip on Instacart?
If you are ordering delivery from Instacart, at the bare minimum, you should tip $2 per order.
That is actually Instacart’s suggestion, but it’s recommended to tip at least $5.
If you can afford more – 20, 25 or even 30 percent – you should absolutely go for it, as your shopper will truly appreciate it.
The thing to bear in mind with Instacart and its costs is that the service isn’t designed to save you money. Rather, its purpose is to save you time, so you will likely find yourself spending more money than if you went grocery shopping yourself.