We have entered a new age of work in the U.S., one that will change the economy forever. Gig work has made it possible to earn a living without the 9-5 grind.
Instacart is one of the most popular sources of gig work, offering its shoppers flexibility, convenience and plenty of support.
But is Instacart worth it? As with any job, it’s not all sunshine and roses. I’ve got a good summary in answer to this question just below.
Is Instacart Worth It In 2022?
Whether or not Instacart is worth it depends on the type of person and the kind of work they enjoy. It does appear that shoppers for Instacart can make good money, somewhere in the range of $12-25 and even $45 per hour. However, burn out, batch scarcity and unfair ratings do occur.
Let’s look at what kind of money Instacart shoppers can expect to make, if you could actually quit a full-time job for Instacart and ways to maximize your earnings. And, best of all, let’s see what real shoppers love and hate about Instacart, in their own words. Read on!
Do Instacart Shoppers Make Good Money?
The amount of money you can make from Instacart shopping depends on a number of factors, but on the whole, the company sets you up to make about $12-15 per batch.
Multiply that by the number of batches you think you could accept in a day; most shoppers average one batch an hour.
Once they get really good, some shoppers can handle more like one-and-a-half to two batches per hour.
You make a base fee from accepting the batch, then whatever the tip is. Sometimes you’ll get a really great tip, and sometimes you might get none at all (though that’s rare).
If you do the work on yourself – learning how to provide the very best service, while shopping quickly – you should be able to make good money.
That could range anywhere from the amount you’d make working a part-time job to even full-time earnings.
The commenters on this Reddit thread report varying amounts, but two of them remark that they make $100 a day.
One, who makes $400 a day, said it was “super easy.”
Another said, “I do 2-3 days a week, maybe 20 hours total, and it’s from $200-350 total each week.”
On a different thread, u/NonToxicPastaMan said, “Also, in the right market, you can make serious money.”
U/LDawnBurges had an amazing perspective as to why she does Instacart, and it’s not just the money: “I love being of service to people, especially those who need it.”
She continued, “Yes, IC definitely does treat us like we’re disposable, but most customers appreciate us. That, and those who tip solidly, make it worth it.”
How Much Does Instacart Usually Pay?
It seems that Instacart batches average around – that being the base amount that Instacart pays you for completing the order.
However, the total you see is bumped up by the customer tip, which can range anywhere from a few dollars to 20 or 30 percent, depending on the customer.
That said, larger orders or heavier orders may start at substantially more than just $10. It could even come to double that, plus tip.
Unfortunately, u/ GimmeSushi reported that in Houston, TX, they were seeing “a lot of $7-8 base pay.”
They said, “The tippers make the money worthwhile…”
In some areas, this will be the case – the only reason the money is any good is because of good tippers.
Can You Make A Living Off Instacart?
It seems the overwhelming majority of shoppers use Instacart as a side gig, not their main source of income.
That said, it does seem possible that you could make a living off Instacart; it would simply require you to work pretty much seven days a week, eight hours a day.
One shopper for Instacart on Quora mentioned that they do make their living off the app, “…but in order to do okay, you have to hustle with it, be a go-getter. Be disciplined…”
Others on that thread also mentioned location as a major factor; basically, the wealthier the people in the city, the more likely you can make a living delivering to them.
How Can You Maximize Your Instacart Earnings?
To make Instacart worthwhile, you have to earn money. And to earn money, you have to get good at the process.
Here are some tips for maximizing your Instacart earnings, directly from the shoppers themselves!
- Pay attention to the small things; u/leeguy01: “You need to be detail oriented. You have to find Oreos. There are 100 kinds of Oreos, Okay good not chocolate, not double stuff. not fat free.
Not half sugar, now you have to find party size.
First you see individual packets, then regular size, then sharing size, then family size, then party size and they are only a few ounces larger tan the previous.
It sounds easy but it’s nothing like shopping for yourself.”
- Shop where the high-paying batches are; u/LizardsThicket: “As terrible as it sounds, try to make your go-to stores stores that are in nice areas.”
- Achieve and maintain a good rating; u/LizardsThicket: “Have an intro message for your customers.”
“Have an empathetic message for when you tell the customer their item is out of stock.”
“Have a nice profile pic too. I have a suit and tie in mine. Remember people who order through IC are more likely to be ‘boujee’ or professional.”
u/homeboycartel2: “Rule 1 is to remember you are spending their money and need to do it wisely and respectfully. Communicate with them and be polite.”
- Don’t take every batch that comes your way; u/LizardsThicket: “Have a metric for orders you’ll take and be aggressive taking them.”
What Is The Problem With Instacart?
Even Redditor u/LDawnBurges said in her comment, detailing why she loves working for Instacart, “IC definitely does treat us like we’re disposable.”
Other are a lot more vehement about it.
“The tip defaults to 5 percent of the cost of the batch and many customers remove it before or after the delivery,” Paul Cherry II said on Quora.
“it is very difficult to contact,” he continued, referring to Instacart. Another commenter on that thread agrees, “Contact the company is like hell.”
Mr. Cherry also touched on the issue of pay. “Since joining Instacrooks in 2016, they have raised the pay twice…then reduced the pay 14 times in a row.”
There is also the major issue of not enough batches to go around and keep everyone earning.
“Limited batches in certain regions,” one con-side response on Glassdoor says.
A complaint on the Better Business Bureau site says, “In the last three weeks not getting any batches at all, stopped. If I do get a batch, 30 minutes away from me.”
There are all common complaints against Instacart, and it doesn’t appear that the company does a whole lot to address them.
I think the one about the workers being disposable is particularly compelling, because there are hundreds of thousands of shoppers in the U.S. and Canada.
Some of those shoppers have formed the Gig Workers Collective, based in San Francisco, a nonprofit designed to lobby for independent contractors’ rights.
Instacart is well-known in media now for less-than-savory treatment toward their shoppers, including wage-gutting and keeping shoppers classified as gig workers, not employees.
Employees, after all, would be entitled to benefits, like healthcare, PTO and more.
On Reddit, users have even called for their peers to quit – and steal on their way out.
As u/peonkilla posted, “REMEMBER – When you decide to quit, you take a big batch, shop for it, and keep it for yourself.”
They continued, “Mark it as delivered, or call SH and say the customer wasn’t home or the address is invalid. Free groceries and a parting gift from IC for working us like dogs.”
Why Do People Work For Instacart?
Despite a lot of the negativity surrounding Instacart, there are some people who genuinely love the work.
And the reason for that is pretty beautiful – they enjoy being of service to others, especially those in need.
“I do it because I can work whenever I want, it helps me up my physical activity (especially in winter),” u/ifidontagebefore122 began.
“And many people I’ve delivered for are moms with small children, people without transportation, or even disabled.”
Unsurprisingly, the other reason people enjoy working for Instacart is the flexibility.
u/Irishpancakes13: “It’s worth it for me because I make my own schedule. I can go to my kids appointments and school pick up and drop off with no scheduling conflicts.”
u/ConsciousFractals: “By choosing not to participate in the rat race any more than I have to to pay my bills, I maintain my freedom. That is a valid choice.”
Whether or not Instacart is worth it is subjective, but on the whole, you can earn decent money with a little effort, and there is the potential to earn good money regularly.
Shoppers enjoy the flexibility of the position, and the feeling of helping others who need it, but are aware of their “replaceability” and find that sometimes the batches just aren’t there.