Instacart is an enormous convenience for many Americans, enabling them to get their grocery shopping done without lifting more than a thumb.
However, whether you have to make Instacart’s prices work for your budget or it has been a seamless transition, we can all agree that Instacart can be pretty expensive to use. Why is Instacart so expensive, you ask? If you’d like to find out, keep reading for 10 facts on this topic!
Why Is Instacart So Expensive In 2023?
1. Stores on Instacart Upcharge to Cover Operational Costs
Some stores on Instacart upcharge on their digital storefront, versus in-store prices.
Stores might also upcharge most of their products, while others are a bit more sporadic.
For example, stores like Wegmans tend to upcharge on most of their items.
Aldi, however, upcharges more randomly and not on everything.
You can tell which stores upcharge by checking under their logos on the Instacart storefront.
It will read “Higher than in-store prices,” and when you click on that, something similar to the Wegmans message will appear:
“We keep our prices consistently low, every day, so you can save on the items your family uses most. Our online prices remain about 15% above in-store prices. This includes our costs of shopping your order.”
Aldi’s reflects its less consistent upcharging and simply says “View pricing policy.”
Click on that, and the message reads:
“ALDI sets the price of items on the Instacart marketplace. Item prices may vary from in-store prices in your area. Prices may be higher than in-store prices to cover the cost of personal shopping.”
Additionally, the CVS in some areas simply reads “Everyday low prices,” suggesting that the prices on CVS Instacart are the same as in-store.
2. The Store Isn’t Partnered with Instacart
Did you know that some stores are actually partnered with Instacart, while others aren’t?
The partner stores, according to The Grocery Guy, do not upcharge; it’s kind of a “reward” for customers shopping with a store Instacart has a relationship with.
So, if your favorite grocery store is not a partner with Instacart (partners include Safeway, Kroger and Publix) then you are unfortunately paying more for your weekly grocery haul.
3. You Order Instacart From an Already Expensive Store
While Wegmans has an excellent and affordable store brand line, the upscale grocery chain is also known for bringing the pain at the cash register.
Wegmans sells all kinds of specialties and delicacies, is renowned for its fresh meat and seafood, and none of that comes cheap.
So, when you buy your steak and your lobster from a store like Wegmans, which is already more expensive than your Aldi, you’re going to pay even more with the store’s upcharges.
4. Instacart Doesn’t Recognize In-Store Markdowns
For example, say you ordered a family pack of bratwurst from Aldi to cook on the grill, and the package you received was actually a markdown near its expiration date.
However, you didn’t receive any discount on the meat, and paid the full Aldi Instacart (upcharged, actually) price.
Well, this occurs because, unless the sale is listed on Instacart, you can’t take advantage of store-specific discounts or markdowns like that.
5. You Didn’t Factor in the Instacart Service Fees
Instacart is a lot like DoorDash or UberEats; you have one price before checkout, and then you have the shockingly higher one during checkout.
This is due to Instacart’s infamous service fees, which run the gamut from delivery (mostly $3.99, but sometimes higher), operational costs, and even bag fees.
They’re also not reflected in your shopping cart until the app is asking you for your credit card number.
It’s too late at that point – you’re locked in! Nothing to do but place the order, grit your teeth and bear it.
6. You Order Instacart Delivery
Delivery is just the more expensive option because employing delivery drivers puts a greater financial burden on Instacart.
The company has to run background checks, maintain insurance coverage and just overall keep Instacart running and customers happy.
Or, perhaps you’re always in a hurry for your delivery, so you choose Priority delivery, which adds $2+ to your delivery fee.
However, you aren’t locked into delivery with Instacart.
Rather, many stores also offer a pick-up option at $1.99, which is cheaper and negates the service fees.
7. You Order Instacart Delivery During Peak Shopping
When grocery stores tend to be most busy, and it’s during these peak hours on peak days, shopping Instacart can be much more expensive, as the service fees are raised.
However, the beauty of Instacart is that busy 9-to-5 professionals don’t have to get their groceries on the weekend.
Rather, you can pick a weekday and can even schedule the delivery for the evening.
8. Your Instacart Driver Deserves a Good Tip
Before you check out of Instacart delivery, you will be prompted to enter a tip for your driver.
You can expect good service until proven otherwise, so it’s important to tip fairly (or even better, well).
However, note that tipping can drive up the price of your order, especially if you’re getting a big, expensive haul.
9. You Use Instacart Regularly But Aren’t an Express Member
If you use Instacart for your weekly grocery shopping, but you aren’t an Express member, you could be paying more than necessary.
Instacart Express is $10 per month, or $99 annually, and you only have to use Instacart three times a month for it to pay for itself (three delivery fees of $3.99 = $12).
Express discounts your service fees, plus makes you eligible for all kinds of discounts and perks, like the late fall 2021 five percent cash back on pick-up orders deal.
10. Instacart Is Ultimately About Convenience, Not Saving Money
Instacart absolutely can save you money in some ways, but that’s the overall point of the service.
Rather, it’s about making grocery shopping more convenient and saving you time, and unfortunately, convenience is often the more expensive option.
If Instacart seems expensive, it’s because for many people, it is. Instacart is a luxury service that happens to be just affordable and accessible enough to a fairly wide income bracket.
That said, I appreciate Instacart’s efforts to become even more accessible by including the EBT SNAP payment option with a handful of its retailers.