Thinking about trying Instacart as a side hustle? Here is one Instacart shopper’s review where she shares how to seriously cash out with Instacart along with all the things that she wished she would have known before she downloaded the app one lazy Saturday morning!
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I’ve always loved grocery shopping and actually used to joke to my husband that I should be a personal grocery shopper for other people and at one point even schemed about ways that I could possibly do that.
So when I first learned about Instacart Shopper, I was intrigued! Someone had finally created a relatively easy way for pretty much anyone to get paid to go grocery shopping for other people!
I really wanted to sign up, but I had 3 small children and it just wasn’t logistically possible. But the intrigue with Instacart never left- partly because of my love for grocery shopping and partly because I think it just seems like such a great side hustle idea!
So when I discovered recently that my friend Heidi shopped for Instacart I was super fascinated and I loved listening to her talk about her experience.
Heidi joined Instacart as a side gig to help add money to their adoption fund. She and her husband have battled infertility for over 10 years and started pursuing adoption last summer.
They recently found out that they are matched with a precious baby that is due this summer, so that’s given her fresh incentive to hustle as much as possible before she’s consumed with caring for a newborn!
Heidi joined Instacart with no knowledge about how being a shopper worked. When she accepted her first batch an hour or two after she was cleared to start working, she suddenly freaked out a bit!
How would this all go? What if she did something wrong? And then when the first batch that she accepted got canceled because none of the 5 items were in stock at CVS, she really started to get butterflies.
Later that day she got brave and accepted a batch at Publix and in her words, “Voila! The true shopper’s obsession began!”
Heidi made over $150 her first full day as a shopper and has gone on to work hard and put aside a sizable amount towards their adoption!
Because I know lots of you are looking for side hustles ideas to help meet financial goals, I invited Heidi to share about how to become an Instacart shopper and give you all the low down about what this side gig is like!
The rest of the post, Heidi will take over writing. She’s going to tell you all about Instacart and give you the tips and information that she would have loved to have when she first got started!
Disclaimer: This post is sharing Heidi’s experience and she tried to portray things as honestly and accurately as possible. However, Instacart does change things periodically, so some details may be slightly different for new users.
Instacart Shopper Requirements
Like any job, there are some requirements for working for Instacart.
So before you sign up as a shopper, you’ll want to make sure you meet the following qualifications:
- Must be 18-21 years old (can vary depending on the state you live in)
- Have a newer model phone
- Must be able to lift 30+ lbs of groceries
- You must have a passion for others; be willing to offer good customer service
- Must have your own vehicle (if applying to be a full-service shopper)
- Must follow Instacart’s Food Safety Policy
How to become an Instacart Shopper
Ready to get started doing Instacart as a side hustle? Here’s how it will work!
You’ll begin by downloading the Instacart app.
Then you will need to create an account and fill out the required details and answer some questions.
You will be required to also provide the following information as well:
- Bank Account and Routing Number (so they know where to send your hard earned money!)
- Proof of your Driver’s License
- Social Security Number
Once you add that information, Instacart will use it to run a background check.
According to Instacart, the background check can take up to 10 days; for me it only took 4 hours. However, I do know shoppers that didn’t receive theirs for a week.
While you wait for the background check to clear, keep following the prompts in the App.
This will include choosing your shopper preference (I do full service!) and the opportunity to watch some training videos
The training videos will go over things like how to shop, how to check out, different scenarios and their suggestions, food safety, cold bag usage and certain store information etc.
I highly recommend exploring the App as much as you can while waiting for your clearances. This will be so helpful when you’re shopping for your first batch!
How does Instacart Shopper work?
Once your background check clears and you’re approved as a shopper you get to the fun part- going shopping and making some money!
Here’s how the process works.
1. Open the app, choose a batch you want to shop and swipe to accept.
2. Next drive to the store and then swipe “Start shopping”.
Each item for the batch will be in order per aisle.
3. Scan each item as you find it.
If an item is unavailable, click “Can’t find item”.
Replacement suggestions will pop up on the screen. Choose an available replacement and scan. If replacements pop-ups are unavailable for that item click “scan replacement” and scan a similar item or if you can’t find a suitable replacement, click “Refund item”.
(It’s also nice to message your customer to check with them what replacement they might prefer. Any time you can go the extra mile to make them happy, do it! A happy customer will be more likely to tip you more!)
When you have completed shopping for all the items, click “Go to next step”.
4. Once a customer has approved all replacements and there are no further messages, click “Proceed to checkout”.
At the register, I recommend grouping like items together to make bagging and transporting easier. For example, all cold/frozen things, all produce etc. Keep fragile/easily damaged things like eggs and bread last.
5. Pay for the order using the debit card that Instacart provides you. (More on that below.)
6. Choose “Next step”. Then swipe to start delivery and choose “Navigate”.
7. Once you arrive at the customer’s home, unload the groceries and put them at the directed door. If there are no delivery instructions, set them at the front door and ring the doorbell. The app may prompt you to take a photo of the space with the groceries before you leave.
8. After all the groceries are unloaded, click on the correct delivery method and swipe on “Complete delivery”. This takes you back to your dashboard.
9. Click “Available batches” and choose your next batch to begin your next shop!
Bonus Tip: A fun way to earn a little extra is to use savings apps like Ibotta and Fetch Rewards (use code GEOEG at sign-up for an automatic $2.00 in points!). You get to keep all receipts, which makes this a super easy way to earn a bit more money!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do Instacart shoppers make money?
Full service shoppers make money two ways-payment from Instacart and customer tips.
Instacart pays a minimum of $7 per order, but that amount may get increased based on delivery distance, the number of items in an order, if the order includes heavy items and working during peak shopping times.
Customers are also encouraged to tip through the app, although they do have the option of not including any tip at all.
You will be able to see the payment amount, including the tip, before you make a decision to accept an order.
If there is no tip listed on your dashboard, you can choose to wait for another batch to come through and ignore those listed without a tip.
Some of these customers may end up tipping in cash, so risking it may pay off- it’s your gamble!
Also, customers have 3 days to increase or lower the tip amount, so it definitely pays to do your best!
I have experienced $10+ upgrades in a tip. It’s rare, but it does happen! So definitely do your best to treat the customer well!
How much do Instacart shoppers make?
The amount you earn will depend on the amount of time you commit to working, the demand in your area, the type of orders you choose and whether or not you are close to a grocery store.
Like most things, you get back what you put into it!
When you view available batches on the Instacart App dashboard, the amount each batch pays, the number of miles to drive, how many items etc. will be shown and you can use that information to choose batches that work best for you.
I personally love goals, so the first week I worked Monday to Saturday and I set a goal of making $100/day.
I’m not going to lie, it was a huge stretch considering I still worked from home, cooked, and shopped for us etc.
But that first week I more than made my goal! I ended up earning $826.59– over $200 more than I had hoped for!
How often do shoppers get Paid?
Instacart pays its shoppers weekly via direct deposit.
You can also use the Cashout option to get your money more quickly- you’ll pay 50 cents and get it a few minutes or up to 24 hours later depending on your bank.
If you choose to use the cashout option, this will only pay you Instacart’s payment early and not customer tips. Tips will automatically be paid each week.
Do I have to live close to a grocery store?
Being close to a store is ideal, but not a must!
If you live outside an Instacart delivery area, simply find the closest town that offers Instacart and drive there when you want to work.
I live 30 minutes from the grocery stores in our area and do just fine! And I have friends that drive up to 1 ½ hours to a busier area because they can make more there.
On the days I want to work, I drive to the area where the stores are and then log onto the app and accept batches as I see good ones pop up.
At the end of the day, it’s fun to see if I can find a final batch that will need to be delivered in the direction of my home.
Often batches that are farther away from the store pay more and this means that I can potentially get a good paying batch but not go out of my way for delivery since it’s on my way home.
How do you pay for the groceries?
When you first get your clearances with Instacart, you’ll receive a digital debit card that you can add to your phone’s wallet app. Instacart will mail you a physical debit card as well.
This debit card will be pre approved for each transaction that you accept– kind of like a prepaid credit card.
I personally find it easier to just use the digital option all the time, but I still make sure to keep the physical card with me just in case the store I’m shopping has an Apple Pay glitch or my phone dies while I’m in the store. (Don’t ask me how I’d know about that last scenario!)
Can I do Instacart full service shopping with my kids?
The short answer is no. Instacart’s policy is that you are to shop alone and not bring anyone with you.
Obviously, you could take your kids along, but just know that it is possible that if you do, your account would get deactivated!
From my own experience, I’d rather do it on my own because I laser focus on what I need to do and am on major hustle when I get to the store.
A few more things you may find helpful to know:
- Follow me on Instagram– I occasionally share peeks into my Instacart experience there.
- Instacart tells you your average seconds per item. (I compete with myself and have a current average of 58 seconds/item.)
- The grocery list you are shopping will be in store order with aisle numbers listed.
- I shop this order; non-perishables and refrigerated, then frozen.
- Making sure to order deli items first and shop for nearby items while waiting– this will help you save time!
- Double up savings by using Ibotta and Fetch Rewards (use code GEOEG at sign-up for an automatic $2.00 in points!) to scan receipts and earn even more! This works because Instacart asks you to keep the receipts and not deliver them with the orders. (Customers receive an electronic receipt.)
- Fill your gas tank before you start. (Yes, you pay your own gas as you are providing a service and need to pay for all expenses such as gas and maintenance.)
- Keep a phone charger cord in your car so you can keep your phone charged at all times! You may also need one of these.
- Mileage is tax deductible so keep tabs on gas and mileage. I love using the Stride App to help track this.
- Double check house numbers when delivering! I once delivered to someone’s neighbor by mistake (the house and details about where to deliver matched perfectly, down to the pickup truck in the garage!) then had to replace her frozen items because they had gotten too warm in the sun! Ugh!
- Instacart only notifies you of available batches if you are currently in a delivery area.
- In our area, mornings are busiest and batches are available to shop as early as 8 am.
As with any side hustle, your earnings will vary from week to week and you will need to be willing to work hard. But this does have the potential to help you earn a nice amount of money and can be a great side job.
Want to give it a try?
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