How To Become an Instacart Shopper: Earnings & What To Expect

shopper selecting juices for grocery delivery - Instacart
Arturo Torres / Instacart

If you’re looking for a way to earn extra cash, you might want to pick a side hustle. Food delivery and ride-hailing services are among the most popular side gigs. But you don’t have to jump into those gigs just because they are well known. Shopping for a grocery delivery service like Instacart looks like an appealing side hustle.

Find out more on how to become an Instacart shopper and start earning. 

What Is Instacart?

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that makes it easy for people to shop for groceries online and get them delivered to their doorstep. The service depends on independent contractors and part-time employees to fulfill customers’ orders.

How To Become an Instacart Shopper

To become an Instacart shopper, you need to download the Instacart Shopper app and sign up. You can choose to work as a full-service shopper or an in-store shopper, as long as you meet the basic requirements for the position.

Once you pass a background check, you’re good to get started. The best thing about being an Instacart shopper is that you can dictate your own schedule and work any time you want. However, the job duties and how much you can earn depend on whether you’re an in-store shopper or a full-service shopper.

More From Your Money

Full-Service Instacart Shopper

Here are the basic requirements you must meet to become a full-service shopper:

  • At least 18 years old 
  • Eligible to work in the U.S. or Canada
  • In possession of a functioning, registered vehicle with insurance
  • Able to access a smartphone with Android 5.0 or later, or iOS 9 or later
  • Can lift at least 30 pounds 
  • Able to satisfy Instacart’s food safety policies

Full-service shoppers are independent contractors whose responsibility is to shop for customers’ orders using the app and deliver them to their homes. You can look for orders available in the platform, which you either accept or decline, fill the accepted orders at the customers’ selected stores and deliver them.

As a full-service Instacart shopper, you set your own schedule — you can work as little or as much as you want. You can also maximize your earnings by working during peak grocery shopping times, such as late evenings and holiday weekends, since hours aren’t restricted.

As an independent contractor, you’re subject to self-employment tax. Therefore, you may have to make quarterly estimated tax payments. This is because Instacart doesn’t withhold taxes from earnings.

If you’re looking for a full-time gig, this role might be ideal for you, since the hours you can work aren’t restricted and you can fulfill as many orders as you can. Plus, there’s a potential for higher-paying batches.

In-Store Instacart Shopper

To become an in-store shopper, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Legally allowed to work in the U.S. or Canada 
  • Able to access a smartphone with Android 5.0 or later, or iOS 9 or later
  • Can lift at least 30 pounds
  • Able to follow Instacart’s food safety policies

The in-store shopper position is slightly different from the full-service shopper gig — there’s no driving or delivery involved. Instead, you are considered a part-time employee and work in scheduled shifts of up to 29 hours per week.

Once your shift starts, Instacart assigns you batches to complete. Just like full-service, you’ll need to purchase products on the customer’s grocery list, but instead of delivering them, you place them in a staging area for pickup.

More From Your Money

If you’re looking for a flexible side gig, working as an in-store Instacart shopper might be a good option for you.

How To Register for a Job as an Instacart Shopper

If you meet the basic requirements, you can sign up to become an Instacart shopper and start earning. However, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork for the specific shopper role you take on. In-store shoppers must submit a W-4 tax form and sign an offer letter, while full-service shoppers will need to complete a W-9 tax form and sign a contractor form.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Download the App From the App Store or Google Play
    Provide your background information, including your name, email address and phone number, and consent to a background check.
  • Go Through a Background Check
    You need to go through a background check before you start working. The process may take up to 10 days.
  • Attend an In-Person Onboarding Session
    If you pass the background check and you have applied as an in-store shopper, you can schedule an in-person orientation, which typically takes two hours.
  • Sign Up for a Payment Card
    This is a preloaded debit card you can use to check out customers’ orders. You’ll receive the card within five to seven business days after completing the sign-up process.
  • Start Shopping and Make Money
    Once you’ve completed the above steps, you can start shopping and earn. You can set your availability in the app and receive push notifications when customers place new orders, which you can either accept or reject.

FAQ on Being an Instacart Shopper

Here are answers to some of the commonly asked questions about being an Instacart shopper.

How Much Do Instacart Shoppers Make?

The amount you can earn as an Instacart shopper depends on your role, the orders you complete, your location and other factors. In-store shoppers get paid an hourly wage detailed in the offer letter.

Full-service shoppers get paid per completed batch of orders. The amount you can earn is subject to factors including types of products, how bulky the items are, mileage and how complex the whole process is. It’s hard to predict exactly what you’ll earn, but Instacart provides an estimate of $5 or more per batch for delivery only and $7 to $10 per batch for shop-and-delivery service, according to NerdWallet.

As a full-service shopper, you can earn and retain 100% of the tips you get from customers. You also have the opportunity to earn extra cash when Instacart runs promotions.

How Are Instacart Shoppers Paid?

Instacart pays shoppers weekly via a direct deposit. Shoppers can also cash out their earnings to a debit card and immediately access the funds.

Where Can You Work as an Instacart Shopper?

Instacart is available in many cities across the U.S. and Canada. You can check whether there are openings for full-service or in-store shoppers in your area by downloading the app and entering your ZIP code.

Takeaway

If you enjoy shopping for groceries, you can cash in as an Instacart shopper, especially if you have a lot of free time. And if being an Instacart shopper doesn’t appeal to you, there are other lucrative side hustles to explore.

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About the Author

Lydia Kibet has been writing professionally since 2017. Her passion for helping brands in all aspects of content marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage she provides — personal finance, investing and healthcare. Her work has been featured in The Motley Fool, Investor Junkie, Green Market Report, and Medical News Today. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, playing guitar or catching up with nature. Follow her on Twitter.

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