Is Instacart Worth It?

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There are a lot of Instacart shoppers that will tell you that it’s a great side hustle and a lot of others that will tell you it’s terrible. Here’s why.

How Instacart Works

Instacart is an on-demand gig economy app. There’s no scheduling ahead or even having to plan when you want to work.

You can open the app at any time your local grocery stores are open and claim batches. Each batch is a single customer’s grocery order or a few smaller orders grouped together.

There’s usually a 1-hour window for you to arrive at your customer, and you’ll usually shop right before that window. You can only claim batches on the same day and have to finish a batch before you can claim another.

Some shoppers use an app that automatically grabs batches, but I’m not sure if it’s technically allowed, so do your own research first.

If you read any older articles, you might have seen an in-store shopper employee position that schedules shifts in a specific store and shops orders for customers to pick up. Instacart has replaced those positions with either regular independent contractor Instacart shoppers or the store’s own employees.

How much can you make with Instacart?

If you look at reddit and other online forums, you usually see reports of Instacart shoppers making anywhere from $10 to $25 per hour. Pay can depend on where you live, the number of orders and competition in your area, and how likely customers in your market are to leave good tips.

Instacart uses variable pay based on the current number of shoppers and orders. What you’ll find is that there will usually be some days and times in your area that pay better than others. Even then, you’ll never know what you can make as an Instacart shopper on any given day until you open the app.

One important thing to remember about working for Instacart is that they don’t pay for gas or any other expenses. You pay those expenses out of your earnings, so what you see in the app isn’t your profit.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make good money, but make sure you’re tracking how much you’re actually making to make sure working for Instacart is worth it for you.

The one thing I would say is that if you’re trying to make $200 per day with Instacart, it will probably take a minimum of 8 to 10 hours and rely on you getting good tips on top of the base pay.

What are the downsides of working for Instacart?

The biggest downside of working as an Instacart shopper is the uncertainty. The flip side of you not having to schedule in advance is that they don’t guarantee work for you.

You can turn on the app and find absolutely no orders. You may also see only low-paying orders that may not even be worth it as Instacart tries to take advantage of having too many shoppers online at the same time.

The good news is that as an independent contractor, you’re allowed to work for more than one grocery delivery service — even at the same time. When there’s nothing in the Instacart app, Shipt might be offering bonuses to get more shoppers.

You can also try other food delivery services or other side hustles like rideshare.

How does Instacart compare to other services?

When it comes to Instacart vs. Shipt, it’s really a toss-up based on your personal preferences. While they calculate their pay two different ways, which one might be offering a higher effective rate per hour can vary at any given time.

Instacart does usually pay better than restaurant deliveries and rideshare. Full-service shoppers have a lot more responsibility since you hand-pick each item and may have to call or text the customer as you shop.

Is Instacart safe?

I could only find one report where an Instacart shopper was assaulted. Of course, how safe you are can vary based on the neighborhoods you’re working in.

One thing that helps make Instacart shopping safer is that all orders go through the app. You don’t have to handle cash except for the small number of customers who tip in cash.

Customers also have to prepay for their orders with a credit card. You have little risk of someone making a fake order to rob you like sometimes happens with pizza delivery drivers.

Of course, you should always be aware of your surroundings. You may also choose to not work late at night or to have someone you’re keeping in touch with while you’re working.

Thanks for reading.

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