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How to Make $100 a Day (or More) Delivering Groceries for Instacart

The McKenney's have done a significant amount of research on opportunities for making money and have found Instacart to be one of the best.

You're Quitting Your Job to Deliver Groceries?

I had never heard of Instacart until my daughter told me that her husband had quit his job and they are both working as on-demand delivery people for the relatively new grocery-delivery-to-your-doorstep company. Initially, I was shocked at the news, but when it finally dawned on me that there are millions of people in the country (just like me) who would rather cut off one of their arms than go buy groceries, I began to accept it as a pretty darn good idea. That global media giant Forbes listed Instacart in the top spot on their 2015 list of America's most promising companies helped a lot as well.

Founded in San Francisco in 2012 by Apoorva Mehta and Max Mullen, this futuristic approach to buying groceries has been catching on in major cities across the country, and it is predicted to only get larger as more people are made aware of the many benefits of using such a system. In January of 2015, the company was valued at over $2 billion, so you can see that they have grown considerably since the $275k investment that got them launched.

Note: I completed this article on Saturday, July 1, 2018. My daughter sent me a copy of her earnings for that day—she made $298.99—and said she had been busy for the entire day.

You can even order fresh vegetables through Instacart.

You can even order fresh vegetables through Instacart.

How to Become a Shopper for Instacart

Anyone who is interested in making money on their own schedule should apply to become a shopper. Applicants are reviewed by a recruitment team, and the following prerequisites are required:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have a smartphone running either Android 5.0 or later, or iOS 9 or later.
  • If you are seeking a position as a full-service shopper, you need a working registered vehicle with the proper insurance.
  • You must be able to lift 30+ pounds. There are special forms for individuals with disabilities.
  • You must be eligible to work in your country.
  • You must adhere to the company's food safety policy and best practices, which include transporting food in approved insulated bags.
  • If you don't care about your customers, this job is not for you.

If you are curious about how the shoppers feel about their role in the system, please read the actual reviews written by them. You will find that, although you have to stay pretty close to your phone (you only have one minute to acknowledge an order), you can spend a lot of time at home getting things done (you know . . . laundry, dishes, etc.) while you are waiting on orders to come in instead of twiddling your thumbs over a water cooler gossiping with someone from a neighboring cubicle. Another thing you will learn from the reviews is that is constantly "tweaking" their system and, of course, there are those who don't like change at all. For the most part, however, the reviews of the job are excellent and if this sounds interesting to you at all, I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself.

Referring Your Friends to Instacart

If you are already an Instacart shopper, you can make up to $750 for referring your friends to become shoppers for them. When your referral signs up, is approved, and completes 45 batches (deliveries) in 30 days, you are paid a referral fee, which varies by zone.

An Instacart shopper picks up the grocery items that are ordered, then delivers them directly to the customer's house.

An Instacart shopper picks up the grocery items that are ordered, then delivers them directly to the customer's house.

How Instacart Works

Here is how the business operates.

For the Customer

There is an Instacart app available to download on your phone (or desktop/laptop computer using a web-based interface). Within the app, you can select from several hundred thousand grocery items available at stores such as Publix, Whole Foods, Food Lion, Safeway, or Costco (you don't even have to have a Costco membership card). You can select your favorite store or even order from more than one of the available stores, pay for the items online, and include a tip for your shopper, which is a very nice thing to do, but not required. Customers are also able to schedule an order for a specific day and time. Now that's convenient! I pretty much expect this system to be the wave of the future for busy professionals and stay-at-home moms with small babies!

For the Shopper/Delivery Person

Once you are registered and accepted as a shopper with Instacart, you will receive your orders on your smartphone. If you live very close to some of the stores, you can wait at home until you get an order, but sometimes shoppers are stationed near the stores so that the orders can be filled quickly, usually within an hour. When the order is received, the shopper manually picks up the order and delivers the items to the customer. Shoppers are paid an hourly wage when they sign on for a "shift," plus any cash tips they might receive from customers.

Note: My daughter and son-in-law, who live in South Carolina, sign up for 10-hour shifts most days. A friend of ours in Nashville, Tennessee, delivers for Instacart, and in his second week on the job he made over $900.

Instacart advertises that it's possible to make up to $25 per hour, so you can see how it is entirely possible to make $100 per day (or much more) as a shopper. You are also given 20-minute "break" periods during which you are not given orders (should you need a break).

Groceries are paid for at the store by the shopper using a prepaid Instacart debit card that is provided for them and accepted at all of the stores that participate, so no money is handled by the shopper and the debit card actually recognizes if an incorrect item has been selected and alerts the shopper, eliminating disappointment on the part of the customer. So, essentially, the debit card is as "smart" as your smartphone.

If the customer pays a cash tip to the shopper, that money goes directly to the shopper, plus any tips that are paid by the customer in advance are accrued during the week and paid at the end of the week, along with the hourly salary. (My daughter and son-in-law have theirs put into their checking account each week by direct deposit, but there may be other ways to be paid.)

You remain an independent contractor, so there aren't any paid vacations, or benefits like insurance, but there are several bonus levels at which you can make even more money.

For the Stores

Instacart is tied in with many major superstores in all parts of the country, although it is not yet available in smaller areas, so check the app to see if it is available where you live. Stores are seeing a significant increase in revenue because of their affiliation with this forward-thinking company.

Instacart advertises that a shopper can make up to about $25 an hour delivering groceries, which includes an hourly wage plus tips and other bonuses.

Instacart advertises that a shopper can make up to about $25 an hour delivering groceries, which includes an hourly wage plus tips and other bonuses.

How Does Instacart Make Money?

There are actually four different ways that Instacart makes money, including:

  1. A delivery fee: Each order over $35 has a standard delivery fee of $3.99 for a scheduled or two-hour delivery; and $5.99 for one-hour delivery. Orders under $35 value are charged $7.99 for a scheduled or two-hour delivery, and $9.99 for one-hour delivery.
  2. A $99 yearly membership fee for Instacart Express: This membership eliminates all delivery fees for the entire year. This is the perfect option for someone who uses the service frequently.
  3. A $9.99 monthly charge for those without Instacart Express: This option also eliminates all delivery fees, but only on a per-month basis. This option is perfect for those looking to try out the service without making a commitment to a full year.
  4. Prices can be marked up: Stores can choose to mark their prices up 15% or so above what they charge in the store, and that revenue goes to to pay its shoppers. Remember, this service is a convenience, and you can expect to pay a little more for the added service of having it delivered to your door.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is there a list of cities where Instacart is available?

Answer: I don't think there's an actual list, but if you go to and enter your zip code, it will tell you if it's available in your city.

© 2017 Mike and Dorothy McKenney


Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on September 10, 2019:

It has become very competitive for sure. Sorry you aren't able to take advantage of good orders. I actually signed up for Instacart so I could find out for myself what was possible. My first order paid me about $35.00 and it took an hour to complete. Watch for the bigger orders and grab them quickly. It is very hard to grab a time schedule ahead but the "on demand" orders come pretty often. Good luck to you!

PB on August 30, 2019:


Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on January 13, 2019:

That's great! Thanks for sharing that information. I hope you continue to grow!

CC on January 12, 2019:

I made $600 in 3 weeks with instacart. I’m in a very small town too!

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on October 30, 2018:

Wow. Thanks for sharing the information. I hope you get back to your usual amount of money real soon. They are still relatively new and I'm sure the people who sign on with them will have to endure their growing pains right along with them. Good luck to you, and may you prosper again.

Kris on October 30, 2018:

Instacart is a great company HOWEVER if they just opened in your area they will not do any marleting at all. I went from making 900+ a week to working a new area and due to no.calls no marketing on instacarts part I have made 0 in 2 days.

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on September 13, 2018:

I am sorry to hear about their support. I hope it's because it is a relatively new concept and company and they are going through significant growing pains. It has been wonderful for my own daughter who has three girls in grade school. She works around their school and extra-curricular activities and still manages to make about $900 each week. Good luck with yours!

Joan S. on September 13, 2018:

I do this temporarily because it works for my schedule but it’s not an easy job and instacart support is like working in a 3rd world country. Attrition is about 49% in San Diego

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on August 25, 2018:


Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on August 23, 2018:

Thanks for the comment. Apparently, you worked for them, but don't now? What is your situation with them now and where are you located? Thanks again.

MLammes on August 21, 2018:

Yes you can receive a bonus of $750 if u manage to lie to new sign ups about making the misadvertized $25 per hour which is more like $4-$10 after taxes.

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on August 07, 2018:

Thank you. I am going to update the article, although my daughter and a young man we know are both making about $900 a week. They say tips are very good for them. One is in Washington State and the other is in Tennessee.

ShopperCrappiness on August 06, 2018:

You should probably update your article! Hourly guarantee is no longer being paid and many shop for the company barely get paid for working as an independent contractor. Rates have plummeted across the country, below $4 per batch even. So saying tipping isn't necessary, isn't appreciated by those who shop for them, as they rely on these tips. For Pete's sake, most of you ladies tip the pizza guy $5 to take the pizza off the counter to delivery it and it takes him 10-15 mins of his time. Most who are personal shoppers spend way more time and skill shopping the orders, and a $5 min tip is appreciated!

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on July 17, 2018:

I don't understand about the license. What type of license?

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on July 05, 2017:

Thanks for stopping by. From what I hear from my daughter they are expecting this to spread worldwide pretty quickly, so keep your fingers crossed.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 05, 2017:

That sounds really novel. I wish we had something like this in England. I'd sign up to be a shopper!