The Ultimate Instacart Side Hustle Guide: How to Make Money Shopping for Others

Instacart side hustle

Are you looking for a flexible and profitable side hustle that allows you to set your own hours? Look no further than Instacart! As one of the leading grocery delivery services in the country, Instacart is always on the lookout for independent contractors and part-time workers to help deliver items to customers from over 350 national and local stores. Whether you’re looking to boost your income or simply want a way to earn extra cash during downtime, being an Instacart shopper may be just what you need. In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how Instacart works for shoppers, requirements needed to sign up as well as tips and tricks on how maximize your earnings. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and let’s dive into the world of Instacart!

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What is Instacart?

Instacart is a popular grocery delivery service that partners with over 350 national and local stores to deliver items to customers through independent contractors and part-time workers. The company was founded in 2012 as a response to the growing demand for online shopping convenience. Today, it operates in over 5,500 cities across North America.

With Instacart, customers can order groceries from their favorite retailers and have them delivered right to their doorstep. They can choose from thousands of products available at their local store and receive deliveries in as little as one hour or schedule them up to two weeks in advance.

For people looking for an easy way to make some extra cash, Instacart offers flexible work opportunities through its Full-Service Shopper and In-Store Shopper programs. Full-Service Shoppers handpick grocery items in-store, bag them, and deliver the order to the customer’s door while In-Store Shoppers only shop in-store and stage orders for pick-up.

Whether you’re a full-time student or someone looking for a side hustle gig, Instacart offers an avenue where you can earn money on your own time while fostering relationships with other shoppers who share your passion for delivering quality service. Stay tuned as we explore how Instacart works for shoppers next!

How Instacart Works for Shoppers

If you’re interested in becoming an Instacart Shopper, you’ll first need to determine which type of shopper you want to be. There are two main types – Full-Service Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers.

Full-Service Shoppers are responsible for handpicking grocery items in-store, bagging them up, and delivering the order to the customer’s doorstep. They require access to a vehicle and a smartphone, as well as a set of insulated bags or hard coolers to keep food cold or warm while on the move.

In-Store Shoppers, on the other hand, only shop in-store and stage orders for pick-up. They do not require access to their own vehicle but will need reliable transportation to get to and from work.

Once you’ve decided which type of shopper you want to be, it’s important to make sure you meet all of Instacart’s requirements before applying. These include being at least 18 years old, being able to lift 30-plus pounds (for Full-Service Shoppers), having a smartphone with reliable cellular data service (iOS 11 or newer/Android 5.0 or newer), passing a background check, and meeting personal and vehicle requirements (for Full-Service Shoppers).

If everything checks out, signing up is easy! Simply visit the Instacart Shopper website or download the app on your smartphone and go through their application process step-by-step. Once approved as an independent contractor by Instacart within your area zone(s), choose when & where you want start working.Schedule wisely because full-service shoppers wait several hours for batches sometimes if they didn’t schedule correctly . As always ensure that all your equipment works perfectly well so that there are no last-minute snags mid-delivery.Once onboarded,you can easily accept batches,settle into shopping routine,and earn some extra cash right away!

Full-Service Shoppers

If you’re interested in becoming a Full-Service Shopper with Instacart, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, as the name suggests, Full-Service Shoppers handle every aspect of the shopping and delivery process from start to finish. This includes picking up items at a store, bagging them appropriately, and delivering them to customers.

To qualify as a Full-Service Shopper for Instacart, you’ll need access to your own vehicle that meets certain standards – including being in good condition and having enough space for all orders. Additionally, you must have access to a smartphone that can run the Instacart app smoothly.

At the beginning of each shift or whenever an order comes through the app, Full-Service Shoppers receive detailed instructions on which stores they need to go to pick up items along with descriptions of each item. Once they’ve completed shopping at all designated stores, shoppers then carefully package all items into bags or coolers before starting their deliveries.

While batch payments range between $7-$10 depending on where you live and how busy it is at any given moment but it’s important to note that tips make up a significant portion of an Instacart shopper’s earnings. Always communicate effectively with your customers by texting them when subbing products or checking out if an item is unavailable so that they feel valued and satisfied with their experience.


One of the best things about being an Instacart Shopper is that you can work as much or as little as you want. Full-service shoppers don’t have set schedules, and they can log in to the app whenever they want to start working.

In-Store Shoppers, on the other hand, are required to commit to a minimum number of hours per week. This requirement varies depending on your location, but it’s usually around 15-16 hours per week.

The great thing about setting your own schedule is that you can work around your existing commitments. If you have another job or family obligations, you can choose to work part-time with Instacart and fit it into your schedule wherever it makes sense.

It’s important to keep in mind that peak hours for orders vary by location and time of day. You’ll want to experiment with different times and days of the week to see when demand is highest in your area so that you can make the most money possible.

Transition: Now that we’ve gone over how scheduling works for Instacart Shoppers let’s take a closer look at what goes into shopping for customers as a full-service shopper.


Once you’ve accepted a batch and arrived at the store, it’s time to start shopping! Before you begin, make sure to check the customer’s special requests or substitutions, as well as any notes they may have left. This will help ensure that you get everything they need and avoid delays.

As you shop, keep in mind that speed and accuracy are key. Use your Instacart app to navigate the aisles efficiently and find items quickly. If an item is out of stock or unavailable, be sure to communicate with the customer about possible substitutions or alternatives.

It’s also important to pay attention to expiration dates and product quality. Check for dented cans, open packaging, or other issues that could affect the quality of the product. If you’re not sure about an item, don’t hesitate to ask an employee for assistance.

Finally, make sure everything is bagged properly so that cold items stay cold and fragile items are protected during transport. And always double-check your list before leaving the store! Mistakes can happen but checking over your order again before hitting checkout can eliminate those mistakes from happening!

In-Store Shoppers

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of driving around and delivering groceries, you can still work for Instacart as an In-Store Shopper. As an In-Store Shopper, you’ll be responsible for shopping orders in-store and staging them for pick-up.

In-Store Shoppers don’t require access to a vehicle or insulated bags, so this option may appeal to those who prefer staying within one location or are unable to drive. However, keep in mind that depending on your market, there may be fewer opportunities available for In-Store Shoppers compared to Full-Service Shoppers.

To become an In-Store Shopper, you’ll still need to meet Instacart’s basic requirements like being at least 18 years old and able to lift 30-plus pounds. You’ll also need a smartphone and pass a background check. Hourly wages are stated on your contract when hired.

While the pay structure is different from Full-Service Shoppers, In-Store Shoppers can have more predictable schedules since they typically work set shifts each week. If you’re interested in applying as an In-store Shopper with Instacart but would like more flexibility down the line, it’s worth noting that some shoppers transition from in-store positions into full-service positions once they get more comfortable with how things work.

Overall, whether it’s Full-service or in-store shopping mode that applies best – understanding the pay structure before starting out is critical because fastidious planning ahead can impact how much money comes home each week after expenses are accounted for.

Pros and Cons of Being an Instacart Shopper

If you’re considering becoming an Instacart shopper to make some extra cash, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an Instacart shopper:


Working as an Instacart shopper comes with its fair share of benefits. Here are some of the key advantages to consider:

  • Flexibility: One of the most significant pros of being an Instacart shopper is flexibility. As a full-service shopper, you can work whenever you want and for as many hours as you want. This means that if you have other commitments like school or another job, you can easily fit your shopping gigs around those schedules.
  • Earning Potential: Instacart shoppers can earn a decent amount on top of their regular income – how much depends on several factors such as location, time commitment, and effort put in each gig. If one is efficient at shopping for customers and delivering items promptly while communicating effectively, tip earnings can comprise a substantial portion which often doubles up the base pay.
  • Convenient Work: Since all shopping takes place at local grocery stores within driving distance from where one stays (as per zone), it’s not necessary to travel far distances to fulfill orders making it convenient for shoppers who live close by grocery stores.
  • Chance to Upgrade Oneself: As mentioned earlier, full-service shoppers have opportunities for career advancement with Instacart based on performance metrics such as speed (turnaround time between hitting Begin Shopping button in app till Checkout) communication/delivery time and quality ratings from customers (on-time deliveries without any issues). So over time this role could transform into a supervisor or even management position in the organization leading even greater earning potential.

As good as these benefits sound though there are still some downsides we’ll cover next so often times being acutely aware of both sides will help inform decision-making better whether it’s worth doing or not!


Like any job, being an Instacart shopper has its downsides. Here are some of the cons you may want to consider before signing up:

  • Inconsistent earnings: While Instacart can be a great way to make extra cash, there’s no guarantee that you’ll earn a certain amount each week. Your earnings depend on several factors like the number of orders available in your area, how many hours you work, and even the weather.
  • Wear and tear on your car: If you’re working as a Full-Service Shopper, delivering groceries means driving around town all day. This can put a lot of wear and tear on your car over time.
  • Challenging customers: Just like any customer service job, dealing with difficult or demanding customers can be frustrating at times. You may encounter customers who are unhappy with their order or who expect more than what you can provide.
  • Independent contractor status: As an independent contractor for Instacart, you’re responsible for keeping track of your own expenses and paying taxes on your income.
  • Physical demands: Depending on how much shopping and delivering you do in one day, this job can be physically demanding. You may have to lift heavy bags or boxes repeatedly throughout the day.

Overall, it’s important to weigh these cons against the pros when deciding if Instacart is right for you as a side hustle option. It’s also important to remember that some of these potential drawbacks may not affect everyone equally – for example, if you don’t mind driving or if physical work isn’t an issue for you personally – so it’s worth considering them based on your own situation and preferences rather than blanket assumptions about what might be challenging (or easy) about this type of gig work

Instacart Shopper Options

Instacart offers two main options for shoppers: Full-Service Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers. Here’s a breakdown of each option:

Full-Service Shoppers

Full-Service Shoppers are responsible for picking out the items in-store, bagging them, and delivering the order to the customer. This is a more hands-on approach and requires access to a vehicle as well as insulated bags or hard coolers to keep food cold or warm during transportation.

Full-Service Shoppers can work as many hours as they want, making it an ideal side hustle for those looking for flexibility in their schedule. They also have more opportunities for earning potential since they receive batch payment and tips.

In-Store Shoppers

In-Store Shoppers, on the other hand, only shop in-store and stage orders for pickup by customers. This option does not require access to a vehicle but still needs reliable transportation to get to the store.

In-Store Shopping may be better suited for those who prefer stability over flexibility since it requires committing to 15 to 16 hours per week.

Both Full-Service and In-Store Shopping positions have their benefits depending on your preferences. As always, make sure you meet all of Instacart’s requirements before signing up so you can start earning money shopping!

Instacart Full-Service Shopper Requirements:

To be an Instacart Full-Service Shopper, you must meet age and residency requirements, have a valid driver’s license or state ID, and car insurance if using a vehicle. Local guidelines should be checked to ensure compliance with these criteria.

Age and Residency

To become an Instacart Full-Service Shopper, you must meet certain requirements related to age and residency. You must be at least 18 years old and eligible to work in the United States. Additionally, Instacart requires that you have a valid driver’s license or state ID, as well as proof of car insurance if you plan on using a vehicle for deliveries.

It’s important to note that laws may vary by state or region when it comes to age and residency requirements. Make sure to check your local guidelines before applying to ensure that you meet all of the necessary criteria.

If you’re not sure whether your current documentation meets the requirements for becoming an Instacart shopper, don’t hesitate to reach out to their support team for guidance. They are available around the clock via email or chat in the app.

Meeting these basic requirements is just the first step in becoming an Instacart shopper. Once you’ve confirmed that you fit their eligibility criteria, it’s time to begin the application process!

Personal and Vehicle Requirements

Becoming an Instacart shopper involves meeting personal and vehicle requirements. These requirements typically involve having access to a smartphone, being able to lift and carry groceries, and having a reliable mode of transportation.

Background Check

Before becoming an Instacart shopper, you will need to pass a background check. This is a standard process for many companies that employ independent contractors, and helps ensure the safety of all parties involved. The background check includes a review of criminal history and driving records.

It’s important to note that not everyone with a criminal record or past driving infractions will be disqualified from working for Instacart. The company considers each case on an individual basis, taking into account factors such as the nature of the offense and how long ago it occurred.

If you have concerns about what may show up on your background check, you can request a copy of your own report prior to applying with Instacart. This allows you to see what information potential employers will access when conducting their own check.

Overall, passing the background check is just one step in becoming an Instacart shopper. While it may seem daunting at first, don’t let it discourage you from pursuing this opportunity if it interests you. With some preparation and patience, anyone can become an Instacart shopper!

How to Sign Up to be an Instacart Shopper

If you’re interested in becoming an Instacart shopper, the sign-up process is fairly simple. Here are the steps to get started:

  • Visit Instacart’s website and select “Become a Shopper” at the bottom of the page.
  • Create an account and provide your basic information, including name, email address, phone number, and location.
  • Choose your shopper type – Full-Service or In-Store – based on your availability and preferences.
  • Provide all necessary documentation for the background check, such as a driver’s license or state ID card.
  • Once you’ve passed the background check, complete any required online training modules.

It’s important to note that while anyone can apply to become an Instacart shopper, not everyone will be accepted due to demand in certain areas.

One thing to keep in mind during this process is that it may take several days for Instacart to review your application and perform a background check before approving you as a shopper.

Overall, signing up to become an Instacart shopper is straightforward but does require some patience during the waiting period for approval. But once approved and trained – new shoppers can begin earning quite quickly by picking batches that suit them best!

Tips for Maximizing Your Earnings as an Instacart Shopper

If you’re looking to maximize your earnings as an Instacart shopper, there are several key things to keep in mind. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Understand the pay structure: As an Instacart shopper, your pay will consist of both a batch payment (the amount you receive for each order) and customer tips. Make sure you understand how the pay structure works so you can plan accordingly.
  • Know your zone and peak times: Familiarize yourself with the stores in your assigned zone and try to work during peak times when demand is highest. This will allow you to complete more orders within a shorter time frame, which can increase your overall earnings.
  • Communicate with customers: Effective communication is essential for providing good customer service and increasing your chances of receiving higher tips. Be responsive and provide updates on order status or substitutions if necessary.
  • Build a regular customer base: Building relationships with regular customers can help increase your earnings over time, as they may request you specifically for their future orders or tip more generously due to positive experiences in the past.
  • Stay organized and efficient: Use tools like reusable shopping lists or pre-planned routes to stay organized while shopping, which can make completing multiple batches easier and more efficient.

Overall, maximizing earnings as an Instacart shopper requires planning ahead, effective communication skills, building relationships with customers over time, staying organized while shopping, and understanding how the pay structure works so that efforts could be aligned accordingly!


The Instacart side hustle can be an intriguing prospect for those who enjoy shopping and want to make extra income. Just like any other gig, it comes with its challenges, but with the right strategy, patience, and a good understanding of the platform, it’s entirely possible to turn this side gig into a lucrative venture. So, if you’re looking to explore the world of flexible work while providing a valuable service to others, shopping with Instacart might just be your next great move.

Factual Data about Instacart:

– Instacart is a popular grocery delivery service that partners with over 350 national and local stores to deliver items to customers through independent contractors and part-time workers.

Instacart offers two types of shoppers: Full-Service Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers. Full-Service Shoppers handpick grocery items in-store, bag them, and deliver the order to the customer, while In-Store Shoppers only shop in-store and stage orders for pick-up.

Requirements to work for Instacart include being at least 18 years old, being able to lift 30-plus pounds, having a smartphone, and pass a background check.

Full-Service Shoppers can work as many hours as they want, while In-Store Shoppers are required to commit to a minimum of 15 to 16 hours each week.

Full-Service Shoppers can earn a minimum batch payment between $7 to $10 and receive 100% of tips. In-Store Shoppers receive an hourly wage offer that’s stated on their contract. Instacart guarantees shoppers at least $5 for each delivery-only batch and $7 to $10 for each full-service batch. Customers can tip on top of batch pay.

Full-service shoppers earn by the order, and their pay depends on several factors like the number of items, type of items, driving distance, and effort involved. Tips can account for a large amount of the shoppers’ earnings.

Full-Service Shoppers require access to a vehicle and a smartphone. In-Store Shoppers do not require access to their vehicle. Full-Service Shoppers need to have a set of insulated bags or hard coolers to keep food cold or warm while on the move.

Instacart offers various bonus programs to incentivize its shoppers.

Since full-service shoppers act as independent contractors, they need to handle their taxes and might have to make estimated quarterly payments.

Effective communication, following instructions closely, and delivering on time are crucial for a better customer service experience and to increase tips. Ways to maximize earnings include being eager and available, sticking to stores you know well, and taking batches with multiple orders in busy areas at the right time.

Ultimately, Instacart can provide a way to make extra cash, but it requires some understanding of the system to make the most of it.

Max Blackwood

Max is an entrepreneur, early-stage tech investor, and contributing writer for influential blogs. With a passion for pushing comfort zones and helping individuals discover their power zone and life purpose, Max's start-up adventures have fuelled his desire to make a positive impact. Max loves driving inspiration in the entrepreneurial world, guiding individuals towards purpose, growth, and remarkable achievements.

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