If you’re thinking about making money with Instacart or are already working as an Instacart shopper, you’re already on the right track!
Instacart is one of the most popular grocery delivery services out there.
And, in terms of side hustle ideas, it’s also incredibly lucrative; skilled Instacart shoppers can regularly earn $15 to $25+ per hour.
However, like any gig app, it’s critical to work smart and efficiently to keep your hourly wage as high as possible.
So, today we’re covering 15+ Instacart shopper tips and tricks you can use to make more money.
If you’re wondering how to be the best Instacart shopper, this is absolutely the guide for you!
Looking for other lucrative delivery gigs? Sign up for:
- Postmates – Earn $14 to $22+ per hour delivering food and everyday essentials in your city!
- DoorDash – Earn $12 to $20+ per hour as a food delivery courier!
Tips For Instacart Shoppers – How To Boost Your Hourly Income
One of the most important Instacart shopper tricks to keep in mind isn’t really a trick…it’s just the fact that you will become more efficient with Instacart the more you shop.
So, if you’re brand new to this side hustle, don’t stress too much.
As you become more familiar with the app and grocery stores in your town, your batches will get faster and you’ll ultimately earn more.
However, there’s always room for improvement, so take in the following Instacart shopper hacks you can use to work smarter and make more money.
1. Choose Batches Carefully
This is really one of the most basic Instacart shopper trick, but it’s vital for protecting your hourly wage!
Now, there isn’t a consensus here between shoppers for what Instacart batches you should accept, but two factors worth considering are order distance and how many items are in the batch.
Some shoppers only accept batches with 30 items or more, while others aren’t so selective.
However, whatever your style, there’s probably no point in driving 20 minutes out of the way to complete a small batch…the base pay and tip just won’t be there to make it worth your while.
Ultimately, this is a skill you learn over time, so I’d start by accepting most batches until you figure out which ones aren’t worth your time.
2. Look For Peak Pay
Another simple Instacart shopper hack is to look for peak pay bonuses when on the job.
According to Instacart, “occasionally, shoppers may be offered additional pay during hours when the need for shoppers is high.”
Additionally, you can see peak pay bonuses before selecting an order, so it’s an easy way to snag a higher-paying batch or two.
As you can see in this example, there’s a $3 Peak Boost on the order, making the batch more enticing overall.
3. Keep Your Receipt!
When a customer receives their Instacart order, they get an email receipt of everything they paid for. In this sense, you don’t really have to keep your receipts.
However, it’s good practice to hold onto your shopper receipts for at least a week or so until Instacart pays you.
You never know when there could be a crazy customer who insists they didn’t get a particular item, or there’s a question about an order, so better safe than sorry on this front!
Plus, as we’re about to find out, keeping your shopping receipts can also help you score some free money.
4. Use Receipt Reward Apps
One sneaky Instacart shopper trick is to scan your shopper receipts with a variety of reward apps.
You see, there are numerous apps out there that pay you with PayPal cash or free gift cards in exchange for buying products from partner brands and uploading receipts as proof of purchase.
However, Instacart receipts are eligible for these apps, and since you’re not paying for the items, it’s completely free cash back.
Anyway, some useful receipt scanning apps you can try include:
These apps won’t make you rich, but hey, if you’re holding onto your Instacart receipts anyway you might as well score some freebies.
Just note that Ibotta requires pre-selecting offers for cashback and then uploading your receipt to earn.
Extra Reading – 8 Best Apps Like Fetch Rewards To Earn Free Rewards!
5. Always Communicate With Your Customer
Another useful tip for Instacart shoppers to keep in mind is to always stay in communication with the customer.
This provides better service overall, makes your life easier, and ultimately increases the chances you get a nice tip.
Here are some good times to get in touch with the customer:
- Order Starts. Send a simple “Hello, I’m your Instacart shopper and am beginning the shopping trip. Please let me know if there’s anything you need or if you have any questions” sort of deal.
- Replacements. Normally, you should use common sense to find replacements, or the customer will have left notes about their preferences (more on this in a bit). However, if you’re absolutely lost, it’s a good idea to message the customer for clarification.
- Delays. If something is holding up your delivery, send a quick text to inform the customer.
And, here’s an Instacart shopper secret that’s going to help simplify life: use voice to text to communicate!
I mean, who has time for texting when you’re walking around a store, collecting groceries?
Learn how to use voice to text on your smartphone and send messages to the customer that way to be more efficient.
6. Be Fast With Replacements
Agonizing over product replacements is where many beginner shoppers can hurt their hourly earnings.
The bottom line is that for most products, you should be able to find a simple, acceptable replacement very quickly…just use common sense!
Also remember to check notes in the Instacart app since many customers leave specifications about replacement products.
But again, it’s all about using your brain…Instacart’s recommended replacement suggestions are often buggy and poor choices anyway, so just go with your gut and make the right choice!
7. Bring An Insulated Food Bag
One way to improve quality of service is to bring an insulated food bag to keep hot and cold products at the right temperature.
This is even more critical if you’re delivering somewhere with extreme heat or freezing temperatures.
No customer wants melted ice cream or a cold entree, so investing in a cheap insulated food bag is a smart move.
You can also find cheap freezer bags at places like Walmart or Costco!
8. Try These Instacart Shopper Speed Tips
Alright, if you’re really looking for some pro shopper tips to work more efficiently, these speed tips are what you need:
- Deli Orders. For deli orders or anything that involves waiting around, try to place your order first or at least grab a wait ticket and continue shopping rather than waiting around.
- Park Near The Cart Corral. This is a simple trick but will shave 30 seconds or a minute off of every batch.
- Bag Produce While Waiting. I’ve seen some pros recommend this Instacart shopper tip, and while it’s a little extreme in my opinion, it does save more time. The idea is to not bag your produce when you pick it up but to instead grab a bunch of produce bags and to start bagging while you’re waiting to check out.
- Mark Items As Found. Instacart’s app lets you check off products from your shopping list as you add them to your cart. For beginners, doing this will likely save time since you won’t have to double-check that you grabbed everything.
- Bring A Small Basket/Hand Cart. Some Instacart shoppers also bring their own basket or hand cart to shop with them since it’s easier to maneuver around stores and lets you move faster.
These Instacart shopper hacks might seem inconsequential, but everything adds up to boost your hourly pay!
Extra Reading – 28 Best Apps That Pay You To Drive.
9. Make Sure Your Phone Is Charged!
One of the easiest ways to ruin a successful day of side hustling is to have your phone’s battery run out on you.
Get in the habit of charging your phone the night before a busy Instacart day.
Additionally, put an extra cable in your car and consider buying a power bank, just in case!
10. Talk To Store Associates
If talking to a store associate to find a specific product or replacement saves you time, always talk to them.
Asking a question can save you valuable minutes of searching for products yourself, so don’t be shy!
My only tip here is to only do this when absolutely necessary since it can still take time for the employee to answer you and track down what you’re looking for.
11. Deliver With A Smile
Quality customer service is a recurring theme here, but for good reason: a generous tip can completely transform how much money you make with Instacart.
Frequent communication, being on-time, and picking smart replacements are part of this.
However, don’t throw away all of your hard PR work by showing up with a frown, looking like delivering groceries is the last thing you want to be doing.
Smile, be polite, and don’t be afraid to ask the customer where they’d like their groceries left or if they need assistance with anything (especially if they’re old and you’re delivering heavy items, like 24-packs of water or pop).
12. Use A Mileage Tracking App
An often overlooked Instacart shopper trick is to use a mileage tracking app to log the miles you drive when out on deliveries.
Wear and tear plus fuel costs are real expenses you need to monitor. After all, you want to have an accurate picture of your hourly earnings after costs.
Plus, you can deduct business mileage on your tax return, and it’s just a good habit to get into.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use mileage tracking app, check out our Hurdlr app review.
Hurdlr lets you track mileage, log your income, and makes tax season easier, so I think it’s a no-brainer for any serious gig economy worker.
13. Try Double Batch Orders
Did you know that Instacart can send out requests to complete two deliveries at once?
These are known as double batches, and they’re what they sound like: you assemble two grocery orders and then make two separate deliveries.
You can qualify for double batch orders after completing 60 deliveries, and when done correctly, double batches help boost your hourly income.
This is because it’s more efficient to shop at one single store for two customers rather than driving to a second store for the second order.
However, double batches are more challenging since you obviously need to ensure orders are kept separate.
My advice here is to really make use of Instacart’s app here and to mark items as found as you add them to your cart.
Also, come up with a system to divide the products for each customer in your cart and in your car…don’t just throw things in your cart or trunk!
I suggest either having two different crates or developing your own organization system beforehand to make life easier.
Extra Reading – How To Make $50 A Day.
14. Go The Extra Mile
One final Instacart shopper tip is to try going the extra mile.
I’ll give you an example here from a thread I found on Quora from Rena Margulies, a part-time Instacart shopper who has been working this side gig since 2016:
In her tip, Rena suggests grabbing freebies for the customers, taking free samples, picking up magazines, and even buying small thank you notes reminding customers you’re grateful for their business and to rate you 5 stars.
For some, this might sound like going over the top, but hey, it’s worth testing this in your market to see if you get more 5 star reviews and better tips!
15. Wait Near Busy Areas
When you start working for Instacart, you can technically be on the sofa at home, enjoying a nice TV show and bag of popcorn.
However, do you really want to spring into action when you get a batch request you like and then drive into town?
If you’re serious about Instacart, my tip is to wait near busy areas of your town where there are multiple, popular grocery stores.
Even if you end up waiting in your car a few minutes, the fact you’re already near busy stores makes a massive difference.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re still wondering how to be the best Instacart shopper possible, don’t fret!
Aside from our Instacart tips, we’re also tackling some of the most commonly asked questions have about making money with this side hustle.
How To Get More Batches On Instacart?
If you’re used to opening up the Instacart app to start delivering and are frustrated by how long it takes to get batches, you’re not alone.
This is a common question and concern, especially for new shoppers.
Here’s the first thing to know: Instacart shoppers have a rating that is based on ratings/feedback from customers.
Instacart shoppers with a higher rating get priority access to batches, meaning they can claim them before you even see them pop up on your screen.
The simple solution to this is to grind out early orders, work as hard as you can to get good reviews, and to know that it becomes slightly easier over time.
In other words, the best way to get more Instacart batches is to improve your shopper rating over time.
Some shoppers also think that acceptance rate on batches influences this, but I wouldn’t throw away your hourly earnings just to chase the highest acceptance rate possible.
The takeaway is really to work to get as many positive reviews as possible.
Additionally, you can experiment with delivering in different zones in your city to see if lower/higher demand in certain areas makes a difference.
What Are The Best Hours To Work Instacart?
If you’re delivering for companies like DoorDash or Uber Eats, working during peak times is pretty critical to ensure you get enough orders.
For Instacart, this matters slightly less, especially if you live in a large city with numerous grocery stores that are always doing business.
For example, take this Reddit thread where a full-time Instacart shopper explains how their schedule looks like:
If you’re wondering when is the best time to do Instacart, my suggestion is to start by working busy periods if possible and to gradually experiment with different hours.
Weekends are prime time of course, and you can also experiment with mornings or evenings when people return home from work.
When Does Instacart Pay?
Instacart pays you weekly through direct deposit by using Stripe.
Payments are sent on Wednesday for the previous week of deliveries you completed (Monday to Sunday at midnight).
So, it takes around 10 days for your first Instacart delivery of the week (on Monday) to reach your bank account (on the following Wednesday).
Do Instacart Shoppers Get Tips?
As mentioned, customers can tip Instacart shoppers.
It’s also worth noting that you keep 100% of all your tips; there aren’t any hidden fees or revenue share agreements here.
Do Instacart Shoppers Rate Customers?
Instacart shoppers don’t rate customers or any aspect of their delivery experience.
However, if you’re reading this as an Instacart customer, remember this: people have good memories!
If you’re in a smaller city and regularly order from the same store, you’re going to get the same Instacart shopper eventually.
So, if it’s quality service, my suggestion is to tip!
How Do Instacart Shoppers Pay For Groceries
If you haven’t started working for Instacart yet, this is another popular question that comes up.
Here’s how it all works!
Instacart shoppers use an Instacart debit card to pay for groceries. This means you never have to spend your own funds to buy grocery items and then wait for reimbursement.
This card has pre-authorized funds on it and is, of couse, monitored, so it’s only to be used when you’re actually delivering!
I hope our list of Instacart tips and tricks helps you make the most money possible with this grocery delivery side hustle!
Again, the main thing I want to reiterate here is that practice and time go a long way in boosting your earnings.
As you learn to use the app more efficiently and shop faster, your earnings can steadily improve.
Will Instacart replace your day job?
Definitely not for the majority of people.
However, I believe with some practice and a few nifty Instacart shopping hacks, you can turn this gig economy job into a nice source of extra income.
Best of luck on your next shopping trip!
You can also sign up to become an Instacart shopper here if you haven’t already! 🙂
Looking for more money-making ideas? Checkout:
Tom is a 23 year old recent college graduate from Canada with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and marketing. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
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