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13 Best Instacart Hacks (Complete 2024 Guide)

Don't Work Another Day is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own.
  By Forrest McCall | Last Updated:  February 5, 2022

Instacart is one of the most powerful tools of the gig economy. It can be a great way to make extra money by delivering groceries to customers.

On the other side, Instacart can be an extremely convenient tool to avoid the grocery store by having your groceries delivered.

So, whether you want to be an Instacart shopper or just love using Instacart instead of going to grocery stores, knowing the best Instacart hacks is important. After all, keeping more of your money in your wallet, or earning more money faster, is always a good thing.

So, with that in mind, we're going to start with some of the best Instacart hacks for Instacart shoppers, and then we'll talk about some of the best tips for Instacart customers as well. Let's get started!

Instacart Shoppers

Top Instacart Hacks For Instacart Shoppers

If you want to be the best Instacart shopper you can be, you're in the right place. These hacks are all about making more money, getting better ratings, and making the Instacart app even more valuable.

Think About Which Batches You Accept

Most Instacart shoppers are also grocery delivery drivers. It's called being a full service shopper, and full service shoppers can usually make a lot more money than shoppers who only shop, or drivers who only drive.

That's because handling the shopping and grocery delivery in one order is a lot more convenient for the app and your customers, so Instacart prioritizes workers who will do both things with their system design.

But, that also means that you need to think about how much time you're spending shopping, and how much time you're spending on grocery delivery. That means that one of the most important Instacart shopping tips is that you shouldn't accept every order that comes your way.

For instance, orders with a lot of heavy items might not be right for all shoppers. If you're a new shopper you might not want to accept a batch with a lot of produce because produce bags slow you down and you might need to learn how to pick the best fruits and vegetables.

With Instacart you can work your own hours and get paid to deliver groceries!
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Always Keep Your Receipt

Keeping the receipt as an Instacart shopper is one of the most important ways to protect yourself and earn money at the same time. This is a no-brainer if you've ever had a customer claim they didn't receive a specific product – and it makes it easier to dispute a false claim about the order.

Plus, keeping the receipt can be profitable on its own, which is important if you're looking to make the most money you can as an Instacart shopper. We'll talk more about this Instacart hack later on.

It's also important to keep the receipt because there is an increased number of reports about bots that hack shoppers accounts. This trend seems to be coming from undocumented immigrants who need to hack the accounts to use them without social security numbers, which lets them make money.

Keeping your receipts gives you a record of which batches you accepted, and can make it easier to get proof if your account is hacked.

Unfortunately, since a lot of the hacking seems to be happening on the dark web, it can be hard to find out who is responsible or even to get reasonable proof that the hacking is happening.

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Look For Peak Pay Hours

Peak pay hours are important for pretty much all gig workers who are invested in making money online.

Basically, peak pay hours are timeframes when the Instacart app is offering higher pay and other incentives for shoppers because they have high demand, or don't have enough active shoppers to cover the demand.

In some places, Instacart peak hours are fairly predictable. Instacart customers often order around the same times, which means that certain working hours almost always have higher demand.

Instacart pays more to cover those busier time because they don't want to have to turn away a single Instacart shopper.

But, that also means that peak hours are the best hours for grocery shoppers and making deliveries. Instacart will pay more, and you may even be more likely to get a good tip. The downside is that checkout can sometimes take longer during peak pay hours, which means you'll spend more time waiting in line instead of accepting more batches.

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Look For The Busiest Grocery Stores And Areas

One of the ways to save time and get paid more working as an Instacart shopper is to look for the busiest grocery stores and the busiest parts of town. When more people order groceries at once it's easier to get more batches, and therefore get paid more.

Plus, busier parts of town also tend to have shorter delivery distances since people live closer to the grocery store location. That means you'll have more time to shop and that you might be able to complete two deliveries in the same time it would take to deliver one batch farther from the store.

Fill Your Schedule with Food Delivery Orders

If you find that your schedule isn't always full, consider picking up food delivery orders to be more efficient.

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Don't Take Delivery Orders From Too Far Away

Instacart shoppers who optimize which order they accept tend to make more money, and one of the biggest ways to optimize is to minimize your driving time.

After all, the more time you spend as a delivery driver, the less time you can spend fulfilling orders and making money.

If you want to earn $500 a week with Instacart, you need to optimize which orders you accept.

Like more gig workers, a good Instacart shopper needs to have reasonable limits on how you work if you want to make money online.

Grocery Delivery to Make Money

Learn The Stores You Work

One of the best ways to get better Instacart pay is to increase efficiency when you're shopping.

For a lot of Instacart shoppers that means working at the same store consistently. You might even notice a trend in orders where you're getting orders from the same Instacart customer when you do this.

That's important because knowing the stores you're working at saves time and helps you offer better service overall. It's also important to learn where all the groceries are in your store, and to take a little extra time to look through the store after a big re-arrange.

The better you know what food is where, the faster and more efficiently you'll be able to shop, and the faster you'll be able to get groceries to the customer.

Organize Your Shopping List For Faster Shopping

Instacart customers don't always organize their delivery order when they send it in, but as a shopper organization is critical. Efficiency is important for all gig workers, and organizing the food in your order based on the location in the grocery store is one of the best ways to shop faster.

New shoppers especially benefit from this trick since it makes it harder to forget items and saves a lot of time when you're getting started.

So, put all produce together in one part of the list, and all meat products, or frozen food. That way you'll only have to go to each section once, and you'll be able to get the food to the customer faster, which helps you get a better service rating.

Use Receipt Rewards Apps

Receipt rewards apps are one of the best ways to get paid a little extra when you're working as an Instacart shopper. It's a good idea to keep the receipt anyway since it helps protect your account and service score, but if you also use a rewards app it can be a valuable addition as well.

Rewards apps collect purchase information that can be used by stores and marketing teams to learn more about buying habits. In exchange for giving the app the information they need, rewards apps pay shoppers with rewards, cash, and other incentives.

For most people, it's a good way to save on everyday purchases like groceries, but for gig workers, it's another good way to get more money in your bank account.

By using a platform like Ibotta, you can earn extra cash on each trip. As a bonus you'll get $20 when you register below!

Communicate With Your Customers

Instacart shoppers that communicate with their customers are usually a lot more successful than the ones that don't. It's important to send updates if there's an order delay, you need to replace an item, there's a long wait in line or on the drive, or basically anything that can impact the delivery.

That way the customer knows in advance and is less likely to blame you if their food is a little late.

Take Advantage Of Instacart Replacements

One of the hardest parts of being a shopper is when you need to get a replacement item because the thing you're shopping for is out of stock. It's easy, especially as a new shopper, to agonize over replacements and spend a lot of time deciding whether a replacement is better than just not getting the item at all.

The fact is spending that much time deciding isn't in your best interests, or your customer's. The Instacart app has a program that will offer some options for an acceptable replacement when certain items are out of stock. Choose from the list so that your customer can get a replacement notification, and approve or deny the replacement, as quickly as possible.

It's all about saving time and making your shopping as efficient as possible.

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Miscellaneous Tips:

These tips are less specific than the others we've already talked about but still deserve some attention.

If you're worried about the accounts hacked online every day, consider using a password protection program to help keep your Instacart account information safer.

It's a good idea to get a power bank for your phone if you're an Instacart shopper. A dead phone battery is a good way to lose orders and ruin an otherwise good day. Having a power bank will help you make sure your phone is ready to go.

You should also use the digital pay feature for your Instacart card. That's important because it's a lot easier to forget your Instacart card than your phone. Plus, using your phone and digital payments is often faster and a lot more hygienic than using the card.

Another trick to making money on Instacart is to use your referral code to help friends sign up for their own accounts. Instacart rewards referrals, so it's a good way to make a little extra.

Looking to boost your earnings? Check out these Instacart tips and tricks for more help!

Instacart Hacks

The Best Instacart Hacks For Instacart Customers

There are a lot of hacks for customers too, not just shoppers. Instacart is a good way to save time if you don't mind spending a little extra for your groceries. But, a lot of users still don't know about the ways Instacart can make your life easier.

Here are some of the best ways you can make Instacart easier to use and more effective.

Use Dietary Filters

Have food sensitivities and allergies? Instacart has a tool for that.

If you need to shop for foods that meet certain dietary restrictions, like vegetarian or vegan foods, gluten, corn, or soy-free options, or without certain ingredients, Instacart's filter system will help you make a safer list.

The tool isn't perfect, and it's still important to read the ingredient list on new products, but this option saves a lot of time when you're shopping.

Plus, it's easy to customize to meet your exact needs. No more finding the perfect product only to discover that it's vegan-friendly but full of soy. You can add multiple filters to eliminate all the products you can't eat, which makes grocery shopping a lot easier.

Redo Past Orders Instead Of Making New Lists

One of the easiest ways to make shopping faster is to re-create old lists. If you need a lot of the same foods each week, for instance, you can have a weekly list that you start with and customize as needed.

Instacart has a fairly long memory for past lists, so you can grab lists that are weeks and even months old if you need to.

Plus, grabbing repeat lists for certain recipes will help you avoid forgetting about key ingredients.

Most shoppers still need to customize a little each week, like if you need coffee or another staple you don't buy every week, but it's a good way to make shopping even more convenient.

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Disclosure: This link is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Try To Order Early In The Morning

Instacart gets hundreds of thousands of orders every day. That means that it's easy for your order to get lost in the shuffle, or for your order to get delayed. One of the best ways to make the most of your account and get your groceries consistently is to order early in the morning.

That's because not as many customers order in the morning, and most people don't do their grocery shopping in the morning either. Shoppers have less traffic in the grocery store in the morning, which means they can finish shopping faster.

You're also less likely to lose out on certain items in the morning because that's usually when the grocery store is best stocked.

Take Advantage Of The Group Cart Feature

One of the challenges of shopping as a family, or for a house with roommates, is making sure everyone gets what they want.

Instacart knows that now all households have a single shopper or the same needs. So, they have a group cart feature that lets you add multiple members to the same cart.

That way, everyone can add the foods they want, and then the person who is placing the order can make any last-minute edits before sending in the order.

It's easy to take care of your whole family that way, and you'll have a lot more time for everything else you need to do in a day.

Leave Comments For Your Instacart Shopper

One of the best ways to get better service through Instacart is to leave comments with any specific requirements you have, or on foods that often get replaced.

Comments help your shopper know when you're going to accept a replacement or not (saying no replacements or replacement okay on individual items is possible this way), and it can also help you specify other conditions for your cart.

Admittedly, not all shoppers are good at seeing your comments and listening to them, but most will do the best they can to make sure your food comments and requirements are followed.

Final Thoughts on the Best Instacart Hacks

There are a lot of different Instacart hacks both shoppers and customers can use to help make sure they get the most out of the app.

It's important to remember that you don't have to use all of these hacks to be successful. You can choose two or three hacks that work for you and only use those, or you can use a different combination of hacks for different stores or times of the year.

We also wanted to mention that it's okay to be an Instacart shopper at more than one store as long as you know them all well. In fact, shopping at different stores on different days of the week or at different times can help you take advantage of different amounts of traffic at each store.

Forrest is a personal finance, entrepreneurship, and investing expert dedicated to helping others obtain life long wealth. He has a Bachelor's degree in business and has been featured in many popular publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Bankrate, CNET Money, and many others. To learn more about Forrest, visit the About Us Page for more info.
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