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Best Instacart Tips and Tricks (Ultimate 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:  March 16, 2022

Instacart is one of the most popular gig economy apps to make money delivering groceries with your car.

But there are a few Instacart shopper tips you should know before getting started. These tips can help to maximize your income with the grocery delivery service so you can earn money quickly as a new shopper.

In this post, I'll explore the best Instacart shopper tips, how much Instacart pays, and much more. Let's get started!

Instacart Shoppers

What is Instacart?

Instacart is a grocery delivery app that works with a network of personal shoppers to quickly deliver groceries to your door. You can order groceries from almost any store, and an Instacart shopper will pick them up and deliver them to you within a few hours.

For people looking to make money, working as an Instacart shopper provides a unique opportunity to make money working whenever you want to.

While some workers can make a living off Instacart, it will depend on your city and how efficiently you work. 

With Instacart you can work your own hours and get paid to deliver groceries!
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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.

What's the Difference Between a Full Service Shopper and In Store Shopper?

There's a big difference between an Instacart full service shopper and an in store shopper.

Full service shoppers use the Instacart app to deliver from grocery stores directly to a customers doorstep.

An in-store shopper will use the shopper app to pick groceries for customers. You don't need a vehicle for this gig!

The Instacart pay will vary depending on which type of service you offer. While being a full service shopper will yield the highest pay, it also comes with an extra cost of owning a car or truck.

Depending on your situation, you can choose which option is right for you.

Instacart Shoppers App

Tips For Instacart Shoppers

Of course, Instacart Shoppers need to know shopper tips as well as the customer tips to be most effective. Any batch can be a success as long as it makes it to the customers' door, but that doesn't mean you'll be earning money as efficiently.

If you want to earn extra money and not just through a referral code when your friends start shopping, this list of Instacart hacks is for you. We'll cover how you can maximize your Instacart earnings as well as saving time and working on your own schedule.

Pick And Choose Which Batches You Accept

One of the most important shopper tips is that you should pick and choose which batches you accept through the shopper app.

If you want to make $500 a week with Instacart or more, you need to make sure you're making the most money possible per grocery delivery.

So, keep an eye out for orders with big tips, that are either short or all from the same part of the store, and that will earn more money for the amount of time you spend shopping.

The way Instacart works you'll be paid better the more batches you do, but that means you need to be clever about which batches you accept during working hours, not that you need to take every batch that comes your way.

Especially when you're first getting started pay attention to your total earnings from your first batch and your first few days. That will help you get a better sense of which batches are best for your shopping style and skillset.

Keep in mind how long it will take you to make your delivery when analyzing a batch. If it's going to take you 30 minutes to get to the store and the Instacart order only has 5 items, it's probably wise to move to the next batch to make quick money.

Look For Peak Pay For Instacart Shoppers

Instacart, like a lot of gig economy jobs for independent contractors, offers some peak pay hours when they need more shoppers in stores.

This isn't about attracting new shoppers, which Instacart is also always trying to do, but about getting existing shoppers to spend more time delivering groceries.

Best Times to Instacart

Since people tend to order groceries around the same time every day, peak pay hours are often fairly consistent day to day and week to week. Usually weeknights between 4pm to 8pm and weekends see the highest pay.

But the best part is that you'll get significantly higher earnings for peak pay hours, even if you aren't already a super shopper.

For every batch completed during peak pay you'll make more money, and you'll often get bigger tips as well.

During these peak times for Instacart, it's important to accept batches quickly so you don't miss out on better pay for each shopping trip.

Replace Missing Products Quickly

If your grocery store is out of specific products, it's important not to waste too much time debating the right replacement.

The faster you can offer a potential replacement to your customers, the faster you can move on the to next step and make sure you're not wasting time or money on a decision.

If there isn't a similar product handy, consider just saying that the product is out of stock and trying to contact the customer.

They might have a replacement product in mind, or might just tell you to ignore that item and move on.

But, no matter which option you choose, choose quickly to save time.

Use Food Delivery Apps to Stay Busy

Delivering food is just like delivering groceries, except you'll be visiting local restaurants instead of grocery stores.

By using an app like Doordash in addition to working as an Instacart shopper you can make even more money by staying busy.

If there are certain times when you notice your Instacart deliveries are slower than others, use those times to deliver food.

Since you're already out and about, this is a no brainer to maximize your efficiency as a delivery driver. You can also check out these jobs like Instacart.

With Doordash you can set your own schedule and work when you want. Earn over $20 per hour today!
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Ibotta - Cash Back

Use Receipt Rewards Apps

Receipt rewards apps like Ibotta are only so helpful for most people, but they can be a huge way to save money and earn more of your own funds if you're an Instacart shopper.

Because shoppers generate way more receipts than other people, they can offer companies a lot more valuable market data, which makes it easier for them to earn money and other rewards from the app.

Think of using rewards apps as a side hustle for your side hustle. It's another way to save money and maximize earnings, and you're still even helping the company whose receipt rewards app you use since they're still getting valuable market data.

Ibotta offers new customers free money, so claim your bonus below to get started!

Take Advantage of Credit Card Offers

One of your largest expenses as a delivery driver is fuel for your car. By using a rewards credit card you can earn additional cash every time you fill up your tank.

The amount of money you can make with this tip will vary depending on the card you have, but it's possible to earn 5% or more on your fuel purchases in many cases.

As a bonus, many credit cards will offer a sign up bonus for new customers, another simple way to earn free cash!

Use Apps that Pay You When Driving

Did you know there are apps that will give you money just for driving?

By using an app like OnMyWay you can make money just for having your phone off while driving. I consider this a passive income app because you don't need to do any work to make money.

This is a great way to make more money without accepting more batches. The pay is around $.05 per mile driven but you can make even more by referring friends and family.

Keep Your Receipts

It already makes sense to keep your receipts if you're using receipt rewards apps, after all, it's more time-efficient to submit the receipts at home when you're not shopping.

But, there is another important reason to keep your receipts, one that's worth noting separately.

Keeping your receipts is important in case a customer says they didn't get a product you purchased and delivered, and to help resolve other customer-shopper disputes.

Having a physical record of your transaction is one of the best things you can do to help protect yourself as a shopper.

So, it's usually recommended to make sure you're keeping at least the last week's worth of receipts to help handle disputes.

Communicate Often

One of the biggest tips for shoppers is to make sure you're communicating with your customers.

If you want to find success as a shopper, it's important to be a time-saver, to be communicative, and to learn how to shop efficiently and quickly.

Even small things like letting your customer know that you're starting to shop for their order (so they know to watch for updates), or that you're on your way with a delivery can make a big difference in the size of your tips and your success rate as a shopper.

Offering good customer service is vital if you want to maximize your earnings

Use An Insulated Food Bag Or Cooler

This isn't always a tip new shoppers get when they get started, but it's also one of the most important tips you can get if you want to be successful as an Instacart shopper.

No one likes getting warm ice cream, or milk that's shelf-life has been shortened by a trip in a hot car.

Having an insulated food bag is the best way to protect refrigerated and frozen foods, like fresh meats, frozen pizza, and anything else that needs to stay cold to stay fresh.

You can use an insulated bag or a cooler, whichever you prefer, but bags are usually easier to bring into the store with you and on grocery deliveries.

Shop While You Wait For The Deli

Orders with meat or other items fresh from the deli are often some of the most difficult orders to fulfill because getting to the deli and getting things packaged and ready to go can take a lot of extra time.

One trick is either to try and make it to the deli while there aren't any other customers and place your entire deli order at once.

But, when that isn't possible, you can get the next customer ticket and keep shopping for other items. Just make sure you keep an eye on who the deli is serving so you don't miss your slot.

Get Your Own Collapsible Grocery Cart Or Wagon

Bringing groceries to customers' doors can be one of the most difficult parts of Instacart shoppers' job, but there is one big way to make it easier.

Instead of carrying bags for groceries all the way from your vehicle to the customer's door, consider getting a collapsible grocery cart or a small portable wagon that you can use to carry a lot more groceries all at once.

That way you'll be able to move faster, won't be as tired at the end of your shift, and you'll even be protecting your back and shoulders!

Talk With Store Associates

One of the tricks top shoppers use is that they build a relationship with the local grocery store cashiers and associates.

Chatting with associates might seem a little strange at first, but it's the best way to get extra help when you need to locate an item. Associates might also help you find shorter grocery lines, and take other shortcuts to make your job easier.

After all, Instacart shoppers are increasingly just a part of the grocery ecosystem. If your grocery store's associates see you as part of the team they're going to be more willing to help.

But the other big advantage is that your associates might be able to warn you when they're going to have a big stocking day, when the store is about to be re-arranged, or other changes that can impact how quickly you shop before they happen.

Being prepared for those big changes is huge, and can make a big difference in your income when they occur.

So, don't feel like you need to leave the store associates alone. They're a useful tool and can help make your job more interesting and fun as an added bonus.

Instacart Shopper Tips

How Much Can An Instacart Shopper Make?

Instacart advertises that shoppers can make up to $25 an hour on the job. That's pretty good money, but most shoppers don't make quite that much, especially at first.

Shoppers are guaranteed to make at least $5 per delivery order, and $6-$7 for every shop and deliver order.

However, you can make a lot more than that thanks to tipping, and some areas are usually better paid than others.

The average salary for a delivery driver is around $16 per hour according to Indeed which is a decent income for many people.

Average Instacart Pay

So, if you're looking to make $100 a day with Instacart that's incredibly doable. You can even make significantly better money than that by shopping for Instacart.

However, you've got to remember that some of that money is going to go to gas, vehicle maintenance, and any other expenses (like in-car beverages) you need while you're working.

Final Thoughts on Making Money as an Instacart Shopper

Working as an Instacart shopper can be a good side hustle to make extra money and there are plenty of tips and tricks to help you boost your earnings.

By following these Instacart shopping tips you can make the most money possible and earn extra income in no time.

By offering better service, accepting the right batches, and being strategic about the times you work, you can make a significant amount of money as an Instacart shopper. So, what are you waiting for? Start shopping!

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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