The advance of mobile technology and the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic vaulted many delivery services to the forefront of people’s minds. The gig economy is now alive and well thanks to these two things — and other factors — and one of the leading options for people looking to make money through these apps is Instacart.

Instacart is a service focused on delivering grocery food items directly to the homes of customers around the country. The company uses a combination of part-time employees and independent contractors to not only deliver the orders but to fulfill them in-store.

There are many options to work for them if you’re looking to make extra money, but how much can you make off Instacart is a question that many people ask. Let’s take a closer look at how Instacart pays its workers, and how much you make off Instacart when you work for them.

Where Instacart is Available

Instacart currently operates in approximately 5,500 cities in both the United States and Canada. It’s not just the major cities that benefit from Instacart, though. Smaller cities and even suburban areas are served by the grocery delivery service.

If you’re wondering whether Instacart serves your area — or an area where you’d like to work — you can either navigate to their website or download their mobile app and search by ZIP code.

How You Can Work for Instacart

Instacart offers two categories of workers, and what you do affects how much you can earn with Instacart.

The first category is what they call a full-service shopper. These people serve as independent contractors for the company — meaning they are paid via 1099, which they then must claim and deduct on their annual taxes.

The full-service shoppers are responsible for both shopping for a customer’s groceries in-store and then delivering it to their home. Like many other gig app jobs, Instacart full-service shoppers are able to work whatever days and hours are most convenient for them.

The role of a full-service shopper is available in any location that Instacart operates.

The second category is an in-store shopper. These workers are part-time employees of the company, and they get benefits such as a 401(k) retirement savings plan.

An in-store shopper’s duties are limited to only shopping for the items in the stores. They are not responsible for delivering the orders to customers’ homes.

If you want to be an in-store shopper and find out how does Instacart pay, you need to work between 15 to 20 hours each week, and that includes working on either Monday or Sunday.

Instacart makes these jobs available on a temporary basis in a lot of areas in an effort to help them meet demand. The positions generally are expected to go for at least 90 days.

The Requirements for Working for Instacart

Before you figure out how much do you make off Instacart, you need to figure out what is required of you to work for them.

First, you have to be 18 years old at least. If you want to take a position that would deliver alcohol, some states will require you to be at least 21 years old. These positions generally get higher tips.

You also much be able to lift 30 pounds at least, and as much as 50 pounds in some cases.

You need to have a smartphone, because that is how you will log the in-store shopping and track your deliveries. Currently, you must have either an Android phone running 5.0 or later or an iPhone with iOS 9 or later.

Instacart requires all of its workers to pass a background check. It takes roughly 10 business days for you to be cleared on average, according to the company, though that timeframe could vary depending on where you are working.

Finally, you need to have either a savings account or a checking account. That’s because you will be paid through direct deposit (more on that in a bit).
If you want to be a full-service shopper, you also have to have access to a car, as well as a valid driver’s license and insurance coverage that meets the requirements of your state.

You also must have thermal-insulated bags that you will use to transport food and beverages to customers. These bags have to hold at least four paper grocery bags that are standard size. They have to close all the way and be approved for food contact.

You can buy these bags directly through Instacart. The other option is to have a cooler to transport the groceries in.

How Does Instacart Pay?

As mentioned before, Instacart pays all of its workers through direct deposit, which is why you need to have either a savings account or a checking account with a bank. Instacart will pay its workers on a weekly basis via the method of their choice.

Instant Cashout is an option that’s available to full-service shoppers only. This allows them to immediately transfer all their earnings to a debit card, which would allow them to get access to what they earn with Instacart faster.

After a full-service shopper completes five batches, they can use that method. After that time, this option is available at any time, and can be used five times each day. The only requirements are that you have earned at least $5, with a $3,000 limit per day on Instant Cashouts.

Tax Implications of Working for Instacart

As part-time workers, in-store shoppers will have taxes automatically withheld by Instacart when they are paid. If you’re wondering how Instacart pay these workers, it’s on a W2 basis — just like if you got a regular paycheck at another company.

By contrast, full-service shoppers are treated as independent contractors. This means that what you make off Instacart now will be taxed at a later date. Depending on your situation, you could be required to make estimated tax payments on a quarterly basis. You should check with a tax professional if you have any questions about how that works.

How Much Can You Make Off Instacart?

The biggest question on most people’s mind is how much can you earn with Instacart. The answer, of course, isn’t simple and straightforward. How much you make off Instacart depends on a number of factors, including what type of work you do, your location and how much you’re tipped.

As part-time, on-staff workers, in-store shoppers receive an hourly rate that is fixed. While this varies depending on their location, it’s a set amount that they will be paid for every hour they work.

Full-service shoppers, by contrast, will earn different amounts with Instacart. How much can you earn with Instacart as this type of workers depends on the particular order.

Instacart will provide every full-service shopper with an estimate of what they could potentially earn for each order. They also guarantee that they will earn $5 at least for every batch that’s delivery only, and between $7 and $10 for every batch that is both in-store shopping and delivery.

The different factors for each order that determine how much you can make off Instacart include the type and number of items in an order, how far you have to drive for the order, as well as the effort that would be required for fulfilling the order.

Larger orders, then, will typically result in you earning more with Instacart than smaller orders. You also can earn higher rates depending on the highest demand times, such as on Sundays, during holidays or when a big event is going on.

If you’re a full-service shopper, how much you can earn with Instacart also depends on the tips customers give you — since you keep all of these when you complete a delivery for them.