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How Much Does Instacart Cost? Is It Worth The Fees & Price?

Learn about Instacart's costs, including delivery fees, mark-ups, service fees, tips, and available promos, in this informative guide

How Much Does Instacart Cost?

Instacart’s cost varies depending on several factors, including the size and type of your order, delivery speed, and any additional fees.

Delivery fees are generally $3.99 for orders over $35 and $7.99 for orders under $35 with standard delivery. Ultrafast delivery costs more. There’s a markup of about 15% on items.

Service fees support the app and are separate from tips, which are for the drivers. Additional fees might apply for heavy items or specific shopping bags.

Discounts and promos can reduce costs, and a referral system offers credits for both the referrer and the new user. Instacart is valuable for its convenience, particularly for larger orders, but small orders might incur higher relative costs.

Are Food Items Marked Up on Instacart?

Yes, food items on Instacart, including groceries and alcohol, are typically marked up compared to in-store prices. The average markup on these items is about 15%. This additional cost contributes to Instacart’s revenue generation.

In addition, purchasing alcohol through Instacart might incur an additional delivery fee, approximately $5 per item, in certain areas.

Breaking Down the Cost of Instacart Orders

1. Delivery Fees

The amount you are charged by Instacart in terms of delivery fees will vary based on the size of your order and whether you also require ultrafast delivery. There may also be some variation based on your state.

Instacart offers two different delivery types:

  • Standard Delivery: This service will get your order to you in two hours or more and is great for when you need to schedule a grocery delivery in advance
  • Priority Delivery: Priority Delivery will have your order to you in less than an hour and is great for when you are in a pinch and need an item quickly.

The following information covers the usual delivery fees across the country. However, there may be some variation based on your state.

Orders Under $35

For standard orders containing less than $35 worth of goods and scheduled for delivery more than two hours in advance, the standard delivery fee is $7.99.

This means that no matter if you are ordering for two hours ahead or eight hours, the fee will remain the same! Keep in mind that an order must contain at least $10 worth of goods to be eligible for delivery.

However, if you wish to use Ultrafast delivery and have your order at your door within an hour, the standard fee for orders under $35 is $9.99.

Orders Over $35

If your order consists of more than $35 worth of goods, the delivery fees will be slightly lower. Instead, Instacart will be making more money on the higher volume of marked-up goods in your order.

If you are ordering for two or more hours in the future, the delivery fee will be $3.99. However, if you want Ultrafast delivery, you can expect a delivery charge of $5.99.

2. Instacart’s Service Fees & Tips

Another area where you may find extra Instacart charges is via service fees and tips. Here’s a breakdown of each additional charge so you know where your money is going:

Service Fee

The service fee is a small charge added to each order to help support the app overall.

It helps to cover operational costs, customer service, background checks on drivers, and even insurance! Keep in mind that it is not a tip for the driver.

Driver Tip

The driver tip is the tip you choose to give to your driver as a gesture of appreciation for their service. While tips are optional, many drivers rely on these to help boost their pay and make ends meet.

In the United States, it is also considered customary to tip service workers. Keep this in mind next time you order from Instacart or any similar service!

Additional Fees

Depending on the items in your order, there may be some extra charges you may not expect. Here are some examples:

  • If your order is particularly heavy, you may incur a Heavy Fee to compensate your driver for the extra work. The chances of you needing to pay this fee are low. It will only apply when your order weighs an estimated 50 pounds or more.
  • Alternatively, some stores charge a Shopping Bag Fee for larger orders to cover the cost of the bags and sorting the items into them. You will be told of this cost at checkout, so you don’t need to be worried about being charged retrospectively.

The Cost of Instacart Vs The Cost Of Other Delivery Services

vector graphic showing a man in front of an illustration of the best delivery side hustles

1. Instacart vs Amazon Fresh Cost

In the cost comparison of Instacart vs. Amazon Fresh, Amazon Fresh requires an Amazon Prime subscription at $12.99 per month plus an extra $14.99 monthly for Fresh, totaling $27.98 per month.

Alternatively, Amazon Prime can be billed annually at $119, but the Fresh add-on remains $14.99 monthly. A 30-day free trial is available for new users, with a $9.99 delivery fee for orders below the free shipping threshold, which is $35 in select cities and $50 in others.

In contrast, Amazon Fresh generally has slower delivery, often taking up to eight hours, compared to Instacart’s quicker one-hour delivery option.

2. Instacart vs Amazon Prime Now Cost

Comparing Instacart with Amazon Prime Now, the latter offers rapid delivery akin to Instacart’s speed.

In select cities, Amazon Prime Now delivers within an hour for $7.99, and offers free two-hour delivery for orders over $35 in 30 U.S. cities. This service is included in the Amazon Prime membership, which is priced at $119 annually or $12.99 monthly.

Prime Now allows shopping at local stores, including Whole Foods Market in cities like Austin and Dallas. It also offers a range of products including alcohol and pet supplies. Additionally, orders can be conveniently placed using Alexa-powered devices.

3. Instacart vs Costco Cost

When comparing Instacart with Costco for grocery delivery, Costco offers same-day delivery through Instacart at $5.99 for orders of $35 or more. For non-perishable items, Costco provides free two-day delivery on orders over $75.

Since Costco utilizes Instacart for perishable deliveries, their costs are quite comparable. However, to use Costco’s delivery service, a Costco membership is required, which costs $60 annually.

How to Save on Instacart With Discounts and Promotions

Like many online retailers, Instacart offers fantastic discounts and promo codes to help you save money.

These are applied at checkout and can save you money on your total fee (as well as on specific items) depending on the type of code.

1. Saving With an Instacart Express Membership

Instacart Express is a subscription service offering free delivery on all orders above $35, including one-hour deliveries which typically carry a higher fee. For orders under $35, the membership reduces the fee from $7.99 plus a 5% service charge to zero.

screenshot of an Instacart Express ad

The membership costs $9.99 monthly or $99.99 annually. Instacart provides a 14-day free trial of the Express service on its website.

Remember, if you don’t cancel before the trial ends, you will be automatically billed for a year’s membership.

2. Saving With Instacart Coupons

You can save big on Instacart orders by using promo codes for new users. The company is always looking for new users to try the platform, so what better incentive than by giving them a free credit?

The company will also sometimes offer discounts through partnerships with websites, influencers, and certain retailers. These codes, found online or on the app, typically offer 10-15% off.

Keep an eye on the app for daily deals and seasonal promotions. For real-time updates, enable notifications in the app’s settings to be alerted about current offers and specials.

3. Saving With Instacart Referral Discounts

Instacart also features a referral program that can save you and your friends money.

When you sign up for Instacart, you will receive a unique referral code that you can share to anyone via text, email, or social media messaging.

If a friend uses your referral code to sign up for Instacard, both of you will receive a reward.  Your friend will receive up to $40 in credit to use across their first two orders.

Once their delivery is complete, you will receive a $10 in-app credit. This is a great way to share the benefits of Instacart and potentially save money while doing so!

The Bottom Line: Is Instacart Worth It?

If you want convenient, fast, and easy delivery on all your favorite products, Instacart is 100% worth it.

Despite being slightly more expensive than going to the store and buying the items yourself, the convenience of the system saves you an invaluable amount of time.

The one drawback is that the markup prices may outweigh the convenience of Instacart if you have a small order.

As we’ve discussed, smaller orders incur higher delivery fees. Once you add the service fee and tip, the price for one or two items can skyrocket.

In these cases, Instacart may not be worth it if you are only ordering a few items. You may end up paying almost double the original price.

However, if you are a busy person who hardly has any time for yourself as is and wants your groceries sent straight to your door with the press of a few buttons, Instacart is definitely worth it!

Go Forth and Shop

If you’ve been holding off on ordering from Instacart because you were worried the fees were really high, worry no more.

Instacart is one of the more affordable options for grocery delivery and with the free 14-day trial for Instacart Express membership, you can try out the premium level of service at no cost.

Give Instacart a free trial and discover for yourself if the time and stress you save justifies the cost of a grocery delivery service.

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