How Much Does Instacart Cost, and Is It Worth It?
Instacart is one of the most popular grocery delivery services available nowadays, and with good reason — it makes the onerous task of grocery shopping a breeze.
Instead of spending an hour or more going to the store, wandering up and down every aisle, making sure you use your coupons correctly, and then hauling all your grocery items home, you can deputize a personal shopper to do all the hard work of searching and couponing for you. And instead of schlepping everything home yourself, you’re given a range of delivery options to choose from.
If you’re wondering what all this convenience will cost you, keep reading. This article will walk you through how Instacart works, how much Instacart delivery costs are, and how Instacart costs compare to other grocery delivery options.
To place an order with Instacart, you just have to sign in, choose your grocery items, and select your delivery time. If you have any special requests, just let your personal shopper know. Your groceries can be at your door in as little as an hour or you can pick a delivery window later the same day, or even in a few days. You can choose to schedule an Instacart delivery up to six days ahead of time.
You can also opt to pick up your groceries at the store. This can be handy if you need to grab a few things on your way home or en route to a dinner or picnic and don’t want to spend the time walking around the store gathering up the grocery items yourself. In this case, you’ll select the items you need on Instacart, choose your pickup time, and arrive at the grocery store at or after your pickup time to grab your grocery bags and go.
Not every location offers pickup as an option, so if that’s what you need, be sure to check before going through the entire shopping process. Most people use Instacart for grocery delivery.
Instacart charges a delivery fee. The amount of the delivery fee is depends on how much you’re ordering and whether you have an Express membership or not.
If you’re ordering without an Express membership, your Instacart service fee will be 5 percent of your delivery with the default charge being $3.99.
There are some exceptions. In Canada, the service fees are 5 percent and the delivery fee is $5.99. In New York City, the default delivery fee is $5.99.
One-hour delivery pricing is $7.99 plus a 5 percent service fee.
Instacart Express is an annual membership that saves members the delivery fee on all orders over $35, including on one-hour deliveries, which normally have a hefty charge. Instacart Express membership also lowers the fee for baskets under $35 from $7.99 + a 5 percent service fee to $0.
The Instacart Express membership fee is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.
You can sign up for a free 14-day Express membership trial on Instacart’s website to see if you like the service. At the end of those 14 days, you’ll be automatically charged for the next year of Instacart Express membership so if you decide not to keep the service, be sure to cancel prior to the end of those 14 days.
Instacart.com almost always has promo codes offering free delivery to first-time Instacart shoppers and often has seasonal codes that long-term Instacart lovers can take advantage of. You can check some of the current Instacart promo codes here.
Instacart has a referral program in which new users get $10 to spend on groceries and so does the person referring them. So if any of your friends are Instacart users, ask them for their referral codes when signing up. If none of your friends are Instacart users, search social media for someone who is promoting their referral code and once you’re signed up, share yours with your friends.
If you’re already an Instacart user, you can easily stay updated regarding seasonal promotions by allowing the Instacart app to notify you of new offers.
To enable notifications, go to “Settings,” then select “Your Account Settings,” and then choose “Notifications.” At that point, you can choose to enable the Instacart app to alert you right on your phone about any promotions or specials that are happening this season.
Which is a better value, Instacart or Amazon Fresh? Let’s get into it.
In order to use Amazon Prime Fresh, you need to have both an Amazon Prime account and an Amazon Fresh add-on. Amazon Prime costs $12.99 per month and the Fresh add-on costs $14.99 per month for a total cost of $27.98 per month. You can also choose to pay $119 per year for Amazon Prime (and still pay $14.99 per month for the Fresh add-on).
Amazon offers a free 30-day trial of both services, but if you’ve already used your free trial of Amazon Prime, you’ll have to pay for $12.99 for a Prime membership for the month in order to take advantage of the free trial of Amazon Fresh.
Additionally, all orders under the local free shipping threshold with Amazon Fresh incur a $9.99 delivery fee. Delivery addresses in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, North California, Northern Virginia, and Seattle get free shipping on orders of $35 or more before tax. All other areas get free shipping on orders of $50 or more before tax.
The biggest potential downside of Amazon Fresh is the slow speed. It usually takes up to eight hours for delivery, which is much slower than Instacart’s ability to deliver your groceries within one hour.
Amazon Prime Now is Amazon’s answer to the speed of services like Instacart. Your groceries and other items can be at your door as quickly as within an hour in select cities for $7.99. There is free two-hour delivery on orders over $35 in 30 cities around the U.S.
Amazon Prime Now is included with your Amazon Prime membership, which costs $119 per year or $12.99 per month.
In certain markets, Prime members are able to shop at local stores, which includes Whole Foods Market in metropolitan areas like Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach. Additionally, you can order alcohol, beauty, drugstore items, and pet care supplies at the same time. Everything can be ordered using an Alexa-powered device by saying, “Alexa, order [item] from Prime Now.”
Costco offers same-day delivery of grocery items, including fresh produce and frozen foods, through Instacart for $5.99 with a minimum order of $35. Two-day delivery of non-perishable food and household supply orders of $75 or more are available through Costco at no cost.
Because Costco uses Instacart delivery for perishable items, the cost of both services is pretty similar. The one additional cost of ordering from Costco is that you need to have a Costco membership in order to do so. A Costco membership is $60 per year.
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 try and discover for yourself if the time and stress you save justifies the cost of a grocery delivery service.
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