Driving for Instacart — the on-demand grocery delivery service — affords you the ability to have flexible hours, work on your own terms, and make extra cash on the side grocery shopping.
While this is more than enough to lure new drivers in, at the end of the day we all want to know how much money we’ll be making.
What Instacart pays its independent contractors has long been kept under wraps, and for good reason.
There was a time when Instacart bragged that shoppers can make $25 an hour.
This lasted for a bit but was then hastily taken off of their website after many drivers cried out that this figure was quite inflated and misleading.
So now we’re left wondering, “How much DO Instacart shoppers make?”
In this article, we’re going to talk about what Instacart shoppers make on average, the ever-changing payment structure of Instacart, and what Instacart shoppers can expect to be paid moving forward.
Average Pay for Instacart Shoppers
Since exact salary information and payment figures are hard to come by, the average pay for Instacart shoppers is quite elusive.
Depending on which source you reference, the average pay is anywhere from $10 to $17 per hour.
According to Ridester.com — one of the world’s largest rideshare websites — full-service Instacart shoppers make $10 per hour on average.
This figure is at or around the minimum wage level in many places.
So why would you even want to sign up for a gig that’s paying you around the minimum wage level?
For starters, even though this may seem like a low wage, you still have the ability to set your own schedule and work as much as you want.
Also, this figure is just an estimate.
Take for instance, Indeed — another leading job site — projects that Instacart full-service shoppers make around $15 per hour.
As you can tell by the snapshot below, there are a few different job titles where workers have self-reported their Instacart salaries.
For personal shoppers, the pay is around $17 per hour.
For the store shopper — which could be implying the In-Store Shoppers who don’t drive out to make deliveries — the average wage comes in at about $13.50.
Lastly, the delivery driver is said to make around $15 per hour.
These figures are about right, as shoppers for competing grocery delivery service Shipt are reported to earn an average of $22 per hour while shopping.
Now, it’s important to realize that these figures can always fall outside of this range.
There may be days when you make less than $10 per hour — which would be an absolute nightmare — and then there might be days when you surpass these figures and make upwards of $25 to $30 an hour.
It really all depends on how busy it is, the region you’re driving in, and how many tips you’re able to rake in.
Also, the more you drive, the more you’ll be able to make.
Some treat working for Instacart as a part-time job, while others consider it a full-time position.
To better explain how much you’ll be paid, let’s take a look at the payment structure to figure out how your pay is calculated.
Payment Structure for Instacart Shoppers
The Instacart pay structure seems to be an ever-changing calculation but is now comprised of several factors that total each batch payment.
All of this income that the shopper earns is covered by the fees Instacart charges customers.
Included in this calculation are variables like how many items are in each batch, how difficult each item is to shop for (think of heavy items), how far away the drop-off destination is, batch incentives, quality bonuses, peak boosts, and customer tips.
While the algorithm behind Instacart’s batch payment calculation is kept out of the public’s reach, we do know that Instacart is factoring in details like paying more for heavy items — like bulky cases of water — and the number of items in each order.
At one point, Instacart paid a flat delivery fee for each unique item in the order.
Instacart now uses a “Batch Incentive” instead, which is a base pay calculation of each order based on the factors mentioned above.
The distance shoppers must drive is also factored into a batch fare.
Looking at the batch summary snapshot above, you can see that for this batch, the shopper is compensated $0.60 per mile driven from the local grocery store to the drop-off location.
This figure is not the same in every market, as each city has its own unique mile rate.
Shoppers will also be awarded a few different bonuses as well as 100 percent of customer tips they earn.
Minimum Batch Payment
Instacart shoppers now get paid a minimum of $7 to $10 for every batch they complete.
This is a hefty uptick from the $3 minimum that was given before.
After another PR fumble in the media, Instacart has recently taken to the web to explain its — once again — new payment structure.
You have to at least give them a little credit as they constantly evolve and respond to the negative sentiment disgruntled shoppers are throwing their way.
The newest grievance shoppers aired out came after Instacart changed up its payment structure last year to make delivery fares more consistent across the board.
While it seems as though these changes came with the best intentions, they had some negative implications for drivers, specifically that their pay was once again unjustly decreased.
With the newest pay model, Instacart now awards its drivers with a much higher minimum batch total.
The following minimum batch totals are now broken out as so.
- Full-service batches: Between $7 and $10 per batch
- Delivery-only batches: $5 per batch
Before this most recent change, Instacart shoppers were annoyed that the total that made up this minimum batch payment also included customer tips.
So if the minimum batch payment was set at $10 and the shopper was paid only $1 by Instacart, but then received a $9 tip, the shopper hit this minimum threshold.
This is no longer the case.
Tips will no longer be included in the minimum batch payment.
Therefore, with the scenario just described, the shopper would receive additional compensation of $9 from Instacart to meet the $10 minimum.
Along with this change, there are a few more things shoppers have to look forward to with Instacart’s new approach.
Instacart shoppers are occasionally rewarded for getting five-star reviews and being on the clock during periods of high demand.
These incentives come in the form of shopper incentives and bonuses.
To further clarify, let’s go over each of these incentives.
- Quality Bonus: This is a bonus for every five-star review you receive
- Example: Earn $2 for every five-star review that you earn
- Peak Boost: This is a bonus drivers receive when they drive during periods of high demand
- Example: On your batch summary page, you’ll see a line item that has a Peak Boost for $3
When it comes to Peak Boosts, you’ll always be able to preview the bonus total as well as the order details on the shopper app before taking the order.
Now, what about any customer tips you might receive?
Instacart’s approach to shopper tips has had a checkered past but finally is on the right track.
Instacart shoppers get to keep 100 percent of the tips they receive.
In regard to Instacart’s rocky past with its shoppers’ tips, there was a point in time when shoppers were compensated quite nicely through customer tips, which was clearly an option on a customer’s checkout screen.
Then at some point, the option to tip was veiled behind a murky service fee.
In the eyes of Instacart’s customers, this service fee that they paid was mistaken by many as a shopper tip.
This was definitely not the case, angering most Instacart shoppers.
It was explained by Instacart that its shoppers were too reliant on tips and that it would be better for the company to capture some of those earnings and then pay the drivers directly.
Take that for what you will, but the shoppers were outraged since their pay was cut drastically.
Instacart eventually backtracked and put shopper tipping front and center.
This satisfied shoppers, at least for the time being until another problem popped up that had to do with minimum batch payments.
What to Expect Moving Forward
Besides the fact that tips will no longer be pooled into Instacart’s minimum compensation to its shoppers, they’ll also be proactively reaching out to any shoppers that may have been paid unfairly.
This means that from the start of these new minimum payment levels, Instacart will be reaching out to any shoppers that have been slighted by unfair batch payments — like $0.80 for completing a batch delivery.
Any batch payments that fall under the $10 threshold will be supplemented with additional payment from Instacart to meet this minimum.
So after all this time, things seem to be looking up for all Instacart employees out there who have felt as though they were treated and compensated unfairly.
Higher Wages Equal Happy Shoppers
Instacart is owning up to the many complaints and shade thrown their way.
After years of frustrating their shopper base — the foundational support behind the entire Instacart service — they’re finally taking steps in the right direction.
Time will tell if these new changes will pay off, but we sure hope so — especially if that means higher wages for all you Instacart workers out there.