You just got home from work after battling traffic all evening. We’re sure the last thing you want to do is hop back in the car and hit the local store to pick up your groceries for the remainder of the week.
The silver lining to this equation is that you don’t even need to do your own grocery shopping if you don’t want to. Instead, you could use Instacart — an on-demand grocery delivery service — to fill your shopping list and deliver your groceries directly to your home.
So what’s the catch? The convenience of having groceries delivered right to your door comes with a price. If you want to sit back and relax while a personal shopper does your chores for you, you’ll be required to fork up some cash in the form of delivery and service fees.
In this article, we’re going to lay out every single fee, extra charge, and tax you might encounter when using Instacart to receive delivered groceries.
For every delivery you place, you’ll be required to pay a default delivery fee of $3.99 for orders over $35. While this is the minimum amount you’ll need to pay, the delivery fee is dependent on the size of your order and the delivery time you choose, therefore it can cost more than $3.99 if you order less than $35 worth of grocery items.
Before placing your order, you’ll be required to pick your delivery time within a certain delivery window. At this point, you’ll be given options as to how much your delivery fee will be. If you opt for one-hour delivery, your delivery fee will be much higher.
For example, in Boulder, Colorado, if you decide to purchase at least $35 worth of groceries from Whole Foods, you’ll be required to pay $3.99 for delivery on orders that are two hours or more in the future. If you request one-hour delivery, then it will cost $5.99.
Additionally, if you have an order that’s under $35, then delivery will cost $7.99 if it’s further than two hours out, and $9.99 if you’d like fast delivery in one hour.
You must also remember that your order must be worth at least $10 before you can check out. Instacart will no longer send its personal shoppers on small order runs.
With each purchase you make, you’ll also be required to pay a 5 percent service fee. If you have a smaller order, you’ll be required to pay a minimum fee of $2.00.
The service fee you’ll be charged will be 5 percent of your order’s subtotal. Sales tax and a driver tip are not included in this 5 percent.
Instacart states that this service fee helps support the Instacart platform by covering operational costs including background checks, insurance, and customer support. None of this fee will go towards your driver.
Instacart Shopper Tip
In order to reward your shopper for speedy and reliable service, you can opt to leave him or her a driver tip. The default tip amount is set at 5 percent of your order total, but you can always leave more or less if you’d like.
If you’d like to change your tip, you can do so while checking out. By tapping on the pencil icon next to the driver tip selection, you can choose your new tip amount. You can decide to leave a tip between 5 and 20 percent or not leaving a tip at all.
So you know, 100 percent of tips go directly to your shopper. You can also change your tip after the delivery drop-off if your service was quite exceptional or not up to your standards.
When there are periods of high-demand, Instacart may charge busy pricing to manage the number of orders coming into the platform. This is an additional fee that will be added onto your order when checking out.
Busy pricing helps Instacart alleviate the number of orders that come in at once and also compensates drivers for driving during periods of high-demand. When deciding which time to have your order delivered, you’ll be able to see if busy pricing is in effect.
There will be times where there are discrepancies between how much you’re charged and how much others are charged. This is not a common occurrence and you’ll likely never notice.
Since Instacart is constantly trying to improve its service, it will run tests and experiments to figure out which pricing and promotions work best. That means that sometimes you’ll receive better deals or lower prices than others. But it also means that you may be charged more.
But again, you’ll likely never notice and it’s something that you shouldn’t worry or think about too much.
In some cases, the prices of items on your Instacart app may not be the same exact prices you’ll find in the grocery store. Some stores will charge extra for items that are purchased on the Instacart app. Likewise, items that may be on sale in the store may not be on sale on the app.
Also, the prices you see on the Instacart platform reflect the average in-store price in your area. There will be times when you order an item at a certain price, but then receive the final bill with a slightly different price.
There may also be times when items aren’t available in-store. If that’s the case, your personal shopper will buy the item you described as a replacement or try to find a replacement on their own.
Taxes and Fees
Beyond all of the fees and pricing differences mentioned above, you’ll also be required to pay for taxes and fees wherever applicable. This could include sales tax, bottle deposits, and bag fees.
When you’re using the Instacart app, you’ll be charged an estimate of the amount of taxes and fees you’ll be charged. This can sometimes be more or less than the total you were initially quoted at.
For instance, if your Instacart order includes more paper bags than what was initially predicted, you may be charged slightly more.
All of these delivery costs and fees might be scaring you off, but you shouldn’t worry. There’s an alternative to paying all of these fees on every single order you place.
Instacart Express is the premium membership for Instacart customers. By signing up for Instacart Express, you can avoid paying delivery fees on orders of $35 or more, be exempt from service fees, never pay for busy pricing, and order from multiple stores in one delivery.
With all of these charges and extra fees you’re required to pay, things begin to quickly add up. If you sign up for Instacart Express, you can avoid these additional charges by paying for an annual or monthly subscription. It’s very much like Amazon Prime but for online grocery delivery.
If you decide to pay for the entire year, the membership fee is $99. If you don’t want to commit to the full year, you can also pay per month for slightly more at $9.99 per month.
With an Instacart Express membership, you’ll have the following privileges:
- Free delivery on orders of $35 or more
- No service fee charges
- No busy pricing, ever
- Order from multiple stores on one order
- One-hour delivery for no extra charge
If you’re planning on ordering from Instacart on a regular basis, the amount you’ll save will quickly surpass what you’re paying on a yearly basis.
Weigh Your Options
Whether you’re in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, or anywhere else for that matter, home delivery of your groceries can save a ton of time, energy, and hassle. Why fight the traffic and grocery check-out lines when you could just relax at home and let someone else take care of a hefty chore?
Give Instacart a shot and you might not be able to go back to your old ways. Who knows, you may love it enough to sign up for Instacart Express and get free one- or two-hour delivery for the rest of the year.
From our point of view, the fess may be worth the time and energy you’ll save in the long run.