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.
Instacart Fees (Overview)
An overview of the most common fees that customers will see while using the Instacart app:
- Delivery Fee: default fee that is applied to every order
- Service Fee: another default fee that is a percentage of your total order
- Instacart Shopper Tip: not required, but highly suggested
- Busy Pricing: in times of high demand, prices will increase accordingly
- Customer Pricing: the company sometimes runs pricing experiments, but customers can’t tell
- Item Pricing: the upcharge from normal store pricing that Instacart sometimes adds on, depending on the store
- Taxes & Fees: other city or state-specific taxes or fees that are not set by Instacart
- Instacart Express: the price customers pay monthly to avoid delivery fees, if subscribed
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- Offer valid on first order made through Instacart with a minimum basket size as set forth in the offer promotion
- Offer expires on the date indicated in the user’s account settings or displayed in the offer promotion
1. Delivery Fee
For every delivery you place through Instacart, 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.
2. Service Fee
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.
3. 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.
4. Busy Pricing
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.
5. Customer Pricing
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.
6. Item Pricing
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.
Suggested Read: Does Instacart Mark Up Food Prices?
7. 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.
8. Instacart Express
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.
13 thoughts on “Instacart Fees: Everything You’ll Pay as a Customer Explained”
So, Instantcart isn’t supposed to charge you service fees if you’re an express member? Bc They’ve been charging me service fees and Imm express member.
Yeah I was a member too Express and they still charge me service fees they said they don’t but they do and they slept all kind of charges on there it’s too expensive
Me too. Edi
There is one item that needs correction, as an express member I am charged service fees, as well as a tax fee and a fuel surcharge tax, and a fuel surcharge fee.
I am going to switch services because this is a major increase in $$ compared to last yr or the yr before.
Me too, Edi.
InstaCart Express Members do get charge service fees and if you want one hour delivery there is a fee for that as well. They have raised the rate for their additional service fee claiming it goes to background checks is a complete lie I know this for a fact because an ex convict that committed home robberies and attempted murder is a shopper. I did call customer service to prevent him from delivering to me or contacting me through their app however I do believe he still is a shopper. I don’t know about other people but I certainly do NOT want a career criminal with attempted murder as one of his crimes coming to my home much less touching my food!!
This is totally unacceptable Dee. Curious to know if Executives took care in responding to your insight. And of course they should. Since grocery is kess than 2-miles from me, I think I will simply grab a cab to the store, and back.
Me too, Edi
Good day let me start off by asking did this shopper do anything to you personally an if he did then you have that right to report the incident. But he has done his time for whatever crime he’s done he has served his time. Your actions if unwarranted might have put someone in danger if he loses his job for no reason other then you making a call because he shopped for you.
Service fees are as much as 10% even for express members.
Agree, Edi an Express member.
I bought $299 in groceries in the Philly area Feb 2023.
FREE DELIVERY: I was given “free delivery” as a paying member (so I “saved” $3.99 after paying $9.99/month)
Obviously pay for the membership only if you plan to use this service more than 3 times a month.
$2.00 – paid this so that my window for getting the groceries was smaller (3 to 4 pm instead of 3 to 8 pm)
$18 Service Charge –
this is the percentage you pay to Instacart for their operational costs
(besides getting my monthly $10, PLUS any bounceback from the store?
$45 – 15% Tip (I hate tipping less than 20%, but $45 is steep already, $60 is crazy.
So I paid over 20% of my total grocery amount to have someone else shop for me.
It would have taken me about 90 minutes (1 1/2 hrs) to drive to the store, shop, bag, put in my car, drive home and carry it from my car to my front door.
So I would have been paying myself $43.33/hour to do this chore.
However, the shopper only got $22 to $30/hour.
I’d rather shop myself. But I have to do this, as I take care of my 93 yr old mom 24/7 and can’t always get someone else to watch her for me while I shop. So, it is what it is.
The service fee I paid today was nearly 15% as an Express member, though typically it has been around 13% for the last year.