If you’re an Instacart shopper, you already know how hard you need to work for your pay. Shopping and driving isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when you want to make the most money in the least time. Working without insight and information can be difficult and confusing.
Since you’re looking for some tips and ideas, you probably have lots of questions. We put this post together to help enlighten you about Instacart first-quarter earnings, to look at the factors that affect how much you can make, and to learn about techniques and tools that will help you make more—and hold on to it. Here are the queries we’ll cover:
- How much do Instacart shoppers make?
- What outside factors eat into Instacart shopper pay?
- What are the basic costs of being an Instacart shopper?
- How can Instacart shoppers reduce expenses and make more money?
How much do Instacart shoppers make?
The first quarter of 2022 was good to Instacart shoppers. Even though the world has opened up more this year, there has been no discernible drop in consumer online grocery shopping activity. In fact, a study conducted by Power Reviews revealed that 71% of customers across the US ordered groceries online in the first quarter of 2022. In 2021, when people were more entrenched in the pandemic lifestyle, that figure was 72%.
Earnings for Instacart shoppers held steady throughout the first quarter of 2022. Gross earnings per hour started at $16.28 in January and fell just a little to $15.34 in February, but showed signs of a slight rebound in March, when Instacart shopper hourly pay edged back up to $15.72.
Earnings per trip followed this trend. Beginning at $16.67 in January, per trip earnings slid to $15.73 in February, but then crept back up to $15.79 by the end of March. This brought the average Instacart shopper earnings per trip to $16.06 for the first quarter.
The same steady trend we see in earnings per hour and earnings per trip held for tips per trip. Beginning at $6.61 in January, tip earnings fell slightly to $6.49 in February.
It follows that median monthly earnings for Instacart shoppers would form a pattern similar to the ones established by the other categories. January earnings amounted to $197.88. In February they went down to $173.02, then recovered in March rising to $186.64.
We did note, though, when we compared earnings for Instacart vs. Shipt, Instacart lags behind. Median monthly earnings for Shipt drivers averaged $259.22 over the three month period. Even Doordash monthly earnings outpaced those of Instacart shoppers. The average median earnings for Dashers in the first quarter of 2022 was $229.00.
Instacart has some catch-up to play with the other services. As a company, though, it does offer a range of possible experiences. Pay varies for Instacart workers depending on the type of job they choose.
The three possible Instacart roles are:
Full service shoppers
These workers drive to the grocery store, select the customer’s order, and then deliver it. They are independent contractors and do not receive employee benefits. The upside about this role is that it offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of working hours. Also, these shoppers are eligible to receive tips from customers.
Instacart does employ a select number of workers as non-full-service shoppers. They are Instacart employees and receive hourly wages, but not tips. They choose items for the customers, but the orders are picked up at the curb rather than delivered to the door. The positive point here for many is that this role doesn’t require the use of a vehicle, except to get to the store where they work.
These workers simply gather up pre-picked orders and deliver them to the customers. They, too, are independent contractors and do not receive employee benefits. They may be able to deliver more batches per hour, but their minimum payment per batch is less than what full-service shoppers receive.
For all these roles, there are certain factors entering in to answer the question, Is driving for instacart worth it in 2022? Let’s look at those factors now.
What outside factors eat into Instacart shopper pay?
As the world goes through the process of trying to come back to what we used to call “normal,” new problems have appeared. Many of them impact grocery delivery driver pay, and of course, the earnings of all three types of Instacart workers. Here’s a short list:
The astronomical increase in gas prices over the last few months makes driving anywhere much more expensive than before. When a person drives for a living, the price of filling up at the pump takes a huge bite out of earnings. Read more about the impact of rising gas prices in this Gridwise blog post.
Inflation affects everyone, but Instacart drivers might feel it more than most other gig drivers. Grocery stores have raised prices to cover the rising cost of food, and Instacart may have to raise its service charge to cover increased operating costs as well. This could result in a less robust customer demand and less work for Instacart shoppers.
As we noted earlier, there is good news in that customers are ordering their groceries online now as much as ever. They too, however, may want to cut their costs, which might mean they get less generous about tipping Instacart shoppers.
Instacart pay structure
Recent changes in Instacart’s pay structure will very likely improve earnings for shoppers and drivers. No one outside corporate management knows for sure how the payment per batch algorithm for Instacart shoppers is calculated, but it’s clear that it’s made up of several components. They include the number of items, how difficult items may be to choose or carry (think vegetables and heavy items), how far away the delivery point is, batch incentives, quality bonuses, peak boosts, and customer tips.
Obviously, it’s complicated. It used to be even more so until Instacart began using the batch incentive method of paying shoppers. This is a base pay calculation based on the factors we just listed.
The good news for Instacart shoppers is that recent changes have yielded a much higher minimum per batch figure than there has ever been before. For example, there was a time when the minimum was $3.00. Now full-service batches have a minimum of $7.00–$10.00, which represents a hefty hike. Delivery only batches have a minimum of $5.00 each.
Another correction was made to Instacart’s payment structure when they stopped including the tips within the minimum per batch figure. Now drivers keep 100% of all tips, and they are dispersed over and above the minimum per batch figure.
Instacart also recently added a feature that allows shoppers to cash out as soon as two hours after completing a batch. Customers have been notified to add (or subtract) their tips within that time frame, which makes this smaller cash-out window feasible.
Instacart was slightly late to the party when it came to offering support to drivers paying way more than usual for fuel. A surcharge of $0.40 per order was announced on March 18. This is being passed on to customers in hope of helping drivers handle high gas prices. It’s hard to say whether this will provide the help needed, but the amount is in line with most other rideshare and delivery services who have passed on similar charges to their customers.
While these factors are somewhat unique to this particular moment in history, there are others that Instacart shoppers are, and always will be, faced with.
What are the basic costs of being an Instacart shopper?
No matter what’s going on in the world, there are certain operating costs that are constant in the lives of gig drivers. You simply have to deal with them if you want to do this or any driving gig. They include
We’ve already mentioned that gas prices have skyrocketed, and now they’re coming down a little. On April 13, the nationwide average price for a gallon of regular gas went down to $4.15, from a high of $4.33 in mid-March. Even if gas prices go down more, there’s no reason why Instacart shoppers should pay full price at the pump. With Gridwise Gas, you’ll always save. Sign up for free, and cash in on discounts that are available from 95% of the service stations you might visit.
Data we anonymously collect from Gridwise drivers show they spend an average of $163 on maintenance every month! This is a cost you can definitely cut back, and Gridwise + CarAdvise will help you do that. Sign up for free, and you’ll gain access to information about all the service centers in your area. You can talk to experts, shop around for the best prices, and benefit from 10–40% discounts on maintenance and repair costs.
This cost is a kind of silent killer in that it erodes your vehicle’s value despite your best efforts at driving it safely and taking good care of it. The value of the average car depreciates by 40% within five years! That will really get you wondering whether major investments in your older vehicle, in the form of replacement parts or upgrades, are worth making. The Gridwise Auto-Buying Program, powered by TrueCar, lets you browse, compare, and save big when the time comes to purchase a new vehicle.
How can Instacart shoppers reduce expenses and make more money
As you can see, there are ways to reduce your expenses and even stave off the unnerving invasion of inflation. In addition to these, there are ways to continue cutting your costs and pumping up your earnings, such as these:
Driver discounts and benefits programs
You can save on everything from equipment for your car to health coverage and life insurance. Click on the Benefits tab of your Gridwise app, and see all the great deals and discounts you can get.
Use gas rewards programs
Use Gridwise Gas, of course, and pay attention to other fuel cost-reducing prizes and perks. For example, did you know there are frequent Gridwise Gas Card Giveaways in our Facebook group? Join the Gridwise group now, and you could be our next winner!
Strive to be more than just an average Instacart shopper. When you do, you benefit through
Increasing the number of batches you process
Why wander around the store, wondering where they keep the heirloom tomatoes? Discover your store layout with this new tool Instacart has rolled out. It gives shoppers an interactive map of the store, making it much easier to find the items on your customer’s list. They’ve also added additional shopper support and safety features to the app. Don’t be bashful! Use these app enhancements to boost your earning power!
Working harder for tips
Tips might not come as easily as they used to, but if you work harder for them, you’re bound to get more. You’ll score points with your customers when you communicate with them as you shop and while you’re on the way to deliver their groceries.
Alert them to the possibility of making swaps, or tell them there’s traffic on the road to their house that will make you a few minutes late. You’ll be amazed how generously people will respond when you treat them with extra special care.
This goes for carrying the goods to them, too. Use bags and boxes that prevent fragile items from getting crushed and help to make unpacking their orders much easier.
Scooping up bonuses and incentives
Excellent service usually gets you great reviews. That smile and the extra care you show can add up when you make top-notch performance your basic standard.
Peak boost pay can be yours for shopping during intense, high-volume time periods. You’ll be able to see the total you’ll get for an order, including the peak boost pay, when the order comes in.
Get assertive about making more by using Instacart referral codes. Depending on where you live, you and the friends you refer could each earn from $400–$750 extra! With the way the economy is changing, you probably have friends who’d like to make some extra cash like that.
Minimize your tax bill by tracking your deductions
Tax time is rarely the happiest time of year, but if you’re diligent about keeping records all year long, you can avoid paying more than you really have to. Use Gridwise to record all your deductible expenses and track your mileage. You won’t believe how fast these expenses pile up, and when you record them consistently, you can knock a tidy sum off your taxable income.
Set up Gridwise to manually record every expense as it comes along. And, as the best mileage tracker for Instacart shoppers, it logs your mileage automatically. Simply download the free app and sign on every time you’re driving for Instacart. Sync your Instacart app with Gridwise, and your earnings and tips will be tracked, too!
With all these benefits, it’s no wonder Gridwise is known as the best assistant for rideshare and delivery drivers!