You've been looking for info about DoorDash vs Instacart because you want to get into the food delivery game but you don't quite know how to start.
Who actually wins in the battle of DoorDash vs Instacart when we look at the details of each?
Well, I'm here to give you all the facts so you can decide!
We'll talk about how you'll spend your time on each app, earnings and stats. I'll give you all the details from an insider perspective, having completed 3,000 orders between the two apps.
Maybe you'll even sign up for both!
Well let me quickly mention that DoorDash, UberEats and Grubhub are quite similar in that you deliver food, mostly from restaurants rather than shopping like you do on Instacart.
So if you already know you just want to deliver food without spending most of your time in grocery stores shopping for Instacart, you can check out my side-by-side comparison of DoorDash, UberEats and Grubhub, here.
In other words, if you don’t like shopping (mainly for groceries), you probably won’t like Instacart, unless you’re willing to learn on the job without much guidance.
But if you have been deciding between DoorDash vs Instacart, read on to see how they compare.
For the purpose of this page, I'm just going to use DoorDash vs Instacart. So restaurant food delivery vs grocery shopping.
I will sprinkle in UberEats and Grubhub (food delivery) where applicable but I I'll use DoorDash as the main food delivery example
OK now that I've thoroughly confused you, let's get started!
...I recommend signing up for two apps because there are many factors that can affect demand on one app and not on the other.
So if you're going to depend on gig work for part or all of your income, please sign up for two apps.
A year ago I was doing Instacart full-time, then demand plummeted out of nowhere and I started doing DoorDash full-time with UberEats as backup.
Now I do Instacart again half of the time as well as DoorDash and UberEats the other half.
Sometimes there are glitches on one app (I'm talking major glitches on one app that could ruin your whole evening of income) while the other apps are totally fine.
Now, let's get into some of the nitty gritty.
As we've established DoorDash is a food delivery app where you mostly deliver from restaurants with the occasional shopping order if you want.
You don't ever have to schedule your dash, just log on and see if it's busy and go out when it is, usually in the evenings.
If you do schedule, you're not held to that schedule, you can pause or end at any point. I like that about DoorDash.
Once you see it's busy and hit "Dash Now", DoorDash will send you an order if your area is truly busy. You can decide to accept it or decline it.
Please don't accept just any order that comes your way.
Make sure you take the allotted time DoorDash to look at how much the order pays, the restaurant and where the delivery ends up.
I'll show you a screenshot of this in the earnings section.
This is important so you don't waste any time or gas on a low paying order.
If you decide to accept an order, you drive to the restaurant, either pick up the order from a shelf or ask an employee.
You might have to wait a minute but once it's ready, you grab it, put it into an insulated bag in your car and deliver it to the customer's.
Some orders may have two customers and two restaurants but you'll see this before accepting.
Once you deliver to the customer(s), you wait for the next order and repeat that process until you're done for the day.
You can take breaks at any time and there's no set schedule so you can stop at any time.
You have to keep track of all your mileage because DoorDash does not pay for any of it. It's best to keep a mileage tracker when you're driving around looking for an order, delivering an order and driving to the next order.
I'll show you some screenshots of what that looks like in a minute.
Keeping track of all mileage reduces your tax burden come tax season.
So on DoorDash, you'll spend a lot of time popping into restaurants to grab food and on the road to deliver said food.
On Instacart, you'll mostly spend your time in grocery stores, shopping for stuff like produce, deli items, cereal and canned goods, etc.
Then once you're done with shopping, you checkout and load the groceries into your car to deliver them to the customer's doorstep.
On Instacart, you log on to the app and you'll see available orders (called batches).
You won't be sent orders like on DoorDash, you have to select them yourself. I prefer that since I can choose higher paying orders.
The orders (batches) you see aren't always close to your house so you have to make sure you know the stores in your area.
That way, you don't risk traveling 15-20 miles to the store. You don't get paid for that mileage; you only get paid from the store to the customer's, nothing before or after.
Most of the time however, Instacart will show you stores nearby.
You can select an order (batch) and see what it pays.
You have to be lightening fast to do that though since there are most likely hundreds if not thousands of other shoppers looking at the same batch.
So on Instacart, you'll spend a lot of time at grocery stores, shopping for items and then delivering them rather than constantly delivering items.
It means that you'll spend quite a bit more time in your car on DoorDash than on Instacart.
Instacart can be quite physical because many orders contain cases of water but you'll also spend a lot of time running around in grocery stores so make sure you are OK with the more physical aspects of Instacart.
DoorDash does have the occasional shop and deliver order as well. You'll be able to see if when it pops up but they're not as common.
Conversely, Instacart has a few delivery-only orders but again, they're not as common and you'll see it as a delivery only batch.
Right now of course you have to consider the cost of gas since you don't get paid for mileage on DoorDash (or UberEats - Grubhub pays for mileage in the same way Instacart does).
It's not just mileage but wear and tear on your car so make sure you consider those factors so you don't just take any low paying order.
You can do more DoorDash orders more quickly than Instacart orders so...
In my area, the DoorDash base pay is between $2.75-$3 per order.
So here is a screenshot of what you see when an order pops up on DoorDash.
Yes that's super low but higher than in other areas in the US.
This particular order is one of many no tip orders.
I was close to the restaurant as indicated by the blue dot but it would not have been worth taking this order because it wouldn't even have covered gas.
Like I said before, that $2.75 is before gas AND taxes.
Orders like these are the norm. They're never worth it. DoorDash has different stats like acceptance rate, which we'll get to in a minute.
I personally don't worry acceptance rate since I have to make a living and cannot afford low paying orders like this.
You have about 40 seconds to accept an order and I highly recommend you take that time to make sure you understand the mileage you'll have to travel (that 4.3 miles is from where you currently are to the restaurant to the customer's).
During that time, you can also zoom in on the customer location to get an idea of the area you'll end up in.
That's important because you generally make sure you end up in an area with restaurants so you can grab another order right away.
In this case, I declined the order in the top right hand corner. It'll ask you to give a reason. It doesn't matter what you select, DoorDash doesn't care.
Oftentimes, DoorDash will group two customers at the same restaurant and sometimes at two different restaurants.
Again you have to make sure those orders are worth your while just like with single orders.
Here's an example of a DoorDash order I actually took.
Knowing that DoorDash's base pay is low, I knew that this customer tipped at least $5 and once I zoomed into their location, I was able to see that I'd end up in an area with tons of restaurants so I decided to take this order.
It took me about 20 minutes and I got another order right away and another so three orders in a little over an hour.
One was slightly higher so I got to about $25 for that hour before gas and taxes.
$25/hr is average for me since I choose to wait for higher paying orders rather than worrying about my acceptance rate.
I've made as much as $40 an hour but that's not really the norm.
On your first few times, you can probably expect to make around $15/hr until you get the hang of it.
On DoorDash, customers are not able to increase or decrease their tip after delivery unlike on all the other apps including Instacart, DoorDash and UberEats.
I'm not sure why that's the case and it's a gripe I have with DoorDash.
In terms of app layout, I do appreciate the fact that I'm able to get all the details I need before I accept an order like mileage, pay and restaurant.
I like that it's an interactive map where I can zoom in on the customer location, which I can't do on UberEats but can do on Grubhub and Instacart.
To recap: It's super important that you're careful about selecting your orders.
Again, you want to make a profit once you consider that this $2.75 is BEFORE gas and taxes!
You're able to access and cash out your earnings right after you deliver. Really, right after you end your dash.
That cash out costs $1.99 each time or you can choose to let your money pile up until Sunday upon which DoorDash automatically transfers your weekly earnings into your bank account on Monday.
That money is usually available within 2-3 business days.
In my area, Instacart's base-pay is $9, a few towns over it's $7. Across the US, Instacart pays between $7-$9 per order.
That includes mileage AND shopping.
I'll give you the same payment details for Instacart as I did for DoorDash.
If you'd like more detail, I've also written a more detailed page, titled "How much does Instacart pay?" if you want to check that out.
I'll link to it again in the related pages at the end.
OK so here is what I see when I log on to Instacart.
Again, orders aren't sent to me, I have to select one myself.
I usually see a slew of low paying orders (batches) and have to refresh until I see a batch I like.
This screen shows available batches. If you do the math, they're no tip orders, which just like on DoorDash are incredibly common.
Based on the aforementioned $9 of base pay in my area, I don't have to dig further to know they're not tip.
Refresh to get more batches. You'll have to refresh quite a bit by pulling down on the screen.
Here's a refreshed screen with more batches. You see, the $71 stands out so let's select it to see the details.
Here's a refreshed screen with more batches.
Based on having shopped over 1,200 orders, I know the first two are not worth my while.
I like to see the $ equal the item count for regular 1-customer orders.
Instacart often groups 2 or 3 customers into one order.
I often do double orders but stay away from triple orders because juggling cart space is a hassle and items can get mixed up at checkout for which you'll get dinged via ratings.
Instacart saves money on its shoppers by grouping customers together.
Instacart doesn't have to pay the $7-$9 base pay per order when grouping batches so sometimes you'll see a double order with the same base pay and a triple order with maybe an $11 base pay so that's huge savings for Instacart.
Instacart will often group a low tipping customer whose order otherwise wouldn't get picked up as quickly with a high tipping customer.
Instacart also groups two customer orders at different stores, which I never do because one customer's groceries would sit in a hot car (especially in summer) while I'm shopping another.
Yes you have to have insulated bags but I've only done one in the spring and I felt bad even though I put the first customer's order into insulated bags while shopping.
Instacart is run by AI bots (yes, really) so the routes and stores while often fine, are sometimes quite outrageous.
It's always good to rely on your own intelligence when selecting orders and when shopping for items.
You see, the $71 stands out as much higher so let's select it to see the details.
So while it looks like a pretty high order, upon further inspection, I decided to decline it because:
When you first start on Instacart, you'll probably be duped into shopping some bad orders but that's OK, consider them training orders.
As you can see, the feel of the Instacart app is similar to the DoorDash app.
You can zoom in on the customer's location but on Instacart you can also see the exact tip upfront.
Customers can increase or decrease the tip after delivery unlike on DoorDash.
Personally, I try to get orders that pay at least $40 since demand is down, I have to make sure I maximize my time out and not waste it on bad batches.
It used to be that I'd have 99 problems but a batch wasn't one but that's no longer the case.
Most Instacart batches take about an hour to complete.
So don't take small orders because you have to consider the drive to the store, the time you're at the store including checkout and delivery time.
Here's an order I recently completed that wasn't the most outstanding but good enough. I selected it so you can see some details
Here's one that had around 30 items with a 15% tip off the total.
It took 55 minutes from the time I left my house to the time I delivered.
It also had some deli items and I was communicating with the customer about replacements for out of stock items so that took a minute.
I'm usually able to average 60 seconds per item.
It's part of Instacart's stats but not super relevant.
It's a fine total per hour but I usually aim a little higher.
OK so you see that I'm able to make about $30 ish per hour.
I'd say I average about $35 an hour, which is slightly higher than on DoorDash and I don't do nearly as much driving on Instacart, although it's still relatively significant.
Just like DoorDash, Instacart allows you to cash out the batch earnings right after delivery and the full amount including tips 2 hours after delivery.
Customers have 2 hours to decrease tips and 1 day to increase them.
You can choose to cash out whenever at 50 cents per cash out or like on DoorDash wait until the automatic transfer on Mondays, which usually hits your bank account by Wednesday.
Customers are able to rate you after delivery and they're able to leave a note if they gave you 5 stars.
This customer rating has to stay above a 4.7 in order for you to be able to remain a dasher.
That's not really hard to do. Just deliver on time, keep the food hot in a bag and be courteous if you meet the customer.
I've had a couple of 4-star ratings over the last 1,300 orders but the rest have been 5-star ratings.
Your acceptance rate is part of your DoorDash stats but I personally don't go for Top Dasher. That's a choice you'll have to make.
I keep my acceptance rate at about 10% and have talked to many long-term dashers who do the same.
They even let it drop to 2%. You really don't gain anything by keeping your acceptance rate high. If I accepted the orders that would get me to Top Dasher, I'd make $80 a week, no joke and I'd spend that much on gas.
You can learn more about Top Dasher and if it's worth it based on my own opinion and some internet research of my own, here.
The most important part is for you to make money on DoorDash and not get tricked into accepting no tip orders in search for Top Dasher.
You will receive higher paying orders with or without Top Dasher so don't feel pressured into accepting super low orders that will end up costing you money in hopes of getting bigger orders once you reach Top Dasher.
You won't. Top Dashers also get no tip orders sent to them and someone who isn't a Top Dasher like myself will see higher paying orders.
Focus on getting good ratings since you're essentially in customer service when delivering for DoorDash and make sure you don't drop too many orders after accepting them and deliver on time.
While 5-star ratings are great on DoorDash and show that you're good at what you do, they're more important on Instacart.
Your overall rating will affect access to higher paying batches. Like on DoorDash, customers can rate you after delivery and leave feedback for 5-star reviews.
They'll be able to select what exactly they liked from helpful chat to smart bagging and good replacements.
There are already thousands of low paying orders on Instacart so it's important to keep your rating up so you'll see the occasional high paying batch on Instacart.
When you first start out, you'll have an automatic 5-star rating but as you shop more, you'll obviously receive more ratings so make sure you communicate with the customer about replacements, etc.
After a while, you'll see some accuracy stats like found items, disliked replacements, etc. Those aren't really relevant in the sense that if you keep your rating at 5 stars, you won't really need to pay attention to anything else.
Since you're not sent orders directly, there is no acceptance rate like on DoorDash, which is great. Instacart used to have the same model as DoorDash and it was atrocious to be sent low paying orders. I prefer to see all orders so I can select the one I want.
You do have to make sure you don't cancel too many batches once you accept one. If your cancellation rate goes above 15%, your account may be deactivated.
There's really no reason to cancel a batch unless you accidentally accepted on far away thinking you accepted it for a store near you. Then you can cancel or if you think you're not gonna get to the store in a timely manner due to traffic or car problems.
My cancellation rate is at 7% right now and has been higher and lower. I've never been at risk for being deactivated.
At the end of each day, you're sent a daily summary with replacements you made and whether your delivery was on time. Again, customer ratings are really all that matters.
Don't let Instacart trick you into making replacements without confirming with the customer just so you can have a high found or replaced rate.
Is you. You have to look out for you. Maximize your earnings without getting sucked into Instacart's or DoorDash's gimmicks. Don't leave money on the table at any point, you can't afford to!
You must track your mileage at all times to save big during tax season
Trust me, that's a must.
I have a mileage tracker on when I'm waiting for a new order to head to the store or restaurant, when I'm delivering to the customers on DoorDash (that part Instacart pays for so I don't track store to customer) and when I look for the next order.
These apps including UberEats and Grubhub are in the business of making money for themselves by keeping our pay low. They make billions of dollars so don't get tricked into doing their dirty work by taking ridiculously small orders.
Don't take orders with insanely long delivery distances, the wear and tear on your car will not be worth it, never-mind the money you spend on gas.
The customer you're delivering for takes precedence so be courteous but don't do Instacart or DoorDash any favors.
I've been doing this for years and you get nothing for hitting 3,000+ orders, which is why you have to make sure you look out for yourself and your earnings.
In each of these pages that I've linked, I'll give you some real life examples and info so you can avoid falling for Instacart's sneaky tactics.
If you like the idea of being an Instacart shopper, I do encourage you to sign up for one of the food delivery apps (DoorDash, UberEats, Grubhub) just in case demand plummets or Instacart glitches, especially if you're planning on doing this at least part-time.
You can check out the link for my comparison of DoorDash vs. Grubhub vs. UberEats in "Everything DoorDash below".
Here's your unofficial Instacart training: The top 5 things you need to know.
And here are Do's and Don'ts of Instacart to maximize your earnings and minimize wasted time and gas.
Once again, if you want more details about how much Instacart pays, check it out here.
I know this page is about DoorDash vs Instacart but you can easily see it as DoorDash, UberEats and Grubhub vs. Instacart since the essence is the same.
If you know you don't want to be an Instacart shopper, check out my head-to-head comparison of DoorDash vs. Grubhub vs. UberEats to decide which food delivery app to deliver for.
Even if you decide to just deliver for one of those apps, I recommend signing up for two since the aforementioned app glitches are common and you want to make sure you have a backup at any time if you want to do this even part-time.
Here's how to get started with DoorDash.
I hope this is helpful. You can check out my YouTube channel for instructional shorts and my Instagram for some of the funny aspects of food delivery!