Wether you're a customer or a budding Instacart Shopper, it pays to know how much Instacart pays (wait, was that a pun or just redundancy?).
Either way, I'm gonna give you the average pay of an Instacart order (called batch so order = batch), plus some other things like heavy pay, boost and multiple order pay.
Yes, Instacart's pay depends on where you are in the country, whether it's a grouped order (2 or 3 customer's grouped together), mileage, boosts and heavy pay but for the most part it's a very small $ range regardless of these factors, which I'll show you herein so read on!
As you may already know, Instacart doesn't exactly pay stacks on stacks on stacks but depends on its customers to pick up that slack by tipping. If you didn't know that, check out my guide to tipping on Instacart here.
Throughout this page, I'll show you a variety of orders (batches) to give you an idea of what it looks like on the Instacart shopper's end.
At the end of the page, I'll give you my own weekly income from two different weeks, showing you Instacart's average pay per hour, per order and the total with tips.
I wanna say that although I call out Instacart for its pay from time to time, I also want to say that after many years of gig work, I have yet to find a better alternative to Instacart in terms of shopping and delivery.
UberEats and DoorDash are trying to break into the shopping game and their pay and shopper app functionality is atrocious compared to Instacart's. So while I am at times critical of Instacart, I also want to give credit where credit is due.
Ready to find out how much Instacart pays? Let's dive in!
Instacart's base pay in many states is $7 per order. Fun fact, Instacart just announced last week that it's cutting that pay by about $1.40 per order.
In my area the base pay has been $9 per order since I signed on to Instacart in 2019 and as of last week, it's around $7.50 so in the states where it was $7, it'll be around $5.50.
That's not great since pay should be going up based on inflation, not down. But here we are.
Since this is a new development, I will keep updating this page to reflect this change over the next few weeks.
So the average pay per order on Instacart is now between $5-$7.50 in all of the US with the aforementioned exceptions.
This base pay does not change based on the store.
Yes, even big box stores like Costco and Sam's Club have that base pay unless there are some heavy items, which is mostly just cases of water and we'll get into in a moment.
Here are is a $7 example at a regular grocery store. This order is a no tip order, which is incredibly common on Instacart and as you'll see later on, would not allow Instacart shoppers to make a living.
The most common tip is $2, which would not allow shoppers to make a living either.
The focus of this page is to highlight how much Instacart pays, which is always indicated as "batch earnings" in the screenshots I provide.
For the purpose of this article, a batch is an order and I'll use them interchangeably even though a batch can also include two or three grouped orders, which I'll show you as well.
Here is an example of a store close to me.
As I said, in my area Instacart's base pay for Shop & Deliver orders in my area was always $9, now it's around $7.50 so I've updated this section with new screen shots.
The item count in this order is on the smaller side.
Many orders I take are around 40 items. Instacart does not really increase its pay unless the item count inches toward 100 or the order includes heavy items.
Let's take a look at those orders after we delve into what this range of $5-$7.50 base pay (shown as "batch earnings") actually includes.
You'll be surprised to know that it's not really for shopping an order but rather mileage pay.
Instacart's base pay includes most mileage and shopping.
Everything on this page just discusses Instacart pay, not tips. Some orders I show have tips but I'm purely discussing Instacart pay, which shows up as "batch earnings" on the screen.
So as an Instacart Shopper, you'll get between $5-$7.50 (again depending where you are in the country that's the range) to shop AND deliver.
Yep, Instacart pay always includes mileage (mileage only from the store to the customer(s)'; nothing before or after).
Instacart mileage pay is $.60 per mile so in this example Instacart pays $6.17 to shop and $1.32 for mileage.
If the mileage from the store to the customer is 12+ miles, you'll see your pay increase 60 cents for each mile.
Yes, after doing the math on the average Instacart order with higher mileage, Instacart often only pays $1.50 to shop, the rest goes to mileage.
More examples in a moment. Here's a quick video to explain how much Instacart pays to shop once you calculate mileage.
Instacart often groups orders by two or three customers at the same store or two customers at different stores. Think of that what you will but don't think for a moment you'll get 3x$7 for double or triple orders!
I personally draw the line at two customer orders at the same store because I don't want to shop at one store for one customer and then have their groceries sitting in my hot car while I shop for another but that's just me.
Yes, we are required to have cooler bags but those only work well in hot cars with ice packs and I don't think every shopper has those.
The following one is a double order.
Instacart saves money on its Shoppers so while the base pay can be slightly higher with each additional order (up to three total), the increase in batch earnings isn't really great.
Here the 11 miles times 60 cents mileage pay gives you $6.6 toward mileage and 4.2 to shop those two orders, which is $2.1 per order.
Sometimes the Instacart pay is the same as for single orders, sometimes it's higher as you can see here because of the high mileage.
The difference is often negligible unless the mileage is high.
Again if you do the math here 45 miles x $.60 = $27 so you're only getting paid $1.50 to shop ($28.50 in batch earnings - $27 mileage pay = $1.50 to shop), the rest goes to mileage.
That's why it's important to pick orders with a decent tip.
I'll take this moment to reiterate:
Instacart is part of the tip-based industry so it's important to tip if you're a customer and it's important to avoid no or low tipping orders as a shopper because you rarely make a profit.
And no, no to low tipping customers won't (or rarely will) increase their tip after delivery because Instacart isn't exactly transparent about its pay structure but many customers also just don't understand the need to tip their Instacart shopper.
I hear things like "well Instacart should pay more so I'm not tipping and why don't you get a real job?" all the time, which is so not the point.
The point is, Instacart tries to cut corners when it comes to paying its shoppers, which I hope you can see from my examples.
Let's look at a triple order.
As you can see, the Instacart pay is $12.42 for mileage (20.7 x $.60 = $12.42) and again, just $1.50 to shop for three orders.
While it's not as far as the 45 miler from before, you still have to consider how you'll get back to your home area.
I would most likely have to backtrack the 20 miles for which I wouldn't get paid at all, plus the price of gas is always a consideration.
Instacart pay only includes mileage from the store to the customer(s), nothing in between or after; Instacart shoppers have to duke that out come tax season by keeping track of mileage.
As a shopper, I rarely take triple orders because there is at least one customer who doesn't tip or tip well.
Plus it's a lot to juggle cart space when shopping and items can get mixed up at checkout, which could end up affecting our ratings and as a result, access to future orders (good ones at least).
I have had quite a few lucrative double orders with great tips and low delivery distances so I continue to do those.
Anything that's not $0-$4. Those are never lucrative unless you're at the store and it's your last order of the day, which will pay to take you closer to home.
You generally wanna look for tips above $10, ideally even higher if the item count is above 20 since Instacart pay is so low.
I generally look for $15-$25 tip orders and of course above that. Those are rare but exist.
Personally, I'd rather sit at my home waiting for an order that's worth my while than to rush around taking no/low tip orders.
When I look at an order, I want to see the item count equal or be less than the total pay.
This goes for orders above 25 items, orders under 25 items or with double orders that have a long delivery distance, it doesn't really apply.
The above triple order wouldn't count as a good order as is but if it were a single order with a delivery distance under 10 miles, the 28 items = $32.65 would fall into the acceptable category.
That's just something I've learned after 1,200+ orders.
An Instacart heavy pay order is an order that includes a heavy item like a case of water so Instacart adds some pay for that.
Heavy pay can be anything from a few cents but is generally $1-$8, depending on how many heavy items.
Here is an order where the customer ordered 15 cases of water at Sam's club so Instacart pay was a little more.
But given the fact that it's a ridiculous order for the average shopper with a regular car (plus navigating the store with 15 cases of water is no small feat), the $20.67 Instacart pay and that tip are insufficient.
Customers sometimes forget that there is a person at the other end of Instacart that's willing to do what they can't or don't want to do but sometimes Instacart just allows some outrageous things.
Things like cat litter and 35+ lbs of dog food, although very heavy often don't really qualify for heavy pay, which is quite puzzling.
Here are two Aldi orders, one has heavy pay, the other just has that typical $9 Instacart pay, even though it has a case of water just like the other one.
Just because the order is smaller overall doesn't mean the water, which usually warrants heavy pay, isn't heavy.
It seems as though heavy pay on Instacart is just as willy nilly as some of its other practices.
Here are a couple of other heavy pay orders with an item count above 100.
They're both very similar in item count, yet one has a tip and the other doesn't so Instacart chose to opt for a lower pay for the order where the customer tipped.
Again, Instacart is saving money.
Instacart knows that the no tip order is not gonna get picked up at that item count in a timely manner so it provides a higher base pay than for the one that has the $15 tip.
The no tip order is most likely gonna get an additional boost from Instacart, which we'll get to in a moment.
The $15 tip for that item count is not sufficient, it should be at least $35+ in tip as it would take over two hours to complete just shopping, never mind checkout and loading/unloading).
These orders were just a few days apart so don't think they're unusual on Instacart.
Instacart often adds a boost when a low paying order (like a no tip or low tip) has not been picked up by an Instacart Shopper in a timely manner.
I knew this Sam's Club order would get a boost so I monitored it. At first it started with just $9.28 of Instacart pay.
Instacart starts adding a "Boost" to an order, often in $2 increments in hopes that an Instacart shopper will take it.
I usually see this boost capped after $8-$10 after which Instacart returns to the order's original pay if no shopper picked it up only to start the boost again.
Most of the time though, an Instacart shopper will pick up that order before it returns to its original Instacart pay (always showns as batch earnings in the screenshots).
In this case, a shopper picked up the order after 30 minutes of boosts in $2 increments totaling $8 in boost pay on top of the original $9.28.
Usually, a shopper will pick up an order with a boost even if it's a low or no tip order.
I generally stay away from those since the order has been sitting on Instacart for a while and low to no tip orders are not fun to shop for since no or low tipping customers generally don't value my time.
Your ratings matter and you don't want to delivery to a no/low tipping customer who has already been waiting for their order for hours.
While I've taken some no/low tipping orders as well, I've never had a no or low tipping customer increase their tip in over 1,200 orders.
Thus, never bank on a tip increase when you're taking an order whether it's a boost order or not.
Shopping a no/low tip order allows Instacart to get away with its low pay and continues to perpetuate bad tipping.
You can check out the different things that happen with a low/no tip order in this short video or skip ahead.
As you saw above, Instacart pay includes shopping AND delivery from the store to the customer with some exceptions in case of heavy pay and boosts.
Instacart tries to get away with the lowest pay possible upfront in hopes a new shopper will take low paying orders and will only add a boost after an order sits for a while.
As an Instacart shopper, you have to keep track of the mileage you travel from your house or wherever to the store and from the delivery to the next store or home, etc.
This is very important because otherwise you'll get hit with a very hefty tax bill.
You can use a mileage tracker.
There are some free ones like Stride but I'm currently using Everlance (not an affiliate, just telling you what I'm using), for which you have to pay but has some extra features.
You have to consider the gas spent going to stores and backtracking to your home base if you didn't get another order.
Before accepting an order you always have to ask yourself if you'll actually end up making a profit after the order or if you'll spend more on gas and once you consider taxes.
This is very important.
The Instacart shoppers that are still around after a few years never take low or no tip orders because we know we'll end up paying for it later since Instacart really doesn't pay all that much.
You have to look out for yourself.
Not usually, unless you consider the customers' tip. But you also have to factor in gas and taxes.
As I said, Instacart pay used to be between $7 and $9 per order, now it's less but I don't have enough data to show you my new earnings that reflect this so I'll show you my previous pay examples.
The order could take anywhere from 20 minutes (rarely unless it's 1-5 items and you're right by the store) or 60+ minutes so you could end up making $3.50 or $4.50 an hour if you grab a no or low ($2) tip order.
As you know by now, that's not really something you should do if you actually want to make money on Instacart.
Let's say a $15 pops up. Since there is no set schedule on Instacart (which I personally like) so you can't say oh this order will pay $15 an hour since it has 50 items and I know I can shop those in an hour.
Again, you have to consider travel to the store, which is often 15+ minutes if the store is around 3-ish miles from you.
That's already time and mileage you DO NOT get paid for but have to keep track of yourself.
Then assume you are able to shop the 50 items in an hour, you have to consider check out time, which could be another 10-15 minutes.
At some stores you also have to bag, which for bigger orders could take another 15 minutes.
You then have to load the items into your car and start your delivery, which while you get paid for the miles still takes a little while let's say another 15 minutes.
You then have to unload the items, take a pic if it's contactless and then you're done, right?
Right but you also have to consider that you're not gonna grab another order right away so you'll either have to backtrack to your original area or see if there are orders in the area you ended up in, which is sometimes not that far from your home base.
But as you saw in the examples, some orders have incredibly far delivery distances so you better know the area you end up in to grab another order or else you'll have to backtrack to your home base without getting paid the mileage unless you keep track of it yourself.
Tracking your mileage will reduce your tax burden but you won't actually get paid real money for mileage and gas.
In other words, you probably won't ever get a refund as a gig worker.
I had to pay thousands in taxes and was diligent about tracking my mileage to reduce some of that payment but it was still in the thousands.
The point is, you have to make sure you consider all the facts before grabbing just any low paying order.
I don't even have to mention that gas is expensive but even before gas prices skyrocketed, I wouldn't have dreamed of taking no or low tip orders.
As I said before, customers rarely (read: never) increase their tip if they're no or low tipping customers.
Those aren't that common and I rarely do them since I do DoorDash, UberEats and Grubhub if I want to deliver things.
In my area, Instacart pays around $5 (less now but I have yet to grab a screenshot) for delivery only so here is an example.
Delivery only orders on Instacart pop up just like regular orders but as you can see, they say "Deliver" rather than "Shop & Deliver".
You'll walk into the store, let someone know the name of the order, scan it in and deliver the order to the customer.
If one pops up, you want to take go for it but to me, Instacart delivery only orders are rarely worth my while.
Yes. The rest depends on the order's tip and some of the other factors I've outlined herein that are on an order by order basis.
Let's look at my examples to bring home the point about Instacart pay.
I've made over $1,000 a week and as little as $50 so it'll depend on your area and the availability of orders (batches) in that area.
Let me show you the $1,007 from January and a recent low week of $125 ish.
That way you can see what I would have made without tips and just Instacart batch earnings and why it's:
Here's the $1,007/week broken down. Bear in mind, the Instacart payment is before gas, taxes and mileage to the store and back to my home turf after I deliver, which I have to keep track of myself for tax season.
Here's the $1,007/week broken down.
If you do the math here, the Instacart batch (order) earnings was $331.35 for that week so:
Now let's look at it with the Instacart batch earnings plus tips:
Huge difference, right??
So even if you look at my smaller week, my Instacart pay (batch earnings) is still very similar.
In other words, Instacart's pay is consistent (consistently low) so you pretty much depend on customer tips.
Here, my weekly total was just $125.89 due to demand, which always fluctuates.
Here, Instacart paid $41.42 so:
If we're looking at the Instacart batch earnings with tips:
I hope this was helpful. Like I said, some orders are above the average $7-$9 but don't count on it.
You have to be smart about picking your orders and can't just anything that comes your way.
Instacart's batch earnings will be available to you right after you complete the delivery.
The tip will be available to you two hours after each delivery. Customers can decrease their tip during that two hour window or increase it during that time and for two days after the delivery.
You can choose to let your earnings add up the whole week and Instacart will transfer the money into your bank account on Monday (it usually arrives in your account on Wednesday) each week.
Or you can cash out whatever earnings you have at any given time with instant cashout for which Instacart charges 50 cents each time you cash out.
Be sure to check out more about shopping on Instacart below!
As promised, here are the links to the Instacart customer and shopper signup pages.
To sign up as a customer, go here.
To become an Instacart shopper, go here.
If you prefer to read more about being an Instacart shopper, I have some more basics for getting started, here.
For my Instacart Shopper Dos and Don'ts, go here.
For your unofficial based on real life training guide go here.
For "how to really order on Instacart" so you don't end up with weird replacements or missing items, go here.
For "how to tip on Instacart" go here.