Instacart Tipping Guide: Should You Tip?

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If you are fond of shopping through Instacart but get confused at the time of tipping, here is a complete guide on Instacart tipping that can help you make a just decision. Keep reading!

As much as we all love shopping, there are days when you just don’t want to leave the house. It could be your cozy bed calling you or the latest blog article on Instacart tipping or simply bad weather outside that you want to avoid. 

However, when you’ve finished that last packet of ramen and the cereal’s gone too, you don’t really have any other option. Or do you?

Fortunately for us, with the rising popularity of gig economy and gig economy jobs, there’s a lot you can get done by just sitting on your couch. 

Instacart logo

This has a lot to do with the rapid technological advancements in our modern age. Most of these gig economy jobs revolve around sophisticated apps and software on our phones and laptops. One example of this is Instacart. 

What is Instacart?

As mentioned earlier, we all have days when we’re feeling a little extra lazy. However, with an empty fridge and pantry, you can’t delay that grocery shopping any longer.

At times like those, we just wish we could get someone else to do it for us. Well, that’s exactly what Instacart does. 

About the Company

  • Founded: 2012
  • Headoffice: San Francisco, California, US
  • Operates in: US and Canada
  • Value: $8 billion

So what Instacart does? Well, it allows you to do your complete grocery shopping, from finding the items to checking out to delivery, all of it from the comfort of your own home.

All you need to do is access the Instacart website from your PC, or you can even use the Instacart app, which is available on Android and iOS phone systems. 

Once you’ve signed up on Instacart, you can browse your local grocery shops and start selecting the products you wish to buy. After that, you can proceed to add your desired delivery time. One of the impressive things about Instacart is its prompt delivery. 

The people who deliver and drop off your groceries are the Instacart drivers or shoppers. Sometimes, your groceries arrive within an hour, which could take much less time than what you might take.

Moreover, if you want, you can even have the groceries delivered late by a few hours or even days.

work for instacart 

What’s more? If you’d rather prefer to pick the groceries yourself, there’s an option for that as well. However, this feature isn’t available everywhere, so you might have to rely on your local Instacart drivers only.

Now, the question arises:

Do you tip Instacart drivers?

To answer that, we need to understand first, how exactly Instacart works. It’ll help us conclude how much these drivers make and whether we should tip them.

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How Does Instacart Work

Instacart hires these individuals on a contractual basis to do the shopping and delivery on behalf of their customers.

Whenever you want to avail of Instacart’s services, you have to pay a small amount as delivery fees, which is between $4 to $10, depending on your order. 

in-store instacart shopper

Once you’ve chosen everything you want to buy and placed the order, there’s an Instacart driver or shopper who will be waiting on the other side.

He will receive your order through the Instacart app and start executing it.

Now, there are two types of shoppers: full-service shoppers and in-store shoppers.

  • Full-Service Shopper

A full-service shopper will drive to the particular grocery store, and find all your items in the different aisles. If he doesn’t find a specific item from your list, he will contact you for the next best alternative. 

With everything in his cart, he’ll go to checkout, scan everything and bag it, load everything into his car, and drive to your house.

Over there, he will once again unload everything from his car and then deliver each bag to your house. 

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  • In-Store Shopper

An In-Store Shopper will do pretty much the same tasks, except that he doesn’t have a car. Therefore, he won’t deliver your groceries. He will simply find and bag them in the store for you to pick up. 

All of this might seem pretty straightforward, but it is actually harder than it sounds. These shoppers have to fulfill your orders regardless of any other conditions.

Imagine lugging around heavy bags full of cans of soup. Many a time, delivery orders come from apartments, so shoppers have to carry the heavy groceries across multiple flights of stairs. 

full-service instacart shopper

Sometimes, the delivery involves driving in dangerous or extreme weather. Either way, it is pretty apparent that these Instacart drivers are doing a big service for you.

Moreover, when you’re paying additional delivery fees, service fees, and any tips on top of your grocery items, you do expect exceptional service. 

However, for all that you pay, how much of it actually goes to the shopper? How is he compensated for all his hard work?

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How Much Do Instacart Workers Make

With the number of gig economy jobs increasing and more and more people joining the field, you might believe that such jobs offer these contractual workers a lot of money. However, that is not always the case.

Contrary to popular opinion, these Instacart drivers aren’t paid on an hourly basis. Initially, Instacart would advertise that their drivers can earn up to $25 per hour. However, that figure wasn’t an accurate representation of their earnings and was taken down consequently. 

Shoppers rather get paid on every order they deliver. As a result, what happens is that once they’ve logged in on the app and their shift has started, they’re not really getting paid from the get-go.

While they are just waiting for orders to arrive, they’re not earning anything.

instacart employees

Only when they finally get an order, and they deliver it, do they earn money on it. Previously, Instacart was paying its shoppers $0.30 for every unique item in their order. What this means is that if you’re ordering five different items, the shopper will get 0.30 times five, which equals $1.50 for that order. 

However, if you ordered ten bottles of the same water, the shopper only gets $0.30 for that one unique item. You can see why shoppers were unhappy with this payment system.

Currently, Instacart is still paying on an order basis, but it is slightly different.

Their newest algorithm considers many factors before deciding the total pay. For instance, how heavy are the items in the order, how far is the delivery point, how busy it is.

Combining all this, Instacart pays its shoppers a batch payment separate from the tips. 

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Instacart shoppers also get a chance to earn bonuses. There are two kinds of bonuses:

  • Peak Bonus
  • Quality Bonus

As with all businesses, there are certain rush hours or busy times. Naturally, this occurs in gig economy services such as Instacart as well. During these peak business hours, shoppers are awarded peak bonuses on every order they deliver.

Similarly, they are also awarded quality bonuses on having good performance and providing excellent service during deliveries.

These bonuses are usually calculated through shopper reviews and ratings. 

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Are You Supposed to Tip Instacart Drivers?

Instacart hasn’t really put out an exact figure on how much or how Instacart workers make money. Moreover, they haven’t defined their precise payment structure either, and with changing times, they keep revising their payment methods too. 

However, based on everything we know so far and after talking to some previous Instacart shoppers, we can carve out a rough estimate of how much these drivers make.

These rates consider lots of other variables such as which city we’re operating in, the rush hours, etc. For instance, the pay rates in New York will be slightly higher than in Miami.

Considering all this, a full-time shopper earns somewhere between $7 to $20 per hour, with the average usually around $11 to $15 per hour. If you take the case of an In-store shopper, this would probably be lesser. Essentially then, it’s barely more than the minimum wage.

Furthermore, it’s always possible that a shopper goes beyond this range.

On slow days, it can drop below $7 as well, and on busy days, a shopper can earn more than $30 per hour as well. 

With all this in mind, we’d say the answer is pretty clear to whether you should tip Instacart drivers or not.

With such little pay and so much uncertainty, Instacart tips make a big part of their total income as any customer tip goes entirely into the shopper’s pocket. 

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How Much to Tip Instacart Drivers

Since this gig economy, while very popular, is still quite new for everyone. We’re not sure exactly how everything works, how much these gig economy jobs pay, and more importantly, how much you should tip these workers?

Well, these Instacart drivers might work on a contractual basis, but if you look closely at their work, it’s not that much different from that of a waiter or server.

They’re all working on nearly minimum wage, relying heavily on tips, and providing you with a service to make your life easier.

Therefore, we’d say the same tipping principles apply to them as well.

Even though the Instacart app, by default, is set to give a 5% tip, you can go into the settings and change it. As it is normally recommended to give a 15 to 20% tip to your server, you can do the same with your Instacart driver. 

You can either give a tip through the app when you’re checking out or give him the cash tip when he arrives at your doorstep. A satisfied shopper will, in return, give you a satisfying experience. 

Additionally, there are a lot of expenses on the shopper’s end that he doesn’t get any compensation for. He ends up paying all of them out of his meager earnings.

For instance, any maintenance they have to do on their vehicles, the vehicle’s depreciation, any extra time and effort they put in under unforeseeable circumstances.   

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Conclusion on Instacart Tipping

We’ve been talking about Instacart being a way out when you’re feeling lazy. However, even besides that, the platform is a useful tool for many people.

For instance, working individuals, especially single mothers, can greatly benefit from services such as these. 

Moreover, we need to realize that there are equally busy and hardworking people on the other side. Therefore, just as you would tip a waiter generously each time, these Instacart drivers also deserve a proper tip. 

They provide you with a valuable and convenient service that doesn’t help them make money that much. As a result, each and every dollar of their tip counts. 

Do you know all the Instacart tipping information you need to know? 

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