In the age of the side hustle, many people are looking to add ways to increase their income. 

Luckily, delivery services are gaining popularity as a reliable and flexible way to earn money when it fits your schedule! 

If you become a delivery driver or shopper, you will become initiated in a community of nearly 1.3 million people across the United States who do the same job. Using the Solo app can be a great way to help you get started. Without transparent, market wide earnings information it can make your decision of where and when to work extremely difficult.  Solo is here to give you all the information you need to know what jobs are paying the most in real time and make it easy to plan your schedule to hit your earnings goal faster — guaranteed.

If you’re unsure of which platform to begin delivering on, one of the more lucrative delivery service options is Instacart

To get you up to speed on the details of Instacart shopping, we’ll cover:

  • What working for Instacart entails
  • How much shoppers make across the five major delivery service providers
  • A breakdown of the pay structure at Instacart
  • Less well-known factors that influence a paycheck with Instacart. 

Let’s begin!

A Quick Dive into Instacart

Instacart is a prominent shopping delivery and pickup service that primarily focuses on providing groceries and drugstore items, although stores in other categories have also partnered with Instacart. Instacart was founded in 2012 and has since revolutionized the way in which the general public goes grocery shopping. Over the last 11 years that it has been in business, the revenue of the company has continued to grow in 2023 as it achieved a 31% increase in June of 2023. Instacart services are supremely useful for busy professionals, overwhelmed parents, and individuals who simply don’t want to stop what they’re doing to grab groceries! Particularly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Instacart grew by approximately 330%. As the world continues to digitize and our daily tasks become more intertwined, services like Instacart will become staples across the United States. 

How Much Do Instacart Shoppers Make? A Detailed Look

In this section, we’ll be comparing and contrasting five delivery services: Instacart, Amazon Flex, Doordash, Uber, and Uber Eats with data from December 2022 to June 2023. 

In summary: Instacart shoppers make a respectable income while providing a needed service!

Hourly Earnings Across Platforms

The national average of earnings per driver in the United States for the above delivery platform places Instacart in the middle at $16.45/hr, while Amazon Flex drivers make $25.07/hr (at the high end) and DoorDash drivers collected $13.55/hr (at the low end). 

Additionally, Uber drivers also perform well at $22.96/hr, but UberEats drivers make significantly less at $16.37/hr. 

It pays to work efficiently on any of these platforms, so read on to see how to maximize your Instacart profits.

Earnings Per Trip

Next, we’ll discuss earnings per trip for drivers in the United States. Amazon Flex provides the greatest income at $18-26 per trip despite the variability in earnings. Instacart is a close second with average earnings of $15.15 per trip. 

All remaining platforms make less than $15 per trip, but trips with Uber Eats may require less time than trips with Instacart (especially if you live in an area with all of the restaurants in close proximity to each other, such as a major city).

Weekly Earnings

Weekly earnings can vary among delivery service providers. 

The national average (per week) of drivers’ pay across the United States varies greatly, as Uber driving averages $423.63/week, Instacart averages $196.85/week (Doordash is comparable), and Amazon Flex averages $311.76 per week. 

Monthly Averages

Lastly, when broken down by month, Uber drivers are paid the most at $1,136.46. 

Following Uber drivers, Amazon Flex drivers made $823.05. Uber Eats drivers made the least amount of money as their take-home pay averaged $431.38 per month, but Instacart wasn’t much higher with an average of $499.76/month. 

Monthly earnings can fluctuate depending on the number of hours worked per week, and the number of hours worked within peak boosts (which will be discussed later).

A Breakdown of The Earnings Structure of Instacart Shoppers

The earning structure can be categorized into four major components: base earnings, tips, batch incentives, and peak boosts. 

In this section of the article, we’ll break down the different earning categories and how to maximize them during your deliveries.

Base earnings

The base earnings of an Instacart shopper reflect the amount that the shopper earns per order. 

The calculation of base earnings varies depending on the company, but at Instacart, base pay is broken down into the number of items collected, the types of items, the store type, and the location.

Base earnings are fixed, but as you read on, you’ll learn of other components of the earning structure that can be altered by working more efficiently and with care.  


Tips are added on by customers in-app and are allocated based on good service. 

Although Instacart suggests a tip that is 5% of the total grocery bill, many will tip more than that – sometimes higher than 20%!

Tip culture is a major perk of working for Instacart; after all, people are extremely grateful to check grocery shopping off of their to-do list. 

If you are pleasant, ask the customer for item preferences/provide photos of the selection, and deliver their order in a timely manner, most people will gladly tip. 

Batch Incentives

The batch incentive tactic is designed to inspire Instacart drivers to accept multiple orders and complete batches, which is rewarded financially. The purpose of this incentive is for Instacart to complete orders more efficiently. 

If the batch requires additional mileage that exceeds what is expected, then the driver may be reimbursed for the travel. Don’t be afraid to accept orders that seem to be further than your normal route!

Peak Boosts

When a delivery time frame is busier than normal, the driver may receive a bonus for operating during peak periods. 

Orders during this time may be more dynamic or traffic might be a concern, so shoppers are incentivized to work during peak hours to make a little extra money.

It is recommended that you keep track of the peak boosts in your area and try to schedule your shifts within them. You are likely to get more orders and higher paychecks!

Some Factors Influencing Earnings

Beyond the pay structure that was just discussed, other factors can influence the overall earnings of Instacart shoppers. Particularly, specialized orders can provide shoppers with the opportunity to go the extra mile with customers. 

Order Density

If an order is particularly dense or has many heavy/high-ticket items, you may be compensated more. 

Additionally, customers may be more likely to tip shoppers who are able to deliver items that would otherwise have been challenging for them to carry and get home from the store. 

Specialized Orders

Orders can be specialized in two ways: the customer can request that the delivery occur faster than normal (by paying more), or they can contact the shopper and make special requests for the items that they want. 

To the second point, customers may want a photo of the options of ice cream that are available in the store. 

Similarly, if an item isn't listed on the Instacart database but the customer is aware that it’s there, the customer can contact you and ask you to grab it. 


Living in or near a major city or a heavily populated area can have perks for delivery personnel, but the perks vary by area. 

For example, people who drive for Uber in New York generate the most earnings, but those who use Instacart and Amazon Flex in Seattle also see an increase in their paycheck. 

Interestingly, working for UberEats in San Francisco is the most financially rewarding, but is the least lucrative for Chicago and Los Angeles. Chicago delivery drivers also earned the least delivering for Instacart. 

Expenses to Consider

Finally, delivery drivers have various expenses that should be considered prior to starting. 

Driving extensively can produce wear and tear on vehicles, as well as incur greater fuel costs than normal. Make sure to check your vehicle regularly to avoid serious damage, and drive safely! Also, your driver's license and insurance should always be up-to-date when driving with Instacart. 

Next, a cell phone is required to use any delivery platform, so your mobile data might increase as you finish more deliveries. 

Although these costs are normal and can sometimes be written off on your taxes, it is important to catalog them and cut back where necessary. You can use the Solo app to track your expenses so you can save big come tax time. The Solo app allows you to track all of your expenses, and even allows you to take photos of receipts, bills, etc. to ensure you’re not missing any potential tax deductions.

The Bottom Line

Instacart is a popular grocery delivery platform that can be very profitable with the above information in mind. 

Plenty of people use Instacart shopping to make money, such as college students, busy parents, or just those wanting a flexible schedule. We support thousands of Instacart Shoppers on the Solo app who use our Smart Schedule feature to find the best times to work and guarantee their pay with Instacart. The Solo app can also automatically track your income, mileage, and expenses to help you seamlessly manage your gig business.

Now that you have been shown the pay structure of Instacart (as well as the mindset that leads to financial success for shoppers), you’re ready to start shopping!


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