Instacart Super Shopper Shares His 7 Best Tips for Maximizing Earnings

Advertiser Disclosure

Our readers always come first

The content on DollarSprout includes links to our advertising partners. When you read our content and click on one of our partners’ links, and then decide to complete an offer — whether it’s downloading an app, opening an account, or some other action — we may earn a commission from that advertiser, at no extra cost to you.

Our ultimate goal is to educate and inform, not lure you into signing up for certain offers. Compensation from our partners may impact what products we cover and where they appear on the site, but does not have any impact on the objectivity of our reviews or advice.

This Super Shopper has made over $4,500 shopping with Instacart in just two months. If you’re a shopper who wants to maximize your earnings, he provides some Instacart shopper tips to take advantage of.

Our number one goal at DollarSprout is to help readers improve their financial lives, and we regularly partner with companies that share that same vision. If a purchase or signup is made through one of our Partners’ links, we may receive compensation for the referral. Learn more here.

From mattresses to cars, many of the industries we once thought could only be done in person are now seeing great success online.

One of the most notable is grocery shopping.

In 2019, only 3% to 4% of grocery shopping in the US was done online. According to a recent CNBC study, that number soared to as much as 10% to 15% of total grocery sales in 2020.[1]

That’s great news for side hustlers looking to make a little extra money delivering groceries. Chris Cucchiara, who’s only been shopping for Instacart for about two months, has already made over $4,500. About $3,000 of that was made in only 24 hours worth of driving.

If you’re a shopper who wants to maximize your earnings, Cucchiara provides some Instacart shopper tips to take advantage of.

7 Shopper Tips to Make the Most Money with Instacart

If you don’t already work for Instacart, you should sign up to become an Instacart shopper first. Once you’re ready to accept your first batch, which is what Instacart calls their orders, you can start looking for how to make the most money with Instacart.

Instacart guarantees a minimum batch payment between $7 and $10 for shopping and fulfillment, based on your location. If you only fulfilled the delivery of an order, your guaranteed minimum payment is $5.

Shoppers who shop and deliver batches are independent contractors, whereas those who don’t do deliveries are considered part-time employees of Instacart or the grocery store they’re shopping at. This distinction makes delivery more lucrative and gives you more ways to optimize your earnings.

1. Go to a location with high demand.

To get higher earnings you’ll need more batches. The best way to make the most money with Instacart is to be in an area with high demand. These zones have less competition and more opportunities to find higher payments per batch.

Instacart has recently updated its Shopper App to help you find these high-demand areas. The app will show if your current zone has limited batch availability, and if there’s another zone nearby with more. Orange and red “busy areas” indicate where more batches are available, and you can move to any busy area you choose.

2. Be selective with the batches you choose.

Accept Instacart batch

Cucchiara says the real secret to achieving high earnings is to be selective with the batches you pick. “The key is to wait to take orders until they make you about $30 per hour,” he said. “This is done by getting preferably only one order and not two or three.”

He also says to take into consideration the number of items in the order and the total distance. While Instacart does pay you $0.60 per mile, he says you can make the most money with Instacart by sticking to batches that are closer to the store to cut down on delivery time and open you up to another batch as quickly as possible. He’s found the sweet spot for completing a delivery in an hour is about 25 to 40 items in a batch.

Cucchiara says he sees these optimal batches in the morning, later at night on the weekdays, and around 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

Tips play a big part in earning a high hourly rate. “The average percentage of tips I get is around 15 percent of the shop,” he said. “I try to get orders that offer higher than normal tips, so it makes financial sense.”

But don’t be too picky, especially when you’re starting out. One of the ways Instacart prioritizes who they show batches to first is by the number of batches they accept. The app will end your shift if you reject too many shops in a row.

Related: 15 Ways to Make Money Delivering Food, Packages, and More

3. Get peak hour pay boosts.

During “peak” times, Instacart incentivizes shoppers with a pay boost for each batch. Peak boosts can go up to $12, but Cucchiara mostly sees ones around $8 in his area.

Peak time slots are competitive, but the Instacart Shopper App lets you see peak times before selecting your shift. To make sure you get one, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to claim your shift before they’re all gone.

4. Improve your customer rating.

In November 2019, Instacart discontinued the “quality” bonus that gave shoppers a $3 bonus for every 5-star rating. But there’s still incentive to improve your customer rating.

Instacart has said the highest-rated shoppers will be able to view and accept batches first. While this negatively affects new shoppers, you’ll get consistent access to more high-ticket batches once you have several 5-star reviews.[2]

Always think of small ways you can go above and beyond, but Cucchiara says don’t forget to be proactive about avoiding pitfalls that lead to lower reviews.

“Keep a charger on you and a computer in your car, just in case your phone dies or is about to. That way you can plug it in and keep shopping,” he said. “[You] don’t want to run out of juice while you’re in the store.”

5. Be quick.

Instacart earnings

Cucchiara also emphasized the importance of speed when trying to make the most money with Instacart. He prefers drop-offs near grocery stores to limit driving and be in proximity of your potential next batch.

Selecting low-travel batches is one way to be quick, but there are plenty of time traps you can also avoid to give yourself an edge.

Don’t overthink replacements. The shopper app will suggest possible replacements, so unless you believe their suggestions are totally off-base, pick one and move on. Park in a spot that’s close to the exit and a cart corral so you can get out quickly.

Lastly, learn the layout of the stores. The better you know where items are, the quicker you can find them and get out.

“I doubled my income once I knew the stores better,” Cucchiara said. “Also, ask the people that work there for help. Even if you feel like you’re annoying them. This will help you get the orders done faster and get to know the stores better.”

6. Double check the app.

Cucchiara also says to renew the queue often to reveal new orders. “I scroll down a lot on the app when looking at the order queue,” he said. “Oftentimes if I don’t do that, I will miss orders.”

Making sure you see all the available batches will ensure you don’t miss high-paying orders that come up after the smaller ones.

7. Refer your friends.

If you have friends who want to get paid to shop, Instacart will pay you to refer them.

Once you’ve logged at least 40 hours on the platform, you’ll get a personal Instacart referral code and link to share. When someone signs up using your referral code or link, is approved, and completes 45 batches in 30 days, you’ll get a referral bonus.

The actual bonus varies by your location, but it’s reported to be anywhere from $100 to $1,000.

How to Know if Instacart Is the Side Hustle for You

Grocery delivery can be a great way to make extra income, but it’s not for everyone. Those best suited for Instacart are people who are familiar with their local grocery stores and surrounding neighborhoods, quick on their feet, and can lift around 40 pounds without help.

If you find it’s not for you, there are plenty of other side hustle apps to help you make extra income.

Whatever side hustle you choose, remember that putting a little extra effort and thought into whatever you’re doing is the only way to yield above average earnings in the long run.

Related: Shipt Shopper Review: How Much Money Can I Make as a Shipt Shopper?

Author
Jen Smith

Hi, I'm Jen! As a best-selling Amazon author writing about minimalism, spending less, and making more money, my work has been featured in U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo Finance, Money Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2017 my husband and I finished paying off $78,000 of debt and that's what I help others do here.

18 comments
Floyd
Floyd

You should be talking to me. Depending on how hard I feel like working I make 1 to 2 thousand per week. I would probably cry if I made less than then $4,000 in a month. I know all the tricks and don’t break any rules. I’ve shopped in over 10 states. I spend most of my time in a very small markets with lots of shoppers as well.

Jillian Braderman
Jillian Braderman

Hi Floyd, I’d love to hear some of your tips and tricks!

Debbie Weber
Debbie Weber

Hi Floyd, I’m new to this, and I would love to learn your tricks and tips, please!

Zim
Zim

I was about to say, I don’t make anywhere near this because I don’t do it that often, but on days I go hard…it’s clear you can make a $1,000+ week delivering, especially if you DoorDash as well. (And I don’t even live in a town with over 50,000 people.)

Jennifer
Jennifer

Would love to hear your tricks. I’m just getting started.

LeaAnne
LeaAnne

Floyd, I’d love some tips on how to make the most out of my time on Instacart, please!

Kate
Kate

I don’t understand how people are saying they’re making so much from Instacart. I only have 5-star ratings so far and I BARELY break $100 per day (and that’s from working 7a-8p). On average I’m making $10 per order and that’s definitely not worth it with these gas prices. What am I doing wrong? Also, I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone tip on top of the already included tips, DESPITE having good reviews! I know the stores that I generally accept layouts very well after doing the time I have. I just don’t understand how people are saying they’re making such good money from this!

Lisa
Lisa

I totally agree with you Kate. I also average around $10 to $15 an hour. And those are even on good shops with decent tips.

Darla
Darla

I am right there with you Kate, I have held the position of front-end supervisor at Sprouts, in the grocery business for over 35 years and I definitely know customer service and excellent customer to boot.

However, that doesn’t matter to Instacart customers because they just don’t give a hoot about anyone but themselves. It’s what they can get for free no matter who you are or how hard you work to get the job done. Making sure everything is close to perfect as possible because no one is perfect. I can’t win with some of these people and I have stopped trying so hard. Because at the end of the day I am true to myself, I worked hard, I did an excellent job by accomplishing my goal for the day, and most of all I did the job I was required to do by providing my shopping services.

Just because I choose IC as my full-time job does not mean I am beneath the people I shop for, far from it. And if anyone that is an Instacart customer reads this just know this: You might think you’re pretty clever by cheating the system and IC allows this to happen. But what goes around comes around and in the end, you will only be hurting yourself. Only time will tell. Why do people like hurting others? The only thing I can think of is that they must enjoy being hurt themselves and do not care how they are treated and that is sad. I work hard for my earnings as it’s my livelihood and how these customers are with their bad behavior is unacceptable and to me, they are nothing but lowlife skum bags and a disgrace to humanity. A couple of things to keep in mind.

It doesn’t matter how many nice things you do for someone that person will always be miserable no matter how hard you try. I will not allow anyone to take away my power and that is why I don’t let these people get to me. Sure it upsets me how we get treated but who wouldn’t be? But no one can make me feel anyway, I won’t allow them to. I can only control my emotions. Everyone have a wonderful day 😊.

Shauna
Shauna

I would love to know any tricks you have for me! I’m working approximately 6 hours a day and a bunch of new shoppers started in my small town. Do you have any tips for me to beat the newbies and make money like you?

Melinda
Melinda

Yes, Floyd, I’d like to know how you make so much shopping!? I have a question for you established shoppers… when it’s BOGO, do you just grab the extra free one for the customer or ask if they want an extra item? My friend keeps the extra one for himself and I think it’s tracked and wrong!

Jami Bova-Whitehead
Jami Bova-Whitehead

Do you use your shoppers club number for credit?

Daniela
Daniela

Hi Floyd, I would love to know some of your tips and tricks!

Sean
Sean

This is amateur. I made a whopping $2,400 last week on Instacart and kill the game. This is also a crazy 7 day, 12 hours a day schedule but it is a mad hustle and I go hard and work fast. Takes a lot of time to get here but man is it worth the effort.

Karen Letts
Karen Letts

It doesn’t have a way to contact you about your strategies. Do you have a way to email you?

Jannette Braddock
Jannette Braddock

Hi Floyd, I would like to learn more of your tips and strategies to maximize earnings working IC.

A. D.
A. D.

Hey guys, just wanted to say the answer is to find the sweet spot in your area.

Sweet spot meaning 1) A popular grocery store like Wegmans and 2) A busy town with lots of folk with money.

And trust me, it has to be those two together. You can have a town with rich people, yet a sucky grocery store and not get any money. You will make $150 to $200 daily this way if you start at 6 AM. After that, get to platinum status and you’ve really hit gold.

Roberto
Roberto

I’m an Instacart Shopper and I make $1500 to $1700 a week. And I don’t use any bots or batch grabbers!

Leave your comment

You May Also Like