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How Instacart Works: Everything You Need to Know

How Instacart Works: Everything You Need to Know

How does instacart work? I get this question a lot from readers; so today I want to do a quick dive into exactly how instacart works for beginners.

Instacart is an on-demand delivery platform that connects deliverers with customers who want groceries delivered to their homes.

Instacart was founded in 2012, and is available in most major U.S. cities.


Although not the biggest player in the sharing economy, Instacart is a growing player and is currently valued at over $2 billion.

How Instacart Works

So how does Instacart work? Easy. Users log onto the Instacart website or app to choose the groceries they want from the stores they want.

The shopper then travels to the store, pays for the groceries with Instacart’s prepaid debit card, and then delivers those groceries to the customer.

Simple as that.

For users, Instacart offers a membership fee for 1 year priced at $99. With this membership you get free delivery for the year. Otherwise, orders over the amount of $35 required a $4-$6 fee, and for orders under $35, there is an $8-$10 fee.


How Instacart Works: Features

An interesting feature for users of Instacart is that you can schedule an order for a particular date and time. Need those low-fat creamers once a month? No problem!

Also, Instacart is great for people who want to shop at Costco, but do not have a membership. With Instacart, shoppers are prepared with a Costco membership so you don’t need one.

What if a product you want isn’t available? Instacart has a substitution feature where you can choose alternatives when selecting groceries.

So if they’re out of Taco Explosion Doritos, you can settle plain ruffles and chili powder.


Instacart doesn’t work with every grocery store, so you can check their service area page to see which grocery stores are offered in your area.

Once you place an order, the confirmation page will give you updates on how the order is progressing, the name of the shopper, when they finish shopping, and when they’re en route to you. Receipts are then conveniently e-mailed to you.

How Does Instacart Work For Making Money?

As with any service, there are fees associated with Instacart, and this is how they, and the shoppers, make their money.

The Instacart shoppers receive orders directly on their smartphones. Shoppers will then go pick up the identified products at the selected stores and then deliver them to the buyers.


Instacart makes money from the delivery fee and price markups on certain food items. But, the markup can also be a markdown. Sometimes Instacart will charge less than the in store price for a particular item.

If you’re looking to apply as a shopper, check out their website and application process. The good thing about being a shopper with Instacart is that any type of car fits their requirements as long as it’s functioning. Even this:


As a shopper, you do need to complete a background check, need to be 21 years or older, you need to be able to lift 30 pounds at least, and own a smartphone obviously.


This is how Instacart works.

Are you regularly looking to fill spare time slots in your day? Looking for a flexible job option where you can simply turn on your phone and accept work?

Check out Instacart now, work a few jobs, and see if it’s right for you.

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  1. stephanie

    if the shopper pays with instacarts prepaid card. do you pay the shopper once they bring the groceries?

    • Glenn Carter

      My understanding is that as a shopper you are automatically paid through the Instacart platform. So, no you don’t ever pay the shopper directly, it’s all done through the app which is linked to your preferred payment method.

  2. Kevin

    Do they allow you to work as a shopper deliverer in areas other than your home neighborhood? maybe two or three other areas as well?

    • Glenn Carter

      From my understanding, you’re limited to a city rather than a neighborhood. Did you experience something different?

  3. Bob

    The price markup feature makes this whole thing scary. Could you please elaborate on what limits if any exist for markups?

    • Glenn Carter

      Yes, the markup can be quite steep, and it depends entirely on the location. Unfortunately, this is the reality for now – But I haven’t heard too many deliverers complaining to me so I don’t think it’s as widespread of a problem.

  4. shana

    I just signed up to instacart and completed all my paperwork. how long would it take to get my payment card so i can start picking up hours

    • Glenn Carter

      Hey Shana! Did you hear back yet about your Instacart application? It shouldn’t take long.


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