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Does Instacart Pay For Gas? What Shoppers Need to Know

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One of the most popular side hustles is signing up for driving apps that pay. You’re probably familiar with jobs like Instacart, where you get paid to deliver groceries to customers in your area.

Instacart is one of the most popular gig apps, mainly because Instacart shoppers make between $15 and $25 per hour, depending on their role type. Additionally, working on your own schedule gives Instacart shopping the flexibility people look for in a side hustle.

For Instacart and other driving apps, you must consider expenses like gas and vehicle maintenance to determine the actual cost and whether it’s worth it. So, does Instacart pay for gas?

This is a valid concern that most gig economy workers have, especially considering the rising cost of gas. You’ll need to spend money on gas and take care of your vehicle, so it’s important to have a business plan.

I’ll take you through Instacart’s payment policies, how they affect you as a shopper, and how you can save on fuel and other expenses to maximize your profits.

Does Instacart Pay for Gas?

No. Instacart doesn’t pay for gas or reimburse you for mileage and other vehicle-related expenses. As an Instacart shopper, you’re hired as an independent contractor, which means you use your vehicle to make deliveries and pay for expenses like maintenance and fuel. Instacart will not reimburse or give you a credit card for gas payments.

While this may sound discouraging, it’s standard practice for gig economy jobs. If you work jobs like DoorDash, you can expect to pay for your own gas and vehicle expenses. 

For most of these side hustles, you work as an independent contractor and not as the company’s employee, so you’re entitled to very few benefits, if any.

Instacart Shopper

Fortunately, you can write off all your work-related expenses come tax season. Ensure you keep track of your expenses to reduce your workload when filing taxes. 

You’ll also be able to write off your mileage for making deliveries.

To find out more about what expenses you can write off, it’s advisable to talk to a tax professional. There’s also tax prep software you can use to record and update your business expenses ahead of time.

Does Instacart Pay Mileage?

No, Instacart does not reimburse you directly for mileage.

However, according to Instacart, your payment is calculated based on the number of items in the order, the type of items, and the distance you cover for delivery.

Instacart uses these factors to determine a rough estimate of how much you’ll make per week.

Since driving distance is one of the factors used to determine how much you make for a delivery, Instacart technically pays you for mileage. 

However, as an Instacart shopper, you’re paid on the overall delivery, so there won’t be an amount set aside specifically for the mileage per order.

Given the gas and mileage expenses, you might consider taking the in-store shopper role instead. However, full-service shoppers tend to have a higher earning potential because they keep 100% of customer tips.

The important thing to keep in mind as an Instacart shopper is you’re an independent contractor, so it’s like running your own business. 

You’re in charge of your schedule, so it’s flexible, but you’re also in charge of your expenses, which calls for responsibility.

Instacart Temporary Gas Reimbursement

Given the soaring gas prices nationwide, Instacart came up with a way to support shoppers during these difficult times. 

The company developed a Temporary Fuel Surcharge to be implemented on customer orders to help offset gas prices for the shopper.

The temporary surcharge adds $0.40 to customer orders. The app shows the fuel surcharge clearly before the customer accepts a batch. 

The full amount of the fuel surcharge is passed on directly to Instacart shoppers. As a shopper, you’ll also see whether a batch includes a fuel surcharge.

Other gig apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash also put temporary fuel reimbursement measures to help support their workers. 

While the programs don’t eliminate the costly expense completely, it’s a significant step that helps lower expenses, even a little.

Additionally, Instacart always tells you how far you have to drive to deliver an order before accepting a batch, so you can always choose shorter distances to save on gas expenses.

Extra Reading: How Long is the Instacart Waitlist?

Tips To Save on Gas as an Instacart Shopper

Since Instacart doesn’t reimburse you for gas, it’s up to you to figure out how you’ll lower your expenses and maximize your profit. 

Unlike many driving apps where you make money for deliveries, as an Instacart shopper, you spend more time shopping. Still, the cost of gas can significantly eat into your earnings.

Below are a few tips you can use to save on gas as an Instacart shopper:

Keep Track of Your Mileage for Tax Deductions

For most gig economy apps like shopping for Instacart or driving for DoorDash, keeping track of your mileage is vital. 

This will come in handy during tax season; because you can claim your side hustle miles as a business expense. This is an effective way to save your money.

Even as you sign up for Instacart, they tell you that you can write some of your expenses when filing taxes as an independent contractor. Writing off all your expenses may not be possible, so it’s advisable to talk to a tax advisor.

Does Instacart Pay for Mileage?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a specific mileage rate for businesses, and you could potentially deduct some of your Instacart miles as a business expense.

You can work with a mileage-tracking app to make the tracking process easier.

Hurdlr, for instance, is a popular mileage-tracking app that automatically tracks your mileage. The app also has other features you can use to monitor your side hustle income.

Use Cash Back Reward Apps

Plenty of cash-back reward apps allow you to get cash back for everyday purchases like groceries. 

You can use any of these apps to save money with rebates, discounts, and offers for shopping at specific retailers.

As an Instacart shopper, most of your work involves shopping, so you can save a decent amount of money using cash-back reward apps like Checkout 51 or Ibotta

Save on Gas With Upside

You can also use reward apps like Upside to save on gas bills. With Upside, you can save up to $0.25 a gallon and redeem your amount for PayPal cash or gift cards to your favorite stores.

If you’re a full-service shopper and do a lot of driving, a cash-back reward app is necessary. As a gig economy hustler, you should also look into cash-back credit cards which will help you maximize your fuel savings. 

One of the best ways to increase your profit is to reduce operating costs.

Extra Reading: When Does Instacart Pay Shoppers?

Always Keep Gas Receipts

While you may use a mileage tracking app, keeping your physical gas receipts is also beneficial. Keeping a detailed record of your expenses makes it easier to get reimbursed later.

The IRS allows you to write off expenses like business miles and other vehicle maintenance costs like buying CO2 refills, turning your rotors, or credit checks to car rental companies. 

Ensure you have a record of all these expenses to have an easier time when filing your taxes.

Use Gas Price Apps

With fuel prices the way they’re, using a gas price app like Upside can help you save some cash. 

Gas apps help you locate cheap gasoline near you, offer you rewards like Amazon gift cards and cash back, and even help you to plan the best routes. This helps save you money and time.

Plenty of gas price apps exist, so you can choose one based on your preference. 

For instance, some apps offer features like a trip cost calculator and fuel logbook. Here are other popular gas apps you can try: 

  • GasBuddy
  • Gas Guru
  • Waze 

Get an Instacart Reimbursement App

You should also look for a delivery driver app that helps you save money. 

There are plenty of apps that help you save on expenses like parking fees, gasoline, and bridge tolls. You can find one of these apps to help you reduce your Instacart expenses.

Since there are several apps to choose from, the best app depends on your needs. 

For instance, if you live in a busy urban area where parking is costly, you should find an app that helps you track parking fees. If you live in an area with bridge tolls, an app that tracks tolls would be ideal.

Work During the Best Times

As an Instacart shopper, you’re probably aware that there are times when you can make pretty good money. To maximize your earnings and reduce your expenses, work during hours that pay the most.

Depending on your schedule, you can earn much money by making deliveries at a specific time. For instance, weekday mornings are popular among Instacart customers, so you should try and get batches around this time.

However, popular times also depend on demographic, so maybe most Instacart customers in your area make their orders during the weekends.

Take your time to do a little market research to determine the best time to go for Instacart runs in your area.

Instacart also has bonuses as incentives for shoppers who work peak hours, so working when there’s a high demand means you earn more than normal.

Extra Reading: The Best Jobs Like Instacart

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does Instacart Pay?

Instacart does not have a standard rate, as payment is determined based on factors like order size, types of items in an order, and the driving distance. 

However, according to salary review websites like Glassdoor and Indeed, you can expect to make about $15 to $20 as an Instacart shopper.

Does Instacart Pay Hourly?

It’s hard to predict Instacart’s hourly pay because the amount you make shopping for Instacart depends on several factors, including your role type. 

In-store shoppers make about $17 per hour, while the hourly rate for full-service shoppers ranges from $13 to as high as $25.

Does Instacart Pay Daily?

Instacart pays weekly. Shoppers are paid every Wednesday for batches completed between Monday and Sunday of the previous week. 

However, Instacart has an instant cash out option where shoppers can request their earnings instantly for a small fee. With this feature, you can withdraw your earnings daily.

Does Instacart Pay Weekly?

Yes. Instacart makes payments to its shoppers weekly. 

As an Instacart shopper, your weekly earnings for batches completed between Monday and Sunday midnight will be paid via direct deposit on Wednesday morning the following week. 

Some factors could cause delay, but you can always contact Instacart support.

Final Thoughts

Does Instacart pay for gas? No. But as a shopper, there are several steps you can take to reduce operational costs and maximize your profits. 

Shoppers are a vital part of the company, which is why programs like the temporary fuel reimbursement program are put in place.

When calculating your income from Instacart or other gig economy apps, it’s important to consider any expenses you incur. This way, you’ll know how much you actually earn and whether the job is worth your time and effort.

As an Instacart shopper, using tips like keeping track of your mileage and using gas price apps will help you lower your costs and maximize your profits.

Looking for other highest-paying side hustles? Consider driving for DoorDash or delivering for Amazon Flex.

Lydia is a personal finance expert and the founder of Sproutinue, a personal finance site helping you find legit ways to make money, save money, and achieve financial freedom. She has been featured on various major financial publications, including Investopedia, Business Insider, GoBankingRates, and more.

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