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Shopping and delivering groceries with Instacart is a lucrative side hustle, with most Instacart shoppers earning north of $20 an hour.
Like other gig economy apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats, you get to keep 100% of customer tips, which increases your earning potential.
One of the main reasons Instacart is a popular side hustle is its flexibility. As an Instacart shopper, you can choose when and how much you work. This also means the amount you make depends on you.
As with other jobs like Instacart, you must work efficiently to maximize your earnings. If you just signed up as a shopper or are already delivering groceries, you’re probably looking for ways to boost your earnings.
Here are the best Instacart tips and tricks to help you make more money.
The Best Instacart Tips and Tricks to Make More Money
As a new shopper, learning the ropes might take some time, so it’s okay if you don’t hit the ground running immediately.
As you familiarize yourself with how the app works, it will become easier to make more money.
Here are a few Instacart tips and tricks to help you along.
1. Be Intentional About the Batches You Choose
One of the advantages of working as an Instacart shopper is you get to choose the batches you deliver.
If you want to boost your earnings on the platform, you have to select your batches carefully to earn a better hourly rate.
As you browse through the batches, look at things like:
- How many items are there in the order
- How far are you from the store
- How far is the store from the delivery address
All these factors will influence how long it takes you to complete the order. The faster you complete it, the quicker you can deliver other orders.
One of the Instacart shopper hacks is avoiding orders that require you to drive a long distance just to deliver a small order because the amount you earn probably won’t be worth the effort.
Choosing batches is a skill you develop over time as you gain experience.
If you’re a beginner off the Instacart waitlist, you should accept as many batches as possible as you work on getting your rating up.
2. Communicate With Your Customers
Another helpful Instacart tip and trick to remember is to always communicate with the customer.
Communicating with the client and asking for clarification makes the whole process easier and boosts your chances of getting a tip.
When should you contact the customer?
- When the order starts, introduce yourself and let them know you’re on it.
- Asking for alternatives when you need to find replacements
- Letting them know when there’s a delay
Interrupting your shopping to text your customer would be counterproductive, so you can use voice text instead.
Communicating with the customer makes the shopping process easier and helps you increase your shopper rating.
When you get good ratings as a Shopper, you’re entitled to Instacart perks that help boost your earnings.
3. Look for Peak Pay
As you familiarize yourself with Instacart, you’ll come across Peak Boosts, which is extra pay that you get for shopping when there’s a high demand for shoppers.
This is one of the simplest Instacart tips and tricks that can significantly boost your earnings.
Before you can choose a batch, Instacart shows you your estimated earnings, so you can select higher-paying batches.
Consider the number of items and the distance you need to cover to decide if the Peak Boost makes the batch a good option.
Sometimes Peak Boosts will make you choose batches you wouldn’t usually choose. For instance, the distance may be farther than you’re willing to go, but the Peak Pay makes the order worth it.
4. Familiarize Yourself With Stores
The faster you complete deliveries, the easier you can increase your earnings.
One of the best ways to complete your orders faster is to familiarize yourself with grocery store layouts. If you know where things are, you’ll spend less time shopping for each order.
It’s advisable to visit a few local grocery stores before accepting jobs, as this will help you complete your shopping trips faster when you start working.
You can browse the Instacart Shopper app to see which stores are most popular among the customers so you can learn their layouts.
As you go through the aisles and take note of where things are, you should also learn about the checkout process. Check for self-checkout lanes and express lanes for when you have smaller orders.
5. Carry an Insulated Food Bag
Most of the Instacart tips and tricks for making more money revolve around providing exemplary service to your customers.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to bring an insulated food bag on your shopping trips. The bag helps ensure hot and cold products remain at the right temperature as you make the delivery.
Some of the most popular temperature food items among Instacart customers include:
- Ice cream
- Fresh meat
- Hot meals
- Refrigerated foods
- Cold drinks
You can buy insulated food bags from places like Amazon and Walmart. Some shoppers use a cooler box, but it may be cumbersome. Insulated bags are easier to use as you make the deliveries.
Extra Reading: When Does Instacart Pay Shoppers?
6. Improve Your Shopping Efficiency
How much money you make as an Instacart shopper depends on your efficiency. Here are a few pro shopper tips to improve your speed:
- Start with deli orders: If you’re going to shop for deli orders or other items that involve waiting, shop for them first. You can get a waiting ticket and continue shopping meanwhile instead of waiting around.
- Bag produce as you wait: You can save a significant amount of time by bagging the produce as you wait to check out rather than waiting to bag the items when you pick them up.
- Check off the items as you shop: Every time you put an item on the shopping cart, mark it as found on the shopping list. This way, you won’t have to waste time double-checking that you got everything.
7. Ask For Help From Store Employees
Another simple tip is to ask for help when you need help finding a specific item in the store. The store employees know the place better than you do, so they’re in a position to help you.
Rather than wasting your time making rounds in the store, asking for help from the associates makes more sense. This helps you save time, complete your deliveries faster, and boost your earnings.
Remember also that it may still take time for the employees to answer your questions and track down the item, so only ask for help when it’s absolutely necessary.
You can build a rapport with the staff as you shop in the store often. You never know when it will come in handy.
8. Be Fast With Replacements
One of the greatest time-wasters for Instacart shoppers is stopping to think about replacements.
Sometimes the items specified by the customer are out of stock, and you have to find alternatives. In most cases, you can use your judgment and pick an alternative to move on.
It’s a good practice to check the order for any customer notes. Some customers will specify the alternatives you can get, or they’ll say they don’t want a replacement.
These specifications are helpful because they’ll help you save time and move on to the next item on the list.
If you’re unsure, you can text the customer quickly to ask them about their preferred replacement.
Keep shopping while waiting for the response to avoid spending more time than is necessary.
9. Provide Stellar Customer Service
As I’ve mentioned earlier, your rating significantly affects how much you make as an Instacart Shopper.
Additionally, excellent customer service increases the chances of getting a good tip, considerably boosting your earnings.
Here are a few tips to help improve your customer service:
- Be polite: Politeness and friendliness are valued in any profession, and your customers will appreciate such traits.
- Go the extra mile: You can offer additional services like helping to carry the items into the house, especially for older adults or people who seem to need the help.
- Arrange the items properly: It’s a good practice to sort the items appropriately and arrange them in the shopping bag so that the customer will easily unload them.
10. Keep the Receipts
After completing your orders, you may want to discard the receipts to declutter, but holding on to them is a good idea.
When you deliver the items to the customer, they receive an email receipt, but you should keep the physical receipts.
For one, keeping receipts will be helpful if the customer claims they didn’t receive a particular item. If you have the receipt, you can prove that you purchased and delivered the item.
Secondly, keeping receipts helps you keep track of your expenses for tax purposes.
Instacart shoppers are independent contractors, so keeping track of expenses like car maintenance, gas, and other work-related costs is essential so you can write them off on your taxes.
11. Use Receipt Apps
Another excellent Instacart shopper trick is to use receipt reward apps.
There are tons of reward apps available where you can earn PayPal cash and gift cards for scanning and uploading your receipts.
This is one of the easiest ways to earn passive income besides your Instacart earnings.
As an Instacart shopper, you’ll have way more receipts than the average person, and these are items you didn’t pay for with your own money, so it’s free cash. This means your earning potential is a lot higher.
Here are a few reward apps you can try:
- Fetch Rewards
- Receipt Hog
Some apps require you to purchase specific items to get rewards, but others pay you for all itemized receipts. Look into the requirements of each app to find the best fit for you.
12. Ensure Your Phone is Charged
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many shoppers have been stranded due to a dead phone.
The last thing you want to happen while shopping for a client is to have your phone shut down due to low charge.
Getting into the habit of charging your phone before going out for Instacart runs is advisable. If you can, you should also buy a portable phone charger that you’ll carry with you to ensure your phone doesn’t die.
The amount of preparation is often the difference between pro shoppers and those who struggle. Typically, the amount of thought you put into the job determines your earning potential.
13. Track Your Mileage
One of the best Instacart tips and tricks is treating jobs like Instacart like any other business.
This means you want to track your expenses, from fuel costs to wear and tear on your car. You can use a mileage tracking app to keep track of the miles you cover while out on delivery.
When you can accurately track your mileage and other expenses, you’ll have an easier time figuring out how much you earn per hour after costs.
Tracking your mileage is also useful come tax season because you can deduct business mileage on your returns to lower your taxable income.
14. Consider Taking Double Batch Orders
Doing double batch orders is another genius trick for Instacart shoppers.
Instacart allows you to do double batches, provided you have completed 60 deliveries on the app. With a double batch order, you can complete two deliveries at once.
This means you’ll assemble two separate orders and make the deliveries separately. It helps boost your hourly income because you’ll only spend time shopping at one single store for two customers rather than driving to another store for the second batch.
With double batches, you need to be extra keen because you’ll have to keep the orders separate at every step of the process to avoid confusing items.
You should have a good system in place to divide the products for each customer.
15. Get a Collapsible Grocery Cart
Another Instacart Shopper hack that pro shoppers use is purchasing a collapsible grocery cart that comes in handy when you have large batches.
Carrying the groceries from your car to the customer’s door is often challenging and time-consuming, especially for large orders.
A collapsible grocery cart makes the job a lot easier. Instead of making multiple trips to and from the car to deliver the groceries, you can place all the items in the cart and carry the entire order simultaneously, significantly saving you time.
Not only can you save time, but you’ll also be making fewer trips, which means you’ll be less tired at the end of your shift. It’s essential to look after your health as you work too.
16. Consider Waiting Around Busy Areas
One of the perks of working for Instacart is flexibility. You can accept batch orders from the comfort of your home.
However, waiting near popular stores in town may be more beneficial so you can spring into action the minute you receive an order.
Time is of the essence when shopping for Instacart, and driving to the store may consume a significant amount of your delivery time.
Even if you have to wait in your car for a few minutes, you’ll have saved some driving time.
17. Use Instacart Shopper Cards and Mobile Payments
You should never leave your Shopper card behind. If you’re a new shopper, the Instacart prepaid shopping card is a special card you get as an Instacart driver that you’ll use to pay for the items.
To increase speed and efficiency, Instacart recently introduced the mobile Checkout, so you can tap your phone at the register to pay instead of reaching into your wallet for the shopper card.
It’s advisable to set up mobile payment so you don’t have to worry about losing or forgetting your card.
Digital payments are more advantageous because it’s:
- More efficient
- Saves time
- More hygienic
18. Take Advantage of Bonuses and Promotions
One of the easiest Instacart tips and tricks is to shop on days when shopper bonuses and promotions are offered.
You can easily rack up extra money by completing the required number of orders in a day for the promotion.
Bonuses and promotions are usually offered on days with a high volume of orders, and this is a great chance for you to make quick extra cash.
Instacart typically notifies you the night before the promotion starts, and you can make adequate preparations.
If you want to make money online, you can also boost your earnings by participating in research studies on the app. All you’d have to do is take part in video interviews and take paid surveys.
19. Set Goals
Like with most gig economy apps like Amazon Flex, you have control over how much you work on Instacart.
While factors like demand and location determine your earnings, how much you earn ultimately comes down to how much you work.
One way to boost your earnings is to set goals for yourself. You can choose the number of orders you want to complete daily or go with a dollar amount as the goal. It’s important to set realistic goals for yourself to avoid burnout.
You can start easy by setting a $100 a day and increasing the target amount as time passes. The more experience you gain, the easier it becomes to earn more money.
Set goals and stick to them to see your earnings grow.
20. Become a Cart Star Reward Member
Instacart recently launched the Cart Star Rewards program, which gives Instacart Shoppers with a 4.7 or higher rating extra perks.
Some of the benefits enjoyed by Cart Star Rewards members include:
- Priority access to batches
- Oil change discounts
- Cashback for gas
The Rewards program has different levels, and the benefits vary based on your membership level. The tiers are:
- Gold Cart
- Platinum Cart
- Diamond Cart
You can significantly increase your earnings with cashback for gas and priority batch access. Try and maintain a shopper rating of 4.7 or higher for these perks.
Extra Reading: Does Instacart Pay for Gas?
21. Use Multiple Apps
There are no rules against working for other delivery services. You can supplement your Instacart earnings by signing up for other delivery gigs apps when Instacart is slow.
Here’s a list of some of the best alternative gig apps you can use:
- DoorDash: This is one of the most popular food delivery gigs. You can make money delivering food to customers in your neighborhood.
- Uber Eats: A fairly global food delivery gig where you can make money delivering fast food and restaurant meals within your city.
- TaskRabbit: You can sign up to be a Tasker, where you get paid for odd jobs like moving, yard work, and mounting electronics.
- Amazon Flex: You can work for Amazon as a Flex driver and deliver packages to Amazon customers in your city.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Get High-paying Batches on Instacart?
One of the best ways to access high-paying Instacart batches is to improve your Shopper rating.
Instacart has priority batch access for Shoppers with a rating of 4.7 and above. If you want to get the best batches, work on improving your Shopper rating.
How Do I Get More Tips on Instacart?
The best way to increase your tips on Instacart is to provide good customer service.
Maintaining professionalism, communicating with the customer, and going the extra mile by doing things like offering to help carry the groceries into the house increases your chances of getting good tips.
What Days Are Best for Instacart?
Getting on the app at the right times increases your chances of getting good batches.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are the best days to shop for Instacart, as these are the days when most people do their grocery shopping.
Working as a full-service or in-store Instacart shopper is one of the best ways to make extra cash on the side.
With all the Instacart tips and tricks we’ve covered above, you can significantly increase your weekly earnings.
The beauty of working with Instacart and other gig economy apps is that you can choose when and how much you work.
While you might not make enough to quit your day job, it’s still an excellent way to earn money.