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If you’ve been considering delivery gig apps as a side hustle, you’ve probably come across Instacart and DoorDash. These are two of the most popular driving apps that pay you to deliver meals or groceries.
While both driving gigs are great options to make money on the side, deciding on the best side hustle in terms of pay and flexibility can be challenging.
In this Instacart vs DoorDash guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know to help you make an informed decision, from the requirements to earning potential and expenses.
Instacart is a popular grocery delivery service in the United States and Canada.
If you’re looking for a delivery service where you get paid to shop and deliver groceries and other items to customers, then Instacart may be a good fit for you.
One advantage of Instcart is that it hires both in-store and full-service shoppers. As an in-store shopper, you work with partner brands like Walmart, Costco, Publix, Safeway, and more as a full-time employee.
In-store shoppers work shifts of up to 29 hours per week, and you can schedule yours based on availability.
If you sign up as an in-store shopper, your job would be to shop and assemble the groceries for pick-up. This is a great option to make money without a car and earn a consistent hourly wage.
On the other hand, full-service shoppers have to shop and deliver the groceries to the customer’s doorstep. As a full-service shopper, you’re responsible for managing the entire order, from when you accept the request until you deliver it to the customer.
You earn money by accepting and completing Instacart batches, which will be displayed on the Instacart app.
The advantage of becoming a full-service shopper is the flexibility of choosing when to work and how much you make.
Moreover, full-service shopping has a higher earning potential because of the added customer tips. However, this is not guaranteed, and some people prefer the stable pay of in-store shopping.
DoorDash is a food delivery platform that was established in 2013. The platform has since become the best food delivery service, operating in over 25 countries across North America.
DoorDash allows customers to order fast food and restaurant meals from their favorite joints and have the food delivered to their doorsteps by Dashers.
One of the advantages of becoming a Dasher is you can deliver the meals via car, scooter, bike, or even on foot in some markets.
DoorDash is also popular as a side hustle because of its flexibility. You’re hired as an independent contractor, meaning you work on your schedule based on your availability.
The driving gig pays you to pick up and deliver customer orders, and you earn money per delivery. The amount you earn for each order is calculated based on the estimated completion time and the delivery distance.
DoorDash is available in more cities compared to Instacart. You can check whether DoorDash is available in your city by visiting the official DoorDash website.
Besides, DoorDash allows Dashers to make deliveries on the move. If you’re going on a trip and would like to make extra money, you can Dash in another state.
Instacart vs DoorDash
While Instacart and DoorDash are both flexible delivery services with a lot in common, the two also differ in many ways.
The major difference between Instacart and DoorDash is that Instacart is a grocery delivery service, while DoorDash is a food delivery service.
Below, we dive deeper into Instacart vs DoorDash regarding driver requirements, pay, expenses, and getting paid.
1. Instacart vs DoorDash: Driver Requirements
Like most delivery gig apps, Instacart and DoorDash have simple requirements. You don’t need prior delivery experience for either service to sign up.
Since they have different requirements, we’ll look at the qualifications for both services to compare the differences.
Instacart Shopper Requirements
Instacart shopper requirements vary slightly depending on whether you’re signing up to become an in-store or full-service shopper.
If you want to be an in-store shopper, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Be 18 years or older
- Be eligible to work in the United States or Canada
- Own a recent smartphone
- Have a working bank account
- Be able to lift 40 pounds with or without accommodation
To qualify for work as an Instacart full-service shopper, you must fulfil the following eligibility criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be authorized to work in the US or Canada
- Have a recent smartphone for the Instacart app
- Have access to a reliable, insured vehicle
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Be able to lift 30+lbs
- Pass the Instacart background check
It’s important to note that meeting the requirements does not guarantee a spot immediately. Instacart onboards new shoppers based on the market needs at the time.
As such, if there are many shoppers in your area, you may be put on the Instacart waitlist.
DoorDash Driver Requirements
To qualify as a Dasher, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years or older
- Have access to a reliable car, bike, or scooter
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Have car insurance
- Provide your Social Security number (for US residents)
- Consent to and pass the DoorDash background check
When you sign up and qualify for DoorDash, you may be placed on the DoorDash waitlist if the Dashers in your area satisfy or exceed their demand.
Generally, DoorDash’s requirements are more flexible than Instacart’s because DoorDash allows you to make deliveries via car, scooter, bike, or on foot.
2. Instacart vs DoorDash: Deliveries
One major difference between Instacart and DoorDash is their deliveries. As an Instacart shopper, you’ll have to shop and deliver groceries.
With DoorDash, you only pick up and deliver the meals or groceries; you don’t have to shop. Let’s look at how deliveries work for each service.
Once you’re accepted as an Instacart shopper, you can start working immediately by logging into the Instacart shopper app and browsing the available batches.
On the app, you’ll see nearby batch requests, which you can accept or turn down depending on your preferences.
Each Instacart batch shows you the following information:
- The size of the order (number of items)
- The delivery distance
- The store you’ll shop at
- The total estimated pay (including potential tips)
- Whether you’re eligible for Peak Pay
Once you’ve accepted a batch, you can use Instacart’s built-in navigation to find the store you’re shopping at.
Every time you add an item to the cart, you mark it as “found” on the app as you go down the shopping list.
Instacart issues you with a payment card you’ll use when checking out, so you don’t have to pay out of your pocket. You can also use the Instacart Mobile Checkout, allowing you to pay at the register with a tap.
After you’ve checked out, you’ll use the app to navigate your way to the customer’s house. In most cases, you’ll leave the items at the door, as requested by the customer.
Mark the batch as “complete” to accept other available batches. Instacart shows you the amount earned at the end of each shopping trip.
As a Dasher, you have two options when making deliveries. You can schedule your Dashes or log into the app when there’s high demand.
Scheduling your shifts in advance is beneficial because DoorDash prioritizes scheduled Dashes. This means you’re guaranteed a spot at the time, even if there is high competition.
Still, sometimes you have unexpected free time and want to make money. In that case, you can log into the DoorDash app and start working by tapping the “ Dash Now” button.
On the app, you will see different areas highlighted in either red or gray. Red zones are busy, meaning you can start dashing.
Gray areas, on the contrary, mean DoorDash is slow, and there aren’t enough orders for you to work at the time.
If you’re in a red zone, you’ll see orders popping up on your screen. Each order request provides information like:
- The number of items
- The specific restaurant
- Travel distance
- Estimated time to complete the order
- Your minimum guaranteed earnings
DoorDash has two types of payment methods. You can pay for the food using your issued DoorDash Red Card, or the customer can prepay.
With apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats, you must factor in the wait time because sometimes the restaurant is busy.
One DoorDash driver tip that can help you maximize your earnings is communicating with the customer about any delays so they can expect it.
Additionally, you should always confirm the order is correct before leaving the restaurant. DoorDash has a built-in navigation system that helps you get to the customer’s house.
Confirm the customer’s request before making the order. Most customers prefer no-contact deliveries, but it’s always safe to confirm.
After each delivery, DoorDash shows you the total earnings, including any customer tips.
3. Instacart vs DoorDash: Pay
Earning potential is a key factor when choosing between Instacart and DoorDash.
Instacart Shopper Pay
Instacart claims that shoppers make up to $25 per hour, but this is on the higher side. Realistically, you should expect to make between $16 and $20 an hour.
According to data from salary review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, the average hourly rate for Instacart shoppers is approximately $16.
Instacart calculates shopper pay based on the following factors:
- Base pay, which varies depending on the market
- The size of the order
- Delivery distance
- The difficulty of the delivery
- Potential “heavy fee” for heavy items
As such, your earnings per hour can vary depending on these factors. You can make between $15 and $20 per hour as an Instacart shopper.
You get to keep 100% of customer tips, which can significantly boost your income. Moreover, you can employ Instacart Shopper tips, such as providing great customer service, to increase your earnings.
DoorDash Driver Pay
DoorDash has a pay model that determines the pay for each order, factoring in factors like base pay, promotions, and potential tips.
The base pay for a DoorDash order falls between $2 and $10 depending on the specifics, like the delivery distance and the order desirability.
DoorDash also offers promotions like Peak Pay and challenges, which can significantly boost your earnings for an order.
Peak Pay is offered during peak hours when demand for orders is high. This is used to incentivize Dashers to meet the demand.
Challenges are another type of promotion. These usually run for a specific period in a specific zone. You’re automatically enrolled in challenges you’re eligible for in your area.
Based on information from salary review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, Dashers make approximately $17 per hour. This amount varies depending on location, competition, and the means of delivery.
Dashers also keep 100% of customer tips, which can increase your earnings significantly.
4. Instacart vs DoorDash: Getting Paid
Instacart and DoorDash pay weekly, so if you want a side hustle idea that pays weekly, both platforms are suitable.
Instacart Shopper Payment
Instacart pays shoppers weekly on Wednesday for all batches completed the previous week, Monday to Sunday.
Shoppers are paid via direct deposit, so you must provide your banking information when signing up as a shopper. The money will be reflected in your account within two to three business days, depending on your bank.
Alternatively, you can withdraw your earnings immediately using Instacart’s Instant Cashout feature. This is a convenient feature you can use in emergencies. You’ll be charged $0.50 for every withdrawal.
Similar to Instacart, DoorDash pays Dashers weekly every Monday. This is the total amount you’ve made the previous week, from Monday to Sunday.
DoorDash automatically transfers your money into your bank account on Monday, but it may take up to three business days for your bank to process the transaction.
DoorDash also offers the Fast Pay feature, allowing you to withdraw your earnings immediately for $1.99.
Both DoorDash and Instacart offer an instant withdrawal option, which is great if you need money by tomorrow.
5. Instacart vs DoorDash: Driver Ratings
Delivery platforms typically assign drivers a rating based on their performance as assessed by the customers.
A high rating is advantageous because it could mean more orders and an increased earning potential.
Instacart Shopper Ratings
Instacart has a five-star rating system, and shoppers must maintain a rating of 4.7 stars or higher.
Instacart prioritizes highly rated shoppers when assigning batches, so it’s imperative to maintain a high rating.
Your overall rating is calculated based on your last 100 customer ratings. Instacart also recently increased rating forgiveness to increase the fairness of its rating system.
Instacart now removes shoppers’ two lowest ratings to help them maintain a higher average.
To maintain a high shopper rating, ensure you communicate effectively with the customer, package the items properly, and deliver the items within the expected time.
DoorDash Driver Ratings
DoorDash also uses a five-star rating system, but it’s more lenient than Instacart. Similarly, your DoorDash driver rating is calculated based on your previous 100 customer reviews.
DoorDash requires Dashers to maintain a customer rating of 4.2 or higher. You’re also required to maintain an 80% or higher completion rate.
Your DoorDash acceptance rate has no impact on your overall rating.
6. Instacart vs DoorDash: Gas
Instacart and DoorDash both hire drivers on an independent contractor basis, meaning you’re responsible for your expenses, especially gas.
When calculating your income, it’s important to consider your expenses so you have an accurate picture of how much you make from each platform.
Generally, Instacart shoppers spend less on gas than Dashers because they spend more time shopping in the store, while Dashers spend most of their time driving.
As such, Dashing racks up more gas expenses and puts more wear and tear on your car compared to Instacart shopping.
One way to manage your expenses and potentially reduce them is to use a mileage-tracking app like Everlance.
This helps you keep an accurate track of your expenses so you can deduct them and reduce your taxable income when filing your taxes.
Pros and Cons
Considering the pros and cons of each delivery platform is another way to make an informed decision.
Instacart Pros and Cons
- Flexible side hustle
- Good earning potential
- Relatively higher tips compared to other delivery gigs
- Fewer expenses and less wear and tear on your vehicle
- A low shopper rating means fewer batch requests
- Steeper learning curve
- Delivering heavy orders can be tiresome
DoorDash Pros and Cons
- Work flexibility
- Relatively stable hourly wages
- Many delivery options, including bikes or scooters
- Good earning potential
- Potential tip-baiting
- You may not work busy hours if you don’t schedule your Dashes
- The fast Pay feature is relatively costly
Is It Better To Do DoorDash or Instacart?
Choosing between DoorDash and Instacart comes down to what you’re looking for in a side hustle.
Both platforms have a decent earning potential and offer great flexibility, so you must choose between shopping and delivering groceries or delivering food.
Instacart has stricter vehicle requirements than DoorDash, so if you don’t have access to a vehicle, DoorDash is the better option.
Ultimately, your decision should depend on whether you’d rather spend more time shopping or on the road driving.
There are no rules against signing up for multiple platforms, so you can sign up for both and test them out.
This way, when Instacart is slow, you can hop on DoorDash and vice versa.
Instacart & DoorDash Alternatives
If you’d like to try other gigs like Instacart and DoorDash, you can consider the following:
- Shipt: This Instacart competitor pays shoppers to shop and deliver groceries to customers.
- Uber Eats: A job like DoorDash, Uber Eats pays drivers to deliver meals to customers within their area.
- Amazon Flex: If delivering Amazon packages is more appealing, you can sign up for Amazon Flex and start making deliveries as an independent contractor.
- Walmart Spark: This is a relatively new platform where you get paid to deliver groceries and other items from Walmart.
- Grubhub: This food delivery platform also works with local restaurants, offering food delivery services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Delivering for Instacart Worth It?
If you’re looking for a flexible side hustle where you can make up to $20 per hour and don’t mind shopping, delivering for Instacart is worth it.
Is Delivering for DoorDash Worth It?
DoorDash is an excellent option if you want a food delivery gig where you can work on your schedule. Moreover, you keep 100% of customer tips, and there are markets with a higher earning potential.
Final Thoughts: Which Is Better?
DoorDash and Instacart are evenly matched in terms of earning potential, so choosing between them depends on your gig economy goals and personal preference.
While Instacart has higher-paying orders and a higher potential for good tips, DoorDash orders take less time to complete, so you can take more orders and make more money.
One way to determine the best delivery platform for you is to sign up for both. This way, you can experience them and make an informed decision.
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