Instacart Shoppers

Instacart Shoppers

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated October 5, 2021

Grocery delivery services already existed long before the recent health crisis, but they’ve skyrocketed in popularity over the past year as many Canadians cut down on their time spent in public places to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

The rise in popularity of grocery delivery services has led to plenty of opportunities for Canadians looking for side gigs to pick up more work to help pay the bills. 

“Personal shoppers” are sought after these days to fulfill the needs of customers who would prefer to stay home and have their groceries delivered to them. These services also cater to those with mobility issues who would otherwise have a difficult time filling their refrigerators and pantries. 

One such grocery delivery service is Instacart. If you’re looking for some extra work, perhaps becoming an Instacart shopper can help fill in some financial gaps for you.

What Is Instacart?

Instacart is a grocery delivery and pickup service. Customers can choose their specific grocery items through an online platform from different grocery stores and have their food items delivered by personal shoppers.

To use the service, customers can download the Instacart app and order their groceries via mobile device. The personal shoppers are then assigned to an order and pick out the items chosen by the customer. 

While shopping, the personal shopper will remain in contact with the customer to notify them if any items are out-of-stock, verify substitutions, update orders as requested, and deliver the groceries within a previously selected time slot. 

If you prefer shopping in-store, check out our list of the best credit cards for groceries.

How To Become An Instacart Shopper

To become an Instacart shopper, you’ll need to sign up first by completing a short form either online or via the mobile app. From there, you’ll have a couple of options in terms of the type of role you’d like to assume:

  • Independent full-service shopper. In this role, you’ll work independently as a contractor who sets your own schedule. You can work as little or as often as you want based on your schedule. 
  • In-store shopper. In this role, you’ll work for Instacart as an employee and will be paid an hourly wage. You’ll also be scheduled for shifts, though you’ll still have some flexibility as you can choose your availability. 

If you choose to sign up as an in-store shopper, you’ll receive an email with your next steps, including participating in an in-person onboarding session, which you can pick from what is available. New dates and times are added every week and can be cancelled or rescheduled if necessary. 

You’ll also be subject to a background check performed by Checkr, Inc., which Instacart contracts to perform these checks. They usually take about 10 days to complete. 

Eligibility Requirements 

To qualify as an Instacart shopper, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be eligible to work in Canada or the US
  • Have a smartphone
  • Be able to lift between 30 to 40 pounds
  • Have a reliable vehicle in good condition 

How Much Money Can You Earn? 

The amount of money you can earn as an Instacart shopper depends on the role type you choose, as well as other factors, such as the number of orders you complete, the number of hours you work, and your location. 

  • Full-service shoppers. Independent contractors have the flexibility to work as little or as often as they want, so your earnings depend entirely on you.
  • In-store shoppers. Those employed by Instacart as personal shoppers are paid an hourly wage which is outlined in the offer letter. You can work up to 29 hours per week, so the more you work, the more you’ll earn. 

Instacart shoppers are paid on a weekly basis.

You can also earn a little extra cash through referral bonuses. Instacart offers personal shoppers a bonus when a friend is referred to shop with the company. 

Pros And Cons Of Being An Instacart Shopper

There are plenty of reasons why you may want to use Instacart as a way to make a little side money. But there are some drawbacks to consider as well.

Pros:

  • Flexible schedule. You’re free to choose the number of hours you wish to work to suit your current schedule. 
  • Weekly pay. There’s no need to wait two weeks or even a month to receive pay, as payments are made every week.
  • Keep your tips. Any tips that clients give you are entirely yours to keep. 
  • Easy-to-use app. There are no complicated mobile platforms to have to fumble through thanks to Instacart’s user-friendly interface.
  • Customer support. If you’re having any difficulty using the service, there’s a great customer service support team available to help. 
  • Some workplace benefits. Instacart shoppers may be eligible for certain workplace benefits, including workers’ compensation. 

Cons: 

  • Dealing with difficult customers. As is the case with all jobs in the customer service realm, you may encounter customers who are not very pleasant to deal with as an Instacart shopper. 
  • Driver expenses. Any expenses related to using your vehicle to make grocery deliveries will eat into your profits. 
  • Limited work in certain locations. Depending on where you live, you may not find much work available, especially in more remote parts where demand isn’t very high. 
  • Meeting stringent delivery times. Sometimes you may be running behind or have orders that are very close to each other, which can make timing your deliveries difficult. The need to make it to a customer’s home in time for grocery drop-off can be stressful.
  • Free parking is not always available. Depending on where you’re delivering groceries, you may find it a challenge to find free parking, especially in downtown centres. 

If you have a car, you can also consider Uber as a side hustle.

How To Use Instacart As A Client

To use Instacart to have your groceries delivered to you, you’ll also need to download the Instacart app. From there, you can choose the grocery store you’d like to shop with, your items, and your delivery date and time. Depending on how busy the service is, you may even be able to choose same-day service. 

When your Instacart personal shopper is choosing your items, you can communicate with them if you change your mind about an item or if you want to add an item to the list. Your personal shopper will notify you if an item you’ve chosen is not available and will ask you for any satisfactory substitutions. 

Another alternative to regular grocery shopping is food subscription boxes: check out our comparison of the most popular services in Canada.

Instacart FAQs

Are there fees to use Instacart to have groceries delivered?

Instacart delivery fees start as low as $3.99 and can go up to as much as $35 or more. The price varies depending on location and rush deliveries. When you select a delivery window, the applicable fee will be displayed. 

Is Instacart available in Canada?

Yes, Instacart is available for both customers and personal shoppers in Canada. 

Are the grocery prices the same on Instacart as in-store?

Every retailer is free to set item prices on Instacart. That means the prices on the Instacart platform may be different than what is charged in-store. 

How fast is Instacart delivery?

Depending on availability, you may be able to book a time slot to have your groceries picked and delivered on the same day, and even within a few hours of booking.

How do you pay for Instacart as a shopper? 

Personal shoppers pay for the groceries they pick for their customers using a company debit card. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a flexible way to earn a few extra dollars, being an Instacart personal shopper may be a viable option. You can pick your own hours based on your schedule and can work as little or as much as you want. Just be sure to account for all other fees associated with using your vehicle to make deliveries. 


Rating of 5/5 based on 2 votes.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

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