With the Cart Star rewards program, Instacart shoppers can unlock a number of new perks like cash back on gas, discounts on oil change, and priority access to new batches.
Here’s how Cart Star works: Complete orders to earn points and level up your rewards tier. Each new tier comes with new rewards.
But discounts on oil changes and a badge in the customer app aren’t what motivate most shoppers.
Diamond cart is the most attractive reward because it promises ‘priority access to batches.‘ More batches = more money!
But what does priority access actually do, and is it worth doing 200 orders in 3 months to earn Diamond? Read on!
What you need to know
- Cart Star is a rewards program for Instacart shoppers that unlocks benefits
- Earn 10 points per order: 200 points unlocks Gold, 1000 for Platinum, 2000 for Diamond
- You must maintain a 4.7 rating to qualify
- Rewards tier benefits last for 3 months. Points earned during the current quarter apply to the next
- Reach Diamond to get “priority access” to batches
- Priority access = See batches before other shoppers when you are close to a store
- Shoppers who reach Diamond give priority access mixed reviews
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What is Cart Star on Instacart?
Cart Star is a rewards program for Instacart shoppers that offers special benefits when you unlock rewards tiers.
Earn 10 points for every completed order—double batches count for 20 points and triples count for 30.
The three rewards tiers are:
- Gold Cart – 200 points (20 orders)
- Platinum Cart – 1000 points (100 orders)
- Diamond Cart – 2000 points (200 orders)
Benefits of each Car Star rewards tier
Each tier unlocks new benefits.
|Gold Cart||Platinum Cart||Diamond Cart|
|Cash back with Upside||Up to 30 cents per gallon||Up to 35 cents per gallon||Up to 35 cents per gallon|
|Oil change discount with CarAdvise||25% off||50% off||75% off|
|Badge in the app||✓||✓|
|Discount on Care.com||✓||✓|
|Priority access to batches||✓|
Rating requirement for all tiers: Maintain 4.7 stars
You must maintain a 4.7-star rating to qualify for Cart Star rewards.
You won’t immediately lose access to your tier benefits if your rating drops below 4.7, but you must increase it back to 4.7 to qualify for the next period.
The rewards timeline: Your status lasts for three months
Cart Star works on a rolling three-month system: The first three months are called the qualifying period—where you earn points to unlock tiers.
The following three months are called the rewards period—where you get the benefits of your unlocked tiers.
Note that you will immediately unlock the benefits of a rewards tier if you earn enough points during the qualifying period.
So if you reach Platinum 2 months into the qualifying period, you will immediately unlock Platinum benefits AND get three full months of Platinum benefits during the following rewards period.
Your score goes back to zero when the next reward period begins.
That doesn’t mean you lose your current tier. Rather, it means you have to continue earning points to unlock rewards for the following three months.
How to see your current cart star points, status, and rewards
Go to the ratings section of the shopper app to track your Cart Star status.
Your current status is at the top of the page, and your current rewards are listed at the bottom.
The points tracker keeps track of points that will apply to the next rewards period.
Losing your rewards
You will lose your rewards for the following three-month period if you don’t earn enough points or maintain a 4.7 rating.
You might get an email from Instacart saying you’ve fallen out of Cart Star rewards because you didn’t maintain the minimum rating or number of points.
You can get your rewards back by earning points. Remember—you unlock tier benefits as soon as you earn enough points.
Platinum Protection: Lock in Platinum status after 4,000 orders
Good news for longtime shoppers: You will not drop below Platinum Cart if you have completed 4,000 orders an maintain a 4.7 rating.
You also have to complete at least one order every 3 months to keep Platinum Protection.
That means you can take some time off from Instacart without losing all of your rewards.
Priority access to batches: Is it worth getting Diamond Cart?
For most shoppers, the most tempting cart star reward is “priority access to batches”—which is unlocked at the Diamond Cart level.
But what does priority access really mean, and is it worth grinding your way through 200 orders to unlock Diamond?
Instacart says this about priority access: “Get priority access to batches before stores open or when you’re closer to the store.”
But they don’t say much else about the benefits. Shoppers have been left to figure out how it really works, and we still don’t know enough about batch assignments to say exactly what priority access does.
The benefit: Be close to a store to get priority access (in theory)
Here’s the potential benefit of priority access: If you are Diamond level AND close enough to a store, you will see batches before other shoppers who are further away from the store.
How close do you need to be to get priority? A red circle appears around each store, and you have to be located inside the red circle to get priority access.
In theory, you will see batches before other shoppers by being close to a store.
But that doesn’t mean that the batches will be good, or that the system works exactly as intended.
Some shoppers complain about waiting near a store and not getting a batch within the estimated wait time.
Others say they get great batches from far away while Diamond shoppers sit in the parking lot without any orders.
One Redditor pointed out that, “Priority is labeled when you’re in the store’s circle. The same order might come out when you’re outside of the circle, and it won’t be labeled as priority.”
In other words, you might have gotten the order even if you weren’t inside the circle. There’s no way to know for sure.
The consensus in shopper forums is that priority access has a mild effect and isn’t a game-changing benefit for most shoppers.
Most agree that you will still get batch offers if you are within a few miles of the store, so you don’t necessarily need to be inside the red circle to get batches.
But for shoppers who are way outside of a major shopping zone, you might need to drive within a few miles of stores to consistently receive batch offers.
You can’t sit at home and expect to get batches if your local stores are 10 miles away.
- How to get more batches on Instacart
- What the data says about Instacart shopper pay
- How Instacart shoppers can maximize bonuses
Don’t bother getting Diamond & priority access if…
The Diamond tier and priority access aren’t worth it if you already get good batches at your current tier. That’s obvious.
But what’s less obvious is that grinding your way up to Diamond can seriously harm your earnings if you have to do dozens of bad, low-paying batches.
On the other hand, it might be worth getting Diamond once to see if it makes a difference in your area.
You have to experiment for yourself, or ask other shoppers in your area if Diamond made a difference for them.
What shoppers say about Diamond cart & priority access
“Honestly I’m a Diamond and I haven’t noticed a difference one way or the other”
“ALL of my highest paying batches in the last 2 months have been from stores that I’m a couple of miles away from”
“I used to be able to get decent orders from home, but now with the proximity to store priority bs I only see leftover crap from home”
“I’m Diamond and my earning have gone down this week also. I really don’t think it makes a difference what level you are”
“The priority access never made a difference in the first place. I’m not in the top tier but I would still consistently see good orders at my apartment before Diamond shoppers that were sitting in the parking lot”
“I stay home, and yet I am able to make $100-$180 a day.”
Shopper reactions to the Cart Star program
Shoppers have strong opinions about every new change that Instacart makes. Some enjoy the Cart Star rewards benefits, but many aren’t happy with the system.
“I’m benefitting a lot from the priority access”
“I’m Diamond rank, and the jobs I’ve been able to pick are pretty choice”
“I’m a Diamond and it’s still really hard to make my daily goal. Priority batches my a**.”
“I’m expected to take the worst batches just to reach diamond cart, which only puts me back where I was before this update.”
“My earnings plummeted when this release came out, platinum cart here.”
“As a diamond cart shopper, I see the exact same batches as I always have”
Conclusion: Gigs are all about flexibility. Do it your way!
Instacart has two goals: To nudge you to accept more batches and to keep you happy enough to continue shopping.
So far, it looks like this rewards program is mainly designed to incentivize you to take more batches without giving you strong benefits in return.
Instacart is asking for more than they are giving. They’re asking you to give up some of your flexiblity.
Flexibility is the biggest perk of the gig economy: You’re free to work when you want and only accept the types of jobs that you want.
So don’t let a flashy rewards programs push you to do orders you wouldn’t normally do just so you can fill out a progress bar.
If leveling up means taking bad batches, forget about Cart Star and do it your own way!