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Each day working for a gig app like Instacart can bring new highs and new lows.
With no guaranteed pay (except in California) and constantly shifting supply and demand, payout for orders can be all over the map.
With a bit of luck, you might see an order with generous payment from Instacart and a huge tip.
But on a bad day, you might see order after order with no tip and a minimum payout.
Instacart shoppers make around $10 – $25 an hour after expenses, but each day can be wildly different than the last.
You never know when a hot streak or a dry spell will come your way. Read on to see the high highs and low lows of Instacart, and how you can find more highs and fewer lows.
➔ This post is also available as a Web Story: “Crazy Instacart Shopper Pay!”
Highest Instacart Shopper Pay: $76 Tips and $25 per Hour
When Instacart is at its best, you’ll open up the Available Batches screen and see big payouts.
And if you’re really lucky, the good batches will keep on coming. The examples below are some of the best payouts you can get as a shopper.
Results not typical on the order below! This one is a unicorn, a $76 tip for a total payment of $93. That’s about as good as it gets, and in this case, there were only 36 items to shop for.
This shopper bagged a triple batch with $43 in tips, for a total payment of over $62. Most shoppers don’t like double and triple batches, but sometimes the pay is so good that the extra work is worth it.
This shopper clocked $1168 over 42 hours, which works out to around $27 per hour. That’s a good living, especially for a gig that just about anyone can sign up for with no prior requirements or certifications.
That same shopper also shared a $25 per hour week, with $1032 over 41 hours. Such high pay is typically market dependent: You need to be in a busy, relatively high-income area to get these results.
The flood of new customers during Covid-19 was a significant factor in big payments like these.
This shopper below pulled in over $40 per hour over a long and productive day. The shopper commented that it was their best day ever, by far. So it’s good to remember that these results aren’t typical.
The Lowest Shopper Pay: $5 Orders and Tip Baiting
Not every Instacart order is going to come with a $76 tip, and not every week is going to be an $1100 week. The payout for your average, everyday, Instacart order can actually dip quite low.
The lowest pay for Instacart shoppers can be around $7 per batch, or less than $10 per hour.
Base pay for an order is around $7 and tipping isn’t required, so Shoppers are used to wading through a sea of low-paying orders before finding something worth their time.
Here’s a bad payout: 88 items for only $6.90 and no tip. Shopping 88 items takes a long time, so this order could easily take an hour or more.
Here’s $5 for 63 units. You can’t swipe away fast enough.
Triple batches are three orders at once, but not necessarily for three times the pay. This triple only paid out $12. Imagine shopping for 61 things, separating them into 3 orders, then delivering them to 3 houses, all for just $12.
This shopper was the victim of tip baiting, which is when a customer enters a high tip at the beginning of the order and lowers it after the order is over. So this shopper thought they were going to get a $52 tip, but later only received a $13 tip.
This shopper was online for 26 hours and only received $26. This one is unusual even in the ‘share the worst of the worst earnings’ crowd, but it’s a real payment that’s worth mentioning.
Below is a good example of a batch that might look good on a quick first scan, but closer inspection reveals that it’s a bad deal. $35 is a strong batch payment, 93 items and 161 total units could easily take 2 hours. And no tip!
How to Increase Instacart Earnings and Avoid Low Pay
$76 tips are mostly a matter of luck and good timing, but you don’t have to settle for $7 orders. Here are tactics you can use to avoid low pay and boost your earnings overall.
Be picky about the orders you accept! You don’t have to accept low-paying orders. And when you look at an order, don’t just check for Instacart pay and tip.
Also look at the number of items, units, and type of items. $18 might seem decent, but not when the order has 80 items and 5 cases of water bottles.
All of the top-earning shoppers will say that they earn better than average because they are very picky about their orders.
- How Instacart Shoppers Can Avoid Bad Batches
- Earnings Promotions and Guarantees on Instacart
- Strategies for Multiple Store Batches and Double Batches
Learn your market and avoid bad hours/bad stores. After awhile, you may begin to notice that the best orders come from certain stores, on certain days of the week, or at certain times of day.
For example, some shoppers swear by Costco orders, while others say they are too much work for too little pay. Weekends are also well known for higher paying orders.
Experiment with your local stores at different times of day and days of the weeks. Be willing to shop at the best hours, even if it’s a bit earlier or later in the day than you would normally work.
Try to keep your ratings as high as possible. The best batches are offered to the highest-rated shoppers, so do your best to keep your ratings up. The rating system isn’t exactly fair, but with experience you can keep your rating in the 4.9x range.
One solid tip is to save your cancellations for the worst of your customers. If an order is going poorly and the customer seems upset or unreasonable, you can cancel to protect your ratings. Just make sure not to cancel too often.
More Instacart Essentials
- How to Become an Instacart Shopper
- See How Much Instacart Shoppers Make
- How to Get More Batches on Instacart
- Our Guide to the Instacart Ratings System
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