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Each day working for a gig app like Instacart can bring new highs and new lows.
With no guaranteed pay 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 large tip.
But on bad days you might see order after order for the $4 minimum pay—and no tip!
Instacart shoppers make around $10–$25 an hour on average, but each day can be wildly different than the last.
Read on to see the high highs and low lows of Instacart, and learn how you can increase your earnings.
The highest Instacart Shopper pay: $200 tips, $31 per hour, $300 in one day
When Instacart is at its best, you’ll see big payouts when you open up the Available Batches screen. The examples below are some of the best payouts you can get as a shopper.
But remember, these results are not typical! They are meant to show the all-time best orders and unusually lucrative weeks of work.
The order below has the highest tip we’ve ever seen—$200! Shoppers call that a ‘unicorn’: Something that most will never see.
The order below has a $76 tip for a total payment of $93. Most shoppers will never see a tip higher than $50.
Here’s a shopper who earned $315 after one 10-hour day of shopping. That’s around $33 per hour! Notice how $100 of the $300 came from tips. Big tips are the key to high earnings.
This shopper earned $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 week with $1032 in earnings after 41 hours of work. That’s around $25 per hour. You need to be in a busy, relatively high-income area to get these results.
The 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 $0 tips
Not every Instacart order will have a $76 tip and you won’t earn $1100 every week. The pay for the average, everyday Instacart order can actually dip quite low.
Base pay for an order is around $4 and tipping isn’t required, so Shoppers are used to wading through a sea of low-paying orders before finding something worth their time.
Below is an order that only pays $4.73 to shop for 12 items and deliver them 0.8 miles away. Orders like these aren’t going to pay the bills.
Here’s another low 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—when a customer enters a high tip at the beginning of the order and lowers it after the order is over. 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 your 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 your 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 $4 orders. There 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.
Keep your ratings at least 4.7 or higher
Shoppers with a rating of 4.7 or higher get ‘batch priority,’ which means that shoppers with lower ratings get second choice on batch offers.
The rating system isn’t exactly fair, but with experience you can easily keep your rating in the 4.7 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