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Instacart vs. DoorDash | Which Side Hustle Is Best for Drivers?

Instacart and DoorDash are two of the biggest food delivery services, but there are key differences. Find out which one is best for drivers.

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In today’s world, more people than ever are getting food and groceries delivered. You might be thinking about how to use this trend to make money.

Instacart and DoorDash are two popular delivery services that offer a simple way to earn extra cash. If you’re looking for work that allows you to choose your hours, these are both excellent options.

Instacart vs. DoorDash: An Overview

The one major difference between the platforms is what you deliver. With Instacart, you deliver groceries, and with DoorDash, you deliver food from restaurants. 

Another difference is that you can deliver DoorDash on your bike, scooter, or on foot in some areas. For Instacart, you need a vehicle to deliver groceries. However, there is an in-store shopping option for people who don’t have a car. 

Otherwise, each app works similarly. It’s easy to sign up and get started. You can choose your schedule and work as much or as little as you prefer. 

There are some reasons you might like one app more than the other. Keep reading to learn more.

Instacart Logo DoorDash Logo
What You Will Deliver Groceries. Meals from local restaurants.
Driver Requirements 18+ years old , live in an area where the company operates, pass a background check, own a vehicle with insurance, own a smartphone, be able to lift 30 lbs., and have a bank account to receive payments. 18+ years old, live in an area where the company operates, have a social security number, pass a background check, own a vehicle with insurance, own a smartphone and have a bank account to receive payments.
Vehicle Requirements Have a vehicle with relevant insurance. Have a car, scooter, or bicycle with relevant insurance.
Pay Average pay is $13 per hour (includes: number of items, type of items, driving distance, and effort involved in shopping/delivering, and tips). Average pay is $13 to $16 per hour (includes: base pay, promotions and tips).
Working Hours Delivery windows depend on the stores you work with. 24/7 on-demand (*volume highly dependent on mealtimes).
Earning Potential Around $57,000 (*Indeed estimate). Around $52,000 (*Indeed estimate).
Rating System Instacart customers rate shoppers on a scale from 1 to 5 stars Customer rating, on-time rate, acceptance rate and completion rate (0 to 5 stars).
What We Like Option for in-store shopping if you don’t have a vehicle. Ability to see minimum earnings for each job.
Sign up for Instacart Sign up for DoorDash

What Is Instacart?

Instacart is a delivery service that lets customers order groceries online or through an app. When a user places an order, Instacart connects them with a local Instacart Shopper. The shopper purchases and drops off the groceries the same day. There’s also an option for customers to pick up their orders.

People who deliver for Instacart earn a base rate, plus tips. Workers set their hours and work as much or as little as they like.

Instacart is available in hundreds of locations across the U.S. and Canada. A range of stores partners with the service, including Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Sprouts, Publix, and many more.

Check out our full Instacart shopper review for more information. 

What Is DoorDash?

DoorDash is currently the most popular food delivery platform in the U.S. A network of drivers, called Dashers, pick up food from restaurants and deliver it to customers. In some locations, Dashers deliver via bike, scooter, or on foot. 

DoorDash has a presence in thousands of cities across the U.S. and locations in Canada and Australia. Because of its widespread availability, there’s a good chance you can work for DoorDash wherever you live. 

As with other delivery apps, Dashers earn a base rate plus any promotions and tips.

Check out our full DoorDash driver review for more details.

How to Make Money With DoorDash as a Driver
Source: DoorDash

See Also: 14 Best Food Delivery Services to Work For

Instacart vs. DoorDash: How Do They Work?

The main difference between the apps is what you’ll be delivering—groceries or restaurant orders. Otherwise, working for both apps is relatively similar.

How Instacart Works

Instacart features two options for workers. The first is in-store shoppers, who put together orders for customers to pick up in person. These workers are employees of Instacart and work scheduled shifts.

The other option is full-service shopping, where you shop and deliver orders to customers. Full-service shoppers are independent contractors. They can schedule shifts as fast as one hour ahead or further in advance. 

After you’ve signed up and passed your background check, you can set your availability within the app. When it’s time to work, log in and begin accepting orders. You’ll need to go to the store, complete the customer’s order using info from the app, and bring it to them.

How DoorDash Works

To work for DoorDash, sign up on the site. When the company approves your application, they send a hot bag and a card to use for purchases. 

You can schedule your shifts in advance or simply log in when you’re ready. Dashers who schedule ahead of time get top priority when accepting orders.

When you want to begin deliveries, log in to the app. You’ll get a notification when an order is available and can choose whether to accept. The app shows the minimum pay you’ll get for completing the order.

Once you accept an order, travel to the restaurant and pick up the customer’s food. Deliver it to the designated address. Once you mark the delivery as complete in the app, you can begin your next order. 

Instacart vs. DoorDash: Requirements

Instacart and DoorDash have similar requirements for workers. If you’re eligible for one, there’s a good chance you’re eligible for the other. Neither service requires prior delivery experience. 

Instacart Requirements

The requirements are a bit different between full-service and in-store shoppers. In-store shoppers are Instacart employees that shop and stage order in one store at a time. These shoppers work scheduled shifts, up to 29 hrs per week, and do not require a car. On the other hand, full-service shoppers are independent contractors that use the Instacart platform to make deliveries. These shoppers do require a car.

Instacart shoppers (full-service shopper) must:

  • Be at least 18 
  • Be eligible to work in your location legally
  • Have access to a smartphone
  • A functioning, registered vehicle
  • Vehicle insurance, in accordance with local laws
  • Be able to lift 30 pounds
  • Consent to a background check

Instacart shoppers (in-store shopper) must:

  • Be at least 18 
  • Be eligible to work in your location legally
  • Have access to a smartphone
  • Be able to lift 30 pounds
  • Consent to a background check
How Instacart Shoppers Make Money
Source: Instacart

See Also: 7 Ways to Get Paid to Advertise on Your Car

DoorDash Requirements

To work for DoorDash, you must:

  • Be at least 18
  • Own a car, scooter, or bicycle (unless you plan to deliver on foot) along with applicable license and insurance
  • Have a smartphone to use the DoorDash app on
  • Have a social security number 
  • Consent to a background check

Instacart vs. DoorDash: The Sign-Up Process

Signing up for either platform is easy. You’ll answer a few questions about yourself to confirm that you meet the requirements. You’ll also need to consent to a background check, which is the part of the process that takes the longest. Typically, you’ll be able to start a week to ten days after you sign up. 

Instacart Sign Up & Approval Process

To sign up for Instacart:

  1. Visit the signup page and enter your zip code to confirm Instacart is available near you.
  2. Enter basic information to create an account.
  3. Download the Shopper app.
  4. Agree to a background check.
  5. Start shopping.

DoorDash Sign Up & Approval Process

To sign up for DoorDash:

  1. Go to the DoorDash application page, sign up, and complete your profile.
  2. Agree to a background and vehicle check.
  3. Request your activation kit, which includes a manual, food bag, and prepaid card.
  4. Activate your card and set up direct deposits for your earnings.
  5. Download the app and get started.

Instacart vs. DoorDash: Pay

With both Instacart and DoorDash, your pay depends on how fast you can complete jobs. The number of orders available depends on where you live and what hours you work. 

Keep in mind that for both apps, you’ll need to pay for expenses, including gas, car maintenance, and taxes. 

Instacart Pay

Pay is determined differently for in-store and full-service shoppers. In-store shoppers are employees of Instacart and earn a set hourly wage.

Full-service shoppers receive payment for each batch they complete. The pay includes the following:

  • Base pay determined by the number and type of items, driving distance, and effort for shopping and delivery
  • Promotions
  • Tips

Shoppers keep 100% of their tips.

DoorDash Pay

DoorDash pay includes the following:

  • Base rate determined by time, distance, and how desirable an order is
  • Bonuses and promotions
  • Tips

Before you accept an order, you can view the guaranteed minimum pay. The actual amount might be higher if your customer leaves a bigger tip. You keep 100% of your tips.

Instacart vs. DoorDash: Working Hours

Both apps let you work when you want, but there are some limitations on the available hours.

Instacart Working Hours Available

With Instacart, you choose your hours. Schedule yourself for as little as one hour ahead or for later in the day or week. Sometimes you’ll see an On-Demand batch, which you can accept right away.

Delivery windows depend on the stores you work with. They start as early as 9 a.m. and run as late as midnight. Available hours might vary during holidays.

In-store shoppers work scheduled shifts and can work up to 29 hours per week.

DoorDash Working Hours Available

You can work whenever you like with DoorDash. Orders are most likely to be available during mealtimes. Dashers who work in big cities have a better chance of getting orders at other times. 

You can schedule a shift five days in advance, or six if you’re a Top Dasher. By scheduling shifts, you’ll be able to accept orders before non-scheduled Dashers.

If there are too many other drivers available already, you won’t be able to use the Dash Now feature. If you end up in this situation, check back later to see if slots are open.

Instacart vs. DoorDash: The App

For each platform, you’ll spend a significant amount of time using the app. Both apps are user-friendly and provide helpful information. Here are some features you’ll see when you use them.

Instacart App

The Instacart app is called Instacart Shopper. After you sign up, download the app to start shopping. 

Use the app to schedule a shift for yourself, or accept an On-Demand batch if there are any. You can see areas with high demand on the map. 

As you shop, the app shows what items are in the customer’s order, along with other crucial info. You can keep an eye on your time to make sure the order isn’t taking too long. If you need to communicate with the customer, use the Messages section. 

Use the app to see your daily, weekly, and total earnings and to request payment.

Instacart Shopper Pay
Source: Instacart

See Also: 45 Side Hustle Ideas to Boost Your Income 

DoorDash App

DoorDash’s app is called DoorDash Driver. You sign up through the app or the website.

When you’re ready to work, schedule a shift or start a Dash Now shift using the app. You’ll be able to see an up-to-date map showing which areas need drivers, which helps you maximize your earnings. When an order comes in, the app shows the guaranteed minimum payment. 

As you work, the app guides you through each step, from picking up an order to marking it complete.

You can also see your earnings and request a payment through the app. 

Instacart vs. DoorDash: Earning Potential

Dashers report slightly higher earnings than Instacart shoppers, but the potential is similar overall. Some people use both apps for a change of pace and to maximize earnings. If you drive for DoorDash at mealtimes, you could consider Instacart shopping during other times. 

For both apps, earnings vary depending on how many orders are available and how fast you complete them. 

How Much Can I Make with Instacart?

According to posts on Indeed, Instacart drivers make $11.30 per hour. Glassdoor shows pay between $11 and $15 an hour.

The pay is similar whether you’re a full-service shopper or in-store only. The average pay for in-store shoppers on Glassdoor is $13 an hour.

How Much Can I Make with DoorDash?

DoorDash drivers on Indeed and Glassdoor report earnings of $13.89 to $15.73 an hour. Some report earning $20 or more per hour. 

Instacart vs. DoorDash: Rating System

Both platforms have rating systems for customers to provide feedback on their orders. 

Instacart Ratings

Instacart customers rate shoppers on a scale from 1 to 5 stars, and ratings are calculated for the last 100 orders. Batches, or orders, are available to the highest-rated shoppers first. 

Customers can rate the quality of their order, but these ratings don’t affect your overall star rating. The app also tracks your speed. If you shop too slowly, you can lose access to your account.

DoorDash Ratings

With DoorDash, you have the potential to become a Top Dasher. Perks of this rating include scheduling shifts before other drivers and priority access to some jobs.

DoorDash ratings are based on two factors: a customer rating and a job completion rating. Both ratings are calculated from your last 100 deliveries. 

The customer rating is a score from 1 to 5. If your score drops below 4.2, you might lose access to the platform. To be a Top Dasher, you need a score of at least 4.7. DoorDash removes low customer ratings for situations beyond your control, such as extreme weather. 

Your completion rate is the percentage of orders you complete. Your rate should stay at 80% or higher. Otherwise, you will be thrown off the app. 

DoorDash also tracks your order acceptance rate and on-time/early rate when choosing Top Dashers. There’s no minimum, but it’s best to accept as many orders as you can and complete orders on time.

DoorDash Driver Ratings
Source: DoorDash

See Also: 32 Best Gig Economy Jobs That Pay Well

Instacart vs. DoorDash: What We Like

Both services offer a straightforward way to make some cash. They don’t require previous experience and the requirements are easy for many people to meet. The freedom to create your schedule is a selling point. 

Here are some other things we like about each platform:

What We Like About Instacart

  • Fun work if you enjoy shopping
  • Option for in-store shopping if you don’t have a vehicle
  • Work any hours between morning and the late night

In A Nutshell

  • Make money delivering groceries
  • Shop on your own schedule
  • Get paid on time every time
  • Earn up to $15 per hour

on Instacart’s website

What We Like About DoorDash

  • Available in numerous cities in the U.S.
  • See minimum earnings before accepting an order
  • Top Dasher program

In A Nutshell

  • Make great money on your own schedule
  • Keep 100% of the delivery fee and tips
  • Bonus pay available for working during peak hours
  • Earn up to $25 per hour

on DoorDash’s website

Instacart vs. DoorDash: What We Don’t Like

There are some downsides to all delivery platforms. As an independent contractor, you don’t get traditional benefits, like healthcare. You also need to pay your expenses and keep track of your mileage and earnings for tax purposes. 

Below are a few other negatives of each service:

What We Don’t Like About Instacart

  • Rating system can feel unfair since highest-rated shoppers get orders first
  • Not available 24/7
  • Have to lift heavy groceries

What We Don’t Like About DoorDash

  • Dash Now feature unavailable when demand is lower (except for Top Dashers)
  • Ratings affect your ability to get enough work
  • Less work available outside of mealtimes

Final Thoughts

Both Instacart and DoorDash offer flexibility, freedom, and similar earning potential. 

The biggest factor in choosing between the two is availability in your area. You might find that only DoorDash has a presence where you live. Or, if there aren’t many restaurants nearby, Instacart might be a better bet—everyone needs groceries.

If you’re interested in earning cash as a delivery person, we recommend checking out both platforms. You can always try them both and see if one works better for you.


*DoorDash earnings: “For Illustrative purposes only, actual earnings may differ and depend on expenses. Hourly pay is calculated using average Dasher payouts while on a delivery (from the time you accept an order until the time you drop it off) and includes compensation from peak pay, tips, and other incentives.”

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