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Uber Eats and Instacart are two popular delivery platforms that let drivers set their schedules. Their requirements and application process are straightforward, and you can get started in about a week.
Instacart has a significant presence in the grocery delivery market, while Uber Eats is a prominent player in the online food delivery industry.
Keep reading to learn about how these services work. I’ll also cover your earning potential, the pros and cons of each app, and much more.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: An Overview
Uber Eats and Instacart are both delivery services and apps that work with drivers to bring orders to customers. The main difference is that Uber Eats drivers deliver restaurant food while Instacart shoppers deliver groceries.
|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 $10 to $18 per hour (includes number of items, type of items, driving distance, effort involved in shopping/delivering, and tips).||The Average pay is $15 to $24 per hour (includes per pickup fee, trip supplement, promotions, and tips).|
|Working Hours||Delivery windows depend on the stores you work with.||24/7 on-demand.|
|Earning Potential||Around $57,000 (*Indeed estimate).||Around $58,000 (*Indeed estimate).|
|Rating System||Instacart customers rate shoppers on a scale from 1 to 5 stars||Driver rating (0 to 5 stars).|
|What We Like||Option for in-store shopping if you don’t have a vehicle.||Easy to sign up for if you are already an Uber driver.|
What Is Uber Eats?
Uber Eats is the arm of the ridesharing company Uber that focuses on food delivery. Uber Eats began in 2015 and is now one of the most popular food delivery platforms in the world.
Uber Eats works with restaurant partners in all 50 U.S. states. It also has a presence in over 6,000 cities in 45 other countries, including Canada, Australia, and Japan.
Delivery drivers for the service use the same app as rideshare drivers. Many drivers use both options and toggle between driving people and delivering meals.
For more details, check out our full Uber Eats driver review.
What Is Instacart?
Instacart is a platform that lets customers order groceries online or through an app. The company was founded in 2012. Today, it has a presence in more than 14,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada. It partners with stores, including Costco, Kroger, Sprouts, and Albertsons.
Instacart delivery workers are called Shoppers. They have the option of working in stores only or also delivering orders to customers.
As of 2023, Instacart boasts an impressive market share of 21.8% in the online grocery industry in the United States.
Check out our full Instacart shopper review for more details.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: How Do They Work?
With Uber Eats, you’ll pick up food from restaurants and deliver it to customers. With Instacart, you’ll shop for groceries. If you’re a full-service shopper, you’ll also deliver those groceries to customers.
Aside from that, working for either of these services follows the same basic process.
How Uber Eats Works
We’ll cover the application and signup process in detail below. Once Uber approves your application, you’re ready to work.
Log in to the app to see an order and decide if you want to accept it. If you do, the app will guide you through getting to the restaurant. You might need to wait for the customer’s food to be ready.
Once you have the order, head to the customer’s location. As you work, you’ll notify the customer of your progress using the app.
Follow the instructions in the app to drop off the food outside or hand it to the customer. Mark the order as complete, and you can accept your next order.
How Instacart Works
There are two options for Instacart shoppers. The first is to work as an in-store shopper. With this option, you’re an employee of Instacart. You work entirely in stores and fill orders for customers to pick up themselves.
The other option is to work as a full-service shopper. These workers are independent contractors. They fill customer orders and deliver them.
After your application has been accepted, you’ll use the app to either schedule a shift or accept an on-demand batch.
The app will guide you through navigating to the store. It will show you details about the items in the customer’s order. If anything is out of stock or you have questions, you can contact the customer directly.
Once your batch is complete, you’ll pay. Some customers pay ahead of time through the app. For others, you’ll pay using a prepaid card.
Next, you’ll use the app to drive to the customer’s delivery location and drop off the groceries. The final step is to mark the batch complete in the app.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: Requirements
The most important requirement for either service is that it exists where you live. Otherwise, the requirements are fairly similar. You don’t need previous delivery experience to apply for either platform.
Uber Eats is slightly stricter about the vehicle you use. If your car is older or you don’t have one, you can deliver on foot or using a bicycle in some areas.
Instacart’s unique requirement is that you need to be able to lift heavy groceries.
Uber Eats Requirements
To work for Uber Eats, you need to live where the service operates. You’ll need to pass a background check. And you need a smartphone that can run the Uber app.
Additional requirements for Uber Eats depend on how you plan to deliver.
To deliver by car, you must:
- Be old enough to drive legally;
- Have a two- or four-door car that is 20 years old or newer and
- Have a valid driver’s license, registration, and insurance.
To deliver on a scooter, you must:
- Be 19 or older;
- Have a scooter under 50cc that is 20 years old or newer and
- Have a valid driver’s license, registration, and insurance.
To deliver by bicycle or on foot, you must:
- Be 18 or older; and
- Have a valid government ID.
All Instacart shoppers must:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Have access to a smartphone (iPhone 6s/Android 5.0 or newer);
- Consent to a background check and
- Be able to lift 50 pounds with or without accommodation.
If you have a medical condition or disability, Instacart will work with you to set up reasonable accommodations.
To be a full-service shopper and make deliveries, you must also:
- Have consistent access to a vehicle; and
- Have a valid driver’s license and insurance.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: Sign-Up Process
Both platforms make it easy and quick to sign up. The length of the signup process depends on how long your background check takes. In most cases, it takes three to ten days in total.
To sign up for either Uber Eats or Instacart, you’ll provide information about yourself and complete the background check. If your application is approved, you’ll receive some help with training and getting started. Then you can start making deliveries.
Keep reading for more details on each service’s application and approval process.
Uber Eats Sign-Up & Approval Process
If you already drive for Uber, it’s easy to start working with Uber Eats. From the Driver app menu, select Account, then Work Hub, and then deliver food with Uber Eats. Review and accept the terms. That’s it!
If you’re brand new to Uber, head over to the signup page and fill in the form with some basic information. Select how you want to deliver, whether it’s via car or scooter. In some areas, you can deliver by bicycle or on foot.
Next, upload any required documents and agree to a background check. The background check usually takes three to five days, but it can take longer in some cases.
If your application is approved, Uber will let you know. They’ll send some training materials for you to review, and you can get started making deliveries.
Instacart Sign-Up & Approval Process
The signup process is very similar for in-store and full-service shoppers. The only difference is that full-service shoppers need to provide a little extra info, such as car insurance details.
Start by visiting the Shopper signup page. Enter your zip code to confirm that the service is available in your area. On the next page, enter your name, email address, and phone number to create an account.
You can complete the following steps online or in the Shopper app. Follow the instructions and agree to a background check. This is the part of the signup process that takes the longest. In general, you’ll hear back within three to five days, but it can take up to ten days.
If your application is approved, Instacart will email you the next steps. The company will also send you a prepaid payment card.
Now, you’re ready to work.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: Pay
Pay for Uber Eats drivers and Instacart shoppers is similar in that you’ll be paid for each order you complete. The exception is in-store Instacart shoppers, who receive an hourly wage.
Both companies offer weekly direct deposits and an instant payout option.
Uber Eats Pay
The payment you receive for each Uber Eats order includes the following:
- Base Fare: Includes pay for time and distance, pickup, and dropoff
- Trip Supplement: Additional amount added to make trips worthwhile based on factors such as longer than expected travel time or distance
- Promotions: Includes Boost and Surge payments that apply to certain orders
- Tips: Drivers keep 100% of all tips
The default payment method for Uber Eats is an automatic bank transfer that takes place each Thursday. To set up transfers, enter your bank account details in the app.
If you’ve completed an order successfully and your account is in good standing, you’ll also be eligible for Instant Pay. With this method, you can instantly cash out up to five times per day. Instant Pay lets you transfer funds to your bank account or debit card.
Instacart doesn’t offer full transparency into how they calculate pay. However, we have a general idea of the factors that go into shoppers’ pay.
In-store shoppers are considered employees. They receive a set hourly wage.
For full-service shoppers, you receive pay based on each batch you complete. Pay includes the following:
- Base Pay: Based on the number and type of items, driving distance, and the effort it takes to shop and deliver the batch
- Referral Bonuses: If you refer someone who signs up as a shopper, you may be eligible for a bonus.
- Tips: Shoppers keep 100% of customer tips
Instacart pays shoppers each Wednesday via direct deposit. There’s also an Instant Cashout option, which the company rolled out in June of 2019. Instant Cashout costs $0.50 per payment.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: Working Hours
One major perk of working as a delivery driver is that you can set your schedule. Keep in mind, though, that your hours will depend on how many orders are available. Your schedule might be different if you’re in a big city versus a small town.
Uber Eats drivers can work 24 hours per day but are likely to be busiest at mealtimes. Instacart shoppers don’t typically work overnight, but there might be orders at any time during the day.
Uber Eats Working Hours
With Uber Eats, you can work any time, day or night. The company partners with restaurants that are open 24 hours per day, like McDonald’s and IHOP.
You’ll have access to most orders during mealtimes. Uber says the highest demand is at lunchtime (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dinnertime (5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.).
Instacart Working Hours
Both in-store and full-service shoppers set their hours. In-store shoppers are allowed to work up to 29 hours per week.
You can schedule a shift as little as one hour ahead of time or several days in advance. There are also on-demand batches, which you can accept and start working on right away.
Available shifts depend on the stores you work with. They usually start at 9 a.m. and end at around midnight.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: The App
With either delivery service, you’ll rely on the company’s app to accept and complete orders. That’s why you need a smartphone and data plan.
Here, we’ll go over what you can expect from each app.
Uber Eats App
Uber has one app, Uber – Driver, for its ridesharing service and Uber Eats. If you use both, it’s easy to switch between the two services.
Use the app to see and accept available orders. When you’re working on an order, the app will help you navigate to the restaurant and the delivery location.
You can also use the app to review your earnings and request instant payments.
The Instacart app is called Instacart Shopper. You’ll download it during the signup process. Use it to schedule shifts ahead of time or to see if there are on-demand batches available. A built-in map shows areas with high demand.
As you complete batches, use the app for instructions. It will direct you to each store and delivery location. It will also show the items in each batch, along with additional information regarding substitutions and more.
The app will also help you manage your earnings. You can view your current earnings and enter direct deposit info. If you want to request an instant payout, use the app to do so.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: Earning Potential
According to posters on sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, the earning potential is similar between Uber Eats and Instacart. Uber Eats drivers tend to earn a little more on average.
There are a few factors that will heavily influence how much you can earn. First, your earning potential will depend on how many orders are available where you live. Unfortunately, you don’t have much control over this.
The other main factors are how many hours you work and how fast you can complete orders.
How Much Can I Make with Uber Eats?
Current Uber Eats drivers report on Indeed and Glassdoor that they earn between $18 and $20 per hour. Based on our research, Uber Eats drivers can expect to earn anywhere between $15 to $24 per hour.
How Much Can I Make with Instacart?
Shoppers on Indeed list their earnings as $11.30 to $14.07 per hour. On Glassdoor, the average pay is $14. However, some posters report earning up to $30 per hour.
Based on our research, Instacart Shoppers can expect to earn anywhere between $10 to $18 per hour.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: Rating System
Both services allow customers to rate delivery drivers. You’ll need to maintain a certain rating to continue working for them.
Uber Eats has a simple rating system. Instacart’s system is a little more complex, and some shoppers feel that it’s too strict.
The good news for both apps is that your rating is calculated based on 100 orders. One or two poor ratings won’t affect you too much.
Uber Eats Ratings
Both restaurants and customers can rate drivers with a thumbs up or thumbs down. Your overall rating is based on the last 100 ratings. You can see it at any time in the app.
If your rating falls too low, you might lose access to the app. The minimum rating depends on your location, and Uber doesn’t provide specifics on what the allowed minimum is. But if your rating starts to drop too low, you’ll get a notification.
Instacart customers can rate shoppers on a scale from one to five stars. Your overall rating is calculated based on your last 100 batches.
The highest-rated shoppers have priority access to new orders.
In addition to the star rating, customers can offer written feedback if they want to. For shoppers who are unhappy with their rating, there’s training available on the “How Am I Doing?” page.
The Instacart app also tracks how long it takes you to complete batches. Your speed doesn’t affect your rating, but you can lose access to the app if you continuously shop too slowly.
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: What We Like
There’s plenty to like about both services. They each let you choose your schedule and work as much or as little as you prefer.
Here are some other benefits of each platform.
What We Like About Uber Eats
- Extensive availability
- Integration with Uber ridesharing
In A Nutshell
- Make money delivering food
- Work on your own schedule
- Weekly & instant payments
- Earn up to $24 per hour
What We Like About Instacart
- Available orders aren’t limited to mealtimes
- In-store shopping option for people without access to a vehicle
In A Nutshell
- Make money delivering groceries
- Shop on your own schedule
- Get paid on time every time
- Earn up to $18 per hour
on Instacart’s website
Instacart vs. Uber Eats: What We Don’t Like
As with any delivery platform, there are some downsides to be aware of. Here are some specific things we dislike about each app.
What We Don’t Like About Uber Eats
- Stricter vehicle requirements
- No transparency in the minimum required ratings
What We Don’t Like About Instacart
- Must be able to lift heavy grocery items
- Strict rating system
Whether you need extra cash or a full-time income, Uber Eats and Instacart are options to consider.
Don’t have a car or don’t want to put wear and tear on your vehicle? No problem. You can try in-store shopping with Instacart. In some areas, you can deliver for Uber Eats on foot or using a bicycle.
If you like shopping, Instacart might be up your alley. If you want to work overnight or you already drive for Uber, Uber Eats could be the best fit.
If you’re having trouble deciding, consider signing up for both apps. Give each one a try and see if there’s a clear winner. If not, you can keep working for both; many people use multiple delivery apps to maximize their earnings.
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Amy Besen is a freelance finance writer who covers topics including the gig economy, small business funding, and FinTech. Before starting her writing business in 2019, Amy worked in financial services for 12 years. She believes in helping people access the tools and knowledge they need to make better decisions about money.