> > Shipt vs. Instacart 2024: Which Side Hustle Is Best for Drivers?

Shipt vs. Instacart 2024: Which Side Hustle Is Best for Drivers?

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Are you looking for a flexible way to make some extra money and help people in your community? If so, grocery delivery should be on your radar. 

Shipt and Instacart are two popular and widely available platforms people use to order groceries. They both offer various benefits for workers, like getting paid for each order, earning tips, bonuses, and more.

Shipt delivers from stores like Walgreens, Kroger, CVS, Target, and more, while Instacart offers a wider selection, including stores like Walmart, Kroger, Office Depot, Bath & Body Works, and many others.

In this article, I’ll go over what you need to know about each one so you choose the one that makes the most sense for your particular situation.

Shipt vs Instacart (Pay, Bonuses, Problems)

Shipt vs. Instacart: An Overview

Shipt and Instacart have a ton of things in common. They’re both grocery delivery services that work with drivers to deliver to customers. They have similar availability, with a presence in most major cities and some smaller ones. Also, the experience of working for each one is comparable. 

There are also some key differences, which we’ll describe below.

Our Rating



What You Will DeliverGroceries.Groceries and other household items.
Driver Requirements18+ 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, be able to lift 45 lbs, possess a reliable vehicle (1997 or newer), pass a background check, own vehicle insurance, own a smartphone and have a bank account to receive payments.
Vehicle RequirementsHave a vehicle with relevant insurance.Have a reliable vehicle from 1997 or newer.
PayAverage pay is $10 to $18 per hour (includes number of items, type of items, driving distance, effort involved in shopping/delivering, and tips).Average pay is $16 to $22 per hour (includes base pay, promotions, bonuses, and tips). Efficient shoppers can earn upwards of $22 per hour.
Working HoursDelivery windows depend on the stores you work with.Delivery windows are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
Earning PotentialAround $57,000 (*Indeed estimate).Around $44,000 (*Indeed estimate).
Rating SystemInstacart customers rate shoppers on a scale from 1 to 5 starsShipt customers rate a shopper’s performance on a scale of one to five
What We LikeOption for in-store shopping if you don’t have a vehicle.Free Shipt membership for shoppers.

What Is Shipt?

Shipt is a delivery platform founded in 2014 and acquired by Target in 2017. It works with a network of drivers who bring groceries and other household items to customers. Users place their orders online or through an app and receive their items the same day. 

Besides Target, Shipt works with Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway, Costco, and more. 

What sets Shipt apart from Instacart is that it focuses on a membership model. While customers can order single deliveries, there’s a fee of $10. The cost-effective option for people who order frequently is to sign up for unlimited deliveries. This plan costs $99 for a year-long membership. 

As independent contractors, delivery drivers for Shipt receive base pay for each order, along with tips and bonuses.

According to Nasdaq, Shipt holds just 6% of the market share, placing it behind Walmart and Instacart.

To learn more, check out our full Shipt shopper review.

How Shipt Works to Make Money
Source: Shipt

>> Read Also: Postmates vs. Instacart | Which Side Hustle Is Best for Drivers?

What Is Instacart?

Instacart is an on-demand grocery delivery platform that lets customers order online or through an app. Founded in 2012, today, the company operates in more than 14,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada. Partner stores include Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Publix, and many more. 

While Instacart offers a membership for users, the regular fee per delivery is $3.99, compared to Shipt’s $10. For both services, there’s no fee for orders over $35. 

Instacart delivery drivers earn a base rate and tips. They work as independent contractors and can set the hours they work. 

According to data from Statista, Instacart accounted for 45% of the U.S. grocery delivery market in 2021, placing it behind Walmart.

For more details, check out our full Instacart shopper review

Shipt vs. Instacart: How Do They Work?

Working for either of these services is relatively similar. Below, we’ll go into more detail about signing up and working a shift. 

How Shipt Works

Shipt delivery workers are called Shipt Shoppers. They are independent contractors who choose their hours and which orders they accept. 

The process of applying to work for Shipt is a little more involved than other delivery services. You’ll need to answer some questions that test your relevant skills. There’s also a video response section where you can show off your personality.

Once your application is approved, Shipt will send you a shirt and a prepaid card. You’ll use the card when you complete customers’ orders, so you never have to use your money. Wearing the branded shirt while you shop is optional.

As you work, you’ll use the app for guidance on navigating to stores and filling orders. When you get to the customer’s location, you might need to give them their groceries or drop them off outside. 

How Instacart Works

Instacart workers are also called Shoppers. There are a couple of different Instacart shoppers. The first are in-store shoppers, who put together orders for customers to pick up themselves. These workers are employees of Instacart and work specific shifts.

The second type is full-service shoppers who purchase a customer’s items and deliver them. Full-service shoppers are independent contractors. 

Signing up to work with Instacart is easy if you can pass a background check. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll use the app to accept customers’ orders and complete deliveries. 

You can sign up for a shift in advance, from one hour ahead to several days. In April 2019, Instacart launched an additional on-demand option. If there are on-demand orders available, you can work them without scheduling a shift in advance. 

Customers can choose no-contact delivery. If they do, you’ll leave the groceries outside without coming into contact with the person. Customers also have the option to take the groceries from you directly. 

If you need help while you’re working, you can reach out via email or chat. Some shoppers report that it’s hard to reach the support team by phone. 

How Instacart Works
Source: Instacart

>> Read Also: Instacart vs. DoorDash | Which Side Hustle Is Best for Drivers?

Shipt vs. Instacart: Requirements

Most of the requirements for Shipt and Instacart are similar. The most crucial one is that the service you want to work for is available near you. 

You don’t need previous delivery or grocery experience, though Shipt does ask you to have some knowledge about selecting produce. 

Both apps require you to complete a background check.

Shipt Requirements

To work for Shipt, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18
  • Have a valid mailing address
  • Have a driver’s license and insurance
  • Have a reliable vehicle from 1997 or newer
  • Have knowledge about selecting produce
  • Be able to lift 45 pounds 
  • Have a smartphone that can run the Shipt app

Instacart Requirements

Instacart shoppers (full-service shoppers) 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 shoppers) 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

Shipt vs. Instacart: Sign-Up Process

The sign-up process for each app is similar overall, but Shipt has a few extra steps. For both Instacart and Shipt, you’ll typically hear back about whether you’re approved in under a week. Since there’s a background check, the timeframe can vary. 

For Shipt, hiring is based on need in your area. So, if there are enough shoppers already, you might need to wait a while before you’re approved. 

Shipt Sign-Up & Approval Process

To sign up for Shipt:

  1. Head over to the sign-up page and enter your name, email, phone number, and zip code.
  2. Complete the questions and answers that test your communication, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
  3. Submit video responses to the required questions.
  4. Review Shipt’s rules and sign the agreement.
  5. Once you hear from the recruiting team, download the app. You’ll receive a Shipt shirt and prepaid card.
  6. Start shopping.
How to Deliver for Shipt
Source: Shipt

>> Read Also: 14 Best Food Delivery Services to Work For

Instacart Sign-Up & Approval Process

To sign up for Instacart:

  1. On the sign-up page, create an account by entering your zip code and some basic details about yourself.
  2. Download the Instacart Shopper app and use it to continue signing up.
  3. Consent to a background check.
  4. Once you’re approved, you’ll get a prepaid card.
  5. Start shopping.

Shipt vs. Instacart: Pay

As with other delivery apps, your pay depends on how many orders you complete. Your speed and the number of hours you work will impact your earnings. The amount of orders available where you live is also a factor. 

For both Instacart and Shipt, you’ll work as an independent contractor. That means you pay for your expenses, including gas and vehicle maintenance. You’ll also need to set aside some money to pay your taxes.

Neither company provides complete transparency into how they calculate their base rates. But, they do offer some insight into the factors they consider, such as the number of items in an order. 

Shipt Pay

Shipt shoppers’ pay includes the following:

  • Base pay is determined by several factors (time of day, traffic, number of items, weight of items, etc.)
  • Promotions and bonuses
  • Tips (shoppers keep 100%)

Sometimes, Shipt offers promos on individual orders, which allow you to earn an extra $1–$20. They also occasionally give out bonuses. During the holiday season of 2020, shoppers received bonuses between $50 and $500. The bonus amount was based on the number of completed orders. 

Other perks for shoppers include a free membership to the service so that you can order delivery yourself. The company also partners with vendors to offer discounts on tax preparation, health insurance, and more. And they sometimes host events where you can meet other shoppers and learn about the company. 

Instacart Pay

In-store shoppers are employees of Instacart and receive a set hourly wage. 

For full-service shoppers, pay includes the following:

  • Base rate, determined by the number and type of items, driving distance, and effort 
  • Bonuses
  • Tips (shoppers keep 100%)

Like Shipt, Instacart gave out bonuses to shoppers in December 2020. The company calculated bonuses based on the number of batches the person had completed throughout the year. 

Aside from the holiday bonus, many Instacart workers feel that bonuses and promotions are few and far between. Some bonus programs the company used to offer are no longer available.

Instacart Shopper Pay
Source: Instacart

>> Read Also: 7 Ways to Get Paid to Advertise on Your Car

Shipt vs. Instacart: Working Hours

One nice thing about grocery delivery is that orders are often available all day, not just at mealtimes.

Neither of these services operates 24/7. This limit can be a good or bad thing depending on when you like to work. 

Shipt Working Hours 

As a contractor working for Shipt, you choose your hours. You can work as many or as few hours as you prefer, as long as orders are available. 

Delivery windows are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. 

Instacart Working Hours 

Instacart shoppers control their schedules and work when they please. Available delivery windows depend on your location and the stores you shop with. Typically, you can work between 9 a.m. and midnight. Keep in mind that holidays can impact available hours.

If you’re thinking about signing up as an in-store shopper, note that you can’t work more than 29 hours per week. 

Shipt vs. Instacart: The App

While working for Shipt, Instacart, or other delivery services, you’ll rely on the company’s app. That’s why you need a smartphone that can run the app and a data plan. 

While there aren’t major differences in how the apps work, we’ll go over what to expect in this section. 

Shipt App

The Shipt app is called Shipt Shopper. You’ll use it to schedule shifts, which can start right away or up to five days in advance if you prefer. Then, when you’re ready to begin your shift, you’ll be able to see available orders. 

Once you begin an order, use the app to travel to the store and select the correct items. After you pay, you’ll deliver the order to the customer and mark it complete.

Another app feature is the ability to view your earnings for each order. Shipt doesn’t currently have an instant payment option, so you won’t use the app to request pay. Instead, they pay automatically via direct deposit each week. 

If you have trouble, Shipt has an optional course that helps shoppers learn to use the app. 

Shipt App
Source: Shipt

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Instacart App

Instacart’s app, which you download during the sign-up process, is called Instacart Shopper. When you’re ready to work, use it to schedule a shift or see if there are on-demand batches. You can also view the map to see areas that have particularly high demand. 

As you shop, use the instructions in the app. They’ll guide you to each store and show the items in each batch. 

Aside from working batches, you can use the app to view your earnings. Instacart pays each week automatically, but you can request an instant payout in the app if you want to. 

Shipt vs. Instacart: Earning Potential

Your earning potential with each platform depends on how fast you can complete orders. While your pay might be low starting out, you’ll earn more as you get more practice.

Your location is also a factor since traffic and the number of customers available will impact your speed. 

Both companies let you keep 100% of your tips, which can contribute significantly to your earnings. It’s a smart idea to focus on customer service and try to keep your customers happy. 

If both Shipt and Instacart operate near you, you might consider working for both. During slow times in one app, you can switch to the other. This is one way that some delivery workers maximize earnings and keep things interesting. 

How Much Can I Make with Shipt?

The average pay for a Shipt shopper listed on Indeed is $13.79 per hour. On Glassdoor, the listed pay ranges from $12 to $17 an hour. An efficient Ship shopper can earn upwards of $22 per hour.

How Much Can I Make with Instacart?

On Indeed, Instacart shoppers list their average earnings at about $11.30 an hour. Pay on Glassdoor is between $11 and $15 an hour. More experienced, efficient drivers can earn upwards of $18 per hour. 

The pay is similar for full-service and in-store shoppers. 

Source: Instacart

>> Read Also: 15 Surveys That Pay Cash Instantly

Shipt vs. Instacart: Rating System

Shipt and Instacart have similar rating systems. They also both maintain very high standards, which can be a source of frustration for shoppers. While customer ratings are a good way to ensure quality service, some feel the ratings are too strict. 

For both platforms, you get priority access to orders if your rating is higher. And, if your rating drops, you can lose your ability to work for the service. 

Shipt Ratings

Shipt customers rate a shopper’s performance on a scale of one to five, where five is the highest. If your rating drops below 4.7, Shipt requires you to take refresher training to improve. If your score remains too low, you might lose access to the app. 

Shipt also monitors acceptance rates. While these numbers don’t factor into your rating, you can lose your account if you reject too many orders. 

In early 2021, Shipt launched a preferred shopper program in some markets. Customers can list shoppers as preferred after giving them a five-star rating. Then, when you’re working, you’ll see any orders from those customers. This feature helps shoppers build relationships with appreciative customers. 

Instacart Ratings

Instacart ratings are also on a scale of one to five, with five stars being the highest rating. The company calculates your rating based on your previous 100 orders. The good news is that a couple of lower ratings won’t have a major effect. 

Aside from the star rating, customers can provide feedback on the quality of their orders. They can also enter written feedback if they want to. This info is available on each shopper’s “How Am I Doing?” page. If you want to improve your rating, you can access optional training from this page. 

The Instacart app tracks how long each batch takes, but your speed doesn’t factor into your rating. However, if you shop too slowly too many times, you can lose access to the app. 

Shipt vs. Instacart: What We Like

There’s a lot to like about each of these apps. With either one, you’re essentially getting paid to shop. Another big perk is being able to choose your schedule. 

You’re also helping members of your community. Busy people are often incredibly appreciative of the chance to skip grocery shopping. These services also benefit many older people and those with disabilities. 

Below, we’ve listed some of the specific things we like about each service. 

What We Like About Shipt

  • Free Shipt membership and discounts on tax services, auto and health insurance, and more
  • Bonuses for completing a specific number of orders
  • Promos on certain orders

In A Nutshell

  • Make money delivering groceries & other goods
  • Work on your own schedule
  • Shopper perks and rewards
  • Earn up to $22 per hour

on Shipt’s website

What We Like About Instacart

  • Instant Cashout option
  • In-store shopping for people who don’t have a vehicle
  • “How Am I Doing” page with optional training

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

Shipt vs. Instacart: What We Don’t Like

No job is perfect, and that includes grocery delivery. There are some downsides to these services that you should be aware of if you want to try them. 

For both apps, you’ll need to pay your expenses, including gas and wear and tear on your car. You should set aside money for taxes, as the companies don’t withhold anything for you. You won’t get traditional benefits like paid sick time or health coverage. 

Some workers feel that Shipt’s and Instacart’s rating systems are too harsh, even compared to other delivery apps. Your customers might consider four stars a great rating, but you can lose your account for falling below 4.7. 

If you’re used to a traditional job, it can be hard to stay motivated when setting your hours. And if you struggle to lift heavy groceries, another type of delivery service might work better. 

Below are a few other platform-specific negatives:

What We Don’t Like About Shipt

  • No instant pay option
  • More complex application process

What We Don’t Like About Instacart

  • Fewer promotions and bonuses for shoppers 
  • Hard to get support by phone

Final Thoughts

If you need a new side hustle, Shipt and Instacart are both excellent options to consider. The shopping and delivery process and earnings potential are similar between the two. So, the one you choose comes down to availability in your area and your personal preferences. 

If you love shopping at Target, Shipt might be your go-to. This option is also good for people who are comfortable with the video portion of the application process. 

Instacart’s easier sign-up process is a better fit for some. If you don’t have a car, you can look into signing up as an in-store shopper. 

We recommend trying both apps to decide which one you like better.

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