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How does Instacart work?

View a step-by-step guide, cost breakdown, availability and more.

Save a trip to the store by ordering your groceries online or from your phone or tablet. Schedule convenient, same-day delivery to your home or office.

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How does Instacart work?

Instacart lets you shop grocery, pantry and other household items from your favorite local grocery stores. You choose the items you want online, and a personal shopper will hand-pick them at the store for you. Schedule your desired delivery time and date, and your grocery order arrives at your doorstep.

If you’re a senior and need help getting your order started or an existing order adjusted, call 844-981-3433 every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

How to use Instacart

You’ve learned Instacart is available in your area and want to take advantage of its services. Follow these steps to start using Instacart:

  1. Go to Instacart's website or mobile app and enter your delivery ZIP code to see which stores near you are available to shop from.
  2. Create a free Instacart account using your email, or log in through your Google or Facebook account.
  3. Choose the store you want to shop from on the list of available stores in your area.
  4. Add items to your cart. When you’re finished shopping, select the cart icon and hit Go to Checkout.
  5. Enter your delivery address, choose a delivery date and time and enter your payment information.
  6. Choose Add Promo Code if you have a coupon code to use before checking out.
  7. Hit Place Order to complete your purchase.

An Instacart Shopper then chooses your items from the store and brings them to your door at the scheduled delivery time.

How much does Instacart cost?

Let’s break down the costs associated with placing an Instacart order.

Delivery costs

Your specific delivery costs depend on your location and the size of your order. The fee displays at checkout before you place your order. Instacart states a typical delivery fee is $3.99, but this amount can vary based on your location and demand.

Note that:

  • Your cart must contain at least $10 worth of items.
  • You may pay a higher delivery fee during peak hours — called “busy pricing.”

What is the Instacart service fee?

A minimum service fee of $2 is added to every order. For orders that don’t include alcohol, the fee is equal to 5% of your order subtotal. Service fees can’t be waived.

The service fee for alcohol is broken down like this:

  • $0-$35 of alcohol: $2 fee
  • $35.01-$75 of alcohol: $4 fee
  • $75.01-$110 of alcohol: $8 fee
  • $110.01 or more of alcohol: $10 fee

How do I get free delivery?

Instacart offers free delivery on your first order. After that, you can sometimes qualify for free delivery if you spend at least $35 on select branded items. If free delivery is available, you should see the amount you need to spend to take advantage of this offer.

Otherwise, expect to pay a delivery and service fee.

How much should I tip my Instacart shopper?

A 5% tip is suggested at checkout, but you can change this amount. Tipping is a nice gesture — if you had an exceptional experience, consider tipping more than 5%. Add or change a tip amount up to three days after delivery.

How do returns work?

Instacart doesn’t issue returns through its shopping and delivery service. If you want to return an item, you’ll have to bring it back to the store, following the retailer’s specific return policy and procedures. Stores may accept an Instacart receipt as proof of purchase.

The only exception is if you’re unable to provide valid ID upon delivery of alcohol. In this case, the Instacart shopper is unable to deliver the alcohol and will return it to the store.

Where is Instacart available?

Instacart is widely available in ZIP codes across the US — but there are still some areas that it doesn’t serve just yet. To see if Instacart is available in your area, enter your delivery ZIP code on the company’s website or mobile app.

Instacart isn’t available near me. Now what?

If Instacart doesn’t service your area yet, you can select the button to be notified when it becomes available. Meanwhile, see if other delivery services like Uber Eats, Postmates or FoodKick are available near you.

In a pinch, you can also try calling local grocery stores to see if they offer their own delivery services.

Which stores offer Instacart delivery?

The list of available stores with Instacart varies by location. Enter your delivery ZIP code to view a list of stores that offer Instacart delivery near you. Some of the major big-box retailers that offer this service include Target, Aldi, CVS, Costco, Petco and more.

Why should I shop with Instacart?


  • Same-day delivery. Order the grocery items you need online and schedule a delivery as soon as a few hours after placing your order.
  • Coupons. Apply regular store coupons to your order to save.
  • Referral bonus. Earn up to $50 toward your next purchase by referring friends.


  • Service and delivery fees. Some customers report steep service and delivery fees. Service charges can’t be waived.
  • Higher prices. Some items have a higher markup than what you’ll find in-store. Remember to read each store’s pricing policy before deciding on where to shop.

What do customers say about this service?

Instacart earns mixed reviews online. Some happy customers say their deliveries are always on time and their shoppers go out of their way to make sure their order is correct and produce is fresh.

Others say they were overcharged for delivery, their order arrived well beyond the selected window or their order price was much higher than store prices.

Bottom line

Instacart lets you order online or on your phone or tablet to get groceries delivered to your door. Remember: In most cases, service and delivery fees apply.

Start shopping now

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