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How does Instacart work?

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

Updated

Update:

Instacart is now offering a “Leave at my door” delivery option. Select this option at checkout to have the delivery driver leave your order at your doorstep.

The company has also updated its health and safety guidelines and instated paid sick days for in-store shoppers, as well as extended pay for part-time and full-time employees affected by COVID-19.

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.

Instacart Instacart

Free delivery for 14 days with Instacart Express

Try Express for free for two weeks. T&Cs apply.

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Instacart Instacart

Grocery delivery in as little as 1 hour

Enter your ZIP code on Instacart's website to view shipping delivery speeds in your area.

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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 will arrive at your doorstep.

How to use Instacart

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. If Instacart is available in your area, you’ll be prompted to create a free Instacart account using your email or by logging in with 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.
  5. When you’re finished shopping, click the cart icon and select Go to Checkout.
  6. Enter your delivery address, choose a delivery date and time and enter your payment information.
  7. Click Add Promo Code if you have a coupon code to use before checking out.
  8. Click Place Order to complete your purchase.
  9. An Instacart Shopper will round up your items from the store and bring them to your door at the scheduled delivery time.

How much does Instacart cost?

Can I get free delivery?

Yes — 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.

Delivery costs

Your delivery costs depend on your location and the size of your order. The fee will be displayed at checkout before you place your order.

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.”

Is there a service fee?

Yes. 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 and 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

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 does not 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 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 isn’t available in your area yet, you can click the button to be notified when it does become available. In the meantime, 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 in a variety of locations across the country include Target, Aldi, CVS, Costco, Petco and more.

Why should I shop with Instacart?

Pros

  • Same-day delivery. Easily 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.

Cons

  • Service and delivery fees. Some customers report steep service and delivery fees. Service charges cannot be waived.

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 the price of their groceries was much higher than store prices.

Bottom line

Instacart lets you easily order online or on your phone or tablet to get groceries delivered to your door. Keep in mind that service fees — and in most cases, delivery fees — apply.

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