Should You Tip Instacart Drivers? (Yes, Here's How Much!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Instacart remains one of the most popular food and grocery delivery services in the world, and it’s showing no signs of stopping. After COVID-19 hit the United States, we saw the demand for Instacart’s services expand greatly. The thing is, it’s not a cheap service. Instacart has a bunch of fees and has been the center of a lot of price hiking scandals. Even tips seem shady. So, should you tip Instacart drivers?

Instacart drivers should be tipped, simply because the rate of tips has steadily declined over the past couple of years. A large portion of drivers’ money comes from the tips they make. Since 100 percent of the money you tip goes to them, it’s fairly important that you tip your driver.

The entire issue of tipping drivers, not to mention Instacart’s tipping processes, is pretty complex. If you’ve ever wondered what a driver (erm, “shopper”) needs, keep reading. We got you covered.

What is Instacart and How Does it Work?

Instacart is an online grocery shopping service that can be accessed through an app or through their websites. The service allows you to pick items that you want to buy by brand and quantity, then have them delivered straight to your doorstep. In other words, it’s like the “Amazon” of local grocery stores.

To deliver the goods to your door, Instacart hires independent contracts they call “shoppers,” but are most commonly called drivers. They do the shopping for you, then drive to your home. Just like that, you can have your favorite groceries without ever having to leave home.

If you got a really nice order that was correct and well put-together, then you should thank your Instacart driver. They’re called shoppers for a reason; they’re the ones who do both the shopping and the driving. This is why it can take as much as one to two hours during busy periods. They are shopping for multiple people at the same time.

Instacart partners up with almost every major grocery store aside from Whole Foods. So, if you want Costco delivery, Aldi delivered to your door, or even your local Stop and Shop, you can do it through Instacart. With that said, it can get pretty pricey, pretty quick. So while it’s a great service to have, it can turn into a strain on the bank account.

Do I Need to Tip Instacart Drivers?

Absolutely. Grocery delivery is one of the many service industries that rely on tips to give employees a fair wage. As a part of the service industry, shoppers are often motivated to give better service through the use of tips. With that said, tipping your Instacart driver is not mandatory. It’s entirely voluntary, though the app strongly encourages it.

The best way to liken it is to compare it to pizza delivery. Pizza delivery is a service people pay for. So, you tip them. The same can be said for Instacart shoppers.

How Much Do You Tip Instacart Drivers?

Believe it or not, Instacart doesn’t really suggest you tip too much. According to the most recent sources, Instacart suggests giving drivers 5 percent. In the past, the suggested tip amount was 10 percent of the total order amount. With that said, many people suggest giving slightly more.

With that said, it’s important to use a little bit of discretion when you’re tipping. These situations below should deserve a higher tip:

  • You’re getting delivery from multiple stores. It’s rare, but it happens. In some cases, you may have the same Instacart shopper. They’re doing more than usual, so you might want to pay them more.
  • The order is particularly large. Orders over $150 probably deserve more than 5 percent, simply due to the burden of schlepping all the groceries across town.
  • Your home is hard to find, or has a long walk involved in finding it. If they have to walk more than 10 minutes to find your home, you probably should add a couple of dollars in.
  • The weather outside is frightful. Bad weather means more risks for the driver, not to mention a very unpleasant drive. Tipping them more is the least you can do.

Do Instacart Drivers Keep Tips?

In the past, Instacart came under fire for changing the amount of money paid via tips to drivers. However, their policy has been revised and is now heavily focused on transparency. Now, Instacart drivers currently keep 100% of the tips that they receive.

Do Instacart Shoppers See Tips Before Delivery?

It used to be impossible for them to see the tip they’d get, but things have changed. Since November of 2020, they can see how much the tip is. In fact, Instacart shoppers can see tips prior to the delivery. They know if you’ve tipped, can see the amount, and can choose orders with higher tips if there is more than one order available at the time.

It’s important to understand that Instacart shoppers are independent contractors, not employees. Therefore, they see serious value in the tips that they get, as they have a huge impact on their total earnings. Instacart shoppers are paid based on their performance.

Tips account for approximately half of their earnings. So, it makes sense that they should be able to view the tip you offer before they do the work on fulfilling your order.

Can You Change Instacart Tips?

Yes! You can change the tip while you’re placing the order and then have the ability to modify it up to 24 hours after delivery. If they did a good job, you can raise it. If they got the order wrong or stole from the order, you can also choose to decrease their tips.

To change your tip in Instacart simply tap the three horizontal lines in the upper left-hand corner of the app. Select ‘Your Orders’ and choose the order your most recent order. Tap ‘Rate and tip’ and adjust the tip amount accordingly. You can also modify Instacart tips on the website using a similar method.

What is the Instacart Delivery Fee?

In a typical Instacart order, you will see several charges. They are the price of the groceries, the delivery fee, the service fee, and then the tip. If you’re wondering whether or not the delivery fee or the tip are going to be the same, you’re not alone. It’s a fee that confuses many shoppers, and often acts as a detriment to the drivers.

The delivery fee that Instacart charges is primarily for the upkeep of the site and the app. None of this goes to the driver, but it’s a necessary evil. Keeping Instacart up and running isn’t easy. Or at least, that’s what they say. You can also opt out of it in some cases, thanks to the membership feature.

Regardless, it’s important to understand that the delivery fee is not the tip. We cannot emphasize how important it is not to assume that drivers got paid just because they had a delivery fee.

How Much is Instacart’s Delivery Fee?

Instacart’s delivery fee depends on your membership, as well as the local rates in your area and the time that you want your groceries. It can vary between it being free to it being upwards of $5.99. If you are a member, you can often get free delivery. Here’s what you need to know:

  • $7.99 is usually for a one-hour window. 
  • $5.99 is for delivery windows that are several hours longer.
  • $3.99 is for same-day delivery in most areas.
  • If you pay $99 for an annual membership, orders over $35 are usually free of delivery fees. 
  • Peak hours may have an additional surcharge in different areas.

What is Instacart’s Service Fee?

Here’s the catch: Instacart’s service fee doesn’t really seem to be linked to anything. They don’t say what it is for, but they allude to keeping up the site and “providing the best service.” With that said, the service fee does not go to the driver. This fee covers insurance, any refunds that may need to be done, as well as things relating to hiring new drivers.

How Much Do Instacart Drivers Make Before Tips?

Unlike apps like Uber or Lyft, there is no guaranteed salary on Instacart. The app itself was mostly designed for people to make money in their spare time, not as a means of keeping themselves afloat. With that said, most Instacart drivers make an average of $11 per hour, not including expenses for car maintenance.

At the very lowest of ends, Instacart drivers may make only $7 per hour. This puts them below minimum wage, and is why tipping is so important. They also may get some light gas reimbursement, but even then, it’s not enough to cover the travel costs in their entirety.

Additional Fees You Might Get

While service, delivery, and tip fees are commonplace, there are a handful of other fees that Instacart will charge from time to time. These also do not go to the driver, but are there for other reasons:

  • Alcohol Delivery. This makes sure that you get ID’d and that the restaurant remains compliant. This extra step costs money in terms of insurance.
  • Heavy Fees. Items over 50 pounds may get a fee for being too heavy. You will be alerted when this would apply to an item you want to buy. Oddly enough, it doesn’t get paid to the shopper.
  • Bag Fees/Healthy Beverage Tax/State Tax. Certain states, such as California, have specific taxes that are levied against certain items, such as plastic bag usage, soda, or just groceries in general. These are not avoidable and have to be added in order for Instacart to remain compliant.

Does Instacart Charge Pickup Fees?

Want to order something, but don’t need it to be delivered? Well, you can with Instacart, and it has certain perks. Instacart doesn’t usually charge a specific fee for pickup orders, but there is an exception. If you order from Costco, that store’s agreement with the platform *does* require a pickup fee. How much it is can vary from place to place.

Related Questions

Should you tip grocery delivery people?

A grocery delivery driver makes the bulk of his or her wages from tips. As a part of modern service culture, tips are absolutely vital to many drivers’ ability to provide for themselves. Without the tips, most grocery delivery drivers will not actually make enough money to make the job worth it.

Delivery fees for most companies, including Shipt, do not go to the drivers. Or, if they do, they do not go entirely to the drivers. Tips count!

Does Instacart deliver alcohol?

Nationally, alcohol deliveries are left up to state legislation. Most states allow alcohol delivery services as long as they can prove that the person receiving that alcohol is over 21. If you choose to go through a service like Instacart, you will be charged an additional fee and will be asked to show your drivers license.

At least one person over 21 has to be at the delivery location to receive alcohol. People who cannot verify their age to the delivery driver will not be allowed to receive their shipment. They will then be refunded as a result of the failed delivery.

Do you need to be a Costco member or BJ’s member to shop through Instacart?

While you might need a membership to go into their stores, shopping these members-only stores is actually quite doable for everyone as long as you use Instacart. However, Instacart won’t have as many discounts available if you are not a member. You are better off linking membership accounts to max out your savings.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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