While Instacart has been around since 2012, it’s really taken off this year as more people choose grocery deliveries to maintain social distance.
This new normal has also brought up new etiquette questions: do you tip grocery delivery? How much do you tip Instacart? Let’s look into Instacart tipping etiquette.
Do You Tip Grocery Delivery? Instacart Tipping FAQ
Check out these common questions about tips on grocery delivery and Instacart tipping specifically.
Should You Tip on Grocery Delivery?
The short answer: yes, absolutely tip grocery delivery. At least in the U.S., grocery delivery is a service-based industry where workers rely on tips to earn a decent wage.
We’re all used to tipping delivery drivers for pizza and Chinese food, and grocery delivery tends to involve a lot more labor than restaurant deliveries.
Typically, your shopper will be walking all around the store, collecting items from your list, checking expiration dates, potentially communicating with you about out-of-stock items and substitutions, dealing with crowds, waiting in lines, loading the bags, processing refunds for items that weren’t available, driving your groceries to you, and carrying them to your door.
And they have to do all of this as quickly as possible, since most are paid by the batch instead of by the hour. So tip your Instacart shoppers—they earn it!
Are Instacart Shoppers and Drivers the Same Person?
For the majority of cases, yes, your Instacart shopper will also be the person who delivers your groceries. Workers who fulfill both roles are called “full-service shoppers” on Instacart.
However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, Instacart will hire a dedicated “in-store shopper” for a busy location, and then have a full-service driver bring your order to you.
If you do happen to get a separate shopper and driver, Instacart tipping is set up so that your tip goes to the driver.
(As we’ll cover in the next section, the In-Store Shoppers are paid a higher fixed hourly wage to make up for not being eligible for tips.)
How Much Do Instacart Workers Make?
Your decision on how much to tip Instacart drivers might vary based on the type of work involved and how much they’re making, so let’s go over that real quick!
Full-Service Instacart Shopper Compensation
Full-service Instacart shoppers (the ones who shop and deliver) are paid by the batch. Exact compensation can vary a lot depending on their location, the size of an order batch, the distance of deliveries, etc.
In 2023, the Instacart payment structure is:
- A minimum of $7-$10 per batch for a shop + delivery (full service)
- $5 per batch for just delivery (if the shopping is done by an in-store shopper)
- An extra amount per mile driven (depends on the city, but an example rate per mile is $.60)
- An extra amount for large orders or heavy items
They aren’t paid for driving to the store, driving home, tolls or automotive expenses, etc.
Also, be aware that all these shoppers are considered independent contractors, which means they are not eligible for employment benefits, and they pay self-employment taxes on their earnings.
Those are two factors that can make tips more important to someone.
Related: How Much to Tip DoorDash Drivers?
In-Store Instacart Shopper Compensation
In-store shoppers are considered part-time employees of Instacart, rather than independent contractors.
They earn a fixed hourly rate of $13.50 on average. In-store shoppers are not eligible for Instacart tipping, but they are eligible for employment benefits and pay regular taxes.
How Much to Tip Instacart Shoppers/Drivers
Now that we have all the relevant information about what working for Instacart involves, we can make a more informed decision about how much to tip Instacart shoppers or drivers.
The suggested default Instacart tip is 5% of the order amount. There is a minimum suggested tip of $2 per individual store delivery.
Personally, I find that figure a little low. At a restaurant, the default tip amount is 15-20%, and full-service shoppers are doing a comparable amount of work as a table server (although servers tend to have a lower base wage as well).
When you add in the fact that we’re in a global crisis and Instacart shoppers are doing the work to let you stay at home, I would aim for a minimum of 10%, or more if you can afford it.
Another possible rule of thumb is to think about how long your order might take to shop for. If you’re purchasing 75 items that all cost $1, that’s a lot of effort for the shopper that isn’t reflected in the order total.
Bump up the amount if you have a complicated order, or you live in an upstairs apartment that requires more carrying effort. You can give Instacart cash tips at the door or do it via the app.
If you see different names for the shopper and the driver for your order, it means the order was collected by an in-store shopper and the driver just picked it up. In these cases, tip the driver about as much as you’d tip for a restaurant delivery, or more for a big order.
Ultimately, how much to tip Instacart shoppers and drivers is up to you, but if you’re in a position to be generous, being a good tipper is never the wrong decision!
To fight against tip-baiting Instacart adjusted its tipping policy. As of April 2022, the company will cover the cost of a shopper’s tip, up to $10 if customers zero-out the tip they gave after receiving their delivery.
Kate is a writer and editor who runs her content and editorial businesses remotely while globetrotting as a digital nomad. So far, her laptop has accompanied her to New Zealand, Asia, and around the U.S. (mostly thanks to credit card points). Years of research and ghostwriting on personal finance led her to the FI community and co-founding DollarSanity. In addition to traveling and outdoor adventure, Kate is passionate about financial literacy, compound interest, and pristine grammar.