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About Instacart

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that allows customers to shop one app and get access to multiple stores. Users can submit a grocery order online or through the app and have groceries delivered straight to their door for a one-time or monthly fee.

Pros & Cons


  • Order from many stores on one order
  • Direct contact with personal shopper
  • Flexible delivery options


  • Prices may be higher than in store

Bottom Line

Instacart has changed the way people go grocery shopping. It allows for customization and flexible scheduling options. The membership option helps reduce fees for regular users.

How does Instacart work?

Instacart hires background-checked and trained personal shoppers to handle your grocery shopping. All you have to do is put a list together, schedule your delivery, pay online and receive your order. Here’s how it works:

Put your list together
Creating a grocery list on Instacart is simple:
  1. Enter your ZIP code to find out which local grocery stores partner with Instacart.
  2. Browse the different grocery stores and pharmacies to find the items you need. You can browse by item name or department.
  3. Add items to your cart and review your final selections.
  4. Check out by entering your payment info and scheduling a drop-off window. If you are ordering from multiple stores, you need to designate a drop-off time for each location.
  5. You also have the option of sharing a cart with friends or family. This is a great way for families to add what they need to a single cart, but payments can’t be split up.
If your shopper gets to the store and an item on your list is not available, they replace it with the product’s closest match, replace it with something different from a list of approved items or skip getting the item altogether. You can choose which option you prefer when creating your grocery list.

If the replacement item is a different price than your original item, you receive a refund or are charged for the difference in cost. The Instacart app lets you communicate with your shopper during the process so you can add things to your order and see replies and updates from the shopper.

Schedule the drop-off
Once you create your list and complete your order, it’s time to pay and schedule a delivery. You can schedule the delivery within a few hours or set a day and time that works with your schedule.

During checkout, you can include delivery instructions for the driver, including gate codes, apartment numbers, parking instructions or ways for the shopper to identify your home.

Track the order and receive your groceries
It’s easy to track your order status with the Instacart app. Tap the “Account” icon, click on “Your orders,” and then tap an order to view its status. You can see the progress of your order directly on the app and get real-time updates on what items the shopper has already picked up for you.

When the shopper leaves the store, you receive a notification about the estimated time of arrival and an option to click and follow the driver’s progress.

Instacart Express

It’s worth looking into Instacart Express if you use the company’s service regularly. This monthly membership gives you access to exclusive benefits such as:

  • No delivery fees on orders of $35 or more
  • Reduced service fees
  • No increased pricing fees during peak delivery hours
  • The ability to shop at a variety of stores with free delivery on the entire order

Instacart prices

While Instacart makes life a little easier for many consumers, this convenience comes with a cost. Instacart charges a few fees to every order, including:

  • A 5% service fee on every non-Instacart Express order.
  • A sliding scale fee for alcohol purchases that varies based on how much alcohol you buy. For example, there is a $2 fee for alcohol orders up to $35 and a $10 fee for alcohol orders of $110 or more. These fees are reduced for Express members.
  • A default tip of 5% is added to every order but can be adjusted to your preference. Tips are always optional, and 100% of your tip goes to the shopper.

You may notice that your service fee changes between the time you make your order and the time your groceries are purchased. This is because the service fee is based on the total cost of the order and replacements can change that total slightly.

An Instacart Express annual membership costs $99. You can also purchase monthly memberships for $9.99 each month.

Instacart FAQ

Do you have to be home for Instacart delivery?
No. Instacart just rolled out a “leave at my door” delivery option. When you choose this option at checkout, the shopper leaves your groceries at the door, takes a photo and uploads the photo to the app so you know your order has arrived.
Does Instacart bring your groceries inside?
No. For safety reasons, shoppers leave your groceries in a predetermined place outside of your home.
Do you tip Instacart?
Yes. Tipping for great service is customary, and 100% of the tip goes to the shopper.
What stores can I order from on Instacart?
Available stores vary based on where you live. Instacart partners with Publix, Costco, CVS, The Fresh Market, Aldi, Kroger and many other popular grocery retailers.

Is Instacart legit?

Instacart is a reputable business that provides a safe, convenient way to buy groceries without needing to visit stores. The service can be a game-changer for busy families — grocery shopping is a time-consuming errand, and having the ability to assign it to someone else frees up hours in your day. Instacart is a great option for those who dislike grocery shopping or want to spend their time doing something else. The fees are minimal, and regular Instacart members can upgrade to Instacart Express and reduce these fees even more.

Instacart Reviews

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: June 2, 2023

Instacart sold me spoiled potatoes and old reduced price chicken for regular price. The chicken was delivered to my house on the last sale by day. It had a sticker for reduced price. I didn’t order old chicken. I didn’t want old chicken.

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Verified Reviewer
Original review: June 1, 2023

I checked my bank account on 5-30-23 and I had a hold on my account from Instacart for $140. I have not used their service since February 2022. I called Customer Service and she told me I had placed an order on May 27. I told her that I did not. She asked me to look at my orders on the app. It shows I have not ordered since February 2022. She then tells me that is not correct, I need to sign on the web. I did and it also showed last order February 2022. Finally she transferred to me accounting. Same story from her. She said she would send it to the next department and they would call me to resolve the matter. Needless to say, I have not heard from them.

I called my bank, Bank Of America, to start a dispute. When they did the search for Instacart they found a total of 4 orders I was charged for since March. Somehow I missed the others. A total of $252 was deducted. My bank gave me credit for the amount while they research the dispute. Will delete my account when my dispute is settled.

4 people found this review helpful

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    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 31, 2023

    I work with companies I like and trust…Good Bye Instacart! When someone says **-You to me…I leave. I placed my weekly/biweekly order. On the order I sent a message to the driver not to deliver before 6:30pm as I would not be home. I had chosen the 7:20-7:40pm time slot to ensure a late delivery. I received so many refunds requests and replacement messages thinking they were coming from the shopper…I even commented on how many changes there were.

    At 5:30pm I received a message that the driver, who was the same person as the shopper, would deliver soon. I immediately reached out to the driver and restated that no one would be home until 6:30…He came back to me with “are you kidding me”, I asked him to call me. On the phone call he asked “what do you want me to drive around for an hour?” I stated I could do without the attitude and he yelled **-You and hung up. I then called customer service and told the story asked for a manager to call me back…which never happened. The only thing that was said to me is that they would ensure this driver would never deliver to my house again…really? You are OK with this person interacting with any of your customers?

    The order was canceled by Instacart and I had to reschedule the order. I did reschedule the order and by this time the new driver had been advised by PUBLIX and Instacart of what had happened. The fact that Instacart and Publix finds this acceptable is unacceptable to a once loyal customer. I work with companies I like and trust…Good Bye Instacart and Most likely Publix.

    2 people found this review helpful
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 29, 2023

    Instacart has messed up my orders 7 times in the last few years then they got better the last few times. But today the shopper forgot my water so she went back to get it and claimed that she called/texted me to let me know she was back. That didn't happen. Instead of going back to get my water, shopper was instructed to go ahead with her next order. The co. said they would give me a credit or refund because I would have to order another $35 in groceries in order to have my water brought back even though it was not my fault. They said a refund would take 5-7 business days which doesn't work for me so I took a credit. But grudgingly because they left me no choice. I don't have a car anymore and I'm sick so now I have to figure out how to get my water.

    I was going to use Favor but they have a bunch of bad reviews now. So I don't know what I'm going to do. I really need my water. Also the shopper bought me a $15 pack of ground beef instead of the small size I asked for and even that was 50 percent off which would've made it more expensive originally. In addition some of the ground beef was brown and was going to expire today. She didn't even look at the ground beef color obviously.

    3 people found this review helpful
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 26, 2023

    I place an online order with Kroger. The driver for Instacart lied and said I never came to the door. Not knowing I have 2 cameras and no one ever showed up to my house. They are letting anyone drive and their driver is stealing people groceries. They need to be shut down. I will never use them for anything else.

    3 people found this review helpful
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 23, 2023

    Four times the Instacart shoppers have failed to look for the correct brand and or product, they do not convey special instructions to deli e.g. slice turkey thin instead I got 1/4 inch thick!! Interesting in the same order my ham was sliced thin as instructed in the notes of my order. It's a constant battle getting products and or brands correct. Deli products have never been correct...never! Not all but too many Instacart employees are lazy and do not perform their job description therefore the consumer pays for their mistakes, carelessness.

    2 people found this review helpful
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 23, 2023

    I used Instacart to try and get pain relief cream as I cannot walk well and got quoted time frame. Up-to-date map and msgs said driver shopped and was on the way and one block down... Still no product. Another driver never showed again and Instacart could not even reach out to their own shoppers/drivers. Would not give me full money back... This company is fraudulent!

    3 people found this review helpful
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 22, 2023

    On May 2nd I order groceries from Instacart for dinner. The told with fees was $65. I realized I was charged $165. I contacted customer service on 3 different occasions. The first 2 times I was told I'd get a refund. The 3rd I'm being told I order $76 in asparagus and the rest was for cater and replacement fees. I will never use instacart again. This is robbery.

    4 people found this review helpful
    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 22, 2023

    Items were not received, and several substitutes were made and added without my authorization, I notified the shopper who ignored my text messages and then shut off their notification. I notified Instacart, it was clear they could care less and informed me I'd be receiving a refund but that wasn't the POINT. The point, IS: Someone who works for Instacart is using this company scamming orders for their own benefit. I canceled the card used for my order, and have never used this company again. This company should not be in business. I have two jobs, and this experience was horrible.

    4 people found this review helpful
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    Verified Reviewer
    Original review: May 17, 2023

    Absolutely terrible. I ordered garden items from Home Depot. The total order was $65. I understand that sometimes substitutions need to be made, if the original products are not available. I did not receive one thing that I ordered. Not only did I not receive what I ordered, the substitutions cost less money than what I paid for. I ordered an 8 lb bag of potting soil. I received an 8-quart bag. I also ordered a gallon-size pot of petunias. I received a quart size completely different flower. When I totaled the items I received, it came to $27. Instacart was willing to give me a $6 credit. I am floored. Never again. This service is highly questionable on being dishonest and possibly keeping people’s money in addition to their fees.

    7 people found this review helpful
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