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Instacart is a widely available grocery delivery service that partners with local grocery stores in your area. Their personal shoppers shop for you and then deliver your groceries directly to your home.
This popular service now offers a paid membership called Instacart Express, which provides reduced delivery and service fees.
This article reviews how Instacart Express works, its availability and cost, its benefits and downsides, and how it stacks up against other popular grocery delivery memberships.
- Convenient option for people who use grocery delivery frequently
- Free delivery on orders over $35
- Reduced service fees
- According to Instacart, Instacart Express members save $7 per order, on average, compared with nonmembers
- Widely available in metro areas in the United States and Canada
- Instacart prices are sometimes higher than those at the store
- Service fee not completely waived, as is often the case with other comparable services
- Generally, still more expensive than shopping in-store or choosing curbside pickup
- Unavailable in many rural areas
Instacart Express is a subscription-based service that unlocks free delivery and reduced service fees on all your grocery orders through Instacart.
With Instacart, you place grocery orders for local grocery stores directly on the company’s website or app, and their personal shoppers will shop for you and then deliver your groceries to your home.
A standard Instacart order has a service fee of at least 5% and a delivery fee of $3.99, along with a tip for your shopper.
Instacart Express offers a money-saving alternative for people who are regular grocery delivery users.
Instacart Express is available wherever Instacart is, across the United States and Canada.
Instacart is available in select metro areas in all 50 states and Washington D.C., in addition to metro areas in 9 Canadian provinces. Instacart is currently not available in Quebec.
You can check for the availability of the service in your ZIP code on their website.
Instacart Express costs $9.99 per month, or $99 per year. At the time of writing, the service was offering a 14-day free trial.
With Instacart Express, all delivery fees are waived for grocery orders over $35.
Additionally, Instacart Express users have lower service fees. While service fees start at 5% for non-Express members, service fees for Express users start at 1.9%.
The additional service fees for ordering alcohol through Instacart are also more than 50% lower for Instacart Express members.
According to the Instacart website, Instacart Express members save an average of $7 per grocery order, compared with non-Express users.
Grocery delivery is a convenient option for a variety of people, from busy parents to older adults to people with physical disabilities. It’s also an inherently low-risk, socially distanced way to get your groceries.
Instacart Express also allows you to choose from all participating grocery stores in your area, so you can shop at one store for one grocery order and another for your next order.
This can allow you access to a wider variety of foods or household products, which may be necessary if anyone in your household has specific dietary needs.
Instacart Express is also a cost-saving option for people who regularly use grocery delivery.
Per Instacart’s claim that Express users save an average of $7 per order, someone who has groceries delivered weekly would save $364 in 1 year — making the $99 fee easily worth the cost.
One of the downsides of Instacart, including the Instacart Express program, is that the prices within Instacart are sometimes higher than the prices at the store — in addition to the other fees that are applied.
Additionally, Instacart Express is generally still more expensive than shopping in-store or doing curbside pickup — even with the free delivery and reduced service fees.
Finally, although Instacart is available across the United States and Canada, it’s unavailable in many rural areas.
This table offers a comparison between Instacart Express and other well-known grocery delivery subscription services:
|Instacart Express||Shipt Membership||Walmart+||Amazon Fresh|
|Availability||Metro areas within the United States and Canada||Most metro areas in the United States||Wherever Walmart delivery is available||Large cities in the United States, Germany, and India; also available in Tokyo|
|Pricing||$99/year or $9.99/month||$99/year||$98/year or $12.95/month||$119/year or $12.99/month (cost of Amazon Prime)|
|What the service offers||Unlimited free delivery over $35; reduced service fees||Unlimited free delivery over $35; no service fees||Unlimited free delivery from Walmart over $35; no service fees||Unlimited free delivery from Amazon and Whole Foods over $35; no service fees|
|Downsides||Some prices may be higher than in-store; service fee still applies||Some prices may be higher than in-store; not as widely available as Instacart||Delivery only available from Walmart stores||Available only in large cities|
Instacart Express is a great option if you value the convenience of delivery and if you intend to use the grocery delivery service regularly.
To maximize your savings, make sure that each of your orders meets the $35 threshold for free delivery. You’ll also need to order through Instacart at least 14 times over the course of a year to make the annual membership worth the price.
Remember that it’s customary to tip your Instacart shopper, too.
Instacart Express is an Instacart service that unlocks free delivery fees and reduced service fees for all your orders over $35.
It costs $9.99 per month, or $99 per year, and according to Instacart will save you approximately $7 per grocery order.
If you’re a regular grocery delivery user, then Instacart Express may be worth the money.