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You may have heard of or used Instacart before, especially now that grocery delivery is more popular than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grocery delivery service offers several benefits, the main one being the convenience of having your groceries delivered right to your door. However, the service may also have some downsides.
This article reviews the pros and cons of Instacart, whether it’s worth the price, and how it measures up to other popular grocery delivery services.
- Available throughout the United States and 9 Canadian provinces
- Optional cost-saving Instacart Express subscription option
- Same-day delivery available
- Partners with several large grocery store chains
- Not available in rural areas
- Without Instacart Express, delivery fee and 5% service fee apply
- Instacart prices may be more expensive than those in-store
- Some people may find it difficult to use
Instacart is a grocery delivery service that employs personal shoppers to shop for you and then deliver the groceries to your home.
They partner with several large grocery store chains and offer same-day delivery in a number of cities.
The service is one of the largest and most widely available in North America, providing service to metro areas in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and all Canadian provinces except Quebec.
Instacart Express is an optional subscription service that provides access to unlimited free deliveries on orders over $35 for $99 per year or $9.99 per month.
It also reduces the service fees on your orders.
If you’re a regular user of grocery delivery services, you may find Instacart Express worthwhile, especially if Instacart is available where you regularly grocery shop.
Instacart orders have a delivery fee starting at $3.99, as well as an additional service fee starting at 5% of your grocery total. If you order alcohol, Instacart will charge you a separate service fee.
Additionally, certain items may be more expensive through Instacart than at the store. This is common practice for grocery delivery services that partner with multiple stores.
Finally, it’s also customary to tip your shopper for each order, so you should plan for this in your grocery budget as well.
Instacart Express, which costs $99 per year, waives the delivery fee for all orders over $35 and reduces the minimum service fee to 1.9% of your grocery total.
According to Instacart, Express members save about $7 on each order.
Therefore, if you expect to use Instacart more than 14 times a year, you may save money by joining Instacart Express.
There are several advantages to Instacart, including the convenience it provides.
Instacart provides a way for people who may otherwise be unable to shop for themselves to get groceries. It may especially help older people or those with physical disabilities.
In fact, they have a dedicated customer service line just for order assistance for older adults.
In addition to these advantages, Instacart offers a safe, socially distanced grocery shopping option for people who are at high risk of the flu or COVID-19.
Instacart also offers free same-day delivery within a window of as little as 2 hours from placing your order, if a delivery slot is available. Additionally, you can schedule orders up to 2 weeks in advance.
Instacart is also one of the most widely available grocery delivery services in North America, providing grocery delivery in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and 9 Canadian provinces.
Finally, Instacart also offers a cost-saving membership option — Instacart Express — for people who use grocery delivery regularly. According to Instacart, the option saves members an average of $7 per grocery order.
Like most grocery delivery services, Instacart is not available in many rural areas. This may be due to a lack of grocery stores and shoppers in these areas.
Additionally, ordering from Instacart is more expensive than shopping at the store. This is not only because of delivery and service fees but also some items are priced higher through Instacart than they are in store.
Finally, although Instacart offers additional customer support for older adults, it may still be difficult for some to use the service due to a lack of Internet or smartphone capabilities, as well as an inability to use technology.
This table compares Instacart with three other popular grocery delivery services: Walmart Delivery, Shipt, and Amazon Fresh.
|Instacart||Walmart Delivery||Shipt||Amazon Fresh|
|Participating stores||Several chain retailers and local grocers||Walmart only||Several chain retailers and local grocers||Amazon and Whole Foods|
|Same-day delivery availablity||Available||Available||Available||Available|
|Regions covered||Most major metro areas in the United States and Canada||Most major metro areas in the United States||Most major metro areas in the United States||Certain large metro areas in the United States, Germany, and Japan|
|Fees||$3.99+ delivery fee, 5% service fee||$7.95–9.95 delivery fee||One-time Shipt pass: $10 per order (can purchase multiple Shipt passes at a discount)||Amazon Prime membership required, delivery fee for 1-hour delivery and orders under $35|
|Price of items||May be higher than in-store prices||Same as in-store prices||May be higher than in-store prices||Same as in-store prices (for Whole Foods)|
|Membership service||Instacart Express (optional): $99/year or $9.99/month for unlimited free delivery on orders over $35, reduced service fees||Walmart+ (optional): $98/year or $12.95/month for unlimited free delivery on orders over $35||Shipt membership (optional): $99/ year for unlimited free delivery on orders over $35||Amazon Prime (required): $119/year or $12.95/month for unlimited free delivery on orders over $35|
If Instacart is available in your area, it’s a solid choice for grocery delivery, especially if all of the stores you regularly shop at participate in the service.
If you’re only an occasional grocery delivery user, the regular Instacart service should be sufficient for your needs.
However, expect to pay at least $10–15 more than you would at the store after factoring in delivery and service fees, higher prices, and a tip for the delivery person.
If you think you’ll order grocery delivery more than 14 times a year, it’s worth paying for the annual Instacart Express membership for free delivery and a reduced service fee.
Make sure that all of your orders are over $35 to qualify for free delivery.
Instacart is a grocery delivery service operating in most metro areas in the United States and Canada. It offers delivery from many large grocery chains and smaller local grocery stores.
Instacart Express is a subscription option that waives delivery fees and lowers service fees, and it’s ideal for people who order grocery delivery regularly.
If you’re interested in grocery delivery and live in an urban or suburban area, Instacart is a promising option that’s probably available where you live.