Shipt and Instacart are two of North America’s most widely available third-party grocery delivery services.
Although they’re very similar, they have some slight differences in pricing structure, availability, and customer service.
This article compares Shipt and Instacart based on pricing, stores they shop at, availability, and customer service.
Shipt and Instacart are two grocery delivery services that can help you save time or get groceries if you’re home sick or unable to travel to a grocery store.
|Cost of groceries||prices may be higher than those at grocery stores||prices may be higher than those at grocery stores|
|Delivery service and fees||$10 one-time delivery plus service fees||$3.99+ delivery fee and varying service fees|
|Membership options||• Shipt Everyday: $99/year or $10.99 per month|
• free membership with a Visa credit card
• no fees on orders over $35
|• Instacart+: $99/year or $9.99/month|
• no delivery fees and reduced service fees on orders over $35
|Availability||available in many metro areas in the United States||available in most major metro areas in all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces|
|Stores||many local grocers and chain retailers, official partner of Target||many local grocers and chain retailers|
Here’s a quick look at some of the pros and cons of each service.
|Pros||• official delivery partner of Target stores|
• offers same-day delivery from a variety of stores
• available in most major urban centers in the U.S.
|• available across the U.S. and Canada|
• delivers from a variety of local and national stores
• delivery fees start at just $3.99 per one-time order
|Cons||• expensive one-time order fee|
• doesn’t operate in Canada
• prices may be more expensive than they are in store
|• some poor reviews for customer service|
• prices may be more expensive than they are in store
• charges service fees for all orders
Here’s a quick rundown of how Shipt and Instacart work.
To sign up for Shipt, you first need to enter your address to confirm it’s available in your area. Then you can create an account. The availability of stores depends on where you live.
After signing up, you choose a store to start shopping from, then you can build your order. During checkout, you can choose substitutions, select a time slot for your delivery, and add a tip. For certain stores and cities, you can also choose to pick up your items yourself.
The signup process for Instacart is similar to Shipt. You first create an account and then enter your address.
Once you enter your location, you’ll be able to see what stores and items are available near you.
With Instacart, you can search by item to see which stores have it, or you can shop by store. Similar to Shipt, Instacart allows you to choose substitutions at checkout.
Instacart also offers delivery in as little as one hour (and you can upgrade to priority delivery for an extra fee), or you have the option to choose a specific time slot. Depending on the store and location, you can also pick up your groceries if you’d prefer. You can also add a tip at checkout.
Instacart and Shipt connect with a variety of local grocery stores, large retailers, and specialty stores (like pet stores, sporting goods stores, home stores, and more). To check specific store availability in your area, enter your zip code on both apps or websites.
Additionally, Walmart now offers an in-house grocery delivery service. Although there are still areas in which Walmart delivery can be ordered through other apps like Instacart, this may be phased out in the future.
In my suburban area, Shipt only delivers from Walgreens and Kroger. However, they deliver from Walgreens, Kroger, CVS, Target, Office Depot, Big Lots, GNC, Petco, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Sephora in the nearest large city.
Note that although Instacart may deliver from Target in some areas, Shipt is owned by Target and is its official partner. You can order using Shipt directly through the Target app to receive in-store pricing and your Target RED card discount and coupons.
In my area, Instacart provides a wider selection of stores than Shipt does. Here, they deliver from Kroger, Office Depot, Bath & Body Works, Petco, 10Box Cost Plus, Michael’s, Lowe’s, Five Below, Walgreens, Target, CVS, Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Container Store, a local grocery store, and many other stores as well.
Additionally, Instacart has partnered with Sunbasket so you can order meal kits directly from the Instacart website or app.
However, it’s a good idea to check store availability for both services in your area before choosing. While Instacart offers a wider variety in my area, this may not be the case for all locations.
With Shipt and Instacart, you can expect to pay more for your groceries than you would shopping in-store due to price markups and service, delivery, and membership fees. Plus, it’s customary to tip your delivery person.
You often order your groceries directly through the Shipt or Instacart app. Sometimes, item prices on the app are higher than those in store.
One exception is if you order a Shipt delivery from Target, you can order directly through Target and enjoy in-store pricing.
Additionally, people who aren’t Instacart or Shipt subscribers can expect to pay additional fees for delivery and service. With Shipt, nonsubscribers must pay $10 to place a grocery order in addition to service fees. These orders are placed using Shipt Passes, which can also be purchased in bulk at a slightly discounted rate.
With Instacart, nonsubscribers pay a $3.99+ delivery fee and a variable service fee for every order.
However, each service offers a membership program.
Shipt membership is $99 per year and offers unlimited free delivery on orders over $35. Meanwhile, Instacart+ (formerly Instacart Express) is $99 per year or $9.99 per month. It offers unlimited free delivery on orders over $35 and reduced service fees.
With both Shipt and Instacart, orders under $35 will incur additional delivery fees.
Also, it’s customary to tip your driver.
Shipt nonsubscriber orders are $10 per order plus service fees, and Instacart applies a $3.99+ delivery fee and varying service fees to each order. Both offer membership programs with reduced fees. Prices may be higher than in-store, and tipping is customary.
Both Instacart and Shipt offer same-day delivery in as little as 1 hour.
You can enter your zip code on either app or website to see whether the service is available in your area.
Shipt is available in most of the United States, although same-day delivery is limited in some areas. It’s unavailable in Canada.
On the other hand, Instacart has more widespread availability. It’s available in most major metro areas and the suburban areas surrounding them in all 50 states, as well as all 10 Canadian provinces.
Each service offers a similar selection and variety of products, although there may be slight variations.
Additionally, Shipt offers customer service via email, phone, or live chat on its website or app. Instacart offers customer service via live chat or phone and has a dedicated phone line for assisting older adults with their grocery orders.
Both services offer same-day delivery, but Instacart is more widely available across the United States and Canada. Both offer customer service via live chat and phone, and Instacart has a phone number dedicated to assisting older adults with their orders.
Instacart and Shipt offer delivery in as little as 1 hour, but it may take longer to receive your order depending on the number of drivers available and how busy they are. Both services allow you to schedule a specific time slot for your delivery, and Instacart allows you to upgrade to priority delivery for a small extra fee.
Shipt and Instacart deliver your groceries in bags provided by the store they are shopping from. According to the Shipt website, the company asks shoppers to pay special attention to cold or frozen items and to ensure that items stay cold during transport. Instacart says it asks shoppers to use insulated bags and coolers.
Both Shipt and Instacart have received mixed reviews from customers. Here’s a bit more information about each company’s reviews and reputation.
Most complaints are related to subscription payments, issues with delivery drivers, and Shipt’s prices, which are typically more expensive than in-store prices.
Positive reviews say the service is convenient, worth the price, and that many of their shoppers communicate well.
Instacart also has about 7,000 reviews on Trustpilot, but it only has 1.3 stars. The service has a 1.1 rating with the BBB from over 1,200 ratings. More than 1,500 complaints about Instacart have been closed within the last 12 months.
Many of the negative reviews are related to issues with specific shoppers, as well as poor customer service when there are issues.
The few positive reviews say that the service is convenient, that most of their orders have no issues, and that experiences with customer service have been positive.
Remember that much of your experience with a given order from Shipt or Instacart may vary depending on the shopper.
Purely based on price, Shipt’s membership plan offers the best value for people who use grocery delivery services regularly. For $99 per year, it removes any fees associated with orders over $35.
Shipt allows you access to in-store pricing and coupons if you’re a regular Target shopper.
Alternatively, Instacart is much more widely available across the United States and Canada, as well as in a larger swath of suburban areas than Shipt appears to be.
Instacart’s membership plan, Instacart+, is also $99, but orders will still come with a small service fee.
However, if you do most of your shopping at Walmart, you may want to see if Walmart’s in-house delivery service is available in your area.
Based on price alone, Shipt’s paid membership service offers the best value for people who regularly use grocery delivery. However, Instacart is much more widely available across North America and only slightly more expensive.
While there are several smaller, regional grocery delivery services scattered throughout the United States and Canada, Shipt and Instacart are two of just a handful of more nationwide delivery services.
|Basics||offers personal shopping and grocery delivery from a variety of stores||offers personal shopping and grocery delivery from a variety of stores||exclusive grocery delivery service for Amazon Prime members||offers personal shopping and free delivery from Walmart stores|
|Subscription||• Shipt membership: $10.99 per month or $99 per year |
• offers free delivery over $35
|• Instacart+: $9.99 per month or $99 per year|
• offers free delivery over $35 and reduced service fees
|• Amazon Prime: $14.99 per month or $139 per year|
• offers free delivery over $35 or $50, depending on location
|• Walmart+: $12.95 per month or $98 per year|
• offers free delivery over $35
|Delivery fees||free for orders over $35 with membership or $10 per order plus delivery fee and service fee||small service fee with membership or $3.99+ plus delivery fee and variable service fee||free (must be an Amazon Prime member) with $35–$50 minimum order||free delivery with membership for orders over $35, or $7.95–$9.95 per order|
|Order process||order online in Shipt app or browser||order online in Instacart app or browser||order online in Amazon app or browser||order online in Walmart app or browser|
|Stores||many local and national grocery stores, big-box stores, and specialty stores||many local and national grocery stores, big-box stores, and specialty stores||Amazon|
|Pros||• no additional fees beyond Shipt membership (for orders over $35)|
• delivery partner for Target stores
|• available across the U.S. and Canada|
• delivers from a wide variety of different local and national stores
|• offers delivery from Amazon and Whole Foods|
• no additional fees beyond Prime membership for orders over $35 and outside the 1-hour delivery window
|• widely available|
• offers free grocery delivery (for orders over $35) and other perks for Walmart+ members
|Cons||• more limited service area (especially for same-day delivery) than services like Instacart and Walmart+|
• high single-order fees
|• poor reviews for customer service|
• service fees still apply for Instacart+ orders
|• must be a Prime member|
• delivery fees apply to 1-hour delivery window
• only available in large metro areas
|• only offers delivery from Walmart|
• not available at all Walmart stores
Which is cheaper: Instacart or Shipt?
It depends. Shipt is more expensive for one-time orders because they charge a $10 delivery fee plus delivery and service fees, while Instacart’s fees begin at $3.99 plus a small service fee.
However, Shipt is less expensive for membership orders. Instacart+ members are still required to pay a small service fee, but Shipt doesn’t charge additional fees for members who place orders over $35.
For both services, prices may be different than the prices in-store.
How is Shipt different from Instacart?
Shipt is very similar to Instacart, but there are some key differences:
- Shipt doesn’t operate in Canada, while Instacart does.
- One-time Shipt orders have a $10 delivery fee, and Instacart fees start at $3.99 for one-time orders. (One-time orders for both Shipt and Instacart have additional service and delivery fees.)
- With a Shipt Everyday membership, there are no service fees for orders over $35. Even if you join Instacart+, you’ll still be charged a small service fee.
- Depending on your location, Instacart and Shipt may deliver from different stores.
Are groceries more expensive if you order online?
Generally, groceries are more expensive when you order through delivery apps. They typically have delivery and service fees, and while a tip for your driver isn’t required, it is typical.
Additionally, delivery apps like Shipt and Instacart may have different prices per item (often more expensive) than the prices you’ll see in-store.
You’ll still have to pay a membership fee to unlock free delivery. It’s important to consider the cost of potentially higher prices, delivery fees, subscription fees, and tips when deciding if grocery delivery is a good option for you.
While Shipt and Instacart offer the same service, there are some notable differences between the two grocery delivery services.
Instacart appears to be more widely available across the United States, and it’s available in Canada. However, Shipt’s membership offers slightly more value than Instacart+. Shipt likewise partners with Target, allowing access to in-store pricing, coupons, and sales.
Depending on where you normally shop and which service is available in your area, one of these grocery delivery services may be a better fit for you than the other.