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Instacart is a personal grocery shopping service that allows users to select products from a selection of stores and have them delivered to their door.

For many people, Instacart is a convenient and time-saving option that reduces visits to the grocery store.

This article describes what Instacart is and how to use it. It also outlines who may benefit most from using the service and lists alternative providers.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these services. All information is purely research-based.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

The Instacart logo, which is an orange carrot with a green leaf shaped like an arrow, on a white background.

Instacart is a personal shopping service available online and through Apple and Android devices. It allows people to view, select, and purchase products from a selection of stores. Once a user pays for their items and chooses a delivery slot, an independent contractor, known as a shopper, will select the order, pick up the items, and deliver them.

The range of stores someone can purchase from depends on where they live. In general, Instacart provides access to a range of retailers, including:

  • grocery stores
  • pharmacies
  • big box stores
  • pet supply chains
  • office supply retailers

Instacart also offers a free delivery service for new members. After this period, delivery fees start from $3.99 for same-day orders over the value of $35. Otherwise, they will vary according to the following factors:

  • the time of day
  • a person’s location
  • the size of the order

However, the delivery fees do not include tips for the shoppers.

Instacart has a fairly negative reputation online.

On the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there are a high number of complaints. At the time of publishing, there are over 4,900 complaints from the last 3 years and over 1,900 complaints closed in the last 12 months. The average customer rating for this service is 1.1 out of 5 stars, but the BBB has given Instacart a rating of A-.

There are critical accounts from employees and complaints from customers who wrote about unexpected charges. Other customers reported unwanted items in orders, while some were unable to request refunds after making mistakes with their orders. Others claimed the prices were too high.

Many 5-star reviews are also complaints.

On Trustpilot, there are a very high number of negative reviews for Instacart. From over 7,500 reviews, the average rating is 1.3 out of 5 stars, while 86% of reviews rated the business 1 out of 5 stars.

Recent reviews reported that customers were unable to delete hacked accounts, while others complained about the customer service team. Reviews also made comments about unexpected charges, unwanted items, and difficulty getting refunds.

However, some positive comments show that some customers have used the service for over a year. One reviewer writes that the service was useful after an injury, and another says it was convenient after working long hours. They also said the shoppers are efficient.

To place an order on Instacart, a person needs to:

  1. Sign up for an account on Instacart.com.
  2. Log into the account via the web or by downloading the app.
  3. Select a store.
  4. Begin shopping: select the desired items, indicate the required quantity, and add them to the shopping cart. Select any preferences for substitutions.
  5. Choose a delivery slot.
  6. Pay for the order. Instacart places a hold on a debit or credit card, then charges the full amount after completing the order.
  7. Message the shopper through the Instacart app with additional questions or concerns.
  8. Tip the shopper before or after they fulfill the order.

Participating locations

Instacart offers its services to all 50 states of America. It also offers services in many other locations worldwide.

People can check to see if the company serves their town or county by entering their zip code on the Instacart homepage.

Some advantages and disadvantages of Instacart include the below.


  • offers a physically distanced form of shopping
  • offers an accessible shopping experience for those who cannot visit physical stores
  • offers a range of delivery options, such as pickup, same-day delivery, and scheduled delivery
  • provides services globally
  • has a wide range of partners


  • may be unavailable in more rural areas
  • may be more expensive than shopping in-store or online due to service fees
  • may not provide an easy-to-use service for people who have difficulty using the internet
  • negative reputation online
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Instacart has partnered with over 650 retailers. However, their availability may vary depending on a person’s location.

The company can offer same-day pickup and delivery from grocers, pharmacies, and retailers. A nonexhaustive list of partners includes:

  • Publix
  • Kroger
  • Aldi
  • Wegmans
  • Costco
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Best Buy
  • Petco
  • Bed Bath and Beyond

A person can check which partners are available according to their location on Instacart’s website.

Instacart has several fees:

  • Delivery fee: Instacart delivery fees start from $3.99 for same-day orders of $35 or more. Fees will vary on orders that are less than $35 and on 1-hour deliveries.
  • Heavy fee: Instacart charges a heavy fee for any order with a combined weight of more than 50 pounds. However, the company does not define the cost of this charge.
  • Service fee: Instacart charges a service fee to cover operational costs. This fee will vary according to location and whether a person has ordered any alcohol.
  • Long-distance service fee: Instacart charges an additional long-distance service fee for people who order from retailers that are 30–60 miles away from their residence.
  • Priority fee: A priority fee that starts from $2 allows a person to receive their order in 60 minutes or less.
  • Pickup fee: Certain retailers may charge a pickup fee if a person chooses to collect their order in-store.
  • Bottle deposit and bag fee: Local city laws and state laws may require a bottle deposit and bag fee.

Additionally, Instacart will charge a sales tax on all orders. Additionally, depending on a person’s location, they may have to pay fees for ordering sugar-sweetened beverages.

People in San Francisco also need to pay an additional health charge.

Instacart Express

People can purchase an Instacart+ membership, which the company previously called Instacart Express, for a flat annual fee or a monthly cost. It costs $99 a year or $9.99 a month.

Instacart Express members can save an average of $7 per order, pay lower service fees, and waive delivery costs on orders of $35 or more.

Grocery delivery is a convenient and potentially safer option for many individuals, including:

  • People with certain health conditions: Certain health conditions may make in-store shopping difficult or stressful for some. Those who find shopping difficult due to mobility problems, chronic fatigue, or other health issues may benefit from a home delivery service.
  • People following a diet plan: Instacart makes it easier to plan recipes and stick to a specific shopping list. This may be helpful for people trying to improve the quality of their diet.
  • People who want to avoid impulse buys: Purchasing groceries online can reduce the number of unnecessary items a person buys.
  • People on a budget: Although grocery delivery costs extra, sticking to a specified list can help an individual stay within their budget.
  • Busy people: Instacart may be helpful for those who work long hours or have caring responsibilities.

For some people, Instacart is a convenient and time-saving way to shop. For others, it may seem like an unnecessary luxury.

Below are some factors to consider in determining whether Instacart is right for a person:

  • Do they enjoy grocery shopping?
  • Can they get everything they need with Instacart?
  • Can the service save them time?
  • Does using Instacart improve health, such as reducing exposure to infectious diseases?
  • How much does tipping shoppers add to budgets?
  • How do they view their paying policies for shoppers?

Instacart is one of many grocery delivery services, with other options, including:

  • Shipt: This company operates using a similar model to Instacart, delivering products from a variety of retailers.
  • Walmart+: Walmart is a well-known brand, and its delivery service provides unlimited groceries for a small monthly fee.
  • Amazon Fresh: This grocery delivery service is available to Amazon Prime members, offering fresh foods from the company’s warehouses.

Below, we compare Instacart with its main competitors.

Products available Subscription costDelivery areas Delivery costExtra charges
Instacart• groceries
• alcohol
• household items
• personal care
• baby items
• electronics
• clothing
optional membership

Instacart+ is $99 a year or $9.99 a month
throughout the U.S.$3.99• heavy fee
• service fee
• long-distance service
• priority fee
• pickup fee
• sales tax
• health charges in San Fransisco
Shipt• groceries
• alcohol
• household items
• personal care
• baby items
• electronics
• clothing
membership is optional

Shipt Everyday is $99 a year or $10.99 a month
users must enter their zip code to see locations$10 for one-time deliveries

waived for members’ orders over $35
• alcohol fee
• service fee
Walmart+• groceries
• alcohol
• household items
• personal care
• baby items
• electronics
• clothing
membership is optional

$98 a year or $12.95 a month
throughout the U.S.$8–10none
Amazon Fresh• groceries
• alcohol
• household items
• personal care
• baby items
membership is necessary

Amazon Prime costs $139 per year or $14.99 a month
nine U.S. stateswaived for orders over $35

$4.99–$9.99 for orders under $35

Below, we answer some of the most common frequently asked questions about Instacart.

Is it worth it to get Instacart?

People may find Instacart worth it if they cannot easily go grocery shopping in person. However, the company has a negative reputation online, and many people have complained about the service via Trustpilot and BBB. There are also many extra charges someone would not incur at physical stores.

Is Instacart shopping safe?

Instacart is a legitimate business, and users are generally safe when using the website. However, there have been security incidents in the past.

Instacart is a personal shopping service that allows people to purchase products from a variety of stores and arrange for home delivery of these goods.

For many users, the service greatly reduces the stress and hassle of grocery shopping. It may be particularly beneficial for people with underlying health conditions that limit their ability to shop in-store. However, it has a negative reputation online.

Instacart is one of many personal shopping and delivery services. Individuals can try researching different delivery apps to find the right one for them.