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The Pros & Cons of Driving with Instacart

Delivering groceries with Instacart has both positive points and negative points. Before you sign up, consider realistically both the pros AND the cons. Here is a summary of Instacart pros & cons often expressed by Instacart gig drivers.

By the way, the Gig Café (11 Facebook Groups) is a GREAT place to learn what other drivers across Canada like (and don’t like) about delivering groceries with Instacart – including a group specifically for Instacart drivers.

PRO: Why Drivers LIKE Instacart

  • I AM MY OWN BOSS. Nobody tells me what to do. I drive when I want, and I stay home when I want. I really like that!
  • The work schedule is totally flexible, making it possible to participate in other activities any time I want.
  • Instacart is the perfect part-time job, generating extra income in addition to my main full-time employment.
  • I can earn a decent income. At busy times, I can often receive more than $25/hour (before expenses, which are few).
  • Instacart is the best-known grocery gig, and has grown tremendously these past years – especially during the pandemic. There are a lot of customers constantly making a lot of orders.
  • With Instacart, tips are a useful portion of my income. This allows me to have extra control over maximizing my income, since I will be directly rewarded for offering great service (which is very satisfying).
  • When sending me an order, the Instacart app shows the total estimated amount I will receive (including tip). Though the customer can always increase or decrease the tip after I deliver, at least I have some idea about what to expect before accepting the order.
  • Instacart gives me the opportunity to do both “full service” orders and “just delivery” orders.
  • Instacart lists all available orders for all available drivers (rather than sending me orders which I feel pressured to accept).
  • I can scale my hours, depending on the situation: Part-time, full-time, or perhaps as much as 60 hours/week if I want a higher income.
  • I get paid weekly.
  • At tax time, I can significantly reduce my income tax by deducting my business expenses (fuel, maintenance, repairs, tires, smartphone, data plan, etc.) And I only have to pay it in April of the following year, allowing me to use the funds for other things in the meantime.
  • This gig is like having my own small business. I am rewarded with profits from my own hard work and smart decisions.
  • Instacart shopping is good, honest work. I don’t have to steal, beg, or depend on government handouts.
  • This gig, more than others, rewards me for fast & efficient work. It is a well-known fact that I can probably earn more with Instacart than with driving passengers or delivering meals – if I learn how to shop very fast.
  • I meet many interesting people – store staff, customers, and other gig shoppers.
  • I enjoy shopping.
  • I get lots of exercise, walking around stores and delivering to customers’ homes. Most of this gig (unlike driving passengers or delivering meals) is done on my feet, and I like that!
  • Unlike driving passengers or delivering meals, I don’t have to allow strangers into my car or deal with unfriendly restaurant staff.
  • Between orders, I am able to send emails, read, and complete errands.
  • It is easy to fit in breaks (fuel, food, coffee, washroom). And I’m often shopping at stores which have available washrooms and/or coffee.
  • I can use an older car for delivering groceries. The requirements are not as strict as rideshare driving.
  • I accumulate far less kilometers on my car with Instacart than with driving passengers or delivering meals.
  • Since most deliveries are not long-distance, I can expect to spend more time in a smaller preferred zone of operation (closer to home, for example).
  • I love technology: The Instacart app, Internet, GPS, smartphone, satellite radio, etc.
  • It’s exciting! Each day when I head out, I never know who I’ll meet or where I’ll go. Being an Instacart Shopper is an adventure!
  • It’s good to be outside, moving around and doing useful activity, instead of sitting at home or working inside a building.
  • I make a meaningful contribution to society by helping people have food to eat. I enjoy serving. I make a difference. I am proud of my work.

CON: Why Drivers DON’T LIKE Instacart

  • I don’t end up with a very big income. I would have to work 60 hours a week to make enough money to cover all of my family’s expenses.
  • Though there are less vehicle expenses to cover than with driving passengers or delivering meals, it can still add up (fuel, maintenance, repairs, etc.)
  • I am required to provide a smartphone and pay for a 10GB monthly data plan.
  • I get hit with a big lump sum income tax payment every April.
  • I dislike doing the business side of gig work (tracking mileage/income/expenses, taxes, registrations, documents, etc.)
  • I really hate shopping, for myself and especially for other people!
  • I get very frustrated when I waste time trying to find strange items on the customer’s list.
  • I can’t be bothered picking out the best bananas or finding ripe kumquats.
  • I get frustrated when customers don’t reply about my suggested replacement items.
  • This gig is just too much work. There are too many tasks, details, decisions and complications involved in shopping. Driving passengers or delivering meals is much more straightforward.
  • I don’t want to deliver large, heavy orders to high-rise condos. It is difficult (sometimes impossible) to find a nearby parking space. Then I have to consume time buzzing in, dealing with security, bringing all the bags to the elevator, and riding up to the 25th floor and back down. (And to top it off, some of these wealthy condo dwellers don’t even tip!)
  • Going in and out of stores and apartment buildings is not safe. I might get Covid (or injured, or mugged, etc.)
  • I don’t like driving in the evenings or after dark.
  • I might have an accident.
  • I might get parking tickets.
  • I don’t like technology. It’s confusing and difficult to understand.
  • This gig is unpredictable. I prefer to know in advance what to expect from the day ahead.
  • There is no job security. I might suddenly be out of work if Instacart deactivates me (or if I have an accident, if my car breaks down, if there’s another pandemic, etc.)
  • There are no benefits (medical coverage, severance, pension, etc.)
  • There are no sick days or vacation days – if I don’t shop, I don’t have income.
  • I am very unhappy when I have to deliver one package of toilet paper 7 kilometers and I don’t get a big tip!

(**Note: Successful Instacart Shoppers have responses & solutions for many of these concerns. They are out on the road earning money in spite of the negative points!)

After considering these points, you may want to study more complete and up-to-date details found on the Instacart Website. That’s where you will also find information which applies specifically to the location where you plan to drive.

Ready to Start?

Once you are confident Instacart may be a good fit for you, then you might as well go ahead and take the next step: SIGN UP! It only takes a few minutes to set up your Instacart Account, providing basic information to establish your driver profile.

Don’t worry – Instacart does not require fees or deposits, and there are no binding obligations or legal traps. At any point along the way, you can pause to get answers to your questions. But if you’re ready to move forward, the sooner you sign up and launch the registration process, the sooner you’ll be out on the road earning money.

(Note: When you click the link to go to Instacart’s sign-up page, the sign-up address will automatically include a Referral Code NTHDD0BAD. This tells Instacart you were referred by Gig Drivers of Canada. We would be grateful if you will use that sign-up page (or enter the Referral Code in the sign-up box), so Gig Drivers can receive recognition and a small referral reward to help cover our expenses. Thank you very much!)

PLEASE HELP US IMPROVE THE GIGAPEDIA by liking/disliking this article (below). And we invite you to contribute comments (at the bottom under Leave a Reply) — correcting mistakes or providing additional information. GigDrivers.ca will use this feedback to constantly update the Gigapedia. THANK YOU!
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