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How Do Instacart Replacements and Special Requests Work?

Instacart is one of the most popular grocery delivery services, but there is always a chance that your item could be out of stock when ordering from your local grocery stores. Luckily, if your item is out of stock or unavailable, you can choose replacements on Instacart. You can even add special requests for your shopper directly on the Instacart app.

Instacart allows customers to replace out of stock items by paying the price difference and picking a specific replacement or letting shoppers find the best match. In addition, you can choose not to replace an item and get a refund instead. Instacart also gives refunds for poor replacements or wrong items in your order.

Keep reading to learn more about how Instacart replacements and special requests work in the app, the price difference for replacements, and what you should do if you have received a poor replacement.

How Do Instacart Replacements Work?

You can select replacements on Instacart if your item is out of stock, and there are three replacement options: Find Best Match, Pick Specific Replacement, or Don’t Replace. In addition, you will get alerts for any changes made to your order, such as substitutions or refunds that you can approve in the app.

While we hope that every item in our order is available, it’s not always the case. However, Instacart makes it easy to adjust your order and instruct your shopper on what to do if your item is out of stock.

You can select substitutions on the Instacart app after you have placed your order. For items that may be out of stock, you have three Instacart replacement options to choose from: Find Best Match, Pick Specific Replacement, and Do Not Replace.

With Find Best Match, your Instacart personal shopper will choose the best possible replacement for your item. This is selected automatically if your item is unavailable at the store.

If you have a specific item in mind for a substitution, you should choose Pick Specific Replacement.

With this alternative, you can choose your own replacement from a catalog of suggestions. This option can guarantee that you get the next best item if your first choice is out of stock.

In addition, you can also choose Do Not Replace on Instacart if you’d rather not have a substitution for your item. Do Not Replace allows you to get a refund for the item instead.

You can track your personal shopper’s progress on your order directly on the app and see any changes they make to your order.

Make sure to turn on your app’s notifications so that you can get an alert for all their changes, such as replacements or refunds for Instacart out-of-stock items.

You can also approve substitutions your shopper has made while shopping for your order. If you do not want the substitution, you can select a different option.

However, if there isn’t an option you prefer, you can talk to your shopper directly in the app using their chat feature.

Instacart also has a feature to update replacement choices on its website. If you would like to change your replacement in your order on the Instacart website, all you need to do is select the “Edit Replacement” option and choose your preference.

How to Choose Replacements on Instacart

You can choose Instacart replacements when placing an order directly on the app or website. Replacements can be made before your shopper begins your order, after placing your order, or while your shopper is gathering your items.

Below is a step-by-step guide for choosing replacements on the Instacart app. We’ll also include how you can edit and approve replacements.

1. After you have added items to your cart and your order is ready for checkout, select “Go to Checkout” at the bottom of the app.

2. Once you have entered your address and selected a delivery or pickup time, select your items to list the order.

3. Select the items individually to choose a replacement option. Then go to “Instructions” on the item’s page.

4. Click on “If item is out of stock” to view your options.

5. Three different options will appear. Note that “Find Best Match” is the default option for all your items. Here, we’ll select “Pick Specific Replacement.”

6. The app will pull up possible replacements for that item. You can scroll through to see the different options and select which one you prefer.

7. After selecting your substitution, it’ll appear under “If item is out of stock.” You can do this for all the items in your cart.

Another replacement feature Instacart has is editing your substitution choices after submitting your order. However, this feature is only available on their website.

To edit your item replacement choices, go to “Your Orders” on the Instacart website and select the order you would like to edit. Under each item, there is an option called the “Edit replacement” option.

Choose which item you would like to update and select the “Edit replacement” option to change your selection.

In addition to editing your Instacart replacement options, you can also approve the changes your shopper makes while completing your order.

When approving your Instacart shopper’s changes, you can either select other options for a substitution or choose to receive a refund for the out-of-stock option.

Unlike editing your replacement options, this can also be done directly on the app.

You can approve your Instacart shopper’s changes by seeing the items that your shopper has already gathered.

Go to “Your Orders” on the app and choose your current order to see these items. Then, go to “See Shopped Items” to view any changes your shopper has made. Then, select “Approve” for the changes you are satisfied with.

If there are changes to your order that you do not want to approve, select “Other Options.” You can also contact your shopper directly if you are not happy with the replacement item.

Can You Add a Special Request to an Instacart Order?

Instacart allows you to add special requests to your order while placing it on the app or website. The process is like choosing a replacement item, and the special requests or instructions are saved and added to future orders. In addition, you can request your order to be left at your door or a more specific location.

Instacart allows you to make special requests while placing your order. You can do this on the app or the website.

You can follow the instructions below for adding special requests on Instacart. The steps are similar to adding replacement options for your items.

1. In your cart, select “Instructions” under the item you would like to leave a special request.

2. Write your special request under “Special Instructions for Your Shopper.” When ready, select “Save.”

You can also add special instructions from the checkout page when reviewing your items, as well as after placing your order.

To add special requests after your order is placed, go to your “Orders” and add any instructions to your items.

What’s great about adding special requests on Instacart is that they are saved for future orders. So, when you order the same items, your special instructions will be carried over from your previous order.

You can always change your preferences by reviewing the instructions for the same items in the future.

In addition, you can also request your Instacart shopper to leave your order at the door if you are not around for the delivery.

Your shopper will be alerted that it will be an unattended delivery, and they will take a picture of your order once it is delivered to your doorstep.

Instacart customers can also leave more delivery instructions. For example, you can tell your shopper where to park, any security or gate information, or directions to your front door if it’s difficult to find.

These delivery instructions can be added while you place your order, after your order has been placed, or when adding your address.

If you want to add delivery instructions after placing your order, you must do so before your Instacart shopper begins your order.

Does Instacart Charge the Price Difference for Replacements?

Instacart charges the price difference for replacement items to the debit or credit card used to pay for the order. For EBT SNAP items, you can avoid charges by making sure the item is EBT SNAP-eligible and equal to or less than the cost of the original item.

If your replacement costs more than the original item added to your Instacart order, you will be charged for the price difference. The debit or credit card used to place your order will be automatically charged.

However, you will not be charged a service fee for making a replacement. Instacart offers the replacement service for free and will only charge you the price difference of the new item.

EBT-SNAP items can also have replacement options, but you will still need to pay the difference if the substitution is more than your first choice.

However, you can avoid paying the difference if the replacement is also EBT SNAP-eligible and equal to or less than the cost of your first item.

You can search for EBT SNAP-eligible options when choosing “Pick Specific Replacement.” If the item is EBT SNAP-eligible, it will be marked with EBT under the price of the item.

What if You Received a Poor Replacement on Instacart?

Sometimes issues happen, and you may receive a poor replacement through Instacart. If this happens, you can indicate that you have received poor replacements while rating your order. However, you have up to 14 days to report poor replacements with your Instacart order.

There are a few things that could lead to receiving poor replacements in your Instacart order.

Sometimes, you may not be notified on the Instacart app when your shopper makes a change to your order, or the shopper may not have communicated with you when making the change.

It’s also possible that your special requests or specific substitutions did not save when adding them to your order.

Whatever the reason may be, you can report any poor replacements that you are not satisfied with directly on the Instacart app or the website. Just be aware that you have up to 14 days to report poor replacements to Instacart.

To report a poor replacement on the Instacart app, go to “Your Orders” and select “Get Help” on the order you have had issues with.

You will be prompted to mark the issue, whether you were charged for the items and which were poor replacements.

You can also select “Report an Issue” when rating your experience. Instacart will immediately issue a resolution once you report poor replacements.

Can You Get a Refund on Instacart for Replacements?

Instacart issues refunds if you have received poor replacements or the wrong items in your order. You can request a refund when reporting poor replacements on the Instacart app or call Instacart customer service at 1-888-246-7822. Some retailers on Instacart also allow you to return items to the store.

If you have received wrong items or poor replacements, you can request a refund from Instacart when rating your order.

You will be prompted to choose whether you want a refund after selecting the affected item in your order. You will have three options to choose from:

  • Credit my account, which you can use within 24 hours on your next order
  • Refund to the original payment method
  • Just providing feedback

After choosing your option, you will get an email immediately confirming any credits or refunds from your order.

Instacart refunds are processed immediately; however, it could take up to 5-10 business days to appear in your debit or credit card account.

You can also request a refund through Instacart Customer Service. Instacart’s customer service can be contacted via chat, email, or by calling 1-888-246-7822.

Some stores may even allow you to return an item from Instacart, but this depends on the retailer.

If you would like to return the item instead of getting a credit or refund, contact the store to see if they accept the return.

You can use your Instacart digital receipt for items returned to the store, and the refund should go back to your account.


Just like shopping in the store, every item on your shopping list will not be available when shopping through Instacart. Fortunately, Instacart allows you to make replacement choices directly on the app before completing your order.

Make sure you are getting exactly what you want or the best matching item when placing your order through Instacart. The more specific replacement options or special requests you have, the easier it will be for your shopper to complete your order successfully.

If you’re interested in finding out more tips about Instacart, check out the related articles below.

Related Articles:

Instacart Gift Cards: Where to Buy and How to Use Them

9 Tips to Save Money on Instacart Orders

Can You Order From Multiple Stores on Instacart? (Yes, Here’s How)

Can You Choose Your Instacart Shopper?

Can You Use Instacart to Deliver to Someone Else? (Yes, Here’s How)

About the Author

Tiana Guzman is a content writer and an avid foodie who likes to try new restaurants and cuisines while uncovering new recipes to cook at home.

In her free time, she enjoys taking hikes, playing with her dogs, and having a movie and game night with friends and family.

November 12, 2022