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9 Tips to Save Money on Instacart Orders

Instacart provides a valuable service to both consumers and grocery stores. Consumers can order groceries online for home delivery, and grocery stores can offer delivery and pickup services by partnering with Instacart.

This convenience comes at an additional cost on both sides, though, and I’ll further explain this below. In this article, I’ll share nine great tips to help you save money on Instacart.

Consumers usually pay higher than in-store prices when they order groceries through Instacart. In addition to higher prices, there are Instacart delivery and service fees. 

These numbers add up quickly, and that’s why I’m sharing these tips to help you save money on Instacart.

1. Use digital coupons on Instacart

When you log into your Instacart account, you’ll first select a store before starting shopping and will be directed to the store’s landing page. 

You’ll see manufacturers’ coupons listed under each item, and these coupons are applied automatically to qualifying items in your cart. 

If you’d like to see all available coupons, click the “Savings” tab on your desktop or the mobile app. Instacart updates digital coupons regularly, so you may see new discounts each time you click the “Savings” tab.

Does Instacart Upcharge For Grocery Items?

There’s confusion about the grocery prices on Instacart. Most consumers think that Instacart marks up every item to make an additional profit. But does Instacart upcharge for grocery items?

Instacart makes it clear on its website that grocery stores set their own prices on Instacart. Instacart charges grocery stores for its “personal shopping” service. Some grocery stores set higher prices to offset this service charge. At the same time, some stores continue to honor in-store prices.

2. Use Instacart promo codes

Sometimes, Instacart sends out promo codes to customers. If you received a promo code, you could apply it to your future orders.

If you’re using the mobile app, tap “Credit and promo codes” and then tap redeem. If you’re shopping on the website, open your Account menu at the top right corner and click “Add promo code.”

3. Link Ibotta to Instacart and earn cashback

Ibotta announced in August 2020 that you could start earning cashback on Instacart purchases using Ibotta.

It is a great way to save money on groceries because Ibotta has great offers available all the time. To earn cashback on Instacart purchases, you need to link your Ibotta account to Instacart.

I wrote a separate article about this topic, and it gives you more in-depth information. I will put the link here so you can check it out.

4. Search for additional coupons on the internet

At times, you may find Instacart discounts on other coupon websites. Retail Me Not, Coupon Chief, and Coupon Follow are some examples.

I recommend searching for Instacart coupons on Google to find out what discounts are available.

5. Place your order ahead of time

One other way to save money on Instacart is to plan your order ahead of time.

When you put the items in your cart and ready to place the order, you will pick a delivery time.

If you’re not in a rush to receive your groceries, you can select the “fast & flexible” delivery option to avoid any additional delivery charges.

6. Choose delivery during off-peak hours

Instacart delivery fees start at $3.99 and vary depending on the delivery time you choose.

If you place an order during peak hours, there may be an additional charge. Instacart calls it “busy pricing fee.”  

Most people do their grocery shopping on the weekends, and that creates a surge of demand.

There may not be enough shoppers during peak hours to deliver all orders, so you may end up paying an extra $1 or more.

To avoid the busy pricing fee, plan your order ahead of time, and request delivery during off-peak hours.

How Much Is Instacart Delivery Fee?

Instacart standard delivery fee is $3.99 for orders over $35. Fees vary for orders less than $35 and one-hour deliveries. There’s an upcharge for heavy items, such as cases of beverages. Additional fees also apply if you order during peak hours. You should expect to pay between $3.99 and $7.99.

7. Refer five friends and earn up to $50

You can refer five friends to Instacart and earn up to $50. If they sign up through your referral link and make a purchase, Instacart pays you $10 per referral.

You can apply this credit to your future grocery orders with Instacart.

8. Get free delivery on your first order

Are you wondering how to get free delivery on Instacart? Instacart offers free delivery on the first order.

This offer is for new customers only and helps to save money on your first order.

9. Become an Instacart Express member

If you’re using Instacart regularly, you should consider signing up for the Instacart Express membership. Instacart Express members get free delivery on all orders over $35.

There’s also no busy pricing fee for Instacart Express members even during peak hours.

The annual membership for Instacart Express costs $99. You may also choose monthly membership at $9.99.

If you’re using Instacart at least three times a month, it is worth signing up for Instacart Express to save money on delivery fees.

You can use these nine tips to start saving money on Instacart orders. However, you should never save money on the tip. Your driver keeps 100% of your tip, and it’s a great appreciation of their hard work.

How Much Should You Tip your Instacart Driver?

Instacart suggests a minimum 5% tip at the checkout. You should increase that amount if you order heavy items or buy from multiple stores in one trip. The recommended amount is 10% minimum. You can increase the tip on the Instacart app or give your driver cash at the time of delivery.

Can the Instacart Driver See Your Tip?

In August 2020, Instacart updated its system. With these new updates, Instacart drivers can see the customer order, store location, and the offered tip before they accept the job.

How Does Instacart Work?  

Instacart is very easy to use both on the app and the website. You need to create an account the first time you use Instacart. You can download the mobile app on the website. 

The signup takes just a few minutes. You need to enter your e-mail, password, and zip code to confirm service in your area.

Once you complete the signup, Instacart will list all stores available in your area. Select a store and add groceries to your shopping cart.

You also need to add a payment method to your account, which will be charged when you place an order. The checkout process is very straightforward.

Once your order is received, the Instacart driver starts shopping for your items.

You can chat with the driver while they’re shopping. It is great to have a chat feature because sometimes they need your live feedback if they can’t find an item. You can request a replacement or give special instructions for each item.

When the shopping is complete, your driver leaves the store to deliver your groceries. You can track their location on the app and see the estimated arrival time.

And lastly, your groceries will be delivered to your door within the timeframe specified when placing the order.

Summary

In this article, we learned nine great tips to start saving money on Instacart. We explored how Instacart worked and answered the most common questions.

We learned that grocery stores set prices on Instacart. If you want to find out the store’s pricing policy, you can click the “More info” link at the top of their page on Instacart. This way, you can find out if they offer in-store prices on Instacart before you start shopping.

One last tip is about the store loyalty cards. If you have a loyalty or rewards card from your favorite stores, you can add them to your Instacart account. It allows you to receive store benefits for items purchased on Instacart.

I covered this topic in a related article, and you can check it out below:

Can You Use Store Loyalty Cards and Ibotta With Instacart?

Shipt vs. Instacart: Which Is Better? (Cost and Service Comparison)

Written by Erol

Erol has over 12 years of experience in the consumer goods industry. He launched many successful products for major brands, which are sold at big retailers like Walmart, Costco, Amazon, Target, Kroger, Publix, and more. He likes to write and share his experience with others. Outside of work, you can find him at a hiking trail in New England, or playing soccer with his kids.

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