Last Updated on 2024-03-13

Is Shipt a Good Side Job? Pros, Cons, and Earnings Expectations

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Patricia Jones

Experience working across both Shipt and Instacart

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Catherine Meyers

5 years of experience working across Shipt and Instacart

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Joshua Merritt

4 years of experience working across DoorDash, Instacart, Shipt, and UberEats

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Davis Porter

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, or insurance advice. The content contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments or insurance changes. Any reader should consult with an insurance professional to obtain insurance advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

Working for Shipt doesn’t have to be a full-time commitment. The platform is flexible enough to accommodate even part-time Shoppers and Drivers. 

Some of its part-time workers — like our very own contributors Joshua Merritt and Catherine Meyers — have been juggling multiple gig work platforms while studying or working a full-time job. Their workweek might include a mix of Shipt deliveries, alongside stints on other platforms such as Instacart, DoorDash, or UberEats. Shipt’s part-time opportunities are also open to anyone looking to supplement their main income without sacrificing their traditional jobs or lifestyle preferences. 

There is no universal answer as to whether Shipt is a good side job, as Shipt’s rules, working conditions, order frequency, and earnings tend to differ by location, account rating, and other factors. In this post, we'll present the main upsides and downsides of working for Shipt to help you decide if it's worth pursuing as a side job. 

Pros of a Shipt side job 

1. Minimal entry requirements

Shipt stands out for its minimal barriers to entry, as it welcomes applicants without demanding academic credentials or prior work experience. The platform values practical skills instead, like the ability to select fresh produce and lift 45 pounds or more. 

The only official Shipt requirements for Shoppers and Drivers are being at least 18 years old, possessing a valid U.S. driver's license, and having access to a reliable vehicle (1997 or newer). 

Shipt's inclusive hiring practices extend even to individuals with a felony history. Their applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis in line with fair chance employment principles, which support the rehabilitation of marginalized groups in the job market. 

Shipt also refrains from drug testing applicants and active shoppers. Background checks, conducted in partnership with Checkr, are the platform's only form of investigation. Although thorough, their findings are not final. Applicants who fail to pass can file an appeal to contest and provide more context to their Shipt background reports

2. Flexible job schedule

As independent contractors, Shipt Shoppers have the freedom to manage their job schedules. They can plan their work up to a week in advance by selecting zones, days, and delivery windows that suit their availability. 

This level of control allows full-time workers to seamlessly integrate Shipt into their lives without disrupting other commitments. Shipt even provides insights into peak hours and busy days to help its Shoppers optimize their schedules for maximum earnings.

3. No strict commitments

One of the benefits of being self-employed with Shipt is the absence of exclusivity contracts. Shipt workers are not bound to the platform, which means they’re free to work with other apps to diversify their income streams.

Shipt's non-binding arrangement also means there are no notice periods or penalties for discontinuing work. Shoppers can take breaks at any time for personal reasons, seasonal adjustments, or to pursue other opportunities. However, Joshua Merritt, who has over three years of experience with Shipt, says, “Many people have reported getting deactivated for not taking any orders for long stretches of time, though Shipt’s official stance is that there is no minimum amount of orders you have to take in a certain range of time. Some have been able to get reactivated, some not. So it’s best to at least one order every 1 or 2 months just to make sure.”

Catherine Meyers, who’s been with Shipt for two years, says she took a year-long break at some point without any issues. So, your experience may vary. 

The company extends the same privilege to account termination. Should a Shopper decide to stop working with Shipt altogether, they can proceed without any of the red tape common in traditional job environments. 

Another thing that makes Shipt a good side hustle is its unrestricted job calendar. As a Shopper or Driver, you can work as much or as little as you like. That means the platform can accommodate a diverse range of lifestyles and professional schedules. You could take on a side job every once in a while in quick, random bursts, or maybe make time for bulk orders during peak hours. 

4. Fast pay 

Shipt’s Instant Pay feature, which is powered by Stripe, allows Shoppers to access their earnings daily. You can therefore count on it for immediate relief whenever you’re in urgent need of funds. 

In general, Shipt pays out weekly, which is more frequent than most traditional jobs. The funds are paid out every Friday for all orders and tips processed in the previous week between Monday and Sunday. 

5. Preferred Shopper program

Shipt's Preferred Shopper program offers a direct path for Shoppers to boost their income by building lasting relationships with customers who have previously rated them highly. It promotes a cycle of repeat business, where accepting requests from preferred customers progressively raises the likelihood of securing future orders. 

Shoppers who consistently serve the same customers build a rapport that often translates into higher tips and an increased volume of orders. Customers are more inclined to tip generously when they're serviced by Shoppers who not only recognize their preferences but also go the extra mile to keep them satisfied. 

The result is a mutually beneficial bond between delivery personnel and customers. Shoppers get a steady stream of work, while customers enjoy personalized service from delivery personnel familiar with their buying habits.

This is the main benefit of Shipt over other gig work apps in my opinion,” says Joshua about his multi-platform gig work experience. He has worked with Shipt alongside DoorDash, Instacart, and Uber Eats.

6. Shipt perks and benefits

To help shoppers manage their operating expenses, minimize job risks, streamline operations, scale activities, and boost productivity, Shipt offers its Shoppers and Drivers various perks and benefits. Most of the perks are due to Shipt partnering with third-party service providers across different sectors. 

For example, Shipt workers can access discounts for business-related expenses, such as auto insurance premiums, vehicle maintenance bills, and gas. The perks can even include discounts on banking, tax preparation, healthcare, fitness, and entertainment services. 

7. Shipt bonus programs

Whereas perks are meant to protect your income and reduce operating expenses, Shipt bonus programs offer lucrative opportunities to grow your side hustle income. They reward Shoppers for completing a set number of orders within a specified timeframe or for working during peak hours. 

However, Shipt bonuses are not as readily available as Shipt perks. The former are only offered occasionally and in select metros as part of Shipt’s promotional campaigns. Whenever they’re available, Shipt shares their details on its Shopper app. 

You might, for instance, be invited to participate in a sign-up bonus program immediately after setting up your Shipt side hustle business. Another popular one is the Shipt referral bonus, which grants existing Shoppers a cash reward for bringing new recruits into the fold.

Cons of a Shipt side hustle

1. Tax responsibilities

As independent contractors, Shipt Shoppers and Drivers bear the full responsibility of managing their taxes. They must accurately report all income earned through Shipt and make estimated tax payments quarterly to fulfill federal, state, and local tax obligations as taxes are not withheld from paychecks as they are in most full-time jobs.

Your taxes on your Shipt earnings as an independent contractor can be reduced by deducting business expenses from your gross income, but you need detailed records of all those overheads and knowledge of IRS guidelines on deductible business expenses.

2. Higher car insurance premiums

Using your personal car for Shipt deliveries qualifies your driving as commercial use, which standard auto insurance policies typically don't cover. You may consequently need to add a commercial or business-use endorsement to your policy, potentially raising the car insurance premiums. The increase in cost varies by provider and depends on the level of added coverage.

Shipt itself doesn't offer direct car insurance coverage to its Drivers. Instead, it provides access to discounted auto insurance options through its Shipt Perks program. You’ll need to sort through the offerings to secure the appropriate car insurance coverage

3. Safety risks

Delivery work inherently poses safety risks — especially when it involves driving through unfamiliar neighborhoods and meeting tight deadlines. Spending more time on the road means an increased risk of getting into an accident. There’s also the possibility of theft or vandalism when vehicles are left unattended in high-crime areas or during late hours.

To reduce the level of risk, Joshua advises Shipt Shoppers to always drive slowly and safely. “the amount of time you save by speeding will never be enough to get an order delivered on time that you are already late for,” he explains. 

Patricia Jones, who also has experience working with Shipt, adds that at least Shipt does offer an ADT safety assistance tool, which you can use to make a 911 SOS call if you even need help. 

4. Physically demanding

The roles of Shipt Shoppers and Drivers are physically challenging. You’ll be lifting heavy items and spending extended periods on your feet, which could lead to fatigue and strain. Without proper precautions and lifting techniques, Shoppers and Drivers risk developing health complications. 

According to Catherine, “Sometimes, certain weird items from big box stores like Target aren't labeled correctly in the Shipt app either. I've definitely taken orders where an item is misnamed in-app, and it ends up being a 40-lb bag of soil or a huge playset for a kid. It doesn't happen so often but it's definitely come up enough that it's an unexpected and unpleasant surprise, and some people might not be interested in dealing with heavier items like that.”

She explains that while such cases don’t happen so often, you can expect unexpected and pleasant surprises to come up enough times. 

As one of its perks, Shipt partners with health insurance marketplaces and providers who offer discounted health insurance options to Shipt Drivers and Shoppers

5. Vehicle wear and tear

One of the most immediate impacts of driving for Shipt is mileage accumulation. The more miles added to a vehicle, the lower its resale value tends to be. For Shipt Shoppers and Drivers, this can mean accelerated depreciation over a relatively short period.

With high mileage also comes frequent maintenance. You’ll be conducting oil changes, tire rotations, brake pad replacements, and other maintenance activities more regularly, thus incurring higher upkeep costs. These are all out-of-pocket expenses for Shipt Shoppers, as gig platforms typically do not reimburse for maintenance.

Catherine adds that “a lot of people live in sort of inaccessible areas that put your car at risk. I live near some weird backwoods areas, and I often come across gravel drives or situations where I'm worried for my car. It's not something we often think about but I've unfortunately had a tire pop from someone's crappy driveway situation. I always recommend new Shoppers to take advantage of the fact that Shipt outright gives you the customer's address from the main screen of the order before you accept it. If I have the time, I will very quickly look up the house and make sure it looks clean/safe overall before accepting.”

You'll also need to refuel more often during delivery errands. The resultant Shipt gas costs could add up quite significantly, reducing your net income from Shipt side jobs

Despite the financial burdens of vehicle wear and tear, there is a silver lining in the form of tax deductions. Shipt Shoppers can leverage tax deductions for mileage and vehicle expenses to offset some of the financial impacts of vehicle wear and tear. 

The platform also offers auto perks with discounts for gas and maintenance, further reducing the cost burden of taking up side jobs on Shipt. 

Definitely use GasBuddy (partnered with Shipt) to save on gas costs and claim mileage on your tax returns” says Joshua.

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