Last Updated on 2024-05-21

When Instacart Pays and How To Get Paid Faster

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

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Faith McLaughlin

8 years of experience working across DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, Uber, and Lyft

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Michael Vaness

6 years of experience working across DoorDash, Instacart, and Spark

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Catherine Meyers

5 years of experience working across Shipt and Instacart

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Tommy Brownson

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

One of the big advantages of being an Instacart Shopper is that the money you earn comes fast.

Instacart’s default payment mode is direct deposit, which means that Instacart transfers your earnings directly into your bank account. This is why having a bank account is one of Instacart’s Shopper requirements

According to Instacart’s website, with direct deposit, you will receive payment for a given week (Monday through Sunday) sometime between Wednesday and Friday of the following week. In other words, you will get paid for a week of shopping 3-5 days after that week ends

Two of the three Instacart Gig Pros we talked to receive their weekly payments on Thursdays, but many Shoppers report that their weekly payment appears as early as Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

“What bank you go through can affect this," says Michael Vanness, who has worked with Instacart since 2020. "I used my regular bank first, and got my weekly pay usually about Wednesday nights. I went to Chime, and it was Tuesday midday to evening around 6 p.m.”

Instacart has Instant Cashout

If you don’t want to wait until your next direct deposit payday, you can cash out at your convenience and receive whatever earnings you’re owed in minutes — directly to your debit card of choice.

In a pinch, some Shoppers find the Instant Cashout feature to be a godsend, and it’s part of what makes Instacart such a good side hustle. The feature is inexpensive, but it isn’t free, and there are some restrictions to using it. At the time of writing, the fee for using Instant Cashout is just $0.50 per use. 

Instacart Instant Cashout requirements

In order to use Instant Cashout, you’ll need an active debit card, as this is the only transfer method Instacart offers for the feature. One advantage of the debit card is that payment doesn’t depend on whether your bank is open — you can request your payout in the middle of the night on a holiday, and it will still happen in minutes.

Instacart also imposes some basic restrictions, for which the key number to remember seems to be "five." To request an Instant Cashout:

  • You must have completed 5 batches (for new Shoppers).
  • There must be at least $5 of earnings owed (although being paid less than this for any single batch is uncommon anyway).
  • You cannot use Instant Cashout more than 5 times in one day.

These are the rules as described by Instacart, but Shoppers report running into a few other limitations:

  • Tips you get on a given batch will not be available for cashout until a few hours after it has been delivered.
  • Once the direct deposit has been initiated (after 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday evening), that money is not available for Instant Cashout.
  • If, for some reason, you log out and back into your Shopper account or change the phone number associated with it, you may be prompted to wait up to 24 hours before you can cash out. Faith McLaughlin, who has been doing gig work for 8 years, also notes that "it will make you go through a facial biometrics scan, and it routinely performs that scan as a measure to ensure it’s really you using the app."

Does Instacart pay faster than other apps?

In general, delivery gigs like Instacart have fairly similar payment schemes: weekly by default but with an option to cash out your earnings instantly. That said, there are differences worth noting, and you can read up on the details of each. For example, Shipt has different requirements and costs for Instant Cashout and DoorDash even offers its own debit card, which allows you to forgo the Cashout fee. 

Referral and signup bonuses will be included in your direct deposit

Instacart offers referral and signup bonuses to help with recruiting. The money awarded from these will be added to the direct deposit payout for the week in which they are completed

So, for a signup bonus that simply requires that a new Shopper complete their first batch, the bonus should be received the week following the completion of the first batch. For a referral bonus requiring the new Shopper to complete 30 batches within 30 days, the bonus should be received the week after the completion of the 30th batch (assuming it was done within the stipulated time period, of course). 

Instacart does not withhold money for taxes

While there are advantages to getting paid quickly and in full, they come with some responsibilities. When shopping for Instacart you are operating as an independent contractor, and you will be liable to pay whatever tax you owe on your income from Instacart. Nothing is withheld from your payments the way it would be if you worked full-time for an employer.

It’s a good practice to set aside a certain percentage of your earnings in anticipation of the taxes you’ll likely owe — you'll also need to make quarterly estimated payments to the IRS.

When does Instacart pay Guaranteed Minimum adjustments?

In 2020, California voters passed a ballot initiative known as Proposition 22, which allowed app-based rideshare and delivery companies to continue operating with their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The effects and legacy of this initiative are fairly contentious, and the ongoing legal battle over its constitutionality could lead things to change quickly. But for now, it’s active, and it has a fairly simple effect on the pay of Instacart Shoppers in California.

As part of the initiative, Instacart Shoppers and other gig workers in the Golden State are guaranteed base pay amounting to 120% of their local minimum wage and an additional $0.30 per working mile driven, not including whatever tips they receive. 

Shoppers in California are initially paid the same as anywhere else: based on the values of each batch they complete. Then, each Thursday, the Guaranteed Minimum pay of the previous week (Monday through Sunday) is calculated based on the time and mileage a Shopper put into all their batches during that week. If this value is higher than the amount that was initially paid out for that week, the difference is added immediately to the Shopper’s earnings, and they can either wait for their next direct deposit or use Instant Cashout as they please. 

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