instacart a.i. art

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Instacart is a grocery delivery beast, there's no doubt about it. While the online grocery delivery service provides an unparalleled level of convenience when it comes to grocery shopping, it definitely isn’t cheap. Much like Postmates, DoorDash, and any other third party delivery service, you’re going to deal with hefty fees and upcharges that may not always feel worth it.

As more and more independent contractors turned to Instacart as a side hustle for earning money, the company rolled out its own subscription-based initiative, Instacart+. Formerly Instacart Express, the service is meant to save you money by charging a subscription fee in order to reduce overall costs. 

Is Instacart's membership fee worth it? How much can you even save? I signed up and found out.

Instacart+ Features & Pricing

So, what does Instacart+ do for you? There are two membership options, one billed annually and one monthly. Like most subscription services, the annual fee will save you a bit of money — $99 for a year, rather than a monthly membership fee of $9.99. 

As for benefits, this is where Instacart starts to get vague. The flagship perk for Instacart+ is free delivery on any order over $35. You’ll also get “reduced” service fees, though Instacart is unwilling to provide a specific number for that. The delivery app's big claim is that Instacart offers about $7 in savings per order

Order Comparison

instacart order under the minimumPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

One thing is certain: You shouldn't bother with Instacart+ if you are planning on any orders under $35. Even with an Instacart+ account, orders that don't hit the minimum will land you several fees, as seen in the receipt above.

instacart+ orderPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

Here’s an order of grocery items that meets the minimum at $48. You’re skipping the $8 delivery fee and you’ve got $1.50 off in fees, for a savings of about $10. That said, “unlimited free deliveries” seems to be a bit of generous wording, as there are still plenty of other fees to deal with.


For the average shopper, Instacart+ probably isn’t worth it. I, however, happen to fill my body with junk food for a living and write about it right here on this website. For somebody like me who can’t look a checkout clerk in the face while buying 10 different kinds of hummus and nothing else, it’s wonderful to be able to pass the buck to some poor Instacart shopper. If you, like me, need to shop for groceries multiple times a week, this might be worth it.

But just because you’re not paying extra Instacart fees, it doesn’t mean you’re saving money. Some of the fees — like service fees — are still there. Mostly, Instacart works to save you time. Not to say that time isn’t worth something, because it’s our most valuable commodity.

So, is Instacart+ worth it? If you're primarily looking to save a few bucks, then probably not. You don't need a full service shopper. Just go to the grocery store.

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