Working For Instacart vs. DoorDash [A Full Comparison]

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Food delivery has become incredibly popular nowadays, especially when you factor in the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s ridiculously convenient to order food from the comfort of your home, and you can find some great deals too. It’s also a great way to try new restaurants too.

However, these services can also be a great side hustle for drivers as well. You can earn quite the income working for Doordash or Instacart. If you’re wondering which option is better as a source of income for you, you’re in the right place. Let’s settle this Instacart vs. Doordash debate.

What is it like working for Instacart and DoorDash?

Instacart is designed as a grocery delivery service, but it also offers the user a chance to pay someone else to do their shopping for them. It’s available in Canada and in 50 states in the US. It covers 5500+ cities altogether. Instacart works closely with many grocery retailers including Target, Kroger, Costco, and more. The way it works is, a customer places an order within the app, someone picks out the ordered items, and the customer can then either pick up the purchase themselves or have it delivered via an Instacart driver.

If you’re looking to make income working for Instacart, you have a couple of options to go about it. You can either:

  • Choose to go the in-store shopping approach, in which you’ll be considered a part-time Instacart employee. That means you can pick your hours, but you can’t work for more than 29 hours for the week. You pick out the ordered items and get them ready for delivery.
  • Or, you can work for them as a full-service shopper. You’ll be picking out the ordered items, getting it ready for delivery, and finally doing the actual delivery with your own car. You’re basically executing the full service from start to finish. You choose your hours, and you’ll be considered an independent contractor.

On the other hand, DoorDash is purely a food delivery service that contracts with restaurants specifically. And it covers more than 300,000 restaurants in the US and Canada. Created in 2013, the service covers more than 4,000 cities overall.

If you want to work for DoorDash, you can use a motorcycle, scooter, bike, or car to deliver your orders. You are free to schedule certain blocks ahead of time for when you want to work and do deliveries. Or you can simply open up the app and choose to deliver whenever you’ve got some free time available to squeeze in.

Instacart and DoorDash Driver Requirements

To work for Instacart, you must be at least 18 years old and eligible to work within your local area. You also need a mobile phone and the ability to lift at least 30 to 50 pounds.

In case you apply for a full-service shopper role, you’ll also need 2 years of driving experience and a car. It’s important to note that they do run background checks, which can take up to 10 days.

Similar requirements exist for working for Doordash. You must be 18 years old with a social security number if you live in the US. They also perform a background check, which can take up to a week or more. You must have a clean driving record, insurance, and a valid license.

What to expect working for Instacart?

If you’re working for Instacart, they only allow you to make deliveries between 9 AM and midnight only. You can schedule your desired work hours on the app, and you’ll start receiving order notifications up to 30 minutes before your first hour of work.

It’s always possible to reject orders if you want. Once you accept an order, you’ll be able to contact the customer to see if they need to make any changes to the order. The customer’s preloaded Instacart card pays for the order.

What to expect working for DoorDash?

If you’re working for Doordash, they’ll provide you with an Activation Kit that can be used to fulfill your work. Included in the kit is an insulated delivery bag that you can use for each of your deliveries. You will also receive a prepaid debit card called the Red Card.

It’s possible to limit the number of orders you’d like to take for the day. There’s also a Dash Now feature which allows you to see areas with high order volume.

Orders appear within the app, and you’ll get to see the route to decide if a particular order is a good one for you to take or not.

How much can you make working for Instacart and DoorDash

It all depends on a number of factors, including the area you operate in.

How Much Can You Make Working for Instacart?

In the case of working for Instacart, it matters what type of shopper you are, where you live, and how many orders you fulfill. On average, Instacart full-service shoppers can make around $7 to $26 an hour, perhaps more during busy times.

It pays to be a full-service shopper because you get tips for delivering. The app will keep track of how much you make per delivery so that you can decide in the future which type of jobs are optimal for your situation.

On the other hand, in-store shoppers are paid a flat wage that ranges from $9 to $16 per hour, and this mainly depends on location.

How Much Can You Make Working for DoorDash?

Working for DoorDash, expect to take a different approach. You get a base pay of $2 to $10 per hour based on distance, time, and desirability. DoorDash also offers promotions such as peak pay, where if you choose to deliver during certain hours, DoorDash will add up to $4 more per delivery. There are also challenges that you can fulfill to earn even more money. Add to this the tips you can get upon delivery, and on average, a DoorDash driver will earn around $20 per hour or more.


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Instacart and DoorDash tax withholdings

One thing to keep in mind is the fact that for both platforms you have to pay your taxes.

That being said, if you’re an in-store shopper for Instacart, you are their part-time employee and they’ll withhold your taxes for you.

If you choose to go the full-service Instacart or DoorDash route, you’ll be responsible for paying your own taxes. This is completely normal for anyone who works as an independent contractor. Just be sure you have a ballpark estimate of how much you’ll need to save to pay for taxes come tax season.

When do Instacart and DoorDash pay?

DoorDash pays you every week, and you get paid via bank account deposit, normally on Wednesdays.

They do have a Fast Pay system, where you can get paid earlier. However, you are charged $1.99 for every Fast Pay withdrawal, whereas regular withdrawals are free.

Instacart also pays drivers weekly via direct deposit. If you are an in-store shopper for them, you can be paid via check if you’d like.

Both apps are useful in giving you reports on your earnings, so you can easily use that information to calculate tax estimations.

How Do Instacart and DoorDash Keep Their Drivers Safe?

When you drive for a delivery service, you want to ensure that you’ll be safe for yourself and for others.

Instacart offers sick pay for in-store shoppers. On top of that, there’s an option for drivers to leave any ordered food at a customer’s door if it’s already been paid for.

In the case of Doordash, they offer up to 2 weeks of financial support for drivers that test positive for Covid. Additionally, all deliveries are no-contact, but they can be changed depending on the customer’s particular requirements.

Remember though, you as a driver have the right to refuse a job if you feel it poses a danger to your health, or really any reason for that matter.


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Do your ratings affect how many orders you get with Instacart and DoorDash?

DoorDash driver ratings are calculated by your average rating over 100 orders. The great thing about DoorDash is that even if you get a low average rating, it doesn’t impact how many order requests you’ll get to fulfill. However, if you’re a top-rated dasher, you can enter into the Top Dasher program. Here you’ll receive priority requests even during slow periods.

Instacart ratings are also calculated by your average rating over 100 orders. However, unfortunately, shopper ratings do matter. If you are a highly-rated driver, you’ll receive more requests. If your average rating gets lower, you’ll be seeing fewer requests and that may ultimately affect your income.

Does Instacart or DoorDash app deliver a better scheduling system?

Instacart just allows you to work whenever you want, but you can schedule a shift if you’d like for as short as an hour.

As for DoorDash, it’s similar but it allows you to schedule shifts in 30-minute increments. However, you are limited to certain zones and are not allowed to move to a new one.

Interface and ease of use of DoorDash and Instacart apps

Based on our experience, both Doordash and Instacart offer a great user experience. They have a great user interface that makes it easy to access and manage orders, and the maps provided work very well. You will also find it easy to communicate with customers too.

Since both apps have fast customer support, you can easily resolve any issues in a timely manner.

Working for Instacart vs. DoorDash – Which is the better option?

When you compare working for Instacart vs. Doordash, you’ll find that there are many things to like about each of them. The flexibility and customer service are great, and the user interface is phenomenal. DoorDash does offer slightly more flexibility, and depending on the region, they generally pay better too.

We think that both apps are worth a try, but we’re giving a slight nod to DoorDash for all of the above reasons since most people who are working for one or both of these companies are ultimately trying to make some extra income.


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