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Whether you’re avoiding stores like the plague (er, like COVID-19) or craving a quiet weekend at home, grocery delivery services keep your pantry stocked without requiring you to leave the house.

Instacart is fast and it’s easy. But is it worth the cost? That depends on your lifestyle and needs.

Instacart is a web- and app-based grocery delivery service. Instacart personal shoppers take the shopping list you made online, do the shopping for you, then drop off the goods at your doorstep. Easy-peasy.

  • It partners with some of the biggest grocery store chains (but few mom-and-pop stores).
  • It offers same-day delivery in most major U.S. cities.
  • It operates in all 50 U.S. states, plus Washington D.C.

Instacart Express is a $9.99 monthly subscription service that eliminates individual delivery fees for orders over $35.

It’s a great option for folks who want groceries delivered on the reg.

The perks

  • same-day or scheduled delivery
  • multiple stores available
  • subscription benefits (Instacart Express)

The cons

  • delivery price and fees
  • not available everywhere

The #1 reason folks start clicking around on Instacart is convenience.

It’s easy. What could be simpler than grocery shopping while you’re chillin’ on the couch watching “Bridgerton”?

It’s quick. Instacart offers same-day delivery, sometimes within 2 hours of your order.

It works with your schedule. In addition to same-day delivery, you can schedule Instacart orders up to 2 weeks in advance.

Instacart’s service is probably going to be worth it if:

Maybe you love the Everything But the Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe’s, the frozen pizza at Whole Foods, and the giant tub of pretzels from Costco. Well, you can get ‘em all in one Instacart delivery.

Instacart has a leg up on individual stores’ curbside pickup and delivery services. With Instacart, you can order from multiple stores at once. That’s pretty huge considering it partners with more than 300 grocery stores and regional chains.

Where can I shop with Instacart?

Just a few of Instacart’s major grocery partners include…

  • ALDI
  • Costco
  • CVS
  • Kroger
  • Publix
  • Sam’s Club
  • Sprouts

You can visit the website to find out which stores near you are available with Instacart.

There’s no getting around the fact that Instacart costs more than walking into a store yourself.

Fortunately, there’s a cost-savings program for folks who need frequent deliveries. The Instacart Express membership costs $9.99 per month. It eliminates individual delivery fees.

According to Instacart, joining Instacart Express can save you about $7 per grocery run. That estimate is based on a company-wide average. Your savings (or not) will depend on how often you get groceries delivered to your home.

Bonus perk: Safety

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that avoiding face-to-face contact is *still* the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Stores can be crowded. Grocery delivery services like Instacart can help boost your safety by limiting interactions with people outside your household.

Getting your groceries from Instacart will always be more expensive than shopping at a store yourself. For some folks, the cost is worth the convenience. For others, using a store’s curbside pickup option is more wallet-friendly.

Instacart’s price adds up in a few ways.

Delivery fee. You’re not only getting a personal shopper — you’re getting a delivery driver! Instacart’s delivery fees *start* at $3.99. The fee goes up for:

  • super-fast deliveries
  • deliveries for orders under $35
  • other factors

Service fee. Your service fee will depend on what you’ve ordered. According to Instacart, “Service fees vary based on market and are calculated based on the subtotal of the items in your order, not including alcohol.” Instacart Express members pay lower service fees.

Item price differences. Sometimes Instacart’s app prices aren’t the same as a retailer’s in-store prices — even for the same item from the same store. This could be due to an Instacart markup.

It could also be that you’re missing out on in-store coupons and specials of the day. That said, Instacart does have some of its own exclusive coupons available.

Delivery tip. From Uber drivers to pizza delivery peeps, folks in the service industry make part of their incomes from tips. Tipping your Instacart shopper is normal and expected.

Once it shakes out, you can expect to pay at least $10 to $15 more per grocery order with Instacart.

If there’s no Sprouts, Costco, Trader Joe’s, or other major Instacart partner near you, there’s probably no Instacart either. It’s not common in regions with few big box stores.

The lack of availability is simply an issue of supply and demand. Instacart isn’t a great option for folks in uncrowded regions of North America.

Instacart is a grocery delivery service available in most large cities in the United States and Canada.

The key benefit of Instacart is convenience — at least for people in urban and suburban centers. Its biggest drawback is the price.

Your personal shopping preferences, budget, location, and lifestyle will help you figure out if it’s a good option for you.