Instacart vs. DoorDash: Which Pays Better?

Food delivery services have gained popularity in recent years. The premise is simple: order food from a restaurant or third-party service and that third-party service will deliver the food to your door. It’s a great system for those who can’t get out (due to transportation, health, or obligations), for restaurants that get increased business (because they didn’t offer home delivery and have little or no cost associated with that delivery), and for the dealer (who wants to earn money). Two of the top delivery services are DoorDash and Instacart. DoorDash is direct food delivery, while Instacart will deliver food, drinks, groceries, and more. We put them head to head, Instacart vs. DoorDash to see which one is better.

Instacart vs. DoorDash

Does Instacart vs. DoorDash pay more?

If you’re looking to make money, it’s important to understand all the factors from start to finish. I’ll break down the differences in setup time and cost, revenue and delivery process, and flexibility and incentives.

Installation time and cost

If you want to sign up to deliver on DoorDash or Instacart, you need to sign up. We can consider the time and cost of installation because time is money.

Install DoorDash



Install Instacart




The setup process with DoorDash is pretty straightforward. According to their website, Potential Dashers Need

  • a smartphone
  • transportation (no vehicle requirements)
  • Driver’s license, sure.

The requirements to drive for DoorDash are

  • to be 18 years old or more,
  • have a car, scooter, bicycle, or motorcycle, and
  • pass criminal and driving record checks, and
  • have a driver’s license, insurance, and a valid social security number.

Potential Dashers have to

  • apply
  • choose driver orientation
  • full record
  • get the app and go

In total, the DoorDash process can take 1-2 weeks.


The setup process with Instacart is similar. According to their website, prospective fleet members need

  • a smartphone
  • transportation (must be in your name and good working order)
  • Driver’s license
  • sure.

The requirements to drive for Instacart are

  • to be 18 years old or more,
  • have a vehicle,
  • pass criminal and driving record checks, and
  • have a driver’s license, insurance, and a valid social security number.

Potential Instacart driver have to

  • register
  • wait for your free delivery bag and prepaid card
  • get the app and go
  • In total, the Instacart process can take 1-2 weeks.

Winner of Instacart vs. DoorDash Installation Process

Both processes take the same amount of time, but if you have a below-average vehicle, you’ll probably want to use DoorDash instead of Instacart.

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Delivery income and process

Delivery companies make money in different ways, but drivers also get paid. The delivery and payment process is quite similar.


Dashers have an app on their phone that tells them about a potential order (from where, to where, and the tip amount).

The Dasher has the opportunity to accept the delivery or reject it. If they accept it, they drive to the restaurant, pick up the food, and drop it off at the address.

According to their website, Dashers are paid a base salary, promotions, and tips.

Dashers get paid weekly, but if they choose to get paid immediately, they pay a $1.99 fee. Payment is via direct deposit into your bank account.


Instacart Fleet members (drivers) have the Fleet app on their phones that alerts them to a potential order. They go through the same process as DoorDash until you get to pay.

Instacart uses a formula to calculate earnings that vary by city. See here for more information on earnings in a particular city and state.

Earnings for each delivery include:

  • an amount for each completed collection
  • an amount for each completed return
  • a rate per expected minute for the time spent at the pickup location
  • a per-mile fee for the distance between pickup and drop-off locations
  • 100% of the tips you earn

Fleet members are paid weekly, but if they choose to be paid immediately, the Instacart pay rate is only $.50. Payment is via direct deposit into your bank account.

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Winner of Instacart vs. DoorDash Income & Process

This category is probably the most important but the most complicated. If you’re looking for a simple and transparent calculation of your pay and typically a higher base salary, DoorDash is the winner.

If you are looking for a cheaper payment, Instacart is the winner.

Flexibility and incentives

Part of the appeal of a food delivery stand is the flexible hours. Incentives also go a long way to making these positions worthwhile.

In general, Dashers can work whenever they want. They can be scheduled in shifts, but those shifts can be taken if the market is busy.

An early access scheduling option is available to Dashers who meet certain requirements. There is also an option to pick up immediate deliveries instead of scheduling them.

Dashers open the app, get an alert when an opportunity comes up, see how much they’ll earn from that delivery, and accept or decline the delivery. While you have the option to decline a submission, please note that it affects your grade in the system.

Dasher Rewards

There are a few different ways to make more money with DoorDash.

Signup Bonus: There is a signup bonus available. Simply get the referral code from someone who referred you and meet the requirements in the first 30 days. Details on sign-up bonuses vary, but the referral code is likely to yield the biggest payout.

Referral Bonus – Once eligible, you will receive your referral code. Give that code to others, and you’ll also get a piece if they meet the requirements.

Busy or Peak Pay: During the busiest times of the day (lunchtime), you can get extra pay as a bonus for navigating through heavier traffic and longer wait times.

Challenges: DoorDash has occasional challenges available through the app.

Promotions and Incentives: DoorDash offers occasional promotions and incentive programs to earn a little extra money. It is advisable to look at the application for information.

DoorDash Drive: Essentially, if people or restaurants request it, you can receive additional funds. This process has many caveats, so be sure to check out the details.

Top Dasher Rewards Program – This program is for top Dashers who meet certain criteria. The Dashers I know to struggle with this program even though they consistently have good grades and come very close to meeting the criteria. They say that it is always a small detail that prevents them from receiving this status.

With all of these programs (not available all the time or in all locations), it’s easy to understand why people choose to deliver through DoorDash.


Instacart has more scheduling flexibility than DoorDash. According to their website, Instacart drivers can be scheduled at any time and freely adjust their schedules. Most driver reviews count flexibility as the best feature of Instacart.

Instacart Offer: There are several ways to earn extra money with Instacart outside of their formula which is presented nicely and neatly on their website.

Signup Bonus: There is a signup bonus available. Simply get the referral code from someone who referred you and qualify to earn up to $1,000.

Referral Invitations: Once you are eligible, you will receive your referral code. Give that code to others, and you’ll also get a piece if they meet the requirements.

Promotions: Instacart is quite transparent with its promotional programs. They are listed in the app under promotions. They are divided into active, upcoming, and expired categories (which shows how you fared).

Guaranteed payout or earnings: If you meet certain criteria but don’t make the projected payout, Instacart covers the rest.

Crushers: Complete a certain number of deliveries within a set period and earn an additional payout bonus.

Incentives: Instacart offers various incentives. Incentives, such as promotions, are available directly in the app.

Benefits: Instacart benefits are not directly related to money, but are more closely aligned with savings. Instacart has partnered with Stride to provide health insurance and tax assistance.

Winner of Instacart vs. DoorDash Flexibility and Incentives

Instacart is the clear winner in the flexibility category; although some of us like to program, which helps us to be more responsible.

When it comes to incentives, DoorDash has more complicated offers than Instacart, but DoorDash’s calculation system is so much simpler and more transparent than I opt for clarity. However, Instacart wins all day with its Stride partnership.

Maximize your earnings

There are a few ways to maximize your profits with these companies.

Be good

Needless to say, service is an area where you deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly. The client is NOT always right, but you have to deal with him professionally.

I was a waitress for 16 years, and I can’t count the times someone was having a bad day, and I dealt with the crap they gave me gracefully only to have them come back the next week to apologize. Most of the time, apologies come with tips or a new repeat customer. So be cool even if the client isn’t.

Look at the part

We live in a gloomy world, so be present and mindful of the way you look. Wear the shirt or hat of the place you represent. Both DoorDash and Instacart have brand-name gear, so invest in them.

Put your hair back or up. Wear deodorant. Clean your car (outside and inside).

Use the bag to maintain the temperature of the food. Use cup holders. It seems that delivering food is what you do for a living, even if it’s your side job.

Deliver more

As you pick up the order, grab some napkins, plastic items, straws, condiments, and anything else you can think of that the customer may or may not need. Send 2-3 updates per order. Be as close as possible to your planned or scheduled arrival time.

If the restaurant has coupons or deals available, bring them or tell your customer about them. Eventually, you can gain customers and restaurants to develop repeat customers who request it.

To be prepared

Bring some change for larger bills in case the customer tips cash and needs change. Many people give a cash tip instead of or in addition to a tip on the order (especially in smaller cities).

Be prepared to provide change for a larger bill, but look around to see if they give you the full bill.

High rank

Both DoorDash and Instacart have a ranking system; although, they are very different. DoorDash is complex and includes customer rating, acceptance rating, completion rating, number of deliveries completed during the month, and number of lifetime deliveries completed. To qualify for their rewards program, you must have

  • a customer rating of at least 4.7
  • an acceptance rate of at least 70%**
  • a completion rate of at least 95%
  • 100 deliveries completed in the last month
  • at least 200 lifetime deliveries completed


Instacart is simple. Thumbs up for good service or thumbs up for poor service. Instacart theorizes that many things can go wrong that are not the fault of the driver, so the driver should not be penalized for those problems.

It boils down to providing good customer service and completing the jobs you accept.

Do it all

Perhaps the best way to maximize your earnings is to work for as many delivery companies as you can.

You can work for DoorDash and Instacart at the same time. By working in both of these positions, you are an independent contractor, so you get to choose who you work for and when.

Sign up and try them for a while. See where the biggest profits come from or balance both.

Become a DoorDash delivery person:

Become an Instacart delivery person:

Where Do You Make The Most Money Instacart vs. DoorDash?

Ultimately, many factors will help you decide whether to choose between Instacart vs. DoorDash.

Your city may not have one or the other, so your decision is easy, but chances are your city has both. Start working for both and you will see which one pays better since it will depend mostly on your area.

If you’re looking for the most flexibility and incentives, Instacart is probably right for you. If you’re looking for the most transparency and consistency, DoorDash is probably right for you.

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