Instacart vs Amazon Flex: Similarities, Differences, and Which Is Better?


Are you tired of scraping by with bills and other expenses?

Before you stress out too much, consider what it’s like to drive for Amazon Flex vs. Instacart.

Both can make for great side hustles, but they aren’t for everyone.

Consider what each company does, where they operate, and how much you can make.

Then, you’ll be able to get some financial relief, and you can explore your city.

In this piece, we’ll cover the differences between the two services, the similarities, and what advantages each service has over the other so you can pick the best grocery delivery service for your needs.

Instacart vs Amazon Flex: An Overview

When comparing Amazon Flex and Instacart, it helps to know the basics.

That may be enough to help you decide which is better for you to work for.

Here are a few things you should know about each delivery app.

What Is Instacart?

Instacart delivery is one of the easiest ways to save time running errands. Instead of driving to the grocery store and scouring the shelves, you can have your groceries delivered straight to your door.

It was first founded in San Francisco by an entrepreneur and former Amazon employee named Apoorva Mehta.

How Does Instacart Delivery Work?

Instacart delivery allows you to place an order on the Instacart website or app, schedule a delivery time, communicate with your shopper, and get your order delivered to your door.

If you’ve never placed an Instacart order before, you will want to visit the Instacart website and confirm that delivery is available in your area.

You can do this by entering your address into the search bar on the homepage or allowing Instacart to geolocate you.

Once you’ve confirmed that Instacart is available in your area, you can place your order.

First, select the store that you want to order from. Then, you can browse that store’s offerings by category and add items to your cart.

Once you’ve added all your items to your cart, click the shopping cart icon to view your cart, then proceed to checkout.

At checkout, make sure that you’ve opted for a delivery order and not for Instacart pickup.

You’ll be prompted to enter your delivery address, select a delivery time, provide any delivery instructions, and offer your contact information so that your shopper can communicate with you.

Finally, you’ll be asked to pay for your order.

After placing your order, an Instacart shopper will start putting together your order.

You’ll be able to communicate with your shopper to ask questions, get updates, and authorize any substitutions of items out of stock at the store.

When your order is on the way to you, you’ll receive a notification.

You’ll receive another notification when the delivery has arrived at your address.

If your driver has trouble finding your location, they will message or call you.

Unless you specify otherwise, Instacart shoppers are instructed not to leave your order unattended.

However, if you don’t respond to your driver and they cannot find your location for an extended time, your order may be canceled.

If you can’t receive your delivery personally, you can ask a friend or neighbor to receive your order.

Just leave a note for your driver on the Instacart website or app and let them know if you do this.

Alternatively, you can tell your Instacart driver to drop off your order unattended at a specific location.

However, if your order contains alcoholic items, your driver will not be allowed to leave it unattended.

Finally, if you’ve accidentally entered the wrong address on your Instacart order, you can contact Instacart customer service.

What Is Amazon Flex?

Amazon Flex is a delivery program that hires drivers to deliver Amazon packages to its customers’ doors.

This program enlists drivers to pick up the packages in many cities across the US, using their own vehicle and a smartphone app for support. Drivers are paid on a contract basis and must pay for all gas and vehicle expenses.

How Does Amazon Flex Work?

After setting up your driver account and completing training on the Amazon Flex app, you’ll be able to search for delivery opportunities in your area.

To reserve a scheduling block, all you need to do is open the app and choose which opportunities are most convenient for you.

With every delivery block, you’ll be able to view your expected earnings and how long it’ll take you to complete the block.

When it’s time for your delivery block, use the Amazon Flex app to navigate to each delivery location and deliver the package that corresponds to the address.

While you’re completing deliveries, you can change your status to “Available” in the app to qualify for instant delivery offers.

As an Amazon Flex driver, you can expect to make multiple types of deliveries, including:

  • Amazon deliveries, where you’ll pick up packages from an Amazon delivery station and deliver them directly to customers
  • Prime Now and Amazon Fresh deliveries, where you’ll pick up groceries from a delivery station and deliver them directly to customers
  • Store orders, where you’ll pick up orders from local stores and deliver them directly to customers
  • Instant offers, which are deliveries available near your current location

After completing your deliveries, you’ll get paid. Amazon Flex pays drivers via direct deposit twice a week on Tuesday and Friday, so you’ll be paid for any delivery blocks completed in the previous pay period.

If you complete any deliveries that are eligible for tips, Amazon Flex will send the payment after processing your tips (typically within 1–2 days of delivery).

Drivers can also track their earnings and payments in the Amazon Flex app under the “Earnings” section.

How Are Amazon Flex And Instacart Similar?

In several ways, Amazon Flex and Instacart are pretty similar in work structure, independence, and more.

Work Flexibility

You have more flexibility than other jobs when you deliver for either Amazon Flex or Instacart.

With Amazon Flex, you can set your own schedule by signing up for delivery blocks or accepting “Instant Offers.”

However, if you select a delivery block with Amazon Flex, you must complete it.

Additionally, some Amazon Flex blocks start as early as 4:30 in the morning. Instacart, on the other hand, offers a little more flexibility.

For example, all you have to do is sign on to the Dasher app, which indicates you are ready to accept and deliver orders. Then, you can opt to deliver one order or 20, whatever suits you.

Overall, delivering for DoorDash provides more flexibility because you don’t have to schedule delivery blocks in advance.

Get To Be Your Own Boss

Both Amazon Flex and Instacart delivery drivers are classified as independent contractors. That said, delivery drivers provide a service under a written contract with the company.

Estimation Of Your Earnings

Instacart and Amazon Flex both provide mobile apps for delivery drivers that accurately estimate their earnings.

With that, payments for Amazon Flex are based on the distance traveled, the time deliveries took, and the base rate.

In comparison, Instacart earnings are based on customer tips, base pay, distance traveled, and the time of day.

How Much Does Instacart Delivery Cost?

Instacart charges delivery and service fees that vary by order. For same-day delivery orders over $35, Instacart delivery fees start at $3.99. If your order is under $35 or you request a one-hour delivery, your fees will be higher.

Instacart delivery orders are subject to service fees to cover Instacart’s operating costs.

 The service fee varies from order to order.

If your order contains alcoholic drinks, you will be charged an alcohol service fee, which covers the cost of providing compliant delivery and ID verification.

If you place an order at a store between 30 and 60 minutes away from your location or require your driver to pay for tolls, you will also be charged a long-distance service fee.

If you opt for priority delivery, which helps your order gets delivered faster, you will be charged a priority service fee.

The priority service fee is usually between $2 to $4.

Finally, if you order a heavy item, like a bag of pet food or a case of beverages, you may be charged a heavy fee.

Heavy fees apply to orders that are estimated to weigh over 50 pounds.

When you place your Instacart order, you will be notified if any of your items will have a heavy fee.

In addition to delivery and service fees, prices of individual items may be higher when purchased through Instacart than in-store prices.

Item prices vary from store to store, but many retailers set their prices on Instacart higher than in-store prices.

However, each store will list its pricing policy under its logo on the Instacart website or app.

Therefore, you can see pricing information before placing your order.

Some stores charge “everyday store prices,” which means that the prices of most items on Instacart are the same as in-store.

Other stores charge “higher than in-store item prices,” which means that individual items on Instacart are more expensive than in-store.

Finally, some stores will say that “prices vary from in-store,” which means some items may be more expensive on Instacart than in-store, but other items may be the same as their in-store price.

What Stores Does Instacart Deliver From?

Stores that Instacart delivers from vary by geographic region, but many major and local grocery stores offer delivery through Instacart.

The stores Instacart delivers from include:

  • Albertsons
  • ALDI
  • Costco
  • CVS
  • Kroger
  • Loblaw
  • Publix
  • Sam’s Club
  • Sprouts
  • Wegmans

For a full list of the Instacart-eligible stores near you, you can enter your address into the Instacart homepage on the app or website.

This will allow you to see all the grocery stores that Instacart delivers from in your area.

What Stores Does Amazon Flex From?

Amazon Flex only uses one kind of store – itself – even though it partners with several other brands of food manufacturers.

So when it comes to stores, it has little competition with Instacart, which offers food from over 70,000 stores across 5,500 cities.

As discussed above, an advantage in a breadth of stores doesn’t necessarily mean an advantage in quality or availability.

Instacart vs Amazon Flex: Winner?

At the end of the day, there isn’t a clear winner between Instacart and Amazon Flex – it fully depends on what you want your grocery ordering process to look like.

If you want something that maximizes a smooth, streamlined process with maximum efficiency and minimal hiccups, Amazon Fresh is probably the best bet for you.

But if you prioritize the individual quirks of your particular community, for better or worse, Instacart is a superior option.

Because Instacart allows you to connect with your local stores and retailers, there is much more room for you to experience the culinary beauty of your specific area within it.

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