Instacart vs. Doordash – A Consumer and Driver Comparison

You want food delivered to your home as soon as possible. You tap your phone and see a pair of options staring back at you – DoorDash and Instacart.

Instacart vs. Doordash - A Consumer and Driver Comparison

Which one do you choose?

This article helps you answer that question.

However, it’s not the only question we’ll answer here. Both DoorDash and Instacart use freelance workers as the backbones of their businesses. If you’re a budding driver, you need to know which company gives you the best return on your time investment.

This article helps you answer that question too.

So, which is better between DoorDash and Instacart? Let’s find out for both consumers and drivers.

Instacart vs. DoorDash for Consumers

With both apps available on Android and Apple devices and accepting Apple and Android Pay, there appears to be little to separate Instacart and DoorDash. However, they differ in several ways, not least of which is the specific markets they serve.

DoorDash is a restaurant food delivery service that offers access to over 110,000 restaurants throughout the United States and Canada. Instacart is more like a personal shopping app as it connects you to local grocery stores rather than restaurants. Still, both have the core offer of delivering food to your door at an affordable price. Let’s dig into the specifics of each app’s service to consumers.

Food Variety

Both apps offer a huge range of food varieties. By allowing consumers to order from the likes of Taco Bell, Buffalo Wild Wings, Baskin-Robbins, and many more, DoorDash provides a comprehensive selection of restaurant-quality food.

However, Instacart offers access to many grocery retailers, including Whole Foods, Safeway, and Costco. What’s more, you can add any food item, including fresh fruit and even treats for your pets, to your order.

For sheer variety, Instacart comes out on top. However, DoorDash still provides plenty of options, including access to vegan and gluten-free restaurants for those with specific dietary requirements.

Delivery Tracking

Both apps allow users to track their orders in real-time via their apps. In Instacart’s case, you receive a notification when your driver is on the way. Opening the app reveals a map that you can use to check the driver’s progress. You can even give instructions to your driver by tapping the “Chat with shopper” option.

DoorDash works similarly, with a map appearing in the app as soon as a driver agrees to deliver your order. You can also contact your driver using the “text” or “call” buttons in the app. However, some restaurants use their own delivery drivers, whom the app may not track.

Both Instacart and DoorDash do a great job of informing users about their order delivery status.

Delivery Fees

DoorDash attracts customers by offering $1 delivery for the first month of using the service. After that, delivery reverts to a standard $5.99 per order, though some restaurants may command as much as $8 per delivery. You may also have to pay additional fees, such as $2 extra for small orders.

Instacart offers free delivery on your first order. Afterward, its fees start from $3.99 for orders over $35, with additional fees charged for same-day, club, and small deliveries. However, you can also subscribe to Instacart Express, which offers unlimited deliveries in return for a $149 annual fee. You also have to pay a heavy order fee if the estimated combined weight of your items is over 50 pounds. The minimum order for an Instacart delivery of $10, whereas DoorDash has no minimum delivery requirements.

With both services offering similar delivery pricing, it’s difficult to choose a winner in this category. DoorDash just about comes out on top thanks to its simpler pricing structure.


Both Instacart and DoorDash cover thousands of cities in the United States and Canada, with DoorDash also offering services in Japan and Australia. All told, DoorDash currently operates in over 7,000 cities. Instacart is a little more reticent with its coverage areas. However, you can use the Instacart website’s “Locations” page to see if your city is covered.

With both offering nationwide coverage and serving Canadian citizens, DoorDash and Instacart are almost neck-and-neck in this category. However, DoorDash clinches it because it has expanded into countries that Instacart doesn’t currently serve.

Instacart vs. DoorDash – the Consumer Results

Both Instacart and DoorDash offer fast delivery, reasonable fees, and a wide range of food options. They’re also both expanding companies that already cover much of the United States and large swathes of Canada. Ultimately, there is little to separate the companies based on the quality of their service.

Your choice instead comes down to the type of food delivery you’re looking for. If you want to order pre-cooked, restaurant-quality meals, DoorDash is the service for you. However, those who want their groceries delivered, alongside a range of other items, will find that they need with Instacart.

Instacart vs. DoorDash for Drivers

Both Instacart and DoorDash use freelance delivery drivers, taking advantage of the “gig economy” in the process. Potential drivers will want to know which of the two does the best job of protecting them as they work and, crucially, which service will allow them to generate the most income.

The article will now examine which service is best for delivery drivers.

Getting Hired

Both DoorDash and Instacart offer security features designed to protect drivers and customers. They screen their drivers by conducting background checks before hiring. Both also have a detailed set of requirements a driver must meet before working for the service.

The requirements for DoorDash are:

  • Drivers must be at least 18.
  • Drivers must own a car or scooter. Some drivers may also be able to use bicycles in select cities.
  • Drivers must provide their social security and driver’s license numbers.
  • The driver must consent to a background check.

For Instacart:

  • The driver must be at least 18.
  • Drivers must be eligible to work in the United States.
  • Successful applicants need to be able to lift 50 pounds without additional accommodations.
  • The driver needs consistent access to a vehicle.
  • The driver must own a recent smartphone. Currently, Instacart specifies a minimum of an Android 5.0 or iPhone 6s.
  • The driver must consent to a background check.

So, the process for getting hired for each service is fairly similar, leaving little to choose between the two.


With Instacart, you have the option of being a full-service or in-store shopper.

Full-service shoppers gather user orders from stores and deliver them. They keep 100% of the tips given to them by users and earn a set amount based on the size of each order. This can equate to an average hourly rate of between $11 to $25. You are also classed as an independent contractor with this option, meaning you can set your own hours.

As an in-store shopper, you earn an hourly wage, which is determined following your application and outlined in the offer letter you receive from Instacart. You work contracted shifts up to a maximum of 29 hours per week, with little flexibility.

On the other hand, DoorDash drivers receive a base payment calculated using several order factors. These include the cost of the order, travel distance and time, and how desirable the order may be to a driver. Furthermore, DoorDash drivers also keep 100% of their tips. Generally speaking, hourly pay can range from $12 to $17, and all DoorDash drivers are treated as independent contractors.

DoorDash operates Peak Pay hours, during which drivers can earn more money per delivery. The service also has “Challenges” that allow drivers to earn extra money for hitting milestones, such as completing a set number of deliveries per week.

Both services allow drivers to cash out daily and offer similar payment structures. However, DoorDash appears to offer a more stable hourly income, with Instacart providing the potential for higher income with more complex orders.

The Driver Rating Systems

Both Instacart and DoorDash provide users with the ability to rate their drivers.

Instacart allows users to rate drivers on a five-star scale. The rating a driver sees is the average of their most recent 100 deliveries. The closer your average rating is to five stars, the more likely you will receive desirable batch requests first. Unfortunately, having a lower rating limits the batch requests a driver receives, resulting in them making less money.

DoorDash operates a similar 5-point rating system, with the drivers rating also being the average of their 100 most recent deliveries. However, having a lower rating has less impact on the number of delivery requests a driver receives, providing them with ample opportunities to boost their ratings. Drivers who consistently achieve high ratings are also invited to the “Top Dasher Program,” giving them priority access to orders during slow periods.

Instacart vs. DoorDash – the Driver Results

With both services having similar hiring requirements, drivers should have no issues working for either as long as they’re of age, have suitable transportation, and pass a background check.

DoorDash appears to offer more stable pay. Its rating system also has less of an impact on how much a driver may earn. However, Instacart rewards its highest-rated drivers with more desirable orders, allowing them to make more money than they may make with DoorDash.

Now, we’d like to hear from you. As a consumer or driver for either service, are there any experiences you’d like to share? Do you think DoorDash or Instacart could make any improvements to their services? Let us know below.

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