11 Ways to Save on Instacart (from an Instacart Power User)

My initial perception of Instacart was that it was a “convenience premium” service. What exactly does that mean? Well, in the case of Instacart, you pay a premium for grocery items in exchange for the convenience of not having to drag yourself to, from, and throughout a grocery store – which takes time, effort, and willpower. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m not exactly a fan of paying premiums for convenience. However, what I’ve experienced with Instacart thus far is that while the convenience certainly is a big benefit, the cost premium for ordering on Instacart can often be minimized, wiped out entirely, or even inverted – allowing users to net save money on Instacart versus shopping in-store. So, after years of dabbling with Instacart, I’ve recently become a power user.

I wanted to share with readers what I’ve learned about how to save money on Instacart based on my personal experiences. In this article, I’ll highlight a number of Instacart promotions, discounts, partnerships, offers, and cost savings hacks that you can use to save money on Instacart orders. If I missed any, please share your tips in the comments.

save on Instacart

Get a New User Instacart Referral Bonus

For starters, if you’re new to Instacart, you can use my Instacart referral link to get a referral bonus for becoming a new Instacart user. Any Instacart user can refer new users for the bonus. It isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing!

Leverage Instacart+ Membership Cost Savings

Instacart+ is Instacart’s premium membership tier. It typically comes with a $99 annual membership fee, but offers the potential for significant per order savings for Instacart power users, primarily through 3 benefits:

  1. Unlimited free delivery on orders over $35
  2. 5% credit back on eligible pickup orders
  3. Lower service fees on every order

Instacart+ membership savings

It does seem like Instacart+ is a big cost saver if you want to use the app heavily. On average, I’ve saved $7.68 per order in lower service fees and free delivery with Instacart+ membership. At that rate, just 1 order per month would come close to break-even if you pay the full $99 annual membership price. You can get a 2-week free trial of Instacart+ to see what it might be able to save you, but that really isn’t long enough to get a read on the value, in my opinion. Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to get Instacart+ membership discounts beyond your free trial…

Get Instacart+ Membership Discounts

Instacart often offers discounted Instacart+ membership to customers who have an account but don’t have Instacart+ membership. Most commonly reported is a discounted $49 or $19 for annual membership (versus the standard $99) – but this can be hit or miss. This offer typically shows in the app in the left sidebar, periodically.

You can also a 2-month free trial and $20 off Instacart+ renewals with Costco membership after you link your Costco membership number in your Instacart account. You’ll find the following offer on the Instacart+ page after linking for renewing:Instacart+ membership discount

Use Chase Credit Card Instacart Offers

Chase is currently partnering with Instacart to offer free Instacart+ to certain cardholders, as well as monthly/quarterly statement credits. Just add your Chase card here. These offers must be redeemed by July 31, 2024:

Eligible Chase credit card:Statement Credits:Length of Instacart+ Membership:
J.P. Morgan Reserve$15/month12 months
Sapphire Reserve$15/month12 months
Sapphire Preferred$15/quarter6 months
Sapphire$15/quarter6 months
Freedom$10/quarter3 months
Freedom Unlimited$10/quarter3 months
Freedom Flex$10/quarter3 months
Freedom Student$10/quarter3 months
Freedom Rise$10/quarter3 months
SlateNone3 months
Slate EdgeNone3 months

It’s possible that these credits will be extended into the future. We’ll have to wait and see.

Use Chase Instacart Credit Card Perk Savings

I’d first take advantage of the free Instacart+ offer for the above Chase credit cards, if you have them. After those promos end, however, the Chase Instacart credit card might be worth a look. Instacart has partnered with Chase to offer the Chase Instacart Mastercard, which has a number of benefits for Instacart power users:

  • Free year of Instacart+ upon approval
  • $100 Instacart credit upon approval
  • 5% cash back on Instacart purchases
  • No annual fee

That effectively equals a $199 welcome bonus and 5% cash back on Instacart, with no annual fee – which isn’t bad. I’d really like to see them bump the free Instacart+ membership to indefinitely versus just the 1st year, and then this card would add a ton of ongoing value for users, while encouraging Instacart usage.

Chase Instacart Mastercard promo

Get Discounted Instacart Gift Cards

Discounted gift cards are probably the single biggest tool to save money on Instacart. A number of retailers periodically sell discounted Instacart gift cards from time-to-time. For example:

These discounts can stack nicely with other in-app promos, which results in some very nice savings. When these sales come around, stock up. If you can effectively get 20% off all Instacart orders by using discounted gift cards, you’re getting a great deal.

Discounted Instacart Gift Cards

Connect Retailer Loyalty Programs to your Instacart Account

A number of retailers allow you to connect your membership or loyalty rewards accounts in Instacart, which can result in lower prices and the same sales that are available in store, including Kroger, Sam’s Club, Costco, PetSmart, Petco, BJ’s Wholesale, and others. You’ll see the option to connect under the “Loyalty Cards” section of your Instacart account.

Check Instacart Promo Offers Frequently

Instacart frequently runs promotions with retailers that offer significant savings. Check the Instacart Offers tab for current promotions and discounts. For example, I’ve taken advantage of the following offers recently:

  • Costco: $20 off $50+ (I’ve used this 3 times in the last few months!)
  • Sam’s Club: $20 off $50+
  • BJ’s Wholesale: $15 off $30+
  • Total Wine: $20 off $50+
  • Walmart: $15 off $35+
  • Kroger: $15 off $35+

Instacart Offer Discounts

Take Note of Retailer Price Markups on Instacart

Note that individual retailer prices can vary in the Instacart app versus in-store, as there are often markups. And, some retailer prices are marked up more than others. On pricing, Instacart states,

Retailers set the item prices on the Instacart marketplace. While many retailers offer everyday store prices* on Instacart, some retailers may set prices on the Instacart platform that are different than in-store prices. 

My experience has found that the warehouse clubs (Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale) tend to have the highest price markups versus in store. This may be OK if there are store brand items that you value from that retailer and there is an retailer-specific Instacart promotion or you’ve been able to stock up on discounted Instacart gift cards or there are Instacart promos.

Update: I did an exhaustive Costco In-Store vs. Costco Same-Day vs. Costco on Instacart price comparison that Costco lovers might find enlightening.

A few retailers offer “in-store pricing“, which means that there is no markup on the prices you see in Instacart versus the prices you see in store. Unfortunately, the only national grocery chain that offers in-store pricing is Walmart at the moment.

Instacart In-Store Prices

Take Advantage of Instacart Coupons & Promo Code Discounts (when Available)

I’ve seen a few Instacart coupon or promo codes since I’ve become a user (e.g. Chase, PayPal, and Instacart directly) separate from store promos in the app. They are rarer than store promos, but they are out there.

Get the Instacart $2 Off 3-Hour Delivery Window Discount

If your schedule permits, you can choose a 3-hour delivery window to get an additional $2 off with each order. Again – every little bit helps. The option for this discount shows during the check out process.

Instacart 3-hour window discount

An Example of Instacart Savings in Action

Here’s an example of a recent order from Walmart (which offers no-markup in-store pricing) in action, to highlight the potential savings.

  • I ordered $36.80 in food
  • I saved $5.50 in fees with my free Instacart+ membership
  • I paid a $2.49 service fee and gave a $6 shopper tip (bringing my total order up to $45.29)
  • I got a $10 off $35 Instacart promo discount and $2 3-hour delivery window discount (bringing my total payment down to $33.29 – a 10.5% discount from the amount of food purchased)
  • I used my 20% discounted Instacart gift card to complete the purchase
  • In total, I paid $26.63 for $36.80 in food, for a 28% discount vs in-store (w/ delivery + tip included), excluding the 2% cash back I received for the purchase of the discounted gift card. That’s… great!

Instacart Savings

Even without the $10 off $35 promo, I would have paid $34.63 out of pocket for $36.80 in food for a 6% discount, including tip and delivery.

What are your favorite ways to save money on Instacart?

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