Stuck On Instacart Waitlist? Here’s What I Know

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If you’re someone who enjoys shopping or are just exploring different ways to earn some extra money, Instacart could be a great option for you. However, after submitting your application, there’s a chance you might encounter a challenge – the waitlist.

You might be wondering, what does being on this waitlist mean for you? Is it worthwhile to wait, or should you explore other grocery delivery services?

Once you’ve applied to Instacart, there’s a possibility that you’ll find yourself on a waitlist.

This waitlist is essentially a line where you wait for the next available opportunity to work. During this time, you’re not able to start working immediately; instead, you have to wait for a notification informing you of an available spot. It might be tempting to withdraw your application and try a different service, but it’s important to remember that waitlists are common across various delivery and rideshare apps, particularly when a lot of people are looking for such jobs.

Not everyone who applies will experience the waitlist; it depends on factors like where you live and when you complete the signup process. If conditions are favorable, you might be able to start working without any delay.

Why Does This Waitlist Exist?

The reason behind Instacart’s waitlist is pretty straightforward – sometimes, there are more people wanting to work than there are customers needing the service. If the number of users in your area is low, there won’t be enough work available for everyone. It’s crucial to know that being on the waitlist doesn’t reflect negatively on you; it’s simply due to circumstances beyond your control.

When you land on this waitlist, you’ll receive a message informing you that there are “no spots available” at the moment, but not to worry – Instacart will keep you in the loop and “email you once this role becomes available.” It’s like waiting in a virtual line until there’s an opening for you.

Sometimes, people end up on this waitlist not because there are too many shoppers, but because Instacart services aren’t yet available in their postal or Zip code. If this is the case, patience is key – you’ll have to wait until Instacart rolls out their services to your area before you can join as a Shopper.

How Long Will You Wait?

The duration of the wait can vary.

In many cases, the wait isn’t too long – just a month or two. However, for some, it might stretch into months, sometimes a year+ from what I read, before they get their first opportunity to work. There’s no fixed time for how long you’ll be on the waitlist, which can understandably be a bit frustrating if you’re keen to start earning.

For example, while I was browsing some Reddit threads on the matter, here’s what I could find.

  • A user named Skrawberrycake stated they had been on the waitlist for years, prompting others to share similar stories. Mustbetangy commented that the increased number of shoppers since 2020 likely contributed to the prolonged waiting times.
  • Another user, myrecyclingacc, suggested checking that the background information page still indicates “In Progress” and that all information is accurate. They also shared a method of inquiring about the status of the background check by contacting customer support, which had helped them get through the waitlist in a college town after nearly a year.
  • Top-Issue7299 mentioned being stuck with the message “no positions available” without even being asked for a background check, while users frankie_a97 and call_me_whateva reported being on the waitlist for almost five years and three years, respectively. The latter also expressed frustration as their husband, who signed up much later, was onboarded swiftly despite living at the same address. Several users echoed the sentiment that there was little to be done but to wait patiently.
  • Mykirbyblue has been on the Instacart waiting list for over two years and is seeking assistance on resolving this issue. Despite receiving emails as if they were an active shopper, they are unable to access Shopper support due to not having an active Shopper account. Other users suggest various solutions such as contacting Instacart through Twitter, reapplying, or creating a new account with a different phone number.

Based on what I read, the average wait seemed to range anywhere from one to three months.  Remember, however, this is the average.

What Does the Waitlist Exist?

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, a considerable number of people across the United States have found themselves jobless, leading to an increased interest in grocery delivery jobs, like those offered by Instacart.

The relatively simple requirements to become an Instacart shopper—having a car, a recent smartphone, and passing a background check—make it an appealing option. Additionally, the flexibility to choose shifts makes it highly attractive, often resulting in Instacart having a surplus of workers.

Of course, because of this, there are more applicants, usually, as mentioned, more than the demand in your area.

How to Check Your Instacart Waitlist Status

Currently, there isn’t a way for you to check your exact position or status on the Instacart waitlist. Reaching out to Instacart’s customer service won’t yield any additional information, but I did read some reports that some people had luck doing this.  It doesn’t hurt to at least try as sometimes there may be a problem with your application.

However, a general rule of thumb is that the longer you’ve been waiting, the closer you likely are to securing a shift. So, if you’ve been on the waitlist for a while, it’s a good idea to stay alert for notifications on your device!

Can I Skip the Waitlist?

While there isn’t a direct way to bypass the Instacart waitlist, you can use some strategies to potentially access more shift opportunities.

One such method involves exploring zip codes near you. Try adjusting the zip code in your application to one that is within a reasonable driving distance, as this could unveil more available shifts. You can experiment with this approach using various zip codes, but remember to be practical about the distances you are willing to travel daily.

Is it Worth it?

The question of whether waiting on the Instacart waitlist is worthwhile can depend on several aspects.

If you’re considering Instacart as a secondary source of income, it could be a good fit, and having another primary income can make the wait more manageable. Once you begin receiving shifts, the earning potential is notable, with the average hourly rate for full-service drivers being over $15~ on average. However, in areas with particularly lengthy waitlists, the frequency of shifts might not meet expectations, which can be disheartening for some. In such cases, having patience and an alternate income source can make the wait more justifiable.

What I found is that if your area has a lot of demand, earning a decent amount is possible, sometimes up to $25+ per hour, however, if there’s not as much demand, you could be waiting in your car for some time to find a decent job.  Your results will vary, so it’s hard to say whether or not it’s worth it as your experience will be much different than mine.

Instacart Alternatives

I talked about this in my jobs like Instacart, but I felt I would mention these here as well.  If you’re on the waitlist, let it be known that there are other jobs to consider, including:

Shipt is one such alternative that has received better reviews than Instacart. By working for Shipt, you’ll be shopping for and delivering groceries to customers’ homes within a specified timeframe. Shipt not only offers a decent pay of around $16 to $22 an hour but also allows flexibility in scheduling, weekly payments, and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Many Shipt shoppers have spoken highly of the company on platforms like Indeed.

Another platform is DoorDash, where you deliver food from restaurants to people’s homes, differing from Shipt and Instacart’s grocery deliveries. DoorDash offers an average hourly pay of $16, operates in numerous locations, and allows you to choose your working hours. You also have the opportunity to increase your earnings through promotions and tips.

Uber Eats is also a popular alternative, allowing you to deliver restaurant meals to customers. Uber Eats offers a high earning potential, with drivers making up to $18 an hour on average. They facilitate fast payments, provide flexible working hours, and allow you to keep 100% of your tips.

Another versatile platform is TaskRabbit, which pays you to assist people with a variety of tasks and errands like furniture assembly, home repairs, cleaning, yard work, shopping, and delivery. This could be a great way to use your skills to earn some additional income.

Final Thoughts

Instacart offers a flexible way to earn additional income, and although encountering a waitlist might be initially discouraging, maintaining hope is key.

The growing demand for grocery delivery apps, spurred further by the Covid-19 pandemic, implies that the balance between drivers and customer needs in your area could change, creating more opportunities in the future. Balancing patience with practicality can help you decide whether Instacart is the right choice for you, especially as the demand for such services continues to rise.

Once you find yourself on the waitlist, patience is key, as Instacart will notify you as soon as a position becomes available. Unfortunately, there’s no method to expedite this process. Your options are to wait patiently for a notification indicating an open position or, if you feel the wait is not worthwhile, you have the freedom to cancel your application or move on.  It might also be worth exploring other grocery delivery or rideshare apps in your area, as they might have more immediate opportunities available.

That’s going to do it for now.

If you want to talk about your experience, you’re more than welcome to do so in the comments below.

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Tom Nathaniel

Hi! My name is Tom Nathaniel, and I created LushDollar to help share my honest thoughts on everything money. You won't find gimmicks here. It's the Internet's most honest money site after all. I graduated from Arizona State University, and I have worked in the finance industry since 2006, consulting with multiple Fortune 5000 companies.

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