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5 Instacart Hidden Fees That Are Upping Your Bill

Instacart's convenience comes with some sneaky fees. Learn what they are so you can avoid them.

Jared DiPane Writer
Jared DiPane is a writer on CNET's Commerce Team specializing in finding the best deals and tips on how to maximize your money. With over 10 years of experience, he's managed commerce content and initiatives for Digital Trends, Mobile Nations, & Future PLC. When not deal hunting, he's likely spending time with his family, building something or researching his next big purchase.
Expertise Deals and Shopping Tips
Jared DiPane
3 min read

It's never been easier to place an order online and have it delivered in as little as an hour with services like Instacart. The Instacart app offers a wide variety of options, from having someone grocery shop for you to delivering the whole order right to your front door. Convenience is the name of Instacart's game, but that convenience comes with a price tag -- one that can get bumped up by hidden fees.

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We've gotten used to paying a little more to get things quicker or have them delivered, but Instacart has a bunch of extra fees that can add up fast if you aren't careful when shopping. Luckily, knowing about the fees is the first part of avoiding them. From heavy-item fees to service fees and even long-distance fees, there are a lot of ways Instacart can tack a few extra bucks onto your bill.

Don't worry, we'll guide you through the different fees and then you can try to avoid them -- or at least understand why you're paying them when you see them.

Instacart is far from the only company charging fees. You can avoid shipping fees, for instance, with these simple tricks. And for more savings, these browser extensions can help your money go further while you're shopping online. Plus, instead of getting groceries delivered, why not try one of our favorite meal kits instead? You can also get Costco groceries delivered, even without a membership.

Same-day orders fee: Delivery isn't always free

Though Instacart offers its Instacart Plus members free delivery on orders of $35 or more, there are times when you may be paying extra for having items delivered. Instacart has a $10 delivery minimum and charges $4 for same-day orders over $35 (for non-Plus members). 

Long-distance fee: How close is that grocery store to your house?

Depending how far the delivery driver has to go, you may see a long-distance service fee on your order. This applies to both Plus and non-Plus members and is typically applied to orders that are being delivered from 30 minutes or more away or have a route that requires the driver to go through a toll.

Priority fee: Your delivery window matters

If you select a "priority delivery window" during your checkout process, you may notice an additional fee as well. This applies to all customers, regardless of whether you're paying for the monthly Plus membership. The priority fee does allow you to select shorter delivery windows (usually within an hour) but can vary based on availability of shoppers in your area.

Instacart fees in the mobile app

Heavy items fee: Bulky orders will cost you more

Sure, it's convenient to have cases of water or multiple packs of soda delivered to your location, but only as long as you know you're going to be paying extra for that. The heavy item fee is separate from delivery and shipping fees and applies to orders that have an estimated weight of 50 pounds or more.

Instacart does notify you before placing the order that there will be a heavy items fee and even allows you to see which items are causing the fee and allow you to adjust the quantities to help lower or avoid the cost. You may notice that certain items are unavailable to order through Instacart because they are large or heavy.

Service fee: No, it's not the same as your shopper's tip

The one fee you're most likely to see on any order is the service fee, and that's because it can mean a number of different things. From an alcohol service fee to a pickup fee, Instacart has a bunch of cases in which it charges extra to help its platform and to cover some of its costs. It's important to note that these fees do not go to your shopper or delivery driver -- only the tips do.

Service fees can vary, according to Instacart, on a number of factors such as location and the number and types of items in your cart.

In some of these cases, being an Instacart Plus subscriber does help you pay reduced fees, but in many situations every one is paying the same. There are plenty of great Instacart perks to take advantage of, including the ability to have Costco delivered without even having a membership