Last Updated on April 9, 2022
Rachael also contributed to this post.
In 2018, Aldi announced that it was bringing Instacart grocery delivery nationwide across the United States, following a pilot year in various test markets. Since then, it has gradually rolled out the program, finally landing in our Midwest neck of the woods just a few weeks ago.
We figure Aldi shoppers are bound to wonder what it’s like to purchase Aldi products through Instacart. Most have probably not used grocery delivery services before, and may wonder what to expect. What is Instacart, exactly? How easy is it to use? How much does Aldi delivery cost? What form of payment will Instacart take?
We put the delivery service through the paces, and we have your answers.
The Instacart Website Experience
Instacart is a grocery delivery company that contracts with retailers, including supermarkets, pharmacies, and big box stores. Aldi is one of several establishments that Instacart delivers for in our area, including Sam’s Club, CVS, and a regional grocery chain. You can access Instacart through the Instacart website or the Instacart app on your iPhone or Android device.
We noticed a few things about how Instacart works with Aldi.
One, Instacart does not appear to list the entire store inventory. While Instacart has most of the Regular Buy offerings, we didn’t spot any Aldi Finds (Special Buys) or Seasonal Favorites. That means that, for example, we weren’t able to find the Serra Ladies 2 Piece Thermal Sleepwear Set in that week’s ad, or score the Seasonal Favorite Bake House Creations Pie Crusts.
Two, there are a few coupons for national brands sold at Aldi. This is a pretty significant difference from the in-store experience, as Aldi doesn’t take coupons. These coupons are digital in nature, and the ones we saw required buying more than one of a product. There weren’t a lot of coupons, but it was something that caught our eye.
Three, products can be customized to offer “replacement options.” If the Instacart shopper can’t find what you’re looking for, you can customize your list so that the shopper will look for a similar alternative and / or offer you a refund.
Four, you can customize the delivery window. Instacart lets you choose the time your groceries arrive, even a fair distance into the future. More on this below.
Five, there is an “Express” Membership. This membership, in our area at least, has free delivery and $3 instant cash back on all same-day orders. At the time of this post, the price ran $99 a year. Fair warning: expect a lot of suggestive sell for Express membership throughout the online transaction, and even afterward, as Instacart really wants you to sign up for this. We were invited to join during the checkout process and right after the checkout process (with the lure of a credit), to say nothing of the steady diet of emails we’ve received.
Instacart Payment Options
Instacart accepts several forms of payment, including most major credit cards and debit cards. Instacart also accepts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) debit card in select places.
On the other hand, Instacart does not accept cash or checks. Instacart also does not accept Aldi gift cards, although it does accept Instacart gift cards.
A big reason for shopping at Aldi is the low prices, but shopping at Aldi through Instacart introduces a number of additional costs. They include:
Potentially higher product prices. Many products are priced a little higher than we see in store, although not all. We noticed a difference between what we pay in-store for a product. For example, we paid $2.79 for Happy Farms String Cheese at the store, but on Instacart it was $3.09. In other cases, the cost was smaller — eggs were only a difference of 4 cents a dozen — while in still other cases, like shredded mozzarella, the prices were identical. So it varies.
A delivery fee. Delivery fees can vary depending on 1) the time of day, 2) whether it’s a busy time (i.e. Saturday morning), and 3) how much you spend. In our area, fees go down considerably when the purchase is $35 or more; whereas a $10 purchase can run a delivery fee of $7.99 or higher, a purchase of $35 or more is as low as $1.99.
A service fee. This was a flat fee on our bill. According to Instacart, “this fee helps support the Instacart platform and covers a broad range of operating costs including insurance, background checks, and customer support.” At one time in the past this fee could be waived, but as of summer 2018 it is mandatory. According to Instacart, the fee is fixed at 5% of the order, with a minimum fee of $2. Be aware that Instacart also imposes a separate fee for alcohol.
Driver tip. You can pay through the credit card and either choose a percentage or specify a dollar amount. According to the site, “100% of tips go to your delivery person, tips are always optional, and you can change your tip after your delivery.” The default tip is, like the delivery fee, 5% or a minimum of $2. (We upped it to 15%.)
A “bag fee.” According to the website, “a bag fee may be added to your final total if required by law or the retailer. The fee will be visible on your receipt after delivery.” Because Aldi doesn’t give bags away for free, on our order of 10 items, we paid a 14-cent bag fee.
Sales tax. For most people this is not a surprise, since it’s something you’d have in-store, too, but it’s still probably worth mentioning, especially since higher prices mean slightly higher sales tax. On a related note, we didn’t see any way to claim tax-exempt status, something tax-exempt entities like churches and charities should be aware of.
To put the various fees in context, here is our total bill. Note that our item subtotal was less than $35 but we still had a lower $1.99 delivery fee; this was because the shopper reported she could not find one of the products. (More on this below.)
|Checkout Bag Tax or Fee||$0.14|
The discount you see, by the way, was the promo code ALDILOVE, which at the time let us get $10 off our first three orders. The catch: the promo code expires (at least in our case) for our remaining two orders in less than a month, so beyond that we’d pay full price.
The Instacart Delivery Experience
On the morning of our scheduled delivery, we received a text to let us know when one of Instacart’s personal shoppers started shopping, and it stated we would be notified if there were any changes to our order. We were also told our perishables would be temperature controlled while in-store and carefully handled by our driver until delivery.
We got a text a short while later informing us that the SimplyNature Organic Cage Free Brown Eggs we wanted were not available at our Aldi store, and we were asked to approve a refund on our account for the eggs.
Soon after that, we received another text saying: “Instacart is on the way!” It gave us an estimated delivery time of about 10 minutes from that point.
Our personal shopper pulled into our driveway just 2 or 3 minutes after that. She was a young woman in an SUV, dressed in a coat and earmuffs for our cold Midwestern Decembers. She came to our door with two of Aldi’s plastic shopping bags in her hands, and she noted that our eggs were in a specific bag. We thanked her, wished her a nice day, and she returned to her car. Then we went inside to check out our groceries.
Everything was there that we had ordered, minus the Organic Cage Free Brown Eggs, which we already knew about. The ice cream sandwiches we ordered were still suitably frozen (something we had wondered about). We put everything away and thought all was good.
Then, about 45 minutes after delivery, we realized we had forgotten to check the condition of the other eggs we ordered — the Goldhen Cage Free Large Eggs. Normally, we automatically check for cracked eggs when we pull a carton off the shelf in the store. (When groceries are delivered, we may not remember to check the eggs right away.) We pulled the eggs back out of the fridge, and there was a crack in one. To be fair, it was on the bottom of the egg, and we might have missed it ourselves if we were doing the shopping.
We received a final text shortly after delivery thanking us for using Instacart. It gave a link where we could view order changes and leave feedback. We clicked the link, gave our shopper a favorable review based on a five-star system, and then reported that we had a problem. It asked the nature of the problem — options included missing items, damaged items, wrong item, poor service, other, or no problem.
We selected damaged item and were prompted to select the product in question from a menu. Then we selected the problem from another menu — options included poor quality, damaged packaging, item expired, or item not properly temp controlled. There also was a space — although it was easy to miss — where we could write exactly what the problem was.
Instacart then asked what we wanted to do. Options were 1) nothing, 2) receive a credit, or 3) have someone contact us. We opted to receive a credit, which ended up being for the entire $2.29 cost of the eggs.
The key word here, though, is credit. It’s not a refund, but a dollar amount that can be applied to our next Instacart purchase. We figure the point of giving a credit rather than a refund is to help discourage fraud, but it also creates a potential dilemma. In order to redeem the credit, we have to make another Instacart purchase, which means spending another $35 (plus fees) on the site. We’re not sure if we’ll use Instacart again, so we may never put the credit to use. The credit, we noticed, expires one year from the date of issue.
Alternatively, if we wanted our money back but didn’t want it in the form of Instacart credit, Aldi states on its website that Instacart purchases are covered by the same guarantees that in-store purchases are, so if we wanted to, we could have taken the eggs back for a refund and / or replacement. Having to go to the store to fix a problem kind of misses the point of grocery delivery, though.
There are some things to like about the Aldi Instacart option. It’s fast, it’s convenient, and in a pinch it could really be helpful for someone who needs some items but lacks the time or ability to go out and get them. We could especially see this being valuable for people who are disabled or sick, or for young moms who don’t want to take their newborns or young children into a crowded store, or just for people who are in a busy or difficult season of life.
On the other hand, the cost of personal shopping through Instacart is higher than if you’d go into the store to do it yourself. It’s a a not-insignificant price difference. That’s not a surprise, since you’re paying for a real person to go and shop for you, but there are a number of additional costs, including price differences and a number of fees that can really add up. What’s more, you need to spend at least $35 to keep the delivery fee down, so small purchases aren’t really cost-effective unless it’s a big emergency. The fees, in particular, might be a hang-up for Aldi customers, who by nature shop for the low prices.
Also, Instacart will keep trying to get you to sign up for the Express membership, which can get annoying pretty quickly if you’re not interested.
That all said, if you do find yourself having to use Instacart, Aldi does have one useful quality: we found that, on balance, it had some of the cheapest product prices in our Instacart area, since other grocers have similar price markups and fees. If you have to use Instacart, going the Aldi route is not a bad idea.
However, if keeping costs down is your primary concern, going to the store yourself is undeniably the better option. That, or going with Aldi’s curbside pickup, which is a little cheaper.
Excellent review! I especially appreciate your covering the fees and what happens if you receive a damaged item. The lack of being able to get a refund like you did for the Organic Cage Free brown eggs for a damaged item is a big minus for me. You covered things I never thought of,too. Thanks!
Check to make sure you didn’t authorize a contract to begin by using their service – it’s in the fine print and trying to get a refund when they auto bill you is horrible
Because last month Instacart decided its shoppers were not important to the success of the company and started paying them less than minimum wage to shop for you. Most experienced shoppers had to find new jobs so all that’s left are new people who won’t last more than a month and desperate people who have to have the flex hours. Here’s what they now pay someone for an hour and a half’s labor plus shoppers use their own car and gas.
If your shopper says they’re happy with what they are paid, ask them how long they’ve been a shopper and I’ll bet the answer will be about 3 to 4 weeks. They don’t realize what their in for right away!
I ordered from Aldi via Instacart 1 day prior to my actual delivery date. Requested 6-7pm delivery time (I work full time). 7:15 rolls along I’m starting to get nervous because driver was still not at my home. Checked in on my emails and an email indicates my order was delivered at 5:46pm…like wait what!? I didn’t receive it so who did? Called instacart explaining my anger over this delivery I did not get. After being put on hold they attempted to communicate with my ‘shopper/driver’ whom did not answer his phone. They come back on the line saying sorry for the inconvenience but that they did not have an answer as to what really happened to my food delivery. They offered me a credit, refund, or reschedule date. Of course I opted for a FULL refund. I’m a working mom who went insane at the thought of receiving my groceries right at my doorstep. Boy was I wrong! I will never go the Aldi Instacart way again mind you I am a weekly Aldi shopper so I already knew everything that I wanted. What a shame I was very excited to have this option. By the way I never received a follow up as to what exactly happened to my order or who even received it. Instacart for Aldi gets 0 points in my book.
Same thing happened to me. I had to call the credit card company to get it straightened out. I have been an Aldi shopper for over 25 years. Love Aldi, hate Instacart. No more Aldi because of the Virus, thought I had the answer to shop my favorite store. Hello Wal Mart.
I totally agree . INSTART RUINING ALDI NAME. I LOVE ALDI.BUT I WILL NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH INSTARIPOFF.
Ur forgetting the cost of operating your vehicle wherein you overall save a lot of money with instacart. And that’s not to mention the time for time is money.
There’s no question there is a trade-off. Whether you save a lot of money depends on your car and the distance. For me, living a few miles away from Aldi with a car with good gas mileage, even calculating using the federal mileage rate I’d come out behind with Instacart. You’re really buying time with the service — it’s up to customers to decide if that time is worth it.
Just pray you don’t have a billing issue – trying to get help is an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and by using a coupon from them, you could be signing up for a contract you aren’t even aware of – be careful!
Also, travel time, personal risk of being exposed to germs and the lower cost of items over other grocery stores. For instance Aldis Chocolate Bundt cake is almost two dollars less than my alternative
Food Store. I usually save $5 to $10 Shopping Aldis
Milk, eggs, cheese and produce.
I love instacart, but regardless of which store I choose there is always items wanted that either aren’t available or won’t show in a search. I hate sending a large order and then a necessary item not being included. Do I wa my to do another order to get my tomatoes or coffee creamer? Even if shopper calls to let me know, it doesn’t help. Sooo, without transportation I’m stuck. One time two stores had no bottled water! If the store is expecting a delivery of my desperately needed item ( could offer a “special item” category) and msg to delay shopping until item is available. The text to shopper is seldom used and not very useful. One other thing is the brand name items taking over so generics or store brands aren’t offered. Older, people without help are being short changed because of these things. Thanks for listening.
I’ve been an Aldi shopper for years. First use of Instacart today and it was very good. Total cost, including a 15% tip was still 10% less than ShopRite. I liked the ability to specify out-of-stock action and notes per item for the shopper. When shopping in store out of stock is often an issue so no biggie. I give two thumbs up.
Had first delivery thru Instacart today (from ALDI, of course). The Delivery Fee $3.99 and Service Fee $4.06 amounted to just shy of 10% of my pre-tax total. Ouch, yes — but that’s less than the flat $9.95 deliver fee Kroger charges. Of course, I also paid sales tax, tip, and a whopping $0.35 for ALDI bags, lol. That’s less per bag than I’ve paid in store, so either ALDI dropped the price or my shopper didn’t count all the bags my order took. All in all, not a bad experience … but I will be thankful when I can get back to shopping for myself instead of paying for delivery.
Thanks for your website, btw. Your reviews are quite helpful. Hope you guys are all staying home, safe, and healthy!
Replying to my own comment to add:
I did have one missing item and was given the option of requesting a refund. That part is good. But then I received an email stating a credit was applied but they can “remove the credit and start the refund process [but it can] take 5-10 business days, depending on your bank.” That’s a bit annoying. I replied to the email and requested the refund I asked for when I reported the missing item.
Hopefully, this was just a glitch, and not a deliberate attempt to push/trick people into accepting credits instead of refunds.
The problem isn’t the shopper or the ap – the problems will become evident if you have a billing issue and try to get it taken care of – you’d better check your bank statement carefully and you also need to opt out of the contract you may have entered without knowing it when you use their service!
Instacart replied very quickly via email and confirmed that they replaced the credit with a refund for my missing item. I always keep an eye on my accounts to make sure things go through properly.
I’ve received the refund, so that’s done. Considering that the grocery delivery business is still in its infancy and the pandemic has caused a huge leap in orders, I’m fine with how things played out on this order. A couple minor glitches, corrected quickly.
Aldi charges for what you order online. ‘what is delivered is less because of out of stock items etc. But they do not reduce amt charged and there is no auto credit given. It has been three wks and I’m still trying to get a credit. After numerous emails, (youcan’t call them because there is no contact ph number) I’m still trying to get this fixed.
I’m older and no longer drive or own a car so Instacart is a lifesaver for me. I’ve placed 165 orders over the past 2.5 years. There have been a few minor glitches along the way, but I put up with them since this is my best option for buying food. Instacart has always made things right when I contact them about a problem.
If you just started using Instacart since the pandemic, I would just want to let you know that things run much smoother during non-pandemic times.
INSTACART is simply the worst company…
INSTACART is simply the worst company I’ve ever dealt with. The overcharged and double billed me…twice. Then they refused to do the work to fix the issue…they expect you the customer to do the leg work. I had even emailed them the receipts for them to see it was their error. They refused to even do the work of comparing the receipts…they told me I had to do that for them. Then they intentionally took weeks replying to requests for assistance…then when they finally saw that they had made the errors in billing…said I had taken too long in requesting the refund…so they wouldn’t refund my credit card…they would only refund my Instacart account to put it towards my next purchase. I explained to them that the inital request was within 2 weeks of the purchase, but their customer service agents intentionally kept ignoring my email requests for help on the matter. THEY SLOW WALKED resolution to my problem ON PURPOSE to hold MY MONEY HOSTAGE to make me buy again. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING THROUGH INSTACART! Also..they have no phone customer support so you are held hostage to their company policy of evading the customer and issuing refunds. This is their policy…not an accident. I sent daily email requests during those 2 weeks which they willfuly ignored. I will NEVER USE INSTACART AGAIN!
I see good and bad opinions here. I can say for me it has been rather average. I love not having to drive 20 minutes out of my way and having this option can be beneficial. The only complaint that I have is everything always arrives late. I schedule for a time and get notified sorry your order will be there 1-2 hours later than I had originally scheduled it for. Most of the time its not a big deal but every time I make a purchase gets rather frustrating. I do agree prices are different and believe it goes off the company standard prices vs the deals you may get in-store.
My conclusion to this is I give it 3/5 stars.