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Why Was Your Instacart Application Waitlisted? And What To Do About It


If you recently applied to shop for Instacart and saw that your application was waitlisted, don’t be shocked. Instacart (and other gig work apps) have had to get creative with adding features like a waitlist to ensure they can manage the steady flow of incoming applicants without flooding the market with too many shoppers. 

Keep reading to learn more about what the Instacart waitlist really is and how you might be able to get off it sooner so you can start making money as an Instacart shopper. 

Table of Contents

What Is the Instacart Waitlist? ​

Instacart implemented the waitlist feature for prospective shoppers in response to the large number of shopper applications they receive. 

The number of Instacart shopper applications has ballooned in recent years due to many people seeking flexible gig work in today’s economy. 

To ensure that all markets are served with just the right amount of shoppers, Instacart created a waitlist to ensure that all shoppers have adequate opportunities for work. 

If you apply for Instacart and your application is waitlisted, that is most likely because you are looking to serve a busy market that already has more than enough shoppers. As shopper spots open, Instacart will bring in the shoppers on the waitlist for that region to fill the needed spots. 

How Long Is the Instacart Waitlist Usually?​

The Instacart waitlist will vary greatly depending on the region that you are serving. In busy city areas, some shoppers have reported waitlists of 6 months or more, whereas more rural areas may not have a waitlist at all. 

Instacart keeps an eye on shopping trends and adjusts the need for shoppers up and down depending on what they are seeing. 

They base the need for shoppers on the shopping trends they are seeing, so it depends greatly on how many people are using the app and how many shoppers are actively shopping in your area.  This ensures there are enough shoppers to serve the customers in your region. 

You should be prepared to be notified you are off the waitlist for Instacart at any time because it may be only a matter of a few days or weeks before you are called upon to get started. 

Can I Find Out How Long the Instacart Waitlist Is in My Region?

When you submit your Instacart shopper application, you won’t see any information about how long the waitlist is. If you are curious about how long you might be waiting and where you fall on the waitlist, you can reach out to Instacart customer service to find out more. 

Instacart customer service can usually pull up your application and review it with you over the phone or via email if you prefer. They can give you an idea of the current needs in your area, where you fall on the waitlist, and approximately how long you might have to wait before you can start shopping. 

How Can I Get off the Instacart Waitlist Faster?

There are no ways to skip the waitlist entirely, but there is a way to get creative and start shopping with Instacart faster. 

To get off the waitlist faster, you’ll need to find another region near you that is currently accepting shoppers even though your current one is not. Contact Instacart customer service and ask them to look up the zip codes surrounding your town to see if any of them are open. 

If another town near you doesn’t have a waitlist (or at least has a shorter waitlist), you can work with Instacart customer service to change your location to that zip code. Once that’s done, you can get to work right away! 

This method won’t work for everyone because some areas are fully saturated within a significant radius, or traveling outside of your zip code may not be an option for one reason or another. However, if you have the flexibility to change your location, it might get you approved by Instacart sooner. 

Is There a Way To Avoid the Instacart Waitlist?

Only regions that are currently experiencing a higher number of Instacart shoppers than there are Instacart customers will have a waitlist. 

You won’t know whether your area has a waitlist until you submit your shopper application. Depending on your location and the time of year when you apply, you might get approved right away without even having to deal with the waitlist. 

If you do see that your location and all other surrounding areas are on a waitlist for Instacart, there is no way to avoid it. It’s good practice to check in with Instacart customer service every few weeks or once per month to check the status of your application on the waitlist and get a sense of when you might be approved.

How Do I Know if My Area Has a Waitlist for Instacart?

There is no running list of what regions have Instacart waitlists because it is something that is always changing based on customer preferences and real-time shopping data. 

The only real way to know whether or not your area has a waitlist is to submit your Instacart shopper application. If there is a waitlist, you will be notified once your completed application is submitted. 

Also, if you have other friends that are working for Instacart they may be able to clue you in on the volume of orders or whether they had to be put on the waitlist before they started. 

What Should I Do for Work While I Am on the Instacart Waitlist?

If you are anxious to get some work even though Instacart was your first choice, you could consider applying to another gig work app for the time being.

Many Instacart shoppers also drive for DoorDash, Uber Eats, Shipt, or GrubHub as well. These are great options so that you can make sure you have a steady flow of work available to you. 

While you wait to get off the Instacart shopper waitlist, you might have better luck signing up with one of these other apps. Most of these apps can get you up and running within a few short days and you can start earning money on a flexible schedule. 

Once your Instacart shopper application is approved, you could consider working for both services for diversity or choose one that works better for your lifestyle. 

Final Thoughts

The Instacart waitlist can be very frustrating, especially when you just want to start working and making money right away. 

The waitlist is designed to make sure that all regions have enough shoppers to meet the current customer demand, so you never know when the needs will change. 

Prepare to be notified that you are off the waitlist and able to start shopping any day, but know that it could take weeks or months depending on where you live. Consider checking other local zip codes to see if they are accepting shoppers as a way to bypass the waitlist. 

If you don’t have other available regions near you, consider working for a different food delivery service app while you wait for Instacart to move your application forward. This is a great way to get started right away and create diversity in your gig work income as well.