Instacart Mastercard review: A great fit for grocery delivery — if you can stomach service fees
It could offer great value if you’re already a big Instacart user, but may fall flat if you just want grocery rewards
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Fans of grocery delivery services may find a lot to love about the Instacart Mastercard®. Instacart’s first credit card has no annual fee and earns 5 percent cash back on Instacart purchases made with eligible retail brands on Instacart.com and the Instacart app. That should cover your groceries and many other everyday purchases, including purchases from eligible superstores and wholesale clubs — categories in which many of the best cash back cards fall short.
The card also offers elevated cash back rewards beyond Instacart, including on travel purchased through the Chase Travel Center portal, at gas stations and restaurants, as well as on select streaming services. When you add in a nice welcome offer, flexible redemption options, and a generous amount of consumer protections and additional benefits, this could be a great standalone card that covers the needs of many at-home-shopping fans looking for food delivery perks.
If you’re not a fan of Instacart and the convenience it and other delivery services provide, this card may not be the best fit. There are a number of rewards cards that offer better rewards on groceries, gas, restaurants and streaming services, and some even include Instacart as part of their grocery category. Plus, when you factor in the range of potential Instacart fees and the fact that retailers may charge higher prices on Instacart, this card could be a poor fit for people on a budget and rewards maximizers looking for the best value.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Doesn’t earn boosted rewards for regular grocery purchases outside of Instacart orders, which limits the card’s flexibility
- Boosted cash back rates for online and in-store grocery purchases don’t apply at retail locations not partnered with Instacart
- Instacart charges fees depending on what you buy, how much it weighs and where you buy it from
- Earns decent cash back for gas, restaurant and streaming services, but other cards earn higher rates of cash back
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 5 percent cash back on Instacart.com and Instacart app purchases with retail brands partnered with Instacart and Chase Travel Center purchases; 2 percent cash back at gas stations, restaurants and on select streaming services; 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: One year free of Instacart+ for new cardholders and the first 10,000 customers to sign-up and get approved for the card earn a $200 Instacart credit. All customers after the first 10,000 receive a $100 Instacart credit. Terms apply.
- Annual fee: None
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 16.49 percent to 25.24 percent
Current welcome offer
Chase and Instacart are offering new cardholders a free year of Instacart+ in addition to an up-to $200 Instacart credit. The first 10,000 applicants approved for the card will receive a $200 Instacart credit while all following applicants approved will receive a $100 Instacart credit. There is no spending requirement to receive this launch offer, you just need to be approved and open a card account.
The $200 credit is competitive with the welcome offers found with the best no-annual-fee cards, but even the $100 credit is still a great offer. You don’t have to spend anything to earn it, unlike other rewards cards that typically require you to spend $500 or more before rewarding you with a sign-up bonus. Plus, you get Instacart+ free for a year, which normally costs $99.99 annually or $9.99 monthly. So cardholders are looking at anywhere from $200 to $300 in value from the card’s launch offer with the credit and complimentary membership.
This could be an ideal way to try Instacart+ free for a year if you’re curious about the service. Or, if you’re an Instacart user, the credit and free membership are sure to bring added value alongside the card’s cash back rate.
The Chase Instacart Mastercard’s best standout feature is that it earns 5 percent cash back on Instacart app and Instacart.com purchases. This rate competes well with many of the best cash back credit cards, including the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Amazon Prime Visa Signature Rewards card***. These cards have boosted cash back rates in some overlapping categories with the Chase Instacart Mastercard, but the Instacart card could potentially be more rewarding because it earns a consistent 5 percent cash back at hundreds of retail brands including — but not exclusively — U.S. supermarkets.
You’ll also earn 5 percent cash back for purchases made using the Chase Travel Center, a rate comparable to the 5X points you’ll get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for purchases using the Ultimate Rewards Portal. The card also comes with 2 percent cash back for purchases in the categories of dining at restaurants, select streaming services and gas stations and 1 percent for all other purchases.
How you earn
The Chase Instacart Mastercard will earn a percentage of what you spend back as cash back and the rate is based on what you purchase. You’ll earn the card’s highest cash back rate for purchases made using Instacart or through the Chase Travel Center.
Although Instacart is probably most closely associated with online grocery shopping, it’s also partnered with popular retail chains and wholesale clubs that sell food, merchandise, home essentials and more. Cards with high cash back rates that include grocery purchases commonly don’t extend those rates at superstores with varied inventories like Walmart, Target and Costco. For the best cash back rates at these retailers you’ll often need to have the store’s co-branded card. The Chase Instacart Mastercard, however, earns 5 percent back on purchases made through Instacart at these locations along with about 700 other national, regional and local retail brands. This makes it one of the most flexible cash back cards available, but only if you make all of your purchases through Instacart.
The card’s rates don’t necessarily stand out from rates on other cash back cards in categories like groceries, gas and dining, but all of these everyday categories on a single card is a great benefit. Plus, Instacart purchases can include items in spending categories that don’t commonly earn 5 percent cash back on any card. Here is a brief list of categories available based on eligible retailers that could earn 5 percent cash back:
- Electronics and sporting goods
- Household essentials and furniture
- Office and pet supplies
- Alcohol and beverage stores
- Convenience stores
- Health and personal care
The full list of eligible retailers includes national retailers as well as local and regional stores you may be familiar with based on where you live. It’s among the most expansive list of retailers in a boosted category on a cash back credit card available. Although you’ll need to make your purchases using Instacart to take advantage of the 5 percent cash back rate, it may be worth it for a variety of shoppers, like those who already use Instacart, are too busy to run to the store or who want to earn cash back for purchases they wouldn’t earn rewards on if they shopped in-store with a different card.
How to redeem
Cardholders can redeem their credit card rewards for gift cards, travel through the Chase Travel Center, as a direct deposit, statement credit or to pay for all or part of an Instacart order online or in the app. No minimum rewards balance is required for direct deposits, statement credits or Instacart orders.
These are solid cash back redemption options, especially if you plan to really lean into the Instacart experience with this card. Without any minimums for redemptions, cardholders will be able to access their cash back at a moment’s notice if and when they need it or to further mitigate the cost of their Instacart order.
How much are the rewards worth?
The best way to use your points will be for direct deposits, statement credits, to cover in-app purchases or for travel. Your cash back is awarded as points that carry a value of $0.01 per point when redeemed these ways.
This is on par with the redemption value of other cash back cards, but there are redemption options that could make your points worth less than 1 cent each. For instance, if you use points for purchases through third-party retailers directly, Chase states they might be worth less than if you redeemed for cash or travel.
Other cardholder perks
On top of the rewards and welcome offer, cardholders can take advantage of a number of additional perks like a free year of Instacart+, Mastercard World Elite benefits and a host of travel perks that add to this card’s versatility.
This service is included free for the first year but will cost $9.99 per month or $99.99 annually after, and you’ll definitely want to sign-up if you want to really maximize what your Instacart card can do for you. Not only does Instacart+ pay for itself with its unlimited free delivery perk after just 25 deliveries (priced normally at $3.99), but it also includes exclusive offers, lower service fees and the potential to share your benefits with family members. If you order Instacart purchases to be delivered just once a week as a non-member, you’re looking at spending roughly $208 per year in delivery fees. Instacart+ eliminates that cost as long as you spend over $35 each delivery.
This membership also includes a 5 percent credit back on Instacart pickup orders from participating retailers (excludes alcohol, prescription drugs and any item over $150). Although some retailers charge pickup fees, you’ll avoid the service fee altogether and can opt to shop only at retailers that don’t charge pickup fees.
Travel and shopping protections
The Chase Instacart card comes with an impressive list of travel and purchase protections, like travel accident insurance and emergency assistant services, baggage delay insurance, purchase protection, lost luggage reimbursement, roadside assistance, extended warranty protection and no foreign transaction fees. It’s a rare treat to find so many protections in one no-annual-fee card. These benefits bring a lot of value to your Instacart Mastercard, especially the travel insurance perks if you plan to use the card for travel purchases in the Chase Travel Center and bring it abroad with you.
World Elite Mastercard benefits
The Instacart card also comes with a number of perks from Mastercard’s top-of-the-line World Elite benefits. This includes complimentary 24/7 concierge services, access to Mastercard Priceless® Experiences and exclusive offers from well-known brands for ride-sharing and online shopping.
Rates and fees
The Instacart Mastercard doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees and carries a variable APR rate of 16.49 percent to 25.24 percent, which is pretty standard for a cash back credit card.
The card doesn’t offer an introductory APR, but should you decide to transfer a balance anyway, there’s a balance transfer fee of 5 percent or $5 (whichever is greater), which is higher than the fee you’ll find on many balance transfer credit cards. If you’re looking to save money by transferring debt to a card that doesn’t charge interest for a limited amount of time, you’ll save more money using a credit card that has an intro APR offer on balance transfers and only charges a 3 percent balance transfer fee.
This card also comes with a penalty APR of 29.99 percent variable. If you make one or more late payments, you’ll get stuck with this penalty APR, and Chase states that this penalty rate could stay in effect indefinitely. This could make it harder to pay off debt, especially compared to credit cards that don’t charge a penalty APR.
On top of common credit card fees, there are also a number of Instacart fees to watch out for. After the free first-year offer, Instacart+ members will have to pay $99 per year or $9.99 per month.
If you use Instacart more than two times per month, you may want to take advantage of the perks found with Instacart+. Instacart charges non-Instacart+ members a $3.99 delivery fee ($10 order minimum for delivery) for all orders along with a 5 percent service charge. But with Instacart+, you eliminate the delivery fee for orders over $35 and get a lower service fee of 1.9 percent. With free deliveries and the reduced service fee, users with Instacart+ can offset the cost of membership with cash back rewards in roughly 13 deliveries that have a total purchase amount of roughly $1,620.
If you’re not a frequent Instacart user and want the most cash back possible, the Instacart card may not provide the best value. Instacart does not control the pricing of items you purchase on the Instacart platform and notes that prices may be different than in-store prices. So shoppers may be dealing with price mark-ups on some or all of the items they purchase.
In addition to these fees, Instacart also has situational fees based on what you buy including:
- Heavy fee
- Long distance service fees
- Alcohol service fees
- Priority fees
- Pickup fees (from certain retailers)
These fees could add up quickly. Even with the generous cash back rewards, shoppers who aren’t careful could end up paying a lot more with the Instacart card than they would in-store.
How the Instacart Mastercard compares to other rewards cards
The Instacart Mastercard comes with a solid cash back rate and brings a ton of value to an already convenient service. However, the card is best used with an Instacart+ membership if you want to truly maximize your cash back rewards. Those who already use Instacart and plan to continue can definitely benefit from this card whether you’re an Instacart+ member or not, but if you’re on the fence, here’s how it stacks up against some competitors.
Instacart Mastercard vs. the Blue Cash Preferred® card from American Express
Compared with the Blue Cash Preferred card, the Instacart Mastercard earns slightly less for U.S. supermarket purchases, but Instacart’s varied retail offerings can enable a general spender to earn more cash back in areas where the Blue Cash Preferred doesn’t, like for electronics, at wholesale clubs, on office supplies and purchases made at pharmacies. The chart below uses average consumer spending for key categories and compares the Instacart Mastercard with and without an Instacart+ membership and the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express. This chart does not account for welcome offers or launch offers available on either cards, but compares the ongoing value of both cards after the first year.
|Category||Instacart Mastercard||Instacart Mastercard with Instacart+||Blue Cash Preferred from American Express|
|U.S. supermarkets||$4,942 x 0.05 = $241.70 back||$4,942 x 0.05 = $241.70 back||$4,942 x 0.06 = $296.52 back|
|Personal care||$646 x 0.05 = $32.30 back||$646 x 0.05 = $32.30 back||$646 x 0.01 = $6.46 back|
|Dining||$2,375 x 0.02 = $47.50 back||$2,375 x 0.02 = $47.50 back||$2,375 x 0.01 = $23.75 back|
|U.S. gas stations||$1,568 x 0.02 = $31.36 back||$1,568 x 0.02 = $31.36 back||$1,568 x 0.03 = $47.04 back|
|Household furnishing / electronics retailers||$2,346 x 0.05 = $117.30 back||$2,346 x 0.05 = $117.30 back||$2,346 x 0.01 = $23.46 back|
|Annual fees / membership charges||$207.48 in delivery charges*, $593.85 in service charges**||$0 delivery charges on orders over $35; $99 annual membership fee; $225.66 in service charges**||$95 annual fee|
As you see, the Blue Cash Preferred more than doubles the amount of cash back you can earn after accounting for fees and membership charges, but that’s thanks to its higher earning potential on purchases made at U.S.supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. If you spend less in these areas and more at retailers not covered by the Blue Cash Preferred card, you’d rake in more cash back with the Instacart Mastercard. Plus, if you value your time more than you do cash back, then you might prefer the Instacart Mastercard with Instacart+ because it will save you trips to the store each week while also putting cash back into your pocket. Not only will this give you more flexibility throughout the day, but it may also curb how much you spend on gas.
*Assumes delivery once per week for 52 weeks at $3.99/delivery.
**Service charges on average start at 5 percent for non-Instacart+ members and 1.9 percent for members and don’t include alcohol service charges, heavy fees, priority fees or long-distance fees.
Instacart Mastercard vs. Amazon Prime Visa Signature Rewards card
Another card from Chase, the Amazon Prime Visa Signature Rewards card, is an obvious competitor to the Instacart Mastercard because it comes with a comparable 5 percent back on purchases made on Amazon.com and at Whole Foods locations. It also comes with 2 percent cash back on gas stations and dining at restaurants, as well as 5 percent back on streaming via Amazon Prime Video Channels. However, deciding between these two cards will come down to your preferences around shopping rather than how they stack up against one another with cash back and perks.
While Amazon and Instacart are different services, a lot of the types of products sold at the 700 retail locations partnered with Instacart might be found on Amazon. Plus, those who shop at Whole Foods will earn 5 percent back at the grocery chain that Instacart members won’t. Whole Foods shoppers and Amazon customers might want to pass on the Instacart card, but it’s worth pointing out that if you’re an Amazon Prime member you’re spending roughly $120 each year for free 1- or 2-day shipping and the benefit of holding the Prime Visa Signature card. In some areas, certain retailers on Instacart may be quicker than Amazon if you pay the Priority Fee and opt for delivery windows that can be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. If you need your purchases quickly, Instacart could be the way to go; if you don’t mind a short wait and want to hand pick your produce from Whole Foods, then the Prime Visa Signature card is the right route.
Best cards to pair with this card
If you want to avoid annual fees, a great card to pair with the Chase Instacart Mastercard could be a custom category cash back card like the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. This card earns 5 percent cash back in your highest eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to $500 in purchases, then 1 percent back). This would be a great way to earn a high cash back rate in a category that doesn’t earn as much with the Instacart Card. For example, if you’d like to earn more than 2 percent cash back at gas stations, you’d use the Citi Custom Cash card to earn 5 percent cash back. Or use the Custom Cash Card to earn 5 percent back in categories not covered by the Instacart card, like select transit, fitness club memberships and live entertainment.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Instacart Mastercard worth it?
For cardholders who plan to continually subscribe to Instacart+ and make all of their purchases in the app or online with the service, the Instacart Mastercard can certainly be worth it. This is especially the case if you take advantage of the additional 5 percent credit back for pick up orders and only place orders over $35. Plus, the added convenience of having groceries delivered to your door cuts down on time spent running errands and the amount of gas you’ll use each year.
If you’re not interested in paying for Instacart+ or want to get the best value for your purchases, you’ll likely want to skip this card because there are cards that can be more rewarding after you consider Instacart’s many potential fees for the service. The Blue Cash Preferred Card is a great choice, but you could also earn more at U.S. supermarkets with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express if you shop in-store. Considering the average cardholder who isn’t an Instacart+ member will be paying a lot of fees in the app even when using the Chase Instacart card, a general cash back or rewards card can be a better choice.
Additionally, if you like to hand pick your produce from the store and physically inspect items you’re purchasing, then Instacart’s service might not be the best choice for you and you’ll want to avoid the Instacart Mastercard. Although it earns generously in the Chase Travel Center, has a few travel benefits and earns boosted rates for gas, dining and streaming services, other cards can be more rewarding for these categories.
***All information about the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.