Instacart Mastercard® Review: Possibly the Best Grocery Credit Card (with a Major Caveat)
Get a free year of Instacart+ and $100 Instacart credit upon approval. Terms apply.
Earn 5% cash back on Instacart app and Instacart.com purchases
No annual fee
- Get a free year of Instacart+ and a $100 Instacart credit automatically upon approval. Membership auto-renews. Terms apply.
- Earn 5% cash back on Instacart app and Instacart.com purchases
- Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through the Chase Travel Center, including flights, hotels and more
- Earn 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations and on select streaming services
- Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
- No annual card fee
Do you buy the bulk of your groceries through Instacart? If you’re silently nodding, then the Instacart Mastercard® is a no-brainer.
Instacart is a platform that allows you to buy groceries online — and you can shop at many non-grocery merchants, too (like Best Buy). The Instacart Mastercard® offers a fantastic 5% cash back on Instacart purchases. Per Balancing Everything, a family of two will most likely spend over $500 per month on groceries. Funneling those major monthly expenses through Instacart means you can rack up hundreds of dollars in cash back each year.
Major cash back potential aside, there are two other big (though temporary) incentives for opening the card:
- An automatic $100 Instacart credit
- One free year of Instacart+ membership (which gives you unlimited free delivery, 5% back on pickup orders, etc.)
But although the Instacart Mastercard® is ideal for Instacart power users, it’s not a great fit for anyone else. Other no annual fee credit cards offer more upside in many areas.
Pros & Cons
- High-value welcome offer — $100 Instacart credit *and* a free year of Instacart+ ($99 value).
- Huge cash back potential — 5% cash back is hard to beat, provided you buy most of your groceries through Instacart.
- No annual fee — If you start to drift away from using Instacart regularly, you can hold onto the card for free to benefit your credit score.
- Subpar return on most purchases outside Instacart — The cash back you’ll earn with this card is pretty average outside the 5% return you’ll get for Instacart groceries.
- Rewards can’t be redeemed for outsized value — This card earns pure cash back. You can’t convert your rewards into airline miles or hotel points (as you can with many other cash back credit cards) to receive greater value for your rewards.
- Welcome offer. $100 automatic Instacart credit after opening the card and complimentary 1-year Instacart+ membership.
- Cash back rates. Earns 1% to 5% cash back depending on what you buy.
- Insurance. Various coverages, such as baggage delay, purchase protection, and travel accident.
- World Elite Mastercard benefits. Includes concierge services and assorted money-saving offers.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- No annual fee.
The Instacart Mastercard® features one of the easiest sign-up bonuses that can be earned with a credit card. You’ll receive a $100 Instacart credit just for opening the card. There are no complicated terms and there’s no minimum spending requirement to fret over. When you go to your Instacart account, you’ll immediately see a $100 credit ready for use on your next order.
You’ll also get a free year of Instacart+ membership. That normally costs either $9.99 per month or a flat $99 per year. If you shop with Instacart regularly, you’re likely already paying for Instacart+. This card’s free year of Instacart+ will automatically renew annually once your current membership ends.
For example, if you’ve already paid for an annual membership, your free membership will begin whenever that annual subscription expires.
Earning Cash Back
This card earns cash back at the following rates:
- 5% on Instacart.com and Instacart app purchases.
- 5% on travel purchases through the Chase Travel Center (flights, hotels, etc.).
- 2% at restaurants, gas stations, and on many streaming services.
- 1% on all other purchases.
Some transactions through Instacart will not qualify for a 5% return. For example, buying Instacart gift cards won’t qualify. Also, any Instacart purchase with a location outside North America won’t receive a 5% bonus.
A 5% cash back rate is at the top of the market for no annual fee cash back credit cards. However, there are several competing cards that offer 5% cash back on a wider variety of purchases. And some other cards offer 2% cash back on all purchases (see ‘Instacart Mastercard® Compared’ below).
For the record, these are the streaming services that earn 2% back with the Instacart Mastercard®:
- Apple Music
- Apple TV
- Fubo TV
- HBO Max
- YouTube Premium
- YouTube TV
Redeeming Cash Back
You can redeem your cash back in a few different ways:
- Request a statement credit to your Instacart Mastercard®
- Request a direct deposit into your bank account
- Gift cards
- Instacart purchases (coming soon)
It’s worth noting that if you’re planning to redeem your cash back for a purchase (especially through Instacart), it’s better to simply use your card to make the purchase and then request a direct deposit or statement credit to offset the bill. That way you’ll still earn cash back for your transaction.
Card Fees and Interest Rates
The Instacart Mastercard® doesn’t charge an annual fee. That means there’s really nothing to lose by giving the card a shot (provided you use it responsibly). If you decide in a year that it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, you can cancel it — no harm done. Even better, you can keep the card open forever to help cultivate your length of credit history and keep your credit score strong. Just pull the card out of your sock drawer every six months or so and give it a swipe. That’ll ensure that Chase doesn’t arbitrarily close your card for lack of use.
This card also waives foreign transaction fees, meaning it’s a good card to spend with when you’re traveling abroad.
The Instacart Mastercard® does have one slight deficiency in an area where many of its competitors excel: You won’t get any special intro APR when you open the card. You’ll be subject to between 17.24% - 25.99% Variable APR, based on your creditworthiness.
You’ll also be charged up to $40 for late payments and return payments.
While the Instacart Mastercard® may keep its own fees to a minimum, the Instacart platform itself unfortunately hits members with loads of fees. Here are some to watch out for when using Instacart:
You’ll pay at least $3.99 for same-day orders over $35 — and more if you’ve requested things like one-hour delivery or delivery for shopping carts under $35.
If your shopping cart weighs above 50 pounds, you’ll be charged extra.
These fees vary substantially depending on what you buy. For example, alcohol has an extra service fee. Long-distance deliveries also incur an extra service fee.
If you need your order in a shorter delivery window (even less than 60 minutes in some cases!), you can select priority delivery. This starts at $2.
Instacart Shopper Tip
The real value-killer is in the tip you leave your delivery driver. If you’ve got a big order, this could easily translate to $20+.
You can avoid many of these fees by simply opting to pick up your order yourself — but some stores will hit you with a pickup fee.
You can benefit from the below coverages when you make a relevant purchase with the card.
Auto Rental Insurance
You’ll receive secondary coverage when you waive the rental agency’s collision damage waiver (CDW). Secondary coverage will insure the things that your primary provider (like your personal car insurance) doesn’t cover.
Baggage Delay Insurance
You’ll be reimbursed up to $100 per day (max three days) when your bag is delayed for more than six hours. That’s a great perk.
Travel Accident Insurance
When you buy transportation with a common carrier (airline, bus, etc.), you’re covered for up to $500,000 for accidental death or dismemberment.
Lost Luggage Insurance
You and your immediate family are covered for up to $3,000 in the event that your carry-on or checked luggage is lost or damaged by your airline, cruise ship, or other vessel.
120 days of coverage for theft of or damage to items you bought with your card, up to $500 per claim (max $50,000 per account).
Extended Warranty Protection
Adds another year to a purchased item’s manufacturer’s warranty (provided the original warranty lasts three years or less).
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
This isn’t really insurance coverage, but it’s good to have. You’ve got special access to a phone number that can put you in contact with legal and medical professionals if an emergency arises during your trip. You’ll still have to pay for the services you need.
Again, this isn’t insurance per se, but you can call a special number to receive roadside assistance in an emergency. You’ll have to pay for the services, but it’s nice in a pinch.
Instacart Mastercard® Compared
Chase Freedom FlexSM
- Annual fee: $0
- Welcome offer: $200 bonus after making $500 in purchases in the first three months after account opening.
- Cash back rates: 5% in rotating categories on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter; 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% at restaurants and on drugstore purchases; 1% on all other purchases.
- Standout feature: Convert cash back to Chase Ultimate Rewards® points if you also have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®; Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card; or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.
The Chase Freedom FlexSM is a no annual fee all-star thanks to its high earning rates and the potential to convert its cash back into Ultimate Rewards points. If you know how to maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, you can quite easily get over 2 cents per point from them — effectively doubling your return rate over simple cash back.
If your spending is evenly spread out across a bunch of different purchase categories, the Chase Freedom FlexSM and its rotating 5% rate might be a good fit for you. However, it can’t hold a candle to the Instacart Mastercard® when it comes to a consistent return on groceries. If Instacart groceries are usually your biggest monthly expense, go with the Instacart Mastercard®.
Citi® Double Cash Card
- Annual fee: $0
- Welcome offer: Limited time offer of$200 cash back after making $1,500 in purchases in the first six months of account opening.
- Cash back rates: 1% on purchases + 1% when you pay off your purchases
- Standout feature: Convert cash back into Citi ThankYou points if you also have the Citi Premier® or Citi Prestige® card.
The Citi® Double Cash Card is typically a great companion credit card, i.e., it’s perfect to get 2% cash back on purchases that fall outside the bonus cash back or rewards categories offered by your other credit cards.
True to form, it can be a great companion to the Instacart Mastercard®, as you could use it for all transactions except Instacart purchases and travel purchases through the Chase Travel Center, where the Instacart Mastercard® shines.
Apply for the Citi® Double Cash Card.
Who Should Apply for the Instacart Mastercard®?
If Instacart orders make up a big part of your total grocery expenditures — say, 50% or more — signing up for the Instacart Mastercard® is an easy and obvious choice. If you’re a regular Instacart user, you’ve already come to terms with its myriad fees and you’ve decided that those fees are worth the convenience the platform offers. Cash back earned by the Instacart Mastercard® can offset some of those biting fees.
But if you use Instacart sparingly (or not at all), there are far better no annual fee cash back cards for you than the Instacart Mastercard®.
Aside from its huge Instacart cash back rate, the Instacart Mastercard® also offers 5% on travel booked through the Chase Travel Center. But the Chase Freedom FlexSM does that, too — and in some circumstances its cash back can be converted for significantly more value.
The Instacart Mastercard® also offers 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and some streaming services. But the Citi® Double Cash Card effectively offers 2% on all purchases. And similar to the Chase Freedom FlexSM, its converted rewards have the potential to be worth significantly more.
How to Apply for the Instacart Mastercard®
You can head to the card’s application page and enter your personal information to get started.
I always recommend that you avoid opening rewards credit cards like this unless your credit score is at least 700. It’s certainly possible to be approved for the card with a lower score, but a score of 700 means that you’ve cared for your credit to a certain extent and you’re likely responsible enough to open a card with a high interest rate. Getting out of debt is not easy if you run up a balance on a card like this.
The Instacart Mastercard® is built to capture the lion’s share of your grocery shopping — as well as other retail purchases, such as Bed Bath & Beyond and Michaels. With a 5% return rate, it offers the biggest bang-for-buck possible at nearly every merchant on its platform.
If you’re using Instacart anyway, this card is an excellent way to slow the bleeding on those fees. It’s basically a necessity for an Instacart regular.