In this post, I’m going to discuss the Instacart benefits available to select Chase cardholders, with specific focus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. We’ll start with a basic FAQ about Instacart and the Chase partnership before covering how to sign up for the perks and how to make sure you’re getting maximum value out of the monthly Instacart credit. Read on to learn all about Instacart benefits on your Chase card!
Instacart Chase Partnership FAQ
Let’s start with some basic questions about this partnership. The official terms are here, and I recommend checking them out if you’d like to learn more.
What is Instacart?
Instacart is a grocery delivery / pickup service. It works similar to food delivery services like Grubhub and Uber Eats, except instead of ordering meals from restaurants you’re ordering groceries from stores. You can logon to the website and place an order from a local store. Instacart places the order with a shopper, who makes the purchases and delivers the order.
What is Instacart+?
Instacart+ is a paid membership program for Instacart. It includes benefits like free delivery on orders over $35, lower service fees, and premium delivery. An Instacart+ membership typically costs $99 per year, but certain Chase cardholders can get free trial memberships.
Which Chase cardholders get free Instacart+?
As of this update, free Instacart+ is available to the following Chase cardholders in the following amounts:
- 12 free months with Sapphire Reserve and J.P. Morgan Reserve
- 6 free months with Sapphire and Sapphire Preferred
- 3 free months with Freedom, Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited, Freedom Student, Slate and Slate Edge
There’s an “activate by” date associated with this perk, which was July 31, 2024 last I checked. This isn’t an annual benefit of the cards. It’s a one-time benefit, and your membership will automatically renew at the $99 annual rate once your free period is up.
Several of these cards, like the Freedom cards, have no annual fee.
Which Chase cardholders get a statement credit for Instacart?
As of this update, Chase cardholders get the following monthly statement credits for Instacart once they activate their Instacart+ memberships:
- $15/month for Sapphire Reserve and J.P. Morgan Reserve
- $15/quarter for Sapphire and Sapphire Preferred
- $10/quarter for Freedom, Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Student
The italicized language is important—you only get the statement credit once you’ve activated your complimentary Instacart+ membership. Based on my interpretation, this applies even if you already have an Instacart+ membership (in which case activating the Chase perk should pause your existing membership, essentially extending it for the duration of the Chase perk).
These credits are currently scheduled to be available through July 31, 2024.
You will continue to receive statement credit benefits regardless of whether you choose to renew your Instacart+ membership at the end of your complimentary period.
All of these details are important, because it means basically if you delay your Instacart+ signup, you’re just leaving $15 (ish, see below) on the table every month. Before I’d read this properly, I figured I’d just wait until it was convenient to go ahead and sign up for my free year. But unless the program gets extended (it might!), then a July 2024 signup would only get one $15 credit, even though they’d have a year of Instacart+ after that.
Conversely, by signing up in March 2023 I’ll get a year of Instacart+ and then $15 credits for 17 months (March 2023 through July 2024) even if I cancel my Instacart+ before the $99 fee hits in March 2024.
Signing Up for Instacart+ With Chase
I already had an Instacart account, so I logged in via the “Get Started” button on the dedicated Chase page. This took me to a page advertising the general terms of the partnership and asking me to enter my card info:
I entered my card information, and the page transformed to advertise the specific terms available to me as a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder:
After I clicked “Activate now,” my Instacart+ membership was officially active and reflected in my profile (and, more importantly, in the form of free delivery on orders of more than $35).
Using My $15 Monthly Instacart Credit
The first thing to remember about the credit is that you have to have activated your free Instacart+ membership in order to get the credit.
The Instacart credit is handled on Chase’s end as a statement credit that will post some days after your Instacart charge posts. This means you won’t see it automatically applied to your Instacart order. Instacart does, however, advertise that your perk is active during your order:
There isn’t much else to know about the credit. Once you place an Instacart order and charge it to your Chase Sapphire Reserve, the credit should post shortly thereafter. Like most Chase credits, I’ve had good experiences with it posting quickly, even on the same day the charge posts:
Getting Maximum Value from the Instacart Credit
If you aren’t an existing Instacart user, you probably won’t be able to get a full $15 per month (or whatever your credit amount is) of value out of this perk without some effort. Inflated item prices, delivery fees, services fees, and tips will eat into your value.
For example, we either (1) grocery shop at local stores or (2) place large orders on Amazon Fresh. A monthly Instacart order is extra for us. Even if the groceries are replacing groceries we’d otherwise get, we’re still paying a service fee ($2.50 on the above order), tip (let’s say at least $5 per order), and possibly a delivery fee.
Now, in the above order I selected a 3-hour delivery window, which got me a $2 discount, nearly offsetting the $2.50 service fee. I spent more than $35 in order to get free delivery.
I bought only sale items that were comparably priced to Amazon Fresh and that are essentials for our household (e.g. things we eat regularly, snacks that go in Zoe’s lunch every day, and the like).
Still, I’m out the tip on the order, which should always be at least $5. If Instacart were able to replace a significant portion of our Amazon Fresh order, which is also tipped, this might not be a real loss. But since I’m just using Instacart to get my credit, I’m going to be out the tip every month.
This means I’m realistically only getting a maximum of $10 per month from this credit. Still, that comes to $120 per year. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee that’s easily partially offset by a generous $300 annual travel credit. Offsetting the fee by a further $120 per year gets the out-of-pocket cost down to $130, not bad when you consider its other perks.
If you’re a regular Instacart user and a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder, you might get a whopping $279 ($99 Instacart+ membership, $180 annual credits) of value out of simply activating the Instacart+ free membership and charging your purchases to your Chase Sapphire Reserve. Even holders of the lower-fee Chase Sapphire Preferred or no-fee Freedom cards will see significant value if they were already Instacart users.
If you’re going out of your way just to use the credit (like I am), you’ll see a bit less value. Like I said, I see it as a maximum of $10 per month. That still comes at the cost of putting together the exact right order (not overspending or buying non-essentials that effectively would add to my overall grocery cost).
Nonetheless, once you get a hang for what items are available on Instacart at a good price, taking a few minutes once a month to save $10 isn’t a bad deal.