Wouldn’t it be great if you could earn cash back on everyday necessary items without having to clip coupons?
One of easiest way to make money on everyday purchases is to use Ibotta, a free app that makes it easy to save money. Grocery store rebates are some of the easiest ways to earn cash back with this program, and it just takes a few seconds.
Did you know that Ibotta is not just for grocery stores? You can also use Ibotta at pharmacies, clothing stores, restaurants, and convenience stores, home improvement stores. Ibotta even works when you’re shopping online.
People are skeptical when it comes to coupons and apps in general, so we’ve given you our honest thoughts about Ibotta, with the pros, cons, and everything in between.
What Is Ibotta?
Ibotta is a free smartphone app that allows you to get cash back for items you purchase. With Ibotta, it's easy to save money on things that you buy everyday, such at groceries, to shopping for clothing from retailers like Abercrombie, Forever 21, GAP, Kohl's, and Target.
Earn extra cash with Ibotta while shopping for items you were already going to buy.
Signing Up/Getting Started
You can start the sign up process by going to ibotta.com, or by downloading the app, which is available for use on iPhone and Android devices. First time users will get $10 into their accounts once they claim their first rebate!
How To Use Ibotta At A Glance:
Here are some quick tips to help you get started:
How Does Ibotta Work?
Download the app
Once you’ve downloaded Ibotta and completed registration, open the Ibotta app to begin. You can register here, and log in using your account information.
Add Offers to your Account
Open the app and browse through rebates and unlock. Select your favorite stores and apps if you haven't done so already. You will also see available offers from stores near you.
Just click on each store, and you’ll see all the items eligible for rebates and cash back offers. Find products you want to purchase, and get ready for savings on your Ibotta App.
You can search by specific category, store, or look at the “What’s Hot” or “What’s New” categories at the top. Since some rebates will only be available at a particular store, be sure to check the stores that offer the rebate you want.
You can add rebates to your list as you find them by clicking the plus sign.
Sometimes, you will have to take a short quiz about your buying habits to get to the rebate, and other times, you will have to watch a 15-30 second video in order to add the offer to your list.
The more offers you add, the more cash you can get back. Be sure to redeem offers before they expire.
After adding offers to your account, they will be added to your My Offers list. Buy these items at over 300 retailers where Ibotta works. Remember that some offers are retailer exclusive, so read carefully before shopping. Also, make sure you buy the right items by checking the offer details and exclusions. Save your receipts in case of any issues.
Three Ways To Redeem
There are three ways to earn: submit your receipt, link a loyalty card, or make an in app purchase.
Submit Receipts to Ibotta
Submit your receipt manually or scan the receipt barcode (QR Code) into the app. To verify your receipt, open the Ibotta app and find your store. Click the “Verify” button at the bottom and follow the prompts.
Once you are done shopping, you can either scan your receipt barcode directly into the Ibotta app, or take a picture of the receipt and manually add the eligible items. Scanning your receipt with the Ibotta app is the easy - just scan the barcode into the Ibotta app, and Ibotta will find the eligible items.
If you take a picture of the receipt, you will have to manually add the items eligible for Ibotta cash back offers. Make sure you capture the whole receipt, including the date, time, and store name. Your earnings will be available for cash out via PayPal after Ibotta approves your receipt, usually within a few hours with some exceptions.
Link a Loyalty Card
With specific retailers, users must connect their loyalty card and add offers to their Ibotta account prior to shopping.
Users will automatically receive credit for successful redemptions within 48 hours.
Mobile Shopping Submission:
Mobile Shopping retailers allow for in-app or app-to-app purchases. While you don’t have to send a receipt, keep it until the offer is completed. For more information on Mobile Shopping offers, visit here.
What Stores Are Available?
You will know what stores are available to you when you visit Ibotta and sign up. Most major chains like Wal-Mart, Target, Sam’s Club, Publix, Kroger, Whole Foods, Cost Plus World Market and Costco are available. You will also find your regional chains. For those in the Midwest, you will find deals from Baker’s, Hy-Vee and Fareway. Once you select your store, start browsing deals and offers.
What Items Are Available On Ibotta?
Most items are grocery and home items, but you will also find deals for other online retailers such as jet.com and Groupon. You can expect to save a few dollars each week on groceries and non-grocery items.
What Types of Rebates Are Available?
You can earn generic and brand specific rebates using Ibotta. You can earn generic and brand specific reabes using Ibotta
Generic rebates are rebates geared towards a specific item of any brand. For example, you can get a $0.50 rebate for any gallon of milk.
Brand Specific Rebates
Brand specific rebates pay more than generic rebates, but you have to buy a specific brand of the featured product. For example, you can use your $1.00 rebate on any variety of General Mills Cereal. The cereal has to be from General Mills in order to qualify for the rebate.
How to Maximize Your Ibotta Rewards
You probably know someone who uses coupons but doesn’t quite understand how to use apps like Ibotta. For every person you refer to Ibotta who redeems a rebate within two weeks, you will get a $5 bonus.
How Does Ibotta Pay You?
To withdraw cash from your account, follow instructions here.
To redeem your offers, just expand the profile link and click “withdraw cash.”
The Ibotta App pays via PayPal or Venmo once your account reaches $20. You cash out once you reach the $20 mark and your money will be in your account within 48 hours. Recently, Ibotta has added gift cards from retailers like Amazon or Wal-Mart as another form of payment.
The product selection is extensive. In addition to healthy foods like fresh produce, you will also find everyday items ranging from personal care items to pharmacy items. It only takes a few minutes of time to see big rewards.
Ibotta recently added in-app shopping rebates for a few partners. If you are a Groupon shopper, you can earn 2% to 10% cash back when clicking through from Ibotta. Other partners include Hotels.com, EBay, and Boxed.
There Are Rebates For Generic And/or Store Brand.
Every week there is some sort of rebate for generic and store brand items. Even with a couple of dollars per week, you could save over $100 with just generic rebates alone.
Rebates Not Offered In Coupons
You will find rebates for items that you would never see a coupon for in regular mail. There are rebates for healthy food, such as fresh meat, produce, yogurt, and cheese.
There are also rebates for essential household items, such as toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, and trash bags. You know you have to buy these items, so why not save money on them?
Ibotta is for More Than Just Groceries
Ibotta originally came out as an app for groceries, but as it grows, Ibotta is adding non-grocery retailers and other partners.
Ibotta Cash Expiration And Fees
Many users let their rewards build up until they need extra cash, but you need to be aware of what happens if you wait too long. If you don’t redeem an offer for 12 consecutive months, Ibotta will start charging an inactivity fee of $3.99 per month until your earnings are depleted. This is by far the biggest drawback of using Ibotta, since life happens, and sometimes we forget to redeem our offers.
You Are Encouraged To Spend More
For some people, a rebate is yet another temptation for impulse purchases. Seasonal rebates for holidays and big events (like the Super Bowl) definitely make it hard to say no.
Restrictions And Fine Print
Certain items are restricted from Ibotta cash back offers, but as long as you read the fine print, you’ll be fine- just refer to your smartphone for details. You can even scan the item before purchasing to make sure you have the right one.
The Bottom Line: Is Ibotta Worth It?
Ibotta is an easy way to save on almost everything you were already going to buy, except you spend a few minutes to scan your items and receipt. You get cash back, and it only takes a few minutes to get rewards that add up fast.
The product and store selection is extensive, and you can buy alcohol, household goods, baby products, and healthy foods like fresh produce. The only real drawback is getting hit with a monthly fee if you forget to redeem your rewards for cash within one year.
Tell us- do you use Ibotta? How much have you earned in rebates so far?
- App Convenience - 90
- Choice of Stores - 95
- Redeption Process - 80
Ibotta is a free smartphone app that allows you to get cash back for items you purchase.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.