A friend of mine keeps going on about Ibotta. For those of you who don’t know, Ibotta is a shopping app that gives you cash back rebates for various items you buy. What makes it such a huge deal for my friend is that those offers often include beer and wine, and often for a few bucks at a time, so that can add up. But, does that make Ibotta a legit deal for other, or is Ibotta a scam that takes more than it gives?
What Is Ibotta?
Ibotta is an app for either Android or Apple. You can also use it online via the webpage. It works a lot like many grocery store apps where you go through a list of coupons and select which ones you want to use. However, unlike my King Soopers app, or Safeway app, the offers on Ibotta are rebates, not coupons. In other words, while the coupons take 50 cents off of my grocery bill, the Ibotta rebates have no affect on the cost of my groceries. Instead, they go into a virtual account that I can withdraw as cash.
Ibotta is a private company backed by various venture capital companies, and it seems to have a fairly decent amount of offers.
How Does Ibotta Work?
Once you download and install Ibotta, you open the app on your phone and choose to “unlock” offers. Basically, this is the same thing as adding a coupon to your grocery app. Unlock is weird terminology, but basically it means that you can now get that rebate. Rebates are sorted by store, although it seems there is a lot of overlap. The list of stores seems to have most of the big ones. There’s the Kroger, King Soopers, Vons, BJs, plus Target, Costco, Sams, and so on.
Once you pick which store, you touch the “Unlock” button to add the offer into your account. Then, you go to the store and buy the item. When you get home, you have “Verify” your purchases. For some stores, you can link your loyalty card and skip the whole scanning and taking receipt pictures part. However, that list isn’t as big, and my local stores aren’t ones that can be linked.
To verify a purchase on Ibotta, you first scan the bar codes of the things you bought. Then, you scan the receipt that has those purchases on them. You want to scan all the bar codes first, then scan the receipt once you are ready.
My first question was how do I scan a long receipt in Ibotta. As it turns out, Ibotta is well aware of the fact that receipts can be pretty long. To scan a long receipt in Ibotta, you just start at the top and take a picture of as much of the receipt as you can fit. Then, once you have OKed that picture, you click the plus button to add another section of the receipt. Repeat as necessary. One of my recent grocery receipts took six pictures, so just keep going until you reach the end.
When you are finished, it totals up what you inputted and then you have to wait up to 24 hours for them to verify your purchases and credit your account. My first submission was reviewed and money credited to my account in just over an hour.
You can also get credit for buying things via the app like gift cards or
How Do I Get My Money From Ibotta?
Ibotta lets you link either a PayPal account or a Venmo account. You have to have a minimum of just $2.00 to get your cash, so that’s pretty easy to hit.
Once your money is in PayPal or Venmo, you just trasnsfer it into your linked bank account, or use your PayPal card to withdraw it from an ATM.
Is Ibotta Worth It?
The crux of any Ibotta review has to be is Ibotta worth it, or is Ibotta a scam and waste of time.
So, does Ibotta really work? Here in the Denver area, King Soopers and Safeway both offer grocery apps that allow you to ad electronic coupons to your card. It’s a great way to get coupon savings without having to find, cut out, keep track of, and remember to use coupons. Before I go shopping, I add the coupons to my card shoppers card for anything that I buy, whether I plan to buy it that trip or not. The idea is that if I do buy something and there is a coupon for it, I’ll get it. That’s great, and over time, I’m sure it saves me a fair amount of money.
I subscribe to the idea that you should only buy what you were going to buy anyway. So, when there is a coupon for 50 cents off of Frosted Flakes, that is a good deal, because I’m going to buy those anyway. But, a coupon for $1.00 off of 4 boxes of Lucky Charms, isn’t such a good deal because I don’t really eat that. The one trick to Ibotta isn’t a scam so much as a detail you need to pay attention to. Some of the deals expire, and it doesn’t matter if you already unlocked it. You have to verify it first.
In the end, my average grocery receipt never has more than a few dollars worth of coupon savings. So, while I every penny counts, it’s not like my life is any better because I paid $142.97 for groceries instead of $144.38.
That brings us to Ibotta. Ibotta has plenty of the same kind of offers you see everywhere else. There is a 75 cent rebate on Charmin, for example. But, it also has some bigger, and more interesting rebates. Again, if you stick to the mantra of only buying what you buy anyway, then, there is no way for Ibotta to harm your spending. And, if you do hit on some of these offers, you can actually make some money from Ibotta’s cash back style offers.
Right now, there is a 75 cent rebate on Charmin, a $1.00 rebate on trash bags, $1.00 off of kitty litter, 50 cents off of any bananas, any eggs, and any milk, plus $2.00 on Mike’s Hard Lemonade. All of these are things I was going to buy anyway. So, I will get $6.25 in rebates for just these few items. That’s a pretty good deal.
For maximum impact, I might not withdraw my money for a while. With savings interest rates a laughing stock right now, it doesn’t exactly hurt anything to let this build up to say $20, or if I really got going maybe $50. Then, I could use the funds to make a purchase I wouldn’t have spent the money on, or if you need, maybe make an extra credit card payment.
(Beware: There is an inactivity charge. I lost $20 over a six month period when I wasn’t using the app. When I came back that money was gone.)
In the long run, I’m not sure how worth it Ibotta will be. In the beginning, every single rebate is there for the taking, but over time you use them up, and I haven’t been using the app long enough to know how quickly new ones come in. However, the effort isn’t that much, and if you are buying your normal items, then it’s like finding free money. The above transaction will take me less than 10 minutes total to process, making it a nice return on my time for $6.
You can sign up for Ibotta using this link. If you do, I get $5, and you get $10 so it’s a win-win for both of us.
I’d go ahead and recommend trying Ibotta. It’s basically easy, free money.
Ibotta Bonuses and Teams
Ibotta currently offers various bonuses. As a new app, I’m sure these aren’t cheap and probably won’t be around for ever, but they are probably a good way to boost use. For example, I used my friend’s code like above, and I got a $10 bonus for the first rebate I submitted. If I redeem 5 more rebates within 30 days of signing up, I get another $2 bonus.
Then, you can do teams. I haven’t messed with this yet, but the idea, is that by linking with your friends you can earn other bonuses. For example, there is a bonus where you earn an extra $0.50 if you redeem 6 rebates in the month AND your team earns $6.00 worth of total rebates during the same month. I suppose the value of this depends on who your friends are.