I’ve been meaning to write an Ibotta app review for quite some time now. Like Peapod and Trunk Club, when I find a service that I believe is worth your time and money–and therefore has value beyond a price tag–I want to share it with my readers. For years I’d heard about the grocery rebates through Ibotta but never got around to trying it before this summer. What was I waiting for?
For starters Ibotta is a free app. You download it on your Smartphone and go. You can also access it through the Ibotta website.
Ibotta is one of those apps that pays you for the grocery shopping you were going to do anyway. Ibotta is a lot like Ebates, which gives you cash back for the online shopping you were going to do anyway. With Ibotta you’re getting cash back or grocery rebates for your food shopping. Yes, that means that you can get paid to grocery shop. It’s one of the easiest ways to make money with your Smartphone. As part of this Ibotta app review, I’ve put together an Ibotta FAQ, if you will.
How Does Ibotta Work?
How Ibotta works is simple–it gives you cash back rebates for items you buy at the supermarket. After you’ve shopped and you get home, you scan the barcodes of products you’ve bought and then snap a picture of your receipt, and submit. That’s it. Within a day or so, Ibotta deposits the money you’ve earned for your grocery rebates. You can get your money in PayPal or Venmo. You can also trade in your earnings for gift cards.
What I like about Ibotta is that you can compare your grocery list to the items listed that week. I find that if what I need to buy is on my list and I see it on the app, too, great. If not, I often don’t change my grocery list to reflect the offers–unlike when I used to buy things I didn’t really need when I was strictly using coupons.
Why don’t I alter my list? Because I know that Ibotta grocery rebates come back frequently, like week after week. Unlike coupons from the newspaper, which cycle every few months, I can always count on the Ibotta rebates showing up often. I mean, at least twice a month I can get cash back for buying milk and bananas. When can you ever get coupons for those?
Is Ibotta a Coupon App?
Ibotta is not a coupon app, per se. Yes, you are saving money on items you have on your grocery list, but, no, you don’t have to cash in any coupons to save the money. In other words there is no transaction at the checkout counter. With Ibotta the cashing in, if you will, happens after you get home. I like that convenience.
That said, Ibotta offers deals beyond the grocery store. You can use Ibotta to get cash back when booking travel on Hotels.com, shopping online for Groupon deals, or even buying items on eBay. However, with this latter deal, you have to launch the eBay app from the Ibotta app for the purchase to count. I recently bought shoes on eBay and tried to go back in and submit it for my 2% back on Ibotta. Unfortunately, it wasn’t accepted. So like Ebates you have to start your shopping on Ibotta for that cash back shopping to count.
Ibotta is absolutely legit. You can get cash back for your grocery shopping, simple as that. As I explained in the section above “How Does Ibotta Work?” you buy products, you click on them in the Ibotta app, you scan the barcode, you snap a picture of your receipt, and you submit through the Ibotta app. You get cash back. It’s really that simple.
What Are Ibotta Pros?
One of the reasons I wanted to write this Ibotta app review is because I believe it has many pros over coupons. In fact, when you visit the Ibotta website, you’ll see its tagline is “Better Than Coupons.” I believe it. Here are six Ibotta pros.
1. Referrals and Sign Up Bonus
Ibotta is so confident you’ll like the app that it rewards you with extra money. That is, when you download the app, you’ll get a $10 sign up bonus that will be deposited right into your account. This is as long as you redeem rebates within the first 7 days of signing up.
Speaking of signing up, Ibotta wants you to encourage friends to sign up, too. You’ll get a $5 referral bonus for every friend you refer. (If you click on my Ibotta links in this blog post, I’ll get that referral bonus, too.) Also, once you refer friends, they become members of your “team.” The more grocery rebates they do, the more money you can potentially earn in a month.
2. Multiple Submit Rebates
You know how supermarkets limit how many coupons you can redeem when you shop? Well, Ibotta actually encourages you to purchase an item multiple times and submit for a rebate each time. I’m not talking about in a way that cheats the system but in a legit way.
For example, recently one of my grocery rebates was Land O Lakes eggs. I got $.50 back for it. When that rebate became active again, Ibotta let me know right in the app. Like hey, if you’re out of eggs, you can get another $.50 for buying those eggs. In other words you can’t “rebate-out” of an offer. If you were always buying eggs for your family, why wouldn’t you get $.50 back for them each time?
3. Grocery Rebates on Meat and Produce
A few years ago I wrote a popular blog post on how to get coupons for organic food. We all know that organic food is often more expensive than “regular” food, so finding a way to save on it is welcomed. With the Ibotta app you can get grocery rebates for not only organic food but other healthy foods, like milk and produce. Just this week I’ve gotten cash back for bananas and carrots. Since you rarely find coupons for fresh produce, Ibotta fills this niche nicely.
In addition to milk and produce, you can get cash back for buying meat. It doesn’t have to be meat in a brand name package. It could be meat from the butcher counter. According to a spokesperson for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, through Ibotta at some point you can get grocery rebates on fresh ground beef (any grind) and then another rebate for any steak or roast. There are no specifics on the package size or price point.
4. Extra Ways to Earn Cash Back
I mentioned that you can refer your friends for bonuses. And once your friends start using the app, you get bonuses based on their spending and rebates. Well, Ibotta offers additional bonus opportunities from time to time. During the December there was a $20 holiday bonus, as long as you redeemed 20 rebates during a defined amount of time. You don’t have to do any special submitting to qualify for this bonus. Ibotta keeps track of it. And you can see how well you’re doing towards that extra bonus right in the app.
5. Grocery Rebates on Beer, Wine and Spirits
Perhaps this “pro” isn’t for everyone, but if you purchase beer, wine and spirits, then you’ll want to know that you can cash in grocery rebates for those as well, via the Ibotta app. The only challenge is if you live in a state that does not sell alcohol through traditional grocery stores. For example, when I lived in Pennsylvania, your only option for buying alcohol was a state store. So any liquor rebates in Ibotta would go to waste. Now that I live in New Jersey, there are some grocery stores that sell beer and wine but not a lot. So far the only place I’ve been able to use the Ibotta app with these kinds of purchases is at the wine store affiliated with my local Costco.
6. Hundreds of Ibotta Retailers and Stores
Like many apps Ibotta uses location to determine the stores nearest you where you can shop and qualify for grocery rebates. Normally these stores fall into one of these categories:
- Beer, Wine & Spirits
- Beauty & Wellness
Just in the grocery category alone, the stores near me where I can get grocery rebates include Target, Stop and Shop, Costco, Dollar General and Whole Foods
There are also restaurant and bars offers from time to time. And if you’re a military family, you’ll want to note that you can get grocery rebates from the military commissary, too.
What Are Ibotta Cons?
Sometimes Ibotta doesn’t work the way I’d hoped. For example, when I first started using this app, I would scan the Ibotta receipt and submit, but rebates were rejected. I couldn’t figure out why so I created my own Ibotta hack.
What is my Ibotta hack? Now I mark up my receipt by putting an arrow next to the products I’ve purchased and which are eligible for rebates. I figure by highlighting matches on the receipt it makes it easier for Ibotta to process everything. So far, so good. This Ibotta hack has worked every time since.
Another fix I’d suggest for Ibotta? The deals listed in the app aren’t always 100 percent clear.
Recently, my daughter at college asked me to send her a care package of K-cups so she could caffeinate while studying for finals. On the app it said that Dunkin Donuts K-Cup pods were eligible for a $1.00 grocery rebate. So I bought some. Only problem? When I went to redeem them and scanned the barcode, it was rejected. It was only when I looked closely at the picture with the rebate did I notice it was for pumpkin spice Dunkin Donuts K-Cups only. Since you cannot enlarge the picture on the Ibotta app, if you don’t notice these subtleties, you are SOL. (Note to Ibotta: please make the description in the rebate offers clear, if there is a flavor or size necessary to qualify.)
Finally, I’ve also noticed that at Costco sometimes the Kirkland store brand is rejected, even though the Ibotta app says “any brand.” Not cool.
Ibotta App Review Conclusion
So is Ibotta worth it? I think so. To me Ibotta is a timesaver over traditional coupons. I will still use coupons from time to time but not nearly as regularly as the Ibotta app. For me Ibotta is so easy to use, convenient and almost like playing a game that it is the grocery shopping app I’ll open first on my Smartphone. I don’t have to have it open or activate it when I walk through a store door. And I don’t have to bring anything up at the checkout counter. At my leisure, after I get home, I can scan barcodes and receipts with the Ibotta app. That’s how I get paid for the grocery shopping I was going to do anyway. It’s why I’ve include the Ibotta app in the “My Faves” page with my favorite products.
Other Apps Like Ibotta
I’m sure there are other apps out there that let you make money with your Smartphone. Some may even be apps like Ibotta–apps that require you to capture your receipt to get the cash back. To be honest I haven’t tried any of the others so I have nothing to compare to. However, if I discover others, I’ll be sure to update this post to include this new information. In the meantime if you know of and love other apps like Ibotta, please post a comment to let us know.