Have you heard of Ibotta? If you have, and you are like me, you probably think it’s some stupid app that claims to save you money but is really a giant waste of time. My sister made me try it anyway though, and I have to say, I’m impressed! It really does save you money! What strange sorcery is this? Well I dug in to find out more, and came up with this ultimate Guide to Ibotta to help you save money too!
The Best Guide to Ibotta on the Internet
What is Ibotta
Ibotta is an app that gives you cash back on your purchases. I mainly use it at the grocery store, but it can also be used at malls, big box stores, Amazon, travel websites, and even a few restaurants! Pretty much anyone can find a use for this app.
How do I make money with Ibotta?
No guide to Ibotta would be complete without a comprehensive section on how it benefits you! It’s super easy to make money with Ibotta. The first time I used it while grocery shopping I got 6 bucks back in rewards! I only spent $100 bucks total, so this app basically saved me 6%. Who doesn’t want to save 6% on groceries?
Earning cash back is easy. First, you make your grocery list. Next, you log into Ibotta and check out the deals they have at your store of choice (and don’t forget to also check the “any offers” section!). Six of the items on my list matched offers on Ibotta! Half of those were the same brand that I use (or would apply to any brand), and the other half were similar brands that I could easily switch to. The offers ranged from as little as twenty-five cents back to as much as a few bucks back! That all adds up.
Many of the travel sites and big box stores offer a cash back percentage on all purchases (with restrictions, as always). Barnes & Noble offers 2% cash back, Express offers 3%, Hotels.com offers 4%, and Orbitz offers up to 6%! So many different companies partner with Ibotta that its basically impossible to list them all here. Check out Ibotta and see if your favorite stores participate!
You can also earn cash back through bonuses and referrals. I earned two bucks via the “in store purchase” bonus and I’m more than half way through to my ten-dollar sign on bonus. My sister (who referred me) earned her five dollar referral bonus as soon as I uploaded my first receipt! So, if you sign up using my referral link, you can get ten bucks and I can get five! Refer your friends to collect even more bonuses! How cool is that?
A lot of brands also offer additional cash bonuses if you redeem their offers multiple times. Usually this is only an extra fifty cents, but that adds up if you buy the same stuff over and over again.
Is Using Ibotta time consuming?
This was one of my top fears in using the app. I’m not doing anything tedious to make a few bucks, that’s not worth my time. But fortunately, using Ibotta is easy and only takes a few extra minutes. Scanning Ibotta for offers took about ten minutes, and scanning the receipt when I got home took less than a minute. Six bucks for 11 minutes? That’s too easy! It took me a bit longer than it normally would because it was my first time using the app. I’m sure I’ll be able to cut it down to five minutes for future shopping trips.
When do I get Paid?
One of the drawbacks to using Ibotta is that you don’t get paid immediately. You have to earn twenty dollars before being able to redeem anything. But I earned six bucks with one shopping trip, so I’m pretty sure I’ll get to that twenty-dollar threshold soon.
One interesting feature (that could be fun or terrible, depending on your point of view) is the team work feature. When you join Ibotta using someone’s referral code (Like Mine!) you automatically become a member of that person’s team (And when you refer someone, they automatically become a member of yours). The team can work together to earn even more bonuses! There are negatives to this team thing though, the major one being that you can see each other’s earnings (some people may not want that information out in the public!). I haven’t found a way to opt out of this feature either, so if you are super private about your earnings, Ibotta may not be for you.
Ok, What’s the Catch?
Everything has a catch, and Ibotta is no different. The catch is that if you aren’t paying attention to what you are buying, you may end up spending more money than you normally would have. For example, Ibotta had a fifty-cent cash back offer on Ball Park hot dog buns. Sounds good, right? But Ball Park buns are generally two bucks and some change, and the generic brand is only 87 cents. If I had used that deal, I’d end up spending a dollar more on hot dog buns than I usually do! It’s easy to avoid that trap though, you just have to pay attention to prices.
The other catch is that you sometimes have to switch brands to get a deal. I usually buy Coffee-Mate creamer, but there was a $1 cash back offer on Dunkin Donuts creamer. The Dunkin creamer was a dollar more (paying attention to price!) but it was the larger quantity. Using the deal got me the bigger bottle of creamer for the same price as the small one! I don’t mind switching brands on a few items to get a better deal, but like I said above, make sure you are paying attention to price! Don’t use an offer if you’ll end up spending more in the long run.
One final catch is that you have to earn ten dollars’ worth of cash back rewards within 14 days of signing up in order to earn your ten-dollar sign on bonus. One trip to the grocery store got me more than half way there, so I’m sure I’ll get there after next week’s trip.
How Does Ibotta make money?
The best guide to Ibotta would be incomplete without talking about how Ibotta makes money. Do you have to buy anything? Are there in-app purchases? The answer to both of those is no. Ibotta does make money off of you, but not directly. They make money by having users watch videos, complete surveys, or answer simple questions on some of their offers. They also make money through affiliate sales, by making a small commission on some of the offers that you redeem. I’m guessing that they also sell your data, but I haven’t found any information to verify that. But hey, we give our data away for free to Facebook, so why not get some rewards for it?
What are you waiting for?
If this ultimate guide to Ibotta didn’t make you want to join right now, I don’t know what will. Its easy to use and it actually does give you cash back! Sign up today!
Do you have any questions about Ibotta before signing up? Let me know! And if you enjoyed this guide to Ibotta, be sure to share it!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.