Whether you enjoy shopping for groceries and household goods or not, being able to earn cash back for your regular purchases sweetens the deal either way you look at it.
The thing is, if you’re not shopping with an app like Ibotta, you could be missing out on some easy extra cash.
Several years ago, cash-back credit cards were the primary way to earn money back from your regular spending.
The only downside was overcoming the temptation to overspend and rack up debt on the credit card. Yes, you’d earn cash back, but you could also spend hundreds more than you budgeted for and pay tons of interest on the balance.
Today, cashback apps like Ibotta simplify the process of getting rebates on your purchases – especially if you prefer not to use a credit card for everything.
In this Ibotta review, we’ll explain why it’s one of the best legitimate rewards apps around, how it works, and how to optimize your cashback earnings.
What Is Ibotta?
So what is this app about and is Ibotta legitimate? According to their website, over 35 million people have downloaded the app in the past 7 years and Ibotta has paid over 600,000 in cash back bonuses to users.
Ibotta partners with retailers to offer cashback on items you might buy regularly. Whether you need cereal, diapers, alcohol, clothing, or beauty products, there are likely cashback offers on Ibotta for you to take advantage of.
You may be wondering, is Ibotta free? The app is free to use and you can cash out your earnings whenever you reach a balance of $20. The nice thing about Ibotta is that it’s one of the highest paying apps that pay real cash instead of points or sweepstakes entries.
Right now, Ibotta is ranked #29 in the shopping category of the Apple app store. Out of 930,000+ ratings, users give it a 4.8 out of 5.0
So what makes Ibotta such a great app other than the fact that you can get free cashback? Ibotta is also very user-friendly and won’t take much of your time when you start using the app.
How Does Ibotta Work?
You can earn cashback with Ibotta in a few different ways. The first option is when you’re shopping online. Ibotta partners with over 750 online retailers, food delivery services, travel sites, and more to make it easy to earn when you’re spending money online.
If you’re on a computer or laptop, activate the Ibotta browser extension. That way, when you visit a partnering retailer, Ibotta’s cashback offer will pop up and you can activate it.
It’s that simple and you don’t have to worry about shopping online and forgetting to use Ibotta. When you’re on your phone, you can shop online through the Ibotta app and take advantage of the same offers.
For in-person shopping, Ibotta works a little differently and you have 3 options:
1. Submit a Receipt
Browse the app before your shopping trip and see which offers are available at the store you plan to visit. For example, if you’re planning on going to Walmart or Whole Foods, you can just look up that store in the app to see which offers are available.
Once you find an offer you like, select it and add it to your list. Sometimes, Ibotta will prompt you to a short activity, such as answering a poll or discovering a new recipe, to add the offer to your list.
Then, go shopping as you normally would and purchase the items that you chose offers for in the app. Finally, upload your receipt to the app and you’ll be rewarded your cashback award within 24 hours.
2. Link Your Loyalty Accounts
Have a store loyalty account? You may be able to link it to Ibotta. That way, you can earn cashback for shopping at your favorite stores. To link your accounts, open the Ibotta app and select the desired retailer that you’d like to redeem cashback offers with.
Select ‘Link Account’ at the top of the screen. Once you’ve entered and verified your information, your loyalty account will be linked.
When checking out, use your loyalty account as you normally would and in addition to your loyalty rewards points, you could also earn cash back from Ibotta.
3. Pay With Ibotta
The final way to earn cashback on in-store shopping with Ibotta is to use the newest payment feature to get instant cashback rewards. Ibotta has partnered with over 50 popular stores and restaurants to allow you to pay for your purchases directly from the app.
You can add funds in advance by going to ‘Account’ and ‘Payment Methods’ to add a debit or credit card to your account. Doing this will allow you to pay with Ibotta just like you would if you had a gift card.
Present your Ibotta gift card code to the cashier when it’s time to pay. Once the payment clears, you’ll instantly receive cashback in your Ibotta account.
The main perk of using this method is that you can earn up to 10% cashback on your entire purchase.
What Are The Benefits of Ibotta?
Ibotta offers a lot of variety in terms of how you can use the app. Let’s narrow down some of the key benefits.
Earn Cash Back on Groceries
We all have to shop for groceries, so the fact that Ibotta partners with most major grocery stores is important. It means you could technically earn cashback each time you go grocery shopping – even if it’s online.
The key is to narrow down your list and determine which items you really need. Then, see if Ibotta has a cashback offer for them. Or, you can build your grocery list around Ibotta offers if you know your family will eat those foods or use those items.
For example, maybe you buy yogurt for your kids each week. If Ibotta is offering cashback for a different brand of yogurt, you may want to switch it up and let your kids try another brand so you can get the rebate.
Earn Extra Cash for Meeting Cash Back Goals
The Ibotta app has a section called ‘Earn More’ where you can set shopping goals to boost your cash back earnings by purchasing certain items that have special offers.
Another way to earn extra cash back is by (utilizing) using Pay with Ibotta (remember, you can earn up to 10% cash back). Keep checking the app to see when new bonus offers pop up.
Make Money Referring Friends
If you really enjoy using Ibotta you can refer friends to join and earn a bonus. Sometimes this bonus varies depending on the month, but it builds on itself so you may earn $7 for one person you refer but an extra $3 for your next referral making it a $10 bonus for the second person.
Your friends may also get a bonus for signing up as well.
Get Motivation from Friends Using The App
One of the app’s unique features is the ability for each person to build a team and work toward goals together. Your team goals can be achieved in levels so you must complete one level before starting the next one.
Depending on how well you and your team do, you could all earn a monthly bonus. Here’s an example of what a team challenge may look like.
To get past level one for the month, your requirements may be to redeem 10 unique offers on the Ibotta app and have your team redeem $20 worth of rebates.
Ibotta’s teamwork levels motivate you to earn more with the app and be consistent so consider spending a few minutes searching for Ibotta offers and deals right before each shopping trip.
Related: Ibotta vs. Fetch
What Are The Dangers of Ibotta?
This Ibotta review would not be complete without mentioning some of the key drawbacks that some app users have experienced. Here are a few cons you’ll need to consider before downloading the Ibotta app.
Encourages Impulse Buying
Like a credit card, Ibotta still can still encourage impulse purchases. The best way to use the app would be to earn cashback on purchases you would have made normally, you can also discover new items that weren’t on your list.
If you’re competitive, it’s important not to prioritize earning more cash back and leveling up with your team over saving money on everyday purchases. If earning more cashback means you have to spend more than you normally would, you’re not really saving money.
Limited Brands Available
Realize that you may not find all your favorite brands on the Ibotta app. If you like to shop for groceries and household supplies at certain local stores, Ibotta may not be the best option for you.
On the other hand, if you’re flexible on the brands you buy and open to trying new things, Ibotta could be a solid option.
Drain Battery While Shopping
Apps like Ibotta tend to drain your battery and also take up space on your phone. If you’re using Ibotta when you’re shopping this could be a potential inconvenience if it drains your phone or distracts you during your shopping trips.
Ibotta Tracks Your Location
Like most other apps, Ibotta tracks your location. They do this in order to find local offers for you and the nearest stores from their list of partnered retailers.
If you don’t like the fact that Ibotta tracks your location when it may not be necessary to do so, you can go to your ‘Settings’ in the app and adjust privacy preferences and even opt out of Ibotta being able to share your information.
Fees For Inactive Accounts
One of the biggest dangers of Ibotta is not using the app consistently once you’ve signed up and redeemed an offer.
If you haven’t used your Ibotta account in 6 months and you have an existing balance, Ibotta could start charging a monthly maintenance fee of $3.99 until your account reaches $0.
To avoid this fee, stay active on the Ibotta app or at least try to redeem offers once a month. To get higher cashback earnings, however, you’ll want to use the app more frequently.
How do you get the $20 sign up bonus on Ibotta?
All new users get a $20 account bonus when they sign up. You must be brand new to Ibotta and not have had an account previously. You must also redeem your first offer to get the bonus.
How do you cash out your earnings?
Cash out your earnings in the app by clicking on the ‘Account’ tab then the button that says ‘Withdraw Earnings’. You must have a minimum account balance of $20 to withdraw your earnings from Ibotta.
Withdraw by setting up a direct deposit to your bank account, receiving the cash via PayPal transfer, or redeeming with a digital gift card.
Does Ibotta charge a fee?
Ibotta is free to use. However, you could get charged a fee of $3.99 per month for having an inactive account (not using Ibotta for at least 6 months).
Is Ibotta or Rakuten better?
Rakuten is an online rewards program that focuses primarily on offering cashback and coupons for online purchases.
Ibotta is a little more flexible in terms of earning cashback on in-store purchases and they partner with more grocery stores as well. Plus, build teams with Ibotta is another perk
Related: Is Rakuten Legit or a Scam?
How Much Can You Save Using Ibotta?
After reading this Ibotta review you probably have an idea of how you can use the app in your everyday life. But how much could you actually save and is Ibotta worth it? On average, Ibotta cashback offers range from $0.25 to $1.50 per item.
Depending on how often you earn rebates, you can expect to save a few hundred dollars per year. If you refer others and build a team, you could possibly earn some money as well.
Keep in mind that Ibotta is meant to help you save money on purchases you’re already planning to make. Of course, the best way to save money is to not spend it at all.
But if you’re going to spend money on groceries, restaurant meals, household items, clothes, etc. you might as well use Ibotta to score some cash back. It’s free and easy to use whether you prefer shopping online or in stores.