Ibotta is My Favorite Grocery Shopping App
This post is part of a series devoted to the best grocery shopping apps. Ibotta is the first app in the series because it’s my absolute favorite of the six that will be highlighted. I love ibotta because it has the largest variety of grocery store discounts. Even more awesome is that they offer discounts on staples and healthy food like milk, bread, and fruit. If you’re unfamiliar with grocery shopping apps and how they work, see this post.
Ibotta users must shop at specific stores to receive the discount. However, the list is long, comprehensive and includes non-grocery store chains like Target and CVS. Ibotta also provides cash back rebates on categories such as apparel (think JCPenney), electronics (think Best Buy), wine and spirits, restaurants, home office, travel and entertainment. The majority of the rebates are for in-store purchases, but some can be redeemed online.
Another reason I really love ibotta is because their discount inventory doesn’t get stale. There’s new stuff all of the time. Another plus for the app is that some rebates have been known to “refresh.” What that means is that sometimes when you redeem a rebate, it pops up again for you to score another discount.
The icing on the cake? You can earn money as well as save. In fact, it’s the only grocery shopping app on the list where that’s possible.
Getting Started and Saving Money with ibotta
Getting started with ibotta and using its features is simple and easy to master.
1. Create an account and download the app to your phone. You can create an account on your desktop/laptop and browse rebates there, but you must download the app to claim your rebates and cash out.
2. Review the available rebates and select the ones you want at the store you intend to purchase from. The app is pretty user friendly. I didn’t need to use the tutorial, but there is one if needed.
3. Verify your purchases and claim your rebate(s). This is done by first scanning the product barcode using the in app scanning function. Next you’ll take a picture of the receipt that includes the item purchased and upload it to the site. The app will walk you through the process. It’s easy.
That’s it! Once approved you’ll receive a notice telling you that the rebate has been deposited into your ibotta account. I often receive notices within the hour.
I like to think of ibotta as reverse couponing. That is, when you use ibotta you don’t immediately see the discount like with a manufacturer coupon. When you redeem a rebate with ibotta it gets deposited into your ibotta account
Once you hit $20 in rebate redemptions you can cash out by having the money transferred to PayPal or Venmo; or if you prefer select a gift card from their stash (i.e. Starbucks, Amazon, Maggiano’s restaurant). Once you cash out you’ll receive it within 24 hours.
Make Money Four Ways with Ibotta
As mentioned earlier, earning a little extra cash in addition to saving is like having your cake and eating it too. Here’s how you make money with ibotta.
Your Discounts are Greater than the Price of the Item
I touched on this in my “Definitive Guide to Grocery Shopping App Savings” post. Basically, if the cost of an item is less than the discounts you have, you earn money. For instance, a product goes on sale for $0.99. You have a $0.75 off coupon and ibotta also has a $1.00 off cash rebate. You end up with a free product, PLUS you earn $0.76.
Ibotta does an excellent job of keeping you engaged by offering cash bonuses. This means you’re actually earning a little money while you simultaneously save. There are a few types of bonuses. If this seems complicated, it’s really not. You don’t have to track it or anything. If you use the app you’ll just about see it organically.
General Bonuses: These pop up semi-regularly, probably at least once a month. Not every person gets the same offers. I’ve noticed that Brad and I often get different bonus offers. These general bonuses will say something like, “Redeem two rebates and receive a $2 bonus.” Sometimes it can be any two rebates. Other times the criteria might be something like two rebates worth $0.25 or more. Once the requirements are met the bonus is deposited into your account.
Product Specific Bonuses: Today I’m going to a Hallmark store to pick up some Valentine’s Day cards. I was going to do it anyway (and yes I have some coupons), but what a wonderful surprise that ibotta has a $5 cash back bonus when you spend $10. So half off! Yes! The point is, ibotta will offer cash back bonuses for certain brands or products. It’s continually updated, so all you have to do is take a peek.
Monthly Goal Bonuses: Another way ibotta encourages you to stay engaged is by offering several rebate bonuses per month. They are divided into levels. If you reach the first level you earn a cash bonus and unlock a second level. If you reach that, a third is unlocked and so on. The bonus is generally a dollar or two.
Personally I’ve hit the level one bonus several times, but level two only a couple. Sometimes there are just too many rebates for stuff we don’t want. Sometimes the goal is tied to teamwork (get to that in a minute) and the team doesn’t make the goal. My suggestion? Spend as you normally would and don’t worry about the goal. Ibotta tracks your progress for you. When you get very close then check to see if there’s some small way to reach it.
Ibotta created an ingenious strategy for getting its users to promote the company and use its services. They created “Teamwork bonuses.” I’ll explain how one joins a team in a second. Basically how team bonuses work is, ibotta sets team goals and if they are met the entire team gets a cash bonus. For instance, ibotta might say that if the team collectively redeems $20 in rebates this month, the entire team will earn a $2 cash bonus.
Larger teams have a clear advantage as it’s easier for them to make the goal. That’s why one of my (now not so secret) fantasies is to have the largest, most lucrative team ibotta has ever seen.
Great, but how the heck do you join a team? There are two ways. The first is to connect ibotta to your Facebook account. Any Facebook friend who is an ibotta member will automatically be added to your team. You’ll receive little notices like, “Your friend Brad just redeemed an ibotta rebate for $1.” Initially I didn’t like that, but now I don’t care, because it’s actually less personal than what some folks post online! The second way to join a team is:
Ibotta does a good job of incentivizing their referral program. Not only do referrers make money, the referrals make even more money! When someone joins ibotta using your referral code (…that’s mine btw, just to be transparent) and redeems their first rebate, you earn $5. The person who joined using your code earns $10 after redeeming their first rebate. That’s pretty cool, right? But that’s not all! You’re now automatically a part of the referrer’s team and eligible for any team bonuses.
Whew! That was a lot. Perhaps you have questions. Maybe something’s not clear or you just want additional information? Please leave a comment or shoot me an email. The next app on the list is Checkout 51.