When it comes to modern money-saving tools, Ibotta is all the rage in 2021. But is this cashback app really worth the hype?
Ibotta is a legitimate, safe way to earn cashback on your purchases, in-store and online. It’s free to get started, and tons of people swear by it, even if they were a little skeptical at first.
In this post, we’ll give you an honest review of Ibotta, including how it works, how you can use it to save money, and if it’s really worth your time.
What is Ibotta?
Let’s start at the beginning: what exactly is Ibotta?
Ibotta is a shopping app that gives you cashback for the everyday things you buy. They’re partnered with over 300 retailers to give you deals wherever you’re shopping, in-store or online. The purpose of the app is to help you save on your day-to-day shopping like groceries and food, as well as special purchases like hotels and apparel.
Since it first appeared in 2012, this app has been rapidly gaining popularity. Today, it’s one of the most highly-reviewed apps out there, and has been downloaded over 30 million times. You can find it in the App Store, or on Google Play for Android users.
Unlike other cashback sites and apps, Ibotta doesn’t pay you back in points or store credit. It’s straight-up cash, paid directly to you via PayPal or Venmo. And that doesn’t just mean a few pennies at a time – to date, Ibotta’s users have been paid back over $680 million in total.
Is it legit?
Before we go any further into this review, we want to stress that Ibotta is 100% legit and safe to use.
It’s understandable if you’re skeptical. There are tons of scams out there offering unreal cashback deals or money saving opportunities – but that’s not Ibotta.
You don’t have to pay anything to use this app (well, other than buying the things you’re shopping for, but that’s the whole point!). They make money by partnering with major brands to promote their deals and special offers, so you don’t need to worry about hidden fees and charges.
How does it work?
The basic idea behind Ibotta is simple: find an offer while you’re shopping, redeem it in the app, and get paid. It really is about as easy as it sounds.
There are 2 main ways to use Ibotta to find and redeem offers: by shopping in your favorite stores, or online. Here’s everything you need to know about both of those methods, plus some bonus ways to earn, in detail.
1. Getting started
Before you start saving with Ibotta, you’ll have to make an account. It only takes a couple minutes to sign up. There are no fees or charges, and you don’t have to fill out any long, detailed forms.
Just head to their website and click ‘sign up’. You can use your Facebook or Gmail account to make the process even faster. You’ll also want to link your PayPal or Venmo account so you can get paid!
Once you’re all set up, just download the app or browser extension, and start shopping. Ibotta will use your location to find partnered retailers near you. That way, you know exactly where you can get cashback deals in your area without having to search store by store.
2. Shopping in-store
If you want to earn cashback on your groceries, clothes, and other in-store purchases with Ibotta, you have 3 options.
First, you can sign up for a store’s pre-existing loyalty program, and link your loyalty number with your Ibotta account. This is the easiest way to earn cashback – any time you shop at that store, qualifying deals will go straight to your account and you’ll get your cash automatically, with no extra steps. Over 100 retailers have linked their loyalty programs with Ibotta, so chances are, you can use this option to save in your own neighborhood.
Second, you can find offers on the app, pay in-store as you normally would, then submit a photo of your receipt to redeem the offers. This process takes about 5 minutes in total (not including shopping, of course), and it’s an easy way to know how much you’re going to save before you make your purchase.
Third, you can pay through the Ibotta app to automatically find and redeem offers at that particular store. Not all partnered retailers let you pay through the app, but plenty do. Some of the most popular stores where you can use this trick include Old Navy, Chipotle, Lowe’s, Walmart, and more.
3. Shopping online
You can also earn cashback when you’re shopping online with Ibotta by downloading their Chrome extension.
Just like the mobile app, the extension will show you offers at their partnered retailers, and you can redeem them at checkout. Your earnings will be stored in your account, and you can cash out through Paypal or Venmo. I should note that the online savings function of Ibotta is newer than the app, so not as many brands are partnered with them for online savings.
Still, you can earn cashback with over 140 online retailers, including Nike, Grubhub, Kohl’s, and more.
4. Bonus ways to earn
Ibotta also offers a few bonus opportunities to earn cashback, outside of your regular shopping.
You can earn bonuses through the app on a regular basis by clicking on certain offers or shopping at certain stores. Ibotta updates their bonuses regularly, so you’ll have the chance to earn an extra $2 whenever you open the app.
You can also earn a $5 bonus each time you refer a friend to Ibotta and they start using it. Finally, they offer “bonus streaks,” that let you earn extra cashback when you buy the same product or brand multiple times in a row.
5. Getting paid
Once you redeem a cashback offer with Ibotta, you’ll see the money in your account within 48 hours. That money doesn’t automatically transfer to your PayPal or Venmo, but is stored on your account. After you’ve earned your first $20, you can choose when you want to cash out.
You can’t transfer your money to yourself until you have earned at least $20, but don’t stress – that money isn’t going anywhere. It will stay in your account until you’ve earned enough to cash out.
How much can you earn?
So, how much cashback can you really earn by shopping with Ibotta?
To be honest, there’s no clear answer to that. It all depends on what you’re buying and how regularly you shop with their partnered retailers.
It’s totally possible to earn $5 or even $10 cashback on your regular grocery shopping. That might not sound like much upfront, but you’ll be surprised how much those earnings will add up over time. On top of that, you’ll have the opportunity to find great deals on big purchases like car rentals or electronics.
You can think of shopping with Ibotta just like shopping with coupons. If you only use a coupon every once in a while, your savings probably won’t be too significant. But if you save up your coupons and use them strategically whenever you shop, it will make a difference in the long run.
The main difference is that it’s easier to save with Ibotta! You don’t have to collect and save your coupons – just scroll through their deals and shop like you normally would.
Ibotta pros and cons
People around the country love Ibotta for its convenience and high cashback earnings potential. But like any money-saving tool, this app has its benefits and drawbacks.
Here are some of the main pros and cons of Ibotta, to help you decide if it’s right for you.
What do people love about Ibotta?
1. It’s totally free
First and foremost, this cashback app is 100% free to use. You don’t have to pay to sign up, and there are never any hidden fees when you redeem deals or cash out in your account. That’s what really sets Ibotta apart from some of the not-so-legit savings apps out there.
2. You can save on everyday purchases
Some cashback apps and extensions offer awesome deals, but they’re usually for things you aren’t regularly shopping for (like brand-name clothes and accessories or electronics). With Ibotta, you can get cashback on your groceries, meals out, home goods, and other things you buy on a day-to-day basis.
3. It’s easy to use
There are no gimmicks to Ibotta. Other apps let you collect points that you have to redeem for cashback later on, but Ibotta is super straightforward. There are multiple ways to save, and it will never take more than a couple minutes out of your day to get your cashback deals.
4. Get cashback with over 300 retailers
One of the coolest things about Ibotta is the sheer number of retailers you can shop with. From popular restaurants and grocery store chains to delivery apps like Grubhub, you can get cashback on just about anything you need – no need to stick to certain chains or scrounge for deals when you want to save.
What about Ibotta could be better?
1. Lacking customer support
In general, the Ibotta app is pretty easy to use, but when you do have troubles with it, you might have a hard time getting answers. Some users have reported poor customer service and a lack of helpful information on their website.
2. Limited online cashback deals
Your opportunities to earn cashback when you’re shopping online are more limited than when you’re shopping in-store with the app. However, as Ibotta continues to grow and gain popularity, that will probably change in the future.
3. No savings with small businesses
While Ibotta is partnered with tons of major brands to bring you deals, they’re lacking when it comes to smaller, local businesses. You’ll make the most of your savings if you shop mainly at large, brand-name retailers. That’s a bummer for people who want to support small businesses, but as Ibotta continues to grow, more savings opportunities might become available.
Is Ibotta worth it?
Considering all that, is Ibotta really worth your time in 2021?
If you ask me, this cashback app is absolutely worth it. There are some drawbacks, like with any app, but the benefits are awesome. Ibotta is one of the best money-saving tools on the market right now.
Of course, your cashback earnings with Ibotta will vary depending on where you shop and what you buy. But the app is free and easy to use – so there’s pretty much no reason not to use it!
It’s also important to remember that there is no obligation to stick with Ibotta after you start using it. Once you earn your first $20 cashback, you can cash out, and you never have to use the app again if you didn’t like it.
Tips for using Ibotta
Ibotta is worth it no matter how you shop, but if you want to maximize your cashback earnings with this app, there are a few easy tricks you can use.
Stick to these tips to use Ibotta wisely, and you’ll start seeing a difference in your shopping budget.
1. Check offers every day
Brands offer cashback deals through Ibotta as a promotion, so the offers you see on the app or website aren’t going to last forever. Before you head to the store or go online to start shopping, check what deals are available. That way, you’ll know what you can expect to earn in cashback and can plan accordingly.
2. Turn your location on
To find the best deals, you have to let Ibotta see your location. That way you’ll have access to the best deals near you, not just national promotions.
3. Don’t buy something just because of a deal
If you get cashback on something you’re going to buy anyway, that’s a good deal – but if you’re buying something just to get the cashback, you’re not really saving money.
Just like with coupons, you should only use your Ibotta offers for things you were going to buy anyway. Otherwise, the cashback you earn isn’t actually helping you save.
4. Check the app every time you shop
Finally, don’t forget to check the offers on Ibotta every time you go to the store! Even getting a couple bucks back on your groceries every time you shop will add up to significant savings in the long run.
The bottom line: Ibotta is worth a try
There are a lot of money-saving and cashback scams out there. There are also plenty of services that aren’t exactly scams, but won’t really help you save, either.
Ibotta isn’t one of those services. This is a legitimate, safe, and easy to use app to earn cashback on the things you buy every day. If you use it wisely, you can earn over $200 in cashback over the course of a year. That’s definitely worth it, considering how easy it is!
Of course, Ibotta might not be for everybody – but it’s free to get started and use, so why not give it a try?