Ibotta is marketed as one of the easiest ways to earn free cashback while shopping like you normally do. But is the Ibotta app worth the hype? I’ll uncover it all in my Ibotta review for 2021.
Honestly, I was a little skeptical at first about Ibotta. Was it going to be just another app I download and never actually use? Were there going to be offers for the things I buy?
But since I kept hearing about Ibotta, I decided to sign up for a free account and give it a try. I got even more interested once I saw that it works at my all-time favorite grocery store, Aldi.
If you’re interested in trying Ibotta, my Ibotta review will cover all of the basics, from signing up to getting paid. I’ll tell you how much I earned in my first shopping trip with Ibotta, and whether or not there is a catch to using Ibotta.
What is Ibotta?
Ibotta is a cashback savings app that makes it easy for users to save money on everyday purchases. The app is free to use and pays in cash via PayPal or Venmo — not points or anything that has to be redeemed for cash.
Ibotta has partnered with over 1,500 different brands and retailers. The Ibotta app has already paid out over $680 million in cash to users since it was launched in 2012.
You can earn cashback on regular purchases like produce, cereal, pet food, snacks, dairy, meat, etc. Ibotta also has offers for liquor, wine, and beer. There are even offers that let you earn money back at home improvement stores, travel expenses, clothing retailers, and more. You might earn a set dollar amount or a percentage of your purchase.
How does Ibotta work?
You can earn cashback from Ibotta in a couple of different ways — in-store and online — and I’m going to explain each fully in this Ibotta review. But the online app is currently only in beta mode, only letting in a small number of users at a time.
The premise is simple, though. You find offers, redeem them with the app, and get paid by Ibotta. It’s a surprisingly quick and simple way to earn a few bucks back when you shop.
Shopping in-store with Ibotta
Through the Ibotta app (sign-up information further down), you can earn cashback by signing up through store loyalty programs, by adding offers in the app and submitting your receipt, or by paying with the Ibotta app.
Shopping through a store’s loyalty program is the easiest way to earn cashback — you automatically redeem offers. You can link your loyalty account number, email address, or phone number directly in the Ibotta app. If you don’t currently belong to a store’s loyalty program, you can create a new account via Ibotta.
Right now, there are over 100 different stores that have partnered with Ibotta for loyalty cashback. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a couple of my local grocery stores are part of Ibotta’s loyalty program.
Adding offers and submitting your receipt takes a couple more steps, but it might be worth the savings. Here’s how this works:
- Open the Ibotta app
- Click on “Find Offers”
- Pick the store you’re going to be visiting, organized by category (grocery, one-stop-shopping stores, convenience stores, restaurants, entertainment, apparel, travel, home improvement, health and beauty, etc.)
- Select the offers you want to use by clicking on the plus sign
- Complete an activity for certain offers, like watching a short video or answering a poll question
- Shop as you normally would
- Submit a photo of your receipt in the Ibotta app by clicking “Redeem” and verify the offers
In all, this takes maybe 5 minutes.
Paying with the Ibotta app is another super quick way to earn cashback in-store. To pay with the Ibotta app, you select the store in the app, enter the amount, and Ibotta gives you a gift card code or barcode to present to the cashier.
Not all of Ibotta’s partner retailers accept payment this way — the number is currently over 50. But paying with the Ibotta app can help you earn up to 10% back on your purchases. A few popular retailers that accept Ibotta pay are Lowe’s, Chipotle, Ulta Beauty, Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, Office Max, Walmart, and more.
Shopping online with Ibotta
Like I said earlier in my Ibotta review, the online Ibotta app is still in beta mode. This means it’s still being tested to work out any kinks. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can join the waiting list. Not everyone will be accepted, but if you’re given access, you’ll download a Google Chrome extension. This extension makes sure Ibotta gets credit for sending you to its partner stores so you can earn the offers.
For more ways to make money online, read How to Make Money Online: 21 Ways to Make Money From Your Laptop.
More ways to earn cashback with the Ibotta app
Like many cashback apps on the market, Ibotta gives you a couple more ways to maximize your earnings:
- Refer friends. Ibotta users are given referral codes that can be shared with friends, family, even strangers (if that’s your thing). You earn $5 for every successful referral, which means they need to sign up and start redeeming offers through the Ibotta app.
- Earn bonuses. Bonuses are earned by clicking on specific offers or shopping at certain stores. Ibotta releases new bonuses on a regular basis. These bonuses are typically worth $2.
- Bonus streaks. This is an additional bonus that you can earn when you buy the same product or brand several times in a row.
Signing up for Ibotta
It took me two minutes to create my free Ibotta account. You can sign up with your email address or Facebook login. You’ll also need a secure password. Ibotta asks for your name and birthdate (this tells the Ibotta app if you’re old enough to see alcohol offers). Then, Ibotta uses location services to find retailers in your area.
Seriously, that’s it!
Once you have signed up, you can start clicking on offers and earning cash.
Getting paid by Ibotta
The amount you earn will show up in your Ibotta account within 48 hours. That amount is saved in Ibotta, and you can withdraw your cash once your account hits $20. You can cash out via PayPal or Venmo. You can even redeem your cash via store gift cards.
How much can you make with Ibotta?
Ibotta isn’t going to make you rich, but you can earn a few bucks back here and there. With our exclusive M$M link, you can earn your first $20. Really, what you earn depends on how much you use the Ibotta app and the kinds of products you buy.
On my first shopping trip, I earned $5. That’s not much, but if I earned that amount back every week, all year long, I would net $260.
M$M tip: If you’re wondering what you can do with an extra $5 a week, check out this Acorns review: Acorns Review 2021: Helpful Robo-Advisor or Waste of Time? Acorns is a micro investing app where you can start investing with as little as $5 a month.
You can use Ibotta for more than groceries
When I first heard about Ibotta, I assumed it was only for brand name products at stores I didn’t visit. Now, there is a lot of that (I mainly stick to generic products, and I don’t shop at many big box stores).
What surprised me was that I could use the Ibotta app on several generic grocery store items. At the time of writing, bananas and shredded cheese were the generic offers, but this changes regularly. I could even redeem those offers when shopping at my favorite grocery store, Aldi!
You can earn money back on way more than groceries alone. There are current cashback offers on:
- Wine and liquor
- A year of Amazon Prime — right now this is $20 back — a great Amazon Prime hack!
- Pet food
- Craft stores
- Hotel and car rentals
- Electronics (TVs, laptops, washers and dryers, etc.)
It’s honestly worth browsing through the app to see what offers are available, and remember they change on a regular basis.
What is the catch to Ibotta?
Knowing that Ibotta is free and that you earn cash for shopping like you normally would, you might be wondering: is Ibotta legitimate?
Ibotta is 100% legit. Ibotta makes money because they have partnered with different brands and stores to promote products. Ibotta makes money because they’ve encouraged you to buy certain these products, and they pass a little bit of their earnings on to users.
Now, Ibotta is collecting data from users, and this is standard practice from most of the apps you’re already using. We also live in a world where it’s near impossible to escape the reality of data collection. If you don’t like that, simply don’t use the app (or any others, really).
Don’t just buy something because of the offer
This is something I really want to talk about in my Ibotta review…
Yes, Ibotta is an easy way to make cashback, but it won’t help you save money unless you use it wisely. What I mean is this: there are going to be offers for things you wouldn’t actually buy. Spending more money to save a little bit isn’t a good way to manage your money.
The best way to use Ibotta is to redeem offers for things you regularly buy or need. This is how you will really make money with Ibotta.
Who is Ibotta for?
Honestly, Ibotta is for anyone! The people who will get the most out of it are those who regularly purchase brand name items, but don’t forget that there are always generic offers.
If you’re looking for an easy way to make some extra cash, Ibotta is definitely worth checking out!
Ibotta review final word — is Ibotta worth it?
Considering how simple it is to use Ibotta, the fact that you can use it almost everywhere, and that it’s free, it’s worth a try. You’re not earning a lot of money with Ibotta, but it’s easy money. And there aren’t any hoops to jump through, which I love.
If you aren’t using it as much as you thought you would, simply delete the app.