Ever try a new cashback app only to find out you have to bend over backward while juggling plates and singing the Star Spangled Banner to average making about…4 cents?
Yeah, no thanks.
So when I mention Ibotta to my friends, most ask – is Ibotta legit? Or am I gonna have to start stretching and get out the plates?
I’ve been using Ibotta for over four years, but only got serious about using it recently. During that time, I’ve earned over $440! Even with earning over $400, is Ibotta legit? Let’s walk through how it works, the types of offers available, and the different ways to redeem these offers.
What is Ibotta and How Does Work?
Ibotta originally started as an app for your smartphone. The primary way to get money from Ibotta while using the app is to:
- Review the offers available for the store you are shopping at
- Make your purchases
- Scan your receipt and barcodes on the products
- Submit and earn cashback
It’s that easy!
Even better, Ibotta has expanded to include saving your loyalty cards to the app (think CVS ExtraCare or Kroger Plus Card). When you use that loyalty card at the register, Ibotta picks up on it, and there are no receipts involved.
Ibotta can also be used for mobile purchases. By clicking through a link in the app to do your online shopping, the purchase is recorded automatically. Again, no need for receipts!
New in 2019, Ibotta also offers a brand new browser plugin so that saving while shopping online is a no-brainer.
With so many ways to save, what’s not to love?
Does Ibotta really give you money?
Yes, Ibotta does really give you money! Each offer varies from 25 cents to upwards of $10. Some of the online offers are a precentage of your total purchase, such as 2%.
If you want to know if Ibotta’s legit, I’ve earned over $440 and have cashed my account out several times through Paypal. It’s an easy way to make some extra cash for Christmas, birthday presents, or vacations.
Here’s a screenshot of my earnings from Ibotta, the majority of which have been in the past year and a half:
How does Ibotta pay me my money?
When researching if an app is legit (specifically, if Ibotta is legit), it’s important to see what the payout threshold is, and how the app pays you.
Ibotta pays out several ways once you hit the $20 threshold:
- Through your linked PayPal account
- Through your linked Venmo account
- Purchase a gift card through the app (some have a $25 minimum)
There are currently over 65 gift card options to use when cashing out – including Target, Chiptole, Whole Foods, Bath and Body Works, and everything in between.
What’s the catch with Ibotta? How does Ibotta make money?
Since you’re wondering is Ibotta legit, chances are you’re expecting a catch. But there really is no catch with Ibotta. Ibotta makes money through affiliate partnerships. By driving users to these offers, they earn money. They also get paid for playing short video clips and polls when you unlock an offer.
It only takes seconds to do and is probably the only downside to Ibotta. The good news is, both are legal, and neither cost you anything.
All the Different Ways to Use Ibotta: App vs. Mobile vs. Browser
To get started, sign up for Ibotta here. By using this link (you don’t even need an Ibotta referral code), you can get a $10 bonus. Easy money!
Next, you’ll want to install the app. Even if you end up purchasing through the other methods, having the app is great because it’s easier to check your bonuses, earnings, and submit customer service requests.
How Ibotta works In-Store with the app
In the app, you’ll start by looking at the store you’ll be shopping at. One thing to note is that not all offers are available at all stores. They vary by store, so you’ll want to make sure that the items you wish to buy are available where you shop.
There are about 300 stores that are currently available to shop at, so you have a wide variety of places to shop at.
I like to unlock my offers before I shop. That way, I know what I need to do to get that rebate.
For example, there might be a restriction where you have to purchase two of an item to get the cashback. Or, it might only apply to items that are 11oz or larger in that brand. It can vary, so it’s essential to pay attention to the details on each offer.
You may have to watch a video or take a short poll, but it’s seconds to do and super easy.
Now that you have your cash back rebates picked at the store of your choice, do your shopping as usual.
After you’ve done your shopping, now it’s time to scan your receipt. (Which really means you’ll just take pictures of your receipt.) Often, it takes more than a couple to get the entire receipt. There are guides to show you how to line it up and to add multiple images.
Now that you’ve submitted your receipt, you’ll be asked to scan the barcodes on the products you’ve purchased and are filing for cashback.
Pro Tip: Scan your receipt and purchases as soon as you get home. Don’t wait! Otherwise, the chances of the packaging being damaged or thrown out are high. Without that barcode, it’s difficult (not impossible) to claim that offer.
And that’s it! Don’t forget to check out the bonuses to see if those apply as well.
How Ibotta works In-Store with Loyalty Cards
By linking your loyal cards to your app, you can really shorten the submittal process.
Start by adding all of your loyalty cards to the app. You’ll find the retailer and add your loyalty card number, store account number, or phone number, depending upon the retailer.
Next, you’ll unlock the offers you want to purchase and do your usual shopping.
When you check out, make sure to use your loyalty card (or provide your phone number, in some cases). This notifies Ibotta that you’ve made the purchase.
The best part about this is there’s no need to scan a receipt or barcodes! By linking your rewards card, Ibotta sees what you’ve purchased and can verify it without the extra work.
How Ibotta works with Mobile Purchases
It just keeps getting easier to make purchases with Ibotta! In 2018 or so (maybe earlier? I can’t quite remember…), they added the ability to shop online with your phone.
Just find the online retailer you want to buy from, and look through the offers available. Some offer a flat percentage back on all purchases. Others offer cashback on specific items. It varies, so you’ll have to take the time to look through and decide which are worth your time.
For example, they currently offer a 1% cashback with an online purchase at Lowes.
But online at The Home Depot, they are currently offering 1.5% cashback on furniture and home decor.
Again, make sure to check the offers thoroughly before you make your purchase.
Once you’ve decided on a retailer and offer, just click through the link that Ibotta offers and your shopping trip is recorded. Make your purchase, and your job is done. No submitting receipts!
Please note that the processing time can be longer on these types of cashback offers. Often they wait for the order to process, ship and make sure it isn’t returned before the money shows up in your account.
How Ibotta works with the Browser Plugin
New in 2019, Ibotta has released a browser plugin for Chrome. This makes it easy to see when an offer is available and that you’ll never forget to get cashback on any purchase!
This works a little bit differently than the app. You’ll install the browser plugin for Chrome and sign in to your account.
To use this, you’ll need to link a debit or credit card to your Ibotta account (I recommend credit for better security).
When you load a retailer’s website, a small pop-up appears in the corner of the page. It has exact instructions on how to get cashback.
You’ll add items to your cart, and when you’re ready to check out, you’ll pay with the plugin rather than putting in your credit card information. This ensures that you get credit for your purchase and receive your cashback offer.
I’ve often used Rakuten for this (formerly Ebates), but I’m excited to try out the Ibotta browser plugin now!
Stores that Ibotta Works At
There are over 300 stores that Ibotta works at. When you create your account, you’ll be asked to add any stores that you’re interested in seeing offers for.
You can always edit or add to this list. Also, Ibotta will show you these stores (and more!) whenever you open the app. This way you can browse offers for places you love, as well as others that are similar.
Stores are also organized by category, so if you know you need to make a travel purchase, you can compare the offers and figure out which is best.
The current categories available include:
- Online Shopping
- Beer, Wine, and Spirits
- Beauty and Wellness
- Restaurants and Bars
- Convenience Stores
- Crafts and Gifts
- Home and Electronics
As of September 2019, there are over 300 retail chains, restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores, home improvement centers, pet stores, and pharmacies nationwide. The app caters to your location and shows you offers and stores available in your area, rather than a bunch of suggestions for stores you’ll never visit.
Tips and tricks to using Ibotta
After using Ibotta for a while, it’s easy to pick up tips and tricks to maximize your savings. These are the hacks I’ve found to be the easiest and quickest to use:
- Take advantage of the “Any Brand” offers. These offers are easy savings since it’s for things like eggs, milk, cereal, or other staples just about everyone buys. There are usually no restrictions on these, just as long as they fall into that category, they qualify!
- Make sure the offer isn’t going to expire. The thing I love about Ibotta is that it has a visual reminder to let you know that the offer is going to expire soon. With other apps, I’ve struggled with making the purchase only to find out it’s expired by the time I try to submit it. Which leads to the next tip…
- Submit your receipt as soon as you get home from the store. Just make it a habit. Otherwise, a week will slip by, and either the offers will expire, or Ibotta will no longer accept your receipt. Just do it as soon as possible and get it off your plate!
- Check the offer details. I’ve been snagged on this a couple of items. I didn’t check the offer details, and found out I needed to purchase three, but only got two. Or, I got the wrong size that wasn’t covered by the offer.
- Scan as you shop. I love this! If I’m not sure if an offer covers a specific variation of an offer, you’ll select the offer, and then scan the barcode to see if it will accept it. No getting home and finding out you grabbed the wrong thing!
- Check out the bonuses. Make sure to check out the bonuses. They vary greatly and can be a great way to boost your savings. Some types of offers include:
- A bonus for purchasing a certain number of items from a brand
- A bonus for buying a combination of multiple brands
- Bonuses for cashing in on a certain amount of offers (for example, $3 bonus for claiming 10 offers in a time period)
- Weekend bonuses
- Monthly bonuses for your team
- Holiday/seasonal bonuses
- Referral bonuses
- Don’t buy what you don’t need. It’s easy to fall into the cashback trap of trying to snag every offer you can find. Don’t do it. Only get what you’d typically buy. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a ton of stuff you don’t need.
- Build your team for bonuses. You can connect your Ibotta account with Facebook or Google. When you do this, your friends that are using Ibotta will be on your team, and you’ll reach monthly bonuses faster.
- Use your referral code to earn extra cash. Once you’ve tried Ibotta, send your Ibotta referral code to friends and family. Both you and they will get a bonus (usually $10 each!) when they sign up and claim their first offer.
- Stack Ibotta savings with sales, other apps, and coupons. This takes a little planning, but in doing so, I’ve been able to get items for free. You can learn more about stacking apps and coupons in this article. Just make sure you don’t do anything questionable and end up getting banned from Ibotta!
New Ibotta Functionality in 2019
Recently, Ibotta has done a big round of updates to its functionality and added new ways to save, which puts the “Is Ibotta legit?” question to rest, once and for all. While I’ve covered them a bit already, here’s a quick rundown of what’s new in 2019:
- Ibotta browser extension. This browser extension for Chrome allows you to shop online without missing a discount. A small pop-up shows you exactly how to save and what offers are available at that retailer.
- Pay with Ibotta. When you add a debit or credit card to Ibotta, you can use Ibotta to pay at your favorite retailers. It simplifies the purchase process by combining the offer and payment method, making it easier to spend and save.
- Walmart Grocery Pick up (HOOORAY!). If you haven’t tried Walmart grocery pick up yet, what are you waiting for? It’s so easy, and I love that I can shop online while getting the kids to bed, and pick up the groceries in the morning. No more fighting two kids over an hour to get groceries. Even better? Now you can get money back through Ibotta for using the grocery pick up. Win-win!
- Register loyalty cards. Now you can register your loyalty cards with Ibotta so that you can redeem offers without having to scan receipts. It makes it even easier to grab those offers!
Final Verdict: Is Ibotta Legit?
So, is Ibotta legit? Yes! The pros majorly outweigh the cons. Now you don’t need a smartphone to use it, which is excellent. I love that it offers so many ways to save. Add sales and coupon stacking, and it’s a great way to shave even more money off of your grocery budget.
There are only a few cons to using Ibotta. There are restrictions and expiration dates on offers. I’ve run into issues where my receipt wouldn’t scan correctly, but their customer service is exceptional and quick to help solve the problem. Overall, I have very few complaints about Ibotta, and none of those keep me from questioning is Ibotta legit.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to use this link to sign up and your $10 bonus!
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Similar Apps like Ibotta
Now that we’ve answered is Ibotta legit…are you interested in learning more about similar cashback and rebate apps? Here are the ones I’ve tried and recommend:
- Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
- Checkout 51
- Receipt Hog
- Fetch Rewards
Learn more about my favorite cash back apps here.