Ibotta Review: Earn More Cash Back When Shopping for Groceries

ibotta appThere are a lot of ways to save when shopping for groceries. Some are better than others. Some may suit your style. Some may not. I like using cash back credit cards to make a little money back when shopping for groceries. I know some people who spend time clipping or printing coupons and earning cash back that way.

There’s a new way to earn more cash back when shopping for groceries. It’s called Ibotta (read like, “I bought a…”). It’s a free mobile app that allows you to earn cash back (not points) for completing simple, in-app tasks and then buying specific grocery items. I signed up and downloaded the Ibotta app last week. I also had a call with the Ibotta team to learn more. This is my review of Ibotta.

The Way Ibotta Works

1. Download app 2. View offers and complete tasks 3. Buy selected items 4. Upload receipt 5. Withdraw cash 6. Repeat steps 2-5 every week or so

Your first step is to download the Ibotta app. The app is only available for iPhone and iPad users right now. Android app is on it’s way soon they say (get notification).

Once you have the app and sign up, you are presented with several products (things you’d find at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, etc.). I was presented with 64 different products. If you see a product you want, touch it and you will be presented with different tasks you can complete to earn cash back when you purchase this item. The tasks are things like: watch a 30 second video, take a quick poll, etc. I found all the tasks to be painless and sometimes fun.

Once you complete a task, your potential earnings are banked into your running total. The more product tasks you complete, the more you earn. I found four products of the 64 offered that I routinely buy: Jiffy Peanut Butter, Diet Coke, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Oscar Mayer Deli Sliced Turkey). Completing all the tasks in these offers netted me $2.50 in potential earnings.

I haven’t fully earned the cash back until I actually buy the items. So, your next step is to head to the store and purchase the items. Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and some place called Duane Reade are the stores currently working with Ibotta. More stores, like Kroger and CVS, are in the works.

Once you have your receipt, use your iPhone or iPad to take a picture of the receipt showing the store name and items. Upload your picture to the Ibotta app and within a few hours they will add the potential earning over to your official “Ibotta Earnings”, where you can then transfer the cash over to your PayPal account ($5 minimum).

More product offers are added to your Ibotta app each time you upload your receipt to redeem your cash. You can also like or dislike your current Ibotta offers so that you aren’t shown those types of offers in the future (think Pandora voting buttons).

The Earning Potential of Ibotta

Ibotta is presenting itself as a way to earn $20 or more cash back each time you go shopping. I suppose if you let Ibotta help you decide what to buy then that might be true. In my case, I was only able to find $2.50 worth of offers (earned on 4 products) that I could use.

Mrs. PT could probably add another $5.00 to the potential earnings, netting us $7.50. That’s not a lot in savings, but it’s $7.50 that we didn’t have before, and we aren’t spending more than we normally would.

ibotta app review

The free Ibotta App helps you earn money when shopping for groceries.

Others are reporting more cash back earnings. If you hit up their Facebook page, you’ll see Ibotta users regularly reporting cash back earnings in the $20 range.

Ibotta promises to fine tune the offers to products that I like, so I guess the jury is still out on whether I can “train” Ibotta into giving me $20 worth of cash back offers each trip to the grocery store.

Additionally, Ibotta has a referral program that will net you $1 for each person that signs up through your referral link and completes an offer.

The Technology of Ibotta

The Ibotta app is simple, clean, and intuitive. Big pictures of the products on the offers page is key to making this app so user friendly. It takes seconds to scan through the list of offers and make the “yep, I buy that / no, I’d never get that” decision. Completing the tasks is easy too and all of it happens seamlessly there within the app.

One small complaint: I do wish the voting buttons were right there on the main “offers” page so you could quickly eliminate offers that aren’t well suited. It takes me two clicks to get to the screen where I can vote on an offer. I don’t see why this couldn’t be incorporated into the main offers screen, or at least on the individual product screen.

As noted above, the Ibotta app is currently available for iPhone and iPad. The android app is coming soon.

The Need for Ibotta

The very first thing that comes to mind when looking at this app is the fact that people who pay around $100 a month for a iPhone (a $300 piece of technological wizardry) are using an app that will save them, at most, around $20 on their grocery bill. I’m not making light of $20 in savings. But up against the ridiculousness of smart phone expenses, it seems a bit off doesn’t it?

What I do like about Ibotta is that it gives us a quick alternative to couponing and it’s built into our phone. Some people are never going to sit down and clip coupons, but they will load this app and check out the offers. The tasks are simple enough not to be a barrier.

I think the biggest hurdle Ibotta has to clear is the receipt upload. It’s the one manual piece in the process that could be a big enough barrier to keep people from using it. I’m assuming Ibotta is looking forward into mobile payment solutions to eliminate the receipt upload thing.

The People Behind Ibotta

Ibotta is crushing it when it comes to customer support. Their Facebook page is filled with questions/comments/concerns from their user base. Ibotta is on top of all of it and handling the feedback real time. This is impressive and should be encouraging for anyone who wants to give Ibotta a try.

Have you tried Ibotta? Have you found it to be a practical way to earn cash back on your grocery shopping? Have questions about the app? Fire away in the comments below.

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Last Edited: October 23, 2012 @ 12:33 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

7 comments
NataliePost
NataliePost

I love ibotta and when you combine their offers with cut out coupons you can end up only paying cents on some items ... I am tending to buy things I don't necessarily need because its just kinda fun trying new products at a discounted price

ahathaway
ahathaway

Great review but what is the time investment?  The reason I ask is I don't do coupons because they are not worth the time spent and I am afraid that this might be the same thing.

IbottaApp
IbottaApp

@ptmoney one of the best layouts we've seen. great blog. great post. even more awesome review. :)

AverageJoeMoney
AverageJoeMoney

I haven't tried Ibbota, but I'm always open to apps that will save me money. Downloading right now to check it out!

GaelicWench
GaelicWench

Excellent review, Phil, and certainly worth giving a try once it's available for android. I submitted my email so I can be notified.The tasks are very much like what I used to do when I shopped at Rite Aid. So, this is not new to me, making it a very reasonable way to earn a little money.

 

The drawback not mentioned is buying products one usually doesn't use just to get $20. Don't spend for the sake of getting more cash back.

Philip Taylor
Philip Taylor moderator

 @ahathaway Yep, I'd say this took around 5 mins to signup and sort through the offers. Now I have my "shopping list" and next time I shop I'll break it out to remind me of what to get. When I get my receipt I'll do the picture upload, which should take another 2-3 mins. Add a couple more mins to transfer to PayPal and you're talking about a 10 min time commitment to save between $5 and $25 dollars each shopping trip.

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Philip Taylor
Philip Taylor moderator

 @GaelicWench Thanks. Yep, you have to make sure the savings tool is not creating extra spending, or you negate the whole process.

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