Everything You Need to Know About This Cult-Favorite Money-Saving App

published Jul 17, 2018
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A few weeks ago, we wrote a story called 10 Tiny Ways to Save Money This Month. One of the tips was to download the Ibotta app, and we got a mix of feedback from you guys: Some of you said the savings were too minuscule or that your go-to groceries weren’t featured often enough, while others said they’ve earned more than $100. And some of you hadn’t heard of it at all!

If you fall into that last camp (or if you have and just need a refresher), here’s a quick introduction to the cult-favorite app that penny-pinching bloggers seem to love.

First, What’s Ibotta?

Ibotta is an app that you download (for free; see fact number one!) onto your phone. You then browse through the app to add deals (think of it like clipping virtual coupons!). Then, once you buy those items at participating stores (more than 280 chains participate, so don’t worry), you get the savings sent to an account in a form of cash back, if you will. That’s kind of it in a nutshell. Keep reading for a deeper look.

1. It’s free!

The Ibotta app is totally free to download and use. Spend zero dollars and a little bit of time, and you get a lot of dollars back. Why wouldn’t you give this app a try?

2. It’s pretty darn inclusive.

More than 280 stores work with Ibotta. (And they’re real stores that you actually want to shop at!) When signing up for the app, I typed in my zip code and it pulled up a bunch of stores near me, including three that I visit a ton: Target, CVS, and Price Chopper. It also had me pick my favorite shopping apps (I picked Amazon, Groupon, Target, Jet, and Boxed). You can always go back and add or remove stores and you can still check out the offers for other stores, even if you haven’t selected them.

3. It’s not just for groceries.

I first got interested in the app because of its grocery perks, but it also has offers for clothing (think: Gap, Bloomingdales, Stitch Fix) and restaurants. You can get offers at places like Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday, and Buffalo Wild Wings — and you can also get offers that are good anywhere and get money back for ordering a certain type of wine or beer.

4. You can earn up to $65 right off the bat.

Upon signing up, you become eligible for a $10 welcome bonus. You just have to reach $10 in earnings from various offers (more on that below) and then you get another $10. You also get an additional $2 back when you redeem your first in-store offer and $3 back on your first mobile shopping purchase. Got some friends? You can get an additional $5 for every friend who signs up using your referral code (up to five friends) and then you get a $25 bonus for your fifth friend (for a total of $50).

5. Saving money is as easy as scrolling through the app.

In order to get money back, you have to add various offers before you shop. It sounds daunting, but it’s seriously as easy as scrolling through social media. You can browse offers by store or by category and then just tap to add them. Offers can be vague (25 cents back when you buy shredded cheese — any brand as long as it’s four ounces or larger) or brand-specific (50 cents back when you buy Land O’Lakes eggs of any variety and any size). The best deals are often for milk and eggs.

6. You can also just scan your items.

Don’t want to scroll through the app? You can use the barcode scanner to scan your items as you place them in the cart. If there’s an applicable offer, the app will add it automatically.

7. There’s a bonus section.

In addition to the regular offers, there’s a bonus section where you can get more money for combining offers. For example, when I looked, I could have gotten 50 cents back on a Lipton Iced Tea package and 50 cents back on Lay’s Potato Chips — if I’d bought them both, I’d get an additional 50 cents back for a total of $1.50 back. There are also bonuses for getting stuff done: You can often get $2 back just for redeeming any three rebates in a week.

8. You can work in teams.

You can connect your Facebook account to the app and team up with your friends to earn even more money. Right now, if I redeem seven offers and my team redeems at least $8 worth of offers, I’d get an extra 50 cents back. The bigger your team, the easier it is to hit these goals — and the more goals you hit, the more money you earn.

9. Redeeming offers for money is easy.

There are a few ways you can redeem your offers and it depends on the store you’ve shopped at. (Don’t worry — the app makes it clear what you need to do.) You can either take a photo (or multiple photos) of your receipt, link your store loyalty card to the app, or scan a QR code. Then the folks at the app match up your purchases with your saved offers and put the money right into your app’s account.

10. You usually have a week to upload your receipts.

You can typically upload your receipts for up to one week after your shopping trip. Not only does that mean you have time to send in your stuff, but it also means you can add offers and get money back retroactively if a new deal for something you bought happens to pop up.

11. You should check the app on Wednesdays — and Thursdays.

Most of the new offers get released on the app on Wednesdays and then more offers pop up through Thursday. Adjust your shopping schedule accordingly.

12. You can withdraw the cash each time you hit $20.

Every time your app account hits $20, you can download the money. It can either go into a PayPal or Venmo account. You can also choose to turn the money into gift cards for places like Applebee’s, Amazon, Domino’s, and more.

Do you use Ibotta? Anything else people need to know? If you don’t use Ibotta, why not?