An Honest Review of Ibotta: Pros, Cons & Alternatives
Is Ibotta a legit cash-back app? Let’s have a closer look and find out.
Cash-back apps work by partnering with various retailers and they give you a percentage of your purchase price back in the form of extra cash or points that can then be redeemed for gift cards or other goodies.
There are a number of different cash-back apps available, but Ibotta is easily one of the most popular of them all. If you dive into various reviews and “best-of” lists of savings and cashback apps, Ibotta is guaranteed to be one of the first names to pop up.
In this Ibotta review, I will be putting this free app to the test. I will see precisely how comfortable it is to use, how much I will save, and just how quickly the cash piles up. Plus, I’ll compare it to some of its biggest competitors to find out how it stacks up.
To get a full overview of what you can expect, I actively used Ibotta’s app for 1 month. I mainly used the app for everyday purchases – grocery shopping, online shopping, etc. I can safely say that by now I have a pretty good idea of how this app functions and just how much cashback you can get with it.
So, without further ado, here is our full Ibotta review:
What is the Ibotta app?
Ibotta is a cash back app that was founded by Bryan Leach back in 2012. During one of his routine flights, Leach saw another passenger uploading an expense report.
Seeing this immediately sparked an idea – what if you could use a similar concept for getting cash back on groceries and other everyday services.
With the help of some daring investors, Ibotta took off almost immediately.
These days, Ibotta partners with more than 1500 enterprises. Their impressive list of partners includes the likes of Walmart, Target, and Amazon.
The user base of Ibotta is also massive – the app currently has more than 35 million downloads.
Their reputation alone means that we are not dealing with a scam (and, trust me, there are plenty of scams in the cashback world.)
Is Ibotta safe?
Yes, Ibotta is 100% safe and legitimate. That said, cash back apps are not for people who are super sensitive about their personal data. Why? Because cash back apps often sell shopping-related demographic data. Now, this does not mean that your privacy will be breached – all of the sold data will remain anonymous.
Selling data is a natural part of the business model of cash back apps and good services are also always transparent about what they do with your data.
How does Ibotta work?
One thing that I love about the Ibotta app is that it is ridiculously easy to use. Creating an Ibotta account takes no more than a minute.
Once you have downloaded and installed the shopping app, you will be prompted to create an Ibotta account. This account is where all of your cash back earnings will be stored.
All you have to do is enter a valid e-mail address, your birth date, your full name, and your zip code.
As a little welcome bonus for newcomers, Ibotta also offers a $5 cash back for the first purchase made on a new Ibotta account.
After your account has been created, you can immediately start browsing through the various offers that Ibotta has on offer. As with all cash back apps, you will get the best results if you turn on notifications and location services. Doing this will ensure that you will get all the relevant offers in your location.
To participate in any of these offers, all you have to do is purchase the product or service from one of Ibotta’s partnered retailers. Once you have made your purchase, simply scan the receipt and wait for your cashback to be deposited into your account.
Shopping online with Ibotta is even easier. Just download the Ibotta browser extension and you are good to go. If you shop at an online store affiliated with Ibotta, the browser extension will automatically flash pink. You will then activate eligible offers via the Ibotta browser extension, and…you are all done. When it comes to online shopping, you do not have to scan or send anything extra. Just shop and forget about it.
Now, when can you expect your purchases to be verified and the cash appear on your Ibotta account?
From my experience, about 80% of the deposits are made on the same day of the purchase. On rare occasions, it can take up to 7 days for a receipt to get improved. You can choose to redeem your earnings as cash sent to your linked PayPal account (this is a huge plus of this app, but more on that later) or as gift cards from partners of Ibotta.
However, you should be aware that your accumulated earnings can only be redeemed once you reach a threshold of $20.
My experiences: How much did I earn with Ibotta?
According to official data from Ibotta, an average user earns between $10 and $20 in a month by using Ibotta. However, more active users can expect to earn between $100 and $300.
My own experience with the Ibotta app landed me somewhere in between these numbers – I managed to make exactly $61.70 in Ibotta earnings during one month. Not bad at all considering that I have somewhat slowed down on my in store shopping habits after Coronavirus surges.
These days, I shop online a lot. In fact, when I look back on my data from Ibotta, I can see that approximately half of my cash back came purely from online purchases.
Since the app is quite convenient to use, I can easily see how more active shoppers can rack up over $150 in a month.
Advantages of the Ibotta app
These are the biggest advantages of the Ibotta app when compared to its competitors:
Earnings add up quickly
Ultimately, the success of a cash back app comes down to one key thing – how much money does the app help you save. And, in this department, Ibotta performs well above average. There is A LARGE variety of offers and stores available constantly, so with regular use, you will earn money quite quickly.
Cash withdrawals available
This is a big one. There are many cash back apps that allow you to redeem your earnings exclusively through gift cards. This is not the case for Ibotta – here, you can get real extra cash on your bank account or PayPal account if you wish.
Supports both mobile and computer
Nowadays, a lot of people do their shopping via a computer or a phone. For these reasons, Ibotta has developed an easy-to-use app and a browser extension. As I previously mentioned, half of my earnings came from online purchases.
An intuitive, easy to use interface
The smartphone app and the browser extension are both very well-designed and easy to use. It will take no more than a few minutes to understand how Ibotta functions. Even for people who have never used shopping apps before.
Disadvantages of the Ibotta app
While my overall experience with the app was positive, I still found a few negative aspects here and there.
These are the cons of the Ibotta app:
Reports of bad customer service
When I went through online reviews of Ibotta, I found that some other Ibotta users have complained about the lack of communication and support that they have received from Ibotta. The app is easy to use and the deposits are generally quick, but slow and unsupportive customer service can be bad news for people who do run into technical issues with Ibotta.
Ibotta is exclusive to the US
As of 2022, Ibotta is not available outside the United States. That said, their presence in America is truly impressive – the company reports that it is available in more than 500,000 places in the US.
The app can be a little glitchy at times
There are some reports of Ibotta freezing at random times. For me, this happened only once during online shopping and the issue got solved by simply restarting the app. No biggie, but if freezes like this would be constant, I would second guess using this app regularly.
Tips for maximizing your earnings with Ibotta
How come some people report earning more than $100 with money saving apps while some hardly manage to earn $15 in one month? Well, you need to shop smart to legitimately save money with these apps.
Here are some tips to maximize your earnings with Ibotta:
- Check the Ibotta app before in-store purchases. You probably have an idea of what you need before a shopping trip. Doesn’t matter whether you are going to convenience stores, pet stores, home improvement centers, or even liquor stores. If you want to get the most out of Ibotta, make it a habit to prepare a full list before shopping in-store. Since Ibotta works with nearly all major retailers, you are probably able to find offers for about 75% of the items you buy. At least when we are talking about everyday items.
- Buy in bulk. Ibotta allows you to use the same offers multiple times. This means that when you get a solid deal for a household item such as toilet paper or bottled water, it would be a good idea to buy these items in bulk. In the long run, you will be saving more money.
- Use several cash-back apps simultaneously. I am not a fan of having too much clutter on my phone. That said, I have found that using several cash-back apps simultaneously can boost your earnings tremendously. If you are not able to find a relevant deal from Ibotta, just use some other app. It takes more time, but it is well worth it in the long run. Feel free to check out some of our recommendations in the “alternatives to the Ibotta app” paragraph of this article.
- Use the bonuses. You can earn extra in Ibotta by completing various bonus offers. For example, a bonus might be something like “buy 3 hygiene products and get an automatic $2 cash bonus.” However, I have to warn you that these bonuses can get addicting fast. So make sure not to complete offers for things you do not need.
Top alternatives to Ibotta
Here are some other money-saving apps worth checking out. Remember that no one says you have to use only one cash-back solution. You can easily use the following browser extensions and apps in addition to Ibotta.
- Capital One Shopping – King of saving money from shopping online. Capital One Shopping works via a simple browser extension. Just shop online using the extension and Capital One Shopping quickly forages the net for the best possible price for the item or service you need. If you buy via the extension, you will be rewarded with credits. These credits can then be turned into gift cards from major companies like eBay, Sephora, Expedia, etc.
- Fetch Rewards – Another cash-back app that has a massive amount of eligible offers available at any given time. Fetch Rewards also has several other useful perks like an expense tracking function and a well-paying referral system.
- Topcashback.com – Topcashback offers what are quite possibly the biggest cash-back rates in the industry. That said, the amount of offers is somewhat limited when compared to the likes of Ibotta, Fetch, or Flipp.
- Flipp – One of my go-to cash-back apps when it comes to grocery shopping. It is also one of the rare platforms that you can use without signing up. Flipp is the best bet for people who are timid about sharing their personal information online.
Final verdict: Is Ibotta worth it?
All in all, Ibotta is a great cash-back app. It feels convenient to use and offers more earning opportunities when compared to some of the main competitors. The sheer amount of participating retailers is also impressive – no matter which corner of the US you reside in, this app will probably offer you ways of saving money.
I was also impressed that Ibotta allows you to redeem your rewards in several ways – you do not have to choose from an assortment of gift cards. Instead, you can opt for cash on your PayPal or bank account.
That said, Ibotta is not perfect. There have been some complaints about unresponsive customer service and glitches in the app.
Despite these issues, I still think that Ibotta is worth trying out if you want to get some cashback on your everyday purchases.