Disclaimer: The statements made in this post are the opinion of the author. They should not be viewed as financial advice. Please consult with a financial specialist before making any financial decisions.
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This site is not a super coupon site, so when I say I am not here to sell you on using Ibotta to make a quick buck. I mean it.
My goal is to help people that are trying to save some money know whether or not Ibotta is a waste of time.
That being said, I will simply answer a few questions about Ibotta to help you decide if it is worth your time as a frugal person to use the app.
Ibotta: How It Works
I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty here, but I’ll give a quick overview of what Ibotta does. You shop and upload your receipts. The uploaded receipts are used to give you rebates on some purchases AND to track how and where you are spending your money. That information is sold to companies for various purposes.
Ibotta is also used as a platform to encourage you to purchase certain products by offering a rebate. Since $0.50 could be the difference between buying the name brand and the off brand, many name brand products offer rebates through Ibotta.
Ibotta: How To Use It
If you want a step by step guide on what to do, I recommend you check out Ibotta’s Ultimate Guide.
More simply, this is how to use it.
- Download the app on your phone in the app store or Google play.
- Sign up for an account. They don’t email you often, so don’t worry about spam.
- Browse and add rebate offers to your account.
- Upload receipts that include those items to collect cash.
- Cash out your purchases when you’ve made $20 in rebates.
Now that we understand the mechanics, what is the best approach to using Ibotta?
There are two approaches to using Ibotta.
One approach is to go through the app and compare it to your grocery list. Then decide what you are going to buy and where you are going to buy it. Not all rebates are available at every store, so double check. Then strategically plan your purchases based on available rebates.
The other way is to do all of you purchasing then go back and look at what you bought to see if any rebates are available before you upload your receipts.
Both of these approaches have strengths and weaknesses that you should consider. The first approach is more time consuming. It can take between 5 and 6 minutes (or more) to compare your list to the available rebates. But it can also make you more money in rebates.
The second approach takes less time. About 1-2 minutes. But you don’t make much money because you probably didn’t buy the name brand that had the rebate attached to it.
So you can either take 1-2 minutes to make about $0.50 back each time you shop. Or you can take 5-6 minutes to make back up to $2 each time you shop.
Is Ibotta Worth It?
Now that we understand the basics of Ibotta we can analyze this using just the numbers.
We’ll use the worst case scenario on time used to make sure we don’t make it sound better than it is.
If you spend 2 minutes each time you shop to make $0.50 in rebates that translates to $15 an hour. (2 X 30 = 60 minutes. $0.50 X 30 = $15). Not bad money for the amount of time or effort you put in. Just keep in mind that this fluctuates. Some days you’ll only make $0.10 back and others you’ll make $2.00 just depending on how lucky you were shopping.
If you spend 6 minutes preparing before you go shopping to make $2 in rebates that translates to $20 an hour. (6 X 10 = 60minutes. $2 X 10 = $20). That sounds like great money.
But it isn’t that simple. To get the higher rebate you’ll also need to shop at different stores and find the correct brand and ounces to qualify, etc. That all takes time. Driving across town or just making an extra stop cuts into your time as well.
Minutes add up and your return rate can drop from $20 an hour to $15 to $10 or lower depending on how far you have to go and how long you take looking for the right product.
The “don’t look at the app until you’ve already made a purchase” approach, however, won’t have that problem. You’ll simply do the shopping you planned on doing. Add the rebates you happened to get into your account. Then upload the receipt to get some free money.
That is about $15 an hour worth of extra cents, basically guaranteed.
So between these two approaches, I would say that the buying blind approach is actually more sustainable long term and the better money maker too.
I know that I don’t have the attention span to analyze all the rebates and optimize for purchases every week. If that’s you, you’ll probably get tired of it and stop doing it.
But Should I Even Use Ibotta?
Honestly, whether or not Ibotta is worth it for you depends on who you are.
Are you a nickel here, a dime there type of saver? Then sure, Ibotta isn’t a bad way to get some extra money back.
Do you have trouble remembering to handle your receipts or don’t feel motivated by $0.10? Then maybe you should consider a different app or just don’t worry about rebates altogether.
Is Ibotta a Waste of Time?
Ibotta can be a tremendous waste of time, but it can also be a useful tool for getting some easy cash back. It depends on how you use it.
For me, the biggest flaw with Ibotta is that it isn’t automatic. You must go through, find what you bought, and add those items to your account to make sure that you get the rebate. Other apps just let you upload a receipt without any of the extra work.
But, the real question is what else will you be doing with that time? Will you be running a small business that can make much more than $15 an hour? Or will you be sitting on my couch watching the Bachelor?
I often will do my Ibotta uploading while my wife drives us home from the store. That way none of my time is wasted because I would be just sitting in the car anyway. But more often than not I forget about Ibotta so it just takes up space on my phone.
So what kind of person are you? That will decide whether or not you should use Ibotta.
There is nothing wrong with Ibotta. Some people love it, others don’t. It just depends on whether or not you want to spend your time looking through their lists of rebates to get a few cents back each time you shop.
If my analysis has made you consider using Ibotta, then go ahead and download Ibotta here. You’ll get a bonus and so will I. But only get it if it is right for you.
If you are thinking that Ibotta is a waste of time, but you want a different option, I would recommend Fetch Rewards. You can use my referral code (C8WPN) for 2,000 bonus points. And be on the look out for my deep dive into using Fetch Rewards coming soon!
What successes have you had using Ibotta? What is your least favorite part about using Ibotta? Tell me about it in the comments below.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Ibotta
Is Ibotta Real? Does Ibotta Really Give You Money?
Yes, Ibotta is a real company and yes they do give out real money. Between my wife and I we’ve redeemed about $60 so far (and we haven’t used it very much). You just need to have a paypal account or trust them with your banking info to get the money into your account.
Ibotta is not a Ponzi scheme and they are doing what they say they’re doing. Which is giving your rebates and selling your information to companies for a profit.
Is Ibotta Safe?
If you are wondering if the company Ibotta is planning a major heist that is going to steal all of your money, your identity, and ruin your credit, then yes Ibotta is safe. The company has a good reputation and seems to be doing well.
What you need to consider, however, is that they are selling the information you provide to them to various companies. So if you aren’t okay with your name, and probably address, being sold to a company along with your purchasing habits, then you probably shouldn’t use Ibotta (or any rebate app for that matter).
As with any of tech company that keeps your information on file, there is a risk of them being hacked, but the information they have on you is very minimal compared to a bank so it is unlikely to lead to fraud or impact your credit score.
Can Ibotta Be Used On A Computer?
Yes, you can use Ibotta on a computer, but the app is the original and better managed platform. Their chrome extension is still in beta mode(as of September 2020). So if you don’t have a smartphone you are welcome to still try and use it, but don’t expect as great of results as smartphone users.
Using this new beta mode, Ibotta can be used for online purchases on your computer. Online purchases are also available on ibotta through the app. You just have to go to the app and do all of your browsing and shopping on the app which isn’t the best browsing tool.
What Does Free After Offer Mean?
You’ll notice on Ibotta that there is a flag that says “free after offer”. This just means that at the store you’ll pay for the item at full. Then when you upload your receipt you will be rebated the full amount of the price of the time. This gets stored in your ibotta account until you are able to redeem your money at $20 worth of rebates.
Can I Use the Same Receipt Twice on Ibotta?
No, they keep track of the receipts you upload so you don’t just get the same rebate again and again. You can, however, use the same receipt on multiple rebate apps. Since each company has different sources of income, offers available, motivations as a company, and so on the information is stil. helpful to other rebate companies. Using this you can get a lot of rebates for one receipt, it just takes more time to go through each rebate app.
How Do I Get Paid on Ibotta?
Ibotta offers you multiple ways to get your money. You can do paypal, gift cards, and even direct deposit. You can only get your money out if you have accumulated $20 in rebates. I would recommend paypal or gift cards because the less people that have your banking information the better.
How Much Can I Make With Ibotta?
The number will range significantly depending on how much you shop, where you shop, how much you buy name brand items, how much you’re willing to try new items, if you use Ibotta’s online shopping platform, and if you use/count the pay with Ibotta function.
In other words, there is no way to tell how much you will make, but you should be able to chase out (meaning hit $20 in rebates) multiple times a year.