Reviews

Ibotta Review + $20 Referral Code Link & 7 Best Hacks

women smiling looking at grocery receipt
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Ibotta is a free app that allows you to earn cash back both in-store and online. 

I’ve been using Ibotta to save money on grocery purchases for over three years, and I’ve found it to be well worth the little bit of time it takes.

I’ve found it to be a reputable, legit and valuable service. And my positive experience seems to be typical based on Ibotta reviews from other users, as the app has a 4.8/5 rating from well over 1.2 million users on the iOS app store alone.

And right now, there are $20 in welcome bonus offers when you sign up using this link.

RJ's Ibotta savings


This Ibotta review will cover:

  • How does Ibotta work?
  • How to use Ibotta (including step-by-step instructions).
  • How to use Ibotta mobile (including step-by-step instructions).
  • How does Ibotta make money?
  • How much can you expect to earn?
  • How to maximize your Ibotta account earnings (the tips, hacks and secrets you need to know).
  • Apps like Ibotta (and how to combine them for deep discounts).

Without further ado, here’s my honest review of Ibotta — and everything you need to know to maximize your cash back.

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Ibotta is a free cashback app for saving money at the grocery store — often without changing your shopping habits or buying different products.

Pros:
  • Works at over 300 grocery store chains, including Kroger, Trader Joe's, Walmart and others.
  • Many offers for everyday items like bread and milk that can be used on any brand/at any store.
  • The cash-out minimum of $20 is easy to hit ⁠— especially with the $20 in welcome bonuses that are available for new users.
Cons:
  • A few top grocery stores are not yet supported ⁠— most notably, Publix.
  • Getting the most out of Ibotta takes a little bit of commitment. You'll need to remember to review offers before you head to the store, and then take the time to upload your receipt when you get home.

Ibotta Review

How Does Ibotta Work?

You know how digital coupons work. Just think of Ibotta like digital coupons. But instead of getting your discount at the register, you get a cash back rebate added to your Ibotta account.

That cash back builds up in your account. Whenever you feel it’s reached a big enough sum that you want to take it out, you can withdraw it.

If you want real cash, you can use PayPal or Venmo. Or, you can also exchange your Ibotta balance for free gift cards.

That can be a good strategy because sometimes the gift cards are offered at a discount. You might only have to pay $20 to get a $25 gift card, for instance.

There are two ways to earn with Ibotta:

  1. In-store shopping.
  2. Mobile shopping.

How to Use Ibotta In-Store (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Step #1: Go to the app and create an account.

Step #2: Find offers or stores you’re interested in.

You’ll access this feature by clicking on the small magnifying glass that says “Find Rebates” under it.

If you’re looking for a particular store, just type the name in the search engine. It also might be listed as one of the featured stores near the top of the page.

Stores include most national grocery store chains, such as Safeway, Kroger, Publix, Whole Foods, Wegmans, etc., as well as major big-box stores like Walmart and Target, and warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s.


Step #3: Add the offers you’re interested in.

Go ahead and add whatever items are on your grocery list. For some offers, you’ll have to complete a simple task in order to add the offer (such as watching a short video).

Step #4: After selecting your offer, go shopping.

Don’t forget to get your receipt at the register, and don’t crumple it up; you’ll have to take a photo of it to earn your cash back.

Step #5: When you’re home, go to the Ibotta app and hit the “redeem” button.

Follow the instructions for verifying your purchases. You’ll need to scan the product barcodes and send a picture of your receipt.

Step #6: Cash out!

Once you’ve accumulated at least $20 in your account, you can withdraw it to PayPal or Venmo (or exchange it for gift cards).

How to Use Ibotta Mobile (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Ibotta is best known for its in-store grocery coupons. But the app is quickly growing into a solid online shopping portal that ranks up there with Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) and Swagbucks.

Here’s how the shopping portal aspect of Ibotta works. 

Step #1: Download the Ibotta app and register

Step #2: Log in and search for a retailer you want to shop at.

Sometimes the deals you’ll find are quite substantial. When writing this review, we found offers for 12% cash back on Groupon and 6% back on Hotels.com.

Step #3: Click through to the retailer’s site using the link in Ibotta.

From there, you simply shop as you normally would. 

Step #6: Make the purchase.

Retailers automatically send notification of your purchase back to Ibotta, so there’s no need to upload a digital receipt.

Step #7: Cash out when you’re ready.

After you accumulate $20, you can transfer your earnings to your Venmo or PayPal account. If you prefer, you can also request payment via gift card to a number of major retailers. 

How Does Ibotta Make Money?

When you’re getting free money like this, it’s important to know why. It helps you understand why cash back apps aren’t a scam if you know how they earn their profits. This knowledge will make you feel more comfortable if you’ve ever wondered, “Is Ibotta legit?”

Ibotta works by referring customers to a store. Ibotta gets paid a referral commission whenever something is bought. That’s how it makes its money.

Ibotta is happy to share some of that referral commission with you, because you’re a key part of their success. Without you and other shoppers like you, they wouldn’t earn a referral commission.

And the service benefits companies that are pushing certain products because having a cash-back offer can make customers more likely to buy that particular item. This kind of platform is a win-win situation for everyone involved – the company, Ibotta and the customer.

Ibotta also earns money from the advertisements on its platform. Remember that video you had to watch to unlock an offer?

How Much Can You Expect to Earn?

How much a person earns with Ibotta depends upon how much they shop, how much they use the app, and if they use it just for products or for services as well.

Sometimes there are offers that will bulk up your earnings. Take that Hotels.com 6%-off deal we discussed earlier; people who used that opportunity to book a vacation or a bunch of work trips obviously will make a lot more off of Ibotta than someone who just clips a few yogurt coupons.

Or, if you have several kids in your household, you’re going to earn a lot more cash back from groceries than someone who is just buying for one person.

Overall, most people can earn back at least a few dollars a week just shopping for pretty basic groceries. 

How to Maximize Your Ibotta Earnings (Tips, Hacks, and Secrets You Need To Know)

Hack #1: Ibotta Preferred Partners

Ibotta has a Preferred Partners plan that includes retailers who are affiliated directly with Ibotta.

That allows you to link loyalty cards to the Ibotta coupon app, so you get great returns for little effort. This can earn you money without taking pictures of receipts — although you’ll still want to check out the site to see what the deals are at that particular store.

Hack #2: Test it Out Right Now

Once you’ve signed up, you can start earning money right away, retroactively. You can use a receipt that’s up to seven days old.

So if you went on a shopping spree two days ago, you can still get cash back for any qualifying purchases. You don’t have to wait until the next time you shop.

Just look at the receipt and scan the barcodes of any qualifying products. Then take a picture of the receipt and watch your savings start to grow.

Hack #3: Take Advantage of Limited-Time Bonuses

Ibotta has some great limited time offers. By knowing what’s out there, you can score big deals and maximize your cash back earnings.

Your savings can go way beyond just digital coupons. Some of the best deals are the ones you’ll get for trying out new products and services.

It’s now expired, but this deal from Blue Apron through Ibotta was great. For signing up for a Blue Apron food subscription, Ibotta offered $52 cash back. That’s the kind of savings you can land by going outside of your comfort zone and experimenting with different products or services.

You never know when deals like that will pop up, so you need to stay on the lookout for them.

Hack #4: Get in the Habit of Checking Stores on the App Before you Walk In

It’s best known for its grocery shopping offers, but Ibotta offers great deals in other categories, too.

Some of these include:

  • Beauty
  • Clothing
  • Convenience stores
  • Home and electronics
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Travel

Before you walk into any store, you should check to see if there are Ibotta deals. 

If you see something you’ve been considering buying with big cash-back potential on the app, you stand to save a bundle.

Ibotta is both a cash-back coupon app and cash-back website. The only downside is that it can’t be used on a computer — only on a mobile device.

But its list of partners is sizable, so you have a lot of shopping options.

You can also find generic savings opportunities that aren’t attached to any particular name brand or store. That gives you more options for saving money, especially on everyday purchases like milk, bread, and eggs. 

Hack #5: Scan QR Codes Instead of Receipts

If scanning barcodes sounds like too much work, some stores like Walmart allow you to simply scan the QR code on the receipt.

Hack #6: Bonuses Can be Used Multiple Times on Different Receipts

Most digital coupons can be scanned multiple times, which opens up a whole other level of savings. You can reuse these offers until they disappear.

Load up on an item if it’s a great deal and you know you’ll use it. Things like toilet paper, cleaning supplies and tissues are good items to stockpile.

And if you watch the expiration dates on other items, you may find it makes sense to take advantage of the offer repeatedly.

Try to avoid overbuying products though; that will do more harm than good to your wallet.

Hack #7: Pay with Ibotta

A feature added in mid-2019, Pay With Ibotta allows you to instantly earn cash back at 30 major retailers. 

It’s pretty clever, too. Essentially, what you’re doing is buying a gift card through Ibotta for the exact amount of your purchase. 

For example, right now at Athleta, you earn an instant 7% cash-back when using Pay with Ibotta. To activate the offer, just add a credit or debit card to Ibotta. Then, when you’re checking out, enter the exact amount of the transaction. 

Your credit card will be charged immediately, and you’ll get a mobile gift card (which shows up in the app) for the amount you entered. The cashier will then scan the gift card on your phone, and you’ll see an instant 7% back in your account. 

Apps Like Ibotta and How to Combine Them for Deep Discounts

#1. Stack Cash-Back Apps

You can stack different apps, which means you’ll earn bonuses from each. Two great options for stacking with Ibotta include:

Related: 15 Legit Money Making Apps for iOS and Android.

#2. Get a Grocery Credit Card

If you use a grocery credit card that gives you cash back for your purchases, you can stack those earnings with the cash back you get back from Ibotta. The only thing better than saving money is combining two ways to save money on groceries!

Two popular options you might be interested in are:

  • Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: You’ll get 3% cash back. Plus, there’s no annual fee to cut into your savings.
  • Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: This card gives you a whopping 6% back. But it does have an annual fee. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Everyday card is a better choice for you, however. It all depends upon how frequently you’ll use the card.

Keep in mind that this only makes sense if you shop at real grocery stores, because warehouses and superstores don’t qualify.

#3. Stack With Physical Coupons

You can stack with any physical coupons the store you’re shopping at will accept. That gives you a chance to save even more.

With two other websites, MyPoints and Swagbucks, you can get paid to use coupons. Printing them and using them will earn you points you can use to get gift cards.

Ibotta FAQ

How good are Ibotta reviews from users?

Ibotta is one of the best-rated cashback apps for grocery shopping, with a 4.8/5 score on the iOS app store from well over 1.2 million reviews. On the Google Play Store, those numbers are 4.5/5 with over 550,000 reviews.

So if you’re wondering “is Ibotta legit,” the answer is a definitive “yes.”

How do you claim the $20 Ibotta bonus?

When you sign up with our link, you have access to $20 in welcome bonus offers. That $20 is split into three specific bonus offers — which each must be completed within 30 days of signing up.

To get all $20, you need to:

1. Get $10 in Ibotta cash when you redeem any in-store offer (excluding “any brand” offers).
2. Get $5 in Ibotta cash when you redeem any online cash-back offer.
3. Get an extra $5 in Ibotta cash when you redeem either another in-store offer or another mobile shopping offer.

You don’t need to enter a promo code to claim these offers — just complete the task required to unlock each specific bonus.

What happens if I don’t get the cash-back I was promised?

Ibotta’s system is very good at reading your receipts, checking your linked loyalty card accounts and tracking the purchases you make through the portal. However, there are rare instances in which you don’t get credited as expected. If this happens, you can contact the Ibotta team to ask for an adjustment.

Can I earn money by referring other people to Ibotta?

Yes. Upon signing up for your own account, you’ll have access to a unique Ibotta referral code. This code is part of a referral link that you can share with your friends and family (or on a blog, YouTube channel, etc.).

You’ll earn a referral bonus of $1 per user who signs up and redeems an offer.

Does Ibotta have a browser extension?

Yes. The Ibotta browser extension is a free tool that will alert you whenever cash-back is available at a merchant whose website you’re visiting. You can learn more about how it works here.

What are Ibotta hidden bonuses?

From time to time, Ibotta offers its users special bonus promotions that aren’t widely advertised. To claim Ibotta hidden bonuses, you’ll typically have to solve a simple riddle, hunt for a bonus within the Ibotta app, and then redeem the offer at a given retailer. You can learn more about how it works (and how to find them) on Ibotta’s blog.

Ibotta App Review Summary

Ibotta is essentially a rebate app, allowing you to earn cash back on your everyday grocery purchases. It’s one I’ve used personally to earn extra money. 

And with the expansion of its online cashback offers, it’s also becoming a best-in-class shopping app that can score you serious savings even on a non-grocery online purchase or shopping trip.

Signing up is quick, and the app is easy to use. There can be a little bit of a learning curve, though. It’s the type of money-saver that gets easier the more you use it.

As you go along, you’ll find tricks and tips that will reduce how much time you spend. One thing you can do is scan the items as you put them into the grocery cart and then take a picture of your receipt before you leave the store.

That will be much easier than scanning the barcodes when you’re trying to put away all your groceries at home.

Join Ibotta today and start locking in your savings. You can save up your rewards for a year-end splurge, a mini-vacation, or to pad your retirement account. Either way, it will be time well spent!

R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways To Wealth, a Certified Financial Planner™, husband and father of three. He's spent the last 10+ years writing about personal finance and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, MSN Money, and other publications.

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