You’re probably fully aware of how shopping can inflict pain on your wallet (even at discount stores like Trader Joe’s or Target). So, what’s a great way to save while you shop?
Couponing! You can still do it the old-fashioned way — by spreading fliers across your dining room table and clipping paper coupons. But the Ibotta app changes all that.
The Denver, Colorado-based mobile technology company has taken couponing to a whole new level and has turned it into an efficient cash back money-saver.
Who’s Ibotta for?
You might already use a budget spreadsheet to track every penny, but why not use Ibotta to unlock even more potential savings? If you already enjoy saving money through couponing and budgeting, you’ll find that Ibotta can be a really useful smartphone tool.
Ibotta might not be your best bet if you’re not a frequent shopper. Plus, if you believe that shaving a couple of cents off each item on your shopping bill isn’t the way to save money over the long term, then Ibotta might not be the best fit.
After all, Ibotta’s underlying philosophy is, “the more you shop, the more you’ll save.”
Ibotta’s Platform and Features
Ibotta is a smartphone app designed for iOS (version 11.0 or later) or Android (version 5.0 or later) devices. You can download it either from Apple’s App Store or through Google Play. Unlike “full-blown” products like accounting software, Ibotta has a very small footprint, about 44MB for the Android version and 121MB for the iOS version. This makes for a quick download.
Installation is simple and easy, but iOS users should know that the app can use your location for targeted marketing, even when you’re not actively using it and drag down your battery life. You might want to review your iOS privacy settings and turn off location tracking.
The app is extremely easy to use:
- Once you’ve registered your account, simply choose the category of rebates and discount products you prefer.
- Choose a nearby store and browse available rebates at that location.
- Tap the rebate you want and complete the assigned task (watch a video, answer a question) to claim your savings.
In addition to in-store offers, the Ibotta platform also allows you to earn cash back by integrating its features with online shopping platforms like Amazon, eBay, Groupon
Shoppers and savers can earn even more through the platform’s Teamwork feature. Signing up through social media platforms like Facebook will enable your network of friends to join your team of shoppers automatically. The larger your network of friends, the more opportunities you’ll have to earn enhanced levels of bonuses each month.
Don’t have a large Facebook circle of friends? The Ibotta platform (through the Invite Friends feature) still allows you to selectively earn money through individual referrals. A three-referral event can net you as much as $30 in earnings.
The platform also allows you to earn extra money through its Bonuses program. In addition to your regular savings, you can save even more if you choose to participate in bonus offerings that are regular features on the platform.
While the Ibotta platform supports your favorite online shopping venue, that does not mean you’ll automatically earn Ibotta cash back if you shop at those sites. Online shopping works differently with the Ibotta mobile app.
Unlike competitors like Honey, where you can shop as usual at your favorite store to earn rebates, you must initiate the purchase through Ibotta’s platform to qualify for the rebates/cash back.
Even though the Ibotta app does have a sizable reach (over 500,000 locations nationwide) some eager savers might not reap the benefits of the platform. For instance, if you live in a rural community that only has a few box stores, you might need to travel further away from home to rack up the savings at an Ibotta-supported partner.
Ibotta’s Ease of Use
How much you save through couponing apps and cash back programs typically depends on how easy the tool is to use and how frequently you use it.
- Ibotta makes savings quick and easy. You can filter all offers by categories (groceries, clothing, pharmacy, etc.) or by nearby stores. There’s even a search bar where you can type in free-form text search criteria to filter current offers. Once you locate the Ibotta offers listed on the site, you simply shop and redeem your offer by scanning your receipt.
- In some cases, you’ll have to complete an online task to qualify for savings. This could include shopping at a specific store, buying a specific brand of your product, watching a video or providing a brief review of your purchase experience.
- The vast network of stores supported by Ibotta means you’ll save on almost anything you buy, from groceries and toiletries to movie tickets, hotel room bookings and much more.
- To earn your cash back, you simply scan and send in your receipt (using in-app features) from participating stores and have your earnings credited to your account.
- Are you a member of a store loyalty program? You can connect your loyalty card to Ibotta and make saving money even easier.
- Don’t want to cash in your savings? You can give it away. It’s easy to give gifts to someone you know through Ibotta by sending someone a link to a gift card purchased via the Ibotta platform.
- Ibotta doesn’t just restrict savings to in-store purchases. You can use the app to save by shopping online at participating merchants and buying qualifying products and services.
Three drawbacks: Ibotta is not available on desktops or for those who own Microsoft computers. Additionally, you can only redeem your funds through two networks: PayPal and Venmo. Finally, you’re often restricted to very specific products when you use the platform.
You can download Ibotta for free through Apple’s App Store or Google Play. There are no other one-time or recurring subscription charges.
Ibotta’s Customer Support
The best way to save money with apps like Ibotta is to use the tool frequently. That’s because the more you use it, the more savings opportunities you can tap into. There are constant time-restricted hot deals and promos on the app.
You’re out of luck if you need assistance from a “real person” or if you’d like to speak with a help desk associate about an issue. Ibotta doesn’t offer support like that, but neither do most of its competitors.
You’ll need to submit a request online to Ibotta’s customer care team and wait for at least 48 hours for a response. If the platform has deactivated your account, perhaps as a result of suspected rule violations, the only way to resolve the issue is through email or submit a request for assistance.
The company regularly posts estimated support wait times online so you can estimate how long it’ll take for your request to be addressed.
Users who wish to take a more DIY-approach to support might find the platform’s blog and help content a better way to quickly resolve their issues. There’s also a useful “how to” section and a number of “step-by-step” resources that you could turn to for self-help.
Final Thoughts on Ibotta
Competitors like Checkout 51 have a much broader network (of nearly 440+ stores) compared to Ibotta’s over 300+ stores, which might make saving slightly more restrictive. Ibotta is enabled at over 500,000 locations nationwide, so you’ll likely find a convenience factor when you save using Ibotta.
Ibotta is one of the best couponing and cash back apps out there. When used in combination with your favorite budget apps, Ibotta can really supercharge your savings.