Ibotta review: is Ibotta legit? Or is it a scam? (2020)

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Brian Roberts

January 21, 2019  •  20 min read

Searching for an Ibotta review?

We’ve got you covered. To save you time, we’ve included an abridged Ibotta app review summary here. But, if you have other questions, feel free to continue reading our full 2020 Ibotta review below.

Ibotta App Review Summary

Money back About Ibotta

Ibotta is one of the largest cash back app companies in the United States, and has paid back over $600 million to users in the last several years. Over 35 million people have the Ibotta app. It’s easy to use and works virtually everywhere. Just shop through the Ibotta app to get instant cash back on your purchase, online or in-store.

Money back How Much Does Ibotta Cost?

Ibotta is free to use. While some cash back services charge a fee, Ibotta is free to use because they charge retailers, not you, the end consumer. So they get five stars in the cost category. 

Money back What Stores Does Ibotta Work At?

Ibotta offers cash back at over 300 retail chains, and at over 500,000 locations, offline and online. You can get cash back on purchases from food delivery sites, travel and hotel booking sites, movie theaters, pharmacies, and many others. Some stores Ibotta works at include Cabelas, Lowe’s, Petco, Domino’s, REI and more.

Or download the app and enter Ibotta referral code BJR111

About Ibotta: What Is Ibotta?

what is ibotta

Remember how your parents used to go grocery shopping?

Mine did a lot of couponing. 

The traditional way involved cutting out little pieces of paper with barcoded discounts on them. But when everyone got a smartphone, the shopping trip became easier. Loyalty cards give you automatic rebates at checkout, as an example. But this meant you’d have to have a million different loyalty cards, one for each store!

Ibotta combines all these conveniences into one simple app. Just download the app, sign up, and start getting cash back on purchases. With Ibotta, you’ll save money on online shopping, grocery shopping, and at all your favorite stores (and even hotels). Couponing simplified.

Ibotta Scam: Is Ibotta Legit?

is ibotta a scam

Let’s squash this one right off the bat. There’s no truth to the Ibotta scam.

Since the company was established back in 2015, they’ve paid over $600,000,000 in pay outs to users. You can get paid right away, while other sites only pay you four times a year (see our Ibotta vs Ebates section below). You can get paid in real cash via PayPal or with gift cards. There’s no monthly fee either, which is another big positive for us users. So, there’s no Ibotta scam. Some other facts about Ibotta:

  • The largest consumer technology company in Denver, Colorado.
  • Has over 50,000+ five-star app reviews in the Apple and Play stores.
  • Featured in Forbes, Good Morning America, CNET and more
  • Downloaded over 30 million times; paid over $375 million in cash back

Ibotta also works with some of the largest brands on earth. Some names you’ll recognize include:

  • Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola, Unilever
  • Nordstrom, Best Buy, Heineken
  • Rite Aid, Sephora and others.

Another fun fact? Ibotta founder Bryan Leach is a graduate of Harvard, Oxford and Yale, and during his time outside of work, he climbed 44 of Colorado’s 58 tallest mountains.

So, does the whole question of “Is Ibotta legit?” sound crazy yet? It should. Ibotta is 100% a legitimate, real company (and, the best part is, you can get a $20 sign up bonus if you sign up with us now).

How Does Ibotta Work?

how does ibotta work

Ibotta is very easy to use. You download it from the app store or their site, create your account–which asks for your name, date of birth, mailing address, and gender (optional)–you can claim your $20 sign up bonus.

  1. Check for offers before you shop.
  2. Once you find relevant offers, shop.
  3. Take pictures of your receipt or link your loyalty card to the Ibotta app.
  4. Then cash out via PayPal or Venmo.

That, or in the form of your favorite gift cards from stores like Walmart, Target or your other favorite grocery stores. Our recommendation is to map out all of your shopping as far in advance as possible–see our Ibotta Cheats section below–that way you can maximize your savings and discounts. Plus, Ibotta works at hundreds of retailers, both offline and online.

Unlike with clipping coupons or even other cashback apps, you can let your shopping needs guide you, versus being restricted with buying the few items that have coupons.

How To Use Ibotta

Here’s how to use the Ibotta app and what to expect as you go through the sign-up process. 

 Download the free app

Your first step is to download the free app, which is available for Android and the iPhone.

Complete the questionnaire

Once you’ve got the Ibotta app on your phone, fill out the questionnaire, which will allow the app to populate your My Offers section with offers you’ll want to use.

Pick your favorite stores

Choosing your favorite stores in the app will allow further customization of your My Offers, based on the shops you frequent most. These could stores you visit offline, online, or a mix of the two.

Link your PayPal account

PayPal isn’t the only way you can grab your payout, but it’s probably the simplest, easiest way. If you prefer, you can use Venmo or get your free money in the form of gift cards.

Go shopping online or offline

Once you’ve chosen relevant cashback offers, it’s time to go shopping. Whether you’re buying household items like toilet paper or grocery shopping for bananas, almost anything you can imagine can get you cashback. It doesn’t matter whether you pay by credit card, mobile app, cash, or check.

Upload a picture of your receipt

When you’ve finished shopping, tap on the Redeem Offers button, and then upload your shopping receipt. Expect your cash back in 24 to 48 hours. You can withdraw the cash as soon as you meet the $20 limit.

Ibotta Welcome Bonus: Get $20 Now

ibotta welcome bonus

Here are the qualifications for earning your Ibotta sign up bonus:

  1. You must be a brand new Ibotta user. Meaning, you must have never had an Ibotta account. Don’t try to cheat the system to earn cash or free money, otherwise you run the risk of being deactivated, banned and/or losing your entire account balance. 
  2. It’s not like Netflix where you can share the login. If you try to accrue bonuses by sharing the same account with different users on different devices, you will be deactivated. 
  3. Your account can only be linked to one device with one user. So, just like qualification two about not sharing your login, you also can’t share your device to give to your buddy when they go shopping. Sharing your device with another Ibotta user will disqualify you. 

Ibotta Cheats

ibotta cheats

Here’s how to get easy free money using one of the best cash back apps out: Ibotta.

  1. Don’t wing it, always make a grocery list or shopping list
    • This is good personal finance advice, whether you use Ibotta or not.
  2. Before you shop browse the Ibotta app for promo codes and offers
  3. Don’t forget to keep your shopping and grocery receipts
  4. Shop at stores with the best offers (e.g., WalmartTarget)
  5. Know the Ibotta bonus types
  6. Use the Ibottabarcode and QR code function
Money back Make Your Shopping List 

The first step is making a grocery list. By making it first, you’re not going to buy stuff you don’t need, which will save you money. Next, once you have all your essentials down, reverse search the Ibotta app for any rebates on your items. You could do this in reverse, but again, you’ll likely end up buying stuff you don’t need for the sake of getting a rebate.

Money back Search The Ibotta App  For Offers

Click “Find Offers” once you’re logged into the Ibotta app and browse the cash back offers. Once you finish adding all your offers, they’ll be saved under “Your List.” I like to start by selecting the store I’m going to, but you can also start by browsing these other offers:

  • What’s Hot
  • Any Item
  • Best Value
Money back Check For Ibotta Streak Offers

Once you’ve made your shopping list and matched it up with grocery list to the available Ibotta offers, look for potential streak bonuses like “$4 for redeeming 7 offers” or “$6 for redeeming 12 offers,” as examples.

Money back Check For Manufacturer’s Coupons

Don’t forget to check for coupons from the manufacturer. This isn’t necessarily an “Ibotta Cheat” but it’s a cheat nonetheless, because it will allow you to save extra money when combined with the other Ibotta offers.

Sometimes, if you call stores like Best Buy their customer service can give you an additional discount. Don’t be afraid to ask. Remember: you don’t ask, you don’t get. Stores like Kohls and Target often offer promotions for people who use loyalty cards too. So keep those handy as well. 

Money back Use the Ibotta Barcode Scanner

This is to make sure you get the exact item that will qualify you for the rebate. Sometimes, you can be disqualified from getting getting cash back at the grocery store if you buy the wrong size item. So scan and keep and eye out for the ounces, sizes, quantities, etc.

Money back Leverage Ibotta Teamwork Bonuses

You can start referring friends using your sign up bonus and then build an Ibotta team. And if you all start shopping together, as a team via the Ibotta app, you’ll earn those teamwork bonuses. Which if you’re diligent about can help you all make some serious cash using the app.

Money back Think Beyond the Grocery Store

Ibotta has come a long way. The app works with more than the grocery store now. You can use it with hotels, for one. And if you book your hotel through HotelStorm via their app, you get 15% cashback.

You can also get cashback on your liquor purchases, whether from the grocery store or your favorite restaurant or bar. Another huge plus. Hulu will give you $15 back if you create your membership through Ibotta, and you can stock up on flea treatment and dog food at Petco and get rebates for it.

Money back Use Their Referral Program

If you refer your friends and family to Ibotta using a referral link from the app, you get cash right into your account. Every five friends that you sign up gets you $25. When you referred that fifth person, you also get a mystery bonus worth another $50.

You can build teams with your friends or family, and your team can work together to build up a certain amount of cash. When you earn rebates and cash back through your groups, you get bonuses. This means you’re ready to withdraw some money to your PayPal account even faster.

Money back Upload Your Loyalty Cards

If you have a loyalty card for a particular retailer, be sure to upload it to your Ibotta account. In some cases, retailers won’t let you get cash back unless you uploaded your loyalty card, but once you have them all in there, you never need them for your everyday shopping trips again.

Money back Watch Out For The ‘Fine Print’

Some stores have quirks when it comes to using Ibotta or other of the money saving apps out there.

In some cases, you’ll have to scan the barcode on your receipt in order to validate it. Once you’ve shopped around a few times, you’ll be able to remember quickly which of your favorite stores have this requirement. Just make sure you pay attention so you can get all your extra money.

As we prepared this Ibotta review, we also noticed a few situations where the fine print wasn’t clear.

For example, at once point, it looked like buying a slightly more expensive brand of toilet paper would have cost us $0.20 but get us a $0.40 rebate. That makes it cheaper, right? Wrong–if the fine print says you have to buy three packs to get a refund, and you only buy one. So keep watch.

Money back Don’t Overspend

One of the dangers of using a free app like Ibotta is overspending to see your cashback numbers grow. It can be especially dangerous when you’re online shopping. So don’t get too carried away, and before you head out to Target or Publix, make a shopping list–and stick to it.

Ibotta and Ebates (now known as Rakuten) are both hugely popular cash back rebate apps that make earning money a breeze, but no two money making apps are created the same. These two cash back apps have some key differences and knowing each app’s strengths can help you save money to the fullest extent.

Ibotta vs Ebates

ibotta vs ebates

Ibotta Pros

  • Opportunities to get deeply discounted, or even free, items while grocery shopping
  • Combine cash back offers with coupons and store sales
  • Cash out at any time after meeting the minimum requirement
  • Can cash out using PayPal to your bank account or gift cards
  • Easily scan your receipt or product barcodes while shopping

Ibotta Cons

  • Must accumulate $20 or more in cash back before you can collect a payout
  • Fewer participating retailers than Rakuten
  • No Venmo cash out option
  • Potentially long wait times for cash back on online shopping purchases using the Ibotta app

About Ebates

Ebates, which is now called Rakuten, is a cash back app that helps people save money on purchases at a large amount of participating stores and restaurants.

You can get cash back by linking your credit card that you will be using to make purchases, or by installing their browser extension or shopping in the mobile app. The offers Rakuten has are primarily a percentage off of your total purchase. Their browser extension also lets you know of addition promo codes and savings to help you save even more.

Pros of Ebates

  • Tons of participating stores and restaurants, including local options
  • Their browser extension automatically lets you know of offers and extra savings so you don’t have to remember to check before shopping
  • You can cash out with as little as $5

Cons of Ebates

  • Payout is done on a fixed, quarterly schedule
  • You cannot pay cash or use other methods of payment besides a credit or debit card to get the offer
  • Offers are a flat amount cash back, rather than deals on specific item

Ibotta vs Ebates: Which Is Best?

Both the Ibotta app and Ebates offer great rebate deals to help you save money. Ibotta really shines with their flexible payment options at check out, their grocery store item discounts, and their ability to cash out at any time as long as the minimum is met. It is definitely the winner when it comes to a cash back app to use on groceries.

Ebates (Rakuten) is the winner when it comes to online purchases. Their browser extension eliminates the need to remember to check offers before hand, and on top of that, automatically lets you know of additional savings. The smartest shoppers, however, will use both of these apps to maximize their savings.

Apps like Ibotta

There are number of different apps like Ibotta.

  1. Paribus was started by two Harvard grads and acquired by Capital One. It’s one of our favorite money making apps. Learn more: Paribus review.
  2. Ebates is a pioneer in the cashback app space, and was first started all the way back in 1999. Since then it’s been used by tens of millions of people–who’ve saved over a $1B!
  3. Dosh is one of the newer cash back apps that has a gorgeous, easy to use interface and bountiful rewards. Learn more in our new 2019 Dosh scam report.

Ibotta Reviews Overview

With over 303k+ reviews, averaging 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Apple app store, the Ibotta reviews published elsewhere are largely favorable. The Ibotta BBB reviews page wasn’t ‘five star central’. But people don’t go out of their way to leave favorable comments on BBB anyway.

But here’s what impressed me most there: it was the company’s responsiveness to it. For instance, if you take a look at the Ibotta BBB page, Ibotta has received 636 complaints in the last 3 years, 250 of which were closed in the last 12 months. 

Virtually every complaint has gotten a response, and the majority resolved. Next, was the app itself.

I’ll tell you what. It’s nowhere near as much of a pain as clipping coupons. Granted, it’s not without annoyances. Mainly, the “pain” of having to scan your item and your receipt, rather than just the receipt. Minor stuff here.

For every inconvenience there’s 10x upsides.

  1. The number of stores accepted
  2. The percent of cash you can get back
  3. And the vast number of eligible items

Other cash back apps limit you. Ibotta allows you to even get rebates on generic brands, store brands and healthy food, too. That way you aren’t stuck eating sugary cereals just because it was on sale or gave cash back. That’s a rare thing in the cash back space.

All without the hassle of traditional couponing in a free app that’s easy to use, right from the first time, all via your smartphone.   

Other Ibotta Bonus Types

Did you know Ibotta actually offers two different bonus types? One is a “specific” bonus, the other a “non-specific” bonus. Here’s how they work (and how to get them).

  • A specific bonus is a bonus an offer (or set of offers) that must be redeemed for them to be applied. Here’s an example. Domino’s Pizza is offering an in-app bonus where you can get $5 for redeeming one of their two offer-associated bonuses. Their first offer is to buy 2 medium pizzas for $15.99. Should you accept that offer and order via the app, you’ll get $5 back. It’s a specific offer.
  • A non-specific bonus is different. Say you make a few purchases during the week. Ibotta and other merchants may offer you a bonus like this: earn $3 cash back when you redeem 8 store offers in the next four days. It doesn’t apply to any specific brand or vendor (although it can). It’s to encourage you to keep buying whatever yo u need to buy via the app, with a bonus attached if you do.

An important note: bonuses can be random, or based on your activity (or lack thereof). Other factors will influence whether or not you’re eligible for these bonuses.

Some factors may include but aren’t limited to: sign-up date, season, previous redemption activity, etc. etc. Ibotta doesn’t guarantee all bonuses types will be available to all users all the time. So, if your buddy or friend gets one and you didn’t, that’s why.

Other Ibotta Bonus Offers

Ibotta offers four different bonus types: stackable bonuses, welcome bonuses, referral bonuses and teamwork bonuses. We’ll talk about how stackable bonuses work first, then move onto the other three after.

Ibotta Stackable Bonus

This type of Ibotta bonus is a streak of bonuses that can be earned if you redeem within a certain timeline. These stackable bonuses are a series of bonus running at the same time as other bonuses in the same series of bonuses. If that sounds like a lot of bonuses, it’s because it is. Let me give you an example.

Here’s an example of a stackable bonus: Let’s say a stackable bonus program is running from January 1st 2020 to January 7th 2020. On January 2nd, you see Bonus #2 pop up in the Ibotta app.

That bonus expires on January 4th. If you redeem that offer, then, you’ll see an option for Stackable Bonus #3 in the Ibotta app next. That third bonus expires January 6th. If you redeem each offer in succession before its deadline, you’ll have earned 3 bonuses. 

In a nutshell, if you submit your receipt, and you follow all of the offer steps, you’ll be stacking all of them and can redeem one large bonus (or several smaller ones) after its accepted. 

Ibotta Referral Bonus

This Ibotta bonus is exactly what it sounds like: a referral bonus is how the company rewards users who onboard new users. The referral bonus is the fastest way to accrue bonuses and rewards in my opinion. All you have to do is tell a few friends, or even make a post on your social media of choice, and you’re likely to bring in a few. 

Here’s an example of a referral bonus: you save some money on a purchase, tell a friend, and that friend wants to save some money too. You send them a link and they sign up on their smartphone, and that’s it.

  1. You must invite a new user to Ibotta, not someone who’s already signed up. First time users only, folks. Again, it’s not like Netflix where you can share your device. They must have their own device, otherwise you’ll both be disqualified, you from your referral bonus, and them from their Ibotta welcome bonus
  2. The new user is going to have to redeem a “brand name” offer. These are offered with a specific brand in the title (i.e., “Domino’s Offer”). 

And here’s the kicker. Bring in enough friends, family, whoever–and its likely Ibotta will offer you an additional bonus on top of it. Think of it like a bonus bonus. Just remember not to try and dupe the system. They have the means in place to spot it and stop you, which will lead to your account being deactivated and potentially a permanent ban. So keep it all above board.

Ibotta Teamwork Bonuses

Teamwork bonuses are available for teams of people all using Ibotta together. These have similar qualifications as the other bonuses on this list. Ibotta teamwork bonuses involve two factors. Your personal goal, and your team goal, in offer redemptions.  

Here’s an example of a teamwork bonus: say you and a few friends all join Ibotta together. Your personal goal is redeem ten specific offers, and your team sets a goal of $10.00 in total redemptions.

Every time you, or a person on your team, redeems an offer, the dollar equivalent goes into the team pool. As everyone on your team continues to redeem offers, the pool gets bigger. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to meet team goals due to sheer numbers. 

Didn’t get your Ibotta bonus?

When you’re excited to use or receive your Ibotta bonus and it doesn’t come, you may want to throw your phone at the wall. Take a breath. Resist the urge. Here’s why–and what to do instead. 

  1. The bonus started at a time different than what you expected.
  2. The bonus expired before you uploaded a picture of your receipt.
  3. The offers you redeemed don’t have a bonus attached
  4. Teamwork bonus failure due to missed group earnings
  5. Referral bonus failure due to referrer not completing sign up or redemption process.

If you do your due diligence and discover that, despite these factors, you’re still owed a bonus, you should contact Ibotta’s customer support team.

Ibotta Review: Summary

Ibotta can be lucrative if you check the app for offers before you do offline/online shopping. It’s fast and easy to use. Just upload a snapshot of the items you purchased and the receipt–that or link your shopper card.

Their customer service is both fast and helpful, this based on our analysis of the thousands of Ibotta reviews we’ve gone through while writing up this one. And, most importantly, Ibotta can help you earn a lot of cashback on items others can’t.

It’s the elephant in the room that we may have not acknowledged dutifully enough in here. But just so there’s no confusion: you can make great money back on purchases.

You won’t get rich, but you will get paid, sometimes as much as 10%–20% back on your everyday purchases. That’s probably the best thing about Ibotta.

It accomplishes what it advertises: it’s an app that allows you to earn money while grocery shopping or mobile shopping anywhere. Signing up is a breeze, and checking how much extra money you made is just as simple. All you have to do is log into your Ibotta account on your phone or computer. 

And again, best of all, cashback offers aren’t limited to just your favorite stores. You can earn free money during a random shopping trip for toilet paper at a random drug store. 

It’s awesome. So while other shopping apps restrict you to big box stores (i.e., Publix, Costco, Whole Foods, etc.) you can take advantage by earning money on “no name” household items from anywhere.