For Colleen Rice, the benefits of using a cash-back app were obvious. “It kept me from living on Ramen,” she says. The Penny Hoarder email marketing manager says she’s been using the cash-back app Ibotta since 2013 and has earned $307.60 back so far.
Colleen Rice has been using Ibotta since she moved to Florida and she’s earned back more than $300. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
When she and her then-boyfriend moved to Florida that year, Rice says, “We were so broke … It’s really helped me a lot.” Although she’s made it through that tough time, she still uses the app religiously. She loves that she’s earning cash back on something she’d be doing anyway (spending money). The app isn’t just for saving money on groceries, though Rice loves deal-stacking at Publix and Target. She’s also used Ibotta to earn cash back at places like Jo-Ann Fabrics (when she went through a jewelry-making phase) and Hotels.com, where she earned about $45 back during one road trip. “If you can make anything a challenge, I like that,” she says. “Plus it’s more portable than coupons, and it introduces me to brands I’d otherwise not try.”
Back up, back up… What is Ibotta?
Ibotta is a cash-back app that grants you rewards (in real-life dollars — not points or gift cards) on your everyday purchases. It turns couponing into a bit of a game, like Rice said, and you can do it all from your phone. No scrappy newspaper coupons required. It also features rewards across retailers: from Amazon to Forever 21 to Walmart. Here’s how to use Ibotta:
1. Download the free app and browser extension sign up.
2. Peruse cash-back offers. Like Rice has discovered, Ibotta is a great way to find cash back not only on grocery staples but also at online retailers and through travel sites. She also uses it to discover new brands. For example, she only bought Viva paper towels before downloading the app. But if she can get $3 back on a pack of Bounty, why not?
3. If you’re shopping in a store, add offers to your account before heading out. Do this by tapping the little plus sign next to the offer. If you’re shopping online, shop through the Ibotta portal. For example, open the Etsy offer, then tap “Shop.” It’ll redirect you to the site.
4. After you check out in the store, redeem your offers by taking a photo of your receipt and scanning barcodes, when applicable. Within 48 hours, Ibotta will deposit the money into your account. If you’re shopping online, Ibotta will let you know the timeframe in which your money will be deposited into your account.
5. Once you hit $20, you can cash out through PayPal or Venmo. You can also opt to receive your rewards as a gift card. Alternatively, you can link any of your store loyalty cards to get automatic cash back after you add offers to your account and check out. No scanning barcodes or taking photos of receipts required.
For some reason, a lot of people are wondering about Ibotta reward codes. We hate to break it to you, but there aren’t any magical codes to help you effortlessly earn more money.
We do, however, have an Ibotta promo to offer you. You can simply sign up for Ibotta through this link, and you’ll earn a $20 sign-up bonus after redeeming your first 10 offers within 14 days.
There’s also the Ibotta referral code. Find your unique code by tapping “Account” and “Invite Friends.” Pass the code along and earn a $5 bonus when your friend starts making money. Be sure to check out Ibotta’s bonuses, too.
Tap “Account” and “Bonuses.” There, you can find special offers, like an extra $10 bonus for every $250 you spend in the app’s mobile shopping category. Or a $1 bonus when you purchase two Organic Valley Grassmilk products. (Note: These were a few options that were valid at the time of writing.)
No, Ibotta won’t make you rich. But, like Rice says, it’s a nice little boost of money for something you’re already doing. Plus, it’s a great way to avoid living off sodium-packed Ramen.
Author, Carson Kohler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s made more than $120 in cash back using Ibotta. One month, the stockpile cash helped her make rent on time.