- 2 bags of cheddar popcorn
- 4 cups of yogurt
- 1 bottle of Bai flavored water
- 6 Nature Valley granola bars
- 1 box of soft-baked chocolate cookies
- 1 Kinder chocolate egg
- 1 package of Gardein sweet and sour mock pork bites
That was the entire haul we scored for less than $5, thanks to the Ibotta app, one of our favorite ways to save money on groceries and other shopping.
If this has got you wondering how does Ibotta work, then read on to learn how to use Ibotta. We’ll show everything you need to know on how to save on your groceries with this free app.
This post may contain affiliate links. See disclosure for more details.
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In this post, you will learn:
- Multiple ways to earn free money from Ibotta
- Tips for maximizing your earnings from Ibotta
- How to stack Ibotta with other money-saving techniques
How does Ibotta work?
Ibotta is an app that basically mimics the experience of using coupons and rebates to save money, but with a way simpler process.
Like we mentioned in our full Ibotta review, we love the app because there’s no need to clip coupons, fill out forms, or mail in your rebates.
How to use Ibotta: Ways to make money
Most people know Ibotta as a grocery saving app, but the truth is that there are a lot more ways to earn than you might realize. Here are the many ways to cash in using Ibotta:
$10 welcome bonus
To even get started on your earning spree, you need to sign up for an Ibotta account. The process is simple, and you’ll be offered the chance to earn an easy $10 welcome bonus too!
This is what Ibotta is most well-known for, and we have yet to find a grocery saving app that’s better than this.
Using Ibotta to save on groceries is as simple as selecting the rebate on your mobile device, then taking a picture of your receipt.
If you link your grocery store’s loyalty card to your Ibotta account, then you don’t even have to worry about submitting anything.
Technically, you don’t even have to buy groceries to earn from Ibotta.
Ibotta regularly offers rebates where you simply have to upload a receipt from any participating store, which includes pharmacies like CVS or convenience stores like 7-Eleven.
We’ve gotten cash back for things like dental floss or greeting cards, just because we bought from a participating store that happens to sell groceries too!
Cashback for shopping online
Ibotta doesn’t only let you earn from grocery stores. Another great way to earn cashback is to shop at participating retailers through the Ibotta app, after which you’ll then get a percentage of your purchase in cashback.
Now why would Ibotta offer free money like that? It’s because retailers are willing to pay Ibotta a commission for driving people to purchase from them online. To entice you to do that, Ibotta gives you a cut of that commission.
The retailer wins, Ibotta wins, and most importantly, you win.
One of the best ways to earn with Ibotta doesn’t even require you buy a single thing. For every friend you refer to Ibotta who signs up and redeems a qualifying rebate, Ibotta will pay you a sweet referral bonus.
Ibotta will often offer extra bonuses if you can convince at least a certain number of referrals. For example, we’ve seen times when they’ve offered an extra $55 if you can get five friends on board.
Tips to maximize your earnings with Ibotta
We use Ibotta quite religiously, so much that we’ve come to figure out the best ways to bank as much earnings as possible.
“Any brand” or “Any store” deals
With most other grocery rebate apps, you can only earn something if you get the specific name brand being offered.
Ibotta offers tons of “any brand” rebates, which gives you an opportunity to cash in for buying certain staples, such as eggs or milk, regardless of what brands you prefer.
Ibotta even has an “any receipt” rebate that literally lets you earn with any in-store purchase from any participating partner.
Since Ibotta works with virtually every national grocery chain, drug store, and quite a few convenience stores too, you’re bound to shop somewhere that qualifies.
The “any receipt” rebate reappears about every 3-5 days. Be sure to search your app for it regularly so you don’t miss out on this easy to earn rebate.
Free after rebate
Ibotta also offers full rebates on select items where all you end up paying is the tax. Eight cents for a fancy cup of joe? Yes please!
Stack and save
Ibotta rebates can be used in conjunction with a store’s other normal marketing promotions, like sales or coupons.
We once bought an item that was on sale, turned in a 40% off coupon at the checkout stand, then redeemed an Ibotta rebate to ultimately get a total of 80% off the item’s original price!
Ibotta has a Bonuses area under the Account section, full of extra earning opportunities you can try to shoot for.
Here are some of the most common types of Ibotta bonuses you’ll find:
- $X off when you spend $X at a certain store online
- $X back when you shop at a certain online store X times, or buy from a certain brand X times
- $X if you try at least X different products from a certain brand
- Themed bonuses, such as Super Bowl or Oscar Night
- Extra $X if you redeem at least X unique offers within a certain time
Redeem low-cost items to qualify for the larger bonuses
Ibotta often runs bonuses that require you to redeem multiple rebates to get a large bonus.
If you focus on cheaper items that only cost $1 to $2, you basically get the items for free when you factor in both the standard Ibotta rebate plus the bonus.
This is exactly how we got the epic snack haul we listed at the start of this post.. The Ibotta offer was for $20 if we redeemed 10 brand name rebates. We focused on snacks, yogurts, and drinks that were all $3 or less for each product.
After spending about $25, we got the $20 bonus plus a few dollars back in rebates from Ibotta. That’s how we scored a whole grocery bag of snacks for only a few bucks.
As easy as Ibotta makes it for you to redeem their rebates, you can make it even simpler by linking your loyalty card to your Ibotta account.
That way, when you buy qualifying products and use your loyalty card, you can skip the step of scanning your receipt to verify your purchase.
Ibotta lets you boost your earnings with the help of your friends and family in two different ways:
1) Teamwork: This fun option lets you work with people you know to earn extra cash bonuses. Ibotta automatically creates your team, which consists of anyone you referred to Ibotta, plus anyone you’re friends with on Facebook who also uses Ibotta if you’ve both elected to link your Facebook account.
Teamwork challenges usually have two components: a team goal and an individual goal.
For example, the bonus might require you to redeem 10 brand name rebates on your own and for your team to collectively redeem $10 in rebates together. Hit both goals to score the extra bucks.
2) Referral bonuses: Don’t forget – Ibotta pays you for any referrals that use their app. Spread the word so you can get the referral bonus and add extra people to your team for Teamwork challenges.
Once you hit the minimum payout amount of $20, Ibotta lets you cash out to Paypal or Venmo.
A better option is to redeem the funds for an e-gift card from a participating partner who offers a bonus.
For example, some vendors let you exchange $20 in Ibotta credits for a $22 e-gift card, which is an extra 10% bonus.
Smallest eligible size
Many of the rebates allow you to redeem multiple quantities, so you can maximize your rebate earnings by buying a smaller size.
For example, instead of purchasing a 24 oz. box and getting $0.75 back, why not buy three 8 oz. containers and get $2.25 back instead?
Be sure to read the conditions of the rebate carefully to see if there is a minimum size requirement.
A quick and easy way to check if the item you want to buy has an Ibotta rebate is to use the app’s built in scanner.
You may have noticed a little barcode icon in Ibotta’s search box. Tapping on it pulls up a camera that you can then use to scan an item to see if there is an available rebate. Easy peasy!
Even if you don’t find any matching rebates when you hit the grocery store, keep your receipt anyway because Ibotta lets you redeem them up to a week later.
Since Ibotta regularly adds new rebates, a qualifying one might pop up in the few days after your shopping trip.
Or, you can just wait a few days and redeem the “any receipt” rebate that we mentioned in our first tip.
Using Ibotta is an easy way to earn a little cash back from your grocery runs and online shopping. Learn how Ibotta works to to boost your cashback. We’ll show you how to use Ibotta to maximize your earnings from the many different ways to make money with Ibotta.
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STACY, aka AUNTY CHANG, is a personal finance blogger set on a mission to show people that there's more to money than just the numbers. With two rental properties and a six-figure 401k by her 30's, she's on track to retire early without sacrificing work-life balance to get there. She wants to teach others how to identify their goals and use money to make them happen. Dual income, no kids, based in Hawaii.