Ibotta Review [2021]: How to Earn Money Shopping

Ibotta lets you earn cash back by shopping online or with retail store partners. Here’s how.
Last updated Jun 13, 2021 | By Christy Rakoczy
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Do you love to shop? If you answered yes to that question, Ibotta could be an ideal cashback app for you.

How does Ibotta work? It’s an app that enables you to earn cash for purchases you were likely to make anyway. Ibotta lets you earn cashback rewards in a few ways, including uploading a photo of your receipt, linking a loyalty account, or shopping online through the app. You can also supercharge your earnings by completing partner offers.

Best of all, Ibotta makes it easy to get the cash back you've earned using the app. You can redeem your Ibotta earnings for Venmo or PayPal payments or as gift cards.

But while Ibotta is a great side hustle for frequent shoppers, it's not necessarily the best option for everyone looking at how to save money. This guide will help you decide if Ibotta is the right couponing app for you.

Quick Summary

Earn rewards on your everyday purchases

  • Earn $10 for signing up and redeeming your first receipt
  • Link your store loyalty cards and get rewarded for purchases automatically
  • Redeem your rewards for cash or gift cards
In this Ibotta review:

What is Ibotta?

Ibotta was founded in 2011 by Bryan Leach, who was previously a partner at a major law firm. The shopping app was launched in 2012. Ibotta’s goal was to use mobile technology to connect brands with retailers and with consumers. The app makes money from partner brands and passes some of the earnings onto consumers.

Ibotta has now been downloaded more than 35 million times and has paid over $500 million in cash back to users.

How does Ibotta work?

There are three primary ways to use the Ibotta app to earn cash back:

Earn by linking store loyalty accounts

If you shop at a participating grocery store such as Kroger or Whole Foods, you can link your store's loyalty card and automatically get credit for purchases that correspond to Ibotta offers. Review the qualifying retailers on the Ibotta website to see if any stores near you are listed.

To start earning cash back on purchases at your grocery store, sign in to your Ibotta account in the app and choose which store you're planning to stop at. Then select “Link Account” so you can either connect an existing loyalty card to your Ibotta account or create a new one. Finally, enter the info from your loyalty card, and you're done.

Then you'll be able to automatically get cash back from Ibotta for buying participating products at your grocery store. All you need to do is swipe your loyalty card when you make purchases.

Earn by making in-store purchases

To start getting rewarded for purchases in retail stores, open the Ibotta app and click "Find Offers." You'll have the option to search for cashback offers at particular stores, like Sam's Club or Costco, or to browse by category, like baby gear or household products. You can also add your favorite stores to your app so you can more easily find available offers.

Once you've found offers that appeal to you, simply add them to your list of offers by clicking the pink plus sign. You may be required to answer a poll or complete some other short activity as a next step.

When an offer has been added to your list, complete the redemption process by uploading the receipt from the retailer and confirming which offer you want to redeem. Be sure that the receipt you're submitting clearly shows the name of the store, the items you purchased, the date you bought them, the total you spent, and the payment method you selected. You can also use the Ibotta app to scan the barcodes on different products you've purchased to double-check if an item has an eligible rebate.

Earn by shopping online

Finally, you can get cash back by opening the Ibotta app, picking the online shopping category or retailer you want to buy from, and clicking "Shop." If you complete a purchase through the Ibotta app, you'll get credit for it. You can also get credit for simply clicking on any of the 140 qualifying retailers in the Ibotta app, including select retailers like Walmart.com, Amazon, and Groupon.

Who can use Ibotta?

Anyone who is at least 18 years old can use Ibotta by downloading the app. But it’s best for frequent shoppers willing to take the extra steps necessary to maximize their cash back. This includes people who will upload their receipts and start all their online shopping from the Ibotta app.

If you're not willing to do these things, you can still install the Ibotta app and learn how to save money with very little effort. Installing the app takes just a few minutes and adding your loyalty cards will allow you to effortlessly earn money every time you shop. As long as stores you shop at are on Ibotta's list, it's worth signing up to earn.

How much can you make on Ibotta?

The amount you can earn on Ibotta depends on how often you shop with participating retailers and take advantage of partner offers. You can track both your lifetime and current earnings under the “Account” section of the app — and a progress bar will show how close you are to hitting the $20 threshold required to cash out.

As soon as you've scored $20 worth of cashback rewards, you can take out your money — but you aren't required to do so. You can also let the earnings keep building until you're ready to redeem for payment via PayPal, Venmo, or gift card.

You can also use Ibotta in tandem with other cashback apps such as Dosh to maximize your earnings across shopping and partner offers. By comparing Dosh vs. Ibotta side-by-side, you can see how they work well together and determine whether one or both better fits your needs.   

Maximizing your earnings with Ibotta

If you're serious about earning as much as possible with Ibotta, here’s how to maximize your cash back:

  • Link loyalty accounts with participating retailers: This will enable you to earn effortlessly, and you'll never miss an opportunity.
  • Build a shopping list directly in the Ibotta app: Some offers allow you to get credit for buying items from a particular retailer or brand; add these things to your shopping list to make sure you get credit for them. You can do this by using the "Your List" option in the app.
  • Take advantage of bonuses: Find ways to supercharge your rewards by clicking "Earn More" on the app’s main navigation bar. This will reveal bonus opportunities like Streaks. With Streaks, you can get additional cash back by buying the same product on different trips to the store.
  • Refer your friends: You can earn a $30 referral bonus if you refer three new users to Ibotta and they complete participating offers. Simply select "Invite Friends" in the app's main menu, get your referral code, and share it with your friends. There's no limit to the number of friends you can refer.

Common questions about Ibotta

Is Ibotta free?

Ibotta is free to use. However, you can be charged a fee if your account is inactive. This fee is assessed only if your Ibotta account has a standing balance and has had no activity in six months. The fee is taken only out of Ibotta earnings — never from your personal bank account.

If this fee sounds concerning to you, consider another cashback app such as Rakuten which has a lower payout level at just $5.01. You can compare Rakuten vs. Ibotta and see which better fits your spending habits.

Can you use old receipts for Ibotta?

You cannot use old receipts for Ibotta; you must submit receipts within seven days of the shopping trip you're redeeming an offer for.

Is Ibotta worth using?

Ibotta is worth using if you're willing to upload receipts or complete offers — or if you can effortlessly earn by linking loyalty cards at stores where you shop frequently.

Ibotta can also be used in tandem with other cashback apps such as Fetch Rewards to maximize your earnings. You can compare Fetch Rewards vs. Ibotta directly to see which one, or maybe both, works best with your shopping habits.

What are earnings on Ibotta?

You earn by redeeming offers with Ibotta. You can store your earnings in your Ibotta account and cash them out via Venmo, PayPal, or gift card as soon as your balance hits $20.

Can I transfer my Ibotta earnings to PayPal?

You can redeem Ibotta earnings via PayPal by linking your PayPal account to the Ibotta app. Simply click "Link Account" and log into PayPal to establish the connection. Then choose to redeem via PayPal as soon as you've hit the $20 earnings threshold necessary for redemption.


How to sign up for Ibotta

Signing up for Ibotta is easy. Simply create an account on the company website or mobile app. You can also use your Facebook or Google account to join, or you can create an entirely new account by inputting your first and last name, email, password, and ZIP code.

Other side hustles to consider

If you don't think Ibotta is one of the best side hustles for you, there are many other options to consider. Try saving money with a budgeting app, or consider these other ways to make money:

  • Taking surveys using Survey Junkie: This side hustle is also free to participate in and provides payment via PayPal. It can be a bit more time-intensive, though, because you need to complete surveys to earn. Still, it can be done from home and is good for people with a little extra time on their hands.
  • Sign up for InboxDollars: With InboxDollars, you can earn rewards simply for watching videos. There's a large video library of different types of shows. Watch as much or as little as you want, depending on the amount you're looking to earn. You can also answer polls, conduct web searches, and take surveys to boost your earnings.

Each of these options allows you to earn points with little effort and may be an ideal choice if you don't frequently buy the products that can help you earn with Ibotta.

Ibotta makes earning easy

Ibotta is a simple way to earn extra cash and a good way to practice learning how to manage your money. Potential earnings are determined based on whether you're willing to upload receipts and complete offers. Or simply opt for the easy route and link your loyalty cards. If you're going to be shopping anyway, why not use Ibotta to earn a little bit of money for purchases you're already making?

Ibotta Benefits

  • Earn $10 for signing up and redeeming your first receipt
  • Get cash back on normal, every day purchases
  • Works great at grocery stores and pharmacies!

Author Details

Christy Rakoczy Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.