Ibotta: Can you really make money while buying groceries?

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Ibotta: Can you really make money while buying groceries?

As a college student, I am always looking for new ways to make some extra money. Babysitting, housesitting, dogsitting, helping friends move; I’ve done it all to make a few extra dollars to put in my pocket. So when my roommate introduced me to Ibotta and told me all I had to do to make some money was go grocery shopping, I was all ears. Ibotta is an app that offers rebates for certain items you buy in the grocery store. You go in the app, before your shopping trip, and add the items you are going to buy to your cart. Once you go to the store and buy your items, you can scan your receipt in the app and it will give you money back for the items you purchased. It sounds like a great set up–getting paid to go grocery shopping. But it is definitely not all that it is cracked up to be.

Some of the major problems with this process are:

  1. A lot of the rebate-eligible items are not things I buy regularly. There are hundreds of “offers” available but I find myself buying things just to get the rebate and then I never use it.
  2. The rebates are super small. Most of the money offered back on a single item is between $0.25 and $1.00. Some higher-priced items may get you $2.00 or $3.00 but their original cost is usually at least $10.00. Most of the rebates can only be redeemed once, too.
  3. You have to collect at least $20 in order to transfer the money to your bank account. Collecting the $20 can take a while so the return is not immediate. This somewhat defeats the purpose of using the app for extra money if it takes you 2-3 months just to make $20.
  4. Some of the items listed for a specific store cannot be found in the stores.

While the app is a great way to save money grocery shopping, traditional couponing seems more appealing. Rather than taking time to find items that I may or may not use and may or may not get money from, couponing guarantees money that I will save for the same amount of effort. If Ibotta and similar apps could address the above problems, I might reconsider using the app regularly. But as for now, it is just taking up valuable space on my phone.


Olivia Grimm

Olivia Grimm

September 18, 2018at 11:19 am

I actually downloaded this app about three weeks ago after hearing a friend of mine talk about it. I was hesitant to download it at first, because of the first point you made – I was worried I would find myself buying things that I didn’t really need just so I could get the rebate. Per my friends wishes, I still downloaded the app and began exploring the different discounts and rebates I could receive only to realize that my hesitant attitude proved to be a very valid feeling. I haven’t used the app when shopping because I don’t truly need any of the items that i could get rebates on. It’s simply not worth it for me to buy things that aren’t a necessity just so i could get some pocket change back. In fact, just a few days ago I deleted the app because it really doesn’t serve me any purpose. i completely agree with this blog post and wish that ibotta could updates their rebates and discounts to provide more useful savings for consumers.

Monica Saker

Monica Saker

September 18, 2018at 12:32 pm

I’ve had Ibotta on my phone for a couple years, and I definitely have a love-hate relationship with it. At first it was tempting to buy things just for the rebate, but eventually I stopped looking at Ibotta before shopping and would just browse afterward. I can always redeem the “any brand” rebates, and occasionally I’ll have bought something listed. Every time I go home I’ll also use my mom’s receipts, which always cashes out since she buys those Kidfresh frozen meals. However, it’s definitely frustrating that you can only claim your money after getting $20. After two years, I’ve only been able to withdraw one time.

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