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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.