4 Tips for Getting Great Rebates with Ibotta

by Jessica Sommerfield · 7 comments

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Rebate deals are nothing new – I get offers for them in my email every day, and you’ll often find them included with some purchases, especially electronics and appliances. In many cases, these are really great deals worth cashing in on, but sometimes you just don’t have the time to bother with them (especially if they require you to fill out a form and send a copy of your receipt in the mail). Thanks to the explosion in smartphone applications, there are a score of rebate platforms to help us take advantage of these deals by simply doing what we’d do anyway – play with our smartphones and shop for the products we use on a regular basis. Here are a few reasons I recommend the Ibotta application, if you haven’t already tried it.

Tip #1: Read the General Instructions First

Typical of my approach to many new things, I figured I’d learn on the fly. That’s why I really had no idea what I was doing the first time I used it. Don’t get me wrong – the app is extremely easy to use. I just got a little confused about the order of the steps, which vary based on which retailer you choose. In spite of my confusion, I managed to unlock $10.50 of rebates from my initial sign up ($10) and $.50 off one item I’d purchased that day (this would have been more if I’d planned ahead).

After reading the instructions, I realized the steps for each retailer are different. For instance, if there’s a “verify purchase” button next to their rebates, you’ll need to scan the actual items you’ve purchased and take a photo of your receipt (I experienced this with Fred Meyer). Other retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy have QR codes you can scan off the receipt, rather than scanning items. More convenient yet,  purchases at Preferred Partners are verified through a linked loyalty card account (just make sure you scan your card at the register), and don’t require the receipt. It all depends on where you shop, and if you want to maximize the convenience of using Ibotta, it may determine where you shop. I imagine the number of preferred partners will steadily grow to include most major retailers with loyalty card programs.

Tip #2: Unlock Before Your Shop

Unlocking items before you shop is the best strategy, because they’ll appear in your ‘shopping list’ (which you can also add to manually, and let Ibotta search for rebates on those items). It’s also a good idea to get this done before you head out to the store because, in order to unlock the rebates, you’ll be required to perform what Ibotta refers to as a “fun activity,” but I would call consumer research and advertising. Sometimes you’ll be asked a question that identifies your demographic, or which stores you shop for particular products; other times you’ll need to watch a short commercial for the product you’re unlocking, or just acknowledge a new product within the brand. They’re painless, but better to do before you get to the store.

Tip #3: Verify Your Purchases Right Away

If you shop at a retailer that requires scanning the actual items to verify your purchases, do it right away when you get home before you accidentally throw a package away. You’ll also get your cash faster this way. Simply link your PayPal or Venmo account, or opt to load your rebates on a store gift card, and you’ll have your money in less than 48 hours.

Tip #4: Take Advantage of All the Rebate Categories

Ibotta currently partners with about 80 chains. If you search the listings, there aren’t just rebates for groceries, but general merchandise, automotive, electronics, craft supplies, pet products, and even popular nutrition brands. Keep these rebates in mind if you plan to shop for a more expensive item. Who wouldn’t want $10 off a GPS, or $20 off a vacuum?

Just think of how much you could save if you combined your efforts to shop the sales ad, use electronic coupons, and unlock Ibotta rebates? You might end up getting paid to purchase the items you love.

Have you ever used Ibotta? Other rebate apps? What’s your greatest savings to date?

Editor's Note: Did you know that there's a service called $5 meal plans? For $5 a month, they send you recipes of delicious, healthy, yet cheap food that costs just $5 a meal.

Several of my friends are signed up and they find they are able to eat at home more because the instructions are easy to follow, making everything convenient. The deal also comes with grocery shopping lists, which saves so much time. Check it out yourself by clicking here and you too may be able to save more and become healthier in the process.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Latoya @ Femme Frugality February 12, 2016 at 12:35 pm

I’m so glad to read about this topic today because I’ve been searching for money saving apps on my phone and forgot all about this one. Thanks for the advice because it will certainly help!

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Jessica February 12, 2016 at 1:07 pm

You’re very welcome! Every little bit helps.

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Mccrotchity February 16, 2016 at 9:27 am

Ibotta is good but lately they have had less fresh ingredients. We just aren’t big on processed goods for dinner. (Don’t get me wrong, I could down a bag of doritos with the best of them, but we *try* to eat healthy). I’ve been really disappointed with their lack of produce lately and their abundance of beer.

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Jessica Sommerfield February 16, 2016 at 12:17 pm

I had noticed that, too. I try to eat ‘clean’ as well, and while there are some items like fruit and ‘any-brand’ milk, bread, and eggs, they could stand to include more healthy options. I wonder if there’s a way to provide feedback? I haven’t seen any way on the app itself, but perhaps on the website. I’d shoot an email and express your concern. Meanwhile, at least they provide another way to save on the healthy items you do purchase.

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Sue February 18, 2016 at 8:56 am

I use Ibotta the same way you do, mostly for fresh foods. and what I call ingredient foods, like baking chocolate and such. You can contact them, just go to the help section and there is a way to send them a message. I had a problem with a rebate not going through and they were very friendly and quickly dealt with the problem.
That said, I think most of the fresh and any brand offers are probably subsidized by the branded offers, not sure we will be able to get more.

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Mara @ Bargainbabe.com February 18, 2016 at 11:09 am

Tip #3 is really key. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t submit the receipt as soon as I get home, it’s never going to happen. Not good if you only bought the item specifically because there was a rebate!

But I didn’t know that you could link loyalty cards. That’s great to know!

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Jessica Sommerfield February 18, 2016 at 11:16 am

Mara,

Unfortunately, loyalty card-linking is only available for a handful of retailers, even if they have a loyalty card. Rite-Aid comes to mind as one that allows this. I’m hoping more retailers will work with Ibotta to link their loyalty cards, as well. It would be wonderful to only have to scan my card at the register once and get sales prices, coupons, and rebate redemption all at once!

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