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10 Steps Help You Maximize Your ibotta Income

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You’ve got your coupons stacked neatly, matched against the week’s sales, and you’re due to pay very little for your groceries. How about earning a little income off of your purchases as well? That’s the benefit that the ibotta app can offer you, if you know how to wisely match your grocery list against the offers in the app and then upload your receipt to it. Next thing you know, you’ll have some extra cash in your PayPal account for future purchases or savings.

This app is similar to Checkout 51, which we previously profiled and loved -- but it was not available in the U.S., making ibotta a welcome addition to your app savings collection. Practice the following 10 steps to ensure that you’ll be banking huge savings thanks to this relatively new but quickly growing app.

1. Browse the Offers

©ibotta
Once you open this free app, which is available for both Apple and Android, it will start to show you the available offers. As you can see in the photo, the offers range from foods to beverages to cleaning products and beyond, and can net you a bonus anywhere from 25 cents to over $1.00 each. Match the offers against your grocery list to determine whether any of the items you plan to buy are included, and then tap that product to find out how to earn the reward.

2. Follow the Steps to Earn Money

©ibotta
When I checked the offers, I was interested in buying the Capri Sun pack pictured in the photo here. You’ll note that I was able to earn up to $1.00 if I completed all of the steps on the app. I have talked to people who have suggested that these extra steps make it hard to earn the reward, but the reality is that these don’t take any longer than clipping a coupon. For instance, if you tap “Learn A Fact,” it may tell you about how many vitamins are in Capri Sun. Then you can exit and go on to take the poll (which is also very quick). If you choose to complete all three tasks, you earn the full $1.00 back. If you only do one, you only earn the amount specified for that particular task.

3. Select A Store

©ibotta
Once you’ve completed the tasks, you’ll tap “Redeem” at the bottom of the screen and then the app will advise you to select a store near you. You must buy the product at a participating store to get the credit, ibotta’s CEO Bryan Leach tells About.com. “There are over 41 retailers where it works, and we’re adding more stores every week,” Leach says. “If you don’t see your store on there, contact your grocer about adding ibotta to their store either in person, via the store’s Facebook page, or by email. This really works. In the last two weeks, we’ve had about ten stores contact us about getting partnered with the app.”

I don’t live in a cosmopolitan area, and most of the stores near me are affiliated with the app, as shown in the photo, so I didn’t find it hard to find a participating store, which was a nice bonus.

4. Check for Sales and Coupons

©Torrey Kim
This app could allow you to get your product at a very low price or even for free. For instance, using the Capri Sun example, that item was on sale at Kroger this week for $1.50, and I have a $0.25 coupon that I cut off a box of Capri Suns which will double to $0.50, meaning that my retail price will be $1.00. However, after I complete all the tasks on the ibotta offer, I’ll get $1.00 back, making the box of Capri Suns totally free.

5. Don't Expect Hundreds of Rewards Per Item

©Torrey Kim
You probably won’t create a couponing stockpile on one particular item by purchasing through ibotta, because the app offers one reward per purchase, Leach says. However, the app will be rolling out unique ways to “unlock” additional bonuses in April if you buy a certain item. For instance, you may visit your grocery and buy a particular brand of soda and the app will tell you that you’ve “unlocked” that soda challenge, telling you that if you buy that soda three more times that month you’ll get a $3.00 bonus.

6. Scan the Item In-Store

©ibotta
If you buy a product and your coupon doesn’t perfectly match that item, you know that the cashier will flag the coupon and scrutinize whether you bought the same item, giving you a chance to decide whether you still want to buy it or not. However, with ibotta, you have already paid for your items and potentially left the store before the app confirms that you’ve earned your rewards. That’s why I recommend taking the additional (and optional) step of scanning your item on the app before you buy it. When I came across the Capri Suns in my store, I tapped on the offer in the app and then clicked the UPC symbol in the top right of the screen. As you can see in the photo, I knew that the item was a match before I put it into my cart.

7. Upload Your Receipt

©ibotta
Once you’ve bought the items, you’ll click “Redeem” in the app and then select the store where you shopped. Click “Upload Receipt” at the bottom of the screen and the app will guide you to photograph your receipt. If it’s a very long receipt, the app allows you to add several photos rather than just one. For my part, uploading the receipt was easy and only took about 30 seconds. “Take a clear image of the full receipt all the way to the bottom and you should get your earnings fast and without any issues,” Leach says. “We offer 24/7 customer support coverage and if anyone is frustrated with any receipt issues, they can contact us.”

After you upload the receipt, you’ll be prompted to scan the items that you bought related to the ibotta reward. Because of this, be sure to submit the receipt and the reward request before you rip open the packaging and discard it, because you have to be able to scan the UPC symbol to get your reward.

8. Refer Friends

©ibotta
Another way to collect reward money is invite friends to use the app, either through the app, via email, or on your Facebook or Twitter account with an app-generated link specific to your account. For every person who signs up using your link, you get $1.00 added to your account -- and that cash can really add up. “We’ve had users who have earned up to $10,000 for signing up friends and family by putting their ibotta link on their Facebook page or blog,” Leach says.

9. Connect to PayPal

©Torrey Kim
Once you redeem enough offers to have $5.00 in earnings, you can connect the app to your PayPal account and the money will be deposited into it. Alternately, you can donate your earnings to a school or to charity. ibotta reports that it has given away $1 million to its users in just the first six months of its existence.

10. Look for Updates

©ibotta
As with most apps, ibotta keeps the updates coming, so don’t forget to update the app whenever you get a notification from your phone system. On Apple devices, for instance, you’ll know it’s time to update when you see a red number in the upper corner of the App Store icon.

For instance, in April, the app began offering additional bonuses such as the "Steady Eddy," as shown at left, which gives you an extra $1.00 bonus if you redeem at least one offer a week for four weeks. Each month offers additional bonuses -- in May, for example, you can get a $2.00 bonus for redeeming four offers, plus another $4.00 if you redeem five additional offers before the end of the month. Plus, the app has store-specific offers at locations such as WalMart and CVS, among others, that give you extra rewards at those retailers.

ibotta plans to eventually make it possible for you to collect rewards without uploading your receipt. “We’ll be adding more integration with the stores’ point of sale systems,” Leach says. “The loyalty card will automatically connect to the app.” In addition, he says, the app will eventually add generic products to its offer list. “Which private label products we’ll add will depend on the relationships we have with stores,” he says. Therefore, if you’re hoping that your store will step up and have some generic offers within the app, mention it to your store manager next time you shop.
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