I admit it. I was hesitant at first. How much money could a mobile savings app really net someone? My first introduction to Ibotta came from some of the extreme couponing sites* I can’t seem to quit. Twenty-five cents back on soup, fifty cents back on a case of bottled water. These women would lose their damn minds. Yet I was nonplussed. If anything, it seemed like a trap to get people to purchase brand-name items instead of store brands and to go out of their way to purchase items for the thrill of the sale rather than out of actual need (I’m looking at you, bottled water). Eventually, I downloaded the app and then it sat there on my phone. Honestly, we’ve had snow half a dozen times already, and I was still using Map My Run more than Ibotta. It got no love.
Then, Christmastime happened. In one shopping trip, I crossed off much of my holiday shopping list and Ibotta netted me 25% cash back on booze of all things. I made almost $15 in a matter of seconds. It was glorious. Here’s how it all played out:
somewhat embarrassing mostly wonderful list:
- 2 hostess gifts (read: bottles of wine)
- 1 six-pack of craft beer for a friend
- Another six-pack of craft beer for my favorite coworker who also hosts a holiday party
- 1 bottle of Captain Morgan for our Vegas vacation**
I was able to use Ibotta at Binny’s, the most convenient liquor store with reasonable prices, because their liquor purchases work at any liquor store that prints receipts. Genius, I say. My purchase rang it at just over $56.
Then I had a little work to do. After you unlock each item by answering a multiple-choice question, watching a short video clip, or doing some other few-seconds worth of work, you scan the barcode for the item. After you’ve scanned the barcodes, you snap a photo of your receipt and wait for the magic to happen. The little Ibotta elves usually process your receipt within a day or two, but they’ve been working extra quickly as of late.
In addition to scoring the regular $1-$2 cash back per item, I also completed several bonuses. While I did not set out to earn these bonuses, it turns out that buying a whole lot of booze has its perks. When it was all said and done, the Ibotta elves added $14.50 to my account that I can cash out for no charge using PayPal, Venmo, or via assorted gift cards once the $20 threshold is crossed.
That’s it. No coupons, no mail-in rebates, no complicated hoops through which you must hop. If your Christmas list won’t have the local liquor store cashier
whispering about you fist bumping you, fear not. You can earn cash back on everything from groceries and Hallmark ornaments to dining out at Chili’s and Famous Footwear purchases. All in all, Ibotta seems like a pretty simple way to keep a little extra jingle in your pocket this holiday season.
**Yes, I totally pack booze in my suitcase. Judge me. I promise you, I won’t care. More on that trip — and the other frugal vacation hacks — later.
So Tell Me…What are your favorite ways to earn cash back this holiday season or always?
Note: If you’d like to team up with me on Ibotta, you can sign up here and use my referral code of jqjjby. We both earn extra money after you redeem your first rebate. Then, your account is linked to the rest of my team, so you can earn the team bonuses faster. Plus, you’ll get to see firsthand how much booze I really buy. Win win win.