“I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet” -Carrie Bradshaw.
Spoken while in character, Sarah Jessica Parker accurately portrayed a feeling that all too many are accustomed to. (Refrain from shopping a BOGO shoe sale? Major faux-pas!) And maybe fashion isn’t your niche- that’s okay. The sentiment applies to other splurges, too: video games, expensive restaurants, cars, traveling… the list can go on and on. No matter what is your fatal attraction, there stands a common ground among us all: the unfortunate truth that income is not endless*. That goes without saying, of course, that most of us are always looking for new ways to save some money. So when a friend recently introduced me to something called a ‘rebate app’, I was immediately hooked. The premise is simple enough: buy products that you are already planning on purchasing and receive rebates on those items. Once you total up enough rebates, you can “cash-in” for a gift card or deposit directly to a Paypal account! What an exciting way to reward yourself for buying everyday necessities!
My interest, though, had been piqued, and I was not going to be satisfied with only one rebate app; I decided to try out as many as I could find on the Apple app store and bring the results to you, my readers! The easiest to use, the most rebates, the best results (and a small gift for you in the conclusion)- all the answers are here!
Ibotta: This app was the first that I was introduced to, and it starts you off with some nice perks. If you are invited by someone already using Ibotta, they can send you a referral code which gives you a $10 bonus once you redeem your first rebate (and your friend receives a $5 bonus). Redeeming a rebate with this app is pretty simple. For stores that provide loyalty/membership cards (like Giant Eagle Advantage or drug store memberships), you link your card to your Ibotta account. Then, loyalty card or not, you simply navigate through the huge selection of items available, choosing anything that you wish to purchase. You can search for a specific product and see which of many stores offer a rebate on that item, or you can select a certain store and see which items there can be unlocked for rebates. Sometimes, when choosing products, you are prompted to answer a short trivia question or watch a short video before you are able to “unlock” a rebate. Then, you shop! Use your loyalty card at the checkout, and the rebates will automatically be added to your Ibotta account within 48 hours. If shopping at a store that does not use cards, the process is completed by submitting your receipt. In the Ibotta app, click the green “Verify Purchases” button on the bottom of the main screen, choose the store where you shopped, then follow the prompts on the screen (there are usually only two steps to submitting a receipt). This app is very user-friendly and walks you through each step in a simple and organized manner. It doesn’t transfer to third-party apps or make you send in a physical receipt, either. The entire submission process is completed within seconds, and the savings will be added to your Ibotta account within 48 hours.
Once you have accumulated enough savings, you can withdraw the money via two options:
1) Transfer the earnings to PayPal or Venmo. There is a $20.00 minimum, meaning you can “cash in” once you have $20.00 or more. (Extra bonus if your bank account is linked to your PayPal account, and you can then transfer the money directly to your bank for instant spending!)
2) Cash in for a gift card of your choosing, such as Best Buy, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Target, and more. The minimum “cash-in” amount for each gift card varies, but it is usually around $20.00 or $25.00.
Not only do you earn savings by purchasing items on the rebate list, but Ibotta offers many fun perks, too! There are monthly team rewards (add more “teammates” for quicker earnings), and seasonal/promotional bonuses. For example, this month you can save with the Back to School Bonus. It works like this: redeem for Sharpie Highlighters ($1.00 rebate), Papermate Gel Pens ($0.75 rebate), and Expo Dry Erase Markers ($0.25 rebate). The bonus is that if you purchase all three items, you will receive an additional $1.00 rebate, bringing your total savings to $3.00!
With Ibotta, there are so many options of products to redeem, and coupled with the bonuses and incentives, the savings add up quickly! I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. My only complaint: the product list could be updated more regularly and with more variety for produce/fresh foods.
Checkout 51: After creating an account with Checkout 51, you can begin redeeming almost immediately! Select (or as this app calls it, “star”) the items you wish to redeem; don’t forget to “star” the extra offer at the bottom if you think it will apply (any shopping trip over $60.00 is entered to win $500.00)! Be sure to keep an eye out, though, for some rebates are only redeemable at specific stores. If this is the case, the item will be listed like this: “At Walmart: $0.50 Cash Back”. As for the non-store-specific items, Checkout 51 will accept almost any receipt that follows the proper guidelines (found in the FAQ, under settings). Then, you shop! With this app, there is no option to connect a loyalty card, so always remember to save your receipt for submission. The process is simple: the app will open the camera and prompt you to snap photos of the receipt. Then you scroll through the list of possible rebates and select which items are included in your photos. Click the “Claim It” button, and your savings will be added once the receipt is processed (within 48 hours).
Offers on this app are available in small quantities, so make sure to check often and upload your receipts as soon as possible, otherwise there may be no remaining rebates on an item you purchase (next to the item shown, there will be a small description such as “Hurry, limited quantities left” or “Sorry, zero rebates remaining on this item”). Some offers, though, may be claimed multiple times, so it works in favor of those who prefer to buy in bulk! Just expand the product details to see exactly what the deal includes and any limitations.
Once you have saved up $20.00 in rebates, the “Cash Out” button will be illuminated; click on that and Checkout 51 will send you a check with your earnings.
Saving with Checkout 51 is slower than anticipated, mostly because of a small selection of redeemable items, but even a little bit of money adds up eventually! My rating? 2.5 out of 5 stars.
SavingStar: This app works similarly to Ibotta in the way of redemption; before shopping, you need to link your loyalty cards to your SavingStar account. Activate products that you wish to redeem by pressing the “+” button, or click on the item for more details. One feature I appreciate about expanding the product information is that SavingStar gives you the option to check if an item qualifies for a rebate before you purchase it. That way, if you are unsure about which size or flavor is included in the offer, choose “Check if Product Qualifies” and scan the barcode on the item in question. SavingStar immediately indicates whether a product is accepted for the rebate. Once you have finished shopping, submitting a receipt follows a two-step process. Follow the prompts to first verify the items that you bought; scan the bar code on each item available for a rebate (I like to do this step while I am unpacking my bags). Then, similar to the apps above, snap photos of the corresponding receipt, and click ‘Submit’!
SavingStar has an option to create a shopping checklist directly in the app, which I think is quite useful (say “good-bye” to chicken-scratched, messy lists). Not only are you able to choose items from the rebate offers to add to your list, but there is an option to type in your own needs as well, meaning you can consolidate your list into one simple, effective checklist.
This app stands out among its competitors because of opportunities to earn larger rebates if you spend a certain amount of money on products of a specific brand; these are referred to in the app as “one or many” discounts, as you can purchase the required items all in one shopping trip, or in multiple (many). Once you activate the offer, your progress will be tracked, letting you know how much more you need to spend to earn the rebate. The expiration dates on these offers are usually longer than normal, which conveniently allows you to shop as you need and still earn the rebate. For example, I recently earned $3 (after spending $12 on any Sargento shredded cheese) and I did not need to alter my typical shopping pattern to do so. Over the month that the offer was activated, I purchased my normal amount of cheese products and that was enough to earn the rebate! I am currently working my way up to a $5 rebate for purchasing $15 in International Delight Creamer products. The “one or many” offers usually include a variety of different products by a certain brand, so you have the freedom to pick and choose what you would like to purchase.
Once you accumulate $5 worth of savings, you can choose what type of ‘payout’ you would like. Savingstar can cash out to a PayPal, Upromise, or bank account; you can also request a Starbucks, iTunes, or AMC Theatres gift code.
I like the variety of choices on Savingstar, even if the quantity of these choices is occasionally limited. Coupled with the “one or many” bonuses, this app is beneficial in trying to save some money. I’d rate it a 3.5 out of 5 stars!
ReceiptHog: This app is unique, and perhaps cannot even be considered a “rebate” app. Instead, it is a marketing research app that rewards users for sending in their receipts (ultimately, data). You collect “coins” for each receipt submitted and eventually redeem those coins for actual money. This app must be growing in popularity, as I was informed after signing up that there were too many users already in my area and so I would be put on a waiting list. Two weeks into my own research, I decided to e-mail ReceiptHog and let them know I wanted to review their app for a blog post, hoping that would convince someone to let me join the app. One month later, no spots had opened up yet, and I received an e-mail saying that they’ll let me know if anything changes.
0 out of 5 stars for ReceiptHog. Kidding; I don’t think uninformed spite is enough justification for a poor rating.
MobiSave: Winner in the category for the cutest icon, Mobisave works similarly to the rebate apps above (excluding ReceiptHog). Choose the offers you wish to redeem by clicking the “+” button, purchase your products, and submit your receipts! There is no option to connect loyalty cards, so be sure not to lose your store receipt. The submission process is extremely simple: click the redeem button, snap photos of your full receipt, click the ‘done’ button, and then select or “attach” the items from your offers list that are included in your photos. Your savings will be deposited directly to a Paypal account within 24 hours- the only way of collecting your earnings.
Don’t be surprised when you download this app; the rebates for items on Mobisave are significantly less in monetary value than on other apps in this review. Even though the selection of items is meager, I have found that this app offers more “any brand” rebates than some of the other apps do. I wouldn’t bother with Mobisave on its own, but if used in conjunction with other apps, you could find that even the smallest amount of savings adds up to something eventually. 2 out of 5 stars in my book (and that may or may not be taking into account the adorable whale icon).
BerryCart: I did not download BerryCart, but I wanted to include a small description for those of you who may benefit. This app is targeted towards health-conscious shoppers who are attempting to remain money-conscious as well. It features items considered non-GMO, organic, and gluten-free. (Although I do purchase plenty of healthy fruits and veggies, this app focuses mainly on rebates for packaged food falling into the above categories.) Use this app in the same way as the aforementioned, selecting your choices before shopping and keeping your receipt to submit afterward. Some of the reviews I read claimed this was a great app to use if you shop at places like Whole Foods and Sprouts- a statement that I am not in a position to support nor deny.
Let me know if you have any experiences with BerryCart, I’d love to hear your opinions!
What to do next? Start earning your money! While making my grocery shopping list for the week, I consult each rebate app in order to find items to purchase. Often, a rebate will be offered for the same item on multiple apps- resulting in extra savings! A few weeks ago, for example, SavingStar offered 100% cash back on one bag of PopCorners. At the same time, MobiSave offered $1.25 back on that exact item. So I purchased a bag of the healthy, air-popped chips, and actually made money! See, I received 100% back of what I spent, plus $1.25. Easy as pie! (I wonder if there are any rebates on pie this week. Oh, how I shouldn’t blog on an empty stomach.) Offers as great as that one don’t occur all the time, but keeping an alert eye on the rebates will ensure you always find a good deal.
If you were only to download one rebate app, I would definitely suggest going with Ibotta. The amount of savings I acquired within only one month was substantially larger than any of the other rebates apps- combined. And, just for my wonderful readers, a special gift: download the app and use my referral code “cyegnax” to receive a $10 bonus once you redeem your first rebate (or you can sign up here).
*unless you are a Kardashian. And if you are a Kardashian, how did you end up visiting my website??