While the economy is getting better in some ways, we are still dealing with inflation. Many companies have done nothing to increase pay, so every penny counts. Consumers are shopping more diligently and looking for the best deals at every place they shop.
Being frugal never goes out of style. We could all use a few extra dollars. That’s why many shoppers use rebate programs such as iBotta and eBates to get money back on the things they buy anyway. Who doesn’t love getting money deposited into their bank account?
There are many savings platforms out there, but two stand out from the rest: iBotta or eBates. Which one is better? Each works differently, so by understanding what each one offers and what you must do to get cash back, you can decide which one will work better for you based on your shopping habits. Here’s a comparison of both to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Bottom Line Up Front: I prefer Ebates because it has been around longer and I do most of my shopping online (better for Ebates). You can sign up here to get started saving on your online shopping.
What is iBotta?
iBotta is a cash back and coupon app available on both Android and Apple devices. There are several ways to earn cash, which is deposited into your PayPal account. Before you can receive an offer, you will be asked to perform various tasks, such as watching a video, reading a fact, participating in a poll, writing a comment about the product or posting something on your Facebook page.
You can do more than one task for most items, and the more tasks you do, the more money you get. Once you complete one task for a product, you can purchase the item and get cash back. You must, however, purchase the item at a participating store.
Before you can get cash back, you must submit proof of purchase. You will need to scan barcodes and submit the receipt. There are time limits, though, so make sure to get your cash back before the offers expire.
iBotta then verifies the purchase. Once you reach $5, you will be paid via PayPal within 24 hours.
Pros of iBotta
iBotta offers many benefits for shoppers.
- There are many ways to earn money. By performing multiple tasks, you can receive more cash back.
- You can still use coupons. You can use the app and get cash back even if you’re using a coupon or a store loyalty card or receiving other special savings on the product.
- It’s easy to use. Just follow the directions, which are pretty straightforward.
- iBotta works in dozens of stores. Chances are, you can use iBotta and get cash back by shopping at least one of your local stores.
- You can save money on things you already buy. You can get cash back for buying staples such as bread, milk, eggs and cereal. The savings aren’t limited to fancy electronics or furniture or other high-priced merchandise that you’ll likely never buy.
- Payment is prompt. Once you reach $5, you’re paid the next day. You don’t have to wait weeks or months to receive the money you earned.
- iBotta is free. You don’t have to pay for a membership, so you can sign up free of obligation.
Cons of iBotta
iBotta does has some downfalls, though, that make it difficult for some people to use.
- iBotta can only be used at brick and mortar stores. You must actually shop in store and receive a printed receipt in order to use the app and get cash back. iBotta cannot be used on online purchases, so if you shop primarily via the internet, you might not be able to rack up as much cash back.
- There are a lot of steps involved. Before you can receive the offer, you must do some tasks first. Then you make the purchase. Next, you upload the receipt and scan barcodes. This may seem too time-consuming for some people and not worth the effort.
- The list of stores is limited. While iBotta can be used at popular stores such as Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Dollar General, Ralphs, RiteAid and Safeway, it cannot be used everywhere. If you live in a rural area and don’t shop at any of these stores, you’re not going to get much cash back and it probably won’t be worth it to travel further just to save a buck or two.
- Some offers require social media. If you aren’t on Facebook or don’t like posting advertisements on your personal social media pages, then you could lose out on some cash back opportunities.
What is eBates?
eBates is similar to iBotta in that it also gives you cash back for shopping at various stores. eBates has partnered with more than 2,000 stores to give you discounts and cash back. The app is available on Android and Apple devices.
The way it works is fairly easy. Before shopping online, go to ebates.com and search for the store you want to shop at. Once you find it, you’ll see how much percentage of the purchase you’ll get back. Click “Shop Now” and make a purchase as usual. Once the purchase has been verified (typically within a week), you’ll receive the cash back in your account.
Once the money has been in your account for 60 days, and it amounts to more than $5, it is paid out via PayPal on the next payday: February 15, May 15, August 15 and November 15. eBates has given more than $1 billion cash back to users.
Pros of eBates
eBates offers many benefits to users, including the following:
- Receive up to 40 percent cash back. Depending on where you shop, you can receive up to 40 percent back on your purchase. If you spend $100 somewhere, you can get $40 back. That’s a significant amount of savings.
- You can double your savings. Besides getting a percentage of purchase as cash back, you can also use coupons that eBates often has for various merchants. This allows you to save even more.
- There’s a large variety of stores. With more than 2,000 stores available on eBates, you’ll likely find your favorite stores listed.
- You can now get cash back when you shop in-store. This is a relatively new feature and offers are limited. However, you have the opportunity to add your credit card and link offers so when you shop in-store, you can receive a percentage of your purchase as cash back ranging from 1-12 percent, depending on the store. There are 50 stores that participate in this offline cash back offer.
- You can get even more money by referring friends. Refer a friend and get $25 for each one who joins eBates.
- There’s a signup bonus. By signing up today here, you’ll receive your choice of either $10 eBates cash back or a $10 Walmart gift card. You do, however, have to spend $25 online within the first 90 days of signing up for eBates.
- eBates is free. There are no hidden charges and you never have to pay any fees to use it.
Cons of eBates
There are some disadvantages of eBates that might make it difficult for you to use. Take the following into consideration:
- It’s primarily for online shoppers. While there are some in-store offers now, the app is best for those who primarily shop online. If you prefer to shop in-store, you won’t find many deals.
- You must go to eBates first before shopping. You must go to ebates.com first and select the store you want to shop at to activate the tracking link. You can also get the browser extension that helps you in this regard. Don’t miss this extra step, as this will cause you to lose out on your cash back opportunity.
- You get paid only four times a year. Once you get cash back, you have to wait 60 days and wait for the next payday. It will be at least two months before you’ll see your money, which can be a long wait for many users.
- There are many exclusions. Stores may decide to stop offering cash back at any time, so you might notice that a store that you have been shopping at for a long time may no longer be an eBates partner. Some stores place restrictions on cash back eligibility. When shopping at Amazon, for example, purchases in some departments may not qualify. Sometimes the eligible departments may change monthly. You will not receive cash back if you use a gift card to pay for an order. In addition, some stores are “coupon only,” meaning that you can use a coupon but will not receive cash back.
Which Should You Choose?
Now that you know more about the benefits and drawbacks of iBotta and eBates, which one should you choose? There is no one-size-fits all choice. It depends on your shopping habits.
If you prefer to shop in-store, iBotta would be the better bet, since you would be able to save more on the things you buy. If you do most of your shopping online, then eBates would be the better program for you.
However, there are no limitations to how many savings platforms you can use. So if you shop both in-store and online equally, then you could use both platforms and save even more. You could try both iBotta and eBates and see which one works better based on how and where you shop and what items you buy. It costs nothing to try them out, so what have you got to lose?