A penny saved is a penny earned, Ben Franklin said, and I hope you’ve saved some pennies with the shopping tools we looked at in the last column. But look out Ebates and Target Cartwheel, there’s a new generation of rebate apps out there vying for our attention.
These new rebate tools get you a few cents here and there on your grocery purchases with the aim of adding up to serious savings overall for doing your shopping as usual. All are free, and best used on your smartphone. Some but not all of the savings features are available via the website if you don’t have a smartphone.
Ibotta is the most well-known of the bunch. To get your rebates, before you go shopping, visit the Ibotta website or download the app. Browse eligible products that you expect to purchase from available retailers, and unlock each rebate by performing required tasks. For example, to get a 75 cent rebate on Minute Maid juice boxes at either Walmart or Target, there is a one question survey to answer and a nutrition fact to read. Once you purchase the juice boxes, take a picture of your store receipt, upload via the app, and once your purchase is verified the 75 cents is deposited into your Ibotta account. Rewards may be brand, product, and store specific, like the juice boxes, and others are for things like any brand paper towels at multiple stores. If you have your location information turned on, the Ibotta app on your smartphone will alert you to rebates available in the area as you near a participating retailer. Not sure if that’s helpful or creepy. Certain retailers also link their loyalty cards to Ibotta, eliminating the need to scan receipts. In our area, Rite Aid and Weis markets are preferred partners that will link to your Ibotta account. Once your earnings reach $10.00, you can cash out via Paypal, Venmo, or gift cards to retailers like Amazon and Cabela’s. While you can’t take advantage of the in store shopping rebates without a smartphone, purchases made online with a computer are eligible for cash back.
Checkout 51 is a similar service, but more flexible. Check out what the current week’s available offers are and unlock what you plan to purchase. No tasks to perform to unlock. After you make your purchase simply upload a picture of your receipt through the app or on the website. Although there are some store specific offers, most purchases can be made from be any retailer, as long as the receipt is in English or French (they operate in Canada as well as the US). Again you may find an offer for a certain brand and product, or something as simple as a pint of blueberries or gallon of milk. When your cash grows to $20 you may request a distribution check, which will come to you in the mail.
Shopmium is yet another rebate app. Like Checkout51 it works with any retailer to give you cash back on the offers specific to the app. The company boasts that they have the most generous and exclusive offers of all; you can see what’s available on their site. After purchasing the product, scan the product barcode and upload your receipt. Unfortunately like Ibotta, Shopmium does require you to use the app for in store savings. Getting your money with Shopmium is different; instead of getting a check or a lump sum cash out, your rebates go directly to your PayPal account as you earn them. Shopmium also offers $2 for each referral that accepts your invitation to join.
As with all of the money saving tools on the market, the questions to evaluate are how much effort will it take, and will you actually do it? Stick to those that you know will be more or less automatic, and you can make Ben Franklin proud.