People who frequently use rebate websites may have wondered if there are equivalent sites for grocery shopping — sure there are, and plenty of them.
As a quick refresher, popular sites like Ebates offer coupons and cash rebates to customers who shop at partner retailers such as Macy’s or Walmart. San Francisco-based Ebates is owned by Rakuten Inc., one of Japan’s largest online shopping malls. When you click on an Ebates link through the website or app, an email, or by installing its browser extension to start shopping, you’re eligible to receive cash back. You can also receive cash back at the store by linking a credit or debit card to your Ebates account.
Grocery store rebate apps work much the same way, with an extra step of submitting your receipts after you shop. There are a slew of such apps including Checkout 51, SavingStar and Receipt Pal, plus the four we’re reviewing below. Each of these turns your grocery receipts into cashback awards and each has its own special features, strengths and limitations.
Ibotta allows users to earn cash rewards for everyday purchases, both in-store and online. Partnering with almost 200 grocery store chains in the country, the Denver, Colo., based company offers rebates on a wide variety of fresh produce, liquor, processed foods and personal care products and household supplies.
How it works
Step 1: Find offers
Before your trip to the grocery, find offers on products from that particular grocery store listed on the app, and claim the ones you’ll need. Each deal is worth between 25 cents and $5. Some deals are only valid for items at selected stores, but there are also offers applying to products sold at any partnering grocery store. From time to time, there are rewards worth 25 or 50 cents just for submitting a receipt, even though you didn’t purchase anything eligible for cash back.
Step 2: Go shopping
You go buy groceries, including items that you’ve claimed cashback offers on. Keep the receipt.
Step 3: Redeem awards
Redeem your offers by taking a photo of your receipt via the Ibotta app. The app will match the items on the receipt to the offers previously claimed and deposit the cash into your account within 48 hours.
Note: your receipts are valid for rebates within 7 days of purchases, so don’t wait too long to submit your receipt.
You can also link your loyalty card or account with Ibotta, so that the app receives an electronic submission of your receipt to be automatically reviewed for cash rewards.
Step 4: Receive cash
Ibotta will deposit your credit within 48 hours. You can withdraw the funds from your account and transfer them to your Venmo or PayPal account every time once you’ve accumulated $20 of cash credit. Another option to use your earnings is to buy gift cards from stores partnering with Ibotta.
Where it works
Ibotta partners with nearly 200 grocery stores, drug store and wholesale markets. To name a few: Whole Foods Market, CVS, Walmart, Kroger and Costco. Find the entire list of stores where you can use Ibotta here.
Beyond regular offers, you have opportunities to earn additional credit through special offers. A few examples below:
- Once you redeem your first in-store offer, you earn an extra $2 cash from Ibotta.
- You get a $5 bonus when a friend signs up through your referral.
- When you reach $10 in credit, Ibotta will match the earnings with an extra $10.
Pros and cons
- Cash rewards are straightforward and are deposited to your account within 48 hours.
- Deals are available on a variety of groceries — it’s the only app we reviewed that offers rebates on fresh foods.
- You can use Ibotta in some of the biggest grocery chains in the country.
- Beyond groceries, you can earn cash credit from purchasing electronics, clothing, gifts, home and office supplies, restaurant dining both online and in-store.
- Ibotta is the most outstanding among the four apps we reviewed when it comes to interface and design.
- Ibotta offers generous bonus awards.
- It takes time to browse deals every time before you go grocery shopping.
- You can’t cash your rewards unless you reach $20, which can take a while to accumulate.
- It doesn’t work with every grocery store — you can’t use it at mom-and-pop shops or bodegas.
- Offers don’t last forever; sometimes they expire before you remember to redeem them in time.
- After you claim offers, Ibotta will often ask you personal questions such as your age, gender, race and consumption references. You can’t proceed without answering, but Ibotta is not transparent as to why they are collecting such data and how they will use such information.
Receipt Hog is unique in the sense that it pays you for uploading pictures of your receipts for market research. Any receipt will work, whether it’s from a large grocery chain or corner bodega.
How it works
Step 1: Submit receipts
You earn coins from your receipts from any store, depending on the amount of money you spent. You earn:
- 5 coins for a receipt total of less than $10
- 10 coins for a receipt total of $10 to $50
- 15 coins for receipt total of $50 to $100
- 20 coins for a receipt total of more than $100
Note: A receipt must be uploaded to the app within 14 days of the transaction date. You can submit up to three receipts from the same store with the same transaction date and up to 20 receipts per week.
Step 2: Redeem points
Once you reach 1,000 coins, you’ll be eligible for a PayPal cash redemption or an Amazon gift card.
- 1,000 coins = $5
- 2,900 coins = $15
- 4,300 coins = $25
- 6,500 coins = $40
The more coins you redeem, the higher the payout — it’s worth waiting until you earn 6,500 coins to maximize your earnings. The redemption request will be approved within seven days.
Where it works
You can submit receipts from any store within the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.
Receipt Hog offers extra points-earning opportunities:
- You can earn additional rewards and bonuses by completing surveys or challenges, or by uploading more receipts.
- You can connect your Receipt Hog account with your email address and Amazon to earn bonus points and awards.
Pros and cons
- Uploading receipts is the simplest way to earn money, among these selections — you don’t need to spend time looking for eligible offers or deals with Receipt Hog.
- It’s the most widely applicable app among the four. It can be used in all stores that sell groceries, big and small, and in three countries.
- You won’t need waste money on items you don’t use just to get cashback rewards.
- Receipt Hog also allows users to earn rewards from retailers that sell clothes, home improvement and furnishings, office supplies, electronics and arts and crafts and sporting equipment.
- The company is transparent about its data collection purpose.
- If you are a new user, you have to complete an introductory survey before you can access the cash-out page.
- The reward system is a bit complicated: you earn points based on how much you spend on groceries on one receipt, and then you have to convert from points to dollar amounts to get rewards.
- Because you earn points primarily by submitting receipts, your earnings from Receipt Hog may not be as substantial compared with other product- or band-oriented rebate apps.
- There is a waiting period of up to seven days to receive funds, the longest cash-out wait of all apps reviewed.
Unlike Ibotta, which has a limited choice of grocery stores and specific offers on products, Fetch Rewards allows you to scan any receipt from any grocery store in the U.S. Its offers are based on specific brands, not products or stores. Most of the brands partnering with Fetch Rewards are popular consumer brands that sell processed food or personal care items.
How it works
Step 1: Upload receipts
Scan your grocery receipt from any grocery store, convenience store, drug store or liquor store.
Note: Receipts must be scanned within 14 days of the transaction date. You can upload up to 14 receipts in a rolling seven day period.
Step 2: Earn points
If you have purchased a product from one of Fetch Rewards’ participating brands, you’ll earn points for that item. There are three categories of points: base, bonus and special.
Step 3: Redeem rewards
As your points accumulate, you can redeem them for gift cards to popular retailers that work with Fetch Rewards. Every 1,000 points are worth $1. There are four tiers of rewards: 5,000 points, 10,000 points, 25,000 points and 50,000 points; you can earn gift cards with a cash value of $5, $10, $25 and $50, respectively.
Where it works
Any U.S. grocery store that carries the 200+ popular brands in the app.
You receive 2,000 points after you refer the app to a friend and their first receipt has been approved and accepted.
Pros and cons
- Anyone who lives in the U.S. can potentially take advantage of the app.
- The brands are common enough that most grocery stores carry them.
- The gift-card options are extensive.
- Deals don’t expire.
- If an account is inactive for 90 days, the points will expire.
- The deal options are limited to 200+ brands.
- All offers are for processed foods. You won’t be able to get credit for buying fresh produce with Fetch Rewards.
- You can’t convert points to actual cash that can be transferred to your own financial account.
BerryCart is a healthy answer to Fetch Rewards. Users earn rewards for buying organic, gluten-free or non-GMO foods. Rather than offering brand-based deals, BerryCart offers are based on specific products.
How it works
Step 1: Find deals
Browse BerryCart deals in the app. The deals are only valid for a certain period of time. It currently offers cashback rewards on nearly 50 items. The app tells you where the item is available near you based on your GPS location; most of the offers are worth from $0.25 to $2.
Step 2: Claim deals
In order to claim a specific deal that BerryCart offers, you have to click the “Fact” button on the offer page to learn information about that product.
Step 3: Upload receipts
After your grocery shopping trip, you can snap a picture of the receipt or the bar code to receive a rebate for the item you previously claimed. BerryCart will deposit the funds into your account within 24 hours.
Step 4: Get cash
Once your accumulated rebates reach $5, you can cash them out by transferring the money to your PayPal account, or you can buy a gift card to iTunes ($5 to $15) or Hotels.com ($10 to $20).
Where it works
You can use BerryCart in any store that carries the items BerryCart currently offers deals on.
- You can earn extra cash back by writing reviews on each product.
- You earn $2 for each successful referral.
Pros and cons
- If you buy mostly organic, all-natural, gluten-free and non-GMO foods, this app is for you.
- It works at grocery stores across the country.
- You can learn nutritional facts about the things you buy while claiming deals.
- The credit you earn is deposited in 24 hours, the speediest among all four apps reviewed.
- The app is limited, in that not many deals are available on BerryCart. Currently you can only earn cash back on about 50 products.
- It requires many steps before you eventually receive the awards.
- The BerryCart app is not very intuitive.
The bottom line
It’s fulfilling to earn cashback rewards just by scanning your grocery receipts. To maximize your earnings, you’ll probably want to check the apps when creating your shopping list. It’s even more gratifying if you can combine your app rebates with store discounts. But it’s also easy to overspend — squelch the impulse to buy something solely for the cash back because you may end up wasting money instead of saving it.
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