Manufactured Spending

Should You Bother With iBotta?

That’s not just an annoying rhyme – it’s an actual question I got from a reader recently. A year ago, iBotta was a great way to offset manufactured spending fees. The app paid out $0.50 per day for an “Any Item” receipt at Walmart and elsewhere. A lot of folks would upload their Walmart money order receipts to the app on a daily basis. Nowadays, iBotta is only paying out $0.10 cents per Any Item receipt. A reader wanted to know if it’s still worth uploading your receipts to iBotta at this lower rate. My opinion? It could be, if you play it right.

How much can you earn with iBotta Any Item receipts?

I know what most of you are thinking: “$0.10 cents a day equals $3 per month. Don’t be such a cheapskate, Ariana!” But it literally just takes one minute to upload your receipt and over the course of a year, you’ll earn $36.50 worth of cash back. You can multiply that further by handing your receipts out to family members who also have the iBotta app. If you’re not a member, you can earn up to $20 by signing up with my iBotta referral link [NOTE: Uploading an Any Item receipt doesn’t qualify for the bonus). Then refer five family members and you’ll get a $55 bonus!

With the number of money orders I’m going to buy, I will probably generate about close to $200 worth of cash back through iBotta receipt uploads per year. To give you some perspective, gift card churning fees for $120,000 worth of manufactured spending totals around $225 if you’re buying them from GiftCardMall. That’s assuming you’re buying them in $1,500 increments and earning 1% cash back through a portal like eBates. 

On most airlines, 120,000 miles gets you a  roundtrip business class ticket to Europe or Asia. The iBotta receipt uploads cut that cost down by a  third. Not a huge amount, but if you’re manufacturing spend in large quantities, it adds up. Take that $160 and put it towards a week worth of spa treatments in Thailand. We all have a minute a day to spare and it’s not that much work. 

It all adds up

Aside from the Any Item receipt, you can use iBotta for regular everyday purchases. I often find discounts on things that I buy anyway, like shampoo, toothpaste, and about a dozen regular junk food purchases from Safeway. Those cash back amounts are much higher than the Any Item receipt payouts and add up significantly. It’s an easy daily thing you can do to cut down on your manufactured spending fees. Thanks to sign-ups from my readers, I’ve been able to generate a few hundred dollars in referral bonuses to help cover my manufactured spending fees.

Of course, it’s not the only thing you can do. Gift card merchants like Office Depot and Simon Mall regularly run discounted or fee-free gift card promotions. These are great ways to reduce the cost of acquiring miles via manufactured spending. And if you’re manufacturing spend with a  cash back card, it all of it adds to your cash profits. 

Is iBotta worth it?

So should you bother with iBotta’s $0.10 Any Receipt uploads? Sure, why not. While you’re at it, upload your other grocery and drugstore receipts too. It’s less than a minute of work and at the end of the year, you’ll have enough cash back to cover taxes and fees on an award ticket. 

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35 Comments

  1. You can add any of the items in “any items” in the app and get credit without actually purchasing as well.

    • True. I don’t shop regularly enough to have a daily receipt from anything other than Walmart. That being said, I generate most of my iBotta cash back from grocery and drug store purchases.

  2. “But it literally just takes one minute to upload your receipt”. So when you earn 10 cents per receipt, the potential exists to earn $6 an hour? I mean, you kids at home won’t do it that fast starting out — expect a learning curve — but Wow.

    • It’s not just the $0.10 Any Item receipts. I get higher cash back rates from grocery and drug store purchases. For example, the hair dye I regularly buy gets me $4 cash back. I’ve purchased makeup products on sale at Walmart for reselling purposes and the cash back was higher than the cost of the item.

  3. I’ve found that the “Any Item” offer appears only 1-2x per week. That’s hardly worth the effort.

  4. Ibotta has stopped giving me 10c any receipt offers. Let’s wait and see.
    Its going to be a waste of time if its going to be brand + store .

  5. I have the same issue as @JR. Last week I had it available on Monday morning and Tuesday evening. I didn’t check yesterday but I do see it there today, good for 20 cents but it expires in 5 days…which makes me think it may not show up again tomorrow.

  6. Won’t give their names, but there are other apps where you scan your receipts and you get money or credits back that you can use on things like Target or Amazon gift cards. Ibotta is good if you are buying a specific item at a specific store. The other apps are good on just about ANY receipt. YOU WILL NOT GET RICH and the earning is much slower than MS But we all shop, why not make a few cents off that little slip of paper you would normally throw away?

  7. Phill Sims

    It’s not worth a focused effort anymore….only when it moves you

  8. I am trying to reduce this kind of piddly stuff from my routine. I got sucked into too much time spent on points here, there, everywhere, a few crumbs at a time.

  9. IBotta allows “any item” only several times a week, not every day (at least for me), so it’s a long and slow process…
    On a different subject – how do you manage to buy so many MOs? I thought WMs allow only $8000 worth per 24 hr with DL…or you buy $999.12 in multiple transactions?

  10. Pimping International

    Not even a mention of Ibotta Payments, which is the one and only reason to bother with Ibotta outside of return fraud.

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