With inflation touching every aspect of people’s lives, especially the cost of vital goods like groceries, it’s no wonder there’s a surging interest in grocery rebate apps. I’ve been using them for years, and I never go shopping without my handy list of rebates queued and ready to go.
My two favorites are Ibotta and Fetch Rewards. Using Ibotta earns me anywhere from $5 to $20 in cash back on any given grocery trip. And Fetch Rewards scores me plenty of gift cards to hand out during the holidays.
But there are strengths and weaknesses to each app, which is why I draw on the best features of each to save the most money.
The features that matter in a shopping app are the ones that help you save money and time. Rebate apps work differently than coupons: Instead of saving you money upfront, they return you money after your purchase. But cash back still amounts to the same thing in the end, and who doesn’t love more money in their pocket?
Number of Rebates
The whole point of shopping with a rebate app is to score cash back on your purchases, whether that means loading your grocery cart with fruits and vegetables or snagging a new pair of sneakers at an online retailer. So the more stores and brands a cash-back app provides rebates for, the better it ranks.
Fetch Rewards’ Rebates
The primary way you earn rebates with Fetch Rewards is through buying specific items from a current list of special offers or from partnered brands. In exchange for purchases, Fetch Rewards gives you points you eventually redeem for cash-valued rewards. Every 1,000 points is about equivalent to $1.
For example, on their list of special offers, they’ve had rewards of 1,250 points for buying a 20-ounce Spark-flavored Mountain Dew and 800 points for buying Sargento shredded cheese.
But they aren’t always that many points. Sometimes, you don’t get many. For example, at one point, you could earn 10 points for every $1 spent on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or 5 points for every $1 spent on Yoplait yogurt.
Currently, Fetch Rewards partners with over 500 global brands. So it’s well stocked with rebate opportunities. The only drawback is there’s no list-making feature to help you plan your shopping trip. So if you want a rebate on yogurt, you have to remember to reach for Yoplait and not Dannon when you’re at the store.
To help you remember, make a notation on your shopping list. I always make my list with a smartphone app like AnyList. That way, flipping between coupon, rebate, and shopping list apps is convenient while at the store.
Rather than earn on brands in general, Ibotta’s rebates are for individual products. So you search through their list of available rebates before you go shopping and clip the rebates you want to use. Occasionally, you may have to watch short videos to unlock the rebate. You then match the rebate to the product in-store or online, depending on how you’re doing your shopping.
At any given time, Ibotta offers hundreds of active grocery rebates, which run the gamut from $0.10 cash back on any brand of walnuts to $9.50 back on Blue brand cat food. You can use many of the rebates multiple times, sometimes up to five times per receipt.
Additionally, Ibotta works in over 2,000 retail chains, restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores, home improvement centers, pet stores, and pharmacies nationwide — both in-store and online. And Ibotta features a browser extension that lets you earn cash back on non-grocery purchases. (You can also do non-grocery shopping through your phone.)
That adds up to thousands of cash-back opportunities.
Ease of Earning Cash Back
Saving money shouldn’t require hours of your time. Otherwise, it’s not really saving you anything. After all, time is money. So if a shopping app takes too much time investment — from scanning for rebates to uploading receipts and matching bar codes — just to earn you $0.10 cash back, it might not be worth the effort.
Fetch Rewards’ Ease of Earning Cash Back
Fetch Rewards couldn’t be simpler when it comes to earning cash back. There are no offers to unlock, coupons to clip, or bar codes to scan.
Simply open the app on your smartphone, tap the orange button with the camera icon on the bottom menu, and take a picture of your receipt, making sure to capture the date, name of the store, and purchase total. You can take multiple snaps if the receipt is long. When you’re finished, tap Submit and the app immediately starts scanning your receipt for available rewards.
If it finds any, it automatically credits your account with whatever amount of points your shopping trip earned. Even if there are no partnered brands on your receipt, every receipt earns 25 points with Fetch Rewards. So it’s worth it to keep receipts from anywhere you’ve shopped or dined until after you’ve scanned them into the Fetch Rewards app.
To make the process super simple, collect your receipts in one place, then scan them once per week. You can put a check mark on the ones you’ve scanned so you don’t accidentally double-scan, though Fetch Rewards will let you know if you scan a duplicate receipt.
You can also connect your email and Amazon accounts to the app, and it will scan your e-receipts for any available offers.
When you tap the orange receipt-scan button, a blue button also appears for e-receipts. But you must enter your email and Amazon account info in your account profile to have your other e-receipts scanned.
There are two ways to interact with Fetch. You can look through the app ahead of your shopping trip to see what rebates are available and plan your purchases around them, or you can shop as usual and scan your receipt when you’re done. You’ll get at least 25 points for a qualifying bonus receipt scan one way or the other, and even just shopping as usual, it’s not uncommon to score deals on the products you already buy.
Ibotta’s Ease of Earning Cash Back
The Ibotta app is more complicated to use than Fetch Rewards, but this is in part because it has more features. Plus, your earnings can add up much faster, thereby making it potentially worth the effort.
Because you can shop online with Ibotta, it can track you digitally, thus eliminating the need to upload receipts in most cases. However, that means you must shop through either the smartphone app or the browser extension to get credit for your shopping trip.
Alternatively, you can link store loyalty cards to the app. Then, whenever you shop in-store, the system tracks your purchases through your loyalty card. When you shop at Walmart or Target, neither of which has loyalty cards, Ibotta can also track your purchases, both in-store and online, when you link your Target and Walmart accounts and pay using a linked debit or credit card.
And of course, you can also scan receipts the old-fashioned way. I still have to do this when I shop at some grocery stores that have neither loyalty cards nor online accounts, such as Whole Foods.
All these features are easy to use, so no complaints there. The most difficult thing about Ibotta is that it can be time-consuming to go through the complete list of current rebates to find ones you can use on any given shopping trip. Then you may have to watch videos to unlock them. The whole process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
Additionally, while you’re shopping, you have to be careful with Ibotta’s rebate offers because they’re often very specific — such as for an exact size or flavor. I’ve missed out on a rebate for buying the wrong size or version.
If you’re shopping in-store, the mobile app has a bar code scanner so you can ensure you’re purchasing the correct product. If it’s right, the scanner will say, “Offer Matched.”
You don’t have that option when shopping online. However, Ibotta’s browser extension comes with extra functionality. For example, when I order my groceries from Walmart, a green or red box highlights items with an available Ibotta rebate. Green lets me know I’ve already clipped and saved the rebate, while red warns me I still need to.
But these extra complications come with far more features and options for earning cash back.
Additional Cash-Back Opportunities
Both Ibotta and Fetch Rewards are primarily grocery shopping apps. However, each also offers ways to earn rewards in other shopping categories and through avenues other than rebates on individual purchases — because who wouldn’t love more ways to earn cash back on the stuff you buy anyway?
Fetch Rewards’ Additional Cash-Back Opportunities
Unlike Ibotta, Fetch Rewards has no online shopping option. It only scans paper and digital receipts. And it’s mostly limited to cash-back offers for typical grocery items like food, personal care, cleaning products, and beer and wine.
However, you can also earn rewards points on dining with Fetch Rewards. It offers cash back from a regular rotation of fast-food chains, including Arby’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. It also offers rebates on casual dining at restaurants like Chipotle, Panera, and T.G.I. Friday’s.
You can also level up your earning power by joining brand clubs. These are brands you can earn bonus points with for hitting certain spending targets or buying specific products. For example, the PepsiCo Tasty Rewards Club earns you bonus points on all Pepsi-partnered products, including brands like Frito-Lay, Tazo, Starbucks, and Rold Gold.
On occasion, Fetch Rewards sponsors sweepstakes in which you can win thousands (and even tens of thousands) of bonus points in exchange for doing things like referring friends and family or posting pictures of your reward scores for uploaded receipts to social media.
Additionally, Fetch Rewards regularly features sign-up bonuses offering anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 points ($2 to $4) to new users.
Or use your smartphone to go to Fetch Rewards now and download the app to receive a bonus of 3,000 points when you sign up.
Ibotta’s Additional Cash-Back Opportunities
Even though Ibotta is primarily known as a grocery rebate app, its browser extension and smartphone shopping tools let it compete on par with rebate tools like Rakuten, Honey, and Capital One Shopping.
As with these other online shopping extensions, when you visit online retailers and activate the browser extension, you get a certain percentage of cash back for your online purchases. If using your smartphone, you open the app, then select the Online Shopping button from the home screen. From there, you choose the retailer you want. As long as you stay within the Ibotta app, you’ll get credit for your shopping trip.
Additionally, the Ibotta browser extension compares prices across retailers to ensure you’re getting the best deal. And it lets you keep tabs on cost by saving an item so you can track how its price fluctuates over time and buy it when it reaches a price you’re comfortable with.
When it comes to grocery bonuses, Ibotta regularly offers bonus cash back for making multiple-product purchases from single brands. For example, they’ve offered a $0.50 cash-back bonus if you buy one package of gluten-free Oreos and one package of gluten-free Good Thins crackers together on the same receipt. And that’s on top of the $0.75 cash-back rebate for the Oreos and $0.75 cash-back rebate for the Good Thins you’d already get.
They also offer bonuses for redeeming a certain number of rebates within a set time frame. For example, they often offer a Weekend Warrior bonus where you can earn $3 if you redeem 10 rebates within the weekend (which typically starts on Thursday and ends early Monday morning).
Additionally, you can earn a $20 welcome bonus for signing up for Ibotta and redeeming 10 offers, either in-store or online within 14 days of registration (excludes any-brand and any-item offers). You can also earn referral bonuses at any time. Each referral gives both you and the person you refer a $10 bonus after they redeem their first offer.
Or use your smartphone to go to Ibotta now to download the app and receive up to 100% cash back on your first purchase from select retailers.
From redeeming points for gift cards to downloading cold, hard cash, each app offers distinct ways to redeem your cash back.
Fetch Rewards’ Cash-Out Options
With Fetch Rewards, you earn points for your qualifying purchases. Once your points total adds up to a certain threshold, usually at least 3,000 (the equivalent of about $3, depending on the reward), you can redeem your points for rewards.
Fetch Rewards doesn’t have a genuine cash-back option. Instead, it offers digital gift cards. However, its gift card options are pretty extensive.
For example, some of the gift cards Fetch Rewards offers include:
- Retail: Amazon, eBay, Target, and Walmart
- Restaurants: Applebee’s, Olive Garden, Panera, Starbucks, and The Cheesecake Factory
- Entertainment: AMC Theaters, Apple, Fandango, Google Play, and Stub Hub
- Health and Beauty: Sephora, Spa Finder, and Ulta Beauty
- Home and Office: Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Staples, Office Max, and The Container Store
- Fashion: Express, Gap, Forever 21, Hot Topic, Old Navy, and Zappos
- Travel: Airbnb, Delta Airlines, Hotels.com, Princess Cruise Lines, Southwest Airlines, and Uber
But that’s just a tiny sampling. At last count, it had approximately 175 different options. So you’re likely to find a card for just about every major retailer. And though you won’t be able to transfer cash to your bank account, it does offer a cash card option.
In addition to gift cards, Fetch Rewards offers a few other limited redemption options. You can opt to redeem your points for a magazine subscription or a Fetch Rewards-branded T-shirt, or you can donate to charity.
Ibotta’s Cash-Out Options
Ibotta also has a digital gift card option. Its selection is similarly wide-ranging, although they have slightly fewer options, at closer to 145. Some of Ibotta’s gift card choices include:
- Restaurants: Red Robin, Outback Steakhouse, Chipotle, Panera, and Starbucks
- Entertainment: Dave & Busters, AMC Theaters, Cinemark Theaters, and Regal Theaters
- Health and Beauty: Bath & Body Works, Sephora, and Ulta Beauty
- Home: Lowes, Home Depot, Wayfair, and The Container Store
- Fashion: Nordstrom, H&M, Hot Topic, Buy Buy Baby, and DSW
- Travel: Airbnb, Southwest Airlines, and Uber
But one of Ibotta’s most significant benefits over Fetch Rewards is that it’s a true cash-back app. When you redeem rebates, the app credits your account with real cash. And you can have that cash transferred straight to your bank or PayPal account.
The only drawback is that you must reach a $20 minimum threshold to withdraw your earnings. That threshold applies whether you’re applying your reward to a gift card or withdrawing cash.
The Verdict: Should You Choose Fetch Rewards or Ibotta?
If you have to choose only one grocery rebate app as the best cash-back app, think about what products you regularly buy, what stores you usually go to, and how much time you want to commit to reaping the biggest rewards.
You Should Use Fetch Rewards If…
Fetch Rewards is quick and easy and rewards brand loyalty. So, Fetch Rewards may be for you if:
- You Don’t Want to Spend a Lot of Time Searching for Rebates. It’s beneficial to know what rebates are on the app before going to the store. But since there’s nothing to “clip,” you don’t have to spend hours searching for rebates and building your shopping list. You’ll get at least 25 points regardless.
- You Routinely Buy the Same Brands. The app rewards brand loyalty. So if you know you always buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, keep buying it and Fetch Rewards will keep rewarding you.
- You Prefer In-Store Shopping. Fetch Rewards doesn’t have much online shopping functionality since it only functions by scanning receipts, though you can get points for online purchases by connecting your email account.
You Should Use Ibotta If…
Ibotta is more time-consuming but has more rebates and more ways to earn rewards. So Ibotta may be for you if:
- You Prefer Genuine Cash Back. If you want real cash back and not a digital gift card, Ibotta is the app for you.
- You Want More Rebate Offers. Hands down, Ibotta is the gold standard for grocery rebates. And while Ibotta does feature mostly branded-product rebates, it also features an array of any-item rebates. That makes it an ideal app for shoppers like me who buy more whole foods than processed foods.
- You’re an Online Shopper. Ibotta works whether you want to shop in-store or online. So you can order grocery pickup or delivery and still get all your cash-back rebates. Or you can run to your neighborhood grocery and then manually upload your grocery receipt.
- You’re an Extreme Couponer. If you enjoy spending a lot of time looking for the best deals, Ibotta is your app. Since you have to unlock and save each rebate you want to use, it can be time-consuming. On the plus side, for all those true extreme couponers out there, you can save a lot of money on groceries by matching sales to coupons to rebates.
Both Are Great If…
Fetch Rewards and Ibotta each work in different ways, but both come with rewards for shoppers. So both apps are for you if:
- You Buy a Lot of Brand-Name Products. All the rebates on Fetch Rewards and most rebates on Ibotta are for brand-name products. So if you buy a lot of packaged food, you’ll see a lot of rewards with either app. But if your grocery list routinely features primarily whole foods, you won’t see as much benefit from either app.
- You Love Saving Money. Who doesn’t love saving money, right? Both apps are relatively simple to use. So even if you’re only earning a few dollars here and there, they can be worth the small investment of effort.
- You Don’t Mind It Taking a While to See Rewards. It does take a small amount of effort to scan receipts and search for rebates. And you won’t see rewards pile up that quickly unless you’re a true expert at extreme couponing. I average only about 5% to 10% cash back on any given grocery trip, which amounts to only about $5 to $20 for every $100 to $200 grocery run.
In a head-to-head between Ibotta versus Fetch Rewards, Ibotta wins as the more feature-rich app, including its better selection of offers, online shopping capability, more flexible redemption options, and more generous welcome bonus. Yet there’s definitely something to be said for how easy it is to use Fetch Rewards.
Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between the two. I use both. There’s no reason you can’t double up your savings. And if you put in the effort to prepare a grocery list and scan Ibotta for rebates, the extra few seconds it takes to snap a picture and upload your receipt to Fetch Rewards is nothing. It just makes good financial sense.
In fact, if you want to see even more benefit from your cash back, do more than pocket your savings. Knowing I would just end up spending my cash back on something else, I always use my Ibotta rewards for micro-investing. That way, I use money I’d never miss to help grow my long-term savings.
I save up my Fetch Rewards points all year to buy gift cards during the holidays. Since they have so many options, like Amazon, Target, and Starbucks, it’s easy to find cards friends, family, co-workers, and your kids’ teachers will love.
Note that sometimes you get a nontransferable electronic code rather than a card. But when all else fails, you can use the code for holiday shopping.
And that’s how to really supercharge your money-savings potential using Fetch or Ibotta.