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Fetch vs. Ibotta: Which Grocery Cash Back App is Better?

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch -- but with grocery cash back apps like Fetch and Ibotta, you can at least get a discount! I've been using Fetch for a couple years; awhile back, I tried Ibotta but didn't love it. Recently, I tried it again and it's going a lot better the second time around.

(^^That's totally how I look at the grocery store, btw......)

Here's how the apps stack up, IMO. I have no affiliation with either company, but there are referral links in this post.

Fetch gives you points for scanning receipts, which are then converted into gift cards at various retailers. I always go for the Amazon gift card because it's the most flexible regarding what I can purchase. There are a lot of different options, though: eBay, CVS, Target, Hulu, Sephora, and Advanced Auto Parts are just a few examples. Most reward options, excluding Fetch's monthly sweepstakes, take at least 3,000 points to redeem -- which gets you a $3 gift card.

My first few receipts earned 100 points each just for scanning when I started out with Fetch in November 2017, but then the per-receipt points went down to 25 points. (In other words, two and half cents...) Points build up much more quickly if you shop for Fetch's special offers. For instance, a six-pack or larger of Blue Moon beer earns 3,000 points/$3 right now. You also earn points when you purchase any participating brands; like, I earned 50 points on a recent receipt because I bought Classico alfredo sauce.

In my best year of "Fetching," I made $45, but this year I've only made about $7 while spending a similar amount on groceries overall -- and we're already halfway through July! I think the difference is that I haven't been buying as much beer. The Miller Lite points were adding up, but so were the calories!

The saving grace of Fetch, and the reason I don't delete it from my phone, is that it's a great budgeting tool. You can set a monthly spending goal and see how you're doing as the month goes on. You can also see your spending by retailer, and compare spending over weeks, months, and years. Plus, every single receipt you scan is saved for all eternity -- this helped me out a lot when I realized I could have been using my HSA account for purchasing vitamins instead of my regular dough. I was able to download six months worth of receipts that were otherwise long gone and reimburse myself.

Next up, let's take a look at Ibotta. Like I said before, I tried it a few years ago and didn't like it because I couldn't find enough deals on things I actually wanted to purchase. But after seeing someone in a personal finance Facebook group raving about it last month, I decided to give the app another shot.

Short version, I've made $37 in three weeks.

Let's examine that number more closely -- $20 of the $37 was a sign-on bonus that I got after purchasing ten featured products in a certain time period. But they were all things that I would buy anyways: yogurt, beef jerky sticks, sunscreen... Ibotta also offers any-brand rewards, like "buy any bananas and get $0.25." The cash is real cash, not "points" -- so instead of 25 points translating to two and a half cents, you just get a straightforward amount of money. Ibotta rewards can be cashed out through Paypal once you reach $20, or you can redeem them for gift cards.

Another reason that Ibotta is edging out Fetch as my favorite cash back app is that it has a lot more featured brands and stores. I often shop at places like Trader Joe's and Aldi, and it's very rare that Fetch has a brand that's carried by those stores. Between the wider variety and the any-brand deals, I do better with Ibotta after those shopping trips. There are also lots of non-grocery retailers that participate in Ibotta.

The main drawback I've found is that Ibotta's a pain in the neck to use. First you have to select your retailer.... Then you have to scroll through all these deals and pick the ones you want to load to your account.... Then you have to scan your receipt, and it only picks up the deals you loaded on there -- so if you missed something, you wouldn't get the $$. But wait, there's more! After you scan your receipt, you have to scan the barcode of the item you purchased! So you have to go digging through your groceries and scan your actual sunscreen to redeem your deal -- whereas Fetch just picks up any offers on your receipt without a need to "pre-load" or "post-scan" them.

Final Verdict

Ibotta makes users jump through a lot of hoops to earn cash, but there is potential for worthwhile payouts. Fetch rewards don't stack up as quickly (at least not for me), but the app is a helpful budgeting tool.

Are Fetch and Ibotta mining your data and sending it to the corporate overlords? Probably. But so is every other app and website you use in 2020. Ibotta offers the option to connect with your bank account for payouts, but that scares me -- I'll stick with Paypal and pay the transaction fee, thanks.

Want to give these apps a try? Use the referral codes/links below and we'll both get a bonus.

· Fetch Referral Code: K3ADF

· Ibotta Referral Code: gwujogx

And remember, don't go buying a bunch of stuff just because you're "earning points" -- just stick to your list and pick up a little extra cash along the way!

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