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Cashback apps are a great way to save as you spend because you get some of the money you spend on shopping back at no extra cost.
Rakuten and Ibotta are two of the most popular cashback apps, so you may be wondering which app would be best for you.
Having used both Ibotta and Rakuten, I’d say both platforms are reliable. They have many similarities, but there are differences in features that may make one more suitable.
In this Ibotta vs Rakuten comparison, I’ll cover the main differences between the two cashback apps, including the pros and cons of each platform to help you choose the right cashback app.
Ibotta is a popular cashback app that pays you to shop. Launched in 2011, the platform’s main focus was initially on groceries.
Currently, Ibotta allows you to earn cashback on groceries and other items across various categories, including clothing, electronics, health and beauty products, and more.
The platform partners with major retailers to offer its customers discounts on items they’re shopping for. Some of the popular retailers include:
- Home Depot
- Sam’s Club
- Best Buy
The Ibotta app is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, and it has plenty of positive user reviews from its millions of users.
Ibotta also has a browser extension you can use when shopping online. It’s considered one of the best reward apps because of its accessibility and the many lucrative offers.
Another reason for Ibotta’s popularity is that you can use it in-store. Simply add the applicable offers to your app before going shopping.
After shopping, submit the receipt on the app and get the rewards. You can also link your Ibotta account to your store loyalty accounts so you earn rewards without submitting receipts. However, this is only possible for select stores.
Rakuten, formerly Ebates, is a solid, reliable shopping platform that gives you cashback rewards for your purchases.
Rakuten is similar to other cashback apps in that it partners with stores and gets paid a commission for getting users to purchase from these companies.
The platform has over 3,500 partner stores and offers users discounts, coupons, and promo codes that help them save as they spend on various items.
Rakuten also has an app and a browser extension that automatically gives you cashback rewards for making eligible purchases.
Since Rakuten’s founding in 1997, the platform has grown to over 17 million users in the US. The app has millions of downloads on both the App Store and Google Play Store, with plenty of positive reviews.
You can use the app or browser extension to see the amount of cash back you’ll receive for buying from their partner stores.
Like other reward apps like Fetch Rewards, Rakuten offers cashback on both online and in-store shopping, but the online option is more convenient.
For in-store purchases, you must link your Rakuten account to your credit or debit card before purchasing at eligible stores.
Try out Rakuten and earn a $30 welcome bonus.
Ibotta vs Rakuten
Ibotta and Rakuten are similar in that they’re both cashback apps that reward users for shopping at partner stores.
However, based on the specific features of each app, one may be more suitable for you than the other.
Let’s dive deeper into how both apps work, highlighting significant differences that should help you determine which app your shopping patterns align better with.
1. How They Work
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing between the two platforms is how they work.
Ideally, you want an easy-to-use platform with a straightforward rewards system.
How Does Ibotta Work?
The Ibotta cashback app and browser extension are both user-friendly and you can get started in a few simple steps:
- Download the app: Start by downloading the free app on your phone. The app is available for both Android and iOS. The browser extension is only available on Google Chrome.
- Set up your account: You can set up your Ibotta account using your email address or Facebook profile. You’ll earn a welcome bonus for signing up.
- Browse the available offers: Scroll through the available offers to find suitable ones and add them to your Ibotta shopping list.
- Shop: Buy items from participating stores using your added offers.
- Scan the receipt: Take a photo of the receipt and upload it to the Ibotta app as proof of purchase to activate the reward.
- Earn cash back: After your purchase is verified, your cashback amount is added to your Ibotta account.
Apps like Ibotta make saving money on everyday purchases easier by taking advantage of their features and cashback offers.
How Does Rakuten Work?
Rakuten is also straightforward to use, especially if you’re more of an online shopper. Unlike Ibotta, where you scan receipts for money, Rakuten is more tailored towards online shopping.
So how does it work?
- Create your account: Sign up for a free Rakuten account by visiting the official website.
- Browse the offers: Check out your favorite partner stores and the available offers for online shopping.
- Select stores: Choose the particular store you’d like to shop at so you can be redirected to its website.
- Shop: Make your purchases as usual, using the Rakuten website, app, or browser extension to apply the eligible offers.
- Earn cash back: You earn cash back for all qualifying purchases, which is credited to your Rakuten account.
The main difference between how Rakuten and Ibotta work is that Ibotta is more suitable for in-store shopping while Rakuten is more online-based.
2. Shopping Offers
Ibotta and Rakuten offer in-store and online offers, but the processes differ slightly.
Ibotta Shopping Offers
Ibotta has a robust online cashback reward system, such that you can find rebates for almost any purchase on the app.
The Ibotta browser extension enables you to earn up to 10% cash back for purchases from Ibotta partner retailers.
If you’re used to shopping on your phone with apps like Dosh, you can use the Ibotta app to browse and select offers as well.
In-store shopping works a little differently. Ibotta has several in-store offers you can browse on the app or website.
With in-store shopping, you first select the offer, make the purchase, and then scan and upload the receipt to earn the cashback.
Alternatively, you can link your store loyalty card to your Ibotta account so you earn the cash back automatically every time you use the card instead of uploading receipts.
Rakuten Shopping Offers
Rakuten started with online-only offers, so it has more online offers than Ibotta. Additionally, it has over 3,500 partners, allowing you to earn cash back for virtually all purchases.
Rakuten’s in-store shopping works differently in that receipt scanning is not necessary.
For Rakuten’s in-store shopping, you link your credit or debit card to your Rakuten account and link the particular offers you want to your card.
When you make payments using the linked card, you automatically earn cash back for the purchase, eliminating the need to upload receipts.
However, since Rakuten is more online-based, it has fewer in-store shopping offers than Ibotta.
3. Participating Stores
Ideally, you want your reward app to be available in your country and partner with the stores you usually purchase from to maximize your rewards.
Ibotta Partner Stores
Ibotta is only available in the US. Still, it partners with over 1,500 retailers in the country, including major brands like:
- Best Buy
- Home Depot
Ibotta started with grocery offers, but now you can earn cash back for various categories like clothing, jewelry, takeout, and even travel savings.
Rakuten Partner Stores
Rakuten is more widely available, operating in several countries, including the US, the UK, China, Canada, Australia, and South Korea.
Rakuten has been available longer, so it has more partner stores than Ibotta. According to Rakuten’s website, the platform has over 3,500 retail partners, including big names like:
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Best Buy
- Old Navy’s
Since Rakuten is available in more countries and has more brand partners than Ibotta, it is the more suitable platform for people living outside the US.
4. Earning Potential
Earning potential is the most crucial factor to consider because you don’t want to jump through hoops for meager rewards that aren’t worth the time and effort.
So, which platform has the higher earning potential?
Ibotta Earning Potential
Naturally, your earning potential on platforms like Ibotta depends on how much you shop. If you’re a regular shopper, your savings should add up fairly quickly.
Most offers on Ibotta give you between $0.25 and $2 cashback. Fortunately, Ibotta offers a variety of offers, and you can save quite a lot, especially on groceries.
In addition, partner brands sometimes have promos and campaigns involving specific products that allow you to earn several dollars in cash back.
Since you earn a few dollars with every shopping trip, you can easily make between $10 and $30 a month.
There are several ways you can maximize your earnings on Ibotta:
- Invite friends to earn the referral bonus
- Get extra cash with bonuses tied to specific products or brands
- Stay updated to discover new earning opportunities
Rakuten Earning Potential
Most offers on Rakuten give between 1% and 5% cashback, but some can go as high as 20%, depending on the particular store and the product.
A significant difference between how Rakuten and Ibotta pay you is while Ibotta gives you a dollar amount, Rakuten offers percentages on the amount spent.
Like most cashback platforms and reward sites, Rakuten has regular deals and promos where you get boosted offers, like increased cashback rates or double rewards.
You can also find 10% or higher cashback rates for big online purchases, increasing your earning potential significantly.
5. Payout Options
Another factor that should influence your choice of reward app is the payout options and conditions.
Ibotta Payout Options
Ibotta pays you in cash, and once you reach the minimum withdrawal threshold, you can withdraw your money directly to your bank, via PayPal or redeem for free gift cards.
- Bank: You can withdraw your earnings straight to your bank account, provided your bank allows third-party transfers. Some banks don’t allow these transfers, so confirm with your bank first.
- PayPal: Withdrawing your Ibotta earnings to your PayPal account is straightforward, provided you’ve linked your two accounts.
- Gift cards: You can also use your earnings to purchase digital gift cards to retailers like Walmart and Amazon.
Ibotta has a $20 minimum cash-out threshold, which is relatively high compared to Rakuten and other cashback reward apps.
Rakuten Payout Options
Rakuten offers two ways to get paid for your cashback earnings:
- Check: Rakuten sends you a check to the name and address indicated in your Account Settings on the app.
- PayPal: Your cashback earnings are sent to your preferred PayPal account. You’ll have to provide verification for this method before activating it.
Both payment options are free, and you’re paid once every three months. You need at least $5 in your account to cash out, which is automatically sent to you every quarter.
The three-month waiting period can be discouraging, but Rakuten has a lower cash-out threshold and automatically sends you payments.
7. Sign-up and Referral Bonuses
Almost every cashback reward app offers a sign-up bonus to new members to incentivize people to join. They also offer referral bonuses to encourage existing users to get their friends to join.
Both Rakuten and Ibotta offer sign-up and referral bonuses.
Ibotta has a set of welcome bonuses offered to new users in different tiers. You can earn up to $20 in free money for signing up.
These bonuses change regularly, so you should check your app for the specific requirements when you join.
Here are the typical qualifications for a welcome bonus:
- You must be a new Ibotta user, joining without a referral. This must be your first time to open an account, as creating multiple Ibotta accounts violates the platform’s policy.
- The account you create must be the only one on your device, meaning you can’t share your device with other Ibotta users.
- You must redeem offers to qualify for the welcome bonus.
Ibotta also offers a referral bonus, which you’re eligible for when you refer a new person. Like the welcome bonus, you must meet the following qualifications:
- You must invite a new user who has never had an account before
- The new user must have their own device
- The user must redeem an offer
Rakuten also offers a welcome bonus, but the requirements are slightly different.
For one, you have 90 days to meet the conditions for your welcome bonus, and you must spend $25 to qualify.
The referral bonus is where Rakuten truly shines. While Ibotta offers a $5 welcome bonus, Rakuten gives $30 per referral. Plus, it rewards both you and the person you referred.
Additionally, while Ibotta has several steps you must take to qualify for the bonus, Rakuten only requires you to make eligible purchases.
Pros and Cons
Considering the pros and cons of each rewards app is another way to decide between the two.
Ibotta Pros and Cons
- Several in-store shopping offers
- Easy-to-use platform
- Multiple redemption options
- Item variety
- Payment is made in cash
- Relatively high cash-out threshold
- Relatively fewer online shopping offers
- Limited availability
- Requires scanning receipts
Rakuten Pros and Cons
- Vast network of online retailers
- Higher referral bonus
- Available in many countries
- Automatic cashback tracking
- Several ways to earn
- Payments are made quarterly
- Limited in-store shopping offers
- Occasional tracking issues
Which Is Better: Ibotta or Rakuten?
Having looked at both reward platforms in detail, which one should you choose? Typically, you should choose the cashback app that offers the best deals.
In this case, since the participating stores and deals often change for both apps, it can be challenging to determine the platform that offers the best deals.
If you do most of your shopping online, Rakuten may be the better app because it offers a broader variety of online deals.
Ibotta is the better app for in-store shoppers because its selection of in-store shopping offers is wider than Rakuten.
To maximize your savings, you can sign up for both platforms and check the specific product deals every time you shop.
Other Apps Like Ibotta and Rakuten
You can also consider these alternatives to Ibotta and Rakuten:
- Drop: A rewards app you can use to earn cash back and gift card rewards on your purchases by linking your credit or debit card.
- Fetch Rewards: One of the most popular cashback reward apps that reward users for scanning paper and digital receipts.
- Pogo: Another rewards app you can use to earn passively from shopping and completing other transactions like paying bills, insurance, and more.
- Upside: My favorite reward app to earn $0.25 per gallon at the pump and on essentials like groceries and dining.
- Dosh: Download this automatic cashback app and link your cards to earn rewards every time you use the cards to make purchases.
- Honey: This platform helps you save by automatically applying coupons and deals to your browser when shopping online.
- Capital One Shopping: You can use this website, app, or browser extension to save money as you shop. It searches the internet for coupons and promo codes and applies them to your purchases.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Is Ibotta Different From Rakuten?
One significant difference between Ibotta and Rakuten is that Ibotta offers more in-store shopping than Rakuten.
Ibotta allows you to scan receipts to earn cashback for purchases made in-store. Rakuten is more tailored towards online shopping.
Can You Use Ibotta and Rakuten Together?
You can sign up for Ibotta and Rakuten but can’t use both platforms to earn rewards on the same purchase.
This means you cannot use both browser extensions to double up on rewards when you shop. Plus, the platforms don’t usually have similar offers.
So, while you can use both apps, you can’t use them simultaneously.
If you’re looking to save more money as you spend on shopping, apps like Rakuten and Ibotta can help you achieve your goals.
As you consider which app is the best for you, trying them both out can give you more insights into how they work.
The more you use each app, the easier it is to determine which one aligns more with your shopping patterns and habits.
It’s important to keep your expectations realistic with these apps. They are simply reward sites, not a source of income.
Try out Rakuten and earn a $30 welcome bonus!
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