Checkout 51 is, much like Ibotta, a free “coupon rebate” app that offers money back when specific items are purchased. The main advantage it has over its competition is that, unlike most apps that are only accepted at specific retailers, any of the offers in Checkout51 can be redeemed anywhere—even online! But does that make it a formidable opponent to the top rebate apps? Or is it a complete waste of your time? Read on for all the sordid details!
|The main screen. Simply scroll down to see and add offers.|
If you have used other rebate apps, then you probably already have a good idea of how to use Checkout 51—which, in many ways, is even simpler! All of the available offers are accessed via a single page that can be scrolled through, and adding offers is as simple as pressing the grey “+” that appears next to each one. If you want to search for a specific item, that can be done via the search bar at the top, or you can browse for deals by category. Clicking on an offer will provide you with more details, though sadly there is no “scan UPC” function to verify an item in advance; this means you’ll have to carefully read through the details to make sure the size/quantity you’re buying is eligible for the rebate. It’s a bit of a drag, but shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most.
|Watch out for store-specific offers like the ones above, which can be kind of hard to see, especially on computers.|
|Not sure what you’re looking for? Browsing for products by category is very simple.|
Really, that’s the mindset that powers the app: brands pay these companies to have some of their items featured, in the hopes that the small discount will be enough incentive to get people to give it a shot. So if it happens to be something you normally get, that’s just an even better bonus!
I was excited by the proposition that Checkout 51 is accepted at any store, and while that’s technically the case, there’s a big black mark next to that notion: Aside from the first week you sign up, and your birthday (which was a cute, unexpected touch), you are never given offers on unbranded or generic items. That means every offer is only available on brand name products, shooting big holes through the perceived benefit of being able to cash in offers anywhere. So while you can submit a receipt, for example, from Aldi, how often do they have name brand items, and what are the odds they will have the specific item, in the specific size and/or quantity required, at the specific time that Checkout 51 is offering a rebate on it? In my experience, it happened once (for Bubba Burgers), and I didn’t even buy it.
Moral of the story: Unless you’re doing a lot of your shopping around this app, or happen to buy products that consistently have rebates, don’t really expect to make all that much: I started using both Ibotta and this one around the same time (summer, 2018), and as of this writing in March, 2019, I have five times more in my Ibotta account than I do here, and none of the money in Checkout 51 came from Aldi, which was the whole reason I signed up for it in the first place.
|A photo template makes lining up and taking images of your receipt quick and painless!|
There are also instances where offers can expire before Wednesday, though they tend to be well-communicated: Most rebates have a certain number of times they can be redeemed; ones close to hitting that threshold will have a “Very Few Left!” note right below the title on the main screen, giving you an at-a-glance warning that you’d better hurry if it’s an offer you’re planning to capitalize on. Annoyingly, items that run out of redemptions are still displayed until the weekly reset, with a note that says “0 Remaining”. They can still be added to your list (though, obviously, they can’t be redeemed) so it’s a good idea to look things over closely so you don’t get shafted.
|Uh oh, hurry! Not many redemptions left on this one!|
As I believe I mentioned earlier, Checkout 51 also allows you to redeem offers for items that you buy online, though I don’t foresee many people using this function: Unlike other rebate apps, which offer a percentage back on your purchase for specific stores, Checkout 51’s online offers are still limited to the specific items it’s offering rebates on for that week. So I guess if you’re one of the five people in the world that buy their Pond’s Face Wipes from Amazon, then you can submit that receipt to get money back! Well, assuming the packing list you receive meets the criteria: Everything must be itemized, and include a store logo, date, prices for each item, and a total. Email confirmations and PDF receipts are not accepted, probably because they’re easy to fake and/or reproduce. If your packing list meets these requirements, you can snap a pic and submit it just like any other receipt.
Since this is predominantly a mobile app, you may be wondering, “What if I don’t have a phone? Can I still open an account?” If I just read your mind, I’m happy to say that the answer is yes! The mobile app is hands-down the easiest and most convenient way to search for offers, as you can source them while you’re in-store, take the picture of the receipt using your phone’s camera, and then submit it, all from within the app, with just a few screen presses, and from anywhere that has cellular reception.
However, if you’re old as shit and don’t have a phone, the Checkout 51 website has the same full functionality of the mobile app, allowing you to do everything you can do on your mobile device, right from the comfort of your own computer! It’s also the only way to submit Walmart e-commerce receipts, so if you do a lot of your shopping from there, you’ll have to hop on the ol’ comp to redeem your offers.
|Submitting online follows the same principle…attach a photo file of your receipt, and voila!|
Once your account hits the $20 threshold, you can request payment—in the form of a paper check. That’s right kids, no direct deposits or Paypal payments here, which is another big drawback. As a point of reference, I only have about $14 in my account after about 9 months of use, so I can’t speak as to how quickly the checks arrive, but needless to say it won’t be as quick as a balance transfer to a checking account or online payment processor.
+Easy to add offers and submit receipts
+Offers end the same time every week (Wednesday at 11:59 pm)
+Offers can be redeemed at any store
+Simple navigation as all offers are on the main screen
+Bonuses for referring friends and redeeming certain sets of offers
+$1 bonus on any treat for your birthday, which was an unexpected surprise
+Offers broken down by category for easy browsing
-All items are brand-specific (i.e. no private label or produce offers)
-Far fewer offers than competing apps
-Offers that reach their redemption limit and are no longer valid still show up in results
-Payment by check only (no Paypal or gift card options)
-Website is very slow to load (maybe this one is just me)
I’m sure there are people that this app will suit very well, and if you think you’re one of them, then go for it! From a technical standpoint, searching, browsing, adding, and redeeming offers on the mobile app is such a simple, straightforward process that virtually anyone can do it. Personally, I just don’t find much use for it, and after hitting my first $20 and cashing out, I’m honestly not sure I’ll ever go back to it again.
If you’re interested in giving this app a spin (and it’s completely free, so why not?), it’s available on the Google Play Store for Android users, or the App Store for iOS users.