Money at 30: Bumped App – How Version 1.0 Compares to the Beta
For literal years, I’ve been raving about an app called Bumped. Yet, little did I know that, for much of that time, I was talking about a service that few could actually try for themselves. That’s because Bumped was still in its pilot or beta phase. However, as the platform launched its 1.0, many of the features that original users loved had changed — for better or worse.
So what exactly has changed now that Bumped 1.0 has arrived? Let’s dive in to some of what I think are the key differences as well as look at some of the big questions surrounding the switches.
The Big Changes in Bumped
Starting off with how you link cards to Bumped, the app no longer utilizes Plaid for this process. Instead, it’s apparently using Rakuten Card Linked Offer Network. As a result, Bumped now only supports linking Visa and Mastercards. This is kind of a shame for me personally as my American Express collection keeps growing. Incidentally, Rakuten themselves support Amex, so I’m not sure why the discrepancy.
The move away from Plaid also likely means that users will want to link authorized users cards individually as well. Previously, since Plaid linked to your account and not your individual card, my wife’s purchases and mine both still showed up. Similarly, while you used to earn stock-back based on the grand total of your purchases, it seems that (at least for online purchases) it’s the pre-tax subtotal that’s used to calculate your earnings
Meanwhile, I should also note that I’m not 100% clear on whether linking a card is necessary for online offers or just for in-store ones. If I had to guess, I’d presume it’s only for the latter — but I wasn’t going to take my chances.
Getting into the truly major changes, the way you earn stocks on Bumped has completely shifted with version 1.0. Now, instead of passively earning stock with each purchase you make from an eligible brand, you’ll need to actively opt-in to specific offers. This means shopping online using Bumped’s links or enabling in-store deals and then using your linked card. For each purchase you make, you’ll earn a percentage of your purchase back in the form of stock.
Going hand in hand with this change, the stocks you earn with Bumped no longer correspond to where you shop (or at least they don’t have to). This means that there is now a larger library of places to shop from in order to earn stock. On the online side, some brands that jumped out to me and weren’t included in the Bumped beta include Coach, Apple, H&M, and more. As luck would have it, H&M is also featured on the in-store list along with Men’s Wearhouse, Kirkland’s, Gap Factory, as well as several others.
In the original Bumped beta, users would earn shares of the stock corresponding to the company they purchased from. This changed slightly overtime as some options began earning shares of Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF ($VTI). Now, by default, users will earn shares of $VTI for their purchases — although they can also choose up to four other stocks they wish to be rewarded in.
For a quick rewind, Bumped previously allowed users to select one company in each of more than a dozen categories. These loyalty choices could then only be changed after 30 days and no more than three times per year.
Now, while there are still categories of stocks to pick from, there are no such restrictions. Instead, the categories are merely a means of organizing the options. What’s nice for a beta-user like myself is that many of the brands featured in the original Bumped are also available here, along with a few new additions such as Delta, Disney, Google, and others. As I mentioned, users are now able to select up to four stocks they wish to earn and they are able to swap out these selections at any time.
You may be wondering what I mean by “up to four stocks.” Well, now when you shop with Bumped, the amount you earn will be divided across your stock picks — $VTI plus any of your personalized selections. In the event your rewards are evenly divisible, the remainder will also be applied to your $VTI earnings. For example, the whopping 18¢ I earned for my Coach purchase was divvied up between my four selections (3¢ each), with the rest (6¢) going toward $VTI.
The Big Questions
Which is better?
In my view, there’s no question that the beta version of Bumped was the superior product. Furthermore, I think that the selling point was clearer: earn stock in the businesses you buy from. Now, while you can still earn stocks from companies you care about, that main connection is lost. Other disappointments include the current offers seemingly being lower than those in the beta (although I did notice a handful of impressively-high offers when I checked again this morning) as well as the requirement of shopping through the links.
To its credit, I would say that Bumped 1.0 does have a larger list of brands to shop from overall — with each offer earning you the stock(s) of your choice. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the quality of those brands is better. In fact, while there are some retailers I do and will shop from, it’s nothing compared to the original line-up, which included several places I visit monthly if not weekly (looking at you, Starbucks). Because of this, I’m sad to say that I can’t see myself using Bumped as much now as I did previously.
Why the changes?
As easy as it may be to look at these jarring changes as a jilted user, the truth is that it’s also important to consider things from Bumped’s perspective. While the original concept for the app sounds great, pulling it off would mean making deals with several big brands. Not only is that a tall task but would also be a fluid situation that could lead to frequent changes. Meanwhile, without the participation of those brands, monetizing the app would be difficult. In other words, while it may have made sense to try to prove the concept with a beta funded by venture capital, this new model was likely necessary for long-term viability.
I should note that, while all of these realities had previously occurred to me when the changes were announced, Bumped actually sent an email to previous beta users that made many of the same points I presented. Honestly, it’s nice to see their acknowledgment of this and shows just how dedicated original users were to the app.
In the email I just mentioned, Bumped’s team teased that they are exploring ways to bring back some elements of Bumped’s beta. Specifically, CEO David Nelsen wrote, “While I can’t promise a timeline, I want you to know that we are absolutely working towards that goal in partnership with key brands and banks. I will also share insight into how some of those brand and bank partners will be rolling out very similar features to that pilot experience with us, so stay tuned!” That does sound promising and I’m interested — but I’m also not expecting a full-on revival any time soon.
Final Thoughts on Bumped’s Changes
Ultimately, there are pros and cons to the new Bumped. However, to me the real story is how the app has handled the change. Not only did the app seamlessly move over my portfolio and continue to allow users to grow their positions in their favorite companies, Bumped’s leadership has also been remarkably forthcoming about the whole thing. With that in mind, it’s also important to remember that, while Bumped 1.0 may be a disappointment for people like me, those coming to the app now have no frame of reference for what it once was! On that note, there’s still a lot to like about the current version of Bumped — and hopefully more good things to look forward to.
Also published on Medium.