2021 Bumped Review — Yes You Really Can Earn Stocks When You Shop
Some time ago, I distinctly remember scrolling through Instagram and coming across an ad for an app called Bumped. In the ad, it showed a transaction where someone had made a purchase at Starbucks and earned a small share of Starbucks stock as a reward. Obviously, as someone who reviews plenty of cashback apps and other finance tools, I found this idea deeply intriguing, but I did have some questions and, admittedly, some low expectations. Still, I joined the waitlist and, sometime later, got word that I was now officially able to give the app a shot.
To my surprise, as I continued to use Bumped, I found myself only growing more impressed. However, now that the app has finally opened to the public — and with an overhauled model — is it still worth your time? Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the latest version of Bumped.
What is the Bumped App?
Explaining Bumped (and its recent changes)
The original idea behind Bumped is that, as you would make purchases from certain retailers and restaurants, you’d be rewarded with a piece of that company’s stock. For example, say you spent $50 reloading your Starbucks card, you would earn $1.50 (3%) in $SBUX stock. However, that concept was adjusted some — although it has returned for the time being.
Now, there are a couple of ways to earn stock back with Bumped and, depending on how you purchase, the stock you earn may not correspond to the companies you’re shopping from. Instead, you can browse stock-back offers in the Bumped app and, separately, select which stocks you wish to earn. Meanwhile, you may also access Loyalty offers, which are similar to the old Bumped.
As I alluded to, Bumped has undergone some major changes over the past few months. Rather than weigh down this review by documenting each and every one of them, I’ll mostly stick to what the app offers now, but may make some references to the former version. If you are curious about the old Bumped, however, you can also check out my full comparison article.
Signing up for Bumped
To join Bumped, you’ll obviously need to create an account. This starts by entering your email address and creating a password. Then, the next step is to apply for a brokerage account with Bumped. This is necessary because the app will be rewarding you in actual stocks (which is also what makes it unique). The downside to this is that you’ll need to enter a bit more info than is required for some other finance apps, including entering your Social Security Number. You might also be asked to provide additional proof of identity such as submitting a photo of your driver’s license.
How Bumped Works
Selecting your stocks
Bumped previously allowed you to select one stock from each of 16 categories, with each brand offering a different percentage you’d earn from transactions. Now, you can choose from one set of options for “Shop Now” offers while retaining a different line-up for Loyalty picks.
By default, when you use Bumped to shop online, you’ll earn fractional shares of Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF ($VTI). You can either elect to earn all of your rewards in $VTI or choose other top companies to receive stock from. These additional stocks come in 18 different categories:
- Big Retail
- Consumer Foods
- Home Decor
- Home Improvement
- Internet Giants
- Quick Eats
- Social Networks
Despite there being 18 categories, you can only select up to four additional stocks — although you can select fewer if you wish. Personally, I opted for four stocks that were already in my portfolio: Delta, Disney, Starbucks, and T-Mobile. Some other options include Dominos, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and many more.
As you make purchases and earn stock (which we’ll discuss in a moment), your rewards will be split evenly across the stocks you’ve selected. However, if your reward amount doesn’t split exactly evenly, the leftover amount will be earned in $VTI. For example, my $18 purchase at Coach resulted in me earning 18¢ in stock. Since 18 isn’t divisible by five, I was awarded 3¢ worth of each of my four company stocks and 6¢ in $VTI.
Another way in which stock selection in this version of Bumped differs from its former self is that you can change your stock picks at any time. That way, you can choose to diversify some if you want or continue to build up equity in your stock of choice.
Making purchases and earning stock
Before you get started with earning stocks on Bumped, you’ll first want to add your payment cards to the app. Actually, I’m unclear on whether this is necessary for online offers or only in-store ones… but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared!
When Bumped 1.0 launched, one downside I noticed was that the platform’s move away from using Plaid meant that they only supported Mastercard and Visa. However, this has since changed and Bumped is currently using Plaid to link cards once again. Thus, other cards including Discover and American Express are supported. This is key for me as it allows me to maximize rewards from my credit cards while also earning slices of stock with Bumped.
Shop Now Offers
The main way to earn stock with Bumped is now via online shopping. To view available offers, you can select the “Shop Now Offers” tab and then either browse or search current deals. As you do, you’ll see the percentage of your purchase that you’ll earn as well as any restrictions that may apply. Notably, you’ll need to shop using the link in the Bumped app in order for online orders to properly process.
Bumped’s library of stock-back offers is pretty expansive, with options including Old Navy, Macy’s, Adidas, shopDisney, and many more. In terms of rewards, online offers typically seem to range from 1% to 3% back — although there are some outliers such as 15% back in stock when shopping at Florists.com.
Remember how I said that Bumped used to allow you to shop at certain retailers and earn stock in those companies? Well, that awesome element of the app returned earlier this year — although it’s unclear how long it will last.
Before we get to that uncertainty, let me back up and explain how Loyalty now works. At this time, Bumped customers can choose one brand in each of 10 categories to earn stock in. These categories include:
- Club Warehouse
- Meal Kits
- Personal Care
- Pet Supplies
- Quick Ears
As for the available brands, they include the likes of Starbucks, Spotify, Chipotle, Uber, PetSmart, and more. In most cases, you’ll be able to select whether you’d like your eligible purchase to earn you a piece of the company you’re shopping from or stick with your standard stock picks. There are a few exceptions to this, such as Sam’s Club, which will either earn you $VTI or your mix of selected stocks.
While I’m thrilled that Bumped brought back Loyalty as promised, I can’t help but notice that some of the earning rates are a bit lower than they were previously. As it stands, each option yields just 1% of your purchase back in stock. Then again, 1% was pretty much the baseline before, so it’s not a huge loss.
So, as for the temporary aspect, Bumped originally told users that Loyalties would be open to all through June 30th, 2021 but noted that customers could unlock another three months of earning by taking advantage of at least one Shop Now Offer before then. However, Bumped later announced that they’d unlocked Loyalty for all users for an additional quarter, meaning that everyone would be able to keep this feature through September 30th, 2021. But, to reward those who had made or would make Shop Now Offer purchases, they added an exclusive unlockable Category the Quarter: Online. Those who unlock this category will be able to earn stock back on purchases from Amazon, Etsy, Overstock, and Wayfair.
After you’ve completed eligible transactions, you can check the Activity tab to see the status of your rewards. In my experience, it took a couple of days for the transaction to show up in this tab and then a couple more days before the stock purchase was completed. Personally, I wish Bumped would send out an email or an alert letting you know when an eligible transaction was made as I feared that I had done something wrong and wouldn’t be receiving my reward. Luckily, in the end, it did show up.
Account Value and selling stock
Under the “Portfolio” tab in Bumped’s app you’ll be able to view a visual breakdown of what shares you own along with your “Account Value.” This figure includes stocks you own, pending rewards, and any cash. This value may also go up or down depending on how the assets in your portfolio perform. Keep in mind that these values may be estimated as Bumped does not update pricing in real time.
Speaking of your account value, one cool feature Bumped added is the ability to see how much your portfolio’s value has moved within the past 30 days. To view this, visit the Home screen and look just below the total amount. Here you’ll find the headline number of how much you’ve moved up or down, but tapping either box will show you how much of that increase came from new stocks you earned and how much came from price changes on the market.
Now, you may be wondering about that “cash” section of Account Value and where that factors in. For better or for worse, Bumped does not currently allow you to deposit money or purchase additional stocks. However they do allow you to sell your positions as you please. To do this, simply tap the stock you’d like to sell, select the “Sell your [$stock symbol]” option at the bottom, and confirm your sale on the next screen. At this time it seems that you can only sell your entire position in a stock.
After electing to sell a stock, it will still show up in your account — although tapping it from your Stocks view will show a “Sale Pending” note on the certificate. Just as it takes time for the purchase of the stock to go through, it may also take a few days for a sale to complete. This is definitely something to be aware of as the stock may fall in price by the time your order is actually executed.
Finally, once your sale is complete, you’ll see a balance of cash in your account. This can then be transferred to a linked bank account. Better yet, there doesn’t seem to be a minimum transaction requirement for these transfers at this time as I was able to cash out the $.22 I earned selling my stake in $CMG.
My Review of Bumped
Selecting your stocks
Starting with the good aspects of the current version of Bumped, I really like that you can now choose which stocks you want to be rewarded in and earn shares of them regardless of what you’re buying. Moreover, the options that Bumped features amount to a fairly strong collection that covers a range of verticals. Plus, the ability to swap them out as you see fit fixes one of the quirks that existed in the pre-1.0 version of the app.
Credit card rewards
Another great thing about Bumped is that, as I mentioned, the stocks that I’m earning come in addition to any credit card rewards I’m entitled to. Futhermore, while I don’t have any currently overlapping offers to test myself, I’d venture to guess that Bumped offers would be stackable with those from apps like the aforementioned Dosh. In other words, it doesn’t seem like you’ll need to sacrifice any of your other favorite kickbacks in order to take advantage of Bumped’s unique offerings.
Patience is key
One area where Bumped is lacking is in transaction speed. Whether you’re waiting on a reward, looking to cash in your stock, or transferring said cash to your bank account, it seems to always take a least a couple of days. This isn’t a deal breaker for me but, then again, I haven’t had to contend with a cratering stock either.
Hopefully these various stages of lag won’t affect your earnings too much. If they do, just try to remember that Bumped and the stocks they offer are free.
The latest roster
To say that I was impressed with the number of brands Bumped originally launched with would be an understatement. In fact, the app only got better over time — at least until this latest version. While the list of retailers has only expanded in 1.0, I can’t say that the quality of brands has improved. Still, there are several options I could see myself shopping at… just not as many as before.
More options for selling
In my “Account Value and selling stock” section, I noted that you could only sell your entire position in a stock at once instead of being able to select how much you want to offload. While understandable, I find this to be a bit disappointing. Perhaps it’s just too difficult to deal with fractional shares in the first place, making such a further division all but impossible.
On a similar note, I’d be somewhat interested in an option to purchase additional shares of stock from Bumped. For example, I’d consider putting in the needed cash to take my fractional share up to a full share. Of course, were that to happen, the delay I mentioned above would need to be rectified. Additionally, I do like that my entire portfolio on Bumped is comprised of positions I didn’t actually pay for. Therefore perhaps there’s a good reason why such a feature is currently not offered.
Greater stock data
Another feature I’d like to see come to Bumped is more data on the stocks in your portfolio. For example, while I appreciate the tickers they’ve added, I’d love it if there were historical graphs showing the stock price over time. This doesn’t need to be too elaborate but I think it would be a great addition to the app and get users even more interested in investing.
When I first reviewed Bumped 1.0, I noted that the app was using “Rakuten Card Linked Offer Network.” This also led me to realize that most (but not all) of the offers on Bumped also appeared on Rakuten — except that Rakuten typically had a cashback amount that was higher than Bumped. Luckily, while there are still some discrepancies, my cursory looks and spot check would suggest that Bumped is now more in line with what Rakuten offers. Although, when Rakuten has special events or other enhanced offers, this is where Bumped typically falls short.
To be fair, there are pros and cons to each. For one, while Rakuten’s quarterly payouts mean waiting for rewards, Bumped adds the stock to your portfolio quite quickly by comparison. Additionally, while Rakuten’s cashback rates may be higher, the fact that Bumped is offering you real pieces of stock means that you could conceivably get more value in the long run. Still, I’d personally recommend checking out both options when making purchases to decide which makes the most sense for your situation.
Final Thoughts on Bumped
As a former Bumped beta user, it was hard not to be disappointed by the 2020 version of the app. That said, realistically, the original concept had a lot of hurdles it would need to clear to make it in the long run. In fact, I truly believed that, if we didn’t have Bumped 1.0, we would have no Bumped at all. Nevertheless, I was thrilled when the Bumped team made good on its promise to bring back Loyalty rewards earlier this year. But, even without that, I think the app still made some good moves.
At the top of the list, I appreciate that Bumped allows users to hand-pick the stocks they want to earn while also giving them a strong base in the form of $VTI. Additionally, the app still makes it easy to earn rewards with little effort. In my view, this could be an easy way for newbie investors to build a small portfolio — although, as I noted, I do wish that there were other options for supplementing said portfolio.
Although I’m very curious to see what happens with Loyalty offers from here, I think the way that Bumped has reintroduced them has been smart. For example, I thought that their “make one Shop Now Offer” to unlock Loyalty for three months” was fair — but I’ll certainly take the bonus three months we’re currently getting. Personally, I’ve already gotten back into the swing of earning stock from my purchases, especially at Sam’s Club (sidenote: I’m very glad Bumped once again supports Discover too since Warehouse Clubs is this quarter’s 5% back category).
With all of that, I’m once again a very happy Bumped customer and I’m very curious to see where it goes from here. Thanks to the return of Loyalty, I can honestly say this remains one of my favorite finance apps in 2021.
Also published on Medium.