2020 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 cash back 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’ve used Bumped over the past nine months or so now, I find myself only growing more impressed. But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s take a look at what Bumped is, how it works, and how it could change the face of loyalty programs.
What is the Bumped App?
The basic idea behind Bumped is that, as you shop at certain retailers and restaurants, you’re rewarded with a piece of the company’s stock. For example, say you spent $50 reloading your Starbucks card, you would earn $1.50 (which is 3%) in $SBUX stock. From there, you can either maintain a portfolio of these fractional shares and watch them grow or sell them off and transfer the funds to your linked bank account. Plus, as you’ll see a bit later, Bumped has an impressive roster of participating brands, allowing you to easily find rewards.
Joining the waitlist
Something I should note upfront is that Bumped is still in what’s known as a public beta. Thus, before you can officially sign-up, you’ll need to join the waitlist. Having signed up a year ago, I unfortunately can’t offer much insight into how long the current wait is or when the app might open its doors to all.
Signing up for Bumped
Once you actually get the invite to join Bumped, the first thing you’ll want to do is download the app. From there, there are three main steps to the process:
- Create a Bumped account
- Link a credit or debit card
- Apply for a brokerage account
Starting with the first step, creating a Bumped account just means creating a password to use with your e-mail address. As for the linking of credit and debit cards, this is where things might get a bit scary for some. I’ll admit that, even after waiting all that time to give Bumped a try and having reviewed plenty of personal finance apps in the past, I did pause for a moment to consider whether entering my info was a good idea or not. Luckily my choice was made a bit easier once I learned that Bumped employs a system called Plaid to securely log you into your bank account. Having used Plaid for numerous other apps in the past, this made me feel more at ease.
After my accounts were linked, 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.
Another thing to note is that it may take a few days before your brokerage account is approved. However, in my experience, I was still able to have Bumped begin to recognize my eligible transactions during this period and my orders were eventually filled once my account application was approved.
How Bumped Works
Selecting your loyalty brands
One of the things I was skeptical about when I first saw that Instagram ad for Bumped was about the brands that would be offered on the app. In fact, I mostly assumed that the Starbucks example was just for show and that the real line-up of participants would be few and far between. Well not only was I wrong about that but I was actually blown away once I saw who else was included.
Bumped currently divides their brands into 16 different categories and allows you to select one brand from each category to earn stock from. Each brand offers a different percentage you’ll earn from transactions — between 0.5% and 5%. While you are able to change your selections, you may only change brands in each category once every 30 days and only up to three times per year. However changing your selections won’t take away any stocks you’ve already earned.
As I mentioned, each of your loyalty selections will correspond to the company’s stock you’ll earn (or the parent company’s stock in the case of Sam’s Club). However one notable exception is actually Bumped’s latest addition: HelloFresh. Since the meal kit company isn’t publicly traded stateside, 3% of your purchases will instead be provided back to you in the form of $VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF).
Here’s a look at the current brand categories on Bumped along with the brands included in those categories and the percentage you’ll earn in stock:
Making purchases and earning stock
Your linked accounts
As I mentioned in the “Signing up for Bumped” section, in order to use the app effectively, you’ll need to link your various credit and debit cards. Unlike apps such as Dosh where linking your cards is completed by entering your card number, Bumped asks you to log into your bank accounts via Plaid in order to add cards. This might sound more complicated than Dosh’s method but it’s not without its benefits. For example I was able to link my Discover card to Bumped whereas that card isn’t supported by Dosh. Additionally I learned the hard way that my wife’s Uber Visa Card had a different number than mine, making her purchases with the card ineligible for Dosh cashback. Meanwhile Bumped had no issue identifying her applicable transactions.
The stock purchasing process
Speaking of identifying eligible transactions, that’s just the first in three steps Bumped must go through before a stock will hit your account. “Purchase Identified” simply means the app has found a transaction for one of their participating brands made with one of your linked cards. At this point, you’ll be able to see the full amount of the transaction and the amount of stock you’ll earn as a result.
The next level of the process is “Stock Ordered.” Just like it sounds, this means that an order for your reward has been placed but is not yet in your portfolio. Finally, sometime later, you’ll see your status update to “Stock Settled,” meaning that you officially own it.
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. One of the new features of Bumped is the option to not only view your portfolio as a circle graph (the “Stocks” view) or as company logos (“Brands” view), with those companies making up a greater percentage of your portfolio appearing as larger circles.
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
One amazing roster
To say that I’ve been impressed with the number of brands Bumped is currently offering stock in would be an understatement. In nearly every category, there’s at least one retailer or restaurant that I visit with some frequency. As a result I’ve continually found myself being alerted to stock rewards. This is especially true for recurring bills like my T-Mobile service or Spotify and Netflix subscriptions.
While I’m thrilled with the current line-up, part of me did wonder if this line-up is part of a proof of concept and whether the list might get whittled down over time. That is to say that, as an observer, I can’t help but wonder how many of these brands are full-on participating partners and how many are in the mix to attract users to Bumped.
However, since I joined the app, they’ve only continued to add brands and categories — such as the Ride Sharing category featuring both Lyft and Uber or the most recent Meal Kits section that was added when HelloFresh came on board. That said, they did make pretty sizeable changes to the telecom section (lowering each to 0.5% back) a few months back that was a bit of a bummer. Regardless, I’ve definitely been making use of Bumped’s brands so far and hope the list only grows from here.
Credit card rewards
Another great thing about Bumped is that 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 kick-backs in order to take advantage of Bumped’s unique offerings.
Patience is key
As happy as I’ve been with Bumped on the whole, one area where the app 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.
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 change 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.
Final Thoughts on Bumped
It’s now been more than a year since my first Bumped-eligible transaction occurred. In that time I’ve managed to accrue more than $100 (well, it was up to about $130 before the stock market tanked) in a variety of stocks just by buying things I would have purchased anyway. With a stellar line-up of brands on board and an easy-to-use platform, Bumped has quickly become one of my favorite financial apps to use. Furthermore I’d say it fulfills the promise it presented in that Instagram ad I saw all those months ago.
With Bumped still in its public beta phase, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens with the app from here — although I’ve definitely been encouraged by recent developments such as the unique addition of HelloFresh. If all goes according to plan, I believe the app could very well change the way we think about brand loyalty schemes, while also teaching a new generation about investing and stocks. In the meantime, I’ll keep using this app to score free stock and growing my portfolio.
Also published on Medium.