2022 Bumped Review — Yes You Really Can Earn Stocks When You Shop Online
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.
Cut to several years later and the story of Bumped has grown into quite an interesting one, filled with twists and turns. As of August 2022, the service is still around, albeit in a different capacity than originally intended. So what does Bumped currently look like and is it still worth trying? Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the platform.
What is Bumped?
A brief history of Bumped
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 $SBUX stock. However, this initial concept has come and gone over the years — and has now been seemingly adjusted permanently.
In 2020, Bumped discontinued what it dubbed its Loyalty offerings and, instead, transitioned into being a shopping portal that rewarded customers in stock instead of cashback or points. Then, sometimes later, the Loyalty feature returned, once again allowing users to earn stock when they made purchases from select retailers in a number of categories.
Alas, as of August 2022, some more major changes have impacted Bumped. First, Loyalty selections are once again gone. Second — and more importantly — the Bumped mobile app is no longer supported. Instead, users can view their portfolio on the service’s website and claim deals using Bumped’s browser plug in.
Signing up for Bumped
To join Bumped, you’ll obviously need to create an account. This starts by entering your email address and creating a password. Then, the next step is to apply for a brokerage account with Bumped. This is necessary because the app will be rewarding you in actual stocks (which is also what makes it unique). The downside to this is that you’ll need to enter a bit more info than is required for some other finance apps, including entering your Social Security Number. You might also be asked to provide additional proof of identity such as submitting a photo of your driver’s license.
How Bumped Works
Selecting your stocks
As I noted, Bumped previously allowed you to select one stock from each of several categories, with each brand offering a different percentage that you’d earn from transactions. However, in this latest version of Bumped, you can select a set of stocks you want to earn when making purchases from participating retailers — akin to other shopping portals like Rakuten, but with stock vs. cashback.
By default, when you use Bumped to shop online, you’ll earn fractional shares of Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF ($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
Once upon a time, linking cards to Bumped was how the service would be able to see your eligible transactions and asses your stock earnings. However, under the current model, the reason to link an account is so you can receive cash should you choose to sell your stocks. Linking accounts is done using Plaid, allowing you to log into your account. If you’ve ever used Plaid before, then you’ll know that this is a fairly simple process.
Shop Now Offers
The main way to earn stock with Bumped is now via online shopping. To view available offers, you can visit the Stock Rewards site 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 on Bumped in order for online orders to properly process.
Bumped’s library of stock-back offers is pretty expansive, with options including Old Navy, Chewy, 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.
In terms of earning rates, while I feel as though Bumped’s rewards tend to be lower than the likes of Rakuten, that blanket statement isn’t true in every case. For example, as I write this, Rakuten offers 2% back on Chewy while Bumped’s offer is 3%. Unfortunately, Bumped isn’t listed on my newly-discovered favorite site Cashback Monitor, so you’ll need to check it separately to see if you can find a better deal (or if you value stock more than cashback).
Using the browser extension
Seeing as Bumped has now moved exclusively to the web (as opposed to the app), it’s nice to know that the service does offer a browser extension. Like similar features from other portals, once installed, Bumped’s extension will notify you of offers when you land on an eligible retailer’s website. Then, you can activate deals with just a click.
One thing I need to mention regarding this extension is that the rates and offers don’t seem to match what’s on the web app. For example, with the aforementioned Chewy deal, the extension showed that there was no offer despite the website saying 3%. Meanwhile, the site said the rate was 2% for Reebok, while the browser extension stated 3.2%. Honestly, I didn’t try either offer to know which was right or whether both would work, but hopefully this is something Bumped can correct as they move into this next phase of their business.
Account Value and selling stock
Under the “Portfolio” section of Bumped’s site, you’ll be able to view a breakdown of what shares you own along with your Total 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 introduced a while back is the ability to see how much your portfolio’s value has moved within the past 30 days. You’ll find the headline number of how much you’ve moved up or down just by looking under the total, but clicking “More Details” 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 click the stock you’d like to sell, select the “Sell all [$stock symbol]” option, 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 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 earliest version of the service.
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. 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 — until it was overhauled. With the loss of Loyalties, this point no longer really applies. Still, at least of the “Shop Now” offers featured, there are a few good ones.
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 info 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 platform and get users even more interested in investing.
When I first reviewed the overhauled version of Bumped, 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
My history with Bumped is long and tumultuous at this point. I’ve been a big proponent of the platform (and the very concept) over the years and have, in turn, celebrated its victories while mourning its losses. On that note, while it’d be easy to bemoan the Bumped of the past, what do I think of the current version?
Overall, I think there are still plenty of things to like about Bumped in its current form. For one, when the offers are competitive, I love the idea of earning stock instead of regular cashback. To me, this is an easy way to start building up a small portfolio and learning about investing. Plus, the ability to select some specific stocks in addition to earning $VTI at least injects some of that personalization that the original Loyalties concept had.
As for downsides, as I discovered when looking at the platform today, it seems that Bumped needs to do some housekeeping on their website and/or their browser extension. While I guess I’m inclined to believe the latter, there are times (like in the example of Chewy) when I’d hope the site was actually the correct one. Seeing as this web-exclusive version of Bumped is still only a couple of weeks old, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now and hope they can straighten things out.
All things considered, while the current Bumped will never live up to the original, I do think that this latest iteration is still worth checking out. Despite the ups and down, if you’re looking for an easy way to earn stocks while shopping online, then this is still the best option I know of.
Also published on Medium.