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Cash back apps can be one of the best ways to make sure you’re making the most out of every cent you spend to buy everyday items like groceries and clothing. But the world of options available to consumers can get confusing and overwhelming. Continue reading below to find reviews of our favorite cash back apps, along with tips and tricks on how to use our chosen apps effectively.
15 Cash Back Apps Worth Checking Out
If you are looking for the best deals when shopping online, then cash back apps are a must, because they make saving money fun. Here is our top list of the best cash back apps to get money back on the things you buy every day.
Swagbucks is more than a cash back site. They offer to pay users in exchange for taking surveys, watching videos, playing games, receiving emails, completing daily goals, and signing up for various subscriptions.
But with respect to the cash back portion of their site, the functionality is really straightforward. You can access their online portal and click on any of the participating retailers you find there. There’s a wide variety of outlets you can access, and the list changes periodically. Once you click on the retailer, you’re taken to their site. Any purchases you make will earn you cash back in the form of Swagbucks.
Swagbucks can be redeemed for gift cards or cash into your PayPal account. For obvious reasons, we prefer cash!
- There are a bunch of different ways to earn points beyond the cash back feature.
- No limit on how much you can make on a daily basis.
- Some of the site’s services can get a little spammy and sketchy, so make sure you install malware protection before you try out any of Swagbucks’ other services.
- You might forget to click through the site’s online portal when shopping at a participating retailer.
You can learn more about it in our Swagbucks Review.
The Drop app should appeal to anyone who heavily prefers a relatively small number of brands. Its unique structure rewards shoppers loyal to a single company or a small group of companies.
After installing Drop on your phone, creating a profile, and linking a credit or debit card, you’ll be taken to a screen to choose your five favorite brands. While Drop doesn’t partner with every brand under the sun, the company does offer a very healthy selection to choose from.
Every time you shop at one of the store or restaurant brands you’ve selected, you’ll be rewarded with points. Different brands offer different rates of point accumulation. Once you’ve earned at least 5,000 points, you’ll be eligible to redeem those points for gift cards; 5,000 points will earn you a $5.00 gift card from your choice of a selection of retailers (including Amazon).
The app also allows you to take advantage of bonus offers. Various retailers and restaurants will post special events and rewards (not just the ones you’ve chosen as favorites). For example, spending x amount on a single purchase at retailer y will reward you with a large number of points. These bonus offers can be lucrative, so check the app occasionally to see what’s available.
- The “favorites” approach to selecting retailers will resonate with brand-loyal shoppers.
- Some popular brands offer very high rates of point accumulation.
- Points can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards. (That’s almost as good as cash!)
- Linking a credit card to Drop can mean that you won’t be able to link it to competitor apps (like Dosh, for example).
- If you shop at a wide variety of stores, the “favorites” approach may not appeal to you.
- There are no cash redemptions for points; only gift cards are available.
Dosh is a great little cash back app that functions in ways similar to Drop. But there are some key differences. After creating a profile and linking a credit or debit card to the app, you’re free to earn points. Instead of picking your favorite retailers as you would with Drop, however, you’re simply free to shop wherever you like. If the retailer or restaurant you frequent happens to use the Dosh rewards system, you’ll earn points. The rate at which you earn points will depend on the specific retailer or restaurant you visit. You’ll also earn cash back for referring others to the service.
When you’ve earned at least $25.00 in cash back rewards, you can redeem the amount for cash, or donate it to charity (which is a nice touch).
If a retailer or restaurant doesn’t use the Dosh app, you won’t get any points when you shop there. While this may sound like a downside, it may actually be an opportunity. Dosh allows you to refer businesses to them and collect 20% of the fees they earn for a period of two years.
Additionally, Dosh has recently expanded its collection of partners. Even hotels are getting in the game (some of whom offer up to 40% cash back on nights booked and purchased through the app).
- You can exchange points for cash (and not just gift cards).
- The friend referral bonus can be a great way to earn cash back.
- If you find a business that wants to participate in Dosh, you’ll receive 20% of their fees for two years.
- Some reviewers have complained that there are relatively few retailers and restaurants participating in the Dosh rewards system (as of this writing).
You can learn more about it in our Dosh Review.
Ibotta is an easy-to-use cash back app that works at a huge number of stores and retailers around the US. The premise is the same as with other cash back apps. Download the app and create a profile. Once that’s done, you can earn points in multiple ways.
You can shop in-store at participating brands (like Target) and upload pictures of your receipts. You can click on the in-app offers and shop online. You can link a loyalty card and automatically earn points when you use the loyalty card (and earn loyalty points at the same time)! Finally, you can even pay with the app itself at participating stores by scanning the Ibotta barcode during your purchase (where available).
Ibotta offers a ton of different ways to increase your point total. You can join a team to earn bonuses for completing certain point goals. You can access signup bonuses. You can even refer friends to Ibotta and get points every time one of them signs up.
Finally, all of your cash back is redeemed in the form of money in your PayPal account. No gift cards here!
- A ton of different ways to earn points
- Get points for referring your friends
- Double up on points by linking and using loyalty cards.
- It can be difficult to get a person on the phone if you need to talk to a human for customer service.
- Retailers who use the Ibotta Pay feature can be difficult to find in some areas.
Rakuten is a famous affiliate marketing brand that you’re probably familiar with from their television ads for their cash back app.
Rakuten provides multiple ways to earn varying percentages of cash back from partner retailers when you shop through their service. They provide an online portal through which you can access retailers. You can also get a Chrome extension for your desktop or laptop computer (you can install it on all the other major web browsers, too). And of course, there’s an app for your phone.
To use the phone app in-store, just link your credit card and activate an offer you find on the app. Then, when you buy your item(s), the app will see the purchase on your payment card and reward you with cash back.
You’ll earn cash back from Rakuten at a rate that depends on the retailer. Some stores and restaurants offer better rates than others. The rates can go up to 40% (which is an impressive rate of return for stuff you were going to buy anyway).
Rakuten pays out its rewards in the form of money to your PayPal account, which is nice. However, you should be aware that they only pay out once per quarter, so you’ll need to be patient while you await your rewards.
- The browser extension makes it really easy to earn points when shopping online.
- Some of the cash back rates are impressively high on Rakuten.
- Rewards are paid out to your PayPal account (which beats gift cards).
- When buying in-store or online, you need to remember to activate the offer you want to take advantage of before you buy. (It can be easy to forget to do this — even with their reminders — if you’re distracted).
You can learn more about it in our Rakuten Review.
Many online retailers will offer you a rebate if you buy an item and its price goes down shortly after you purchase it. The problem is that most consumers don’t have the inclination to monitor the prices of the items they buy after prices change, so a price drop often goes unnoticed. That’s where Paribus comes in.
Paribus, recently acquired by Capital One, tracks your online shopping and sends you alerts when the item you’ve bought drops in price a short time after your purchase. In some cases, Paribus will automatically send an email requesting a partial refund. In other cases, you’ll have to send the email yourself.
You will have to grant Paribus access to both your purchase history and your email accounts. Since the company is now owned by Capital One, it can be expected that they have the technical know-how to keep your information safe. However, some potential users might still be concerned about the privacy implications of opening up access to their email accounts.
- A great way to save on purchases on top of other cash back strategies
- Paribus’s automatic refund requests work with a wide variety of retailers.
- Some people may be uncomfortable allowing an app to access their email accounts.
SavingStar is a grocery-focused cash back app that partners with all of the major US grocery chains, like Walmart, CVS, Kroger, Target, and Walgreens. It works by linking with your loyalty cards and scans them for purchases from each participating chain.
SavingStar regularly has special offers that you can click on and activate before you go shopping. It also offers “Always On” discounts at participating retailers that provide you with points in your SavingStar account, no matter when you shop.
Once you’ve accumulated $20 into your SavingStar cash back account you can redeem it into your PayPal account, in the form of gift cards, or as a donation to charity. It’s up to you.
- Offers “Always On” cash back at all major grocery chains in the United States
- Links with your loyalty cards to make the app super easy to use
- You may occasionally forget to check the app for the periodic additional bonuses and rewards that SavingStar makes available.
BeFrugal is very similar to Rakuten (discussed above). After creating an account with them, you head to their site, click through to a participating retailer (the list of which includes Amazon), and make your purchases. You’ll receive cash back into your account immediately., And once you hit your account minimum of $25, you can redeem your cash back rewards for money in your PayPal account, or gift cards.
Like Rakuten, you can take advantage of a browser extension that automatically tracks your eligible in-browser purchases and adds them to your cash back account. This is a great option for those folks who tend to forget to access their favorite online stores through the BeFrugal portal.
BeFrugal also offers a mobile app, which carries the added bonus of offering in-store coupons for you to use while you’re shopping at a brick and mortar store. Otherwise, it works very similarly to the desktop and laptop-accessible version of the service.
Finally, BeFrugal offers different rates of cash back for different stores. So always be sure to check whether the store you intend to shop at is one of the over 5,000 brands BeFrugal partners with (and what their cash back rate is)!
- Super easy to use
- Over 5,000 brands are available through BeFrugal.
- The mobile app offers in-store coupons for those who prefer shopping in retail stores to shopping online.
- Some users may not be comfortable with the privacy implications of a purchase-tracking browser extension.
Receipt Hog allows you to upload digital photos of store receipts from participating retailers in exchange for different kinds of rewards. The structure can get a little bit complicated, so we’ll explain.
After signing up for an account at Receipt Hog and creating a profile, you can begin uploading receipts. Receipts expire after two weeks, though, so make sure you don’t wait too long.
Depending on where the receipt is from, you’ll either earn coins, spins, or sweepstakes entries. Sweepstakes entries qualify you for participation in weekly contests that award prize money and other rewards. “Spins” are chances to win rewards and money from their in-app game (similar to a video lottery terminal at a casino). “Coins” can be redeemed for real money deposited into your PayPal account.
- This app is a lot of fun to use
- Receipt Hog can be used on top of a cash back app like Ibotta, Rakuten, or GoFrugal to double up on rewards.
- Only coins can actually be exchanged for real money, so many of your rewards (spins and sweepstakes entries) may not be worth much.
Shopkick is a cool app that goes beyond rewarding you for purchases. Shopkick also offers rewards in exchange for activities like walking into a participating store and scanning a barcode of an item on the shelf. Of course, while Shopkick does reward some non-transactional activities, Shopkick saves the majority of its rewards for people who actually buy things.
You can link a credit card to the app, and you’ll receive points (called “Kicks”) for buying items at participating retailers. You’ll also be rewarded for uploading pictures of your receipts after you’ve shopped at participating retailers.
Generally, we recommend using all of Shopkick’s features in order to maximize the Kicks you earn. So, for example, if you’re going to buy something from a store that has partnered with Shopkick, go on the app first and see if you can be rewarded for going in the shop and scanning items. If you do those things first, then buy your stuff with a linked card and upload a picture of your receipt. Watch a Shopkick video while you’re at it. You’ll see your points add up in no time.
Kicks can be redeemed for gift cards (starting at $5).
- Offers a bunch of fun rewards for doing things other than buying stuff
- Provides a wide variety of rewarding activities
- You’ll still need to spend a lot to get a substantial amount of Kicks.
Honey is the little app that could. Starting out as a small coupon-searching application, Honey was recently acquired by PayPal for a whopping $4B. And it’s easy to see why PayPal was willing to shell out so much for the app.
Honey is a browser extension and application that automatically searches the internet for any active coupons or deals available for the items in your online shopping carts. (You’d be amazed how often there’s a great deal or rebate available somewhere that you’re not aware of.)
At some online stores (including Amazon), Honey also shows you a price history of the item you’re looking at. You can also earn points by using Honey, called Honey Gold, which you can redeem for gift cards at participating retailers.
Of course, there are a few downsides. Amazon recently recommended that people uninstall Honey because of privacy concerns. (Some people have commented that Amazon might actually be more concerned about the hit to its bottom line when everyone starts using coupons.)
- Can help you find great deals you wouldn’t otherwise know about
- Honey Gold is a great way to earn gift cards on top of the usual coupon-based savings.
- The integration with PayPal will likely mean even greater benefits to users of both services.
- As with any purchase-tracking software, there are privacy issues and concerns to consider.
MyPoints is very similar to Swagbucks (which we referred to earlier in this review article). You can earn points in a huge number of ways, including:
- Watching videos
- Taking surveys
- Playing games
- Using the Yahoo!-powered search bar
- Receiving marketing emails
- Referring other people to the program
But, given the title of this article, what you’re most likely interested in is the cash back feature. Basically, by shopping at online retailers after clicking through the MyPoints portal, you’ll earn points that you can redeem for money sent to your PayPal account, or gift cards.
If you find that you’re liable to forget to access your favorite online shop through the MyPoints portal, you can use the browser extension MyPoints offers, called “Score,” to automatically track your purchases. Different retailers offer different rates of cash back. The app also offers in-store coupons at participating stores. Finally, MyPoints offers “Daily Deals” that highlight the best offers they have available that day.
- There are a bunch of different ways to earn points on the site.
- The browser extension makes it impossible to forget to activate MyPoints rewards when you’re shopping online.
- Like Swagbucks, some of the features on the site are a little spammy, so use caution.
Checkout 51 is an online couponing app. After you create a profile with the service (which you can access on your computer or on your phone), you’ll activate offers for particular products and items. When you buy an item (be sure to buy the exact same item that’s listed on the offer) and then scan the receipt, you’ll receive your cash back into your Checkout 51 account. When your account hits a minimum of $20, you may redeem the amount in the form of a deposit to your PayPal account or a check mailed to your address.
- Unlike Ibotta, this app is available in the US and Canada..
- This app has some great grocery-focused offers.
- If you buy online, you need to wait to receive an itemized packing slip to claim your cash back.
WikiBuy is similar to Honey. It works primarily as a browser extension that alerts you when an item you’re shopping for online is available for a better price somewhere else on the internet. It will also inform you if there are promo or coupon codes available for the item you’re considering.
WikiBuy offers cash back at a ton of online retailers. The amount of cash back is frequently significant, reaching 9% or more on occasion. Wikibuy also lets users know about special offers and deals that are only available for a limited time (and with additional cash back). You’ll accumulate cash back and other rewards as WikiBuy credits, which you can redeem for gift cards to your favorite retailers.
The browser extension also allows you to sign up for price drop alerts that tell you when an item you’ve viewed online has fallen in price. This can be a great feature when you’re shopping for a deal that isn’t quite available yet.
- The browser extension makes using WikiBuy absolutely painless.
- A wide variety of participating retailers offer cash back with Wikibuy.
- As with Honey, some people may be concerned about the privacy implications of using purchase-tracking software on their computers.
You can learn more about it in our Wikibuy Review.
Fetch Rewards is another grocery store receipt-scanning app like Receipt Hog. You just sign up with the app, go to the store, make a purchase, upload your receipt, and voila, there’s cash back in your account.
Fetch Rewards has special deals and offers you can activate before you go shopping, as well as deals with participating retailers that increase the points you get for each receipt scan.
You can redeem your rewards points for gift cards at a variety of retailers (including Amazon) or for donations to charity.
Finally, to boost your point-earning potential, consider referring as many friends as possible to this service. You’ll get additional cash back every time you successfully do so.
- Receipt-scanning apps like this work great in conjunction with couponing apps and cash back credit cards.
- Fetch Rewards can be used in addition to other receipt-scanning apps like Receipt Hog.
- Fetch Rewards is very similar to Ibotta, and some people may not want to use both.
Top Tips to Maximize Rewards
We’ve got a couple of hacks and tips to share when it comes to making use of any of these cash back strategies and apps. All of these techniques will help you maximize the rewards you receive.
Our most important advice is to stack your rewards — meaning that you should always take advantage of more than one cash back strategy at a time. For example, when buying groceries, you should use a credit card with a cash back option, a store loyalty card, a cash back app like Ibotta or Rakuten, and a receipt-scanning app like Receipt Hog. That way, you get four levels of rewards, rather than just one. The points can really add up!
Take advantage of special offers
If you add a special offer to the mix of strategies we mentioned in the previous tip, you’ll really be in the money. Many of the cash back apps we talk about in this list have special daily offers (or something similar). Use those offers to get extra savings on what you buy.
Only buy in exchange for rewards
To the extent possible, don’t buy anything unless you’re getting some form of cash back or rewards. Almost everything you need can be purchased in a way that nets you some form of rewards or points. Don’t pass up opportunities for cash back (especially for large purchases) for convenience’s sake.
Don’t buy things you wouldn’t have bought anyway
Even though it’s fun to earn points and rewards, always remember not to buy more than you were going to buy anyway. If you end up spending too much, it won’t matter how many rewards you earn.
We love all of the apps and strategies we’ve mentioned in this article. They’re a fantastic way to make sure you’re getting the most out of every dollar you spend. If you combine the use of these programs with the advice you’ll find on the rest of The Modest Wallet, you’ll see your financial situation improve rapidly.
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