Every time I turn around there are new fancy cash-back apps promising to save time and make you money. There are so many of these apps that it’s nearly impossible to test them all and find out which ones are really worthwhile. I love a good challenge, so I did my best and I tested over twenty cash-back apps to figure out which ones (if any!) are actually worthwhile. So here are the best cashback apps – and some words on the ones you should skip.
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Do Cash Back Apps Really Work?
There are so many cash-back apps out there, each showcasing how great they are and how much money you can earn. Is it real? Can you really earn cash rewards with phone apps?
The quick answer is absolute. But, the important thing to remember is that not all cash-back apps are created equal. Some deliver on their promises, and others leave a lot to be desired. Here we’ve identified the top cashback apps, the best cashback apps for folks who do a lot of shopping, the best rewards apps, and the cashback apps that leave a lot to be desired. Whatever your rewards shopping needs, there’s an app for that on this list.
These Are the Top Cash Back Apps – Download Them Now!
These four apps made the list as the top cash-back apps because they are worthwhile for everyone. Everybody needs gas and groceries, and the fourth option doesn’t require you to buy anything.
Check out the top cashback apps:
I reviewed twenty apps, and Ibotta is the best cash-back app I could find. It’s easy to use and there are tons of offers available every week, on stuff that I actually buy. After about six weeks of using Ibotta, I’ve earned forty bucks cash back – on stuff that I was going to buy anyway. That’s a pretty big win.
You don’t even need a hefty balance with Ibotta in order to redeem your rewards. You can get a payout as soon as you reach $20! And that’s incredibly easy to do with their generous signup bonus – new members get an automatic ten bucks just for redeeming their first offer!
For more information, check out my full review of Ibotta. But if you’re ready to grab the app and start saving, get it here!
Trunow is the best cash-back app for gas. The great thing about the app is that you don’t have to go to a specific gas station to reap the benefits – you get 1% cash back on all gas purchases. You just have to upload your receipt. Trunow does partner with some gas stations though, and you get 2% cashback on gas purchases with their partners.
Another great thing about Trunow is that it shows you all the gas prices in the area. There’s a little map that shows every gas station with its price per gallon. This will help you find the cheapest gas near you!
As a bonus, Trunow offers rewards on some gas station purchases, such as snacks, coffee, and cigarettes. These offers are only redeemable at certain partner gas stations, but it was cool to see these items thrown in the mix. Most other cash-back apps don’t include gas purchases, and almost all of us need gas.
You also can get $1 for referring friends (you both get a $1!) so if you want to use Trunow, use my referral code so we each get a buck!
The one thing that annoys me about the app is that the stupid little location services icon wouldn’t go away from the top of my phone. I had to disable notifications from the app to get it to go away.
I like coupons.com because its main focus is groceries, and that’s the thing I’m generally shopping for. It is very similar to Ibotta, but unfortunately, there aren’t as many offers. One cool difference is that you can link your store loyalty card to your coupons.com account and earn rewards when you use that rather than uploading your receipts – but it still accepts receipts, which is awesome. You earn cash back with coupons.com and get paid via PayPal.
Coupons.com also offers printable coupons. I don’t like this because I’m not going to print coupons, but it’s a great feature for people who enjoy doing that. There are tons of grocery store coupons available for printing.
There are no referral bonuses for sending your friends to coupons.com. But now you know I’m not just supporting the apps that I get referral bonuses from!
Shopkick is slightly different from the other top cash-back apps in that you don’t actually have to buy stuff to earn points. You can earn points by having a scavenger hunt in the store and scanning the items on your list. This is also a great option for parents. You can set your kids free in the store to do the scavenger hunt while you finish your shopping! It’s a win-win! But be sure your kids are old enough and behaved enough to explore a store on their own! I don’t want anyone telling me they lost their toddler because I told them to have their kids go scan stuff!
You can also earn points with Shopkick by simply walking into certain stores. But the best way to earn, like with all the best cashback apps, is to purchase the items on offer and scan the receipts. The downside to this is that there aren’t nearly as many offers on Shopkick as there are on Ibotta – or on coupons.com for that matter. Most of the stuff available on Shopkick is stuff that I don’t need (but your mileage may vary, we all need different things).
A disadvantage of Shopkick is that you don’t earn cashback. You earn gift cards. This may be helpful for lots of people, but personally, I prefer cash. The rewards system is pretty straightforward – you need 1250 points to earn a $5 gift card. You can get to that level fairly quickly if you buy the things they have offers on, but if you are just scanning items in stores it will take much longer.
Another disadvantage is that there are different rules for different stores. Some stores offer you rewards points if you shop there with a linked card, while others allow you to upload a receipt. There are also loads of stores on Shopkicks, but some of them only have a few offers. For example, Bed, Bath, & Beyond is on Shopkick, but only has offers for two very specific items.
If you want to try Shopkick, use my referral code so we can both get 250 points towards rewards!
Cash Back Apps that Are Worthwhile if you Shop a Lot
The cashback apps above are great for everyone, even those frugal folks who never buy anything. But most of us do a lot of shopping, both online and in stores, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you love online shopping and looking for great deals, you need to check out these cashback apps!
Check out the best cashback apps if you love to shop:
Rakuten (AKA Ebates)
Rakuten is probably the most popular cash-back app on this list. Everyone has heard of Ebates, right? Ebates has been owned by Rakuten since 2014, and in 2019 the company decided to change the name of the app to match the brand name. So now, everyone’s favorite cash-back app is Rakuten!
One huge advantage of Rakuten is that it has tons of participating stores. I’ve seen offers from Macy’s, Kirkland’s, Big 5, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and way too many other stores to list. Another advantage of Rakuten is that it offers a mix of cashback rewards, rebates, and coupons. This is a great cash-back app for people who love to shop at major retailers.
One limitation of Rakuten is that you can’t upload receipts. In order to get cashback when you shop at these retailers, you have to link your card to your account and play with that card at the store. This is great for people who use debit or credit cards for all of their purchases. However, for people like me who prefer cash, there aren’t a lot of options for getting cashback. Join Rakuten now and earn a $10 welcome bonus!
MyPoints is a cashback app that awards you points for shopping at your favorite stores. The points can then be redeemed for gift cards at general places like Amazon, and specific retailers like 1-800-flowers.com and AMC. There are over 50 options for redemptions which include retailers, entertainment, and even travel.
A cool thing about MyPoints is that there are multiple ways to earn. It’s almost like a cross between Rakuten and Swagbucks. You can make money by taking surveys and watching videos, and you can earn cash back from shopping, all in one convenient app.
Fetch Rewards is a little different because you earn points when you buy certain brands. This is kind of nice because you don’t have to worry as much about getting the exact right item (that’s one issue with Ibotta: is this the right size of cereal?? But at least it gives you the option to scan the barcode and check). There are a few items that are more specific though, so you do have to be careful.
Fetch Rewards isn’t exactly a cash-back app. You don’t use your points to get cash, you use them to get gift cards. I prefer cash because I don’t want any limits on where I can spend my rewards. Fetch does offer Visa gift cards, but you need tons of points to get them. You need almost twelve thousand points for a ten-dollar Visa gift card. Store gift cards start at $1, and it comes out to about 1000 points per dollar.
A limitation to Fetch rewards is that you don’t know how many points you get for buying a certain brand until after you buy it. I had one item on my list and I only got 24 points for it. It definitely wouldn’t be worthwhile to switch brands for 24 measly points, but I was already buying that particular item so it wasn’t a big deal. It doesn’t hurt to check the brands you buy and try to get some points though.
Fetch Rewards makes it really easy to start earning points, but harder and harder to earn them after that. You get 750 points for the first receipt you upload, but fewer and fewer points for each subsequent receipt. My second receipt only earned me 500 points, and my third will earn 250. I guess you can earn a one-dollar gift card just by uploading three receipts though, so that’s a bonus.
Slickdeals is a little overwhelming and confusing at first, but don’t let that deter you. There’s a lot of functionality and numerous ways to earn in this app.
First, and why it’s a cash back app, is that you earn money when you shop at your favorite stores. Retailers such as Target, Kohls, and Macy’s can all be found on Slickdeals.
A cool thing about Slickdeals is that it’s community-driven. Savvy users can upload deals that they have found to the app, letting others know where to find the best deals. So not only are deals sourced from the web, they are sourced from individual users as well. SlickDeals is testing the ability to reward users who upload great deals, so when that is fully rolled out, it will be another way to earn.
Checkout 51 is very similar to Ibotta and Coupons.com, but it has fewer offers and rewards than those two apps. There are some offers that are available on both Ibotta and Checkout 51, and I haven’t seen anything that says you can’t double-dip. I’ve also noticed that there are more offers on snacks with Checkout 51 than there are on the other two apps.
If you only want to deal with one receipt uploading app, I’d definitely go with Ibotta. But if you want to double-dip and catch all of the available savings, you can use all three.
Coupon Sherpa is an app that collects coupons. This is a great app for restaurants because you can use most of the restaurant coupon apps from the app itself. You just go to the restaurant and show the coupon from the app when paying.
Coupon Sherpa offers both in-store and online coupons. Whether an offer is available in the store or online is dependent on the retailers. Some have in-store-only coupons, while others have online-only coupons. But most of the retailers offer both, which is nice. A lot of the coupons available on Coupon Sherpa are for specific items, but large retailers do have some general “10-20% off entire purchase” coupons.
One disadvantage of Coupon Sherpa is that some of the coupons need to be printed. Most of the grocery store coupons fall in this category, and since that’s where I do most of my shopping, I’m not a fan.
This is the only app that made me “request” to join. I wonder if they actually have eligibility criteria or if it’s a marketing ploy to trigger people’s Fear Of Missing Out. Either way, I was accepted immediately.
Receipt Hog is pretty straightforward with just wanting your data. In order to start using points, you have to take a survey that asks about your income and shopping habits. It wasn’t that invasive, and they gave me 30 coins for doing it.
One thing I don’t like about receipt hog is that you have to verify your device before you can even see the awards, and you can’t do that until you get to 300 coins. Also, you can only earn up to 100 coins per week for uploading receipts. I don’t like being limited. If I’m doing a lot of shopping so you can have my data, you should reward me for all of the shopping that I do! Am I wrong? But I digress. You can also earn a few extra coins by playing their little slot machine game, which is kind of fun. You earn pulls at the machine by uploading receipts.
I was able to find the rewards system with a google search, and it’s pretty similar to most of the other cash-back apps. You need 1000 coins to earn $5, which can be redeemed via Amazon, Paypal, or Visa gift card. One bonus about receipt hog is that if you save your coins, you need a few fewer coins to earn greater rewards. You only need 2900 rather than 3000 to earn $15, and 4300 rather than 5000 to earn $25.
If you are going to use an app that just wants your data, I’d recommend this one over Receipt Pal (reviewed below). The rewards system is more-straight forward, the interface was more user-friendly, and it was more fun to use.
I just found out about Honey, and unfortunately, I don’t have an iPhone so I can’t test it out. But this epic review of the app has everything you could ever want to know about it!
Best Specialty Cash Back App
I love the concept of Makeena. It incentivizes healthy eating. Most of their offers are on organic products and produce, which tend to be more expensive than the less healthy options. The brands they support tend to be health-conscious brands which I think is a great way to discover some of these products.
My issue with it is that some offers are limited to the “first 2000 shoppers” or something like that. I guess the app is still small, so lots of users will get the offers, but if it continues to grow the app might not be useful to a lot of people. Also, how am I supposed to know if the offer is still available? I may choose organic broccoli over non-organic broccoli expecting the rebate only to be told that I’m shopper #2001, thus not eligible. I know it’s only a few cents, but I don’t like that kind of bait and switch.
Best Money Making Apps
Although not specifically cash back apps, these money-making apps are definitely great for folks who have a bit of spare time and want to make extra money.
Swagbucks is the best way to earn money in your free time by taking surveys. A great thing about Swagbucks is all the different ways to earn. It’s easiest to earn money by watching videos and taking surveys, but Swagbucks also has cashback features for shopping as well.
Swagbucks doesn’t specifically give you cashback. Instead, you earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards to your favorite stores.
Misplay is the best app for getting paid to play video games. Most of your favorite mobile games are on Mistplay, and you earn gems by leveling up. These gems can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, Pay Pal gift cards, and a variety of store-specific gift cards. You can read the full review here!
Kashkick is definitely more of a rewards app than a cashback app. However, it’s great because it’s easy to earn on the app, and it has a really low payout threshold. Another great thing is that you get paid via Paypal, so in real cash rather than with gift cards!
You can earn money with Kashkick by watching videos, taking surveys, and even just surfing the web. With so many options for earning, it’s definitely a great choice.
Skip these Cash-back Apps
Let’s face it, not all apps that promise amazing perks and cash back deliver on those promises. Some are too confusing or complicated, and others make you jump through too many hoops to earn awards.
The cash back apps below are great for people who don’t mind a challenge or who need to save every penny they can. However, if you are just a casual user, these may be too complicated to be worth your time.
One cool thing about Receipt Pal is that you earn rewards with any receipt. It’s not store or item-specific. On the downside, you need to upload way too many receipts to earn rewards, and there aren’t a lot of options for using your rewards. The options are limited to Amazon gift cards, restaurant.com gift cards, and Visa gift cards.
Unfortunately, receipts aren’t worth that many points, and it takes a lot of uploaded receipts to earn a gift card. You get 100 points for every four receipts that you upload. You need 400 points to cash out to a $1 Amazon gift card – so that means you have to upload 16 receipts to make just one dollar on the app. Visa gift cards cost even more points. You need 7500 points to get a $25 Visa gift card. That’s 300 receipts!! It’s just not worthwhile to me.
I guess Receipt Pal realizes that the point system by itself is just not worthwhile, so they also have a sweepstakes feature. The sweepstakes feature offers you the chance to win extra points when you upload receipts. You are automatically entered into the weekly sweepstakes when you upload your first four receipts for the week. If you upload more than eight receipts, you can get multiple entries. Some people may enjoy having the opportunity to win, but I’m not going to waste my time giving companies my data for just the “chance” to win. I prefer Lucktastic for a sweepstakes app.
Retail me Not
I wasn’t a fan of Retail Me Not. First, there weren’t any deals on groceries and I’m not a big shopper. But my main gripe against Retail me Not is that it’s basically just a collection of coupons that are eerily similar to the coupons you see in spammy circulars. There are lots of deals for percentages or cash off of purchases, and you can get cashback on certain items from certain retailers (but there aren’t a lot of cashback offers).
The one advantage to Retail Me Not is that there are tons of participating stores. There are coupons for Best Buy, Macy’s, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Home Depot, Lowes, and many more. But you don’t get cashback on most of the purchases from these stores, you basically just get the coupon.
The Coupons App
The coupons app was the hardest app to use on this entire list. I’m still not entirely sure if I got it right. From what I’ve figured out, it’s just a storage place for all the coupons you can find in the circulars (Similar to retail me not, but worse because I couldn’t find any cashback offers). The coupons aren’t exclusive, you can find them pretty much anywhere. One thing that I didn’t really like is that I couldn’t find a way to use the coupons at the retailers on mobile. The app wanted me to print the coupons. Why not just use the circulars if that’s the case?
One advantage of the Coupons app is that there are tons of stores and restaurants. There are also designer and outlet brands. I saw coupons for DKNY, Aldi, the Gap, and Express. Talk about a wide range of options!
Krazy Coupon Lady
Krazy Coupon Lady seemed like a great cash-back app at first glance. There were lots of coupons for household items and toys, which would be great for people shopping for gifts or specific items. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of coupons for necessities. I did find a coupon for Tide, which is the only laundry detergent that I’ll buy, but it had already expired two weeks ago! Why was it still on the app? I guess Krazy Coupon Lady doesn’t believe in updating regularly.
Another disadvantage to Krazy Coupon Lady is that it was difficult to search for a specific item at a specific store. I searched for Tide, but couldn’t search for Tide at Walmart. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to five different stores to save a few bucks.
Punchcard had such a fun concept. You get to punch in rewards for every store that you visit like you would at a salon or local sandwich shop. You also get to spin a cool little wheel for rewards every time you upload a receipt. Pretty neat, huh?
Another advantage is that lots of stores participate, and some even give you awards for getting your six punches in! Subway offers you a free sandwich after you get your six punches. Not all stores offer these types of rewards though, and this is where Punchcard loses its appeal.
Punchcard acts like you will get points for uploading receipts and spinning the wheel. But when I went to the points screen to view my rewards, it was unavailable. Lots of the reviews stated that Punchcard discontinued the points system. Why the option to visit the page is still available is beyond me, maybe it’s a bug that Punchcard is working on fixing? I’m not entirely sure what the deal is, but without a points system cashback apps are pretty pointless.
I still have questions about Top Cash Back App. It claims to have the best rewards of all the cashback apps, but it has terrible reviews on Google Play. Some people even claimed that it wouldn’t grant the cashback because they thought you already got rewards through a different app.
From what I saw of the app, it is very similar to Rakuten. You earn most of the rewards through online purchases. A limitation to the app is that you can’t just browse a store, you have to browse categories. Walmart offers up to 5% cashback through the app, but you have to shop a specific category, such as sports, clothing, jewelry, etc. in order to get it. I’m not a fan of that limitation.
I also didn’t see a way for you to link your card to the app to earn rewards through in-store shopping. Therefore, if you are looking for a cashback app on pretty much all of your online and in-store purchases, I’d stick with Ebates.
Defunk Cash Back Apps
I also tested Spent Money App, Walmart Savings Catcher, Yowza, and Grocery IQ for this piece, but these apps no longer exist.
What’s your Favorite Cash Back App?
Have you tried any of these apps? Which is your favorite and why? Do you know of one that isn’t on the list? We’d love to hear about it!
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.