It’s never been easier to shop for your favorite things online.
Items can be purchased off Amazon and at your doorstep in a day or less.
For people trying to practice smart personal finance, this is dangerous!
Luckily, the internet has also given us cash-back apps, which can earn you rewards on shopping you already do and put some extra cash in your pocket.
In this article, we’ll look at 10 of our favorite apps and answer some frequently asked questions about cash-back apps.
What Are Cash-Back Apps?
Cash-back apps let you save money by rewarding you for purchases made online and then giving you either a cash rebate or points which can be redeemed for cash or gift cards.
Cash-back credit cards are a great tool for people practicing smart personal finance (and paying their debt down quickly), and these apps allow you a way to get in on the fun without having to take out another credit card.
The apps work in different ways.
Some link to your existing debit or credit card, then reward you with extra cash for purchases made from select retailers.
Others are shopping apps which ask that you buy items through their site, then issue you a quarterly rebate for purchases you made.
Others ask you to take a photo of your receipt, then submit it to the site for your rewards.
Rewards vary, too.
Some pay out with Amazon gift cards, while others offer real cash-back offers in the form of PayPal or Venmo payment or even via a quarterly check.
Our 10 Favorite Cash-Back Apps for 2020
We’ve covered what cash-back apps are.
Let’s get to 10 of our favorites for 2020.
Ibotta is an app available for iOS and Android that tries to make a game out of unlocking rebates.
When you download the app, you are given a set of challenges that need to be completed.
Challenges can be online or in real life and can include scanning barcodes, buying products, and taking photos of your receipts.
Ibotta functions basically like a rebate app, giving cash back to your Ibotta account within 48 hours after a purchase is made.
According to Ibotta, their average user earns around $30 a month in rebates.
The one downside?
You often have to buy an exact product to earn a rebate, unlike other apps, which will give you cash back if you buy anything from a select retailer.
Dosh functions a bit like a cash-back credit card but with the added bonus that you can link a debit card to the account.
For people trying to establish good credit or who prefer to pay for things with a debit card, it’s a nice way to get cash-back rewards.
To make it work, you link Dosh to one of your credit or debit cards.
(This is done securely through a third party, and Dosh never stores your username or password.)
Then whenever you buy something with your linked cards from preselected retailers, you get cash back.
There are thousands of retailers to choose from, from Walgreens to Uber and Target to Amazon.
Once you’ve earned cash back, you can transfer the money to your bank account, get paid through PayPal, or donate to charity.
Link Dosh to a cash-back credit card, and it’s like you’re earning double cash back from your favorite retailers.
Cosign is a cash-back app for people who love to shop and who live on social media.
Cosign lets you tag brands in photos you post of their items, then get paid if your friends follow your recommendation and buy products.
You get a cash reward every time someone purchases a product you recommend, and then once you hit $40 in your account you can cash out.
If you have a big social media following, it’s a fun way to get additional rewards for the clothes or products you buy.
Fronto is a free app that runs in the background and promises not to be intrusive.
Basically, as you shop at online stores, Fronto gives you the chance to unlock points which can then be redeemed from those retailers.
Even if you’re just browsing news articles, Fronto can give you opportunities to unlock points.
They have offers pop up on your lock screen, so it won’t interrupt your mobile experience but lets you know whenever you put the phone down that there’s a chance to get some points.
All those rewards points can be redeemed for gift cards, Amazon purchases, or cash payouts via PayPal.
Drop is a mobile app that functions a lot like Dosh in that it allows you to earn extra money by getting points off debit card purchases.
You can link your debit card to Dosh (again, done securely) and then start earning points.
What’s slightly different is that Drop has you pick your retailers for earning points at the outset, and then you’re committed to them.
You get to pick five retailers you spend a lot of money with, and those become the ones whose purchases you earn points on.
But no worries, they’ve got great choices — major brands like Uber, Costco, Walmart, and grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Kroger.
They’re transparent about how it all works, too: 5,000 points equal $5 in rewards.
Swagbucks is more of a rewards app, or surveys app, but you can earn cash back through points and redeem them for gift cards.
Swagbucks has set its app up much like an online game — there are different quests you can go on.
These include watching videos, taking surveys, and providing reviews of products.
Complete tasks multiple days in a row and you can earn bonuses and multipliers.
While it’s hard to earn enough money for it to work as a job, even a part-time job, Swagbucks is a fun way to kill a little time and earn points toward gift cards.
Shopkick acts almost like a loyalty card — buy the items you normally would from your favorite stores, and then scan the item or send in the receipt to earn “kicks.”
Kicks refer to Shopkick points which can be redeemed for gift cards to places like Starbucks and Sephora.
Not every store works with Shopkick, but plenty do, so it’s always worth checking if your most recent purchase qualifies for kicks.
The app is free, and there’s a sign-up bonus that gives you kicks for downloading the app and making your first purchase within seven days.
Mobee is a secret-shopping app that has users visit local retailers.
You may be asked to talk to their customer service representatives, check out the shop’s cleanliness, or see if specific products are available.
Once your shopping trip is complete, you answer a short survey, and you’re done.
Once they check your answers, you’ll be given points.
You can redeem these points for prizes or gift cards.
Not every location has local retailers who participate, so you might have to download the app to see if any are available in your area.
Rakuten is a web portal that gives you rewards for making online purchases through their site.
It’s a win-win: Rakuten gets referral money from retailers for having you shop through their link or use one of their promo codes.
You then get a share of those rewards via cash back.
You can shop through their website or app, and then every quarter they’ll pay you via check or PayPal.
For ReceiptPal, you take a picture of your receipt and upload it to the app and then get points for those purchases.
You can also connect your Amazon account directly to have your receipts automatically processed through the app.
Points can be redeemed for gift cards or cash prizes.
There are more and more apps popping up in this space, like Receipt Hog, which are also worth checking out.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve covered our 10 favorite apps.
Let’s get to some FAQs.
1. How do cash back apps differ from survey apps?
We’ve included a couple survey apps in this list, but there are a few differences between them.
Cash-back rewards apps usually give you points back or cash back for purchases you make.
You can earn points for purchases from your favorite stores or by buying recommended products.
Survey apps give you points for time you put in, either by taking surveys, offering product reviews, or playing online games.
Each one earns you points that can be redeemed for gift cards or cash.
2. Which is the best app?
It all depends on what you want to do.
If you want to be rewarded for spending you already do, we like Drop and Dosh since it links to your cards, and there is no additional work you need to do.
They only ask you to shop at your favorite stores to get rewarded.
If you want to earn points for gift cards without spending any money, a survey app like Swagbucks might be the way to go.
3. How do I avoid scams?
Some of the above apps may ask you to link a debit card or credit card, but they will have you do it through a secure portal which connects directly to your bank.
If any site ever asks you to email your banking information, logins, or passwords, that’s a good sign it’s a scam.
Likewise, if their promises sound too good to be true, be wary.
No cash-back app is offering half your money back for purchases — we’ve never seen higher than 10% on any legitimate site, and that was a special deal made for a first purchase with the app.
Usually, it’s in the 1-2% range.
Using Cash-Back Apps to Save
Used smartly, cash-back apps can be a great way to get rewarded for the shopping you’re already doing.
The above list should give you a good idea of what’s available, and how you can start earning extra cash.
You can even combine one or two to maximize savings.
Get after it!