With cashback apps, you’re not earning money but rather getting money back from what you’ve initially spent.
I believe if you’re going to spend money, then you might as well try and get the lowest price possible. Cashback apps allow you to do just that without the need to spend hours researching for coupons and discount codes.
With that said, however, you can certainly use discount codes, cashback credit cards, and these cashback apps to lessen the cost of your purchases. And what I like about cashback apps and websites is the ease of use.
One last thing before I share the best cashback apps I’ve used. I want you to understand that saving $1 or getting 1% back on a purchase isn’t going to make you wealthy. The reason you want to spend less on the things you’re buying is that it gives you extra dollars to put towards other goals.
The cashback to savings process is this:
- Buy what you “want and need” through cashback apps and websites.
- Get the cashback from your purchases.
- Intentionally, transfer that cashback into your online savings accounts or into a micro-investing brokerage like Acorns, Stash or M1.
Two things to keep in mind when using cashback apps
- Don’t spend money just to receive a cashback. You don’t save by spending. Cashback only helps you spend less on purchases, retroactively.
- Be consistent and use cashback apps and websites when you shop. Even better install any Rakuten web browser extension.
Best Overall Cashback Website: Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
Rakuten is an online shopping portal that provides cashback on your purchases. They have over 2,000 retailers. Cashback percentages vary based on the retailer and often change with promotional offers.
Best feature: Chrome extension that alerts you every time a website you visit has cashback enabled. No need to go to the Rakuten cashback portal.
Cashback payment: You get paid every quarter through a Paypal deposit.
New account bonus: Get $10 for new account signup and after your first shopping cashback.
Referral program: Once you’re a member, you can refer your family and friends to get $10, and you’ll get $25 per successful referral.
Best for In-store Cashback: Ibotta
Ibotta is a free mobile app that enables you to receive rebates or cash back on select products available at hundreds of stores (Walmart, CVS, Amazon, etc). There are two ways to earn cash back with Ibotta: 1) Open the app and start your shopping by using the buttons and links within the app 2) At select retailers, you can pay using Ibotta app by buying an “exact amount gift card” at time of purchase.
Best feature: You can stack your cashback by using Pay with Ibotta and scanning your receipts for rebates.
Cashback payments: Cashback from shopping is verified within 48 hours for most purchases, but longer for online shopping. Cashback is deposited into your Ibotta account. You can request a direct deposit once you’ve reached $20.
New account bonus: Get $5 to sign up and by redeeming your first rebate or using “Pay with Ibotta” within 14 days of signup.
Referral program: Once you’ve joined you can send your family and friends a text message to join you. They’ll get $5, and so will you for each successful referral. Your referrals must redeem a rebate or use Pay with Ibotta to get your $5 fee.
Best for Automatic Cashback: Dosh
Dosh is a cash back app and linked loyalty program that automatically helps you “earn” cash back from products and services. Dosh pays you when you buy goods and groceries, book hotel stays, for online shopping, eating at restaurants, and even shopping at local retail stores.
Best feature: Earn cash back simply by linking your debit and credit cards to your Dosh account. There is no need to visit the Dosh app, but visiting the app can clue you into higher cashback opportunities with hotels, local retailers and restaurants.
Cashback payments: Reach a minimum of $25 to request a transfer into your banking account.
New account bonus: None at this time.
Referral program: Get $5 when someone you invite signups and links a debit or credit card.
Best Cashback for Investing: Acorns Found Money
Acorns is a micro-investing app that rounds up your purchases and invests the difference in index funds. With Acorns, you invest with your spare change and can get cashback by spending with select retailers through Acorns Found Money.
Best feature: Cashback is invested and not stored in a non-interesting bearing account.
Cashback payments: Once verified, Acorns Found Money is transferred into your Acorns Core investing account.
New account bonus: Get $5 for opening an Acorns Core account that helps you invest your spare change. Acorns Core, however, costs $1 per month.
Referral program: Get $5 for every friend or family that signs up using your link.
Best Cashback with 5000+ Retailers: BeFrugal
BeFrugal is an online shopping portal offering cashback and discount codes. Get cashback for your purchases with over 5000+ retailers. BeFrugal is a free and legitimate service.
Best feature: Access to thousands of cashback offers.
Cashback payments: Payments are made once you’ve earned at least $0.01 and can be directly deposited into a linked account or into a Paypal account. Cashback can also be redeemed for gift cards.
New account bonus: Get $10 for signup and after getting $10 in cashback within 365 from joining.
Referral program: Earn $10 for every friend you refer to BeFrugal plus each friend you refer
will get a $10 sign-up bonus.
Best Cashback to Earn Multiple Ways: Swagbucks
Swagbucks is a legitimate and free service that gives users opportunities to earn points called SBs that can be exchanged for gift cards. You can earn SB points by shopping online using the Swagbucks portal, by taking online surveys, and watching videos.
Best feature: Multiple ways to earn points, not just through shopping.
Cashback payments: Payments are made with gift cards.
New account bonus: Get $5 for signup. To qualify for the $5 signup bonus, you must earn 2,500 SB within the first 60 days of membership.
Referral program: Earn 10% of your referral’s SB points earned. For example, your referral earns 500 SB points, you’ll get 50 SB points.
Best Cashback for Selected Offers: Drop
Drop is an app that introduces you to retail partners in which you can earn points by redeeming the offer. The Drop app can also track your debit and credit card purchases and automatically give you points when you spend at select merchants
Best feature: Introduction to unique products and services
Cashback payments: Earn points and redeem with as little as 2000 points = $2 for a gift card.
New account bonus: Get 5,000 points at signup after you’ve confirmed your email and linked a card.
Referral program: Get 5000 points ($5) by successfully referring family and friends who sign up, verify their email and link a card. Limit of 10 referral bonuses.
Note: The Smile List includes products and services that I have used or my contributors for a minimum of 60 days. This gives us personal experience before recommending the products listed. The goal is to share products that can help you live financially well and not merely based on the affiliate income we may earn. But, if you decide to use any of these products and click the link provided, we may earn income from the list. We thank you in advance for considering these products and helping us in our mission. Again, you can always check our financial marketplace to search, filter, and find the best product to meet your needs.
My Smile Summary: Use Cashback Apps to Get Back Money You’ve Spent
There is no harm in using cashback apps to get back the money you’ve already spent.
In fact, you can try all the cashback apps I’ve mentioned above and decide which one fits your lifestyle better. I found using Rakuten and its Chrome extension to be the easiest. But with larger purchases, I’ll look at BeFrugal too. At times, I’ve found BeFrugal to have higher cashback percentages. However, they tend to take longer to credit my account compared to Rakuten.
I’m also an avid user of Ibotta and not for the reason you might think. I check Ibotta whenever I go to the supermarket. I like the exposure to new brands and products. I’ve discovered some really delicious food this way.
With Dosh, I check for local restaurants and try them out. There have been times I’ve dined at a restaurant and get alerted of a cashback I didn’t know about. That’s a nice surprise. Additionally, I’ve booked a few hotel nights through the Dosh app. I actually got a bigger cashback payment then if I used an alternative hotel booking website.
Finally, I’ve used the Drop app and like how I’m introduced to new brands that seem to be curated for me. I’ve already been able to redeem $40 worth of points I used on Starbuck gift cards.
Below are the amounts I’ve gotten back using these apps. (Updated 10/15/2019)
Acorns Found Money: $20
Swagbucks: $30.00 (SB points converted to giftcards)
Drop: $50.00 (50,000 points converted to giftcards)
Let me know if you use any of these apps and your thoughts on them.