Earning cash back has never been easier. Now, instead of just sticking with cash back credit cards, you can use cash back and rebate apps to maximize your spending power.
The only thing that beats earning cash back with a credit card is doubling up on those rewards with cash back apps. Cash back apps allow you to earn cash in a variety of ways, offering multiple opportunities to stack savings.
If you’re not familiar with cash back apps and how they work, or you’re looking for recommendations on the best apps to use, these tips can help.
See related: Best cash back credit cards
Guide to cash back and rebate apps
Cash back apps: What they are, how they work
Cash back and rebate apps “reward shoppers for shopping at certain stores through their links,” says Julie Ramhold, senior staff writer with DealNews.com.
Ramhold says the general way cash back apps work is:
- You sign into the app and find a store you want to shop at.
- You click through to the store’s website and make a qualifying purchase.
- Cash back is credited to your user account in the app.
Some apps may also allow you to earn cash back rewards or gift cards for doing things other than shopping – such as taking surveys or watching videos. Others require you to scan a copy of your receipt into the app after making a purchase to earn cash back.
Cash back app pros and cons
These apps offer consumers the opportunity to save some serious money. “Users can get a refund as a percentage of their purchase; it could be 2% or up to 12% or more,” says Suchot Sunday, chief frugal officer at The Curious Frugal.
The key is making sure you’re spending and shopping strategically, so you can avoid overspending.
“Using cash back apps will help you make money when you spend it, but they’re only really effective if you use them for things you already intend to buy,” says Natalie Graham, founder of GoFromBroke.com.
Graham says cash back or rebate apps may only offer rebates for specific products or at specific retailers. You could easily end up overspending or buying brands you don’t normally use just to earn a few extra dollars in cash back rewards.
Being strategic also matters if you’re hoping to stack rewards from cash back apps with credit card rewards.
Best cash back cards to pair with cash back apps
Sunday says an easy way to maximize cash back is by using one cash back rewards credit card for everyday spending and shopping through relevant cash back apps. “That way, you’ll be accruing points or cash back from your credit cards, while at the same time getting cash back from the apps,” she says.
Some of the best cards to pair with cash back apps include:
|Rewards rate||Introductory bonus||Annual fee|
|$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months||$0|
Discover it® Cash Back
|Matches cash back at end of first year of card membership||$0|
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
|$250 statement credit after spending $1,000 in first 3 months.||$95|
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card*
|$300 if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months||$95|
You can increase savings even further by combining cash back apps and rewards cards with coupon or promo codes. Just remember to read the fine print on the app’s terms and conditions.
“You typically won’t be barred from using coupon codes but just remember that you receive cash back based on your purchase total, not the amount before coupons,” says Ramhold. “If you use a coupon to drop a purchase from $110 to $100, then 2% back will be $2, not the $2.20 you might have expected on the pre-coupon total.”
A difference of $0.20 may not seem like much but coupon codes could take a bigger bite out of your cash back earnings if you’re making a larger purchase.
Best cash back and rebate apps
If you’re looking for the best apps for earning cash back rewards, here are 11 to try.
Ibotta allows you to earn cash back in stores and online. You can earn up to 10% cash back at thousands of stores – including Walmart, HomeDepot.com, American Eagle and H-E-B.
You can shop with Ibotta online or through the mobile app and earn cash back when you submit your receipts or link a retail loyalty program card. If you use the “Pay With Ibotta” feature – which is available at more than 50 retailers – you can earn cash back instantly.
Ibotta is free to use and you can sign up online or download the app in the App Store or on Google Play.
Drop is another free app for iPhone and Android that lets you earn cash back when you shop. Some of the top brands you can shop with through Drop include Expedia, Postmates and Uber.
When you shop through the app, you earn points on your purchase and every 1,000 points equals $1. You can then redeem your points for gift cards to partner merchants – including Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks.
The Drop app is available for download through the App Store and Google Play.
Shopkick allows you to earn gift cards instead of cash back. When you sign up for the free app (which you can do through the Google Play store or the App Store), you earn “kicks” for various activities.
For example, simply walking into a store can earn kicks, as can visiting Shopkick partners online or making a purchase. Kicks can be redeemed for gift cards to top retailers including Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes and Noble and TJ Maxx.
4. Fetch Rewards
Fetch Rewards is a free rebate app designed specifically for grocery shopping. You download the app for iPhone or Android, create your account and shop your favorite grocery stores. When you’re done, you snap a picture of your receipt, upload it to the app and earn points for participating purchases.
Once you have at least 3,000 points, you can redeem them for gift cards to partner merchants, including Whole Foods, Airbnb and Delta Air Lines.
5. Checkout 51
Checkout 51 is another free app that lets you earn rewards by scanning receipts when you shop.
This app is designed for earning cash back on gas and select products at grocery stores. You browse the app to see which brands are offering cash back. If you make a qualifying purchase, you earn cash back.
Brand partnerships include Dollar General, CVS Health and Shell. Once your account balance reaches $20, you can cash out. You can download Checkout 51 through the App Store or Google Play.
SavingStar is free to use and it’s a cash back app that’s designed to link to your grocery store loyalty cards. When you download the app on iPhone or Android and create an account, you link your cards from your favorite grocery stores. You then select the rebates you want to earn, based on what’s on your shopping list.
When you scan your store loyalty card at checkout, cash back is automatically added to your SavingStar account. Once you reach a $20 minimum, you can cash out your rewards.
The Belly app is a universal loyalty rewards program that’s free to use for Android and iPhone users. Essentially, it’s like having a virtual loyalty program card that works across a range of participating small businesses – including grocery stores, pet stores, retailers and restaurants.
When you use the app at a partner business, you earn points which you can use to get freebies at the places you dine and shop at regularly.
The Mobee app lets you earn rewards when you mystery shop at partner brands. You download the app for free through the App Store or Google Play and create a profile. From there, you can complete mystery shopping “missions” to earn points.
For example, you might earn 1,000 points by paying a visit to Starbucks and then reviewing your experience through the app. You can then redeem points for gift cards to Amazon, Target and other major retailers.
Swagbucks makes it easy to earn free gift cards by rewarding you with points when you take surveys online. You can also earn points when you surf the web, watch videos or shop online.
The app, which is free to download for Android and iPhone, gives you two ways to use the points you’ve earned. You can either redeem them for gift cards to partner stores (such as Walmart and Amazon) or have cash back deposited into your PayPal account.
MyPoints is a free app that you can use from your mobile device or online when you download the MyPoints browser extension. You can earn points through the app when you shop but you can also rack up points for doing other things – such as taking surveys, playing games or watching videos.
Those points can then be redeemed for gift cards to major retailers, including Amazon, Groupon and Sam’s Club.
Rakuten (formerly Ebates) lets you earn cash back when you shop online or in stores through the Rakuten mobile app or the browser extension.
The app offers a generous range of retailers and cash back offers, including deals such as 32% cash back when you shop at FTD.com and 8% cash back at Sephora.com.
You can get your cash back delivered to your PayPal account or as a paper check. Plus, you can earn a flat $25 cash bonus after you’ve referred someone to Rakuten and they made a purchase on the app.
Getting rewards for purchases you were already planning on making has never been easier – as long as you don’t overspend just for the sake of earning some extra cash back.
Use the cash back app that best fits your lifestyle. Don’t forget to stack up savings by paying with your cash back credit card of choice.
So get out there and earn some extra cash – responsibly.
*The information for the Chase Freedom and Capital One Savor card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.