18 Best Cash-Back Apps: Earn Real, Convenient Rewards

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Updated: 6th Aug 2021
Written by Bradon Matthews
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August 6, 2021
Written by Bradon Matthews

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If I told you there was a way to automatically save money on a majority of your daily purchases, would you do it?

Well, that’s exactly what cash-back apps aim to do.

With the convenience of modern technology, many apps scan your purchases and search for ways to save you money without you having to do a thing.

This article will explore how these apps work and provide an overview of 18 of the best cash-back apps on the market so you can choose the one that’s right for you. Let’s jump into it.

What Is a Cash-Back App?

A cash-back app is an app that reviews your purchases and looks for ways to provide you cash-back that you would otherwise miss. Cash-back apps do this by searching for rebates or coupons that can be applied retroactively.

Some cash-back apps link directly to your card or bank account. Others work by having you upload your receipts.

These apps obviously have to make money somehow. Most do so via commission.

Cash-back apps will often partner with certain retailers. The retailer offers them a commission on referrals, which the app then partially passes on to you.

The rewards provided by these apps can be received as points or as direct monetary payments, depending on the way the app is set up.

Are Cash-Back Apps Worth It?

Cash-back apps are almost always worth it. While they each have their own pros and cons, cash-back apps are almost universally low-effort and can save you a decent amount of money.

Unless you enjoy passing up free money, you’d probably benefit from incorporating cash-back apps into your life.

Best Cash-Back Apps (Ranked and Reviewed)

When it comes to cash-back apps, there are a wide array of options on the market. We’ve narrowed down the list to the 18 top contenders.

Let’s look at what each has to offer.

#1. CapitalOne Shopping

CapitalOne Shopping is one of the best ways to save money on a wide range of day-to-day purchases. They offer savings on both in-store and online items, making it easy and convenient to save.

The app is completely free to use and works with a large network of retailers. They even offer a watch list feature that lets you add items to your list and receive notifications when there are deals or price drops.

When it’s time to cash out, you can redeem your rewards for gift cards from various retailers.

Pros:

  • Free to use
  • Large network of online and in-store items
  • Watch list feature
  • Low payout minimums

Cons:

  • Can only redeem rewards for gift cards
  • Tracks online shopping

#2. Rakuten

Rakuten is one of the largest and most well-established cash-back apps. Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten offers up to 40% back on purchases.

That being, it’s more likely that you’ll wind up earning somewhere closer to 5% or 10% back. Still, that is a significant amount of money you can save.

Rakuten Cash-Back App

Rakuten allows you to search for deals yourself or install an extension that automatically applies discounts and promo codes when you shop online.

Rewards are provided as PayPal payments or checks mailed directly to your house each quarter.

As a nice bonus, you automatically earn $10 just for signing up.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Browser extension applies discounts automatically
  • Rewards are paid in dollars
  • $10 sign-up bonus

Cons:

  • Rewards are only paid once a quarter
  • Have to search for deals yourself for in-store purchases

#3. Ibotta

Ibotta is another of our top picks for cash-back apps for a few reasons.

Ibotta has a network of over 300 retailers. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you search for deals you’d like to redeem.

After you shop, you scan your receipt and upload it into the Ibotta app. It then applies your selected deals to your purchases and adds them to your rewards.

Ibotta Cash Back App

Ibotta not only pays rewards in dollars, but it actually tracks them in dollars too. This means you don’t have to wonder how much you’re saving. The app will tell you exactly how much you’ve earned.

Once you’ve earned the minimum $20, you can cash out your rewards via PayPal, Venmo, or gift card.

Pros:

  • A huge network of retailers
  • Offers rewards in dollars
  • Various ways to cash out rewards
  • Can link directly to loyalty cards
  • $20 welcome bonus

Cons:

  • Have to scan your receipts
  • Have to activate deals manually

#4. Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a survey site that also happens to offer a rewards program. That being, just because they aren’t solely a cash-back app doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile.

Swagbucks offers users as much as 75% cash-back on purchases from a wide array of online and in-store retailers. Their browser extension allows you to make the most of your rewards by using their paid referrals.

Best Cash Back Apps Swagbucks

Rewards can be redeemed for gift cards, PayPal payments, cash, or checks.

Additionally, Swagbucks offers an easy $10 just for signing up. If you use Survey Junkie, then Swagbucks is a good addition.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Multiple ways to earn rewards
  • $10 sign-up bonus

Cons:

  • Can lead you to buy unnecessary things to capitalize on referrals
  • Have to juggle multiple functions of Swagbucks

#5. MyPoints

Like Swagbucks, MyPoints offers users a number of ways to earn rewards. From surveys to coupons to cash-back, MyPoints has a few options for you to pocket some extra cash.

Their cash-back program functions via an online portal. You can use the MyPoints portal to access over 2000 retailers, and your rewards are automatically applied when you do so.

MyPoints is one of the Top Cash Back Apps

This is one of the most convenient ways to approach online shopping. So long as you go through their portal, your purchases are scanned without you having to do anything.

Rewards are paid out via PayPal or gift cards.

There is a $10 sign-up bonus when you join MyPoints so long as you spend $20 in the first month.

Pros:

  • Variety of ways to earn rewards
  • The online portal makes earning rewards while shopping easy
  • $10 sign-up bonus
  • Can redeem rewards via PayPal or gift card

Cons:

  • Not straightforward to use in-person
  • Surveys and videos don’t earn much

#6. Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is one of the most straightforward cash-back apps available.

Primarily focusing on grocery stores, Fetch Rewards lets you upload your receipt and earn rewards from anywhere.

Unlike many other apps, Fetch Rewards doesn’t make you track down specific deals or activate anything. As long as you upload your receipt, the app will reward you on almost any purchase.

Rewards are kept as points and can be redeemed for gift cards or prepaid Visa or Mastercards.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Doesn’t require planning to earn rewards
  • Works at just about any grocery store

Cons:

  • Have to upload receipt within 14 days
  • Can’t receive payments as money that can be deposited

#7. Dosh

Dosh is an extremely helpful cash-back app because of its convenience.

Where other cash-back apps require you to upload receipts or go through portals, Dosh operates by linking directly to your card. This automates the process of earning rewards, as the app scans your purchases automatically.

Dosh is a great cash back app

Dosh offers about 5% cash-back, though that number can increase as high as 40% depending on the purchase.

Rewards are typically paid directly to the card in use, further simplifying the whole process.

Pros:

  • Automatically scans your purchases on a linked card
  • Pays rewards to the linked card

Cons:

  • Rewards only apply to select retailers
  • Can’t link a card if linked to another app

#8. Drop

Drop is another cash-back app that allows you to link a card, automatically rewarding your purchases.

Drop also allows you to use a portal to shop online, meaning you can earn rewards without linking a card. This might be convenient for those trying to maximize rewards by using multiple cash-back apps.

Drop is a top cash back app

Unlike Dosh, Drop pays rewards exclusively through gift cards. That being, they offer gift cards to a wide range of stores, meaning you’ll likely find something useful from their selection.

Pros:

  • Card link makes rewards easy to earn
  • Can shop through an online portal if you don’t want to link your card

Cons:

  • Only offers rewards via gift cards
  • History of customer service complaints

#9. Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog is great for those who want to earn rewards everywhere, rather than having to tailor their shopping to partner retailers.

With Receipt Hog, you earn cash-back on absolutely any purchase. Users scan their receipts, and Receipt Hog provides them with rewards. It’s that simple.

Receipt Hog Cash Back

Receipt hog also allows you to earn extra rewards by answering surveys and playing games. While they won’t make you much, it’s nice to have the option to boost your rewards when you’d like to.

Rewards can be redeemed by PayPal transfer or through gift cards.

Pros:

  • Receipts can be uploaded from almost anywhere
  • Don’t have to search for deals in advance
  • Can earn extra rewards with surveys

Cons:

  • Receipts are only good for 14 days
  • Must participate in market research to redeem rewards

#10. Shopkick

Shopkick is another app that offers cash-back alongside rewards for various tasks. What sets Shopkick apart is the nature of these tasks.

Where other apps focus on surveys, Shopkick will reward you for in-store tasks such as scanning barcodes. These tasks are quick and easy and can be done when you are already out shopping.

Shopkick also allows card linking, so you can automate the process of earning rewards when you shop.

Shopkick has a large selection of rewards, but typically you’ll be limited to gift cards when redeeming.

Pros:

  • Allows card linking
  • Tasks are very easy and convenient
  • Rewards arrive digitally

Cons:

  • Can’t redeem rewards for cash
  • App requires access to lots of personal information

#11. Freebird

Freebird is a cash-back app that focuses on a specific niche. Rather than applying to a wide swathe of stores, Freebird earns you rewards specifically on Uber and Lyft rides.

Freebird works by partnering with restaurants and bars. When you take a trip to these places, Freebird offers you rewards on the ride service you use to get there.

In the Freebird app, you can see which restaurants offer discounted rides. Essentially the restaurants offer to pay for your ride if you choose to go there.

Rewards are automatically paid to your linked debit card once you’ve ordered the ride.

Pros:

  • It can be used with both Uber and Lyft
  • App shows which restaurants offer discounted rides
  • Rewards paid to debit card

Cons:

  • Rewards can’t be paid to credit card
  • Not all locations are eligible for rewards

#12. Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is another grocery-focused cash-back app.

Like other apps, Checkout 51 provides rewards when you upload your receipts.

Checkout 51 is particularly nice because it doesn’t require any planning. The deals are all uploaded into the app, meaning you just scan your receipt, and they apply automatically.

This feature saves you from planning out your purchases to earn rewards, as you don’t have to activate deals beforehand.

That being, the number of times a deal applies is limited, meaning you can miss out if others beat you to it.

Rewards can be redeemed for a check mailed directly to you.

Pros:

  • Don’t have to plan purchases
  • Can scan receipts from any grocery store
  • Rewards are usually pretty generous

Cons:

  • Limited number of times a deal applies
  • Can only receive rewards via check

#13. Honey App

Honey is different than any of the apps on this list so far. Other apps provide you with rewards after you make purchases. Honey App works by saving you money upfront.

Honey App is a browser extension you can download on your device. Once downloaded, the app automatically scans for discount codes from any online stores you shop.

Honey Cash Back

If it finds a discount code, it will notify you and apply the code to your purchase, saving you money with ease.

Honey App also features a price tracker, which will notify you if an item you’re tracking drops in price. This helps you save even more on online purchases.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Saves money upfront
  • Compatible with any browser

Cons:

  • Won’t always find you discounts

#14. Paribus

Paribus is similar to Honey in that it seeks to save you money on online purchases. However, Paribus goes about saving differently.

Paribus works by monitoring the price of items you’ve recently bought. Should the item drop in price in the days following your purchase, Paribus will reach out to the retailer and negotiate a refund for you.

This ensures you never feel the regret of buying an item only to have it go on sale a day later. Paribus will ensure you get the lowest price in scenarios like that.

The refunds are issued to you directly via whatever payment method you initially used.

Pros:

  • Automatically saves you money when prices drop after a purchase
  • Money is deposited to the initial payment method

Cons:

  • It won’t always save you money

#15. Groupon

Groupon is one of the most widely-known money-saving apps on the market. Slightly less known, Groupon has its own cash-back program.

Groupon+ functions very similarly to other cash-back apps. You link your card to the app, then browse through a range of deals.

Once you’ve found a deal you want to use, you activate it and make the purchase. The deal will provide you with 15% to 30% cash-back in most instances. This is paid directly to your linked card.

Pros:

  • High potential for savings
  • Wide range of deals
  • Cash-back paid directly to the linked card

Cons:

  • Have to activate deals before purchase
  • Might not have relevant deals at all times

#16. Pei

Like many other cash-back apps, Pei allows you to link a card and earn rewards when you shop at partner vendors.

What sets Pei apart isn’t how you earn rewards but how you can redeem them. Pei allows you to cash out with PayPal, gift cards, or Bitcoin.

For those interested in cryptocurrency, Pei is a fantastic way to get started. The money you earn is basically bonus money, meaning you don’t need to worry about risky investing.

Pros:

  • Linked cards make earning rewards easy
  • Wide range of partner vendors
  • Can cash out in Bitcoin

Cons:

  • Won’t earn rewards from non-partner purchases
  • Bitcoin fluctuates in value

#17. Upromise

Upromise differentiates itself by catering to those trying to pay off student loans or fund a 529 plan.

Like other apps, Upromise works by providing cash-back on everyday purchases. You can earn between 1% and 5% cash-back on purchases from a variety of retailers.

When it comes time to cash those rewards out, Upromise has a few unique options. While you are free to receive them to your linked card, you can also have them paid towards a student loan or deposited into a 529 or savings account.

This makes it easy to pay down debt or save without feeling like you have to put money aside to do so.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Offers a Mastercard with 1.25% cash-back
  • Rewards can go towards student loans or into savings
  • Can get a 15% bonus for linking to a 529 account

Cons:

  • Won’t earn rewards on all purchases

#18. Cosign

Cosign is significantly different from the other apps on this list. Rather than earn rewards on purchases, Cosign allows you to earn money from affiliate links.

Cosign functions by allowing users to tag products on their social media accounts. When your followers use the link to make a purchase, Cosign rewards you.

The more popular your link proves to be, the more money you can make via cosign.

What’s nice about Cosign is you can actually earn more money than you spend. It’s easy, convenient, and allows you to benefit from your social media following.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Can earn more money than you spend

Cons:

  • Need a strong social media following to benefit

How to Pick the Best Cash-Back App

Now that we’ve covered the best apps on the market let’s look at how you can choose the best cash-back app for your unique situation. Here’s what you need to consider.

#1. Rewards Rate

One of the most obvious considerations is the rewards rate. You want to make the most of your rewards, and as such, you should pay close attention to the amount you can expect to receive from purchases.

The rewards rate isn’t going to be uniform across all purchases. Consider where you shop and what you buy most often and aim to pick an app that will reward those purchases.

#2. Ease-of-Use

Cash-back apps are great in theory, but they serve no purpose if they are too complicated or burdensome for you to use.

When choosing an app, make sure you choose one that you’ll actually use. If you know you won’t sit down and activate deals before shopping, choose an app that allows you to upload receipts after your purchase is complete.

The practicality is just as important as the rewards rate. Moreover, identify your unique needs. If you make money online or work from home, you probably will want an app that rewards you for online purchases, such as on Amazon or Walmart.

#3. Strong Security

You don’t want your financial information getting leaked. Before you link any of your information to a cash-back app, make sure its security is trustworthy.

Look for data encryption and regulation by financial authorities.

#4. Good Customer Experience

Even the best software has its bugs. When problems inevitably pop up, you want the fix to be as hassle-free as possible.

Look at reviews for any app you consider using. If customers are consistently dissatisfied with the company, it might be worth it to avoid the annoyance and go with another app.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still curious about cash-back apps? Let’s answer a few of the most common questions people have about them.

Which Cash-Back App Gives Real Money?

There are a number of apps that give you real money. For instance, Upromise, Freebird, and Dosh all allow you to cash out with actual money.

Some cash-back apps only provide gift cards, though, so it’s important to check beforehand how rewards are paid out.

>> Learn More: Best Apps to Make Money

Can You Use Multiple Cash-Back Apps?

In most cases, you can use multiple cash-back apps. Doing so allows you to maximize your benefits by providing access to a larger range of deals.

That being, some apps won’t let you link a card if it’s already linked to another app.

>> Learn More: Best Budgeting Apps

Which App is the Best Cash-Back App?

While this will vary enormously depending on your personal circumstances, Dosh is definitely among the best.

Dosh allows users to link their cards directly, fully automating the rewards process. Dosh also pays rewards to the linked card, making your rewards easily available and ready to use. It’s hard to beat the convenience Dosh offers users.

Which Is Better Rakuten or Ibotta?

While the answer will largely depend on what you’re looking for, Ibotta is probably better for many people.

Ibotta allows you to upload receipts after purchases are made, meaning you don’t have to plan ahead to benefit from the app.

Additionally, Ibotta allows you to cash out whenever you hit the minimum threshold, whereas Rakuten only allows you to redeem once a quarter.

Bottom Line: Best Cash-Back Apps

Cash-back apps are a convenient way to save money with almost no effort.

Most of these apps function by finding you deals and discounts on the purchases you’re already making. This means you save money that would otherwise just disappear.

Each app comes with its own mix of pros and cons. Some require more planning and engagement; others are highly automated.

There are a huge number of options for cash-back apps on the market, and the right app for you will depend on where you shop and how much effort you want to put into using it.

That being, there is a cash-back app that is right for everyone. We highly recommend taking the time to sign up. Who couldn’t use some extra cash?

Bradon Matthews
Bradon Matthews
Bradon is a philosophy student-turned content writer. He enjoys analyzing market information and trends to help you make sense of the complex and ever-changing world of finance. Through this, he hopes to provide practical advice so you can feel more confident managing your money.