When your finances are tight, every penny counts. You review your budget again and again, trying to trim the fat and stretch every dollar. You look into part time jobs or side hustles, or consider selling some of the things you no longer need. Unfortunately, no matter how tight your budget, you still have to spend. There are always groceries to buy, and cleaning products, pet supplies, gifts, and other expenses that just can’t be avoided. This is where the four best cash back apps that I’ve found come in.
If you’re not already familiar, cash back apps pay you to spend money. You make a purchase, and the apps give you cash, or points which can be exchanged for cash or gift cards. You get rewarded for buying something you would have bought anyway. You can also earn bonuses by referring friends to sign up. (Full disclosure, here: If you sign up for a cash back app by clicking one of the links below, I will earn a referral bonus.)
It’s important to point out that not all cash back apps are created equal. Some require more effort than others, and most of them don’t pay that well. But if you use them to their full benefit, you can make a nice chunk of change. I’ve been using these apps for a few years now, and here are the best cash back apps I’ve found:
Most of us are familiar with Ebates, which is currently transitioning to the new name of Rakuten. When you sign up with Ebates, you can activate cash back rewards at hundreds of online retailers. They have a handy little browser button that tracks your activity and pops up to notify you of available rewards when you’re about to make a purchase, so you don’t have to remember to check for one every time. You can also initiate a shopping trip by clicking a retailer’s link through the Ebates website or mobile app.
It could not be easier to use, and the cash back rewards are pretty straightforward. You earn anywhere from 1-50% cash back on every qualifying purchase. Once you’ve reached at least $5.00 in rewards, Ebates will send you a check or deposit the funds into your PayPal account.
Downside: Not all Amazon purchases qualify for Ebates rewards, so your earnings will be somewhat limited if you do most of your shopping through Amazon.
Click this link to sign up for Ebates.
2. Fetch Rewards
Fetch is probably my favorite cash back app, simply because it is so easy to use. Fetch is an app that you download onto your phone. It gives you points for each grocery store receipt you scan. Then, you cash out those points for gift cards.
That’s it; it’s that easy. You don’t have to buy certain products to qualify for rewards. You don’t have to scroll through a list and select what you purchased or what you plan to purchase. Simply make a purchase at any store that sells groceries, then scan your receipt. Fetch does the rest.
You can earn extra points for buying certain products, so it doesn’t hurt to look over their Special Offers if you have the time, but you’ll earn regardless.
Downside: If you don’t take advantage of their Special Offers, it will take a while to earn enough points for a gift card.
Use this code to earn us both bonus points when you sign up for Fetch: NT4TH.
Ibotta is a bit of a combination between receipt scanning apps like Fetch and purchasing apps like Ebates/Swagbucks, so there are two ways to earn. Download the app to your phone, and you can use it to shop practically every online retailer or subscription service, earning cash back for every purchase you make.
Earning on in-store purchases takes a little more effort with Ibotta. Before your shopping trip, scroll through Ibotta’s offers and select the products you plan to purchase. Once you’re done shopping, scan your receipt to verify your purchases (you may have to scan the product barcode as well). If everything checks out, you earn cash back which can be received via PayPal, Venmo, or gift cards.
Though it takes a little more effort than other cash back apps, Ibotta frequently offers rewards on any brand of pantry staples like bread, milk, and eggs, so you’re virtually guaranteed to earn a little something every time you shop.
Downside: Because you have to scroll through and select offers before you shop in-store, it can be a little time consuming.
Swagbucks offers several different ways to earn. You can make purchases through their site like Ebates or Ibotta. You can also take surveys or play games to earn points. They have a live trivia game each evening that gives you another chance to earn points. There are frequent offers to earn bonus points for completing certain tasks, like performing a search using their search engine. They also offer quite a few printable coupons, which you earn points for redeeming.
If you’ve got time to kill, you can potentially earn quite a few points through Swagbucks, which can then be cashed in for gift cards. There are a few downsides to Swagbucks, though. Their browser button, search engine, and e-mails can get a little invasive, and it can take a long time for all of those bonus points to add up. If you use it primarily for cash back on purchases you’re already making, though, Swagbucks is definitely worth your time.
While the money you make from these apps certainly won’t make you a millionaire, if used properly, they are a great way to earn an extra chunk of change on the things you already buy. Give these cash back apps a shot and let me know what you think!
What cash back apps have you tried? Have you found any you swear by? Tell me in the comments! Please share this post on Facebook or Pinterest if you enjoyed it, and don’t forget to sign up for my weekly e-newsletter for even more money saving tips.