Times are tough right now. Inflation is high, everything has gone up in price, and it’s getting harder to make ends meet. In this month’s blog, we’ll take a look at a couple of apps you can download to help you save a little cash or get some cash back into your pocket. These apps are not listed in any particular order, and they are posted here for informational purposes only.
How it works: Ibotta (I bot ta) lets you earn cash back on in-store and online purchases at over 2,000 supported retailers. Originally for groceries, it has expanded to include clothing, entertainment and eating out, pet supplies and other categories. Offers can be product or retailer-specific — and some will automatically be applied. For others, you’ll need to complete an additional task such as watching a video or taking a poll.
There are three possible ways to earn cash back in stores: Add offers and submit your receipt in the app after your shopping trip (you have 7 days to send in your receipt through the app), link your retailer loyalty accounts or purchase a retailer gift card through the Ibotta app. For online purchases, you shop through the app or with the Ibotta browser extension on your computer.
Payment: PayPal, digital gift card or direct to a bank account.
Pros: You’ll receive cash back on in-store purchases quickly — typically within 24 hours. Ibotta also offers a welcome bonus to new users, referral bonuses and a variety of payment methods.
Cons: Making money can be a slow process. You must have at least $20 in cash back to redeem your earnings (some gift cards require at least $25 in earnings). For online shopping, the pending period for earning cash back varies by retailer. Ibotta also charges an account maintenance fee for inactive (no activity in 6 months) or deactivated accounts. The fee is deducted from your balance, not your bank account.
Find out more information on Ibotta here.
How it works: Rakuten (ra kuh ten) (formerly known as Ebates) rewards shoppers with cash back on purchases from well-known retailers, restaurants and food delivery services. Users can also earn cash back on travel, gift cards and more. It’s straightforward: Create an account, tap on the store where you want to shop in the app, then make the transaction through the portal. You can also link a credit or debit card to your Rakuten account to earn cash back in-store — as long as you activate the deal through the app first. Rakuten credits the cash back to your account after it confirms the purchase with the retailer, which it says can take a few hours to several days.
Payment: PayPal or Check.
Pros: Thousands of stores and purchases are eligible for cash back, so you’ll likely find deals where you already shop. New users can earn a $10 welcome bonus after their first qualified purchase. You can also earn sign-up and referral bonuses. You can make an impact with your cash back earnings by donating a portion to nonprofit partners.
Cons: As with most cash-back services, you have to spend money to make money. You won’t see your earnings right away, either; Rakuten sends out payments every three months on the company’s payment schedule, and you need at least a $5 cash-back balance to get paid. Unlike other apps like Ibotta, you have to remember to initiate your purchase in the app first. If you forget and make your purchase outside of the app, you can’t get credit retroactively.
Find out more information on Rakuten here.
How it works: Swagbucks (Swag bucks) is a cash-back and rewards app. You earn points, called “SB,” by shopping online (there are 1,500 participating retailers), taking surveys, watching videos, playing games or fulfilling other tasks through Swagbucks. You can redeem those points for gift cards or get cash back to your PayPal account. The total points awarded can vary by task. For example, surveys are typically worth about 40 to 200 SB points each. The minimum balance required to redeem depends on the payout option you choose, but some gift cards are available for as low as 110 SB.
Payment: E-gift card or PayPal. You can also redeem SB for Bitcoin through the new Cryptovoucher Gift Card options.
Pros: Swagbucks offers many easy ways to earn rewards, and there’s no waiting period to cash in. Payments usually arrive within 10 business days after redemption. You can also get a $10 bonus with a qualifying $25 purchase when you join.
Cons: It doesn’t pay much; one SB is worth about a cent. With many tasks valued at pennies, it can take a fair amount of time and effort to make substantial money. Additionally, you won’t qualify for every survey or task, although users can earn up to 5 SB per day if they disqualify. Users often report getting kicked out of surveys in the middle of taking them. This can be due to demographics or dishonest or inconsistent answers, according to Swagbucks.
Find out more information on Swagbucks here.
How it works: Dosh is a coupon app that you can set it up once and forget about it. This app automatically applies savings to purchases you make with connected credit or debit cards with participating partners, which include brands like Instacart, Walmart, Pizza Hut, Sephora, and more.
Dosh works for purchases made using your mobile device or in-person purchases made in participating stores. Dosh also has its own travel portal that lets you get up to 40% back on stays with more than 600,000 hotels worldwide. When it comes time to redeem your cash back, you can transfer amounts of $25 or more to your bank account or PayPal account, or use your rewards for a charitable donation.
Pros: No paper coupons or receipt scanning required. It automatically adds savings when you link payment cards to your account. You earn up to 40% back on hotel stays with select partners. Works for both app purchases and in-person purchases and you get rewards for referring friends.
Cons: Redemptions only available once you accrue $25 in your account. You must connect your credit and debit cards to the app.
Find out more information on Dosh here.
How it works: Honey is an automatic savings app and browser extension that automatically searches the web for the best discount codes available. When you shop with the browser extension, coupon codes can be automatically applied with more than 30,000 merchants. With the Honey Smart Shopping Assistant app, savings can apply to stores in the United States, as well as several countries outside of the US.
The Honey app boasts an average discount of 17.92% on purchases, and users receive an average annual savings of $126. Honey has its own rewards program known as Honey Gold. This program lets you rack up rewards when you make purchases at participating stores, and the rewards are also shown to you along with discount codes that can apply to your purchases. You can even earn points in the Honey Gold program for referring friends.
Honey is mostly meant to be used as a browser extension, although the Honey Smart Shopping Assistant app is available for iOS and Android.
Pros: Browser extension works with more than 30,000 merchants. Automatically applies discounts to your purchases. Has its own rewards program known as Honey Gold. Get rewarded for referring friends and no more searching for coupon codes.
Cons: Some of the stages have issues with coupon use. Discounts that are found are sometimes expired and don’t work. It sometimes crashes and you have to start the whole process over.
Find out more information on Honey here.
How it works: Shopkick (Shop Kick) is not quite a coupon app, but it offers rewards. With this app, you’ll earn rewards when shopping online and in person and when scanning (but not buying) select items in-store.
Instead of earning cash back, like other similar apps, you’ll earn kicks, or rewards points, that can be redeemed for digital gift cards. In addition to being rewarded for shopping, Shopkick also offers other ways to earn rewards, like by watching ads.
To earn kicks without making purchases, walk into a participating retailer and scan select products with the in-app scanner. To earn kicks via purchases, shop at participating stores and earn automatically with a linked credit card or make your purchase and submit a receipt. You can also shop at select online stores through the app to earn kicks.
Gift cards are available from a variety of retailers. Rewards vary, but most rewards are 250 kicks per dollar. For example, a $25 gift card would typically require 6,250 kicks.
Pros: The app is fun and engaging, and offers a variety of ways to earn points both online and in real life.
Cons: Earning points may be time consuming. Online shopping must be done through a mobile device, and real-life options may be limited by location.
Find out more information on Shopkick here.