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UPDATE: Yelp Cash Back will end on Nov. 18, 2020. At that time, cards used only for the program will be deleted. The last day to earn rewards is Oct. 31, 2020. Members had until Oct. 26, 2020, to activate offers from participating restaurants and retailers. Any debit or credit cards linked to your Yelp account must be active to receive your final statement credit before the program's closing date.
If you’re an avid Yelp user but haven’t opted in to using Yelp Cash Back, you could be missing out on earning some extra money every month.
In late 2016, Yelp launched Yelp Cash Back to help businesses gain loyal customers by giving cash-back bonuses when people link their debit and credit cards to Yelp. By spending money at participating restaurants and retailers, customers can earn up to 10% cash back on their purchases. The cash back takes the form of a statement credit, which is an amount that’s applied to your outstanding credit card balance or — if you use a debit card — to your checking account. The program is free to join.
How Yelp Cash Back works
1. Create a Yelp account, if you don’t already have one. Both Yelp and Yelp Cash Back are free to join.
2. Link your debit and credit cards to your account through your Yelp profile. You can link as many as you want to, which can be helpful if you use different cards for different shopping categories. According to Yelp Cash Back’s terms of service, you give Yelp access to your transaction history, which it shares with Empyr, its third-party cash-back service provider. This history is then used to send you targeted offers. You can learn more in the terms of service.
“Both Yelp and Yelp Cash Back are free to join, and you can link as many cards as you want to.”
3. Go to businesses that offer Yelp Cash Back (more on that below), and pay with the cards on your account. You don’t need to tell the business anything special; just pay with your card as you usually would.
4. Get your cash back as a statement credit by the 18th of the next month.
How to find participating merchants
Though a majority of Yelp Cash Back businesses are restaurants, some retailers have joined as well. You can use the Yelp app or Yelp.com to search for “cash back,” which filters the search results for businesses that offer the perk. Cash back isn’t available for online orders or food delivery.
“Major cities will typically have more Yelp Cash Back opportunities than smaller towns, but new businesses that offer cash back are frequently added to the roster.”
Many Yelp Cash Back businesses are local to an area, but some national chains take part. As of Oct. 13, 2017, for example, Sunglass Hut was offering 10% cash back through Yelp.
Major cities — such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago — will typically have more Yelp Cash Back opportunities than smaller cities and towns, but new businesses that offer cash back are frequently added to the Yelp roster.
If you have your cards linked to LivingSocial, Virgin America or Facebook, Yelp Cash Back won’t work for you. All of those sites are also serviced by Empyr, and according to the terms of service: "Your payment cards may only be enrolled in one program operated by Empyr. If you have already activated a payment card with a separate program operated by Empyr, you will be unable to activate that payment card in both Yelp Cash Back and the other program."
How to get even more rewards when you dine
Many airlines also offer dining programs that reward you for eating at local restaurants. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program, for example, allows you to link your debit and credit cards to earn extra airline points when dining at eligible establishments. Delta, United and American Airlines offer similar programs.
Check to see whether any of those restaurants overlap with your local Yelp Cash Back businesses. If so, you can double-dip on rewards.
“If you have a credit card that already offers a high rewards rate for dining, be sure to link that card to Yelp Cash Back.”
Similarly, if you have a credit card that already offers a high rewards rate for dining or a good flat rate on cash back, be sure to link that card to Yelp Cash Back and/or an airline dining rewards program, so you can stack your rewards.
If you’re a frequent Yelp user and you dine out often, Yelp Cash Back is a no-brainer, particularly if you live in a large city with lots of Yelp listings. It’s free to join, and you’ll earn cash back on money you’re already spending anyway — on top of any rewards you earn through your credit card.