Automating your finances, whether for paying bills or saving money, is a secret to growing wealth. Cash-back apps can be a part of that strategy by providing you discounts, rebates or points applied to future purchases.
This is not a big-money play. It's more of "a penny saved" sort of thing. But it helps to nurture a saving money mentality.
What is a cash-back app?
A cash back app gives you a rebate on a purchase or provides a coupon for an additional discount. Some apps offer points that can be redeemed as a price break on subsequent purchases
12 of the best cash-back apps of 2021
NerdWallet has identified some of the leading cash-back apps. To narrow the field, we found apps in the iOS App Store with a search for 'cash back.' We also required a minimum of 25,000 reviews and a rating of 4.25 stars or better. These apps are also available for Android devices in Google Play.
Ibotta promises cash back whether you're shopping in person, online, or while traveling or dining out. There are no promotional codes or coupons to track. You search the app for offers you like, then upload a photo of your receipt after the purchase, or buy the item with a loyalty card or through the app with a supported debit card.
User reviews: Ibotta users have complained about having to watch a video to unlock a discount, or having difficulty matching the exact item purchased to a particular deal. Still, with nearly a million reviews, Ibotta remains the most popular cash back app in the iOS store — though the competition is gaining ground.
Best for: Cash back on a wide variety of shopping options.
2. Fetch Rewards
Fetch Rewards is one of those competitors closing the gap on Ibotta, in terms of popularity and particularly when it comes to saving on groceries. Snap a photo of your receipt, and you'll earn rewards points redeemable for gift cards.
User reviews: Fetch fans like the app's ease, but some have balked at the 14-day limit to submit receipts.
Best for: Redeeming grocery receipts for points applied to various rewards.
One of the original cash-back apps born from a website, RetailMeNot, is primarily a coupon finder but also allows users to activate online offers, or upload receipts and scan barcodes for discounts.
User reviews: Some shoppers have used this app for years and brag on its simplicity and location-based discount discovery.
Best for: In-store discounts delivered by your location.
» MORE: 7 of the best money-making apps
This app aims to provide cash-back offers from grocery stores and restaurants and, perhaps most notably, at gas stations.
User reviews: Getting cash back on gas purchases appeals to many users, though some complain about a limited number of gas stations that participate in some areas. A new check-in with a saved credit card feature has replaced uploading receipts at participating stations and has been met with mixed reactions from users.
Best for: Cash back on gasoline purchases.
Managing grocery store coupons is the specialty of the Coupons.com app. Once you select a coupon, discounts are automatically applied by linking your store loyalty card to the app. If you shop at a store without a loyalty program, you can submit a photo of your paper receipt. Upon approval, the rebate is applied to your PayPal account.
User reviews: In recent months, users have been reporting technical issues regarding the printing of coupons. The developers suggest using the app's digital coupon feature.
Best for: Tapping rewards linked to grocery store loyalty programs.
Dosh adds hotels into the retail and dining-out discount mix. By linking a credit or debit card to the app, cash back offers are deposited into the Dosh wallet. Cash can then be transferred into bank accounts, PayPal or Venmo. Rewards can also be donated to nonprofit charities.
User reviews: App Store reviewers like the fact that there is no receipt scanning required to get cash back but some aren't fans of maintenance fees that apparently get charged to inactive users. Purchases also have to be made as credit rather than debit transactions.
Best for: Earning automatic rebates without scanning receipts.
7. Receipt Hog
In addition to offering cash back for shopping, this app gamifies the process with sweepstakes, bonuses and Hog Slots spins that can payout coins. Rewards can also be redeemed for Amazon gift cards or cash to your PayPal account. You can even custom dress (and purchase outfits for) your Receipt Hog avatar.
User reviews: Receipt Hog lovers enjoy the sweepstakes and generally say the app is easy to use. Some users are so caught up in the fun of this app that a change in the pig icon's appearance was debated.
Best for: Adding an element of fun to cash-back rewards.
Touting no fees and requiring no financial information, CoinOut is another receipt-scanning cash-back app. You don't have to shop at a specific retailer, find a coupon or hunt down a deal, either. You upload a receipt, and the app does the rest.
User reviews: Many of the most recent user reviews complain of small payouts.
Best for: Getting cash-back savings without searching for particular retailers.
Other cash-back apps to consider
Cash-back apps are about saving small amounts of money over a period of time, so you'll probably want to find an app that you enjoy using and that doesn't require a lot of effort. While these apps are rated only slightly lower, they are still worth considering:
Rewards, known as "kicks," are available in-store or online and payable as gift cards.
Points are earned without scanning receipts or clipping coupons. Everything occurs within the app.
If you like sharing your opinion on products and taking surveys, Swagbucks may be just what you're looking for.
Rakuten is a high-profile cash-back app gaining momentum after rebranding its Ebates acquisition to the parent company's name in 2019.