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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.
Best cash-back apps of 2022
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 100,000 ratings and a rating of 4.5 stars or better. These apps are also available for Android devices in Google Play.
Apps are shown in alphabetical order.
Managing grocery store coupons is the specialty of the Coupons.com app. Once you select a coupon or offer, 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: The app also lets you print coupons rather than select them in-app, but in recent months, users have been reporting technical issues with printing. Some users also complained about unresponsive or unhelpful customer support.
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 the maintenance fees or $15 cash out minimum. Purchases also have to be made as credit rather than debit transactions.
Best for: Earning automatic rebates without scanning receipts.
Fetch Rewards has risen in popularity, particularly when it comes to saving on groceries. Scan your receipt from any purchase, or submit an eReceipt, and you'll earn rewards points redeemable for gift cards.
User reviews: Fetch fans like the app's ease, but privacy issues are being raised because of a social feature that shares shopping and spending information. If you decide to go this route, make sure you understand — and can live with — this feature.
Best for: Redeeming grocery receipts for points applied to various rewards.
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. Before shopping, you search the app for offers you like, then upload a photo of your receipt after the purchase. You can also buy the item with a loyalty card in-store or with a supported debit card through the app. Transfer your rewards to PayPal or gift cards.
User reviews: Some previously loyal Ibotta users have complained about a lack of customer service. Still, with over a million reviews, Ibotta remains among the most popular cash-back apps in the iOS store.
Best for: Cash back on a wide variety of shopping options.
Rakuten is a high-profile cash-back app claiming to cover more than 3,500 stores and issuing payment through PayPal or by check. It also features travel savings on airfare, hotels and car rentals.
User reviews: People seem to love getting their cash-back checks, and the app garners many rave reviews. There are some users who complain about issues with receiving referral bonuses.
Best for: Direct payments every three months.
In addition to offering cash back for shopping, this app gamifies the process with sweepstakes, surveys, bonuses and Hog Slots spins that can pay out coins. Rewards can also be redeemed for gift cards or cash to your PayPal account.
User reviews: Receipt Hog has its share of fans, though there are those who say the payouts are small and take some time to add up.
Best for: Adding an element of fun to cash-back rewards.
One of the original cash-back apps born from a website, RetailMeNot is primarily a coupon finder, but it also allows users to activate online offers and receive personalized notifications for discounts. Cash back is paid out via PayPal or Venmo.
User reviews: Some shoppers have used this app for years and brag about its ability to save them money, though of course not at every store.
Best for: In-store discounts delivered by your location.
This app aims to provide cash-back offers from grocery stores, restaurants and — perhaps most notably — gas stations. You can redeem cash back through PayPal, e-gift cards or bank transfers.
User reviews: Getting cash back with a gas app like Upside has become a popular way to save, though there are occasional complaints about a limited number of gas stations that participate in some areas.
Best for: Cash back on gasoline purchases.
» MORE: 7 of the best money-making apps
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 didn’t make the list above because they have fewer reviews or are rated slightly lower, they are still worth considering.
Touting no fees, 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.
Rewards, known as "kicks," are available in-store or online and are payable as gift cards. You can earn rewards multiple ways, including by visiting stores, scanning product bar codes and submitting receipts.
If you like sharing your opinion on products and taking surveys, Swagbucks may be just what you're looking for.