Fun Fact: 70 percent of Americans are shopping online in 2023. On average, those who hit the online purchase button will spend an average of $5,381 this year.
However, only 35 percent of Americans use cash-back apps to save money online shopping. Free to sign up for, these apps promise real cash back with little to no effort.
Taking one for the Wealth of Geeks team, I downloaded and test-drove six of the most popular cash-back apps, but I'm only keeping three.
Whether you're shopping online, in a brick-and-mortar store, going to dinner, or traveling, Ibotta is super popular. To get the most benefit out of it, you'll need to be proactive when you shop, adding offers to your online app list before you hit the stores.
If the store you purchase items at is not on its list of preferred or supported retailers, you'll have to remember to save your receipt to scan it in the app after purchasing to get cash back. As for online shopping, you can access online retailers that work with the app to get money back.
I can get on board with using the app for online purchases, but when it comes to shopping at a store, it's too many steps to remember to get a few cents back. Maybe when I was 20 years old and had plenty of extra time on my hands, was single, and there was no YouTube to distract me, I'd be constantly on board, but it's too much hassle these days.
Retail Me Not
Simple and convenient, Retail Me Not is my kind of app. With its ability to be used online and on its app, it's a shopping portal that gives a percentage of cash back from your total purchase. It offers weekly and daily Featured Cash Back stores, and it's a breeze to look through its “Top Cash Back” section to make the most of online shopping.
Additionally, Retail Me Not offers “Cash Back Day” each year, similar to Amazon Prime Days. You can earn up to 20 percent back during its specified time frame, depending on where you shop. It takes about 45 days to get a notification of your earned cash back, and you can send it to your Venmo or Paypal account.
Yep, I'm keeping this one.
I used to enjoy couponing, but these days I'd instead shop the sales, you know? Via online or its app, coupons.com allows you to clip paperless coupons or coupon codes and use them when you shop. It works with over 1,000 stores and is definitely a legit way to save money.
While you're technically not getting cash back, you are saving upfront instead of waiting to receive your money. Again, if I had more time on my hands, I might find this one enjoyable, but pass.
In the same line as Retail Me Not, Rakuten (formerly eBates) uses both an app or web browser extension to save you money with a cashback kick. You can choose where to shop by percentage back when you access its shopping portal. Depending on the day, Rakuten offers 3X the cashback, which is a nice perk. I've used it most for travel savings, like Priceline for hotels, car rentals, and airfare.
What I really enjoy about it is the web extension, though. Even if I'm not shopping via the portal, I'll get a notification that there's a cash-back opportunity so I don't miss out. Yeah, I kept this one, too. If I only could keep one of these six, it would be Rakuten.
Another receipt-snapping cash-back app, Fetch's concept, is simple enough: shop, scan your receipt in the app, and get money back as gift cards. You don't have to look up what to save on ahead of time, and you can snap up to 35 receipts per 7-day rolling period with some stipulations, including medical bills, airline baggage receipts, etc.
Receipts can only be 14 days old or less to work, and digital receipts need to use its eReceipt feature. When I write simple, yes, it is. But, again, the fewer steps there are, the happier I am. I'm not keeping this one as I'm not entirely sold on its convenience.
Upside is a great app to save some dough if you spend countless hours driving and pumping gas. Additionally, it can be used for groceries and restaurants as well. With an estimated average of $153 savings per year, it works with three easy steps: claim an offer, shop using a debit or credit card, and earn cash back. Simple enough.
Using a zip code to locate savings, you can find them where you live or when you're on the road for refueling and food. While I won't become a millionaire, I do plan on using this app frequently.
In a Nutshell
To make the most of any of these apps, you need a proactive shopping experience. You'll also need to remember that you have the apps, or it wastes phone storage space. Also, it would be best if you weighed in on how valuable your time is. If you love browsing and hunting for deals, you may find all these apps up your proverbial street. It might be too much for a few dollars if you're stretched for time due to family, work, and activities.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.