The 17 Best Cashback and Rewards Apps for 2020

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The 17 Best Cashback and Rewards Apps for 2020

These days, if you’re shopping online, chances are you could be saving more money. In addition to coupon codes you may have missed and price trackers that can help you time your purchase just right, there are also dozens of cashback tools that will reward you just for shopping through their link or app. The only problem is, with so many cashback and rewards apps to choose from, how do you know what each one has to offer.

Don’t worry — I’m here to help. As a big fan of cashback myself, I’ve had some experience with many of the top tools available. Moreover, with new options popping up all the time, I took the liberty of compiling some other apps that I haven’t yet had the chance to earn with.

With that, let’s take a look at the top cashback and rewards apps for 2020 — across multiple categories — as well a few tips for getting the most from these tools.

My Personal Favorites

Rakuten

  • What it offers: Cash back on online purchases and in-store purchases
  • Biggest pro: Features offers for a huge number of online retailers
  • Biggest con: Payouts only come quarterly
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten is likely the most popular cashback tool on this list — and there’s good reason for that. Not only does the platform offer cashback at thousands of sites across the web but makes it easy to take advantage of these deals. One way to claim Rakuten offers is by simply clicking the links for your selected retailer through the Rakuten website. Alternatively, you can install the Rakuten browser extension, which will remind you to activate offers when you land on eligible pages. Plus, the service also has some in-store offers that you can opt into and claim by using a linked card.

One of the few drawbacks of Rakuten is that they only pay out rewards on a quarterly basis. Additionally, you’ll need to have earned at least $5 in rewards in order to get your check or PayPal transfer. That said, they do continue to roll out new features, including the ability for American Express cardholders to earn Membership Rewards points instead of cash. Plus, new users who join Rakuten and make a purchase of at least $25 in their first 90 days can earn a $10 bonus.

Dosh

  • What it offers: Automatic cashback on in-store purchases, some online purchases, and travel bookings
  • Biggest pro: Your linked card will allow you to earn cashback from in-store offers without needing to opt-in
  • Biggest con: Offers aren’t as numerous as some other platforms
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

Although Dosh might not have as robust a stable of offers as Rakuten, the way you earn cashback using the app is actually even easier. Once you link your various credit and debit cards to Dosh, you’ll just need to use them to pay for purchases at a participating location in order to score rewards. For example, currently, there’s an in-store deal for Finish Line to earn 5% back as well as an Office Depot offer for 2%. Meanwhile, they also feature deals for online retailers and a travel booking platform to score cashback on hotel stays. Once you reach $25 in cashback, you’ll be able to transfer your funds to a linked bank account or donate them to charity.

Something else to note is that, while most of the tools on this list cannot be used together, I’ve actually been able to stack certain Dosh deals with in-store offers from other platforms like Rakuten — although this is pretty rare. In any case, with Dosh currently offering $10 to new users who join using a referral code and connect a card, the app is definitely worth checking out.

Bumped

  • What it offers: Fractional shares of stock when making purchases from numerous brands
  • Biggest pro: Earning stock allows your rewards to grow over time
  • Biggest con: Currently in beta with a waitlist
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

While cashback is great, wouldn’t it be even better if you could earn a piece of the companies you shop with? That’s the idea behind Bumped — an app that rewards users with fractional shares of stock. To use Bumped, you’ll first select one brand in each of the 16 categories that you want to earn from. Some of my favorites include Starbucks, Spotify, Red Robin, and Sam’s Club. After making your selections, you’ll just need to use a linked card to make purchases from these brands and you’ll earn a set percentage of your purchase back in the form of that company’s stock — or, in some cases, a piece of an ETF. For example, each time I reload my Starbucks card for $50, I’m awarded 3% back (which amounts to $1.50) in $SBUX. Since these are real pieces of stock, you can also see your portfolio’s value change as stock prices move.

The only downside of Bumped is that the app is still utilizing a waitlist for new customers and it’s unclear when it will be readily available. Still, if you’re lucky enough to get an invite, it’s an app I highly recommend.

Other Cash Back and Rewards Tools

Swagbucks

  • What it offers: Ability to earn Swagbucks for online and in-store purchases (as well as via online surveys)
  • Biggest pro: Variety of ways to earn rewards
  • Biggest con: Their browser extension is a bit more annoying than others
  • Have I personally used it?: No

If you’ve heard of Swagbucks before, it was probably in the context of a survey site. However, they happen to offer a cashback platform as well. Like with many other services on this list, Swagbucks allows you to shop online retailers through their links and earn a percentage of your purchase back in rewards — in this case “Swagbucks” or “SB.”

Once you’ve accrued enough Swagbucks, whether through making purchases, completing surveys, or taking advantage of other offers on the site, you can redeem your Swagbucks for gift cards or even cash them out via PayPal. While that’s great, something I’ll say regarding my limited experience with Swagbucks is that their browser extension strikes me as a little more aggressive than some of the others, with the SB button popping up lower on the page. Despite this, Swagbucks could be a good hub for earning rewards in a number of ways.

Drop

  • What it offers: Points for shopping online, playing games, and more
  • Biggest pro: Occasional Boosted offers allow you to rack up more points
  • Biggest con: No longer has Power Offers
  • Have I personally used it?: Not its in current form

Using Drop, shoppers can earn points when they make purchases from a number of online retailers. These points can then be used to purchase gift cards, with redemptions starting at $25. Interestingly, Drop also offers other ways to earn points, including surveys and games.

One disappointing development in the world of Drop is that that app no longer has Power Offers, which allowed users to score points when using a linked card to make purchases with some big name brands like Starbucks. In place of the retired earning medium, Drop does have Flash Deals as well as Boosted Offers that can be used to score more points.

Honey

  • What it offers: The chance to earn “Honey Gold” on purchases in addition to helping you find applicable coupon codes
  • Biggest pro: Can compare and prices in addition to earning rewards
  • Biggest con: It doesn’t always have the highest offers
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

Honey is a browser extension that does a few different things beyond offering cash back. For example, the extension will automatically try various coupon and promo codes in an attempt to save you money. Even if that doesn’t work, you may be able to earn Honey Gold (the service’s own currency) when buying from select retailers. When you reach 1,000 Honey Gold, you can redeem your points for a $10 gift from brands such as Walmart, Amazon, Apple, Uber, and many more.

Outside of cashback, you can also use Honey to track prices on certain products and view the pricing history of said item. That way, you’ll know that you’re getting a good deal on top of whatever rewards you may earn. That’s why Honey has become a favorite for many online shoppers in recent years.

Wikibuy

  • What it offers: WikiCredits on select online purchases, coupon code assistance, and other price comparison features
  • Biggest pro: In my experiment, Wikibuy did direct me to a better deal for a KitchenAid than what was offered on Amazon
  • Biggest con: Coupon implementation is hit or miss
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

If you were to look at Honey and Wikibuy and think they sounded fairly similar, you’d be right. In fact, I can’t tell you how many of the comments on my Wikibuy video point this out. Regardless, just as some of these other tools may have slightly different offers than their competitors, Wikibuy is also worth checking out when you’re comparing cashback deals.

Shopkick

  • What it offers: Rewards for making purchases, scanning items, or even just walking into certain stores
  • Biggest pro: A variety of ways to accrue points and low cash out options
  • Biggest con: Some activities (including some online purchases) aren’t worth many points
  • Have I personally used it?: No

In a number of ways, Shopkick is unlike any other app on this list. For example, in order to earn points (or “Kicks”), you may not even have to buy anything, Instead, the app features some rewards for scanning select items in a store or just for visiting a location. Meanwhile, you can of course also earn Kicks by making purchases and uploading your receipt or shopping online.

When it comes times to cash in your rewards, you’ll be pleased to see that there are redemptions available for as low as 500 Kicks (a $2 gift card). Thus, although you won’t get a ton of points for scanning or walk-ins, you may be able to at least turn them into something. Like I said: if nothing else, Shopkick is definitely different.

For Crypto Fans

Fold

  • What it offers: Bitcoin back when you buy gift cards for various brands through the app
  • Biggest pro: Gift cards offered include a number of top brands
  • Biggest con: The higher reward rates require using Lightning to pay
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

If you’re not sure exactly what you want to purchase but want to earn rewards in the meantime, Fold may just have a solution. Using the app, you can purchase gift cards for such retailers and restaurants as Amazon, Delta, Nintendo, Chipotle, Chili’s, and many more. For each purchase you make, you’ll earn a percentage back in Sats — which amount to a small fraction of a Bitcoin. Once you reach 50,000 Sats (currently about $5.80 as I write this), you can transfer your funds to an on-chain Bitcoin wallet.

In terms of downsides, in order to get the maximum amount of rewards, you’ll need to pay using Lightning. Unfortunately, that process isn’t something every buyer will be prepared for. You can still add a debit or credit card to pay with instead, but your percentage back will be reduced.

Lolli

  • What it offers: Earn Bitcoin when you shop online from select retailers
  • Biggest pro: Reward amounts currently go as high as 27% (although that’s for specific purchases)
  • Biggest con: Currently desktop only and the site is fairly basic
  • Have I personally used it?: No

One of the services I recently discovered and helped inspire this list is Lolli. With this tool, you’ll be able to earn Bitcoin back when shopping at some online retailers. This list includes a number of large brands as well as some more specialty offerings.

Something I did notice after downloading the Lolli app is that, as it turns out, you can currently only claim deals by using the Lolli site. Once there, I also realized that said site is fairly stripped down. On the one hand, this makes it relatively easy to navigate but still leaves something to be desired. Still, if you’re a fan of crypto and prefer to earn Bitcoin instead of USD, this may be one to keep an eye on.

Pei

  • What it offers: Cash or Bitcoin back on online and in-store purchases
  • Biggest pro: Offers unique earning opportunities such as “Party Cashback Boosts”
  • Biggest con: The app is still fairly new
  • Have I personally used it?: No

With Pei, you’ll have the choice to earn cashback in U.S. dollars or in Bitcoin. While that aspect is what landed it in this section of the list, looking at the app, it has a pretty impressive line-up of in-store deals, including 1% back at Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other popular quick service spots. Pei also has some interesting bonuses, such as their Party Cashback Boost. For this offer, you invite friends to take advantage of a nearby in-store ad, for each person who does use that offer within an hour of being invited, you’ll get an extra percentage point back (up to 4%).

Of course, like other services, Pei also offers cashback for online purchases and has a browser extension. So, while I haven’t personally used Pei to earn rewards just yet, I was definitely intrigued by what I found while poking around.

Save on Groceries

Ibotta

  • What it offers: Digital cashback coupons for specific items as well as bonus opportunities
  • Biggest pro: Some stores allow you to link your loyalty card to easily redeem offers
  • Biggest con: You’ll likely need those bonuses in order to reach the cashout threshold
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

When it comes to buying groceries, using Ibotta is like having an extra weekly circular — except that you won’t need to clip paper coupons. Instead, the app allows you to add cashback coupons to your account and redeem them by either uploading a receipt from a participating store or linking your loyalty card. While individual coupons may only offer a few cents back, Ibotta’s bonuses and challenges can help you rack up savings faster and reach the $20 threshold required for withdrawing earnings.

While Ibotta is mostly used for specific items in grocery locations, they do also feature cashback deals for a variety of online retailers. Plus, delivery services like Instacart and Shipt are now supported in the app, allowing you to redeem offers just as you would if you were shopping in-store yourself. However, one word of warning: if your account is inactive (as in no redeemed offers) for six months, Ibotta may reduce your remaining earned cashback by $3.99 a month until your account balance is $0 — but they won’t ever pull money from a banking account or charge you otherwise.

SavingStar

  • What it offers: Rebates on grocery purchases from select stores
  • Biggest pro: Some offers can be redeemed across multiple trips (so you don’t need to buy it all at once)
  • Biggest con: The number of active offers is fairly limited
  • Have I personally used it?: No

With SavingStar, you can earn rebates when shopping for certain products in several popular grocery stores. For some of these locations, you can even link your loyalty card to automatically earn toward your activated rebates. On that note, for some rebate offers, you can either make the qualifying purchase in one trip or across multiple transactions. That way, you don’t need to buy $25 worth of cereal at once in order to earn $5 back. In order to cash out, you’ll need to earn $20, and then you can redeem via PayPal, bank transfer, or other options.

The only downside to SavingStar that I could see while exploring the site is that the list of active rebates was short. In my area, there were only a few dozen to be found. At the same time, I could see myself using a number of the rebates that were offered, such as $1 back on two Welch’s Fruit Snacks or the $5 back on $25 of General Mills cereals that I alluded to. Therefore, hopefully you’ll be able to find something you can take advantage of too.

Checkout 51

  • What it offers: Cashback on specific grocery items and online offers
  • Biggest pro: Has multiple means of earning rewards
  • Biggest con: The desktop site leaves something to be desired
  • Have I personally used it?: No

Like with SavingStar, Checkout 51 allows you to redeem digital coupons for certain products. In fact, if your experience is like mine, you may recognize some of the offers. To redeem these deals, you’ll need to submit your receipt with the applicable purchase. Then, once you reach $20 in cashback, you can cash out via PayPal or check.

When I first went to check out Checkout 51, I wasn’t too impressed with their desktop site, which was quite basic and boring. Luckily, their mobile app seems far more advanced. Plus, the app also has some online shopping offers if you’re looking to boost your rewards balance.

Fetch Rewards

  • What it offers: Rewards for buying certain grocery items and for scanning general receipts
  • Biggest pro: Earn points just for scanning receipts
  • Biggest con: You won’t earn many points unless you purchase select items and those deals are limited
  • Have I personally used it?: No

Fetch Rewards is a bit different from the above options as it doesn’t feature a ton of specific deals. Instead, you can earn points just for scanning your receipts, with purchases from some partner brands yielding more points. Honestly, I’d love to give you more detail than that, but the app was fairly vague when I was exploring it.

What is straightforward are the rewards you can earn. Fetch has a number of gift card options for as little as 5,000 points ($5). So I guess it can’t hurt trying to scan some of your receipts — especially if you’re already using Ibotta, SavingStar, and/or Checkout 51 anyway.

Debit Card Options

Square Cash

  • What it offers: Cash Card Boosts offer rotating instant cashback offers for select restaurants and retailers
  • Biggest pro: Some Boosts can be for 15% back or more
  • Biggest con: Number of active Boosts is limited
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

One fairly unique way to earn cash back is via Square’s Cash Card. If you’re not familiar, the Cash App is a free peer to peer payment app akin to Venmo. Users of the Cash App can also request a free debit card that will be linked to their Cash account. While that part’s simple enough, where the Cash Card shines is in the Boosts it offers.

By visiting the debit card section of the Cash app, you can browse and activate various Boosts — or cashback offers. As I write this, there happens to be a particularly good selection of Boosts available, including 15% off DoorDash, 10% of a purchase at any grocery store, 20% off Lyft, 15% off at any restaurant, and more. That said, these offers do rotate and are typically more brand specific than this current crop would suggest. Additionally, Boosts can only be redeemed one at a time, so you’ll need to remember to add a new one once you’ve redeemed another. Nevertheless, this can be a great hack for earning cash back. Plus, your savings are immediately deducted from your charge and reflected in your balance right away (although you will need to ensure that your card has enough funds to cover the entire purchase before the Boost is factored in).

Pay with GasBuddy

  • What it offers: Discounted gas at the pump as well as GasBack offers
  • Biggest pro: Free users save 5¢ per gallon at most gas stations
  • Biggest con: The card can only be used at stations and nowhere else
  • Have I personally used it?: Yes

Finally, in another twist on cashback, the Pay with GasBuddy card offers instant savings at thousands of gas stations across the country. As a free user, you’ll get 5¢ off the stated price per gallon while Premium members can save as much as 25¢ per gallon. While GasBuddy casts a wide net and is accepted at most stations, some notable exceptions include superstores like Costco and Sam’s Club as well as Exxon Mobil and a few others. Something else to note is that the Pay with GasBuddy card is not a full-fledged debit card and is not accepted outside of the participating gas stations.

In addition to the regular per-gallon savings, GasBuddy also offers GasBack deals. When you use the GasBuddy app to shop at online retailers, you’ll earn a percentage of your purchase in GasBack. Then, you can automatically redeem this balance when you fill up using your Pay with GasBuddy card. Alternatively, you can transfer you GasBack balance to a gift card or donate it to the Feeding America charity.

Tips for Using Cash Back Apps

Don’t shop just to earn rewards

First and foremost, if you’re making purchases just to earn cash back, you’re doing it wrong! Even if you get 10% back in rewards, you’re still wasting 90% on something you don’t need. Instead, be sure to do your research to find the best product and then compare your options when it comes to retailers and deals. Similarly, while emails and push alerts informing you about enhanced offers can be helpful if you have your eye on an item, they can also inspire impulse shopping — so opt-into them sparingly if you’re susceptible.

Remember the “last click” rule

Something important to note about several of the tools listed above is that they cannot be used together. For example, if you have multiple browser extensions installed, only the last link you click will be the one that counts. This is because more cashback sites are only able to pass along rewards to you because they’re getting a commission from the retailer. Thus, four different sites can’t all claim the same sale.

To combat this, I’d advise that you either leave your favorite cashback tool installed in your browser and only active the others on a case-by-case basis. That way, you’ll still be reminded about deals but won’t run into a situation where you redeem the wrong deal. Another way around this is to shop exclusively through mobile apps instead of your desktop browser so that you can’t make such mistakes — although I personally prefer the desktop shopping experience regardless of this small risk.

Look for stackable opportunities

Although you won’t be able to use many of these services at the same time, there are a few exceptions to this rule. As I noted earlier, I have been able to find in-store deals listed on both Rakuten and Dosh at the same time. Additionally, since Bumped goes by brand and not by purchase, it too can occasionally be used as a means of double-dipping. Meanwhile, even if you are using tools like Honey that will automatically search coupon codes for you, you may be able to find applicable promo codes that can save you money in addition to your cashback earnings. Finally, in all of these cases (except for the two debit card options), using a cashbook tool shouldn’t negate any rewards you earn from your credit card. So, with all that in mind, be sure to consider the full picture when deciding the best plan for a purchase.

Search for the best deal, but don’t spread rewards too thin

Lastly, since many of these tools feature different reward amounts at different times, it may be helpful to check a few of them before making your purchase. However, keep in mind that spreading your rewards across multiple platforms may actually make it more difficult to redeem your earnings. After all, while Rakuten only requires you to rack up $5 in rewards before you’ll get paid out, others insist that you amass the equivalent of $25 or more before you’ll be able to redeem for anything. This is why, once you get a feel for which services you personally like best, it’s probably a good idea to just stick to them and skip the rest.


As you can see, there’s certainly no shortage of cashback tools you can use to save. While some of these services may seem similar on the surface, each has something unique to offer — as well as some pros and cons. Hopefully this look at some of the top options can help you identify which of these cashback and rewards tools are the best for you and allow you to start saving money online, at the grocery store, and wherever else you shop.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at https://moneyat30.com/

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