Top 5 Cash Back Apps for Earning Money When You Shop

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Cash back apps can be a simple way to save money on a variety of everyday purchases. Whether you're buying groceries, filling up your gas tank or picking out a new outfit, the cash back earnings can add up. Best of all, you can generally use coupons and discounts and still earn cash back.

How Do Cash Back Apps Work?

Cash back apps offer cash back on eligible purchases. However, offers, partners and requirements tend to differ by app.

For example, many apps ask you to take and submit a picture of your receipt with the app. But some let you link a card or store loyalty program and will then automatically check for eligible purchases. Apps may also have different redemption options and minimum balance requirements.

Below, we focus on apps that offer cash back for in-store purchases, although some have cash back offers for online or app-based purchases as well. There are also many non-app websites (sometimes called rewards or shopping portals) that you can use to earn cash back, points or miles when shopping online. Cashback Monitor has a directory you can search to find the current cash back rates at different portals.

Top 5 Cash Back Apps

To find the top cash back apps, we looked for popular free options that are available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. As of November 9, 2021, these five apps all have a 4.7 or higher rating based on at least 120,000 reviews in the Apple App Store.

Some of the most popular apps in related categories include coupon-focused apps, but we excluded those to focus on apps that you can use to earn cash back. We also excluded brand-specific apps and retailer apps that only offer cash back at associated stores.

1. Ibotta

Ibotta has a variety of cash back offers, many of which fall within the grocery and household goods categories. They may be for an exact amount (such as $1 cash back) or a percentage of the purchase amount. While many of the offers are for specific brand-name items or purchases at specific stores, there are "any item" and "any store" cash back offers as well.

Once you create an account, you can add offers to your account's lists, which sometimes requires watching a short ad or answering a survey question. To verify your purchase, you'll then upload a picture of your receipt and select the offers from your list—you may also need to scan items' barcodes to verify they match your offers.

Ibotta also partners with over 100 retailers to let you link your store loyalty account or card and automatically get cash back for the offers you added to your list. You can also earn cash back from select online purchases if you shop through the app or use the browser extension.

2. Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards lets you earn rewards points that you can then redeem for cash back or gift cards. You can earn 25 points (worth 2.5 cents) on any eligible store or restaurant receipt you upload with the app.

You'll earn additional points if you bought participating items—often groceries or consumer goods. You don't need to add offers to your account or verify the purchases by scanning barcodes, but the amount of points depends on how much you spend.

You can also earn points for online purchases by linking your Amazon account or email. From the Fetch Rewards app, you can then get points for electronic receipts from the previous 14 days from eligible retailers—including Walmart, Target and Costco—and Amazon orders that were shipped within 30 days. If you have a GoodRx account, you can also earn points for each prescription coupon you use.

3. GetUpside

The GetUpside app stands apart from some cash back apps with its gas station cash back offers. Using the app, you can look for participating gas stations and compare their cash back offers and total price per gallon.

Once you claim an offer, you may have a limited time to buy gas at the selected station. You may also need to use a debit or credit card to pay. To receive the cash back, you'll either check in once you're at the station or upload a picture of your receipt. (You can unclaim an offer as well if you decide to go somewhere else.)

The app also has grocery store and restaurant cash back offers that give you a percentage cash back once you upload a receipt from an eligible location. However, you may find there aren't as many offers or eligible stores as with cash back apps that focus more on groceries and everyday spending.

4. Dosh

Dosh is a cash back app that distinguishes itself with cash back offers for hotel stays. It also doesn't require you to upload any receipts. And while you can find cash back offers in the app, you don't need to add them to your account to earn the cash back.

Instead, you can link debit and credit cards to the app and automatically earn cash back when you make eligible purchases. The approach can make the app easier to use than some other cash back apps.

However, because there isn't a receipt uploading option, you won't be able to earn cash back if you pay with cash. Dosh also doesn't support certain cards, such as prepaid and department store credit cards.

5. Rakuten

The Rakuten app is another card-linked cash back app. It doesn't have as many in-store offers as other cash back apps, but the card-linked approach could make it easy to set up and use.

To earn cash back, you can add an American Express, Mastercard or Visa credit or debit card to your account. With debit cards, you'll need to select the "credit" option and not use your PIN when checking out.

Once you add a card to your account, you can review the current cash back rates (as a percentage of the purchase amount), and link them to your cards. You'll then automatically earn the cash back when you make eligible purchases at the stores.

Rakuten also has a lot of online cash back offers, including for travel and vacation purchases, which you can access through the site or a browser extension.

Stack Your Cash Back

In some cases, you can use the same receipt or purchase to get cash back from multiple apps. However, some cash back and rewards programs use the same behind-the-scenes service provider, which can limit your stacking options.

For example, many airline and hotel loyalty dining rewards programs and some cash back apps use the same company for card-linked offers. While you can sign up for multiple programs, you might only be able to link your card to one program at a time.

But even if you can only use one cash back app, you can often stack coupons, discounts and other sales to save more money. Additionally, you can earn cash back, points or miles with a rewards credit card. If you're not sure which card to get, you can use Experian CreditMatchTM to get personalized credit card offers.