For years, coupons have been Americans’ favorite way to save money, but we get it: Sometimes you just don’t have time to scour weekly ads and carefully cut (or, ahem, rip) out each deal.
Luckily, we have cash-back apps and websites these days, which allow you to make money back on in-store and/or online purchases every time you go to Target or Walmart.
No need to print out coupons or keep binders of store ads — you just need your phone or computer.
But with so many cash-back options on the market, it can be difficult to find apps that specifically cater to your shopping needs. That’s why we rounded up four of our favorites to help you get started.
You might feel a little overwhelmed with options. That’s normal.
Here’s what we suggest: Sign up for one or two of these apps. Use them for a couple of weeks and see how much extra cash you earn. If you find they’re not suiting your normal shopping habits, then explore another option.
Ebates is the perfect cash-back site for online shoppers who want to automatically earn up to 40% back on purchases — without hunting down valid coupon codes. (But if you’re into those, you can do some serious deal stacking.)
Ebates will pay you up to 5% cash back on purchases at Walmart and 1% cash back on purchases at Target.
Pros: It takes about one minute to sign up for Ebates, then you’re poised to earn cash back from more than 2,500 retailers, including Amazon, Madewell, Travelocity, Target and Walmart.
Cons: You can’t choose when you want to cash out, but Ebates will automatically mail you a check every three months (February, May, August and November) as long as you’ve earned $5.
Payment method: Receive a check via mail each quarter, once you’ve earned $5.
Available via desktop, iOS and Android.
Sign-up bonus: Get a $10 bonus when you spend $25 within 90 days of opening your account.
If you find yourself grocery shopping every other day, you’ll want Ibotta in your back pocket. Download the app, claim cash-back offers and take a photo of your receipt. It pairs with a number of major grocery stores and chains, including CVS, Kroger, Publix, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart.
Pros: The Ibotta app is easy to get the hang of. Plus, you can find cash-back offers for “any item” and “any brand,” which allows for more earning opportunities. It’s also more than a grocery app; you can earn cash back from online stores, too.
Cons: Like other cash-back apps, it’s easy to get wrapped up into buying the promoted products that offer you more money back — but aren’t necessarily a great deal. (Read more about cash-back best practices below.)
Payment method: Once you create an Ibotta account and earn $20, cash out via PayPal, Venmo or gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart.
Available via iOS and Android.
Sign-up bonus: Snag a $20 sign-up bonus after redeeming 10 offers within 14 days of creating your account.
Shopkick differs from the other apps on this list in that you don’t have to make a single purchase to start earning points (or kicks). Just walk into stores and scan items’ barcodes. Of course, you’ll earn more points when you make purchases with a connected card (online or in store) or snap photos of qualifying receipts.
Pros: Because you can earn points just for walking into stores and scanning items’ barcodes (some users say it’s fun — like a scavenger hunt), you won’t be tempted to overspend with the Shopkick app. You can also earn kicks when online shopping.
Cons: There are so many different ways to earn points, it can take a couple of weeks to get in the habit of using Shopkick when you’re running errands.
Payment method: Exchange points for gift cards to popular retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart. With 500 kicks, you can snag a $2 gift card.
Available via iOS and Android.
4. Fetch Rewards
We’ll just say it: The Fetch Rewards app is best for lazy savers. Or maybe you’re so busy you can’t even plan your next shopping trip; you just squeeze them in when you have five minutes. With Fetch, you’ll earn rewards when you simply take a photo of your receipt — any receipt.
Pros: Fetch is super easy to use. There’s no scanning barcodes or hunting down specific brands. You take a photo of literally any receipt (within 14 days of your purchase), whether you grabbed lunch at your local deli or overspent at Target. Again.
Cons: You’ll need to earn 3,000 points to cash out for a $10 gift card, and if you’re taking a photo of a lunch receipt, you might only earn about five points (at least that was our experience). However, you can earn up to 2,000 points if you buy featured products, which you’ll find listed in the app.
Payment method: Earn points, then cash out for a gift card to a number of retailers, including Amazon, Panera Bread, Target and Walmart.
Available via iOS and Android.
Sign-up bonus: Enter code PENNY to earn 2,000 free points.
Pro Tips To Maximize Your Cash-Back Rewards
So now you know: Cash-back apps are a great way to pocket extra cash. But you also have to learn to use them responsibly. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the shininess of earning money back — even if you’re spending unnecessarily.
To help you use cash-back apps responsibly, here are a few of our favorite tips:
Read the offer’s fine print. Make sure you’re purchasing the correct brand and quantity. For example, you might only earn $3 back when you buy a 32-ounce jar of peanut butter — not the 16-ounce one.
Before purchasing a specific item to pocket the cash back, compare prices of other brands. Also take into consideration any coupons. Some simple math will help you determine what’s the best deal.
Learn how to deal stack with your go-to cash-back app. For example, if you use Ibotta, apply any in-store coupons to your purchase first. Then you can still get your Ibotta cash back. Or if you’re shopping online with Ebates, know you can still apply promo codes to your purchase.
If you’re not sure which cash-back app has the best deals for your most frequented retailers, use a site like Cashback Monitor to do a quick comparison.
When you sign up for many of these cash-back apps and sites, you’ll automatically opt in to promotional emails from that app. Go ahead and find that small “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the email — that way you’re not tempted to spend unnecessarily.
If you’re finding yourself purchasing items just because you’ll get cash back, write up your shopping list, fill your cart, then see if any of the items you’re purchasing qualify for a cash-back deal. Now you won’t get suckered into buying a $5 container of fancy Icelandic yogurt just because you’ll get 50 cents back.
All right. Now that you know the ins and outs of these handy mobile apps, it’s time to earn extra money — or an Amazon gift card. Let us know what’s your favorite!
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a personal finance writer at Codetic. She loves the thrill of using cash-back apps.