There’s nothing like getting money for free, but it’s not a feeling most of us get to enjoy very frequently. If you’re ready to change that, you may want to try out a cash app. Cash apps give you money back for purchases you were going to make anyway. Some offer deals and discounts as well.
Below, you'll find our selections for the top cash-back apps of 2023. Keep reading to find the best options for your spending habits.
Our Top Picks for Best Cash-Back Apps
- Best for Cash Back on Gas: Upside
- Best for Receipt Scanning: Fetch Rewards
- Best for Grocery Shopping: Ibotta
- Best for Answering Surveys: Swagbucks
- Best for Digital Coupon Codes: Honey
Best Cash-Back Apps Reviews
- Most major gas companies are partner stations
- Includes a cheap gas finder
- Also offers cash back on some groceries and restaurants
- Lets shoppers "check in" to stores instead of submitting receipts
- Gas station partners are limited in some states
- Limited restaurant and grocery rewards
- Limits shoppers' ability to stack rewards to get more cash back
Why we chose it: Upside is a free app with an extensive list of gas station partners, including ExxonMobil and Chevron. It also offers some cash-back opportunities on groceries and restaurants.
Upside is one of the top cash-back apps for gas thanks to its long list of partners. You can fill up at almost any major station in the app’s territory and be eligible for rewards. That’s different from other gas-focused cash-back apps, which may only partner with one or two major gas stations.
Upside also gives you the opportunity to choose how you receive your rewards. You can select to receive gift cards for faster cash back, or to receive actual cash if that’s what you prefer. The app does have a redemption minimum of $10, but that’s on the lower side for the industry.
The main downside of Upside is its limited coverage in some states. It’s also primarily a gas cash-back app, even though it offers a handful of reward opportunities for other types of shopping. But all in all, you can use this app to get cash back on the gas you were already going to buy at most major stations.
- Shop at any store and get rewarded
- Upload receipts instantly to the app
- Accepts electronic and paper receipts
- Features daily bonus reward items
- Rewards can only be redeemed via gift cards
- Point rewards are often small for each transaction
Why we chose it: Fetch Rewards gives you gift card rewards for shopping at any retailer. It’s 100% free to use and is one of the only apps that rewards you for shopping at any store.
Fetch Rewards may be the best cash-back app for receipt scanning on the market today. You can be eligible for rewards whether you go to a restaurant, buy a suit or purchase the latest video game online. There are no deals you need to activate or partner brands you need to shop with. However, you can make extra points by shopping with Fetch partner brands. In all cases, just make your purchase and upload the receipts to start earning.
You can also use Fetch in combination with other receipt cash-back apps. For example, Ibotta is another one of the best apps for cash back on receipts. You can upload your purchases to it and Fetch and receive double the rewards.
The main downside to this app is that it only allows you to redeem your rewards for gift cards, not cash. Additionally, it takes 1,000 points to earn $1, and you may need as many as 25,000 points to redeem the gift card you want, which means it can take time to see the benefits of using the app.
- Simple, easy-to-use app interface
- Offers cash payouts
- Has partnerships with more than 2,000 online and brick-and-mortar retailers
- There are no service fees, and the app is free to download
- $20 minimum cash-out amount
- You have to submit a receipt or link a store account to get rewards
Why we chose it: Ibotta offers cash-back on a wide variety of grocery products, including everyday staples such as bananas and milk. It also offers rewards for online shoppers, giving users multiple ways to earn.
Ibotta offers rewards on groceries from major retailers such as Target, Walmart, Amazon and Home Depot, among many others. You can browse the app to find reward offers on items you were planning on purchasing anyway. Once you make the purchase, you'll need to submit a receipt or link your store account to earn the reward.
Some cash-back apps for groceries only offer in-store rewards, but Ibotta will also reward you for your online shopping. It has a $20 minimum payout, which can take time to reach. But you can take the reward in cash and will typically receive your money within one to three days of making the request.
- Many different ways to earn rewards
- Has an easy-to-use site and browser extension
- Offers rewards for qualifying in-store purchases as well
- Has daily tasks you can complete to multiply reward earnings
- Some tasks require a lot of work for minimal points
- Users report poor customer service and slow payout times
Why we chose it: Swagbucks will pay you to complete surveys, play games, watch videos and browse the internet. You can use it to earn money by completing the online activities you already enjoy doing.
Swagbucks is an online search engine and browser extension that rewards users with points. You can redeem these points for online purchases and cash. You can earn points in many different ways, including by completing surveys, searching for things online and making the purchases you were already planning on making. The variety of reward-earning opportunities can make it easier to earn money faster.
The downside with Swagbucks is that you often need to spend a considerable amount of time on a survey, game or video just to earn a minimal amount of points. It can take a long time to earn a meaningful amount if you’re not also using Swagbucks to make sponsored purchases.
- Automatically finds you the best deals on the products you want to buy
- Supports many large websites, including Amazon
- Honey Gold gives you reward points to redeem for gift cards
- Also available through a mobile app so you can continue saving while shopping on your phone
- Minimal customer support
- Often shows coupons that have already expired
Why we chose it: Honey is a free browser extension and mobile app that automatically finds you the best digital coupon codes. You can use it to immediately save money while shopping online.
Many cash-back apps only give you rewards for qualifying purchases after you have already spent the money. Honey does things differently. It automatically scans the internet to find the best digital coupon codes and shares them with you before you checkout. That way, you get access to instant cash savings on the products you were already going to purchase.
The app and extension also have useful features, such as a price history tool showing you how a product’s cost has evolved over time. You can also sign up for Honey Gold, which offers reward points for qualifying purchases you can add up and redeem for gift cards, similar to how other cash-back apps work.
The only major downsides to using Honey are the app’s minimal customer support and proclivity toward showing coupons that have already expired. But there are relatively small prices to pay for an app that can save you money automatically.
Other cash-back apps we considered
The list above features our top selections for cash-back apps across a variety of purchase categories and reward types. However, there are still other apps on the market that you may want to look into. With that in mind, here are a few more that were close to making the list.
- Offers rewards for both online and in-person shopping
- Earn rewards automatically without needing to submit a receipt
- Will pay you in cash through Venmo, PayPal or bank transfer
- There's no way to earn rewards when you pay with cash
- It can take as long as 90 days to verify your purchases
- Charges a $4.99 maintenance fee to inactive accounts
Dosh is another solid cash-back app with reward options for online and offline purchases. It stands out by giving you rewards automatically instead of asking you to submit receipts. However, the app didn’t make our list because it can take a long time to verify your purchases. It also doesn’t offer any reward-earning opportunities to users who pay with cash.
- Offers a browser extension to help you find savings opportunities
- Very easy to use with an app, website and browser extension to support your shopping
- Offers a generous reward program for referred users
- Only pays out once per quarter
- Most stores have plenty of items that are exempt from cash-back rewards
- Rakuten is allowed to shut down your account without warning, potentially before paying out your rewards
Rakuten is similar to Honey in that it has a browser extension, app and website that can all save you money. However, we didn’t add it to our list because it only pays users once per quarter, so it can take a long time to get the rewards you earn.
- You can often get rewards on a grocery product from any store that sells it
- You can sometimes use coupons while still earning rewards
- You can claim some offers more than once
- You have to manually add offers to get cash back
- There's a weekly receipt-uploading deadline
- Most new offers are only available for a week
Checkout 51 is a solid cash-back app for groceries that’s available in the United States and Canada. It can give you rewards for shopping at the grocery store you already use. However, it didn’t make our list because you have to manually add offers to get rewards and many new offers are only available for one week.
Cash-Back Apps Guide
Whether you're interested in the best cash-back credit cards or want to know if cash-back apps are worth it, this guide will help you find the best options for your goals. By the end, you'll know how these apps work and the different types of rewards you may be eligible to receive.
What are cash-back apps?
Cash-back apps give you money or rewards to exchange for cash when you make an eligible purchase. These purchases could come in the form of groceries, gas, online shopping, or other everyday purchases.
The companies that build these apps form partnerships with brands and retail stores. They act as a form of marketing for stores and products by giving shoppers direct incentives for making certain purchases.
Cash-back apps don't usually earn you a significant amount of money quickly. But if you use them consistently, your earnings will stack up over time. You could make hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a year.
How do cash-back apps work?
The concept of free apps that pay you to use them may sound too good to be true. But the apps on this list are legitimate businesses that do exactly that. So how does this work?
To get started, you'll usually need to create an account and download a mobile app or an extension for your web browser. Once you complete the account creation process, you can browse a list of active deals and begin shopping to earn rewards or instant savings.
For example, you can create an account with Honey and download the company's Chrome web browser extension. Then, each time you visit a company's partner stores, you will get an alert about active deals.
Other apps work differently. Fetch Rewards allows you to upload physical and online receipts for purchases that you already made. If those receipts contain a qualifying item, you'll receive a reward no matter where you made the purchase.
Apps offering after-purchase rewards and savings typically require you to reach a certain threshold before withdrawing your earnings. Once you have met the threshold, you can withdraw either the cash balance of your earnings or a gift card in the same amount.
Cash-back apps don't usually offer the opportunity to earn significant rewards weekly. But you may earn several hundred dollars back over the course of a year just by purchasing gas, groceries and other products that you were going to buy anyway.
Types of cash-back apps
There are plenty of different ways to earn money through these applications. Here are some of the main categories of cash-back apps you may benefit from using.
Some cash-back apps offer direct cash rewards for making eligible purchases. Honey and Rakuten are two examples of this. Honey offers upfront cash rewards by giving you access to discounts at major online retailers. Rakuten gives you cash back after making eligible purchases and pays out once every quarter.
Cash rewards are more convenient than other rewards because you don't need to worry about collecting points or cashing them out for a gift you will actually use. But direct cash rewards are also relatively rare.
Many apps covered throughout this guide reward you with points rather than direct cash payouts. Swagbucks and Fetch Rewards are two examples of this type of cash-back app.
You can exchange your reward points for cash or gift cards of a similar value. There's often a cash equivalent of an app's reward points that you can use to track your earnings. For example, Fetch Rewards pays $1 for every 1,000 points you earn.
Receipt scanning is a common requirement of grocery cash-back apps. It's a style of app that asks you to submit your receipts after you've made a purchase. You can typically do this through the mobile app itself.
Once you submit a receipt, the app will automatically scan it to let you know whether any items you purchased qualify for rewards. If they did, you'll receive the cash value of those rewards or points to redeem for cash and gift cards.
Card-linked cash-back apps
Finally, there are also card-linked cash-back apps. These ask you to link your credit or debit card to an app so that your purchases can automatically be scanned for qualifying deals as soon as you make them.
Dosh is an excellent example of this style of app. It allows you to link your credit card, make purchases at various retailers and watch the reward points accumulate in your account automatically.
However, it's essential to be careful when using card-linked cash-back apps. You have to provide your card information to the app to get started. You should only do that if you're confident that a legitimate company made the app. Otherwise, you could be vulnerable to scams.
How to choose the best cash-back app
Nowadays, there are many different cash-back apps on the market, and it can be challenging to zero in on the best option. You can follow these steps to start making some progress.
1. Identify your major expense categories
A good place to begin is by identifying your biggest opportunities to earn cash back. These will typically come from your most frequent expense categories.
For example, everyone buys groceries consistently. Most people purchase gas frequently, as well. But you may have other common expenses that are also eligible for cash-back opportunities, such as materials for a business or restaurant orders.
Once you know what you're consistently spending money on, you can look for cash-back apps that reward that type of spending. That way, you get access to as many rewards as possible without significantly altering your shopping habits.
2. Decide how you want to receive rewards
The next thing you can do is consider how you would prefer to receive rewards. This may help you decide between several cash-back apps that reward the same type of spending.
One question you may need to ask at this point is how you feel about payment speed versus type. For example, reward points often accumulate instantly and can be redeemed for cash the moment you have enough.
However, direct cash rewards may take longer to accumulate. Some apps, such as Rakuten, only pay them once every quarter. If you're okay with receiving gift cards and reward points instead of cash, you can get the funds you earn faster. But this is a trade-off based on your personal preference.
3. Look for opportunities to stack rewards
At this point, you should have a general idea of the apps that will be the best fit for your shopping habits and reward preferences. Before making a final decision, consider opportunities for reward stacking.
Reward stacking means earning the same reward twice by submitting the same purchase to multiple apps. This can double your earnings without requiring any extra spending. Some apps only allow you to submit a purchase to them, while others let you submit the purchase to as many cash-back apps as you want.
The better the rewards an app offers may offset its lack of reward-stacking opportunities. But it's a factor to consider as you continue looking for the right app.
One other thing to note is whether a cash-back app works with a store's loyalty card. If you can earn rewards through a store's internal loyalty program and a cash-back app, you could receive even more rewards.
Cash-Back Apps FAQ
What is the best cash-back app?
That said, the best cash-back app for you will depend on how you shop and what you want to earn rewards on. For example, Ibotta is one of the best cash-back grocery apps. But Upside has better savings opportunities for gas purchases. Using multiple cash-back apps for different purposes may help you increase your savings.
How do cash-back apps make money?
Brands make these deals as a form of marketing. Shoppers may decide to purchase an item at one store over another because of its inclusion in a cash-back app. This brings more revenue to the store and allows you to save money.
How much cash back can you get from cash-back apps?
How We Chose the Best Cash-Back Apps
When evaluating the best cash-back apps, the Money team considered the following factors:
- Ease of use: How easy is it to set up an account and begin earning rewards?
- Availability of deals and coupons: How many businesses participate in these rewards, or how often can the app provide you with money-saving coupons?
- Payment methodology (such as direct cash, gift cards and points): Does the app provide multiple payment options that suit your preferences?
- Verified user-submitted reviews: What do real users have to say about the app?
- Limitations and exclusions: What kinds of issues may pop up that could limit your rewards?
- Payment timelines: How often can you get paid? Does the company limit this in any way?
These factors may or may not cover everything that matters to you when choosing a cash-back app. You should conduct further research to find the app that best aligns with your shopping habits and financial goals.