Updated November 2022
Ever wondered what the best cash back apps are and how they work?
It takes money to make money. I like to earn money back when spending money I’d be spending anyway. I do this by using a variety of cash back apps when shopping on and offline.
What’s the catch?
Well, in exchange for loyalty points or straight-up cash, you’re handing over your valuable data to the companies that make these apps. You’re sharing what you buy, when you buy and how much you spend … information companies are obviously willing to pay you for! If you use a loyalty card from any retailer, you’re basically doing the same thing.
My life is an open book, so I don’t really care who knows how often I’ve hit up McDonald’s in the past month, and if I’m getting another Filet-O-Fish meal while the twins sleep in the van, I may as well get a few cents on the dollar while I’m at it.
Here are the cash back apps I’ve been successfully using, and how to use them. It’s even possible to stack the cash back if you play your cards right!
Note that the sign-up links below are all “referral links,” which earn me some points or pennies if you create accounts. If you have friends or family members already using these apps, ask them for their referral links if you want to help them out!
Update, November 2022: So sad I stopped using Caddle! I am now realizing I could’ve been earning points on all my grocery receipts for the past few years since I deleted it!
I’ve tried a couple of couponing apps and found that the coupons were never for things I actually bought. What I like about Caddle is that you can earn cash back for doing really fast surveys or watching brief commercials, so you can earn cash without even spending a dime.
The items eligible for coupons correspond much more frequently to items I actually buy compared to the similar Checkout 51 app.
There are usually generic, staple items up for cash back each week, such as carrots or eggs, along with the “branded” coupons. Most weeks you can earn fifty cents by uploading any Costco receipt (for $5 or more, although you should get a prize if you’ve managed to go to Costco and spend less than $5).
You don’t have to remember to present a coupon at the time of purchase: to earn your cashback, you upload a picture of your receipt.
Update, November 2022: I finally got back into using Swagbucks! So much online shopping donein the last few years without collecting points. Recently scored $25 Amazon card though and I am back on the cash-back train!
If you’re like me and get excited when it’s a census year and you get the long-form census, then Swagbucks is for you!
Download their app and take surveys for points, called Swagbucks. Swagbucks can then be redeemed for gift certificates to your favourite shops.
The surveys are listed by how long they’ll take to complete, so if you’re killing time waiting for the kids to get out of class or you’re up in the middle of the night nursing, you can also be earning! Take a split second daily survey and earn one Swagbuck, plus see how your opinion compares to other users.
You can also earn Swagbucks for shopping at a huge selection of online retailers, for installing the Swagbucks search bar in your internet browser and for entering special offer codes that pop up on Swagbucks’ social media accounts.
Any time I need to make an online purchase, I check my Swagbucks app on my phone or the Swagbucks.com on desktop and make sure I click through to the online store via the app or website.
If you like the chance to earn points without spending any money, then Swagbucks is a better bet for you than E-Bates/Rakuten.
Update, November 2022: I have forgotten all about E-Bates, like Swagbucks, for a long time. Currently focusing on earning the Swagbucks.
E-Bates is very similar to Swagbucks but without the surveys and other ways of earning points. Points are exclusively for making purchases, and there are often promotions by certain sites that offer a higher percent of cashback. (Like 4% instead of 1% around Black Friday and Boxing Day!) You earn cashback by clicking through to affiliated online retailers via the E-Bates app or website, and that cash back is deposited periodically into your PayPal account or sent to you as a cheque by snail mail.
If you don’t think you’ll bother doing surveys or entering secret codes, I’d choose E-Bates over Swagbucks.
(Earn $40 cash back using my referral link)
Update, November 2022: I completely forgot about this app too. I reinstalled it and it looks like the app doesn’t communicate with my bank anymore so it’s a bust for me.
Drop is the easiest of all my cashback apps to use because once you’ve linked your credit and debit cards to it and activated your offers, the work is done. You do not have to upload anything or present anything at the store.
The app tracks your shopping through your credit and debit accounts, so any time you use your payment cards at affiliated retailers, you earn.
When you first sign up, you get to choose your “power offers,” which are the retailers where you will always earn points when shopping with one of your linked cards. There are also offers from myriad retailers (truly something for everyone) that you simply activate before shopping online or in store.
Drop encrypts your financial data and uses “industry leading security” to make sure the information shared with Drop isn’t vulnerable to interception. Your credit and debit card login credentials are not stored anywhere on Drop’s servers. Learn more about Drop’s security measures.
You can cash in your Drop points for gift cards to Amazon, Starbucks, Cineplex and more.
Use my referral link and get $5 worth of Drop points!
Double, Triple or Quadruple Dip
I recently joined an amazing Facebook group full of folks who are experts at maximizing their PC Optimum points.
I’ve always collected PC points, but I have since learned that I have been missing out on a whole lot of points (that equal cash at either Super Store or Shopper’s Drug Mart) by not paying attention to bonus point offers and redemption events.
Even without ANY strategy, I have always been happy with the points I accumulate and use as cash on our grocery bill. We buy a lot of groceries so earning cashback on that adds up very quickly.
But now that I am maximizing my points and redemptions, and back on the cash-back-train, MAMA IS IN BUSINESS!
And lest we forget the McDonald’s points app. We buy meals for the whole family AND I earn enough points to pay for a treat for myself later! PC Optimum often ofters extra points on the purchase of McDonald’s gift cards, for example, earn 5000 points for every $50 spent. (A value of $5.) So you could earn points back from McDonalds and PC Optimum when you rack up the Happy Meals!
Most credit cards also offer some type of reward. We use a WestJet Mastercard and have paid for many, many flights using the points we earn on what we already buy.