Key takeaways

  • Shoppers have numerous options for earning cash back on their everyday purchases via a cash back app.
  • By pairing a top cash back credit card with the benefits of a cash back app, you have the opportunity to save even more money while shopping.
  • Some apps also offer additional features such as price comparisons, coupon codes and price drop alerts to help you save even more money.

If you want to earn cash back on your purchases, you might already have one of the best cash back rewards credit cards in your wallet. But have you also tried using one of the best cash back apps?

Pairing a top cash back credit card with a popular cash back app can help you save money on groceries, clothing, restaurants and more. And, some of the best cash back apps automatically search for coupon codes, send price drop alerts or help you earn cash back through your store loyalty accounts.

But which cash back apps are best for you? Whether you want to earn cash back on groceries, save money when you travel or use your cash back app to compare prices online, the apps outlined below can help you save, earn and get even more out of your shopping.

Rakuten: Best for shopping

If you want to start using one of the best cash back apps for shopping, it may be worth it to sign up with Rakuten. This popular cash back app, formerly known as Ebates, gives you cash back when you shop at over 2,500 popular retailers. You can use Rakuten’s Double Cash Back deals to earn even more cash on your purchases or combine cash back offers with Rakuten coupons to save money as you earn.

To earn cash back with Rakuten, open the Rakuten app, install the Rakuten browser extension or visit the Rakuten website. Select a retailer, click through the Rakutan link and then shop as usual. Rakuten will automatically apply the cash back you’ve earned to your account, and you can receive payment through PayPal or a mailed check. Rakuten pays out every three months, which is probably its biggest drawback. If you’re hoping to get paid every week, it’s probably not the best cash back app for you.

On the plus side, Rakuten typically offers a welcome bonus just for signing up. And if you have an eligible American Express credit card, the cash back you earn on Rakuten can be turned into Membership Rewards points.

Capital One Shopping: Best for price comparisons

Want to know if you’re getting the best price on something? Capital One Shopping searches thousands of merchants to connect you with the best deals on whatever it is you’re planning to buy. When you’re ready to make your purchase, Capital One Shopping automatically searches for valid coupon codes that might help you save even more.

Or, if you want to wait on your purchase until the next big sale, Capital One Shopping can send you price drop alerts. And if you make a purchase right before the price drops, Capital One Shopping will automatically file a price protection claim on your behalf and try to get some of your money back.

To use Capital One Shopping, download the browser extension or install the app. You don’t need a Capital One account to use Capital One Shopping, either. You simply install, activate and shop as usual, and Capital One Shopping will automatically search for deals and coupon codes to help you maximize your online shopping.

You can also earn Shopping Rewards for select purchases. These rewards can only be redeemed for gift cards, which is probably Capital One Shopping’s biggest drawback — but if you want to earn a little extra money as you compare prices and track the best deals, Capital One Shopping might be right for you.

Ibotta: Best for groceries

Want to earn cash back when you shop for groceries? Ibotta has you covered. Although Ibotta offers cash back on purchases with many different brands and retailers, it stands out as one of the best cash apps for groceries — whether you like to do your shopping in-store or prefer to have it delivered.

To earn with Ibotta, you should start by downloading the app or installing the browser extension. Search Ibotta for cash back offers at your favorite retailers, as well as money-saving offers associated with your favorite brands and products. Activate your cash back offers if you’re shopping online, or add the offers you want to claim to your Ibotta shopping list if you’re planning to shop in-store. From there, shop as usual.

If you’re shopping online, any activated cash back offers will automatically be applied to your Ibotta account. If you’re shopping in person, you may need to upload your receipt to Ibotta before your cash back can be applied. Consider linking your store loyalty accounts to the Ibotta app, so Ibotta can automatically track your purchases and apply the cash back you’ve earned without requiring you to upload a receipt.

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Keep in mind: You have to activate Ibotta deals or add Ibotta offers to your shopping list before you can earn cash back. That extra step might be the biggest drawback of this popular cash back app.

Ibotta lets you withdraw your earnings as soon as you’ve earned $20 in cash back rewards, too. That alone can make this cash back app a standout compared to the other options.

Upside: Best for gas

If you make a lot of gas, grocery, restaurant or convenience store purchases, Upside may be able to help you earn cash back on these common everyday expenses.

Unlike some of the other cash back apps on our list, Upside is designed to be an app you use while you’re out and about, buying groceries or filling up your car. You won’t find online shopping opportunities with Upside, but you might find a few opportunities to save.

To use Upside, you’ll need to download the app, make an account and look for local offers. When you find a good deal, claim your offer and make your purchase. Confirm your purchase on the Upside app or upload your receipt, and your cash back will be applied to your Upside account. Your Upside cash back never expires and can be redeemed directly to your bank account or PayPal. You can also use your Upside cash back to purchase gift cards.

Dosh: Best for restaurants and travel

Do you spend a lot of time in restaurants and hotels? If so, you may want to sign up for Dosh, one of the best cash back apps for travelers. Like Ibotta, Dosh can help you earn cash back with many popular retailers — but its dining and hotel partnerships make it one of the best cash back apps for restaurants and those who want to earn rewards on travel.

To get started with Dosh, download the app and link your credit and debit cards. When you use a linked card to make a purchase at a retailer, restaurant or hotel that offers Dosh cash back, the money you’ve earned will automatically be added to your account. You can also shop major retailers and make hotel reservations directly through the Dosh app. Once you have a $15 balance, you can transfer your rewards to PayPal, Venmo or a linked bank account. You can even donate your cash back to charity.

But what’s Dosh’s biggest drawback? Actually, there are two. As of October 2023, Dosh doesn’t let you link Discover cards to your Dosh account — which could be a problem if you like to use the popular Discover it® Cash Back to earn rewards on your purchases.

The other major drawback is that people enrolled in hotel loyalty programs might not earn loyalty rewards points on their Dosh hotel reservations. If you want to ensure that you earn hotel loyalty rewards from a Dosh booking, Dosh recommends that you talk to the front desk and request that they add the rewards to your account.

RetailMeNot: Best for discounts

RetailMeNot’s biggest strength is its discounts. The app regularly offers deals for up to 60 percent off on popular brands like Pottery Barn and Carter’s. When you add RetailMeNot’s Deal Finder extension to your favorite browser, RetailMeNot will automatically find deals, coupons and cash back offers as you shop.

Unfortunately, RetailMeNot puts some limits on the amount of cash back rewards you can earn. You’re limited to seven rewards per retailer and 20 rewards total per month. Your cash back rewards can take up to 45 days to process, after which they can be redeemed through PayPal or Venmo. The cash back limits and processing times are the biggest drawbacks to this otherwise popular cash back app, but shoppers who want to search RetailMeNot for discounts or use the Deal Finder extension to take advantage of deals and coupons can still get a lot out of the service.

The bottom line

By pairing a cash back credit card with a cash back app, you can get more bang for the money you spend. You can get more deals on your everyday shopping, such as for groceries and gas, as well as for hotel stays and other shopping. Some apps will even notify you about upcoming deals. There are various such cash back apps and you can choose those that suit your spending patterns.