Key takeaways

  • Cash back sites give you money for shopping at the retailers they recommend to you, and those retailers then pay those cash back sites for their referrals.
  • These sites offer plenty of savings across many different categories, including travel, grocery spending and online shopping.
  • To maximize the rewards you get from a cash back site, consider paying for your purchases with a points, travel or cash back credit card that matches your category spending on the site.

Are you interested in earning cash back on your everyday purchases? Many credit cards offer cash back rewards on groceries, gas, streaming services and more — but you might not realize that you can earn even more cash on your purchases if you combine a high-earning cash back credit card with a top cash back app.

How do cash back sites work? When you use cash back sites to shop for clothes, order grocery delivery or book hotel reservations, you earn a percentage of cash back on your purchases. Some cash back apps also run price comparisons, track price drops or connect you with coupons that can save you even more as you shop.

What are the best cash back sites for earning money? How do cash back sites make money? Let’s take a look at how cash back sites work and how you can get the best cash back sites to work for you.

What are cash back sites?

Cash back sites are exactly what they sound like — websites and apps that help you earn cash back on your purchases. However, the benefits of cash back sites don’t stop there. The best cash back services also provide additional money-saving tools, such as price tracking, price comparisons and the ability to quickly scan the web for coupons.

While most cash back sites are connected to a variety of participating retailers and offer deals on everything from restaurants to baby gear, some of the best cash back sites are known for connecting shoppers with exceptional deals in a specific shopping category. Ibotta, for example, is an excellent cash back app for people who want to save money on groceries. If you are looking for online shopping deals, you’ll want to install the Rakuten shopping extension on your desktop browser. Spend a lot of money on hotels? Sign up for Dosh.

How do cash back sites work?

Cash back sites give you the opportunity to earn a small percentage of cash back on qualifying purchases made through the site or app. Once your cash back earnings hit a certain amount, you’re able to withdraw the money into a bank account or have your payout sent to a financial service like PayPal.

How do you find qualifying purchases? In some cases, you’ll use the cash back site or mobile app to browse available products and deals. In other cases, you can install a desktop app or browser extension that notifies you of potential deals as you shop.

Some cash back apps even offer price comparison services to ensure you’re getting the item you want at the lowest price possible.

Where does the money come from?

How can cash back sites afford to pay out all of that cash? The answer is simple: referrals.

Every time you use a cash back app to make a purchase, a retailer gets paid — and since retailers know the value of gaining new customers and maintaining loyal ones, they are more than happy to pay cash back sites in exchange for sending shoppers their way.

This is also why cash back apps highlight featured deals and nudge you to consider certain products. These sites not only want you to save money, but they also want to make money by connecting you to retailers and brands.

How to maximize the use of cash back sites

If you want to maximize the cash back you earn with a top cash back app, make sure you’re also using a top cash back credit card or other rewards credit card to pay for your purchases. That way, you earn rewards twice — once from your credit card and once from your cash back app.

It’s also best to have a strategy behind your spending. Some cash back sites are better suited for certain purchases than others, so pairing the right credit card with each site you use will likely net you more rewards in the long run.

The best cash back sites

Ready to use cash back sites to earn extra money? Start by signing up for one of these top picks — or read our guide to the best cash back apps for even more options.

Rakuten: Best for shopping

Rakuten offers cash back deals at more than 3,500 popular retailers. Use the Rakuten website or app to find online and in-store deals at Walmart, Nike, Sephora and more. And don’t forget to take advantage of Double Cash Back offers, BOGOs and other exclusive deals.

Want to earn even more cash back with Rakuten? Add the Rakuten Cash Back Button to your desktop browser and let Rakuten find the deals as you shop. The Cash Back Button automatically scans for coupons, runs price comparisons and alerts you whenever Rakuten Cash Back is available.

Because Rakuten offers so many different types of items, pairing this site with a flat-rate cash back credit card might be best. With the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, for example, you can earn 2 percent cash back on all purchases, no matter the type.

Ibotta: Best for groceries

Like Rakuten, Ibotta offers cash back deals at a variety of popular retailers — but some of its best deals are for people who want to save money on groceries. Not only does Ibotta offer cash back rebates on popular grocery brands like Kellogg’s and Tree Top, but you can also get cash back deals that apply to entire categories of food or drink.

Ibotta even allows you to connect your grocery loyalty accounts directly to the app, streamlining your shopping and speeding up the cash back rebate process. Prefer to have your groceries delivered? Grocery shoppers get exclusive offers when they shop grocery pickup and delivery services like Walmart Grocery and Shipt.

Paying for your groceries with a card that has a high rewards rate for grocery store spending will net you more cash back on top of what Ibotta gives you. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a great option since it offers 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent).

Dosh: Best for travel

Earning cash back with Dosh is easy — all you have to do is link your credit or debit card, then shop as usual. When you make a purchase at a retailer that offers Dosh cash back, the money will automatically be added to your account. If you want to browse for deals before you shop, use the Dosh app to search for the best cash back offers.

You can also use the Dosh app to book hotel reservations, which is what really sets Dosh apart from its competitors. Dosh offers up to 40 percent cash back at over 600,000 popular hotels around the world, and you can continue to earn cash back as you shop at local restaurants and stores. If you do a lot of travel, Dosh is ready to help you to earn cash back as you go.

A travel credit card that earns cash back, points or miles on hotel purchases would go best with this site. You can use the Citi Premier® Card (No longer available) and get 3X Citi ThankYou Points on hotel and air travel purchases.

The bottom line

Cash back sites spend money to make money because stores pay a commission to the cash back site that is then shared with you, the shopper. It may seem too good to be true, but cash back sites can be worth it if you are consistent and don’t just use it as an excuse to shop. Plus, by paying for your purchases with a rewards credit card that matches your category spending, you’ll get the chance to push your savings even further.