Is GetUpside a good way to save at restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores?

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GetUpside is a cash back app that recently added more than 1,000 restaurants to its platform. The app, which has been around for more than five years, is best known for offering cash back at certain gas stations. Some grocery stores offer deals on GetUpside, too.

The company’s co-founder and chief operating officer, Wayne Lin, told me that GetUpside has facilitated billions of dollars worth of transactions and has doubled its revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The promotions stack with your existing credit card rewards. Like store coupons, shopping portals, card-linked offers and other cash-back apps (such as Dosh and Ibotta), GetUpside is another way to save money. And when you combine multiple savings strategies on the same purchase, the 1 to 6 percent cash back that you can get on dining, gas and groceries with a rewards credit card is just the beginning.

The fine print

Even though GetUpside’s website touts relationships with national brands such as Shell, BP, Phillips 66, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and many others, it’s important to note that only some of these retailers’ locations offer cash back via GetUpside. And in my experience, it’s a distinct minority.

You might get lucky and find something that works for you. I’ve found that you’re more likely to strike gold with a restaurant deal than at a gas station or grocery store, but it depends. And it’s not just well-known franchises; many small local restaurants are on GetUpside, too. The app’s pitch to businesses is that it’s targeted advertising that increases sales and can be attributed to specific purchases.

If you see a deal that you like on the GetUpside app, you need to click “claim offer” before purchasing, and then you have four hours to make a purchase with a credit or debit card. After that, you need to upload a photo of the receipt. Once you receive your cash back, you can redeem it as often as you like, with no minimum redemption amount.

Restaurants

I live in a New York City suburb. In my local area, I can use GetUpside to earn 14 percent cash back at a neighborhood deli and 7 percent cash back at several other mom-and-pop restaurants (all of these rewards are capped at $10). None of my nearby Dunkin’ Donuts or Burger King franchisees appear to be offering deals.

Outside of New York, some of the more notable promotions that I was able to find include:

  • 50 percent cash back (up to $20) at an Arby’s in Delaware
  • 47 percent cash back (up to $10) at a diner in North Carolina
  • 37 percent cash back (up to $20) at a Burger King in Texas
  • 16 percent cash back (up to $10) at a coffee shop in California
  • 15 percent cash back (up to $10) at a seafood restaurant in Florida

Gas stations

In my area, GasBuddy data and my personal experience indicate that a good price for a gallon of regular gas is around $3.49. GetUpside is in that ballpark, but I would have to drive a few extra miles to find a participating station. And even then, I’d only get 5 cents off a $3.53 per gallon price, which wouldn’t be worth it. I could get 5 cents off a $3.45 per gallon by driving slightly farther than that, but burning more time and gas would essentially eliminate the benefit.

If you can find a nearby station with attractive pricing, your situation might be different. For most people, though, gas rewards credit cards and gas stations’ loyalty programs will probably be more lucrative. These loyalty programs often reduce the price by 5 to 10 cents per gallon on top of the credit card rewards you earn. However, you can’t combine them with GetUpside discounts.

Grocery stores

I was excited when I first heard that GetUpside offers cash back at grocery stores since food is one of my family’s most significant spending categories. But this is the most limited of GetUpside’s three classifications. I can’t find any participating merchants in my area.

Hopefully, you’ll have better luck. Piggly Wiggly, Gelson’s, Vicente Foods and Cardenas Markets are some of the grocery brands listed on GetUpside’s website. I found a couple of Cardenas Markets locations in the San Francisco Bay Area that advertise a whopping 23 and 21 percent cash back, respectively, but again the cap is just $10.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ll take a free 10 bucks, but my family often spends $300 per week on groceries, so I’d love to get 23 percent off that.

The bottom line

I don’t see a lot of savings opportunities when I peruse GetUpside’s available deals near me, but you might fare better. And hopefully, GetUpside will continue to add more participating merchants. It’s free for users, so there’s no downside to signing up. Right now, though, my opinion is that this sounds better than it really is.

Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at ted.rossman@bankrate.com and I’d be happy to help.