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

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GetUpside is a cash back app that is best known for offering cash back at certain gas stations (along with some restaurants and grocery stores). Any savings are welcome these days. Nationally, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas was $4.009 on March 6, the highest in 14 years, according to AAA. In California, it’s an all-time record of over $5 per gallon. Unfortunately, it’s likely headed even higher due to the Russia/Ukraine conflict and a broader spike in inflation that was already the worst in 40 years.

GetUpside’s 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 gas, dining 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 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 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.

Gas stations

In my area (a suburb of New York City), GasBuddy data and my personal experience indicate a good price for a gallon of regular gas is around $4.25. GetUpside is advertising an 11-cent discount off a $3.79 per-gallon price a few miles from my house. That sounded too good to be true, so I drove to the station to check it out. Sure enough, the price was actually $4.69 per gallon!

I visited another gas station touting 15 cents off $4.33 per gallon via GetUpside. The actual price was again higher than the app promised, but only by six cents this time. I elected not to fill up since I could have gotten a similar price at my usual station without the hassle of uploading a receipt and waiting to receive my cash back from GetUpside.

In general, gas rewards credit cards are my favorite tip for saving on gas purchases. I use the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which gives 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations. That’s solid, although not top of the line (my main reason for using that card is its exceptional 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets—on up to $6,000 in annual purchases, then 1 percent cash back after that).

Some popular cards which offer potentially higher gas rewards are the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, the Sam’s Club® Mastercard® and the Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card.

I also like to stack my credit card rewards with gas stations’ loyalty programs whenever possible. Most of the major gas brands have apps that reduce the price by 5 to 10 cents per gallon on top of the credit card rewards you earn. However, you can’t fully combine them with GetUpside discounts. GetUpside says other discounts (aside from credit card rewards) reduce your GetUpside discount by 3.5 cents per gallon.

Restaurants

In my 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

Grocery stores

I was excited when I first heard 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. It also concerns me that the app isn’t showing the latest gas prices. While you might fare better, my opinion is that GetUpside 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.