Last week we touched on the topic of money-saving mobile apps and even got a glimpse into Ike’s massive spreadsheet that he uses to track his earnings from various apps. Which free cash back apps are some of the most user-friendly, and what kind of information do they gather about you and your shopping habits? Let’s take a look.
Top cash back apps
1. Receipt Hog
This app lets you snap pictures of your receipts for cash back. Since I’ve had Receipt Hog, they’ve expanded from accepting only grocery receipts to also accepting any retail, convenience store, or restaurant receipt. You are initially awarded “coins” and spins in the “hog slots” to win bonus coins and other prizes. There are also bonuses for snapping multiple receipts per week. HOW TO CASH OUT: You have the option to be paid in Amazon gift cards or by linking your PayPal account.
$5 = 1000 coins
$10 = 1800 coins
$20 = 3200 coins
$30 = 4500 coins
After about a year of simply scanning my receipts, I’ve earned 2500 coins & am saving up for the $20 redemption.
One of the most highly rated rebate apps, Ibotta offers cash-back and rebates for groceries (both name brand and any brand), alcohol, apparel, electronics, and dining at select restaurants. You tap on an offer, choose an answer to a survey question or read the product’s description, scan the item’s barcode, and snap a photo of your receipt. The offers range anywhere from 25 cents to $10 apiece. HOW TO CASH OUT: Once your account balance reaches $10, you can redeem via PayPal, Venmo, or various gift cards.
In the year I’ve had the app, I’ve made over $35 from scanning items I already planned on buying. One reviewer noted that in the two months of using the app, she’s received $60 back–it’s really all a matter of what and how much you typically buy.
Interested in trying Ibotta? Score $10 when you redeem your first rebate by signing up with code “ybqaib”!
What information do these apps gather?
There must be a reason for these apps’ existence, and that is . . . gathering consumer data.
Receipt Hog collects data about consumer purchases without encouraging shoppers to buy certain items. According to the app, “Receipt Hog offers a unique opportunity to join an exclusive market research panel whose purchases influence the products and promotions that brands and retailers offer. By joining this exclusive panel, your receipt data will be made anonymous and summarized in market research reports for brands. As a result, you’ll not only get paid for using Receipt Hog, but you’ll also be part of a small group that influences the products offered at your local stores.”
Similarly, cash back sites such as Ebates (which also has a mobile app) says stores pay it a fee when you shop and Ebates then shares a portion of the fee with you. They use affiliate links, which allow the retailer to track where the traffic comes from and then pay the cashback sites for the lead. In other words, cash back sites drive website traffic by giving their users some of the money they’re paid.