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Best Cash-Back Apps

These cash-back apps can help you score savings on your regular shopping, and they won’t cost you anything.

Everything costs more than it used to thanks to inflation, and it’s made budgeting feel like an impossible task for a lot of people. However, spending doesn’t have to be a one-way street. By using cash-back apps, you can earn rewards and discounts every time you shop. And best of all, they’re free to use.

Whether you’re trying to build an emergency fund or hoping to set aside some money for the holidays, these cash-back apps can help you save money.

The best cash-back apps

Capital One Shopping

Capital One Shopping

Best for gift cards

You don’t have to be a Capital One customer to use the bank’s mobile cash-back app or browser extension to save money, and adding this to your shopping arsenal is a no-brainer. Unlike some of the cash-back apps that require you to upload receipts, Capital One Shopping automatically does the work for you, applying any relevant coupon codes to get you a lower price. 

However, it’s not just about getting discounts. You can also activate offers to earn a percentage back in rewards, which you can then redeem for gift cards at merchants like Walmart and eBay. Some examples include 3% back at Bloomingdales, 2.5% back at Dick’s Sporting Goods and 9% back at Expedia.

Sign-up bonus: $10
Referral bonus: None publicly advertised
Apple Store rating: 4.8 stars
Google Play rating: 4.7 stars



Best for gas, groceries and restaurants

After housing costs, the two biggest line items on most people’s budgets are transportation and food. Upside makes your driving and eating a bit more rewarding. The app offers up to 25 cents back on every gallon of gas, up to 45% cash back at restaurants and up to 30% cash back at grocery stores. 

While the top restaurant brands listed in Upside’s app description are national chains, the app has some compelling offers for local, non-chain spots across the country too. A location-based search in Chicago revealed up to 10% cash back at some of the most talked-about culinary spots.

Sign-up bonus: None publicly advertised
Referral bonus: 1 cent per gallon every time your referrals buy gas
Apple Store rating: 4.8 stars
Google Play rating: 4.6 stars



Best for hotels

Travel has gotten ridiculously expensive, but Dosh makes the joy of exploring the world more manageable. The cash-back potential is huge, and the app has incentives with more than 600,000 hotels. Consider some of the offers for a one-night stay in Chicago in November at a number of fantastic hotels: $87 cash back at The Pendry, $57 cash back at the InterContinental on Michigan Avenue and $54 cash back at the Hyatt Regency. 

Dosh is great for dining too, with more than 10,000 restaurants where you can score cash back. Once you accumulate $15 in rewards, you can transfer the money to your bank, PayPal or Venmo account, or you can donate it to charity. 

Sign-up bonus: None publicly advertised
Referral bonus: $10
Apple Store rating: 4.7 stars
Google Play rating: 4.5 stars



Best for a wide range of retailers

Ibotta has collectively issued more than $1.5 billion in rewards at a range of merchants, including Target, Shell, Whole Foods and Petco. If you’re at the store, you can link your store loyalty accounts with your Ibotta app to automatically detect offers. Otherwise, you’ll need to upload photos of your receipts, which is not an uncommon ask for cash-back apps. 

Online shopping is even easier. Just shop via the Ibotta app or by adding the Ibotta extension to Google Chrome.

Sign-up bonus: Get $10 after spending $30
Referral bonus: $10 for each friend who signs up with your code (your friend gets $5, too)
Apple Store rating: 4.8 stars
Google Play rating: 4.5 stars

Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog

Best for gamifying your saving

Saving money is great, but it doesn’t typically produce the adrenaline rush of winning money. It can with Receipt Hog, though, thanks to a system that includes “spinning” a wheel to unlock coins (the app’s currency) and other prizes. Should an app that saves you money give you the same feeling as going to Las Vegas? Perhaps not, but as long as you play responsibly (consider depositing your “winnings” in a high-yield savings account), it’s fine.

This app is best if you have a decent chunk of extra time on your hands. There are loads of opportunities to complete surveys, which can help you earn more rewards. 

Sign-up bonus: None publicly advertised
Referral bonus: Yes, although the terms are not publicly advertised
Apple Store rating: 4.7 stars
Google Play rating: 4.5 stars

What is cash back?

When you make a qualified purchase using a cash-back service, you essentially get a portion of the purchase price back. In some cases, you’ll save money upfront via services that automatically apply coupon codes. In other cases, you’ll accumulate rewards when making a purchase. Those rewards can then be redeemed as cash back or gift cards. 

Cash-back rates aren’t static. These apps partner with a range of shopping destinations and e-commerce sites, so rewards rates and offers change regularly.

How do cash-back apps work?

While cash-back apps have certain distinguishing factors, the business model is relatively uniform. Retailers are seeking to drive business and acquire customers, and they can personalize offers using the data from cash-back apps. The cash-back apps take a cut from the sale and split that commission with you. You’ll get your rewards in the form of a rebate at checkout, or you’ll accumulate rewards that can eventually be converted to cash back or gift cards.

Pros and cons of cash-back apps

Before you sign up for a cash-back app, it’s important to understand the potential upsides and drawbacks.


  • Save money: If you already planned to buy an item, these apps can help you save on the price or get cash back.

  • Bonus opportunities: With welcome and referral bonuses, some apps offer elevated earning potential.

  • Automatic updates: Instead of constantly checking back for sales and discounts on products you want, some cash-back apps will do the work for you and send notifications about price drops.


  • Potential to overspend: A lot of cash-back apps have location-based push notifications that alert you to nearby deals. If you weren’t originally planning on making the purchase, it’s probably not saving you money.

  • Time consuming: Some of these apps require cumbersome tasks, such as scanning receipts and sharing codes with friends.

  • Lack of privacy: Every cash-back app includes some statement about how it “takes your privacy very seriously,” but let’s face it: You’re handing over data about your purchasing patterns and where you’re physically spending your time (in the case of location-based offers). Don’t be surprised if you wind up on more mailing lists and receive more advertisements.

Who should use a cash-back app?

If you’re feeling the pinch of higher prices, a cash-back app can help you save money. However, it’s important to compare apps based on your spending habits. Apps have partnerships with different brands and retailers, so you should choose one that aligns with your current spending habits.

Additionally, anyone using a cash-back app should have the time required to take advantage of them. Some apps involve scrolling through what feels like a mile-long list of offers to activate, and others require uploading photos of your receipts. Cash-back apps also each have a minimum redemption amount, so you may not see the savings immediately. It’s not necessarily easy, but it can be worth it.

What to consider before signing up for a cash-back app

Before you sign up for a cash-back app, keep this advice in mind. 

  • Never pay a fee. If a site asks you for payment, it’s time to move your search to a more reputable service. 
  • Scam sites. Avoid giving out your personal information unless you’re sure that the app is a well-known and highly reviewed service.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. Cash-back apps aren’t going to save you a huge pile of money, and it can take a while to earn rewards. Use them as one part of your strategy for lowering overall expenses. 
  • There might be better deals. Though cash-back apps use sophisticated algorithms, it never hurts to do your own bargain hunting to make sure you aren’t missing out on bigger savings directly through retailers.

How to get the most out of a cash-back app

Once you download a cash-back app to your phone and/or add the extension to your browser, it’s up to you to maximize its potential. Follow these three tips to rack up the most meaningful rewards.

  • Regularly review offers: When you’re ready to shop for something -- whether it’s groceries for the week or a new pair of shoes for the winter -- look through offers and retailer details in the app to see where you stand to gain the most.
  • Have a plan for what you’re going to do with the savings: If you’re using a cash-back service that offers cash (not gift cards), be strategic about what you do with your rewards. Depositing the money in a high-yield savings account will let you earn even more cash by accruing interest.
  • Pair your cash-back app with a cash-back credit card: Compare the best cash-back credit cards to link to your cash-back app so you can accelerate your savings. Some cash-back cards pay 1% or 2% back on all your purchases, but others pay higher rates in certain categories, such as 3% at gas stations and up to 6% at grocery stores.

Other cash-back apps we researched

The bottom line

Cash-back apps are free tools to help you navigate the high costs of everyday living. Your next deal may be just a download away. Keep in mind, though, that saving money isn’t solely up to technology. It helps to create a budget and to research other ways to cut spending.


No. Cash-back apps are mobile apps or extensions for your desktop browser that help you save money or receive cash back by taking advantage of coupons and offers with select retailers. A cash-back credit card rewards cardholders for their spending in the form of statement credits or cash. You’ll need to complete an application and be approved to get a credit card. The two products can work well together, though. You can pair a cash-back credit card with a cash-back app to score bigger rewards.

The best cash-back apps are free. In fact, if a cash-back app asks you to pay for the service, you should be skeptical and avoid handing over any information.

Our methodology

We tried more than a dozen cash-back services to determine the best ones, focusing on a few key attributes of the user experience. We reviewed the ease of the receipt-uploading process and the time involved to use automated search tools for coupon codes. We looked at how users earn money back (in the form of cash, gift cards and/or coupons) and the range of retailers available on each app. Finally, we considered how other users evaluate the mobile app experience on both iPhone and Android operating systems. All our apps have at least a 4.5 out of 5 stars on both app stores.

David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. Based in Chicago, he writes with one objective in mind: Help readers figure out how to save more and stress less. He is also a musician, which means he has spent a lot of time worrying about money. He applies the lessons he's learned from that financial balancing act to offer practical advice for personal spending decisions.