Apps that pay you to shop? That sounds like a shopaholics dream! But, before you go nuts, let me be clear:
It isn't quite how it sounds.
These apps do in fact pay you to shop, BUT, you still have to spend money on groceries and other products in order to make any cash with them.
For example, if you spend $100, you could potentially make around $10, but this can vary. Some of the best cashback apps that we've listed below can actually offer pretty high payouts at times.
But let's be clear about one thing:
You should not spend money on things you don't need to try to get money back from shopping. These shopping rewards apps should only be used when you NEED to buy something.
Otherwise, you're just wasting money. Plain and simple.
However, if you REALLY want to get paid to shop, just skip to the bottom of this article for some ideas that don't require any spending.
Best Cash Back Apps That Pay You to Shop
1. Rakuten (Formerly Ebates) ($10 Bonus)
Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, is one of the largest and most well-known online cash back apps (and one of my favorites). Founded in 1998, they're currently affiliate with over 2,500 stores and continue to grow to this day.
Here are the three steps to start getting paid to shop online with Rakuten:
- Go to Rakuten.com and create an account
- Click on the link to the store you would like to shop
- Shop like you normally would
As you shop, Rakuten will track your purchases and you will receive cash back automatically.
So for example, if a store was offering 5% cashback, and you purchased an item for $100, you'd get $5 back. That $5 will usually be credited to your account within 48 hours, but it can take up to 30 days if the product has a return policy.
Once you have at least $5 in your account, you can receive your money via check or Paypal. Payments happen on May 15, Aug 15, Nov 15, and Feb 15 (whichever is closest).
- Download the Rakuten extension here after you sign-up for easy cashback.
- Get $5-$10 free as a signup bonus (You must spend $25 through Rakuten to receive your $10 bonus, check your profile for more info)
- Refer your friends to earn extra money!
2. iBotta ($10 Bonus)
Currently available in the US and Puerto Rico, iBotta launched in 2012 and is one of the top-rated and most-used apps that pay you to shop. Users of IBotta have been paid out over $200 million in cashback altogether.
There are three main ways to earn/save with iBotta, and they're all pretty straightforward:
Note: Before you can start earning cash back, you will have to go into the iBotta app and add some cashback offers to your account.
Once you earn some money, you can cash out via gift card, PayPal, or Venmo.
- Sign up here and complete one offer for a FREE $10 bonus.
- Like Ibotta? Check out these other apps like Ibotta that pay you cashback for receipts.
3. BeFrugal ($10 Bonus)
BeFrugal started in 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts, offering online coupons to help shoppers save money. They're now offering cashback on online purchases at over 5,000 stores! They also have coupons and deals for over 50,000 stores.
On top of that, they have high cashback rates, they let you cash out whenever, and for PayPal and direct deposit, they have a $0.01 minimum payment. Checks have a $25 minimum payment.
They also offer payment via various electronic gift cards. If you choose to redeem a gift card, you'll earn some bonus cashback as an incentive, which is pretty nice.
TopCashBack is similar to Rakuten but it is still one of the best cashback apps around. Unlike Ebates, they give ALL of the affiliate commissions received by stores back to you, while still keeping their service free for everyone.
What does that mean though? That means they're able to give higher cashback percentages at certain stores. That's why it's always good to compare before making a purchase.
Also, TopCashBack doesn't have any minimum payout requirements, AND they'll let you cash out as many times a year as you want. Money is received via Direct deposit, PayPal, or gift card.
As a bonus, if you choose to receive a gift card for payout, you'll receive an extra 3% bonus cashback.
I've been using Drop for a while now and I love it. I'll have a full review out soon. In order to join you just have to have a credit card and online banking account.
Once you've linked your desired account and debit/credit cards, you're ready to earn. Drops main enticing feature are the Flash Deals. With these, you select some brands you want to earn from, and when you spend at those brands with a linked card, you earn points automatically.
Here are some other ways to earn Drop points:
- Shop through the app – this is similar to Rakuten.
- Play games – If you download certain apps, complete tasks, and even play in-app games provided by Drop, you can earn extra points.
- Surveys – Yup, Drop is part survey app. I have yet to test out this part of the app, but I assume it's similar to things like Qmee and other top survey sites.
Once you earn enough points, you can cash out via gift card. For reference, 1,000 points = $1. While that may not seem like much, the points add up pretty quickly.
All in all, Drop is an easy way to make money due to its passive nature.
The reason I'm bundling Nielsen Homescan and National Consumer Panel together is because they're pretty much the same thing. The only difference is that the National Consumer Panel is only available to US residents.
On the other hand, Nielsen Homescan is available in Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and other areas.
So how do these apps pay you to shop? Well, it's quite simple really. All you have to do is scan barcodes of products you buy into the program, and you'll earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards or other prizes.
As a member, you'll also be entered into sweepstakes automatically, and you can increase your earnings by taking surveys.
Tired of reading about receipt scanning apps? Or how about having to manually search for offers?
Dosh is a brand new experience. It is one of the best apps that pay you to shop because like Drop, once you're all set up, you don't have to worry about scanning receipts or adding offers to your account. Simply shop, and the cash will roll in.
Dosh offers three main ways to get cash back:
1. Cashback in-store
Simply link a credit or debit card ($1 bonus per card) and make purchases at participating stores in your area. Dosh will automatically give you cash back when you make a qualifying purchase, no receipt scanning necessary!
2. Cashback online
You can shop at your favorite stores online through the Dosh app and receive cash back.
3. Travel cashback
Just choose your travel destination and the type of hotel you want to stay in, and you'll see a list of hotels offering cash back per night. Pretty sweet right?
Additionally, you can earn money with Dosh through the refer a friend program. They'll give you $5 once your friend signs up as your referral and completes their first cashback offer. Not too shabby.
Once you have $15 in your Dosh account, you can receive it via PayPal or direct deposit. Or if you prefer, you can have it donated to a charity of your choice.
8. Shopkick (Must Have)
Shopkick was founded in 2009 in California and started out as just 5 people working together in a basement. It has grown immensely since then and is now one of the greatest apps that pay you to shop on the market.
As of now, they have partnered with over 250,000 stores. That's a lot of earning potential! It's really easy to earn with Shopkick too…
Shopkick rewards shoppers with kicks for completing a variety of tasks:
- Walking into retail stores.
- Scanning barcodes for specific products.
- Purchasing products with a linked card.
- Purchasing products and scanning the receipt.
Now I know what's going on, all you online shoppers are reading this and thinking: “Wow, I have to go outside and go into REAL stores to earn?”
Don't fret, because Shopkick thought of you too. Here's how online shoppers can earn kicks:
- Visiting online stores.
- Viewing select products.
- Making mobile purchases.
- Watching videos.
Now that you know how Shopkick works you may be wondering what a kick is and why you would ever want to get kicked on purpose. Don't worry because kicks are actually a good thing!
Kicks are reward points that Shopkick gives you, which you can then use to redeem gift cards to your favorite stores (250 Kicks = $1).
Shopular is the perfect app for those who want to find local deals, promotions, and coupons for big retailers as well as high-end mall shops.
What Shopular does is use your location to find and sort deals based on what is closest to you. When you're walking around you may also receive notifications on your phone when an offer is nearby. A lot of other apps offer this, but Shopular is unique in that they often have deals for mall stores including high-end fashion stores (which they seem to specialize in).
Shopular will also let you browse the weekly flyers/circulars from every store within the app.
One thing to be aware of is that some coupons may not work in certain local stores, so just be sure to read all the details.
Other than that, Shopular will come in handy for those shopping sprees at the mall by finding you deals that no other app will.
10. Checkout 51 ($5 Bonus)
Checkout 51 is another great app that will save you money on groceries and other household items. It is currently available in the US and Canada and works very similarly to iBotta.
To earn cashback, simply add offers to your account, go shopping, and then scan your receipt into the app. New offers are added every Thursday so there's a lot of earning potential.
Once your account balance reaches $20, you can cash out in the form of a check. Checkout51 is also working on adding PayPal as a payment method, and it's already available for some users (myself included).
If you want to receive a free $5 sign-up bonus, click here. For more info before signing up, read my full Checkout 51 review.
11. Receipt Hog
Receipt Hog is a market research company that rewards you for scanning your receipts. They've been growing quickly and have already paid out over 2.5 million dollars to participants!
Receipt Hog is currently only available in the U.S. and U.K. but they are working on expanding into more countries. To start using Receipt Hog, you need to download the app and add yourself to the waitlist (Why is there a waitlist?).
Receipt Hog works and can make money by selling consumer information to brands. At least they're transparent about it!
Receipt Hog puts every receipt you scan into one of three categories (click one to be brought to the Receipt Hog zendesk to learn more):
In the U.S. 1000 coins = $5. Once you've earned enough coins, you have three payout options:
- Amazon gift card.
- Magazine subscription (the U.S. only).
If you are frequently active on Receipt Hog, you'll have a higher chance of receiving bonus opportunities within the app. Some of these bonus opportunities include short surveys, barcode scans, and Hog Slot spins. This means more coins and more rewards so try to stay as active as possible!
12. Swagbucks ($5 Bonus)
Swagbucks is one of the most popular rewards sites on the web today. They offer a handful of ways to make money, but today we're focusing on apps that pay you to shop. Luckily for us, Swagbucks has a shopping section!
The whole Swagbucks system is pretty similar to other cashback sites, except this time you won't be receiving cash directly. Instead, you'll receive Swagbucks (captain obvious reporting for duty!).
So for example, if a store is offering 10% cashback, you may receive something like 10 Swag Bucks for each $1 spent. 100 Swagbucks = $1.
After you horde enough Swagbucks and become a Swagmaster (ok, I made that up), you can redeem a gift card of your choice. My favorites are Amazon and Paypal, but they have plenty to choose from.
For a $5 Swagbucks bonus, sign up here. Or, for more information, read my full Swagbucks review.
SavingStar is another receipt scanner app that will help you save money on groceries. They've partnered with over 100 retail chains and over 60,000 stores, including big brands like Costco, Walmart, Target, and Safeway.
All you need to do to get paid to shop with SavingStar is either:
- Scan a receipt after making a purchase; or
- Link a loyalty card from a participating store and shop as usual – This method is the most hassle-free, but it's only available for some stores (stores with a * require receipt scanning).
The best thing about SavingStar is they add new offers frequently, and they add new health offers every Tuesday. So, if you're trying to eat healthy on a budget, this is a great app to have in your arsenal.
To get paid by SavingStar, you must first reach the minimum $5 balance. Once you reach that threshold, you can choose between 4 different payment options:
- Bank account.
- Upromise account.
- Starbucks gift code, iTunes gift code, or AMC Theatres gift code.
14. Fetch Rewards
Fetch Rewards is a cash back app that's similar to Drop. Instead of paying you to buy certain products, it pays you to purchase from certain brands. Some of the participating brands include Axe, Jell-O, Doritos and many more!
They also have special offers, which are similar to iBotta offers. These special offers require you to purchase a specific product or brand, and they typically pay more than regular offers.
After you have purchased a product from one of the participating brands or a special offer product, simply upload the receipt to the Fetch Rewards app. After a bit, Fetch will process the receipt, and you'll be rewarded points for your purchases, as well as bonus points for uploading your receipt.
Once you've earned at least 3,000 points, you can cash out via various gift cards.
This is another receipt scanning app like iBotta, so you can have even more apps to scan your receipts into. Stack up them receipts and stack up them dollars!
Now, there are some restrictions with ReceiptPal, so let's go over those:
- You can only submit each receipt once.
- Purchase date, merchant name, and total price must be easily visible.
- You can only submit 20 receipts a week, and they must not be over 30 days old.
Those are the main restrictions put in place, but you can check their FAQs to learn more. As a bonus, each receipt you submit will enter you into the weekly sweepstakes where you'll have a chance to win 250 dollars!
Other than that, ReceiptPal pays users with reward points. Once you earn enough, you can redeem gift cards with your reward points. Learn more about ReceiptPal here.
Groupon is one of the biggest retail apps available and they've saved shoppers over $28 billion in North American alone. That is insane. They're also available in 15 countries and 500+ markets around the world.
If you've somehow never heard of or used Groupon, it's basically a massive directory of saving opportunities in every market. They've got local deals, big savings on tons of products, travel savings, coupons and more!
If you're looking for something particular, Groupon probably has a deal for it. If you want to take you S/O out, check Groupon for some cheap date ideas! If you want to go out to eat but don't want to spend a fortune…check Groupon! If you want to do something new with your friends…ok you get the idea. Groupon basically has savings on everything.
17. ShopAtHome ($10 Bonus)
I just recently discovered ShopAtHome and it's actually a really great cashback app. They have a clean layout and offer cashback at over 2,000 popular stores (Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, eBay, Home Depot, Kohl's, etc.).
Once you earn some cash back on the platform, you can claim your money by check, PayPal, or gift card. The gift cards occasionally come at discount rates as well.
To receive your $10 bonus, sign up here and make a $25 purchase within 30 days. Easy!
18. Caddle ($1 Bonus)
Last but not least, we have a Canadian cashback app called Caddle. Along with surveys, Caddle also has a healthy amount of cashback offers that are also pretty exclusive.
I've seen offers for Kit Kat, organic foods, milk, Pringles, and more. They typically have some nice cashback rates too, so it's definitely worth a download.
19. Mobee ($3 Bonus)
Mobee is a neat app that pays you to shop at a variety of different stores like Best Buy, Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Staples, London Drugs, Walmart, Home Depot, and more. Best of all, you can make money shopping with Mobee without spending anything! You will have to spend in some cases, but not always.
So how does Mobee work? Well, once you sign up, you'll be given a list of missions at different stores near you. Each mission has a different set of tasks to complete, and you can pick and choose which ones you want to do.
Once you've done all the tasks required in a mission, you'll earn Honey Points (100 Honey Points = $1). And once you have enough points, you can redeem them for a variety of gift cards (Amazon, Best Buy, etc.).
As you complete more missions, you'll also earn achievements that award you with bonus points. All in all, it's a pretty cool way to earn money shopping.
Important: Use the code W32C when signing up for 300 free points (valued at $3).
20. Seated ($5 Bonus)
If you count eating at restaurants as shopping, then Seated is one of the best cash back apps for “shoppers” ever! Seriously though, eating out is expensive enough, you might as well get some money back while you're doing it.
Seated is really simple to use too:
All you have to do is book your restaurant reservation through the app, and then snap a picture of your receipt after you eat. Some restaurants offer crazy cash back rates too, I've seen offers as high as 43%!
Other Ways to Get Paid to Shop
Although the cashback apps above are great, if you're looking for legit apps that pay you for shopping without having to spend any of your own dough, the two apps below are what you're looking for.
Instacart allows you to get paid to shop for others, and they're probably the most popular app in the space right now. They're like the Uber of grocery delivery and personal shoppers.
If you're interested in working with them, they offer two different positions:
- Full-service shopper – These are independent contractors who work on their own schedule to shop for and deliver groceries to people's homes. A car is required.
- In-store shopper – These are part-time employees that stay in-store (no car required) and basically just bag groceries.
Whichever position you choose, you'll technically be getting paid to shop, but not for yourself. Instead, you'll be helping out your community.
BestMark isn't an app, but I want to tell you about it anyway because it offers one of the best ways to get paid to shop: a little gig called mystery shopping.
Now, if you're not sure how mystery shopping works, it's pretty simple:
You basically go into stores, restaurants, and other business establishments as an undercover shopper. You don't have to do anything weird, you just do exactly what a normal customer would do. Afterward, you report back to BestMark about your experience, and you get paid.
So for example, you might go to a car dealership, get an oil change, and then rate the service you were given. Or, you might go to a restaurant, order a soda and a sloppy joe, and then report back on how the food was, how the waiter treated you, etc.
Pretty easy right?
The best part is, you typically get reimbursed for anything you have to buy during your mystery shop, and you get paid on top of that. Not all gigs are like this, some only do one or the other, but you can always just view the mystery shop details beforehand.
There is one catch though:
Mystery shopping requires high attention to detail. Since you'll be reporting back about your customer experience, you need to be pretty observant. You also need to be discreet so you don't blow your cover.
If you think you're up for the task, sign up for BestMark here.
Shipt is another get paid to shop app just like Instacart. Like, literally the exact same as Instacart. The only difference is, they only offer the “full-service shopper” position, so you'll need a car no matter what.
If you're not sure which service to sign up with, try to figure out which one is more popular in your area. Or, just sign up for both.
According to USAToday, the average American spends about $12,000 on food, apparel, services, and entertainment every single year.
How is this relevant?
Well, let's say by using a few of the best cashback apps on this list, you could earn an average of 2% cash back on that $12,000 (that's a low estimate). That's $240 a year in savings. Not much, but still a decent amount.
The bottom line?
If you aren't using at least one of these apps to save money shopping, you could be missing out on some easy savings.
I encourage you to tell your friends and family about these apps to help them save as well. You may even be able to make some extra money by referring them! Make it fun by challenging them to see who can earn the most cash back!
How has your experience been using apps that pay you to shop? Do you know of any that I missed? Comment below!