SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – With inflation sky high, you may be looking for ways to save. If you haven’t tried cash back apps, you might want to take another look. Some of them give back some serious money, but it might take a little legwork.
In this 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive, Diane Lee looked into the pros and cons of some of the most popular ones. She also asked the all-important question, “Is there a catch?”
“This has been my big thing lately: the Luvs diapers. $3 back,” Rhonda Good said, while pointing to the cash back app, Ibotta, on her phone. “So, you’re getting a pack of diapers for a little over $2. That is, like, amazing!”
For the last few years, this Inman grandmother has used Ibotta mainly for groceries she buys online at Walmart.
“This morning, I got a few items and got $8.50 back,” Good said.
If saving a few bucks doesn’t inspire you, Good showed us how, in the last few years, she has cashed-in nearly $1,600, with another $437.34 that she has yet to transfer to her bank account.
“My husband was shocked the first time I just got $100 to deposit,” she said. “When I had that first $500 deposit, it was like ‘Woah!'”
One drawback, Ibotta takes a little effort. You have to click on each item you want then either buy it right there online or remember to submit the in-store receipt.
Rakuten, another popular cash back app, also works as a browser add-on. Rakuten features more retailers, like Kohls and Old Navy, than it does grocery options. And the deals are storewide. As long as there are no exemptions, anything you purchase from that store, through the app or your browser, will automatically receive the discount.
What’s holding people back from using these apps?
Sometimes it’s privacy, so we asked Rakuten President Kristen Gall about what private information they use.
“We take information from consumers in that in order to join you have to give us your address, your email address, because we send you a check to your address or we will send your payment to PayPal. In terms of the data we collect, we watch people shop and what we do with that data is we do not sell it, it does not go anywhere else. We use it to personalize our experience,” Gall said.
Good said that doesn’t bother her at all.
“I think they all probably do that. They have some kind of a record of seeing, keeping up with what you bought,” said Good.
Choosing the right app for you
The hardest part may be which cash back app to choose. The trick is to look for one that follows your shopping habits. You should also read reviews to get a full understanding of how it operates and how much you’re likely to get back.
Good said she’s also used apps like Receipt Hog and Fetch Rewards but says some take too long to pay off and when they do it’s in gift cards.
Ibotta sends funds directly to your bank account, and Rakuten sends you checks or money to a PayPal account.
What about gasoline?
With gas prices soaring, you might want to focus your efforts more at the pump.
Bethany Lamb, in Spartanburg, uses Get Upside to get cash back on not just each gallon of gas, but also at convenience stores.
“Five dollars back in my pocket getting gas is like the lottery to me,” Lamb said. “My kids love it because they’re like, ‘I want candy in the store, something to drink’ and I’m like ‘Well, wait, let me see first,’ and then I’m like, ‘OK, you can get whatever you want’ and I get 15% cash back.”
And price trackers with DealNews are quick to point out, all of these savings are on top of any store discounts and coupons.
“I would say if you’re not using any cash back app whatsoever, you’re definitely missing out on savings. They’re so ubiquitous now, and they cover so many different kinds of stores, it’s really easy to just get even a little cash back and if you use them consistently, that cash back is going to add up really quickly,” Julie Ramhold, with DealNews, said.
“This year will be 3 years, and we’ve saved almost $2000, so if you say 36 months, $55 a month saved, that’s a lot. It’s just been amazing,” said Good.