The crazy thing is, my cell phone gets to go a lot of places, some of them really cool places, but it doesn’t have to pick up any of the travel costs.
Several years ago, probably about the tail end of the great app outbreak, a few coworkers and I were joking around about how our phones get to go cool places for free. A couple of them mentioned that they’d started to make some extra cash money by using apps. Of course I was curious and even skeptical, but I took note of the apps and tried them out for myself.
After using the apps my skepticism about earning money went away. This led me to searching for other reward apps that could add a some extra cash to my wallet every now and then. As a result I’ve tried out several reward apps. Some were duds in that it took too much time and effort for very little payout, but there were a few apps that had decent payouts. Here are some of my favorites.
(This post includes affiliate links. You can read about my use of affiliate links here.)
1. ShopkickIf you like to go shopping at departments stores or visit the mall this could be a good reward app for you. Shopkick let’s you earn Kicks (their version of rewards points) for doing things like visiting stores, purchasing products or watching a video. You then get to redeem those Kicks for gift cards.
How it worksAfter creating an account (psst...here’s my referral link so you can quickly create an account), there are five main ways you can earn kicks
- Visit certain stores: The ShopKick app will show a list of nearby stores where you can earn Kicks. The way Shopkick knows you visited the store is by you opening the app at the store’s entrance and having your location and bluetooth settings on.
- Scan certain products: When visiting certain stores you can get Kicks by scanning products.
- Make purchases with a linked card: Some stores allow you to earn Kicks when you purchase products using a Visa or MasterCard linked in the app.
- Submit a receipt: Some stores in the app will give Kicks away when you upload a receipt that has specific purchases on it.
- Invite friends: This is pretty straight forward. Invite friends to signup and use the app.
How much I’ve madeI’ve been using the app for about three years and have earned 24,709 kicks. Depending on the items the Kicks are redeemed for, that may or may not be considered a lot. So far I’ve redeemed about 22,000 kicks for things like Papa Johns and Walmart gift cards.
I mainly earn my kicks by walking into stores such as Walmart and scanning products. If you go to the mall often you can rack up points pretty easily since the stores that offer the most kicks are ones found in or near malls.
Related post: How to Build Up Your Emergency Savings this Year
2. Walmart Savings CatcherTo save money on groceries and other household items I do a lot of shopping at Walmart. While I’m pretty sure I save money on my purchases overall I haven’t and don’t want to spend the time pricing out every single item I buy. Walmart realized that many people are that way and developed a feature in their app called Savings Catcher.
How it works
- Purchase products at Walmart just like you always do. Make sure you save your receipt!
- Sign into the Walmart app and select Savings Catcher
- Upload your receipt by scanning the bar or QR code. You also have the option of manually entering the receipt info.
- Wait for the Walmart app to do it’s magic and see if there were better deals for the products on your receipt at nearby stores.
- If there were better deals, Walmart will refund you the difference which you can redeem for a Walmart gift card.
How much I’ve madeI’ve been using Savings Catcher for a little over two years and have gotten back about $24. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, some things to keep in mind are
- I’m buying for one person vs. a family
- I don’t do all of my grocery shopping at Walmart
- I buy a lot of store brands which are products Walmart doesn’t give rebates for
- The difference between store prices is usually only a few cents
Related post: Four Ways to Save Money on Groceries
3. IbottaOut of all the coupon apps out there, I think Ibotta is the best. Ibotta is meant to be the digital replacement for coupon clipping. So it’s no surprise that the majority of their coupons are for grocery items and just about every well-known national and regional grocery chain is listed.
While grocery seems to be Ibotta’s sweet spot you can also find rebates for some purchases made at clothing, drug and beauty stores as well as restaurants and movie theaters.
One of the things I love is that you earn real cash and not points that have to be redeemed. You can get your earnings through a Paypal or Venmo payout or a gift card to select retailers.
How it works
- Sign up and create an account. If you use my referral link you can get a $10 welcome bonus.
- Select the category and store within the category you’ll be shopping from. Then scroll through and unlock the offers you want.
- After buying the product featured in the app upload the receipt.
- Once Ibotta confirms your purchase meets the reward requirements your account is credited.
- When you’ve earned $20 you can get a payout as cash or a gift card.
How much I’ve madeI’ve used the app for a few years now and have earned back $56.85 that I’ve had paid out as cash and gift cards. Just like the Walmart Savings Catcher app, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but because I’m only buying for one and don’t buy a lot of brand name products how much I can get back is limited.
There are a few other apps I use that have had nice payouts, but I didn’t include on the list. The reason for that is they are only offered through a special service or your employer.
What apps or sites have you found that pay you back?