Life is full of necessary expenses. But with a tough economy, it's not always easy to make ends meet. That's why I use cashback sites.
There are plenty of ways to earn money online to pay for shopping expenses, but cashback and receipt scanner websites and apps can save money on everyday purchases.
We've put together a list of each for you and separated them into two categories, with a brief description of what they are and how they work.
What are Cashback Websites?
Cashback websites – or portals, as they're also known – are online retail store aggregates that help you earn some of your spending money back.
These cashback portals may seem confusing at first, but it's really quite easy. Simply select one of the websites from our list below and sign up for a free account. Type in the name of a retailer – or find one on the website/app – and your search results will include projected savings.
Next, click on “Get Cashback” (or similar) and the portal will redirect you to the retailer's site to make your purchases. The cashback website will track your expenses. So long as your browser has cookies enabled, your cashback will appear in your account within ten days (varies between portals). Once you reach a minimum set by the portal (usually around $20), you can transfer to PayPal or your bank account.
Another great benefit of cashback portals is that they usually offer a sign-up bonus, typically of $10. Over and above this, they usually have a list of coupon codes too. When you use these, the coupon discount stacks in addition to your cashback – so you save even more!
Let's take a look at the best cashback websites.
1. Ebates – $10 Signup Bonus!
Ebates is the top cashback website available and can save you a ridiculous 2% to 10% on all your online purchases. I've saved $900 over the past 6 months.
Plus, you get $10 just to signup.
What stores does it work on? It works on about every popular store you can think of. Amazon, Target, Best Buy and the list goes on.
How do I signup? Signing up for Ebates is as easy as entering your email, setting a password and copying a Captcha code off the joining screen. You can even register using your Facebook or Google profile. Once in, you can set your address and choose whether to receive your cashback as a “Big Fat Check” or via PayPal.
Ebates also rewards you for successful referrals. The rate of these referral rewards changes fairly often, but they usually increase the more referrals you make – up to a total of $75 for your third.
Over the holiday seasons, Ebates has extra specials that boost their cashback rates well-above all of their competitors. Even though their regular rates aren't always as high as other portals offer, this and their high referral bonuses certainly make Ebates a cashback portal worth joining.
#2 – Paribus
Paribus is a relatively new cashback portal that works a little differently to others.
Instead of offering discounts, Paribus monitors your online purchases. If they detect a price drop on anything you've bought within the past week, you get the difference back (how much you paid minus the lower price).
Most stores today offer a price guarantee for products when they go on sale or have a price drop. However, this requires a lot of effort on your part: you need to spend time monitoring recent purchases, keep track of receipts, and file a price adjustment claim.
Paribus takes care of all of this for you. All you need to do is sign up with your email and give them permission to monitor your inbox for order confirmations.
That is, of course, the catch. Paribus asks for read, send, and delete access.
However, independent investigation has shown that the company doesn't act invasive at all – they simply scan your inbox for online receipts and ignore everything else.
Once Paribus discovers any price adjustments claims you're eligible for, they send you a notification. All you need to do is approve and they'll take care of the rest.
The best part is, you don't have to wait for your cashback. Paribus sends each refund directly to your bank account or PayPal. And as an added bonus, if your online Amazon or Walmart order is late, Paribus notifies them on your behalf, earning you another $10 savings.
#3 – Honey
Honey also approaches the cashback system a little differently to most.
Instead of applying price adjustment claims on your behalf or arranging affiliate discounts, Honey works with coupons. And instead of a website portal or app, Honey is actually a browser extension plugin.
All it takes is two clicks to download and install Honey for free. Then you can simply go about your online shopping as usual. When the extension detects available coupons, a button will pop up for you to apply the one offering the highest savings.
But Honey can do more than just apply coupons and promo codes. Retailers like Amazon tie coupons to specific items (rather than site-wide options).
Honey has two tools to help you get the most out of Amazon.
“Droplist” tracks item prices when activated, and notifies you when there's a special, price drop, or a coupon becomes available for it.
And the “Best Price” feature uncovers hidden deals by third-party sellers that Amazon usually doesn't feature prominently.
Honey is able to provide this service thanks to their affiliate deals with retailers. They typically earn up to 5% of your purchase expenses – which, in some cases, they share with you as a cashback.
You can download the Honey extension for all four major browsers.
#4 – Dosh
Dosh is a cashback portal with two major distinctions.
Firstly, unlike most others, it only pays out cashbacks as money into your account – there's no option for points or gift cards. This is a slight advantage, as gift cards can be limiting and some portals don't always give you a choice.
Secondly, not only can you transfer cash from your Dosh profile to your bank account or PayPal, but you can also donate it directly to a charity of your choosing. It's a nice touch that's missing from Dosh's competitors.
Other than that, Dosh is a cashback portal like most others. You can use the website or app (iOS and Android) to find retailers via the affiliate links available there, or simply let Dosh track your online purchases by linking your debit or credit card. Sign-up is free and earns you a $5 joining bonus – the same reward as you'll receive for successful referrals.
What are Receipt Scanner Websites?
Receipt scanners are another great way to save money as a consumer.
While cashback websites work almost exclusively with online shopping, receipt scanners help you to earn cashbacks when you shop in-store.
In fact, receipt scanners are among the most powerful tools available for doing so.
These apps generally fall into one of two categories:
- those that give you cashback savings regardless of what you purchase or where (with few exceptions); and
- those that give you cashback rewards for specific items.
For both kinds of receipt scanner apps, you need to take a clear photograph of your itemized receipt. In both instances, you need to include the entire receipt in your picture.
As a general rule, the first type of receipt scanners offers less cashback on your purchases. However, they have the advantage of doing so for almost anything – so long as the photo of your receipt is readable.
The second kind requires a little more care on your part when making purchases, as they're very item-specific. In fact, some of them are also brand-specific. You'll need to check the app's listed items in order to be sure of any cashback. Their advantage, on the other hand, is that you can expect higher cashback rewards.
While cashback portals rely mainly on affiliate compensation to make their money, receipt scanner apps sell information to companies conducting marketing research on consumer trends.
The data remains 100% anonymous though, so your purchases won't be traced back to you in any way.
It's also possible to stack receipt scanner apps in order to maximize your savings.
Let's take a look at some of the best receipt scanner websites available.
#5 – Ibotta
Ibotta has a strong reputation as a receipt scanner for their high cashback rates and timely payouts. In fact, they're easily the most popular app on this list for that very reason.
They fall into the second category of receipt scanners, so you'll need specific items on your receipt in order to qualify for a cashback. However, Ibotta covers such a vast list of grocery items that you're almost 100% certain of having at least one qualifying purchase on your receipt.
Recently, they've started expanding to include prescriptions, toiletries, and electronics. Ibotta also offer cashback for select restaurants and retail stores too!
Naturally, Ibotta allows you to claim cashback on more that one item per receipt, so you can generally expect a good payout – often betwen $0.25 and $5 per item. Once your Ibotta account reaches $10, you can cash-out as a gift card, or $20 for PayPal and VEMO.
You can join Ibotta for free via their website and receive a $10 bonus (after redeeming your first receipt).
#6 – Receipt Hog
Receipt Hog is a receipt scanner app that keeps things interesting by using a layout similar to that of a mobile game.
Like many other similar apps, Receipt Hog uses a point system to track your savings, which they call “coins”. When you join (free of charge), you immediately receive 50 coins as a bonus. You can also tap on the “Rewards” tab to earn more points by completing questionnaires (30 coins), linking your email address (100 coins), and the “Hog Household Bonus” (40 coins).
The “Hog Household Bonus” requires having someone else in your household also using Receipt Hog. You simply send their linked email address to the company, who confirms that you share a household. If they've scanned at least 20 receipts and completed the initial survey, you'll receive your bonus within 24 hours.
You can generally earn about 25 coins per receipt and submit up to 20 receipts a week. Receipt Hog falls under the first category of receipt scanners, so your savings aren't going to be very high unfortunately, but there's very little limit to what you can save on.
Currently, 1,000 coins can be redeemed for $5. If you wait to redeem, however, you'll get better value: 1,800 coins for $10, 3,200 for $20, and 4,500 for $30.
#7 – Shopkick
Shopkick originally rewarded users simply for walking into affiliated stores, and have recently expanded to include receipt scanning for even more savings.
Simply keep the app (iOS or Android) running, turn your location settings and Bluetooth on. When you're done shopping, you can also scan your receipt to earn extra “kicks” – which is what they call their point system.
Although Shopkick falls under the second type of receipt scanner apps – meaning you need to have specific items from specific stores in order to earn kicks – the payout isn't particularly high. Each kick is worth $0.004, so you'll redeem 500 for a $2 gift card. Other options include 1,250 kicks, 6,250 kicks, and 12,500 kicks for $5, $25, and $50 gift cards at select stores.
However, it's so easy to earn kicks with Shopkick that you can easily earn a goodly amount in cashback with them! Their website has tons of great tips on how best to use the app to your advantage.
Cashback Websites Conclusion
Hopefully you are now ready to get money back on your online purchases with these amazing cash back sites.