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Have you ever felt the rush of spotting money just lying on the ground? It’s silly, but even just picking up a stray quarter puts a little extra pep in my step for the rest of the day.
Several years ago I found $21 lying on the ground while walking around at a Six Flags theme park. It looked like just one dollar, until I picked it up and saw there was a $20 bill wrapped inside.
Finding that free money was an exhilarating feeling! I was young enough at the time that $21 was an enormous amount of money.
Cash Back Apps – Like Finding Free Money!
The first time I discovered cash back apps was kind of like reliving that story. Apps that pay you money just for clicking a few buttons? This was as close to free money as finding cash lying in the street!
Ever since I’ve been on a quest to find the best cash back apps for 2020 and beyond. Below I will share the apps that are actually on my phone and making me money right now.
It’s not every day you get the opportunity to make free money, but apps that pay you are one of those opportunities. And let’s be clear – a lot of “free money” offers turn out to be scams. Most good opportunities do require time and effort.
But believe it or not, there are a few ways to make extra money every month with minimal work. And all you need is a cell phone.
Of course you’re not going to find apps that pay you enough money to quit your day job and retire on the beach. But you can definitely make enough to pay for a date night, or your Netflix/Hulu/HBO obsession every month.
My Absolute Favorite Cash Back Apps in 2020
If you’re just here for the best cash back apps, here’s the list that makes me $500+ every year.
#1 – Drop App – Best Overall Cash Back App
- WHY YOU NEED IT: Get rewards for your everyday shopping, plus special offers for bonus cash back.
#2 – Dosh App – Best Local Shopping App
- WHY YOU NEED IT: Best app for cash back at local stores and restaurants.
#3 – Ebates/Rakuten – Best Online Shopping Cash Back App
- WHY YOU NEED IT: Get cash back for almost all your online shopping.
#4 – Ibotta – Best App for Cash Back on Groceries
- WHY YOU NEED IT: Quit clipping coupons and rack up savings at the grocery store.
#5 – Trim – Best App to Automatically Reduce Monthly Bills
- WHY YOU NEED IT: Automatically cut your monthly bills and pocket the savings.
If you want more details on how we make money with each one, read on!
BONUS: Up Your Cash Back Game with Credit Card Rewards
If you’re new to the cash back game, a great place to start (even before cash back apps) is with credit card rewards. My wife and I make an extra $2,000+ per year through credit card rewards. It’s an easy (and passive) way to get cash back – and it stacks on top of your cash back app rewards!
Chase Sapphire Preferred
My #1 recommendation for cash back newbies is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 points (worth $750+ toward travel or $500 as straight cash) after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
The Sapphire Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee, but also comes with some great ongoing benefits:
- 2X points on travel and dining
- 1X points on everything else (1 point per dollar spent)
- Get 25% more value when redeeming points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
How Can Apps Pay You Money?
Businesses aren’t in the habit of handing out free money. Usually they are looking for ways to promote their services or find new customers.
If they can get customers in the door and make money in the long run, then they’re perfectly happy to give a sign up bonus or cash back for using their service.
Most of the time, apps will entice you to sign up with a bonus and then you end up spending money down the line on something you didn’t really need. These are the ones you want to avoid like the plague. But there are apps that pay you money to do what you’re already doing.
The Loophole: Apps That Pay You Money to Do What You’re Already Doing
What you really want is to find apps that will pay you do stuff you were already going to do anyway (like buying groceries or shopping on Amazon).
Lucky for you, I’ve researched dozens of apps to find the ones that can get you the most money for the least effort.
These are the top 3 apps that my wife and I actually use every month to earn enough money for a nice dinner out, and you can take advantage of them too.
1. Drop App – Best Cash Back App for Everyday Spending (and a $5 bonus)
The Drop app is my #1 recommendation for a reason. It’s super simple to earn money.
In fact, after you sign up and link you’re card, you don’t have to do anything ever again (except collect your cash).
Once you download the app, it will ask you pick 5 stores you go to regularly. Every time you shop there, cash will magically appear in your account on the app.
For example, I set it up so that I collect cash back at Target, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, and Walgreens. Now every time I shop I get 1-2% cash back (on top of my credit card rewards!)
There are also many other rotating offers available . I just got $15 from Drop for signing up for a free account with Stash, another app that lets you save money and invest it.
Get started with Drop in 3 simple steps!
1. Download the app – It only take a minute to download the app and get started, and if you use this link you get a free $5.
2. Link your credit card – Follow the instructions to link your credit card in the app.
3. Start earning cash! – Choose the stores where you want to get cash back and start making money on autopilot!
Bonus: Dosh – Another App That Pays You Easy Money
There’s another app that is a great companion to Drop, called Dosh. It is extremely similar to Drop, but covers different types of stores.
Just like Drop, once you link a card in Dosh you don’t have to do anything except sit back and collect your cash.
Dosh covers a lot of local shopping and restaurants which you won’t find in Drop, so it makes perfect sense to have both.
One of my favorite restaurants nearby gives me 5% back in Dosh every time I use my credit card there. It doesn’t make me a ton of money, but it’s certainly nice to get a little discount without doing any work!
Dosh also partners with stores on a rotating basis to earn you even more cash back. As of this writing there is a 6% cash back offer at Walmart which is an amazing deal if you shop there anyway.
Why You Need Dosh:
Dosh earns you cash back at lot of local restaurants and retail shopping without having to lift a finger. Just link your credit card, and it will automatically deposit cash back in the app as you make purchases.
2. Ebates – Get Paid for Your Online Shopping (and a $10 sign-up bonus)
I don’t know about you, but I buy pretty much everything online these days. Only after a fruitless search on Amazon will I resign myself to picking up the keys and heading to the local store like a caveman.
If you shop online, Ebates is a no brainer way to save money on almost every single purchase you make (even on Amazon!)
Here is my most recent payout from Ebates, straight to my Paypal account:
Ebates offers cash back up to 40% of your purchase depending on the store (realistically it mostly ranges from 2-5% which is still a great deal for doing nothing).
How can they afford to do this? Basically, Ebates has negotiated deals with stores so that they get a commission every time they refer customers to the stores. Ebates shares a part of that commission with you, the shopper. Win-win for everyone involved.
For example, I recently booked a hotel on Expedia, and in addition to getting the best rate available online, Ebates gave me ANOTHER 5% cash back – about $15 – just for using their portal to do it!
Why You Need Ebates:
Get cash back for your normal, everyday online shopping. This is a no brainer for anyone who buys anything online (and who doesn’t)? You won’t get rich using Ebates, but it can easily add up to $300-500 extra in your pocket each year. Plus, take advantage of a $10 sign-up bonus when you sign up now!
3. Ibotta – Get Paid to Buy Groceries (and a $10 sign-up bonus)
Ibotta lets you get cash back on your everyday grocery store purchases.
Remember the olden days of cutting out coupons in the newspaper, collecting them in an envelope, and holding up the entire checkout line trying to find the ones you want to use?
Ibotta is nothing like that (thank goodness – I hate couponing). Here’s the process:
- Find and select offers in the app on products you buy
- Buy products at the grocery store of your choice
- Take a photo of the receipt to redeem offers
- Ibotta deposits cash into your account
The amazing thing about Ibotta is there are always offers out there even for grocery staples you buy all the time that aren’t name brands (for example 50 cents off any receipt, 25 cents off any brand of eggs, or 25 cents off bananas).
The average Ibotta user can make $20 per month ($240 per year) just for doing their normal grocery shopping, and Ibotta has paid out over $438 MILLION in cash back.
Why You Need Ibotta:
Get cash back (around $20 per month) for shopping like you normally would anyway. And if you sign up through this link you get a $10 welcome bonus. More free money! Ibotta also regularly gives bonuses for meeting certain thresholds or inviting your friends to join your team.
Bonus! Lower Your Monthly Bills with Trim (get $100+ savings this week)
Has your cable/internet bill been slowly creeping up over time? Been meaning to call and negotiate it back down, but never seem to get around to it?
I get it. I hate having to call and negotiate my bill with a low-level sales rep that has no real power. If I’m lucky, I get transferred to someone higher up and have to go through the same speech all over again.
Enter Trim – the introvert’s dream. Trim is a personal savings assistant that will automatically negotiate your bills down so you don’t have to.
Trim is a free service that works through Facebook Messenger (Hooray! One less app to manage.) Once you link your accounts, it will get to work finding your bills and getting you cash savings. Trim makes money by taking a small cut of the savings it negotiates for you. It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, and any other provider.
Here are the main ways Trim works to save you money:
- Negotiates with companies to lower your bills (with your approval)
- Finds all your monthly subscriptions and lets you cancel unwanted subscriptions with the click of a button
Trim is also hard at work adding new features (a recent one is automatically shopping your car insurance to get you the best rates). It’s a great tool to have in the background working for you to lower your expenses and manage your financial life.
Why You Need Trim:
A bot that negotiates your monthly bills down for you. What’s not to like? You can easily save hundreds of dollars without the anxiety and hassle of dealing with a giant corporation’s “customer service”.
Best Cash Back Apps – Put More Money in Your Pocket
There are a million apps out there that can save you money, but from personal experience and tons of research, Drop, Ibotta, and Ebates, are 3 of the best I’ve found.
These 3 apps allow me to get hundreds of dollars a year cash back in my pocket every year without having to change my daily habits. That’s money I can use for date nights, Christmas shopping, or squirreling away for retirement. I call that free money!
Sign up for all of these apps now and get $30 in bonus cash + free money every month!
Looking for more ways to earn money? Try these ideas: