Cash Back Apps & Sites: Are They Worth It?

Repeat after me: “My time is valuable and only I can define it’s worth.”

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Reader Feedback: “I think if you spent as much time on a job as you do chasing these schemes you’d see that you actually make more money per hour (even part time, or heck, selling your unused stuff online). Taking these surveys, scanning receipts, etc is very time-consuming and you barely make anything at all. You say you don’t want to spend your own money, but it is your own time, and time is money, after all!”

Yes, that was one of the rude and forward comments I received on a blog post. As annoying as that comment was, it wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked that and it certainly won’t be the last. (Of course, the others who asked did not come off as rude as this one.) However, since it is a common question, I figured it only makes sense for me to address the elephant in the room.

cash back
Ebates, and Swagbucks and Mypoints, oh my! All these cash back reward gimmicks are plentiful, but are they really worth it? Honestly, they might not be depending on the type of shopper you are.

So are all the cash back sites and receipt apps worth it? The short answer is yes. The not so short and simple answer? It depends.

To elaborate, It depends on the type of person you are. If you are one of those people who can’t pass up a good deal, then maybe these apps may not be worth it for you. Why? Because you’ll end up spending way more than you save on items you don’t even need because you’re afraid to miss out on sale. Saving $1-$2 isn’t exactly worth it if you just spent $10 on deodorant, chips, and frozen hamburgers you don’t want or need. However, if you are earning cash back on items you intended to purchase I say go full speed ahead towards the savings! I usually make a list of things I’m purchasing and then go through the apps and sites I use to see if there are any cash back earnings. That way I stay on target with my budget and shopping list. Plus, apps like Shopkick don’t even require you make a purchase. You just need to walk in the store to earn points you can redeem for money!

Are cash back apps really worth the time? Here's an honest review Click To Tweet

And of course, the matter of time is a question. Are all these gimmicks worth the time? I have to admit the person of the original comment up-top does have a point. You hardly make as much doing these odds and ends as you would a part-time job. However, these tricks are not meant to replace  the income of a part-time job. They are merely used to supplement it. The money I earn from these gadgets go towards my student loans and my travels. I don’t rely on it to get by in life. If that is something you need, than getting a part-time job may be best for you. There really are far better ways to make money from home than relying solely on cash back deals.

However, some of the money earning things bloggers mention really aren’t worth the time for me, such as surveys. I am not a fan of taking online surveys at all. When you spend an hour of your time answering questions on a topic you don’t find interesting to only get 10 cents (if you’re even lucky enough to qualify) is a waste of time to me. However, I won’t knock it if you enjoy doing that kind of thing. If I actually enjoyed taking those surveys than they would definitely be worth it in my opinion. But I don’t, so it’s not something I spend my time doing and a reason why you aren’t likely to see me suggesting survey sites on the blog. (Now if only Buzzfeed would pay me for all those surveys and quizzes I take; then we’ll talk)

Meanwhile, I can earn 25 cents to $1 or more from Ibotta on a purchased item  in the short time it takes for me to scan the barcode and receipt into the app. That’s certainly not too time consuming in my opinion. In fact, it’s actually a win in my book. And considering they’re usually for items I was already going to purchase or a receipt that’s collecting dust at the bottom of my purse, I think it’s time well spent. (By the way, check out this cool notebook for tracking finances and receipts if you have trouble keeping them all neat and organized.)

What really gets people agitated is the amount of time it takes to earn enough to cash out or redeem the points you’ve earned. Admittedly, the cash out minimums aren’t usually ideal. For example, Ibotta requires atleast $20 before you can cashout and with Swagbucks you need to earn atleast 300 points before you can redeem it for a $3 Amazon gift card. Meanwhile, Ebates sends you a big fat check each quarter if you’ve earned more than $5. However, earning the required amount to cash out isn’t usually a problem for me because I found a system that works.


Before I make any purchase whether in-store or online I check my preferred cash back site or app of choice. Sometimes earning points in store is as simple as showing the cashier a barcode to scan on your phone first or printing out a coupon online. And when a barcode or coupon isn’t available, I just order online and choose store pickup so I can I still earn points but get my item right away. Doing this helps me earn the required points for cashing out much quicker. If you aren’t strategic with your usage, than I could see why it wouldn’t be worth it for you.

It’s also important to remember that worth isn’t always defined by the amount of money you earn in a specific amount of time. It can also be measured by enjoyment. Believe it or not, I really enjoy using Swagbucks, Upromise, Ibotta, etc. It’s nerdy but I get excited seeing how much money I can get back. I get all giggly and my body tingles. Had I not felt this way about them I probably wouldn’t recommend or use them as much.

Worth isn't always defined by the amount of money you earn in a specific amount of time. Click To Tweet

So bottom line is these apps and such as worth it for me. Just a few days ago I earned the equivalent of $10 in cash back on Mypoints for a $258 hotel stay I purchased on Groupon. That’s $10 I never would have gotten if I hadn’t checked my beloved cash back friends first.

And for your convenience here are a list of my favorite deal sites ranked in order of earning potential.

  1. EBates
  2. Ibotta
  3. Mypoints
  4. Swagbucks
  5. Shopkick
  6. UPromise

Sign up for them now and see for yourself whether or not they are worth it!

So what’s your view? Yay or nay to deal apps? What’s your favorite way to save money.

TERRIfic Quip: Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will go by anyway.

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  1. I have to add UPromise back to my list I used more when I was in college. I saved a lot on groceries from using the coupons on the UPromise site..awesome list of money saving apps/sites

  2. I thought points and things like that weren’t worth the trouble, but man… when you need the money or the discount, it is totally worth it. I haven’t gotten into couponing or cash back apps, but I am definitely thinking about it.

  3. I absolutely love Ebates! If you’re an online shopper it’s perfect for a discount and cashback. I’m also familiar with UPromise but not the others. Thank you so much for sharing this info. I’ll have to look into some of these other suggestions.

  4. I use shop kick and ebates, haven’t earned much from either one of them but its nice to know I am still earning points to redeem something or earn a couple of coins. To you reader: do things that best serve you and if it doesn’t keep it pushing.

  5. When I think about it I use the majority of these. I get upset when I forget to use these. Thanks for the reminder and I have to make a conscious effort to remember, otherwise I’m missing out!

  6. I’ve tried them all, but I had the most trouble with Swagbucks. They have a blogger program and I use to write for them, but they never credited me my points. Then I couldn’t find a contact person to email do I just called it a loss.

    1. That’s a shame. I’ve never tried their blogger platform, but now that I see your comment I might never try it.

  7. O use to take surveys and it became such a hassle that I stopped. You would go through lots of questions and then it would say I’m sorry you don’t qualify. Ugh. I have done several like evayes and need to do again but just forget. Great article. I’m sharing.

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