When most people hear the word cash back, they think of credit cards. Practically every major credit card company has at least one cash back rewards card. And while these cards can offer significant rewards to consumers who know how to use them, they’re not the right choice for everyone. In fact, if you’re new to credit or not a money management expert, cash back cards could end up costing you, a lot.
Thankfully, there are much easier – and less expensive – ways to get cash back. With new technology, you can get cash back for everyday activities, like buying groceries or shopping online. And with the best cash back apps, like Ibotta, cash back can be as simple as shop, snap, redeem.
How does this “cash back” thing work?
Cash back is an incentive that companies offer as a reward to their customers. The basic concept is pretty straightforward: you make a purchase, and the company sends you a portion of that purchase back to you, IN CASH. Pretty sweet deal, right?
While most cash back programs follow this same basic formula, the process is different from company to company. For instance, instead of cash, a credit card or bank may offer points, travel rewards, bonus programs, or other ways they calculate cash back.
How do I get real cash back?
In most cases, you have to ask to cash in on your cash back – most programs don’t automatically issue cash back rewards. In some cases, you may have to earn or spend a set amount before you can “cash out,” and payout options vary. Credit card companies sometimes offer consumers the option to receive a check or apply the cash back to their bill, while others may use PayPal or direct deposit. You’ll need to check with the individual program for the details.
A closer look at cash back credit cards
At first glance, cash rewards credit cards seem like a pretty good deal. But it’s important to pay attention to the fine print (and the strings attached to certain promotions). One of the dangers with cash back credit cards is that consumers can focus so much on earning cash back that they actually spend more money in the long run.
Say, for example, a credit card company offers $300 cash back if you make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. Getting $300 sounds great, but is it really free? You may not have spent $1,000 at all if they weren’t offering cash back. So, realistically, the offer cost you $700, plus interest. Cash back credit cards often come with other drawbacks, including:
- High interest rates
- Deferred interest (i.e. you pay back all the interest if your card isn’t paid off in a given time period)
- Late fees
- Adverse effects on your credit
- Annual fees
- Minimum monthly payments
How to earn cash back rewards without a credit card
Some people know how to maximize the benefits of cash back cards and make them a worthy option. But for most of us, it’s not worth the risk. There are so many cash back options that don’t require signing up for a credit card! The best part is, most of these offers can be redeemed directly from your cell phone. Cash back options include:
Grocery cash back
Going to the grocery store can be a stressful event. That’s because it seems like every time you go, prices have gone up. If you think groceries are more expensive than ever, you’re not wrong. According to USA Today, Americans pay, on average, 19% more for groceries today than they did 10 years ago. And while cutting costs with paper coupons can be a solution, be mindful of the time it takes and the effect it has on the environment.
Enter grocery cash back apps. Ibotta is a free, easy to use app that is compatible with both iPhone and Android. After you download the app, you simply create your account and get access to hundreds of cash back offers for products that you already buy. Unlike coupons that typically cover limited products, Ibotta often offers cash back for everyday items like bananas, milk, and bread. All you have to do is add the offer to your list before heading to the store and scan your receipt when you’re done. Boom. Cash back. Once you’ve earned $20, you can redeem your cash back through PayPal or trade your cash in for gift cards at dozens of popular stores and restaurants.
Retail cash back
Whether you shop online or in-store, Ibotta offers cash back at many major retailers. Right now, you can get:
- 2% cash back at BedBathandBeyond.com
- 5% cash back at Nike.com
- 2% cash back at Gap.com
- 5% cash back at PetSmart.com
- 2% cash back at Walgreens.com
- 3% cash back at World Market
When you shop at a retail store, you’ll have a few options. You can either upload your receipt or link your card and purchase with Ibotta. Either way, your purchase will be credited to your account. For online purchases, the process is even simpler. Just open the app or go to the Ibotta website and enter the store you want to visit from there. After you confirm your purchase, the cash back will be sent to your account.
Other cash back options
Do you order a lot of food online? What about grocery delivery services? The great thing is that there are so many options available. Big-name companies like Instacart and Uber Eats have partnered with Ibotta to offer cash back for items and services you already use. Grocery Stores? Check. Wholesale clubs? Check. Liquor Stores? Check. Convenience stores? Check. Dog food, shoes, skincare and makeup? Check, check, check. The best part is, there are no fees and no crazy high interest rates.
How to get the most from your cash back
Cash back with Ibotta is simple and flexible. There are so many ways that you can maximize what you earn:
- Check the app before you leave the house: cash back offers are added all the time. Before you make a purchase, open up the app and type in your product or the name of your store. Even small offers can add up quickly!
- Don’t make purchases that you wouldn’t make without cash back – there are plenty of offers on things you already buy, from groceries to household essentials. But, there are also plenty of offers on brands you may not have used, so cash back is the perfect excuse to try something new!
- Watch for bonus offers. You can get extra cash back if you redeem a certain number of offers in general or in a specific category. Offers change frequently and can be a good opportunity to earn big rewards.
- Activate notifications. With Ibotta, you can have your app send you offers when you are near a participating retailer! Even if you forgot to check for offers before you left the house, the app can remind you when you walk through the store’s front doors.
- Link your loyalty cards. Even if you forget your phone at home or have a tendency to lose your receipt, you can still get cash back. Many retailers allow you to link your loyalty accounts to your Ibotta account and earn automatically.
- Shop with friends! Want to share the cash back love and get a little something extra for yourself? Refer your friends. All you have to do is share your referral code. When they sign-up, you’ll get referral cash the first time they redeem an offer.
The options are limitless
Ibotta works with so many major retailers across the United States, saving is easy and convenient. Some of our partners include:
- Whole Foods
- Family Dollar
Earn more with Ibotta
Ibotta is an easy to use and fun way to earn cash back. You don’t have to waste your time (or money) on credit card rewards – you shouldn’t have to pay for cash back. With over 1,500 brands and over $750 million cash back paid out to date, Ibotta is your best source for cash back. Plus, if you sign up today, you’ll get a $20 Welcome Bonus, just for using the app. What are you waiting for? Sign up for Ibotta today.