The 11 Best Apps That Pay You to Shop

FT Contributor
A woman at a supermarket leans in to cross check the cost of an item with a shopping app on her smartphone.

Cash-back apps allow you to earn points for eligible purchases, which can be redeemed for cash or other rewards. If you’re looking for simple yet effective ways to save money, signing up for a cash-back app to incentivize your online and in-store purchases is a great way to rack up a few bucks. Learn more about some of the most popular cash-back sites to determine which ones are right for you.


The Rakuten cash-back app was formerly called Ebates and allows you to earn points by shopping online with participating retailers. It’s free to sign up for Rakuten and you can redeem your points for gift cards, travel miles, or PayPal cash.


  • You can download a browser extension that automatically activates your cash-back rewards.
  • When you refer a friend or first sign up for Rakuten, you receive a bonus.
  • As a Rakuten member, you’re offered exclusive discounts and coupon codes.
  • Rakuten has the largest inventory of participating brands.
  • It’s FREE to join.


  • You may be tempted to impulse buy items you don’t need simply to earn Rakuten points.
  • The app only pays out rewards quarterly.
  • You must download the app or have the browser extension installed to be eligible to earn points.


With Swagbucks

, you earn money for taking surveys, watching videos, searching the web, shopping online, and playing games. It’s free to sign up for Swagbucks and the site provides cash-back rewards, coupon codes, and different ways to redeem the points you earned.


  • Members gain access to coupon codes and discounts to popular online retailers so you can stick to your budget while shopping.
  • There are several ways to rack up points you can trade in for gift cards.
  • You can redeem your points for PayPal cash or gift cards to several popular retailers.
  • It’s FREE to join.


  • To earn points searching the web, you must install the Swagbucks browser extension or start at the Swagbucks site.
  • You must qualify for the surveys to be eligible to earn points.
  • The number of points you earn for certain actions isn’t always explained.


When you sign up for Ibotta, you earn points for eligible online or in-store purchases, from groceries to housewares. Your in-person purchases are tracked with Ibotta by registering your retailer loyalty accounts, using the Ibotta payment features, or uploading photos of your receipts.


  • You can earn points for several types of purchases, both in-person and online.
  • The app lets you cash out your rewards through Venmo or PayPal.
  • You receive bonus cash-back opportunities through retailers and if you refer friends.


  • Not all grocery or convenience stores participate, so some purchases won’t earn you points.
  • You must remember to upload a photo of your receipt to the app if that’s the method you use to earn points for in-person shopping trips.
  • You may find yourself buying items you don’t need simply to earn Ibotta points.


It’s free to sign up for Shopkick and once you have the app installed on your smartphone, you can earn points when you buy items online or in store, scan eligible items, or simply walk by participating retailers. Once you’ve earned enough points, you can trade them in for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon or Walmart.


  • You can earn points simply by visiting retailers and not even making a purchase.
  • Set goals for the number of points you want to earn in the app and you’ll be alerted when it’s time to cash in.
  • The app only asks for basic personal information and you don’t need to link your credit card.


  • You can only cash in your points for gift cards, not cash.
  • It can take a long time to earn enough points to redeem a gift card.
  • You must agree to several cell phone permissions to use Shopkick.


When you sign up for the Mobee app, you can engage in “shopping missions” to earn points that you redeem for rewards with participating retailers, or cash in your PayPal account. It’s free to sign up and in most cases, you’re tasked with answering questions about retailers and products as you shop to earn points.


  • You can earn bonus points by referring friends who engage in the app.
  • Once you complete a mission, you receive your points within 48 hours.
  • Choose between cash or gift cards when you’re ready to redeem.


  • The missions you must complete may be distracting as you’re trying to shop.
  • Missions are only available in certain areas and may not be as plentiful in rural locations.
  • You must turn on several cell phone permissions to use the Mobee app.

Receipt Hog

It’s free to sign up for Receipt Hog and you earn cash back for purchases when you upload photos of your receipts to the app. You can upload your receipt from any retailer to earn “coins” and participate in games that can earn you even more coins.


  • You don’t have to shop at specific retailers or buy certain products to earn coins.
  • Upload photos of your receipts when you’ve finished shopping and not while you’re in the store.
  • You can cash out when you’ve earned $5, or 1,000 coins.


  • The number of coins you can earn each week is limited.
  • To earn coins, you’re prompted to play games when you upload your receipt, which may be time consuming.
  • Depending on your shopping habits, it can take a while to earn enough coins for redemption.


Gigwalk is a free app that provides members access to open gigs in the area posted by businesses. When you sign up, you can choose gigs that meet your time and payment specifications and receive payment through your PayPal account.


  • You can choose when, where, and how you accept gigs in your area.
  • When you successfully complete a task, you’re paid in cash, directly to your PayPal account.
  • Some tasks may only take you five minutes and could include taking a photo of a store.


  • Gigs are usually only available in rural areas.
  • Your task completion must be approved by the app before you’re paid.
  • You can’t count on the app to provide you with stable income.

Field Agent

With the Field Agent app, you sign up to complete tasks that earn you money, such as being a mystery shopper, doing market research, or completing an audit at a retail store. When you complete the task within the parameters and deadline, you receive payment for your efforts.


  • Field Agent works with popular brands, such as Walmart and Kraft, so products and retailers are easy to find.
  • You can reserve the jobs you want to complete in your area.
  • There are various tasks that are organized based on the time it takes to complete them and the payment offered.


  • You usually can’t complete the tasks from home.
  • You must be able to receive your payout by direct deposit or through a PayPal account.
  • Payment for tasks is usually low and there’s never a guarantee there will be jobs available in your area.


Trunow is a free cash-back app that allows members to earn points for buying gas, eating at restaurants, and making other purchases. It’s free to sign up and the app provides deals and coupons and information on the best gas prices in your area.


  • Receive exclusive discounts and information on promotions in your area.
  • Earn rewards on your in-person purchases, including restaurant transactions.
  • Redeem your rewards for cash through PayPal or gift cards.


  • You must upload photos of your receipts through the app to earn rewards.
  • It can take a few days for your rewards to be approved and show up in your account.
  • Not all gas stations show up on the app, so you may not find the best price for gas when using this feature.


When you join CashCrate for free, you gain access to information on paid survey sites and opportunities for side hustles. The site also provides reviews and details on cash-back sites and shopping rewards apps.


  • Find information on cash-back sites all in one place.
  • Choose the category you’re interested in to view the apps available.
  • Learn about other users’ experiences and reviews of the sites.


  • Not all opportunities are reviewed and mentioned on the site.
  • Tips are submitted by users and may not always be completely accurate.
  • Some opportunities listed may not be available in your area.

Checkout 51

The Checkout 51 app is free and provides members with shopping offers. To earn cash-back rewards, members must snag these offers, buy the related products, and upload photos of their receipts to earn points.


  • You can earn cash-back on everyday purchases, including gas and groceries.
  • Use the Checkout 51 app or website to upload photos of your receipts.
  • New offers are released every Thursday.


  • You can only use a receipt to satisfy one offer.
  • You can only redeem your cash when you’ve earned at least $20.
  • To earn cash, you must add applicable offers first before uploading a photo of your receipt.

With so many cash-back sites, it can be tough to choose the one that’s right for you. By reviewing the pros and cons of these popular rewards sites, you’ll figure out which one is most beneficial for your shopping habits and goals.

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