You do have a smartphone, right? If you do, you have a powerful tool to help you save money in a lot of different situations. For grocery shopping, for example, you will need these cash back apps.
This is the first post in a series about grocery shopping tactics. I know that buying groceries is a major part of everyone’s budget, then I just realized we have a lot of room to explore on this subject. There are a lot of tips and tricks about grocery shopping, so many that I could write a whole book about that. One of the most incredible and (at least for me) new ways to save money when in the supermarket are cash back apps. Since you don’t want to pay full price, let’s just add this new tool to our arsenal, shall we?
What are cash back apps?
Cash back apps are exactly what the name implies: they are apps that will give you cash back. They all work based on the same premises:
- They list some products;
- You buy these products at any store;
- You upload your receipt;
- They give you cash back.
Different apps will list different products, so the best way to maximize your chances of getting cash back from the brands you buy is to use all of them. Let’s dive into the list:
Zweet was the first cash back app I’ve discovered, and after this I just realized it was a one way road: I am totally hooked to this cash back thing! One nice thing about Zweet is that it lists no-brand products, like “milk” or “bananas”. That means that you can buy ANY brand of milk and get cash back for your purchase! You get your cash back via check or PayPal once you reach a $20 balance.
Now the not-even-close-to-nice part: if your account becomes inactive for 12 months, they will deduct $2 per month from your balance until your balance is $0. Not fair AT ALL, Zweet! This way they force you to upload at least one receipt every 12 months (or even worst, they force you to buy something you don’t need just to keep your account active).
Just one word about Checkout51: works-everywhere-except-Quebec. They say it’s because their technology cannot read french receipts. However, if you live elsewhere in Canada, Grocery51 offers go live every Thursday and last one week, but the quantities are limited. It’s nice because you only have to check the app once during the week. They list some no-brand products, too, and you need to get a minimum of $20 balance to request your check.
Snap by Groupon
It lists some no-brand products, too, and like Checkout51, it has limited quantities for each offer. Right now I can see “Any $50+ grocery receipt” listed there, but it’s grayed-out saying “All Gone”. You have to keep checking the app, because there is no logical schedule for when the offers go live. You need to reach a $20 cash back amount to request a check.
Some offers are not valid in Quebec, so pay attention (no pun intended). A strong positive point about CartSmart: you can request your cash back via PayPal when your balance is at least $5. Another nice feature is the shopping list: you can save offers to a shopping list, so you can plan your trip to the supermarket and you don’t need to keep looking for that specific item “I am sure there was an offer for this tomato sauce here somewhere” :)
Save.ca lists some flyers, too, but its strong point seems to be the cash back items. I’ve seen no no-brand product here, and the list is kind of small when compared to the other apps. The list is updated every Monday, and like CartSmart, you can request your money when your balance reaches $5 (via PayPal). This is all I can say about Save.ca, because I could not create an account from my Android smartphone :(
Warning: I am not 100% convinced their cashback offers are valid in Canada, but their Google Play page says “US and Canada”. TopCashBack suffers from the Duck Syndrome: it tries to do everything but they excel at nothing. They have online coupons, in-store vouchers and in-store cash back offers. Its interface is clumsy, it has very few offers available. Positive point: There’s no minimum balance to request a payout, and you can get your money via PayPal or direct deposit! Really, who cares about stupid paper checks nowadays? Overall, I’ve found the TopCashback experience to be very user unfriendly :(
It’s a lot of apps to install on your cell phone, right? Yes, I agree. You have to keep one thing in mind: the more time you spend planning and actively trying to save money, the bigger the savings will be. If you spend ZERO time trying to save, your savings will be less than ZERO dollars. It’s up to you to get to the optimal balance between time and savings. If you think you are spending too much time with anything and it’s not saving you enough money, it’s OK to ditch this tool or strategy and try another one.
Now, let me know: is there any other cash back app that I didn’t mention? Do you use any of the above? Are you a cash back master? Tell me in the comments how do you use these apps!
*Photo by Dan McKay