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Cash Back Apps and Websites: 2020 Review
For 2020 I reviewed various cash back apps every month. When you look at a lot of these apps/websites or even some YouTube videos, you’re given the impression you’ll make an entire side income. That’s not really the case that I’ve noticed.
I’ll give a short explanation of each program I reviewed. Show and explain my earnings, and then my goals for 2021 in regards to this particular program. Some I want to use more, some are fine as they are, and some may not make the cut for 2021.
In this post I’ll discuss the following apps which I reviewed recently.
- Fetch Rewards
- Receipt Hog
- Google Opinion Rewards
- Cashback Monitor
As a quick review – Ibotta is a receipt scanning app. Select from available offers of items you already planned on purchasing. Scan your receipts, select the offers marked, scan barcodes if needed, and earn. Shop online at your favorite retailer through the Ibotta app, or use Ibotta at checkout in person and earn a percent back from your reciept.
I started the year off with Ibotta since it’s the first cash back app I ever used. As I mentioned in my six month review of cash back apps, my earnings with Ibotta have been slow going.
I would 100% say it’s because we shop at Aldi for 90% of our groceries. Ibotta and Aldi did partner together, but mostly for name brand items. I was able to make a bit through this past year.
Ibotta Earnings in 2020
For this column in my spreadsheet I tracked my total earnings and current cashout amount. As mentioned in my Ibotta post, you need $20 in order to cash out.
Focusing on cash out amount, I started the year with a balance of $14.42, most months a couple dollars or nothing at all. I always try to take advantage of their “Any Item” promotion where you get a specified amount back on literally anything on your receipt. The amount varies I’ve noticed. I use Ibotta way more than my husband, my usual “Any Item” rebate is around 10 cents while his is usually 25 cents. A way to get people to use the app more by offering more on “Any Item” deals? Maybe.
Where you’ll see the big jump is in December. Somewhere, either someone who read this blog, saw an Instagram or Facebook post, or my share on Pinterest signed up using my referral code. I got a $10 thank you from Ibotta in exchange. I do have over $40, twice the amount needed to cash out, but I don’t need it at this time, so we shall hold on for a bit and see.
Total earnings for Ibotta in 2020: $26.91
Ibotta in 2021
My goal for 2021 is to look at Ibotta just a bit more. I want to catch some of those great deals I’ve benefited from in the past. Cashing out my Ibotta earnings for a WalMart gift card would enable me to use those earnings to purchase items I need that also have a rebate. Since they were from my Ibotta account then transferred to a gift card, they’re basically free. Who can argue with free?
Swagbucks – Usually known as a survey site, but it has proved to be so much more. Yes, with Swagbucks you can earn money by taking surveys. You can also earn by watching videos, answering daily polls, and use their website as a portal to shop online and earn a percent back of your purchase. But, you can also earn back on grocery receipts. A simple 2 cents from each receipt but it’s so easy, why not?
Swagbucks Earnings in 2020
Again, I tracked my total earnings and current cashout amount. With Swagbucks, you need $20 in order to cash out.
Again, pretty slow morning for the most part. A few cents or a few dollars if I happened to complete a survey that particular month. I try to answer the daily poll, but usually manage to only on days where I am scanning receipts. Every day grocery receipts earn 2 SB (2 cents) and the Daily poll earns 1 SB (1 cent).
You can see bigger earnings towards the end of the year. Using Cashback Monitor, we happened upon a deal with Best Buy on a server we wanted. I logged into Swagbucks first as a shopping portal and then to Best Buy. I was looking at earning back 380 SB ($3.80) from my purchase, not a huge amount, but only required an extra click or two on the computer. What surprised me, was the 1500 SB Bonus I received from Swagbucks for that purchase. I still don’t know why or how, my guess is just a random bonus. The purchase was made in October, the 1500 was received in November, and the original 380 SB that I was expecting to receive, came in December.
My total at the end of 2020 with Swagbucks is 3200 SB or $32.00. I earned $25.33 in 2020 using Swagbucks periodically.
Swagbucks in 2021
While the surveys don’t earn you much, I’ve been seeing some challenges on youtube about surveys. In these challenges, the user logs onto various survey sits for a period of 2 hours. They do nothing but earn points under that survey site however they can, sometimes with multiple devices. Why are they doing it? Views I guess. People like me get sucked in wondering what they’ll earn.
It’s worth a few hours one day to challenge myself to earn as much as possible. Videos running on one device, scanning receipts from my phone and answering the daily poll, printing coupons from my computer and answering surveys. Should I? Let me know what you think in the comments.
Otherwise, my goal for Swagbucks in 2020 is to utilize things like the shopping portal a bit more, earn a bit back on purchases. I’ve also noticed in their “Answer” app you can earn up to $6 if you’re at Target or Walmart (those are the only stores I’ve seen this for far) by answering questions about specific product displays. I don’t think about it until I’m home, so this year I’d like to check that out and see what all can be done.
Groupon – Group Coupon.
This site offers you discounts on various products and services by partnering with the retailers. Previously thought (at least by me) to be just for outings, over the years I’ve used it to save on products quite a few times.
Groupon Savings in 2020
Starting from the bottom (now we’re here), in February I took advantage of the periodic email invite only deal of the Starbucks gift card. I don’t know how I get this email or who gets it, but periodically I do receive this offer. Spend $5 at Groupon, and you are sent a code to redeem for $10 to spend at Starbucks. I don’t stop by there often but having this is helpful since their coffees aren’t exactly $1 each.
The Daily Burn 60- Day Trial All Access Membership was a freebie claimed through email. I used it once.
In October, I purchased two Groupons. The Shutterfly book description “good for $5 towards 20 page 8″x8″ custom hardcover photo book” isn’t exactly correct. I was able to get a 20 page 8″x8″ custom hardcover photo book for $5. My assumption is that the “towards” is if you want larger or more pages. I used this to create a memory book for my niece for Christmas.
The final purchase through Groupon of 2020 was one I highly recommend. The deal was two self inking address stamps for $8. These stamps usually go for $29 or so each. I recently received the stamps and they are very good quality.
Sign up for Groupon and catch these deals for yourself.
Groupon in 2021
I enjoy using Groupon and have for years. 2020 put a bit of a kink in the saving on activities portion of Groupon, but had plenty of deals on products. Hopefully in 2021 We can use all that Groupon has to offer in order to save on products and experiences.
April: Checkout 51
Checkout 51 is another receipt scanning app. They partner with a very small number of retailers to give rebates back on certain products. They also have a cashback program for gas as well.
Checkout 51 Earnings in 2020
Checkout 51 earnings in 2020 were slow going all year. Due to the limited number of partner retailers, I didn’t make very much very often. I was able to, during the lockdown of 2020, earn back on the essentials rebates they offered. I really liked this offer because they knew people were mostly getting what they needed vs extras they just wanted. They gave rebates back on eggs, bread, milk, vegetables. Quite a nice gesture.
Otherwise, they periodically have small 30 second videos to view for 3 cents or so each. I watch them when I catch them, but I’m sure I miss a few.
This year I earned $6.63 with Checkout 51.
Very slow moving indeed. But the app causes me no issues, and since I already know what the offers are from browsing when they release them on Thursdays, I know if I need to open the app after a shopping trip or not.
Checkout51 in 2021
There’s not much else I can do with Checkout51 due to their smaller size. When deals I’m interested in are available I snag one for myself so I can redeem if I purchase that item. In regards to that way of earning with Checkout51, things will remain the same.
Recently Checkout 51 has started their own Survey program. Similar to Swagbucks I assume, but I need to check first.
I plan to try that out this year, and perhaps incorporate it into my 2 hours of surveys idea. Once Swagbucks seems to be low on surveys, I’ll open my Checkout 51 app and see what I can earn.
Rakuten is a shopping portal. You log into your account, choose your retailer. They safely and privately track your spending on that order using cookies. A percentage of your purchase is then added to your account. Rakuten pays its members their cash back earned on a quarterly basis.
Rakuten Earnings in 2020
I didn’t do much with Rakuten, but I did want to show the two transactions I did have. One, on the bottom, being a referral made in May. At that time if referred someone and they made a $30 purchase within 14 days, you got $30 and so did they! Then in June I made a purchase through the portal and while a small amount I still got $1.49 back from Rakuten.
The purchase I made through Rakuten was $29.75, I got $1.49 back, and $30 for a referral the month before. If you think about it, I guess I made $1.74 and got the items from the June purchase for free.
Rakuten in 2021
My goal for 2021 in terms of Rakuten is simply to remember to use it. I don’t do much online shopping so I tend to forget about it.
June: Fetch Rewards
Fetch Rewards is another receipt scanning app. They have select brands that they offer bonus points for, but generally you receive 25 points for every grocery receipt and 5 points for other reciepts.
Fetch Rewards Earnings in 2020
The start of 2020 was pretty steady. A few hundred points each month for receipt redemptions and the periodic bonus point for shopping certain brands.
However, in August you’ll see a huge jump. I shared my referral code on pinterest and instagram in June. Seems it took a bit for people to find them. Months later I still receive referral points from these posts.
I did redeem 50,000 points or $50 in October. A friend who is currently deployed in the Middle East wanted Christmas stockings made for her unit. I cashed out for an Amazon gift card, purchased the stockings and one more item for myself. I wasn’t going to expect her to send me any money for these items, so having this availability to cash out was helpful.
You can see I started the year was 6581 points, or $6 roughly. I ended the year with 103,675 points including the 50,000 I cashed out in October. An impressive year with Fetch Rewards, I ended up earning back $97.09 in total.
Join Fetch Rewards. USE CODE XN1RG to get 2,000 bonus points.
Fetch Rewards in 2021
In regards to a new year with Fetch Rewards, I’m going keep a better eye on the featured brands. If they’re products I already enjoy, it will only be a benefit. I’ll obviously keep recommending it, not just because it’s easy to use and you have a plethora of cash out options, but their referral program is quite good. Periodically they do switch from the usual 2,000 points to 4 or even 7,000 points.
July: Miles App
Miles App uses the location service on your phone to track your daily travels for all modes of transportation. As you earn miles you can redeem them for discounts towards products and services/experiences.
Miles Earnings in 2020
Kind of straight forward here; however, My confusion lies in September and October.
My mom passed away in September and we drove from Southern California to Eastern Pennsylvania in mid September, driving back in mid October. Compared to November, when I stayed home most of the month yet earned more than the other two months combined. The miles earned don’t seem to particularly reflect that.
I’m also confused by the loss of 10 miles some months. I’m still not 100 per cent sure on how this works.
Miles App in 2021
Eh? I haven’t seen much that I’m intrigued by in terms of rewards. There was a free wine tasting in Northern California for a bit, but that’s about all that’s heightened my interest. I won’t delete the app, but it isn’t particularly a priority. I’ll keep the app on my phone and check in on the rewards from time to time, but won’t be putting any effort in as far as Miles App is concerned.
Restaurant.com you need to use in person. I don’t believe it works for takeout and certainly not for delivery. So as we know, 2020 didn’t really allow for that. I still love Restaurant.com, and as soon I’m able to use one of my Restaurant.com gift cards I will be sure to write a post.
Restaurant.com in 2021
I am REALLY hoping to get to use some Restaurant.com gift cards in 2021. Hoping to get out and enjoy time with others safely again. We had used a gift card at a local brewery in 2019. It was great since we already had planned on spending the money. It was nice to save some of that. So, fingers crossed for some Restaurant.com usage in 2021!
September: Receipt Hog
Receipt Hog is another cash back app that rewards you for scanning receipts on your every day purchases.
Receipt Hog Earnings in 2020
After being a member of Receipt Hog for a few years, I was finally able to cash out for the coveted $40, 6,500 coin prize in February 2020. By the end of 2020, I am over halfway to my next $40. So perhaps in 2021, I’ll see my next $40.
Sign up for Receipt Hog and earn 5 hog spins upon uploading your first eligible receipt! Remember to enter code yed98018 when prompted if it isn’t automatically entered.
Receipt Hog in 2021
I plan to continue to use this app as I had been. While slow going with earnings, they are pretty steady and rewards arrive quickly once claimed. I believe as I advance through levels the rewards are greater but it takes longer to advance.
October: Google Opinion Rewards
Google Opinion Rewards is a survey/question based app. This app rewards you with Google Play Store or PayPal credit.
Google Opinion Rewards Earnings in 2020
While earnings appear small, they are often enough that I can “purchase” cheats and help in some of the random games I play to pass time. The surveys aren’t long and I find them to be worth it.
In all of 2020, I added $18.10 to my Google Play Balance.
Google Opinion Rewards is available for Android and iPhone users.
Google Opinion Rewards in 2021
No difference really. Google Opinion Rewards informs you when you can earn points. I never miss a survey, so I’ll just continue with that as is.
Shopkick is a shopping app that rewards users for shopping activities both online and in store. They have products which they partner with that you can scan in store for kicks. You’ll earn even more kicks if you purchase those products. You can even earn just by walking into some stores. The app also offers the option of earning via videos. It’s just a few cents a day, but they add up.
Shopkick Earnings in 2020
You can see earnings in 2020 for Shopkick were very low, Just $1.47. With everything going on in the world, we adhered to public health official recommendations and just went out once a week for supplies. There was no walking around the sore aimlessly picking up items. Plus only Matt went so it wasn’t feasible to earn kicks by in store scanning.
To get started earning kicks, use our referral link or enter code NICE670235 at signup.
Shopkick in 2021
My plan for 2021 in regards to Shopkick is to get to stores more and start scanning. Recently had to run into CVS, I opened the Shopkick app and earned 10 kicks just for walking into the store. While I didn’t have time to scan any actual items as I was in a hurry, would like to be able to take some time and do a bit more of that this year in addition to some missions from Swagbucks.
Another way to earn kicks this year is simply to watch the videos in the app under the Discover tab. You earn 1-3 kicks per video and can set the video to play on your phone while you’re accomplishing other tasks on the computer or doing pretty much anything else.
December: Cashback Monitor
Think of Cashback Monitor’s website like a portal, or an informational savings dashboard. They do the research for you. It’s not just apps like the ones I talked about throughout the year, either. This website also looks at credit card points and travel miles, so you can earn a variety of rewards through your purchases.
The wonderful people at Cashback Monitor look at all of this for you and update regularly. From the main screen, you can see the time of the most recent information update.
Cashback Monitor Savings in 2020
I used this app a few times to see where I may earn more shopping through portals like Rakuten and Swagbucks. You can see those posts above.
Cashback Monitor in 2021
For Cashback Monitor in 2021, I would like to remember to actually use it more. My plan is to remind myself to check with this site prior to making any online purchases to save or earn back as much as possible.
2020 Cash Back Apps and Websites- Final Thoughts
Adding up what I actually earned back from Ibotta, Swagbucks, Checkout 51, Google Opinion Rewards, Rakuten, Fetch Rewards, Receipt Hog, and Shopkick….the total comes to:
I spent more time logging what I was earning back than scanning the receipts.
I do think if you shopped at certain stores you could make more back, but you may also be spending more to get those deals. I’m not a fan of that logic. We are Aldi shoppers, and for example, they do partner with ibotta now, but ibotta doesn’t recognize a lot of their brands for deals.
There are some people that are able to make a lot back and even get a lot for free if they spend the time researching coupons that are out plus store sales and price comparisons plus cash back rebates.
I used to do that, but it was too time consuming for me, personally. If you are able to do that and not go crazy, I commend you.