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Best Free Cash Back Apps

Best Free Cash Back Apps. The Money Tree.

I wanted to take a break this week from the more lofty economic concepts, and instead focus in on some simple, practical additions to your financial practice that will literally make you extra money in your sleep.  Today we’re going to chat about the best free cash back apps that I use, and why you should consider letting them run in the background of your life also.

We’ve established here at Creative Finance before that we love free money.  Who wouldn’t?  Anytime I come across a system or solution that will earn me free money for 0-5 minutes worth of set up time- sign me up.

Previously I did a review of a “fintech” app called Dobot, you can check it out here.  Whereas Dobot is an app that will constantly monitor your account to save small amounts of dollars here and there, the apps we’re going to touch on today will actually just generate free cash back on purchases you’re already making.

By the way, fintech is financial technology that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in improving upon financial services.

These are services and apps designed to help you, and make your life easier.

I downloaded most of these apps just about a year ago for personal use, so I’ll show you about how much I’ve made from each over the course of the last year.  Of course, your spending habits are different from mine, are different from Elphaba’s, are different from Aldolpho’s etc. but these apps will quietly generate some extra money for pretty much everyone out there.

I’m going to drop a referral code for each app that I use personally.  There’s no pressure to use my code, obviously no pressure to download the app at all.  But If you’re feeling like you’re going to- using my code throws a little love my way for all the Creative Financing I’ve been putting into the universe these past few months.

With regards to the best free cash back apps I use and know about, they’re all a little bit different so we’ll go specifically into each and every one.  

Even fintech apps gotta’ get a gimmick.

PEI (Pop!)

One app I really love is called PEI.  

PEI earns you automatic cashback at tons of different retailers.  Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Target, Chipotle- to name a few.  They even partner with local restaurants to offer a pretty generous deal a lot of the time.

For example, there’s an Indian restaurant right on my block called Kismat (where in the world is Broadway Joe?  Look no further than the 10033, aka Washington Heights’ little slice of heaven pie).  Kismat offers 10% back on your bill via the PEI app.  Now listen very carefully, I’m going to tell you exactly how you get these cashback bonuses and accrue the extra monies in your account…

1) Download the app.  

2) Let it do its thing.

3) Repeat.

Seriously!    All you have to do with an app like PEI is download from the app store or wherever it is you procure apps.  You’re going to link your spending credit cards to the app itself.

*Gasp* is that safe?  Giving my credit card info…to an app?

PEI uses the same process as Acorns & Robinhood do to link to credit cards.  They do not store your information and this method is a secure way to communicate directly with your financial institution, without them (PEI) actually having to store any of your financial info in their server.

So yes, dear reader, they have gone to great lengths to make this process safe for you.

As I mentioned I first downloaded PEI about a year ago.  I pretty dramatically changed up some of my spending habits during the pandemic (go learn a bit about What Baking Can Do!), but Broadway Joe still enjoys a cup of Joe out and about every once in a while.  Now Shoeless Joe and Smokey Joe, those guys are a whole other story.  I wonder if any of them happen to know Jo Marsh?  Anyway, I digress.

In one year from PEI alone I’ve earned 3,303.62 points or (drumroll)…. $33.04!

Best free cash back apps

I always imagine there are folks out there reading this who might say, huh, that’s not that much money.

And to be clear, you’re right.  I mean, it’s all relative, but in the grand scheme of things I think we’d all agree that $33.04 isn’t that much money and isn’t going to change my life.

But let’s also be clear, I made an extra $33.04 last year for doing nothing other than what I would have been doing anyway.

The same principle applies to our high interest savings accounts.  I’ve written about accounts like DCU and Netspend, where you can park your money to earn high interest to beat long-term inflation.

In my DCU savings account I keep $1,000 at 6.14% interest, and make about $61 per year in interest there. I’m making half of that from PEI, without even having to stash the $1k away.

Take note, take heed- and download PEI with my referral code so we each get a sweet little bonus!

Dosh (Six!)

Another app worth mentioning is Dosh.

Dosh’s mission statement reads as follows: “To positively impact people’s lives by moving billions of dollars to millions of people.”

That’s a mission I could get behind.

The structure of Dosh is incredibly similar to PEI- you download the app, you link your cards, bada bing bada boom.  Free cash back.

The offers are a bit different- it’s more of a mix of restaurants, hotels, and commercial groups.

But remember Kismat?  Delicious Indian cuisine in the heart of Washington Heights?

They also offer 5% back on Dosh.

Now we’re double-stacking rewards, and if that doesn’t excite you in some capacity, you’re on the wrong blog.

That’s right, when I dine or order from Kismat, I get both 10% back through PEI and 5% back through Dosh. My meals are essentially 85% of the receipt price.

Dosh is a bit specific in that they have great hotel deals available through the app.  Look at this screen grab of a search for a two-night stay in Las Vegas:

Best free cash back apps

Using the Waldorf Astoria as an example: I could book a stay through Dosh for $263 per night and get $123 + $15 for a total of $138 cash back on that booking.  Pretty neat.

Not to mention there are offers there for Walmart, Costco, DoorDash, Instacart, and so much more.

Dosh and PEI work the same way in that you accrue points, and then can transfer the dollar amount of the points directly to your bank account whenever you like.

In the last year I made $15.33 cashback with Dosh.

If you want to check out Dosh and see if it’s right for you, here’s my referral link, and I recommend you go ahead and add it to your arsenal.

Drop (Squish!)

Another one of the best free cash back apps available to you is Drop.

Drop works the same way in theory as our previous two apps, BUT does not allow for a cash out option.  Instead the points you accrue can be used to purchase goods inside of the app.

I certainly prefer the option of being able to withdraw the bonus cash full out- but there are some benefits to having Drop going in the background alongside your other apps.

First, Drop works with a number of major retailers that you’re probably already using in some form or another.  Lululemon, UberEats, Home Depot, Ebay- these are just some of the vendors you can earn Drop points with.

Dosh lets you redeem points for valuable items.  For example when you have 25,000 Drop points, you could redeem those points for a $25 Apple gift card, or other items.

This has been my slowest app to date, I’ve only earned about 2,247 points over the last year from Drop. However, Drop recently added Amazon purchases to points accrual, so I’m sure I’ll see that number continue to go up over the next few months.  

And eventually when it hits 25,000, I’ll get myself a nice little gift card.  But I’ll put my current Drop earnings at about $2.50.

Which is still more earned that if you have $1,000 sitting in a Chase or Bank of America account. (Ahem, Get Out and Stay Out).

Here’s a referral code to try Drop out also!

Ibotta (Uh Uh!)

One more app I’ll leave you with today is Ibotta!

I don’t take much advantage of Ibotta since I find it’s mostly for grocery stores, and the stores near me in Manhattan don’t seem to have many cashback opportunities.  But this one might also be great for you.

Ibotta is different from the rest in that it will give you cashback opportunities on specific items for purchase.

For example, I could head to Target today, and if I bought a 7.5oz Philadelphia cream cheese spread, Ibotta would give me $0.50 back on that purchase.

This app makes a lot of sense to have if you notice they are consistently creating bonus opportunities on items you would already be purchasing.  But there tends to be a lot of activity here- and lots of popular retailers also including Target, Walmart, Aldi, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and more.

Like I said this is my least used app, and so my earnings in the past year are only about $0.75, but I’m sure if I used it more frequently, I would have access to even more passive earnings.

If you want to try it out, there’s a referral code here, and it’s just as easy as the others to set up.

Finale Thoughts

It’s my goal to cover many different concepts across many different areas of personal finance here on the blog.  I think the best free cash back apps on the market certainly deserve a place in the conversation.

These apps are so easy to install, and so easy to use.  And they’re safe.  Why not incorporate them into your life?  It seriously takes 5 minutes!

I want to use today’s post to keep hammering home the mantra, no stone left unturned when it comes to free money.

I don’t buy the argument that it’s not worth it- it’s so little money who cares?  And so on.

We know how powerful compound interest can be, we know how much every dollar and cent can really add up to become such a large and powerful sum over time!

Say yes to free money.  Empower yourself to make the smallest of changes that put extra dollars into your pocket at no extra effort.  

It’s like sitting in the yard and wanting a snack, and just reaching up to grab an orange from The Money Tree.  Grab it, enjoy it, and in the meantime that tree is going to grow you another orange.


Did you enjoy today’s post about the best free cash back apps out there? If you know of any other good ones we didn’t cover, drop a comment below!

This post may contain affiliate links.

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