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How to Earn Cash Back While Shopping Online and in Stores

{% description %}Cash back apps, rewards portals, discounts and other deals can help you save money on almost anything.%}

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Coupons and discounts aren't the only way to save money on everyday purchases. Whether you're making the weekly grocery run or shopping for a special occasion, you can stack cash back apps, rewards portals, discounts, coupons and other offers to save money on almost anything.

Use Cash Back Apps

Cash back apps let you earn cash back rewards (or points you can redeem for cash back) for in-store purchases. These apps tend to start with a focus — such as cash back on groceries or at gas stations — and expand as they grow. Some of the most popular include Ibotta, Fetch Rewards and GetUpside, but there are others you could try as well.

Often, you need to accept an offer in the app and then purchase the item from an eligible retailer. Many, but not all, cash back offers are for brand-name products.

The offers may be for a percentage of your purchase amount or a specific reward. For example, you might get $1 cash back when you buy a specific type of milk. Or 5% cash back at a nearby restaurant. If you find the same offer in multiple apps, you can often double-dip and earn cash back multiple times from a single purchase.

You also may need to verify the purchase by uploading a picture of your receipt. But some cash back apps let you automatically earn the cash back rewards after you make eligible purchases with a linked debit, credit or store loyalty card or account.

Compare Online Portals Rewards Rates

If you're shopping online, there are also many opportunities to earn cash back, airline miles or hotel points from your purchase.

Online rewards portals are like intermediary websites. They have a list of online stores that you can shop at and rewards rates for each store. When you click on a link to an eligible site and make a purchase, the merchant pays the portal a referral fee and the portal shares part of the fee with its users.

The trick is that different shopping portals give you different rewards rates, and the rates can change at any time. Using a site like Cashback Monitor can help you quickly find out whether you can earn rewards from a retailer's website, and which rewards portal offers the best rates.

Stack Coupons, Discounts and Offers

Don't forgo other money-saving tips if you're using a cash back app or portal. Often, you can use coupons, discount codes or shop the clearance section and still earn rewards. Although double-check rewards portals' terms, as there may be limitations on which coupon codes you can use when checking out online.

There are also sometimes opportunities to combine store or brand coupons with cash back app offers. You may even be able to combine deals and offers and make more money than you spend — these are often called money-making (“MM”) opportunities in deal-hunting communities.

Pay With a Rewards Credit Card or Discounted Gift Card

As the final step, consider how you can save more money by strategically paying for the purchase. For instance, if you have rewards credit cards, consider which card will offer you the most rewards at the merchant.

When you can't or don't want to use a rewards card, you could look into buying a discounted gift card for the store. Sites like buy people's unwanted gift cards and resell them for less than their face value. The discount can depend on the store and gift card's value, but there are popular brands' gift cards on sale with savings of over 20%.

By combining one or several of these money-saving approaches, you may be able to find a way to save (or make) money on almost any purchase. However, don't let the potential to save lead to spaving — spending money just to get a deal.

Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a finance writer based in Oakland, California. He specializes in consumer credit, personal finance, and small business finance, and loves helping people find ways to save money. In addition to FICO, Louis works with a variety of financial services firms, credit bureaus, and educational websites, including LendingTree, Credit Karma, and Experian.