Budgeting, saving, and investing have never come easily to me, but spending? That’s my specialty. Online shopping, in-store shopping, window shopping, you name it—I love it all, and I can’t help but bask in the pure joy it brings me every single time. But because I don’t have a money tree in my backyard (why don’t those exist yet?), I have begrudgingly had to come up with ways to be a smart spender. My favorite one? Earning cash back.
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IMO, cash back flies under the radar as one of the greatest money-saving hacks available to consumers. No one really talks about it at all, but why not? It’s like having access to promo codes all the time, and I can’t think of anything better than that. Anyone has the opportunity to earn cash back in multiple ways if they are willing to do a few initial setup steps before their purchase, so we are breaking down five different ways you can take advantage of cash back offers—both in-store and online.
1. Internet browser extensions
Companies like Rakuten, Honey, CouponCabin, Capital One, and more offer free browser extensions that will prompt you to enable cash back when and where it is available, and some of the extensions even display cash back offers right in Google search results. Browser extensions are arguably the easiest way to take advantage of cash back offers because you only need to set them up once and then they take care of the rest: finding savings, notifying you of offers, and delivering your cash back right back into your account.
2. Credit cards
Credit cards that offer points and cash back are the most talked about, and therefore, the most used, cards for a good reason. Beyond signing up for a card, saving money is literally effortless; when you shop, your points (that you can usually redeem for gift cards or cash) and cash back offers (like earning 2% cash back on any travel or grocery purchase) are automatically loaded into your account. The best part? You can choose a card that offers benefits that are best suited to your lifestyle. For example, if you travel often, you should choose a card that gives you cash back on travel purchases, not a card that is more centered around earning cash back on grocery purchases.
3. Bank offers
Did you know that you can earn cash back with a debit card too? Banks like Bank of America, Chase, and Discover all offer special cash back offers to account holders at a number of popular retailers. While there aren’t as many retailers with cash back opportunities through banks as there are with a browser extension, the benefit is that some banks offer you cash back via your zip code, so if you’re lucky, you might be able to earn money by getting pizza from your favorite shop around the corner.
4. Store cards
The best thing I ever did? Get a RedCard at Target. It saves me 5% every time I go, and trust me, I go there a lot. If you are loyal to a retailer like I am to Target, it is in your best interest to get a store card. The way I see it is that if you’re going to be spending your money there constantly anyway, you might as well be earning, too. Target, Amazon, Kohl’s, Apple, Best Buy, Macy’s, Lowes, and more common retailers all offer cash back and point-style rewards you can take advantage of.
Fetch Rewards, Ibotta, and Receipt Hog offer cash back on in-store purchases at a number of recognized retailers, but most commonly, people use these apps to earn cash back on grocery purchases. The downside of apps like these is that you have to upload pictures of your receipts (which requires not losing them at the bottom of your purse), and usually, you also have to hit a certain threshold (like $20 saved) before you can cash out. Time-consuming and slightly annoying? Yes. Worth it? Also yes.