We Break Down the Pros and Cons of Popular Coupon and Cashback Apps

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If you’re skeptical about coupon and cashback apps, don’t worry, we once were, too. But we heard from trusted friends and coworkers about the ease and financial benefits of these apps. So, we gave in and started downloading. Some apps are best for groceries, others for online shopping, and some pay you just to scan receipts. No matter your age or shopping habits, there’s an app on this list for you.

Savings and money-back apps can seem too good to be true — and some are. Not sure how to spot the difference? We can help you there, too.

We researched the efficacy and legitimacy of the coupon and cashback apps on our list and talked to people who use some of them to learn about their experiences. Plus, if you’re uncertain about the legitimacy of an app or an offer within an app, check out our guide to spotting a scam.

The Difference Between Coupon and Cash Back Apps

Some apps offer cash back only, some coupons only, and some are both. The main difference between cashback and coupon apps is that one saves you money upfront, and the other rewards you the more you use it.

Coupon apps save you money (and time) by scavenging the depths of the Internet for deals and promo codes. Cashback apps offer incentives with your purchases, like rebates or points to use toward future purchases and literal money back.

How They Work

Partnerships are at the crux of successful coupon apps. For instance, Capital One Shopping — a well-known savings reward app — works with 30,000 retailers to make sure you get the best available deal.

Similar to coupon apps, cashback apps have relationships with online stores. Rakuten, one of the oldest companies on our list, partners with 3,500 stores to offer rewards on your purchases.

9 Coupon and Cash Back Apps and Their Pros and Cons

Here are nine coupon and cashback apps to help you save on everyday purchases.


This is one of the most trusted apps on the list. When PayPal acquired Honey in 2020, it was already a well-known tool for saving money while shopping online. Since PayPal scooped up the coupon app, you can feel confident in its legitimacy, and there’s an opportunity for every shopper to save with its 30,000 retail partners. And you can use PayPal rewards points in Honey. A frequent and long-time user, Brooke Tomlinson, said she recently decided to cash out for the first time instead of applying points for discounts. It was a breeze, and she suddenly had $50 to spend.

  • Pros
    • Free to join
    • Easy-to-use browser extension
    • Can use PayPal rewards points in Honey
  • Cons
    • Does not work on in-store purchases
    • Rewards points only offered at certain stores
  • Best for
    • PayPal users and avid online shoppers

Coupon Cabin

If you’re old school and enjoy a more authentic couponing experience, Couponcabin.com is the site for you. You can simply go to the website and get coupons for free without an account. There also are cashback opportunities. The app only works for online purchases but is highly rated and user-friendly. Plus, with 6,000 partner stores, you’re sure to find savings on everyday purchases as well as splurges.

  • Pros
    • Low cashback minimum
    • Redeem rewards 365 days a year
  • Cons
    • Extensions that block ads prevent cashback earnings
    • Frequent account closures due to terms and conditions nonadherence
  • Best for
    • Pairing coupons and cash back


With over 1.8 billion users, Rakuten is one of the only cashback apps on our list that shoppers can use outside the U.S. It was founded in 1997 in Tokyo as an online shopping site, and the company’s history and consistency add to its legitimacy. Rakuten also offers a way to give back while you shop through its Cashback for Change program.

  • Pros
    • Double cash back stores, refreshed weekly
    • Simple interface
    • Free to use
  • Cons
    • Fewer retail partners than other apps, with only 3,500
    • Lower than-average ratings on Google Play
    • Specific payout dates
  • Best for
    • Repeat purchases

Capital One Shopping

Capital One Shopping can help you find everyday deals online. After adding the Capital One browsing extension, you can use the platform to help you scan your favorite sites for incredible savings. We spoke to one frequent user, Mark Loren, who loves the Capital One shopping browsing extension. He said that compared with other apps he uses, he finds it to be a more powerful savings search tool. However, you can only redeem “shopping reward” credits for gift cards at certain retailers.

  • Pros
    • Free and easy to use
    • Does not require a Capital One credit or debit card
  • Cons
    • Outdated offers
    • Limited shopping reward options
  • Best for
    • Comparing prices


If your weekly grocery bill continues to climb, Tada can help you earn cash back on basics like milk and bread. It offers two options to save—shop online or scan your receipt after shopping in over 1,100 stores and restaurants to earn cash back. The latter is known as magic receipts. Tada is well known and boasts 10 million users. Plus, power-ups and magic receipts make this app experience almost, well, magical.

  • Pros
    • Up to $15 in welcome bonuses for new users
    • Can cash out through PayPal
  • Cons
    • Lower than average rating on Google Play
    • Minimal FAQ
  • Best for
    • Groceries


This app is great for dog lovers with a penchant for saving money. There’s a social element, where you earn rewards by inviting and shopping with friends. There also is a blog and cash back on every receipt you snap. Fetch gets high ratings on Google Play and the Apple Store, plus one of the highest grades of any company on our list from Better Business Bureau. We spoke to one user, Casey Kimball, who raved about how easy the app is to use. Kimball was particularly pleased with Fetch’s dual money-saving options — receipt scanning and personalized special offers from hundreds of retailers.

  • Pros
    • Allows you to double up on savings with GoodRx and other cashback apps like Ibotta
    • Extensive and easy-to-access FAQ
  • Cons
    • Don’t be tempted to scan receipts that aren’t your own – your account could be terminated
    • Points expire after 90 days of inactivity
  • Best for
    • Scanning receipts


Founded in 2011, Ibotta is one of the OG cashback apps, and it shows. There are 200 million users and over 2,000 retail partners, including restaurants, pharmacies, pet stores, and movie theaters. When researching the company, one Ibotta user, Ben Carroll, said he appreciated seeing a banner on the site calling attention to a current technology issue other users reported. That kind of transparent communication goes a long way to helping customers feel secure.

  • Pros
    • Can link store loyalty rewards to double up on savings
    • Can link bank so cash back goes straight to the account
    • Transparent about issues
  • Cons
    • Not all banks are supported for cash back straight to account
    • Must add offers before you shop
  • Best for
    • Household goods


Another app with higher-than-average ratings, Upside, is primarily for cash back at the gas pump, in restaurants, and at grocery stores. Working with 50,000 businesses and with 30 million users, this cashback app finds deals near you by using GPS on your phone or the zip code on the website. The Upside website has a helpful blog with tips on how to use the app and an easy-to-find customer support option.

  • Pros
    • Can stack Upside rewards and gas station loyalty programs
    • Multiple options for cashing out
  • Cons
    • Must pay with a debit or credit card, no cash
    • Gas prices may differ from offers in the app
  • Best for
    • Gas stations


How often do you get cashback rewards without actually buying anything? Well, with Shopkick, you can. If you’re a window shopper or someone who loves to browse, this app allows you to scan the barcode on certain products and put points toward your cashback rewards. You also can earn “kicks” toward your cash back rewards by watching videos on the app or browsing its content.

  • Pros
    • Multiple ways to earn rewards
    • Links to PayPal for cash credit
  • Cons
    • Lower than average rating on Google Play
    • Despite many ways to earn them, “kicks” are worth less than points on some other apps
  • Best for
    • Earning points without a purchase

How to Spot Scammy Coupon or Cash Back Apps

There are many apps to choose from, and more appear all the time. So, how can you tell if the promises of an app really are too good to be true?

1. Search it on Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau, or bbb.org, is a trusted resource to guide consumers toward or away from businesses with good or bad reputations. The ratings are based on complaints against companies and the company’s responses to the complaints. Ratings are not based on customer reviews. As you can imagine, it’s easier to leave a scathing (or rave) review than it is to file a formal complaint with bbb.org, so the ratings here are helpful in a different way than, say, on Apple Store.

2. Assess the website

While you’re searching for an app on betterbusinessbureau.org, be sure to click “visit website” under “contact information” to check out the app’s site. Yes, some companies have more of a presence in their apps rather than on a website, but there’s something comforting about a robust online showing. For instance, the coupon and cashback apps on our list that are backed up by a site with an easy-to-find and informative FAQ tend to get a higher rating on betterbusinessbureau.org. Why? Because when information and terms and conditions are easy to access and read, people make fewer complaints against the company. The fewer the complaints, the less time a company has to spend responding to them, which results in a better BBB rating.

3. Check for data privacy 

While you’re scrolling the app website, check to see if they have transparent data privacy options. It’s no secret these apps collect data from you — that’s a large part of the benefit for retailers to partner with the company that owns the app. However, it is helpful when they inform you about exactly how they are gathering information and what they use it for.

Other quick tips for the safe use of coupon and cashback apps

    • Check expiration dates and barcodes on all offers
    • Be suspicious of messages from support
    • Never give out your password or SSN
    • Question alerts and random deposits

Bio at The Penny Hoarder

Contributor Veronica Leone Matthews is a North Carolina-based freelance writer with 11 years of experience writing for non-profits and higher education. She covers lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder.