Apps That Pay You to Shop for Groceries

How to save money on groceries without using coupons

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We all like to save money whenever possible, but not all of us have the time to obsessively pour over coupons or to spend hours comparison-shopping to find the best prices. That's where these apps come in; using them eliminates the need to find and collect coupons. Though some of them require work, they put the deals in front of you, so even if you need to click through a portal or upload a receipt, you won't be required to hunt down the savings yourself.

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Checkout 51

Checkout 51.

Platforms: Desktop, Android and iOS

Overview: This app offers savings on specific types of grocery purchases, from carrots to ice cream cakes. To get started, sign up for an account and tell the app where you're located (it currently supports both Canada and the US). Then, Checkout 51 will deliver a variety of savings offers, displayed as a certain amount of cash back, usually $0.25 to $3.00. Most of the savings offers are for specific products rather than for particular grocery stores, though some specify that you must make the purchase at a certain retailer such as Walmart. The savings offers are updated on a weekly basis (each Thursday).

To earn cash back, you simply need to make an eligible purchase and be sure to keep the receipt. Then, upload a photo of the receipt to Checkout 51. The app will duly note your savings, and it will mail you a check once you reach $20 in savings.

Example savings: $1.50 in cash back when you buy Glade Large Jar Candles (offer available in New York)

Pros: Available on the most-popular platforms, easy to keep track of savings by starring them, intuitive and easy-to-use system, most savings not specific to a particular chain of stores so you have plenty of flexibility

Cons: Most deals don't offer significant savings, so it could take a while before you get a check in the mail.

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Platforms: Desktop, Android, iOS

Overview: Ebates is a popular cash-back site for all sorts of online shoppers, and it could be a good source to turn to for groceries as well if you make these types of purchases online.

With Ebates, you earn cash back at a fixed percentage rate — usually 1.5% to 3% — when you click through to a participating retailer from your Ebates account. As of publish time, nine different grocery retailers were available through the site, including Sam's Club and Vons.

As with Checkout 51, Ebates rewards you cash back in the form of a mailed check (you also have the option to get it deposited via PayPal). Ebates sends out cash-back checks every three months, though note your cash-back balance must be at least $5 in order to receive a check.

Finally, note that while earning cash back with Ebates doesn't require you to find coupons, the site does list relevant promo codes and coupons for participating retailers.

Example savings: 1.5% back at Sam's Club

Pros: Savings awarded as a percentage rate rather than a fixed amount (so there's the potential to get a significant amount of cash back if you make some large grocery purchases)

Cons: Relatively limited number of participating stores


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Platforms: Desktop, Android, iOS

Overview: Ibotta is similar to Checkout 51 in that it offers fixed cash-back rates for purchasing specific grocery items. You can browse available offers via the desktop site or Android/iOS app, then take a photo of your receipt for an eligible purchase and upload it to Ibotta to get cash back.

Ibotta awards cash back via PayPal or Venmo, and it also gives you the option to choose from different gift cards.

Example savings: $2.50 back for purchasing Dunkin' Donuts Cold Brew Coffee Packs

Pros: Relatively generous selection of ways to cash out your savings, most offers aren't retailer-specific, you can link your loyalty card to automatically earn extra savings with specific stores, you can make in-app purchases with participating brands that are linked to from Ibotta to earn cash back.

Cons: You need at least $20 in your Ibotta cash-back account in order to redeem it

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Walmart Savings Catcher


Platforms: Desktop, Android, iOS

Overview: First off, it's important to note that Savings Catcher is actually a component of the the general Walmart app; it's not the name of the app itself. However, its the Savings Catcher function that will save you money on purchases with the retailer. 

Savings Catcher is basically a price-matching tool; you scan your receipt or enter its code, and the app will check to see if any other retailers in your area are offering any of the items you purchased at lower prices. If they are, Walmart will offer you Rewards Dollars as a refund. You can submit up to seven receipts per week, and you can redeem rewards as a Walmart gift card or, if you're a Bluebird by American Express card member, you can redeem your rewards to your Bluebird card.

Example savings: N/A; it really depends on what you bought, but you could theoretically get something like $2.00 back if Walmart found a retailer selling the shampoo you purchased for $2.000 less.

Pros: Works retroactively, so even if you didn't find the best deal, you don't necessarily miss out on the savings.

Cons: Retailer-specific, and there are limited ways to redeem your rewards.