As a kid, you were told to pick up pennies and dimes off the ground and with some diligence, they'd become dollars. And that's sort of what discount apps promise you — a little deal here, a few dollars off there, and eventually, you should be in for some good savings. Right? You might be scratching your head as to whether the space these apps take up on your phone is actually worth it, so let's break this down.
First of all, discount apps come in a variety of shapes and colors.
Some, like Ibotta are the modern version of the grocery rebate. You go to the app, choose the store you're most likely to shop at, find products that you want to buy on the list, take a quick survey or watch a quick video and boom, you get an instant rebate on your product.
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You still pay full price at the counter and until you redeem your Ibotta cash, you don't get your money back (and you can do that when you get up to $25). You do have the option of turning those rebates into specific store gift cards, which allows you to set aside funds for a particular store and helps with budgeting.
Another app, Inbox Dollars, works the same way, but you get money for "checking in" much like you would on Foursquare or its cousin, Swarm (remember to allow push notifications!). There are also surveys that don't have anything to do with going to a store, as well as videos and casino games that also help you accumulate points that you eventually redeem for cash or gift cards. You can do this via the app or you can do it all on your tablet or laptop.
Shopkick gives you "kicks", for walking into a store, scanning a barcode on a product or purchasing that product and producing the receipt. Also, you can get kicks by hooking your debit or credit card up to the app and using it in certain stores, such as Macy's or Best Buy. You don't have to purchase things, so this makes it good for someone who doesn't want to have to spend money to make money. The app has various point accumulation goals and one even includes a Vespa scooter, which will cost you 1.8 million kicks.
For the less active, there's Receipt Hog. This app gives you points back for all of your receipts at national retailers, with the exception of chain restaurants. You also get a chance to pay Hog Slots, which, when you match up the right things on the slots, gives you extra points and possibly a free grocery trip.
This is also a good app for those of you who can handle delayed gratification, as it takes a very long time to get to the first $5 reward.
And finally, for the really chill, there's Windfall. Windfall scans your emailed receipts from a list of popular mall and big box stores and gives you cash back if an item you purchased goes on sale after you buy it. For brick and mortar purchases, have the store email your receipts and you could be collecting money without any effort.