Cashback is a type of discount or rebate that customers get when purchasing using a credit card or other form of payment. After the transaction, the customer gets some of the value back in cash. Generally, a part of the purchase price is returned to the customer.

There are multiple ways to redeem cashback offers, such as receiving a check or direct deposit. Alternatively, customers can apply the amount to their account balance. Some credit cards and other financial products give back cash as an incentive and reward for using the product.

Key Takeaways

  • Credit card holders can receive some of their cash back when buying products or services through a money-back benefit. This is called “cashback.”
  • The offer can be applied to your credit card bill, received as a check, deposited into a bank account, or used as store credit.
  • The amount received back typically varies from 1% – 5% depending on the type of purchase made.
  • If you spend more than the cost of the items you’re buying using a debit card, you can get the extra amount back in cash during checkout.
  • Some cashback deals may come with annual fees or high annual rates. Consider this before signing up.
  • Many popular US stores have a rebate program, including Walmart, Amazon, Target, Best Buy, etc.
StoreCashback Details
CVS2% back via ExtraBucks Rewards. Every 1 prescription filled gives 1 credit. At 10 credits, customers get $5 in ExtraBucks Rewards.
KrogerEarn points via Kroger Rewards World Mastercard. Up to 5% cashback on Kroger Pay transactions, plus the opportunity to earn points. Every $1 spent in the Kroger Family of Companies awards 2 points. 1,000 points = $5 in free groceries.
Walmart1%, 2%, or 5% back, according to the terms of the Walmart Rewards Card
Target5% cashback on all purchases with Target RedCard, plus a $50 credit for opening a RedCard
Amazon5% back on all Amazon purchases with a Prime Visa Card, plus a $100 gift card upon card approval
Best Buy5% back and free eligible shipping with no minimum purchase for eligible purchases via My Best Buy Visa
AppleApple Card holders get 3% cashback on Apple Store, Apple Music, and other Apple services purchases. 2% back whenever using Apple Pay.
Home DepotNo direct cashback program, but Home Depot offers special financing through its Credit Center program. For example, 6 months financing on purchases over $299.
Lowe’s5% off eligible purchases via MyLowe’s Rewards Credit Card. Customers also get 20% off their first purchase (up to $100).

How Does Cashback Work?

Cashback offers help customers get back a percentage of their purchase through cash or rewards points. After completing a purchase at a participating retailer, you’ll receive the benefits via the app or website that tracks the purchase.

You can then redeem your cash or use it as a credit to offset future purchases. Here’s an example:

  • Step 1: A customer signs up for a cashback app or website.
  • Step 2: They link their credit or debit card to their app/website account.
  • Step 3: The customer shops at a participating retailer and pays with their linked bank card.
  • Step 4: The app or website tracks the purchase and applies a percentage of the purchase amount to the customer’s account.
  • Step 5: The customer can then exchange that credit for actual money or use it as a credit to reduce the cost of future purchases at that store.
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Note: Some cashback apps and websites also offer discount coupons and deals that help customers save even more money. These offers may be applied automatically at checkout or require the customer to add a promotional code.

Cashback rewards sometimes have restrictions, such as minimum purchase amounts or exclusions for specific products or categories. Read the terms and conditions of rebate deals before purchasing to ensure the transaction is eligible.

Cashback Websites and Apps Pros & Cons

The Pros 👍

  • Save money: cashback deals help you save money by providing a portion of the purchase as cash or rewards points.
  • Easy to use: these platforms are generally easy to use, with simple sign-up processes and automatic tracking of purchases
  • Wide variety of retailers: many apps and websites have offers for a wide variety of retailers, whether they are online or brick-and-mortar stores. Big brands also tend to run their own cashback promotions.
  • Extra discounts: rebate apps and websites can also offer coupons and deals that’ll help you save even more money on purchases.

The Cons 👎

  • Minimum threshold for redemption: there might be a minimum threshold for redeeming cash returns. So, you’ll have to spend a certain amount before redeeming it for cash or using it to offset future purchases.
  • Exclusions and restrictions: rebate deals don’t apply to some product categories. Check specific terms and conditions.
  • Time lag: cash can take time to be applied to your account and become available for redemption. Sometimes, you might have to wait a few days to a few weeks for the cashback to become accessible.
  • Limited earning potential: most cashback offers are a percentage of the purchase price. So, the more you spend, the more you’re getting back.
  • Risk of identity theft: linking your credit or debit card to a rebate app or website carries an identity theft risk. To be as safe as possible, use a secure and reputable money-back service that explains how it protects your personal and financial information.

5 Types of Cashback Rewards

Flat-Rate Rebate

These cards give you the same rate on all purchases, regardless of the category. For example, the Citi Double Cash Card offers 2% cashback. 1% when you buy and 1% as you pay off those purchases.

Tiered Money-Back

These cards offer different rates depending on the spending category.

For example, The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card works like this:

  • 3% cashback for a chosen product category (online shopping, dining, travel, gas and EV charging stations, drug stores, home improvement, cable, internet, phone plans or streaming )
  • 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined quarterly purchases)
  • 1% on all other purchases

Rotating Category Cashback

These cards offer higher rates on specific categories that change each quarter. Cardholders may need to activate these categories each quarter to earn the higher rate.

For example, the “Discover it” cashback card offers 5% on everyday purchases at different places each quarter, such as Amazon, grocery stores, restaurants, or gas stations. Customers also get unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Bonus Category Rewards

Some cards offer high cash return rates on specific categories. For example, American Express Blue Cash Preferred provides 6% back at US supermarkets and select US streaming subscriptions. There’s also a 3% back offer for transit, including rideshare, parking, trains, buses, and more.

Redemption Bonus Cashback

Some rewards cards give you extra value when you redeem your rebate for certain options, such as a gift card or travel booking. Several credit card issuers provide these redemption bonuses.

For example, some card issuers may offer higher redemption values if you choose to get gift cards for specific retailers. You can find offers like “redeem $20 in cashback for a gift card worth $25.”

3 Types of Cashback Credit Cards

Store Credit Cards

Some retailers offer store credit cards that offer cashback deals. The amount of cash earned may vary based on the type of purchase and the specific terms of the store’s credit card program. Store credit cards incentivize customer loyalty via discounts or rewards at affiliated stores.

Gas Credit Cards

These are for cashback on purchases made at gas stations. The amount earned may depend on the type of gas purchased and the specific terms of the credit card program.

Travel Credit Cards

Travel credit cards offer rewards when you buy flights, hotel stays, and car rentals. The amount of cash you get could vary depending on the kind of purchase and the credit card program’s rules.

Cash Rewards FAQs

Can You Get Cashback from a Credit Card?

Yes, you can get some of the money you spend with a credit card back. The cash can be applied to the credit card bill, received as a check, or deposited into a bank account. The amount of cash earned varies based on the type of purchase and the specific terms of the credit card program.

Does Apple Pay Have Cashback?

Yes (sort of). Some merchants and payment apps offer cashback rewards for purchasing with Apple Pay. However, the availability and rewards terms for Apple Pay purchases vary. Check with the merchant or payment app to see if rebates are offered and see the specific terms and conditions.

Does Google Pay Have Cashback?

Yes, you can receive cashback when buying from your Android phone with Google Pay. The availability and terms of this offer differ from business to business.

Are Cashback Rewards Essentially Free Money?

Cashback deals are not really free money. They are typically earned through spending and are often subject to specific terms and conditions. Without spending, you’re not getting anything back; and without spending a lot, you might not get back that much.

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