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Getting paid to shop – Smartphone apps that earn cash

As you know, I’m a SAHM.  Times are tough.  Money is tight.  So, I’m coming out of the coupon closet and saying that my hobby at the moment is saving us money when I buy us the stuff we need.  Not the coolest hobby, I realize, but one that can be valuable.

So, saving money…

No, this post is not about being a mystery shopper.  Did that briefly and to me, it was too much of a hassle and made me feel too uncomfortable.  I am not good about remembering the minutia of a transaction involving getting a lame pizza at the movie theater.  The one thing I did get out of my short stint mystery shopping is the knowledge that I would never be a good undercover agent.

But lately I’ve come across some apps that will actually pay me to do some shopping.  Some of them require you to find products in stores and scan them, some you have to upload a receipt, some you can take a pic of a display.

Shopping Apps

My shopping Apps

One I tried out for the first time today is Ibotta.
This one shows you a pic of a product, and you can earn more reward money for doing more tasks associated with it.  You can take a one question poll, view a recipe, view a video, answer a trivia question, learn a fact and/or share on Facebook to earn more money (note: to avoid spamming your friends, set the apps FB settings on ‘who can see posts’ to Only Me unless your friends like to see a thousand product posts, which I highly doubt most do).

An Ibotta offer

An Ibotta offer

My first set of offers were largely things I buy anyway, and a few were already on my list, so off I went to the store.  I picked up Tostitos and earned 50 cents, Glad containers for kiddo’s lunchbox ($1 payback), Sargento shredded cheese ($0.50), Chobani yogurt ($0.50 and the blood orange flavor is awesome, btw), International Delights Iced coffee ($1) and Simply Orange OJ ($0.75).  So I got home, uploaded my receipt by snapping a pic of it within the app, and within a few minutes I have $4.25 credit in my account.  I can cash out to PayPal or donate to a school of my choice at $5.00.  Another cool feature of this app is the barcode scanning of each offer, which tells you if you have the right product in your hand before you buy it.  My offers refreshed after I uploaded my receipt, and several of the ones I had already used reappeared to be used again, which is nice.  Most of the products I bought were on sale already, and I had coupons for some of them, making for some great deals.  Right now, you must shop at Target, Walgreens or WalMart to use this app, and it looks like its iPhone only for now, but it says more stores are in the works, as is an Android app.  I think I’m most excited (yep, I said excited…how sad is that, lol) about finding something I can stack a Target and manufacturers coupon on and use this app for potential freebies or moneymakers, plus using my Target credit card nabs me an additional 5% off on everything, and if you bring a reusable bag, you get $0.05 credit per bags too.  Target is my main money saving enabler.


Look, I made some $

Another one to try is Field Agent.  it uses your zip code or location (if you allow it) to find “jobs” near you.  This usually involves going to a specific store and taking a pic of a display and answering some questions about it, though I did earn $7 a few weeks ago for doing laundry in my own home.  For those two jobs ($3.50 each) I had to take a pic of the package of the specific detergent they wanted, then the load I was going to use it on.  I was lucky to have a Tide Pods sample on hand and a package of All Mighty Pacs so I did both jobs in one afternoon.  They were approved within a few hours and I cashed out to PayPal a few days later.

Field Agent jobs

Shopkick is an app where you earn “kicks” for just going into certain stores.  You can get additional ones for completing tasks while there, like scanning the barcodes of certain products.  Yu can save up your kicks to redeem for gift cards.  Sometimes they have special offers that unlock once you check in.  Recently, Target offered a $2 gift card through this app for signing up and then checking in, though I had technical difficulties and it said I’d already redeemed it when I got to the store.

Jingit  is a new one I just started using.  It’s basically for WalMart shoppers, and I avoid WalMart like the plague.  That place is pretty much my idea of the zombie apocolypse each and every time I go, with the slack-jawed slowly pushing their carts through the giant labyrinth of a nonsensical store while they ignore the feral children biting at their heels.  But, I digress.  With Jingit, you can earn money by watching ads and answering questions about them, or by scanning items in store.  I haven’t ventured to Hell…er, WalMart since getting it, so I haven’t done any of their tasks.

Though they don’t have an app, for online shopping you can’t beat eBates.  I’ve earned a couple hundred bucks buying through them.  Go to the site first and check if they offer a percentage at the online store you wish to shop.  If so, click through and they credit your account with whatever percentage they listed a few days after you buy.  They also have a great list of coupon codes, so you can stack the savings.  They will send you out a “Big Fat Check” quarterly or you can have them deposit money into your PayPal account.  I can’t say enough about how much I love this site.  I once lost one of my checks and found it after it had expired (it was one of those you had to cash within ninety days).  I cursed myself, but then contacted customer service (couldn’t hurt to try, right?).  To my surprise, they issued me a replacement check!  I switched to PayPal payouts after that experience.  They are also great about crediting you if for some reason your cashback didn’t show up- just go through the customer service  link on their site and it’s usually credited within a day.  Recently, certain stores won’t let you track cashback through Safari, and since I do much of my shopping on my iPad, this bugged me (ugh, I have to go fire up the laptop?!?), but then I found that there is  a Chrome browser app for the iPad, and that works fine.  Problem solved!

Now, go download the apps and save some money!  I think of it as a game.  A game that puts money in my PayPal account so when I see something online I just have to have, I have some mad money waiting.  I mean, seriously, it’s free money!