Watching Your Wallet: Are cash apps really worth it?
It's nice to earn a little money back-- or just boost your savings. So we tested a few apps out over the last year and went to the experts to find out if cash back is worth it.
"I'm a district manager with Red Bull," said Mike Waynick.
Part of Waynick's job is supervising a crew of employees that travel all over Virginia, meaning he's never close to home when it comes time for lunch.
"I'm trying to keep it feasible," he said. "I'm not going out and having champagne and lobster tails, but Chipotle. Something cheap, somewhat healthy."
And he's become a master at getting cash back for just about every purchase.
"I have other apps like Dosh and GetUpside gas app and of course anything that gives you a kickback when you're spending money, you know, why not use it."
"The latest app he's tried is called Pei. He linked his debit card and spends like he always did except now, he's getting a kickback.
Mike has seen 1%, 2% even 5% back. Like most of these apps, you can get your money deposited directly into your bank account.
Other's offer cash outs through paypal.
I've tested out Reciept Hog for the last year-- uploading photos of receipts anytime i spend-- I've cashed out around $35 in a year.
I've also tried Fetch Rewards for a year-- again uploading every grocery receipt-- and I've earned out $20
My producer's used the gas app Get Upside since July of 2017-- she's cashed out: $337.48.
Then there's apps that round up the money you spend on purchases getting you in the habit of saving. Some apps even invest that money for you. Acorns and digit are two popular ones.
What about all the apps you see out there? People playing games to save money.
"Oh like rounding up their spending like Acorn? You know they're really great for sort of boosting how much you save without you even really knowing it right? So, you buy a cup of coffee, 20 cents goes into your investment account. You go the grocery store and 80 cents goes in your investment account," said Arielle O'Shea:
O'Shea is a personal finance expert with Nerdwallet. She says it's mindless saving-- and a good habit to get you in to- but it shouldn't be the only thing you do.
"But it's not going to get you to a major goal like retirement. so it should be viewed as a supplement to other sorts of efforts that your making for saving and investment.
Mike uses his cash back apps just about everyday, another resource that helps him keep more money in his pocket.
"It's important especially in this climate to not blow your money like a crazy person," he said.
There's another side to this you need to consider. Many of these apps collect information about your buying habits. That's really what you're getting paid for-- if you don't mind. Then it's extra cash in your pocket. And always research any app before you link your bank account.