Preparing for your Thanksgiving meal? Be aware that a new breed of shopping apps makes it easier to save money at the grocery store: Take a picture of the receipt and wait for the cash to roll in.
SavingStar, Snap, Checkout 51, and others, let users earn money back if they buy certain products. Recent offers include getting $5 back for buying a Jennie-O frozen turkey, 25 cents back on a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter and $1 back on Dole pineapple juice.
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Shoppers first have to open the apps and scroll though the different offers available. New deals are added weekly and the apps work in most large retailers, including Stop & Shop, Target, Wal-Mart and others.
To verify purchases, users take a picture of the receipt with their smartphone camera. Sometimes they also need to scan the product's barcode with the phone's camera too. The apps add cash to user's accounts within a day or two. When the account reaches a certain level, usually $20, users can request a check or move the money into their bank accounts.
The small rebates can add up. So far this year, Kathryn Trainor has earned more than $110 using SavingStar to buy snack bars, grapes and other groceries. Trainor has ditched paper coupons, and uses the app instead.
"I don't have the patience for cutting coupons," says Trainor, a 36-year-old teacher in Taunton, Massachusetts. "I always have my phone with me anyway."
One thing to keep in mind is that some offers come with strings attached. On SavingStar, for example, shoppers can get back $3 if they buy a Butterball turkey, but must also buy three other selected items, like a Pillsbury pie crust or Betty Crocker stuffing. However, most offers don't require other purchases.
Here's how each of the apps work:
This app offers deals that can be used in any store, as long as the receipt spells out the name of the product. Checkout 51 users can get a paper check after their balance reaches more than $20.
Recent offers: 50 cents back for a gallon of any brand of milk; $1 back on any Pledge cleaning product.
More info: https://www.checkout51.com/
This app can be used in many big retailers, including ShopRight, CVS and Whole Foods. To unlock offers, the app sometimes makes you watch a 30-second ad or take a quick poll. Users can cash out after they earn $10 by transferring the money to their PayPal or Venmo accounts. They can get Starbucks or iTunes gift cards if they prefer.
Recent offers: 75 cents back for Hellmann's mayonnaise; 25 cents back for any 12-pack of canned soda.
More info: https://ibotta.com/
Besides its regular weekly offers, SavingStar also gives back the full price of one selected item between Friday and Sunday. For example, this past weekend, users who bought a cup of Newman's Own Greek yogurt got the full price returned. The app works at certain stores, but includes most major retailers such as Costco, Kroger and Walgreens. The app will let you know which stores it works at based on your location. You only need to earn a minimum of $5 to cash out, and the money can be sent to a PayPal or bank account.
Recent offers: 60 cents back if you buy three packs of Green Giant frozen vegetables; 55 cents back for King Arthur flour.
More info: https://savingstar.com/
Launched last month by daily-deal and coupon site Groupon, this app works at any store. Users can request can request a check when they earn more than $20.
Recent offers: $1.50 back for Lysol disinfectant sprays or wipes; 25 cents back for a head of cauliflower.
More info: http://snap.groupon.com/