2022-05-10T22:31:24-04:00Oct 27, 2021|

How to make the most of Canadian cash back apps as a newcomer

As a newcomer in Canada, saving money will be an important priority for you. Whether you’re on a tight budget or setting money aside for a medium-term goal, even small savings on your day-to-day purchases can add up to a substantial amount over time.

One way of increasing your savings or finding more room in your budget for expenses is to use cash back apps. This article will give you an overview of what cash back is and how you can make the most of cash back apps as a newcomer. We’ll also share tips on finding the best cash back app for you.

In this article:

What is cash back?

Cash back is a great way of getting a small percentage of your spending channeled back into your pocket. When you spend a given amount with select merchants or stores, you get back a small percentage of your spend, as “cash” credited into your account.

Initially popularized by credit card companies to reward customers for using their credit card, the concept of cash back has expanded over time. You can now download specialized cash back apps to earn cash back on your daily spending.

There are several Canadian cash back apps for you to choose from. Some of the most popular ones are Ampli, KOHO, Rakuten, Checkout 51, and Drop. Each cash back service works differently and not all of them offer the same advantages to you as a user.

How is cash back different from points?

Many apps that promise “cash back” actually give users points instead of cash on their purchases. These points can then be used to purchase gift cards for stores like Walmart, Amazon, or Starbucks, or gifts from a catalogue. Getting points or retailer gift cards limits how you can spend this extra money—and, in fact, forces you to spend the reward rather than save your earnings. As a newcomer, a cash back app that gives you real cash may be preferable, especially if your goal is to save money on your purchases or find ways to shop within your budget.

Want to know more about budgeting for life as a newcomer in Canada?
See Budgeting 101 for newcomers for more information on planning and managing your finances.

Benefits of using cash back apps as a newcomer

As a newcomer, using cash back apps is a great way of saving on your everyday purchases. Whether you’re buying groceries, clothes, or gas, earning cash back on essential purchases is like getting a discount even when it’s not sale season.

One of the biggest advantages of using a cash back app is that it gives you back some of the money you’ve spent. Most newcomers have a tight budget in their initial months or years in Canada, and cash back apps can become an extra source of savings.

Tips Icon  Tip:
Whether you’re setting aside money for an emergency fund or have longer-term savings goals, you can grow your savings in Canada by investing them in savings and investment products.

How much money can I earn using a cash back app?

Cash back apps are not an income stream. Your earnings through cash back apps will always be a small fraction of your spending. Depending on the app and the offer, you can receive anywhere between 0.5 and 15 per cent cash back on your purchase. However, not all purchases may be eligible for cash back. Some cash back apps also offer alternative ways of earning, such as through referrals or in-app contests. 

Tips on finding the best cash back app for you

While it may be tempting to think that you can multiply your savings by using several cash back apps, not all cash back apps are built equal. Here are some tips to keep in mind while looking for the best cash back app for you:


In order to earn cash back for your spending, you need to share your spending data with the cashback app. When you’re sharing your consumer or financial data with a third-party, one of your key factors in determining whether they are a good fit should be to go through their data protection practices. 

You should only download or use a cash back app if you’re certain that your personal information will be safe with them. This is why many users prefer Ampli, a Canadian cash back app powered by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), because it follows RBC’s strict security practices to keep user information protected.

Number and range of shopping partners 

Cash back apps typically have partnerships with select merchants or stores where their users can shop to get cash back. Some cash back apps specialize in shopping niches like groceries, while others have offers across several categories, including furniture, restaurants, clothing, and technology. Your ability to earn cash back will be limited by the size and range of the app’s shopping partners, so opt for a cash back app that has a broad range of merchant partners. 

Ease of using the cash back app

Ease of use is an important factor to consider while choosing a cash back app. Some cash back apps require you to manually scan and upload receipts as proof of purchase. This can be tedious and if you misplace or forget to upload your receipts, you’ll lose out on cash back. 

Other apps require you to activate individual offers or force you to shop through the cash back app or portal to receive benefits. In such cases, getting cash back can become a chore, rather than an incentive. Look for a cash back service that is easy to use, to ensure that you get full benefits effortlessly.

How long it takes to redeem cash and redemption process

Depending on your purchases, it can take some time for cash back to accumulate in your account. Most cash back apps have a minimum amount you need to reach before you can redeem your collected cash back. This redemption threshold varies for each cash back app, and it’s ideal to choose an app that has a lower limit to redeem funds. Some apps also have a fixed payment period, such as once every three months, so you can’t redeem your funds whenever needed.

Be sure to understand the redemption process for the cash back app you select. Some apps only let you redeem your cash back in the form of gift vouchers, while others mail a physical cheque or deposit funds in a PayPal account. In some cases, you may be charged a fee by either the cash back app or PayPal for receiving funds. Certain cash back apps, such as Ampli, allow you to deposit your cash back funds directly into your bank account through Interac money transfer, without any fees.

Referral bonus and other ways of earning

Some cash back apps offer users referral bonuses to increase their number of users and keep existing customers engaged. Often, when you refer a new user to a particular cash back app using your referral code, you’ll receive a one-time bonus cash back once they activate and start using their account. 

Some apps also offer other ways for users to earn money. This could be in the form of welcome bonuses, tasks like completing surveys or watching videos, or contests like Ampli’s Dreamstakes

User fees or commissions

Some cash back services deduct a percentage of your accumulated cash back as service fees or commissions. Read the terms carefully before signing up for a cash back app to ensure you won’t be losing a portion of your earnings to the platform.

Combining cash back with retailer rewards/points

Many retailers offer loyalty points, discounts or rewards if you purchase directly from them. The ability to earn cash back in addition to retailer rewards, also known as stacking, essentially multiplies the benefits you receive for your purchase.

If you’re using a cash back app or portal that requires you to stay within their interface to shop with merchant partners, you’ll likely be unable to stack cash back and retailer rewards. However, if your cash back app lets you shop directly with the merchant, online or in store, you should be eligible for both benefits.

Reviews from other cash back app users

Online reviews can tell you a lot about other  users’ experience with a cash back app. Keep an eye out for any issues existing users have flagged, such as cash back adding up too slowly, problems with redeeming cash back, receipts being rejected, or limited redemption options. Recurring negative reviews may be a red flag.

How does Ampli work?

Ampli is one of the most popular Canadian cash back apps. The platform has over 75 merchant partners, making it easy for users to earn cash back on everyday purchases. Ampli is an RBC Venture, meaning that it follows RBC’s strict security practices to keep user information protected.

How to set up Ampli

Once you’ve downloaded the free Ampli app on iOS and Android, you can set up your account by securely linking your Canadian debit and credit cards. Ampli keeps your personal information secure and automatically matches your purchases with eligible offers from their partners to help you earn cash back.

How to use Ampli

To start earning cash back, use your Ampli-connected debit or credit card to shop directly with merchant partners, either in-store or online. You don’t need to activate any offers or upload receipts. If your purchase matches an existing offer, your cash back will automatically be added to your Ampli balance within five business days. 

You may also qualify for extra cash back on some offers if you shop with a connected RBC credit card. In addition to getting cash back through Ampli, you’re also eligible for any rewards or loyalty programs offered by the merchant partner.

Withdrawing cash back from Ampli

You can cash out for free once your Ampli balance reaches $15. You can withdraw your cash back through Interac e-Transfer, so your money goes straight to your bank account. Unlike most other cash back apps, Ampli gives you real cash, not gift cards or vouchers, so you can decide how you want to spend or save your earnings.

Other ways to earn cash back through Ampli

In addition to getting cash back on your regular purchases, Ampli also offers some other ways to earn. You can earn entries into the monthly Dreamstakes contest by completing simple tasks, like shopping with a select merchant, for a chance to win a grand prize.

You can also earn cash back when you refer a friend to join Ampli. When your referral connects their first bank account with Ampli, both of you get $5 cash back.

Cash back apps are a great way to save money on your day-to-day spending. As a newcomer, cash back apps can help you generate an additional source of income or collect some much-needed extra cash. However, before signing up for a cash back service, you should evaluate it based on the above criteria to make sure it’s easy and safe to use.