Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.
We’ve got news: Your grocery receipts are a lot more valuable in your hand than in the trash.
Now, I’ll be honest … I’ve crumpled more receipts than I could ever count. I used to save them all, but the inside of my wallet started looking like something George Constanza would be proud of.
Once it got out of hand (like having years-old receipts), I resorted to tossing them.
Here’s why that was a mistake: Cash-back apps make it extremely easy to earn rewards for making purchases you were already going to make — and all you need is a receipt.
To give you an idea of how cash-back apps can make your life easier and your wallet a bit fuller, we tested a ton of them and narrowed it down to the best, top-rated apps that will pay you for your grocery receipts. Ready?
1. Upside: Let This Free App Save You $340/Year on Gas and Food
It’s no secret that the cost of living is on the rise — especially when it comes to everyday expenses like groceries, dining and gas.
But an app called Upside can help you earn real cash back every time you dine or fill your tank — to the tune of $340 per year for frequent users.
The Upside app uses a map feature to show you local gas stations where you can beat the pump price by as much as 25 cents per gallon. Regular users earn an average of $106 per year on gas alone.
On top of that, Upside can help you earn an additional $234 each year with cashback offers at thousands of restaurants and grocery stores, making your everyday expenses even more manageable.
Just download the Upside app and create a free account, then browse the map to find participating locations.
Claim an offer, pay normally with the physical card that’s also linked to your Upside account and follow any additional steps in the app.
2. Tada: Get Cash Back Every Time You Shop at Your Favorite Stores (Get $5 Right Now)
Finding the best grocery deals online is getting more complicated every day. With thousands of coupon sites and referral codes out there, how do you know you’re getting the best deal?
Leave it to Tada to find you the best cash-back opportunities. When you shop at Walmart, Target, Kroger or any of the other thousands of stores Tada partners with, you’ll see all available coupons and get cash back on your purchase.
All you have to do is clip deals from your favorite stores and add them to your app’s virtual grocery list before you shop.
You can also scan a receipt after shopping in-store. You’ll see your cash rewards in your account in just a few days, then you can redeem them for gift cards or transfer the balance straight into your PayPal account.
It takes just a few minutes to sign up and get your $5 first shop bonus after your first receipt upload.
3. SavingStar: Double Your Rewards at Your Favorite Store
You have a go-to. You know the aisles, when the bakery will have fresh bread and when your favorite deals will be available, because it’s your store.
The next time you go shopping, take the SavingStar app with you. It’s basically a perfect match for grocery store loyalists because, depending on where you shop with your store loyalty card, you can connect it to earn automatic rebates.
If you frequent BJ’s, Family Dollar, Safeway or Walmart (to name a few), all you have to do is scan your store card to link and activate your rebates. Then you’re done!
Saving Star takes care of the rest. Otherwise, just scan receipts to claim your rebates.
Once you collect $20, transfer the money to your bank account, or cash out via PayPal. You can also choose to donate your earnings to charity.
4. Checkout 51: Let Your Receipt Get You Cash Back and Weekly Savings
Is your shopping style less about loyalty and more about wherever you can get the best deal? Same. In that case, Checkout 51 is a great cash-back option.
Redeem the app’s cash-back deals for specific products from any retailer (unless the offer specifies otherwise).
If you prefer to shop online, Checkout 51 makes it easy to earn there, too. Just claim your offers by snapping a photo of your packing slip. No need to shop through a portal.
Checkout 51 updates its offers each Thursday, giving you a week to get your shopping done.
Oh, and the app tends to focus on name-brand items, so don’t forget to compare prices. Generic or store brands might be more affordable even without a rebate.
Once you have earned at least $20, you can transfer your Checkout 51 rewards to cash in your bank account.
Maximize Your Rewards With These Tips
Cash-back apps are pretty simple, for the most part, but there are still some clever ways to make the most of your rewards. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Shop with a rewards credit card
Credit cards are handy (and dangerous) for a lot of reasons.
When it comes to restocking your fridge, you can double your rewards by using a cash-back credit card that will pay you 1% or more on your purchases.
But don’t get blinded by the perks and just sign-up for any card. Start by finding out if any of your current credit cards offer this perk, and if not, weigh your options.
While they may be easy to understand (spend money and rack up cash), cash-back credit cards are also very easy to get carried away with.
Our advice? Spend wisely, and remember not all cards are created equal.
2. Don’t wait to scan your receipt
Apps can sometimes limit the validity of a receipt, but other issues may arise if you hold off on scanning immediately.
Receipts typically end up at the bottom of cup holders and bags, where they crumple and get sullied with stains.
To avoid a faux pas like losing out on rewards because the scanner can’t read your receipt, just upload it ASAP.
3. Use grocery store loyalty cards or apps
A lot of stores offer some sort of loyalty program, whether it be through an app or a card you use to pay for your groceries. The discounts vary, but they’re still discounts, and every little bit helps.
To squeeze all the juice out of a reward opportunity, up the ante and sign up for loyalty programs at stores and restaurants you use the most.
Scan your receipt to your favorite cash-back app, and earn more from one shopping trip! Which brings us to …
4. Stack deals on deals
Ever heard of deal stacking? This is where you can stack your rewards by using multiple methods together to reduce the price of an item.
You may be getting cash back by purchasing with a credit card, and then also getting cash back from an app. Or maybe you’re just getting rewards points from a loyalty program.
However you’re earning, add deal stacking to your methods and share the love with your go-to cash-back app for even more rewards.
5. ‘The limit does not exist’
If there’s one thing to be gleaned from Cady Heron’s famous words, it’s that it can be applied it to almost anything: Why limit yourself to one-cash back app when you can redeem, buy and scan on as many apps as you can?
To double (or triple!) your earnings, check all your favorite cash-back apps for similar offers before you shop. Claim them and upload your receipt to all the apps.