Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Watch your pennies and the dollars will follow.” I certainly agree with the sentiment, but I’ve found that once I’ve determined that a purchase is within my budget, I won’t go out of my way to save money on the purchase. That’s particularly true if the purchase costs less than a hundred dollars. To put it succinctly, I don’t really watch my pennies.
This is why I’m always thankful for technological shortcuts that allow me to save money on purchases that I’m definitely going to make, without having to take extra steps. One new way that I’ve started saving pennies is the Spent App which is a cash back app (that has a few mediocre expense tracking features).
Want to get cash back on purchases you’re already making? I recommend downloading the Spent App, but before you do, here’s what you should know.
- Earn cash back rewards automatically
- Some expense tracking features
- Doesn't allow for easy stacking with other popular programs
The Spent App's Best Features
The best feature of the Spent App is it allows users to earn cash back, without thinking about it. You’ll simply connect a credit or debit card to the app, and you’ll qualify for rewards automatically. For example, you get 1% off Amazon, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Whole Foods purchases when you use a linked card. You can use the Spent Travel App to book hotels to earn up to 25% cash back. That can add up to some significant savings over time.
Best of all, all this cash back action happens in the background. Spent App’s parent company, Empyr, uses a payment transfer service called Dwolla to transfer money to your Paypal account. You can transfer cash back once you have at least $20 in rewards (which could take quite a while since many of the cash back offers are in the 1% range.
Features To Ignore
The Spent App also bills itself as an expense tracking app that allows you to snap photos of your receipts. Even after playing around with the app for quite a while, I couldn’t figure out how to export data from the app, which makes it largely useless for business expense reporting.
The app allows users to categorize transactions into Folders, which could be a useful tool for budgeting. Unfortunately, the lackluster in app reporting (not to mention the lack of export options) make this a feature that most users should skip.
If you’re looking for decent financial reporting in an app, consider favorites like Personal Capital, Mint.com, or You Need A Budget. Business users might also prefer Everlance which has a decent feature for tracking business expenses.
Can I Stack Cash Back Programs?
One of my favorite ways to use cash back programs is to stack them. If I can get cash back from two or three programs. This allows me to get 3-4% savings on many of my everyday purchases (when I add my credit card rewards on top of the cash back). Personally, I use the app Trim to earn cashback, and I sometimes use the website Ebates. Luckily, I can stack rewards from both of these programs with the Spent App rewards. I can also stack these with my credit card points.
Users cannot stack Spent App rewards with rewards from other Empyr programs. It took a while to figure out which programs run on Empyr, but I found that Coupons.com, Swagbucks, and Yelp’s dining rewards all count.
Additionally, users cannot stack rewards with the Rewards Network Dining programs (which are by and large dining rewards offered by airlines).
If you’re already using Swagbucks, Yelp or Coupons.com regularly (to earn cash back), I recommend passing on the Spent App. Otherwise, this should stack with your other cash back programs.
How Will Spent Use My Data?
In exchange for giving you cash back, you agree to give Spent a ton of data about you. They’ll know your spending habits, and have the ability to market deals to you (unless you opt out). Spent can also share your data with its partners including retailers.
Personally, I don’t think sharing your data with Spent is a particular risk to your security (though others would disagree). It uses bank-level security which should keep your information safe.
That said, Spent’s marketing efforts may lead to overspending. If you’re likely to overspend, Spent is probably not the right app for you right now.
Is Spent App Worth It?
To me, the Spent App is worthwhile. I expect that it will take a year or more for me to reach the $20 payout requirement, but it’s better than nothing. Since Spent stacks so easily with other rewards programs, I think it’s worthwhile. Don’t expect it to work as an expense management app, but enjoy the cash back rewards for your everyday spending.