Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here


Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

4 Ways to Get Cash Back on Purchases

Save this holiday season with these deals

spinner image A red holiday wrapped gift box with a gold bow has cash coming out from under the lid.
Getty Images

The season of gift-giving is almost here, which means consumers are gearing up to hit the stores online and in-person. All expectations point to a strong holiday shopping season, but that doesn’t mean shoppers aren’t looking to stretch their dollars. One way is with cash back deals.

“It’s very reasonable to get 5 to 10 percent cash back on most, if not all, of your holiday purchases if you time things carefully and take advantage of deals,” says Summer Hull, director of content at The Points Guy.  “In fact, it’s not impossible to get more in the range of 10 to 20 percent back if you use the right amount of strategy and luck.”

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

Cash back deals come in many flavors and are offered from a variety of sources. Some require little effort to reap the rewards. For others you need to put in a little work. Either way, if you’re looking to make some money back on your holiday purchases, opportunities abound including the following:

1. Cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards are a popular way to earn money back from purchases. Some cards give extra cash back in certain categories like travel or groceries, while others rotate it quarterly or offer a flat rate across all purchases. The best way to save is to maximize those reward points based on how you shop. “Looking for a cash back credit card that matches your spending style can get you more money to use towards Black Friday, especially if you find one with a big sign-up bonus,” says Andrea Woroch, shopping expert and saving-money consultant. She pointed to one credit card that offers $200 when you spend $500 in the first three months of opening an account. “That can cover a good chunk of your holiday purchases.”

Effort level: Easy to medium. If you have a cash back credit card that matches your spending, then you are good to go. If not, it’s time to find one. Make sure to shop around, comparing interest rates, fees and reward levels to find one that meets your needs.  

2. Cash back shopping portals and apps

Coupon sites have evolved over the years and today there are shopping portals, giving shoppers free access to cash back deals, coupons and other discounts. The sites get paid a commission to send business to retailer websites, . You can shop on your computer or mobile device at popular shopping portals such as Rakuten, RetailMeNot, Ibotta, CouponCabin and TopCashback

Shopping & Groceries

Coupons for Local Stores

Save on clothing, gifts, beauty and other everyday shopping needs

See more Shopping & Groceries offers >

“Every purchase you make this holiday season should not only go on a rewards-earning credit card but also start via a cash back site like Rakuten or TopCashback to earn extra rewards,” says Hull. “It is common Black Friday for these sites to compete with each other and award 5–20 percent cash back on really great, popular retailers, which makes for extra rewarding shopping. It’s free, easy and you often get an extra bonus when you first sign up.”

Effort level: Medium. To earn cash back on purchases, consumers have to register for free on the websites. Click on the cash back rewards and you’ll be taken to the retailer’s website to check out as normal. The cash you earn will be available in the coupon site’s account. From there you can redeem it via Venmo or PayPal. It can take weeks for the money to be paid out so don’t expect it shortly after you make the purchase.

3. Cash back days

​Offered by a handful of coupon websites and a credit card company, national cash back days are growing in popularity. These shopping days give consumers extra cash back on their purchases from a variety of different retailers.

Take RetailMeNot’s National Cash Back days, which run for three days starting Nov. 2.. Shoppers can earn as much as 20 percent cash back on their purchases. Hundreds of retailers participate in this event each year including Neiman Marcus, Ray-Ban, Sam Edelman, Elf Cosmetics, Samsung, Expedia, PrettyLittleThing, Ninja Kitchen, Princess Polly and more.

In previous Cash Back Day events, RetailMeNot said shoppers earned an average of $18 cash back per order. Since 2019, it has paid shoppers close to $1.3 million during Cash Back Day events. CouponFollow, another coupon website, is running a cash back day on Nov. 11, giving customers double cash back at over 1,000 retailers including Bose, Groupon, Origins, Pier 1, Princess Polly, Tarte and others. 

spinner image membership-card-w-shadow-192x134


Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Bank of America is also rewarding credit card customers with extra cash back on its More Rewards Day Nov. 9. Consumers and small business credit card holders with rewards cards will automatically earn 2 percent cash back, two points per $1 or two miles per $1 spent. Credit card holders without a rewards card will earn a statement credit equal to 2 percent cash back on the first $2,500 in purchases made on Nov. 9.

Effort level: Easy. If you have a Bank of America credit card, all you have to do is shop on Nov. 9 to get the bonus. If you don’t, you have to apply for an account. The same goes for RetailMeNot and CouponFollow. If you are already a member, shop as normal to get the extra rewards.

4. Cash back browser extensions

​From Capital One to Rakuten, companies of all stripes have gotten into the browser extension game. These tools, which you download and install on your internet browser on your computer or mobile device, automatically apply cash back and coupons as you shop. Rakuten is a popular one, giving consumers access to cash back at over 3,500 stores. PayPal’s Honey, CouponCabin and Ibotta are other examples of browser extensions that give you cash back on your purchases.

Effort level: Medium. You do have to be a little tech savvy since you’re required to download and install a browser extension on your computer or mobile device. Once you do, it’s easy to rack up cash back.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?