This BeFrugal review explains how the site works and how it stacks up to the competition, and offers a few tips to optimize your earnings on the platform.
BeFrugal is one of the better cash-back shopping portals on the web, offering a large database of participating retailers and some of the best rates you can find. Other things we like about the platform are the ability to cash out with Zelle and Venmo starting at just 1 cent, the bonus for cashing out via gift card, the ability to automatically apply coupon codes when shopping online, and the generous $10 sign-up bonus for new users.
- Has a "best rate" guarantee that will pay you 125% of the cash-back offered by other sites.
- Offers multiple options to cash out (including PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and gift cards).
- Has a $10 "refer a friend" program.
- You can only use the "best rate" guarantee once at each merchant.
- The browser extension sometimes fails to alert you when a website offers cash-back.
How BeFrugal Works
BeFrugal is free to join and use.
Once you’re signed up, BeFrugal says you can earn up to 40% cash-back at more than 5,000 stores, including big retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart (more on the specific cash-back rates below).
You earn this money because online retailers give BeFrugal a commission for driving customers to their website. BeFrugal then gives you a share of that commission.
If you’re new to cash-back shopping, what’s going on behind the scenes is that when you visit a website through BeFrugal or via their browser extension, the site or extension uses tracking technology to monitor your purchase activity.
Once the purchase is complete, your share of the commission typically appears as “pending” in your BeFrugal account. The retailer may need to verify the purchase before paying the commission to BeFrugal.
Once the retailer pays BeFrugal for the referral, which typically happens after the return period is over, BeFrugal will update the status of the commission in your account to “available.” At this point, you can request payment and the money will be transferred to your designated payment method.
It’s worth noting that while BeFrugal does track your purchases, the site does not sell or share your personal information with third parties.
Can You Really Earn Up to 40% Cash-Back?
Up to 40% cash-back sounds like a crazy promise. And, to be candid, it’s a bit misleading.
You’re not likely to find many opportunities to earn 40% on the site, and when you do, they won’t be for the retailers you’re most likely to shop with.
The 40% figure represents the absolute upper end of the cash-back rates offered on BeFrugal, and is usually only available for products and services like subscription boxes and software licenses (antivirus programs, VPNs, etc.).
As with most other cash-back sites, the most you’ll score with major retailers tends to top out at around 10%, and is usually between 2% and 18%.
That said, BeFrugal does offer some very competitive cash-back rates that are often well above average.
As an example, here’s a snapshot of BeFrugal’s cash-back rates for a few popular merchants, compared to top competitors like TopCashback, Swagbucks and Rakuten. (This data was collected on March 8, 2023)
|Up to 1.5%
|Up to 2%
|Up to 1%
|Up to 8%
|Up to 8%
|Up to 8%
|Up to 6%
|Up to 4.2%
|Up to 2%
|Up to 3%
As you can see, the rates of the main sites listed above tend to be in the same general ballpark, with a few percentage points of difference between them.
When the table above says “Up to”, that’s because the highest cash-back rates for that particular merchant are only available within certain categories. For example, with BeFrugal, you can get 4% back at Walmart on pet supply purchases but only 2% on electronics.
Not all stores have separate rates for specific categories, but if they do, BeFrugal displays them on the merchant page of the specific retailer.
What Is Bonus Cash?
You’ll want to take advantage of BeFrugal’s Bonus Cash offers to get the most cash-back possible. These limited-time promotional rates pay more than the site’s “regular” rates.
The site has a dedicated section for Bonus Cash offers. You’ll see a list of featured offers at the top of the Bonus Cash page:
But when you scroll down, you’ll find a complete list of all the cash-back stores in BeFrugal’s database, along with their “bonus” rate and “old” rate.
As you can see, virtually every online store in the database has a bonus rate and an old rate.
Here’s what you need to know: On cash-back sites, rates change all the time and there are consistently promotions.
BeFrugal’s “Bonus Cash” designation is a marketing tool used to draw attention to its offers, but it doesn’t necessarily signify that you’re getting a once-in-a-blue-moon bonus; to the contrary, most retailers offer Bonus Cash most of the time.
That means you shouldn’t jump on an offer just because it has a Bonus Cash designation. Instead, think about whether or not the rate is a good offer in general, and check other sites to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal.
As a rule, any rate over 8% is very good. For rates less than 8%, you may want to shop around. For sites to compare BeFrugal against, see our ranking of the best cash-back apps.
When you sign in to BeFrugal, front and center they have a section for “Today’s Top Deals.”
This is a curated list of limited-time deals that BeFrugal has found.
Not all of the deals in this section offer cash-back via BeFrugal, but for bargain shoppers, the company does a good job of curating a list of hot items offered at solid discounts.
The BeFrugal coupon section aggregates online coupons, promo codes and printable coupons for retailers and restaurants from a variety of sources around the web.
The offers you’ll find here are similar to those you’d find on any other coupon site. They are not coupons or promo codes exclusive to BeFrugal.
Two benefits to using BeFrugal coupons are:
- BeFrugal guarantees that all online coupons on their site will work. In the event that a coupon does not provide a discount, you can contact BeFrugal within 24 hours and receive a $5 credit to your account.
- You can add a restaurant to your “Favorites” list to receive email alerts for new coupons.
The offers are integrated into the rest of the site. So when you search for a retailer using the main search bar, you’ll see not only the current cash-back rate, but also any coupons that BeFrugal has identified.
Let’s use Bed Bath & Beyond as an example:
In the screenshot above, you’ll notice the big callout box encouraging you to install the BeFrugal browser extension. If you do, it will show you a popup that will let you apply, with one-click, all of the promo codes and offers in its database whenever you checkout with a participating retailer.
As you can imagine, this is much easier than trying to remember to search for a site and sift through the current offers before shopping.
Let’s take a closer look at how the browser extension works…
BeFrugal Browser Extension
If you’re serious about maximizing your savings by using BeFrugal, you’ll want to consider installing the company’s browser extension, which offers a handful of valuable features that can help you rack up cash-back quickly.
Most importantly, the BeFrugal extension automatically notifies you when cash-back is available for a site you’re visiting, and shows you the amount you can earn.
In the example below, you can see that as soon as we hit the Bed Bath & Beyond website, the extension alerted us to a 9% cash-back offer.
Note that you’ll only see the on-page alert the first time you visit a participating site. After that, you’ll have to pay attention to the extension icon (the piggy bank with the “9%” notice) and click it to activate cash-back.
One thing BeFrugal offers with its extension that many other cash-back extensions lack is the ability to automatically apply working coupon codes. This feature is called Couponomatic, and is very similar to how the popular Capital One Shopping works.
Here’s what it looks like when visiting Macy’s, which had both a cash-back offer and promos at the time we wrote this review:
Another thing we love about the extension is that it shows whether or not the cash-back offer for that site has been activated. This can help you make sure you don’t leave money on the table.
Note: During our testing, we found that the browser extension does not always recognize when a participating retailer offers cash-back. While this only occurred in less than 5% of cases, it does mean that you can’t fully rely on the extension. If you visit a site and don’t see an alert, you may want to check the BeFrugal website to make sure no cash-back is available.
BeFrugal Coupon Guarantee
BeFrugal guarantees that all of the coupon codes in its database are valid and will work when you check out at a participating online store with the browser extension installed. If you find one that doesn’t work, you can contact BeFrugal within 24 hours to request a $5 account credit.
However, there are some caveats to this:
- It’s up to BeFrugal’s discretion whether they award you the credit.
- BeFrugal allows members to submit coupon codes. These have not been verified and are not covered by the guarantee.
Additionally, it’s important to note that this is not a “best deal” guarantee. In other words, BeFrugal does not promise that it will apply the absolute best possible combination of discounts and promo codes — only that the codes in its database will actually work.
So in essence, the guarantee is a promise that you won’t end up wasting time trying to use expired or invalid promo codes. But since the extension applies those codes automatically, that’s kind of a moot point.
Getting Paid From BeFrugal
If you’ve never used a cash-back site before, it’s easy to wonder whether they’re legit.
You’ll be happy to know that BeFrugal has an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau and a 4.5/5 rating on TrustPilot.
When it comes time to request payment, here’s what you can expect.
After you make your purchase, your cash-back will usually be credited to your account in less than a week. In some cases, it can take longer.
However, you cannot withdraw your funds at this time. Your cash-back stays in a pending status for a set period, depending on the retailer’s return policy and when BeFrugal gets paid for referring you to that particular merchant.
Most often, earnings will not be “payable” for between 30 and 90 days after they appear in your BeFrugal balance.
BeFrugal offers a wide variety of cash-out options and some of the most user-friendly payment terms in the industry.
|U.S. phone number required
|U.S. phone number required
|Gift card redemptions are offered at a slight discount.
BeFrugal says that most payments are issued within 24 hours of being requested, which has been my experience.
Note that if you go the gift card route, it will be delivered electronically. There’s no option to request a physical gift card.
Gift cards don’t expire and have no fees, but prepaid Visa prepaid cards must be activated within four months of being issued and used within seven months of being activated. Unlike gift cards, you can request a physical prepaid Visa card at a cost of $3.
Getting the $10 Sign-Up Bonus
Earning $10 right off the bat is easy to do with BeFrugal. All you have to do is sign up and shop.
Your $10 bonus will be payable after you earn your first $10 in cash-back on the site (though it’s worth noting that it will show up in your account balance instantly).
That’s one of the reasons you might want to sign up for more than one cash-back website. You can earn more sign-up bonuses, which is a free way to score some extra money.
BeFrugal Cash-Back Guarantee
BeFrugal has a unique guarantee in that if you find a higher cash-back rate on any site after making a purchase through BeFrugal, they’ll match the rate at 125%.
While I have yet to test out this guarantee, I can say that by no means does BeFrugal have a monopoly on the highest cash-back rates across the board.
As an example, take shopping at Nike. At the time of original writing, Cashback Monitor (a site that tracks cash-back rates on numerous platforms) reported that Rakuten was offering 10% back at Nike, while BeFrugal was listed at a maximum of 7%.
So at first, it seems like this guarantee could be a good way to make sure you’re always getting the best deal. Unfortunately, it’s not as great as it looks on the surface.
First of all, you have to report the higher rate within 24 hours of making your purchase, and include significant details about the transaction — things like order numbers and screenshots of the higher rate. This obviously takes extra time.
That extra time might be worth it to snag an additional 25%. However, you’re only allowed to use the guarantee once for each merchant. So if you shop at the same stores frequently, you’re not covered and out of luck.
BeFrugal vs. Rakuten
Most cash-back shopping sites and apps are pretty similar to each other, but they can have subtle yet important differences. Because of that, it’s a good idea to think about which one might be best suited for you.
Here are some of the key distinctions.
|Time to receive
|Earnings are pending for 30 to 90 days.
|Earnings are paid on a quarterly basis.
|Direct deposit, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and gift cards to popular retailers.
|Check, PayPal or American Express Points. Direct deposit is not available.
There’s a lot to like about both sites. When it comes to BeFrugal, one of the key benefits is the wide range of payment options — which is among the best in the industry.
Paired with its 1 cent minimum withdrawal amount, most people will get paid faster than with Rakuten — although it depends on your transactions and how long your earnings stay pending. (Most are available after 30 days.)
On the other hand, Rakuten is operated by one of Japan’s largest and most well-respected companies, and is renowned for its straightforward customer service, transparency and no-hassle approach to its rewards program.
In years of using Rakuten (including when it was called Ebates, before it was purchased by Rakuten and renamed), we’ve never had to report missing cash-back or missing payments. In contrast, BeFrugal transactions do sometimes fail to track properly. And while the company has been quick to apply the missing credit, it takes time to send the request.
Of course, the flip side is that Rakuten only pays quarterly — so you’re going to end up waiting a while for your earnings.
Plus, while Rakuten frequently offers great promotional rates (such as “triple cash back days”), their base rates can be fairly low. That means you may need to time your purchases more precisely than with BeFrugal, complicating your shopping.
BeFrugal Review: Tips to Optimize Cash-Back
- Earn the sign-up bonus, even if you use other cash-back sites like TopCashback or Swagbucks. It’s an easy win, and you can get it just through one purchase.
- Start a referral group to refer friends and family. BeFrugal offers a solid $10 referral bonus for each new member who joins using your link and earns $10 in cash-back.
- Check Cashback Monitor to see what the highest cash-back rate is for a given store. We reviewed Cashback Monitor in detail and think it’s a great way to help ensure you’re getting the absolute best deal every time.
Yes. The BeFrugal app is available in both the App Store and Google Play. The app is essentially the BeFrugal website reformatted for your smartphone, offering almost identical features.
Yes, unlike many cash-back sites you can get cash-back for an Amazon purchase — but only in a limited number of specific categories.
For example, at the time this review was written, cash-back is only available on Amazon devices (like Kindles) and Amazon smart home devices (like Alexa-compatible furnishings and security systems).
You might have more luck with these ways to save money on Amazon.
Before the widespread adoption of browser extensions, companies used to release “toolbars” — which provided similar functions. The BeFrugal toolbar was discontinued some time ago.
We don’t have an exclusive promo code for the site, but you can get a $10 sign-up bonus when you join using this link.
BeFrugal Review: Final Thoughts
Using a cash-back site is of the best ways to get free money. You can often save as much at 10% to 15% with seconds of effort — if you can even call opening a website and clicking a link “effort.”
So the question isn’t whether you should use a cash-back portal, but rather which one.
We think BeFrugal is among the best around. It’s a legit cash-back site that’s been in operation for over a decade, has a huge database of participating retailers, and consistently offers some of the best rates you can find.
However, there are other good options. Rakuten is a reliable, no-hassle portal that offers solid rates and a killer browser extension. Swagbucks tends to offer slightly less cash-back, but there are countless ways to earn on the site and you can sometimes cash-out for gift cards at a discount.
Meanwhile, our research shows that TopCashback — a site that often flies under the radar — consistently offers the most cash-back on a per-dollar basis.
Here’s the good news: you can’t go wrong with any of the above options. They’ll all save you a solid chunk of money, and the differences between them tend to be minor.