With cash-back sites like BeFrugal, it makes no sense not to sign up. You get free money for doing something you were doing anyway.
But is BeFrugal the best cash-back site around?
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 top cash-back shopping portals on the web, offering a massive database of participating retailers and some of the best rates you can find.
- Has a "best rate" guarantee that will pay you 125% of the cash-back offered by other sites.
- You can see every virtual shopping trip you took through BeFrugal in your account dashboard, including whether or not you earned cash-back (and how much).
- 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.
It’s a win-win situation for everybody.
The retailer gets more sales, BeFrugal makes money, and you end up with cash-back.
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 15%, and is usually between 2% and 10%.
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. Keep in mind that these figures were recorded on December 14th, 2020, and rates change all the time.
|Best Buy||Up to 5%||4%||3%||Up to 6%|
|Home Depot||Up to 8%||8%||None||None|
|Bed Bath & Beyond||Up to 5%||4%||3%||Up to 6%|
As you can see, the rates of the main sites listed above are all in the same general ballpark, with a few percentage points of difference between them.
That’s why there are two approaches you can take with cash-back sites:
- Sign up for multiple sites and check each one before making an online purchase. This only takes a few minutes, but the extra savings can add up if you shop online frequently.
- Exclusively use a single site. You may not save quite as much in the long run, but it can be a lot easier.
Either approach works, and which one you should employ just depends on how badly you want to squeeze every possible penny of savings out of your online purchases.
What is Bonus Cash?
To get the most cash-back possible, you’ll want to take advantage of BeFrugal’s Bonus Cash offers. These are limited-time promotional rates that pay more than the site’s “regular” rates.
The site has a dedicated section for Bonus Cash offers. At the top of the Bonus Cash page, you’ll see a list of featured offers:
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 almost always 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 10% is very good. For rates less than 10%, you may want to shop around.
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.
Additionally, the section isn’t very useful as a standalone resource because there’s no way to directly search for coupons.
However, 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 automatically try to apply 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.
With the extension installed, BeFrugal will also automatically apply the best-possible combination of discounts and promo codes it currently has in its database when you check out with a participating retailer.
Plus, you can see those offers ahead of time right in the extension.
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.
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. If it’s a travel purchase, it can take up to 60 days.
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.
This means your earnings will not “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.
|Paper check||$25||U.S. only|
|Bank deposit||1 cent||U.S. only|
|Venmo||1 cent||U.S. phone number required|
|Zelle||1 cent||U.S. phone number required|
BeFrugal says that most payments are issued within 24 hours of being requested.
Note that if you go the gift card route, it will be delivered electronically. There’s no option to request a physical gift card. BeFrugal claims these e-gift cards can be used in-store, but our experience is that it depends on the individual merchant’s policies.
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 a good deal considering signing up for a BeFrugal account takes seconds.
It may be the quickest $10 you’ve earned in a while.
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 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.|
|Payment options||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.
No — there’s no way to get paid for scanning receipts with BeFrugal. Ibotta is a better option for saving at the grocery store, and it will pay you for uploading register receipts.
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
If you’re going to shop online anyway, not using a cash-back site is like taking a stack of money and lighting it on fire. 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.