Reviews

Dosh App Review: Can You Earn Cash-Back Automatically?

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Dosh offers passive cash-back on purchases made with select partners, including restaurants, gas stations, hotels and more. In theory, users can link their credit or debit cards, shop normally, and watch the cash roll in. 

Unfortunately, I earned $0 in passive cash-back during my three-month testing period.

In this Dosh review, I’ll explain how the app works, the different ways to earn cash-back, and everything else you need to know if you’re thinking about signing up.

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Dosh offers cash back on purchases made at select merchants with a linked credit or debit card. During our three-month testing period, we earned a total of $20.18 through online shopping and $0 from in-store purchases. Almost all of our cash-back was still pending at the time of publication.

Pros:
  • Dosh is one of the few true passive cash-back apps, paying you for transactions made with linked cards without the need to activate each offer.
  • The platform has a generous referral program that pays you $10 for every new user who signs up with your link and completes the onboarding requirements.
Cons:
  • It takes up to 90 days to verify purchases (your cash-back is unavailable during this period).
  • Dosh does not use a secure third-party platform (like Plaid) to collect your card details.
  • If your account is inactive for more than 12 months you will incur a hefty “maintenance” fee of $4.99 per month.

Dosh App Basis

Dosh is a card-linked cash-back platform that automatically pays you for shopping at partnered merchants. Unfortunately, there weren’t any offers available at places where I normally shop, and after three months of testing, I had earned zero card-linked cash-back. 

Note that most of the offers available in the three metro areas where we collected data (Baltimore, Chicago and Washington DC) were for local/independent restaurants, with a handful of national chains mixed in.

Dosh also offers cash-back for certain online purchases, and I did have some success with these offers, as described in the “our earnings” section below.

Four Ways to Earn With Dosh

  1. In-store purchases. Dosh partners with restaurants, retailers, grocers and other merchants. These offers are passive, meaning you’ll earn cash-back any time you use your linked card to pay for a purchase.
  2. Online shopping. These offers are not passive because you have to shop within the Dosh app in order to earn.
  3. Hotel bookings. Dosh offers cash-back on a wide selection of hotels. To receive cash-back on bookings, you must make the reservation through the Dosh app using a linked card and wait about 30 days for the transaction to post to your Dosh wallet.
  4. Referrals. You can earn $10 if a person you refer links their card, verifies their email address, and makes a qualifying purchase.

Important! Dosh only pays cash-back on swipe transactions. So when using a debit card, make sure to run it as a credit card instead of entering your pin number.

Important Facts to Know About Dosh

During testing, I made note of a few quirks that you’ll want to be aware of.

  • Dosh only accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express. For people like me who have a different preferred credit card, this poses a bit of an issue.
  • Dosh does not use a third-party service for card linking. In other words, you are required to manually enter your credit card number, expiration date and security code into the Dash app. We view this as a less secure approach than the methods used by competing apps. Learn more in our “Is Dosh safe?” FAQ answer.
  • Dosh does not always show full hotel availability. Dosh told me that the hotel I was trying to book was full, but rooms were available when I went directly to the hotel’s website.
  • It takes a very long time to get your cash-back. In order to cash out, you have to build up $25 in your “available to withdraw” balance. Most cash-back apps have a minimum withdrawal amount, but $25 is among the highest we’ve seen. Additionally, all the funds I earned — except for the $1 bonus Dosh paid me for linking my first payment card — are still pending nearly three months after my first transaction. Since I’m still a couple of transactions away from hitting the $25 minimum (and will have to wait an additional 90 days for those funds to be available), it’s going to take me a minimum of six months to actually see any money in my bank account.

Our Dosh Test Results & Getting Paid

Overall, my experience testing Dosh went well, earning $20.18 over a three-month period. However, it’s worth repeating that I earned no money through the passive card-linked cash-back program, which is Dosh’s primary feature and the main reason people download the app.

In contrast, our senior editor has been a long-time Dosh user and has racked up more than $300 in lifetime cash-back, as shown in the screenshot below. However, this is primarily because his family frequently visits a handful of local restaurants that happen to be participating merchants.

In my case, none of the partnered vendors in my area were places I regularly shop or eat, so I would have had to change my habits and go out of my way to earn — negating the “passive” aspect of the app.

Our senior editor's lifetime Dosh cash-back (and some recent transactions).
Our senior editor’s lifetime Dosh cash-back (and some recent transactions).

Our view is that how much you’ll earn with Dosh depends on whether you already purchase from the company’s partners. If you do, then the app gives you free money. If you don’t, it may not be worth your time and hassle.

Dosh Maintenance Fee

Most cash-back platforms charge some type of “maintenance” or inactivity fee. These fees allow a company to recoup funds it has allocated to users who have stopped using the platform.

Note that these fees cannot make your account go negative. You will never end up owing the company money. They’re just designed to reduce your account balance to zero. 

While we understand the purpose of these fees — without them, a company would be forced to indefinitely hold onto millions of dollars of unclaimed funds — we think Dosh’s policy is unusually aggressive.

Dosh charges a $4.99 account maintenance fee after 12 months of inactivity, which is defined as no qualifying transactions within a 365-day period. This is approximately twice what most other platform charge, as demonstrated by the table below: 

PlatformMaintenance Fee Details
Dosh$4.99 per month after 12 months of inactivity.
Drop Rewards2,500 points per month ($2.50) after six months of inactivity.
Rakuten$2 per month after 12 months of inactivity.
SwagbucksAccounts may be closed after 12 months of inactivity, and points expire after 24 months.

When paired with Dosh’s very high minimum withdrawal ($25), this fee is problematic, because many users will fail to hit that threshold. For example, should a person accumulate $20 in their account and then come back to the app a year later, they will find that their account balance has been wiped out. 

In fact, this happened to one of our editors, as shown in the screenshot below: 

The debits of $4.99 and $1.53 completely wiped out our editor's account balance.
The debits of $4.99 and $1.53 completely wiped out our editor’s account balance.

Other cash-back platforms have much less restrictive withdrawal policies. For example, Rakuten pays out automatically every three months if you have at least $5 in your account balance. Swagbucks has no minimum withdrawal, with reward options starting at $3. 

Take this into consideration when choosing whether Dosh is right for you. If you decide to give it a try, you’ll want to stick with it long enough to hit that $25 threshold. 

Dosh Alternatives

Dosh is far from the only cash-back platform available. Here’s a quick overview and comparison of some of the competing options you may want to consider.

  • Drop Rewards: Offers card-linked passive cash-back, and has significantly more partners than Dosh. However, the offers rotate and have to be activated on a weekly basis. Fortunately, this can be done with a single click. But if you forget to log into the app and complete this step, you won’t earn anything. Additionally, Drop’s cash-back rates are extremely low (usually less than 1%). Learn more in our Drop App review.
  • Rakuten: Our pick for the best pure cash-back platform is easy to use, almost always tracks transactions properly, credits cash-back quickly and pays out automatically on a regular schedule. Rakuten doesn’t always have the absolute highest cash-back rate available, but it rarely has the lowest. That makes this a good choice for frequent online shoppers who are looking for a simple, reliable solution. Learn more in our Rakuten review.
  • Swagbucks: The leading online rewards platform. It has a cash-back shopping portal that pays solid rates, as well as nearly two dozen other ways to earn money (playing games, taking paid surveys, etc.). Learn more in our Swagbucks review.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the rates found on each platform. This data was most recently updated on October 24, 2022. The merchants listed below are the same ones we’ve used for comparison purposes in our other cash-back app reviews

DoshDropRakutenSwagbucks
Best Buy0%0%Up to 1%4%
Expedia0%0.14%Up to 3%Up to 3%
Gap0%0.30%4%3%
Home Depot0%0.60%0%Up to 8%
Lego0%0%Up to 5%1%
Lululemon0%0%0%0%
Macy’s0%0.40%10%Up to 8%
Nike0%0.70%8%6%
Petco0%0%0%0%
Sephora2%0.35%2%3%

Dosh FAQs

Is Dosh legit?

Dosh is a legit cash-back app that works and pays as expected. It’s not a scam, and you can expect to get paid the money you’ve earned (once you accumulate at least $25 in your account balance). 

Is Dosh safe? 

While Dosh says that it does not sell your data and is committed to customer privacy, we’re less than satisfied with the way it collects your credit and debit card information for linking and tracking purposes. 

Most financial services apps — whether online banking apps, investing apps or cash-back apps — use an encrypted third-party authentication service to link between their app and external financial institutions. The most common of these services is Plaid. 

These systems prevent the app you’re using from seeing — or having the responsibility to safely store — specific aspects of your data. For example, a card-linked cash-back app that uses Plaid might be able to see your credit card transactions, but it would not have access to your full credit card number, expiration date and security code.

We consider this extra layer of protection to be standard industry practice. In our view, Dosh’s choice to not utilize a system of this nature makes it less secure than many competing options.

What kinds of merchants are on Dosh?

Dosh’s merchants cover three main categories: retailers, restaurants and hotels. Unfortunately, I don’t typically shop at the vast majority of the retailers that are on the app. I also hadn’t heard of the restaurants listed (despite my family eating out more than I would like).

Can you stack Dosh with other cash-back apps?

You may be able to stack Dosh with other cash-back apps, like Drop. However, some of these apps run on the same transaction-tracking network, and when that’s the case, you’ll only earn one instance of cash-back — not both.

Does Dosh work with Amazon?

Unfortunately, you can’t get cash-back on your Amazon purchases with Dosh. However, if Amazon is your go-to retailer, check out these 14 tactics for saving money on Amazon.

Can you earn cash-back if you pay with PayPal or Venmo?

No. In the same area of the app where you link your payment cards, you’re also able to link a bank, PayPal and/or Venmo account. These accounts are only for transferring funds out of Dosh; you won’t earn cash-back for purchases made with PayPal or Venmo.

Dosh Review: Final Verdict

Dosh has a relatively small number of merchant partners when compared to other cash-back sites. If you already shop at these partners, or are willing to change your shopping habits to save money, using Dosh may be a worthwhile idea. But if you scan the “Nearby” section and don’t see places you regularly frequent, you may be better served with one of the Dosh alternatives we mentioned above.

Vanessa Zeigler
Vanessa Zeigler is a freelance writer and editor focused on personal finance and time management. She has an MBA from Duke University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). She writes about frugal-living techniques, side hustles, product testing, selling on Etsy and eBay, and using money-making apps. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Upwork and Etsy.

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