Reviews

Earny Review: Cash-Back + Automated Price Drop Refunds

Earny Review
Some links included here are from our sponsors. Please read our affiliate disclaimer for more information.

Buyer’s remorse stinks. We’ve all bought something online only to find it on sale for a lower price a few days later. You can curse your ill fate and swear off online shopping, but you can’t do much to get your money back.

Or can you?

There are several apps designed to recapture those lost dollars and put them back in your wallet. 

Earny is one of those apps. It offers a variety of services, all designed to prevent you from overpaying on just about everything.

However, unlike some of the other options in the marketplace, Earny is not free.

So in this Earny review, we’ll go over the product’s offerings, explore the pros and cons, and help you decide if signing up will actually help you save money.

The Basics

In preparation for a party, Earny’s co-founder Oded Vakrat bought a new jacket, only to find it for a better price a week later. After a bunch of paperwork and phone calls, Vakrat finally received $65 in a price protection rebate from his Chase card.

This experience led Vakrat and fellow ex-Navy officer Dori Yona to the idea for their new company — one that would automate the onerous, time-consuming process of taking advantage of price drop protection. In 2016, they created Earny to do just that.

The Earny app monitors your email inbox for order confirmation emails, noting the expected delivery dates and prices. If the price on your purchase drops or the package is late, Earny requests reimbursement from the merchant on your behalf. 

Unlike many cash-back apps and browser extensions, Earny is not completely free. Their purchase tracking function is free via the Earny Lite version, but to access the remainder of Earny’s money-saving features you’ll have to pay an annual subscription fee. 

Earny’s website touts that it’s saved customers over $1 million. So is the subscription fee worth the savings? Let’s dig a bit deeper to find out if the value of Earny justifies the price.

Key Features

Earny is like several cash-back apps rolled into one. It offers multiple features, all designed to ensure you don’t pay any more than you have to. Here’s a list of all the ways that Earny can save you cash.

#1. Cash-Back Shopping: Like Swagbucks, Rakuten, Capital One Shopping and others, Earny offers cash-back shopping via a browser extension. Get a percentage of your spending back from their list of online retailers.

#2. Retailer Price Protection Monitoring: Once you grant Earny access to your email, the app scans your inbox in search of receipts from online purchases. Earny tracks the purchases and price protection timelines, constantly monitoring for price changes and requesting price adjustments on your behalf. 

#3. Hotel Price Protection Monitoring: Hotel prices fluctuate constantly, so Earny will send you an email if your hotel reservation becomes cheaper on major booking sites. 

#4. Price Tracking Watchlist: Looking for the best time to make an online purchase? Add the item to the Earny Chrome extension, which will track the price for you so you can buy it when it’s at the lowest price.

#5. Amazon Late Shipping Refunds: Nobody likes late packages. If you pay for expedited shipping, Earny makes sure the package arrives on time or the app will request a shipping reimbursement for you.

How Earny Works

You grant Earny access to your inbox so it can scan for confirmation emails from online retailers. Without any effort from you, Earny works in the background to monitor the prices on items you’ve already bought to check for price reductions. 

If Earny discovers price drops, it submits requests for refunds from online vendors and/or your credit card company on your behalf. This can save you money you didn’t even know you were entitled to — and all without any extra worry or work on your part.

Cash-Back Shopping

A free feature that Earny offers is cash-back shopping through a Chrome browser extension. (Sorry, Firefox fans. Chrome is the only browser that works with Earny at the moment.) 

Once you add Earny to Chrome, you can activate cash-back offers by clicking on the Earny icon at the top right corner of your browser. 

Earny offers higher cash-back percentages with some online retailers than you’ll see in similar cash-back browser extensions.

At the time of this writing, for example, Capital One Shopping and Swagbucks offered 2% cash-back at Walmart, while Earny offered 3%. And with Earny’s paid subscription, your cash-back rate doubles.

Pro Tip: Cashback Monitor is a site that allows you to search the different cash back rates for different stores among the various back sites. 

It’s important to note that there is no overlap between Earny’s list of cash-back vendors and its price protection vendors. Earny’s Chrome extension only works with Walmart, Target, Groupon, Sephora, BarkBox, AllBirds, Warby and Honest for cash-back shopping. That’s a much smaller list than most competing products.

Earny also offers a referral program, so you can earn cash-back not only on what you spend, but on what friends and family spend as well. If you see something a friend might like, get a referral link in the Earny Chrome extension and send it to your friend via text, email, or social media. If they buy the item, you get a commission.

All commissions and cash-back from the Earny Chrome extension are paid out via PayPal. You can cash out once your total reaches $15, and the payment is processed within 3-5 business days.

Related reading: How to get free PayPal money.

Price Protection

Online retailers often offer price drop protection for their customers, but the policies vary so widely from vendor to vendor that it would take more time than it’s worth to keep track of them all. Earny does that for you. 

Earny compares the price you paid with advertised prices, and checks for a price drop within the vendor’s stated price adjustment window. If Earny sees the price fall, the app automatically requests a refund for the difference from the vendor. 

Earny’s website claims the service works with over 5,000 brands. This may be true of the brands of products they can find cash-back on, but the wording is a bit misleading because the price protection service currently works with only the following vendors:

  • Best Buy
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Costco
  • Gap Group (Athleta, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Gap)
  • Home Depot
  • J. Crew
  • Kohl’s
  • Macy’s
  • Nike
  • Nordstrom
  • Target
  • Zappos

Credit Card Price Protection

In addition to the price protection offered by the retailer, Earny utilizes the price protection offered by credit cards. This gives Earny an advantage over other price-checking apps like Paribus, as credit card price-protection windows tend to be significantly more generous than those offered by retailers.

For example, some major credit cards offer price drop protection within a 90-120 day window, but few people take advantage of this little-known benefit. Because this feature is attached to the credit card instead of the vendor, you can get refunds on price drops with retailers that don’t offer price protection. (We’re looking at you, Amazon.) 

If you’re wondering why Earny asks for your credit card information, this is the reason. This one-two punch of vendor-plus-credit-card price protection is where you can get extra cash-back that other apps can’t match.

Not all purchases are covered by price protection. If you’re hoping to use Earny to get money back on your online groceries, prepare to be disappointed. Perishable and grocery items aren’t covered, and neither are other consumables (health and beauty items), jewelry, vehicles and a few other excluded categories.

Hotels

Hotel prices fluctuate so much and so often that they offer no price protection — unless you have Earny. 

To help their customers avoid bookers remorse, “Earny Hotels” scans your emails for hotel reservations and checks your booking against several large databases to look for price drops. Earny searches through Expedia, Booking.com, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity to find you the lowest price on your stay.

Unlike their normal price protection system, Earny won’t automatically rebook your stay for you. The app sends you an email with the new price. You can then cancel your existing reservation and change it to the lower-priced one in the Earny app. Earny gets data and operates its bookings through Priceline.

If you travel frequently, Earny’s hotels feature is a major value-add. The refund on a single hotel reservation alone may justify Earny’s annual subscription cost. Earny’s website reports they save the average user $75 per hotel stay. Note that Earny does take a 25% commission on all hotel savings.

A word of warning on Earny’s hotel feature, however: you are responsible for any cancellation or change fees, so read the fine print on your existing reservations thoroughly. Most hotel reservations allow cancellations up to 72 hours before you check in, so avoid changing up your plans last minute.

Related: How to find cheap hotels.

Price Tracking Watchlist

You can also use the Earny Chrome extension to add products to your watch list. Earny tracks the high and low prices over the last six months and informs you of whether now is a good time to buy the item you want. 

Price tracking information can be patchy. The wait/buy bar isn’t always representative of what the price range shows, and some information can take up to an hour to populate.

Earny doesn’t always provide immediate access to price tracking data.

Earny’s price tracking functionality is rudimentary compared to the competition. Earny doesn’t track the price of items over multiple platforms like Capital One Shopping; it only compares what the price has been on the website you’re on at the moment. 

Similarly, Keepa produces customizable graphs and checks new vs. refurbished vs. used items on Amazon, while Honey sends you a notification when an item on your watchlist goes on sale. Earny offers none of those features.

So while the watchlist feature is nice, it’s not Earny’s strong suit, as there are browser extensions out there with many more bells and whistles.

Amazon Late Shipping Refunds

Earny not only tracks prices, but it tracks packages as well.

Earny scans your inbox for postage tracking emails, just like it does for price drops. It takes note of the promised delivery date and if there is no confirmation email by that date, Earny sends a request to Amazon for a shipping reimbursement. 

Amazon typically issues these refunds in the form of a credit to your Amazon account.

How You Get Paid

Although Earny works to get you refunded for price drops and late shipping, the app doesn’t oversee the monetary transaction. Think of Earny as a personal assistant that fills out the paperwork to get your money back. The refund goes to you, not your assistant.

Generally, refunds that Earny finds for you with online retailers go back to the bank account or credit/debit card you used to make the purchase.

If Earny uses the price protection through your credit card to get you a refund, you may get a check in the mail or the money may go back on the card, depending on the policy of the credit card issuer.

At the time of this writing, Earny uses the price protection of Chase and Citi credit cards, as well as MasterCards from Bank of America, Capital One, Barclays, US Bank and First Premier.

Once Earny gets confirmation that you were awarded a refund, you can expect the money to go back on your card, or the check to come in the mail, within 7-10 business days.

Privacy Concerns

Does Earny really read and write emails from your account?

The answer is (surprisingly) yes. Earny scans your inbox for receipts and catalogs the information it finds on those emails. It also requests refunds by sending emails from your account on your behalf to retailers.

If the idea of an app reading through and sending out emails in your account makes your heart stop, you’re not alone. In a time where data breaches are a daily occurrence, privacy concerns are one of the biggest barriers to using Earny for most people.

However, Earny doesn’t have unfettered access to your email; it only has access to your inbox, not other folders. And it doesn’t actually use your password; your email provider (Yahoo, Google or Microsoft) issues Earny a token, which grants the app permission to read and write emails. 

Once you connect Earny, its bots and search algorithms do most of the work, honing in on the tracking and confirmation emails needed to check prices and package delivery dates. 

If you’re concerned about privacy but still want the savings Earny offers, you can create an email address used exclusively for online shopping. We recommend this as a best practice anyway, as it helps you keep your primary inbox free of marketing emails.

Earny secures your data with AES 256 encryption, the strongest available encryption standard that’s practically uncrackable. The company employs other security strategies, such as VPNs, threat detection, dynamic data masking, activity monitoring, two-factor authentication and high-security firewalls. 

However, Earny’s privacy policy states that they can disclose information they gather about you (including contents of your email) to third-party vendors, contractors or agents in order to perform business functions on Earny’s behalf. 

They also disclose certain categories of data to the merchant whose site you visit through Earny so they can cater their advertising to you. 

Earny also reserves the right to sell your anonymized data to a third party. If you want to dive further into Earny’s privacy policy, you can do so here.

Earny vs. Paribus

There are many other apps that offer the same features as Earny, with the strongest competitor being Paribus. It performs a similar function, scanning your inbox and searching for receipts and package delivery emails to get you money back.

Paribus doesn’t have its own browser extension, but its parent company Capital One offers Capital One Shopping, which serves the same function as Earny’s Chrome extension. Earny doubles the cash-back rates for its subscribers, but this feature only works with a limited number of vendors.

There are a couple key differences between the two apps. Paribus is completely free to use and gives you 100% of your refunds, whereas Earny users pay an annual fee and a commission on the refunds they’re awarded.

Paribus works with a longer list of retailers — at the time of writing, 22 versus Earny’s 15. 

Earny has two major advantages over Paribus: access to credit card price protection and price drop protection on hotel reservations. 

However, with the rise of price tracking apps like Earny and Paribus, many credit card issuers are dropping price protection in response to a flood of new, automated claims. This makes Earny’s price protection less advantageous than it once was, unless you have one of the few credit cards that still offers this feature. 

Paribus used to offer price protection on hotel reservations, but it abandoned this feature, making this the major advantage of Earny over Paribus.

Our Take

Earny certainly offers a wide range of money-saving features. However, many other apps and browser extensions offer the same features — and they don’t charge an annual subscription for them. 

By using Paribus and a cash-back browser extension like Capital One Shopping, Rakuten or Honey, you can get almost all the features of Earny and a longer list of vendors to choose from — all for free. The encryption quality is just as good, and the user interfaces on the other apps offer more refined monitoring for price tracking over time. 

If you have a credit card that is compatible with Earny and offers price protection, or if you are a frequent traveler, it may be worth the annual subscription. The price drop on one hotel stay alone may very well cover the $19 annual fee.

But if this doesn’t fit your situation, you can save a few bucks by choosing Paribus and a cash-back browser extension instead.

Earny FAQ

Does Earny provide credit card based price protection? 

Yes. Unlike Paribus, Earny uses the price protection policies of your credit card in addition to the merchant’s. Credit card policies are often more generous, so if you have a credit card that is compatible with Earny, this can be a major advantage.

How do you delete Earny/cancel your subscription?

Sign in to your Earny account and click “Profile.” At the bottom, choose the “Remove Account” option. After that, all your information will be removed and your account will be permanently deleted.

How safe is Earny?

Your email, sign-in, and credit card information is all stored with industry-standard encryption. Earny does allow its partners to see certain categories of information it collects about your browsing history or buying habits to market their products to you.

If giving Earny access to your email concerns you, you can work around this by using an extra email account exclusively for online shopping.

How often does the list of supported retailers change?

As with Parbus, the list changes constantly. For example, Newegg, Jcrew, Jet, Overstock and Sears were recently removed. We’ll update this post as new merchants are added and dropped.

Summary

For those that shop online a lot, Earny can be a real money saver. This app is especially great since it works day and night with very little effort on your part. Cash-back when prices drop, without having to expend any effort? Yes, please!

The bottom line is that this automates price adjustment requests and makes the entire process passive and hassle free. 

And if you link a credit card that offers price protection or frequently stay in hotels, you can easily justify Earny’s modest annual fee. 

However, you can get most of the benefits Earny offers in other free apps. And depending on how much you shop online (and where) you may do just as well without spending the extra money on an Earny subscription.

If you want to try out the premium version of Earny for yourself to see how much money you can save, they’re currently offering a free trial of the premium version. You can sign up here. 

avatar
Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor focused on personal finance, technology and entrepreneurship. A serial side hustler, Sisson has started businesses selling maple syrup, teaching piano lessons, transcribing medical records, selling on eBay, mystery shopping and more. You can read more of her work on her blog, Family Size Finance.

    You may also like

    Leave a reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *