Editor’s note: Pei ceased operations on January 1st, 2022. The app is no longer available for download, and users should assume that any unclaimed account balances will not be paid by the company. We’ve lowered our review score to zero stars.
This is my in-depth review of Pei, the card-linked loyalty app and Chrome cash-back extension. Multiple team members here at The Ways To Wealth downloaded Pei to see how it works and exactly what you should expect.
This review covers:
- Eight things to know before signing up.
- How Pei works.
- Things I liked about Pei.
- Things I didn’t like about Pei.
- Alternatives to Pei (and when it makes sense to go with another option).
Let’s get to the review.
7 Things to Know Before Signing Up for Pei
- Pei is a card-linked cash-back program with a long list of partners. Most card-linked programs work at a small selection of retailers and restaurants, and they’re often not the places you regularly shop and eat. Pei is unique among the cash-back apps we’ve reviewed because its partners include major retailers like Target and Trader Joe’s, as well as national restaurant chains like Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts.
- Pei doesn’t always recognize transactions. During our two months of testing, the two largest eligible transactions didn’t initially show up in the app. One was for a 10% offer at a local restaurant, and the other was 0.5% back on $252 at Walgreens (our annual Epipen purchase). In both cases, the missing credit was added by customer service. However, having to monitor the app to make sure that eligible purchases are properly tracked negates some of the benefits of using a passive earning app in the first place.
- Pei’s cash-back shopping portal offers middle-of-the-pack rates. As a general rule, you’ll earn less cash-back when shopping through Pei than via portals like Rakuten and TopCashback.
- You can only redeem your earnings for Bitcoin, and you need a supported crypto wallet to cash-out.
- For the best results, enable location services. This will show you the best local offers, including small businesses and independent restaurants.
- If you don’t enable location services, you’ll get three separate pop-ups asking you to do so every single time you open the app.
- There’s a $25 minimum cash-out. If you’re earning an average of 1% back on your purchases, you’ll have to spend $2,500 at partner stores before you can make a withdrawal.
How the Pei App Works
Pei is a cash-back platform that allows you to earn Bitcoin by using linked credit and/or debit cards to pay for in-store purchases. It also offers a cash-back shopping portal, which is accessible via a Chrome browser extension.
Pei is one of a small but growing number of apps and rewards programs that let you earn free cryptocurrency.
You earn a set amount of points for each purchase at participating retailers. Those points used to be redeemable for PayPal cash, gift cards or Bitcoin. Unfortunately, as of September 2021, they can only be exchanged for Bitcoin.
More options: Check out our list of the best cash-back sites and apps.
With a card-linked loyalty program, you sync your credit and/or debit cards and then earn rewards for purchases made at participating retailers. To earn points, you have to activate the promotional offers by opening an app and clicking a button each time you shop.
Pei uses a service called Plaid to link your payment cards. This is the same service used and trusted by many of the largest financial institutions, like American Express, Fannie Mae and Venmo. In other words, Plaid is widely considered safe and secure in the financial world.
The amount of cash-back you earn varies by partner. When you download the app and give permission for Pei to access your location, you’ll get a list of participating stores that are nearby.
I’m located in the Chicago suburbs, and I was glad to see plenty of partners where I already shop, including both major name brands and a few favorite local restaurants.
A few notable partners that you might recognize are:
- 7-Eleven: 0.5% cash-back
- CVS: 0.5% cash-back
- Domino’s: 1.5% cash-back
- McDonald’s: 1% cash-back
- Starbucks: 1% cash-back
- Target: 1% cash-back
- Trader Joe’s: 5% cash-back
- Walgreens: 0.5% cash-back
The amount you can earn with each partner is capped by a weekly limit, which was either $1 or $5 for every partner we examined in our research.
Pei Cash-Back Portal & Google Chrome Extension
Beyond the app, Pei also allows you to get cash-back when shopping online.
There are two ways to activate cash-back offers with Pei.
First, you can start your search for participating retailers at Pei’s website, as shown in the screenshot below.
Note that these offers are not card-linked promotions: to earn the advertised reward, you only have to click the associated link to visit the retailer’s website (and then make a qualifying purchase). Once there, you can pay with any payment method.
Second, you can earn cash-back by installing the Google Chrome extension.
Once installed, you’ll see a popup prompting you to activate your cash-back whenever you visit a participating retailer. Clicking this button is required because it allows Pei to track your activity on the merchant’s website (which is how its system verifies that you made a purchase).
Often, cash-back rates vary by category at participating retailers. Click on “Cashback Deals” to see what kinds of purchases are eligible, as well as exactly how much you can expect to earn.
Here’s an example from Walmart that shows a rather complicated list of eligible categories:
The rewards you earn from cash-back shopping appear in your in-app points balance, and often take a day or two to hit your account. Pending transactions are shown in yellow, while transactions that have been rewarded are shown in green.
The waiting period differs by retailer, and often correlates with the retailer’s return policy. This is to prevent people from buying something solely to earn points (i.e., with the intent to return that item once the points have been credited).
Related: Read our StormX review to learn about another popular crypto-back app.
How to Cash Out Your Rewards
You can withdraw your earnings from Pei once you accrue $25 in rewards. This is a relatively high minimum withdrawal. (Rakuten’s is $5 and Swagbucks’ is $3).
Cashing out is somewhat complicated. The first thing you’ll need (if you don’t already have one) is a Bitcoin wallet. Once you provide Pei with the address of your wallet, you can transfer your earnings.
Pei allows you to earn interest on your Bitcoin balance (plus any holdings deposited from an external address). At the time of this writing, Pei pays 4% APY on Bitcoin. However, unlike deposits made into a traditional FDIC-insured bank, there are risks associated with earning interest on your Bitcoin holdings.
Pei App FAQ
No. Pei is a card-linked program and you’re not required to check-in to locations or activate offers. The platform works even if you never grant the app access to your location data. However, choosing not to grant that data means that you can’t see nearby offers.
Only in-store transactions are eligible for card-linked cash-back, and you must run your card as a credit card to earn; if you enter your pin number and run it as a debit card, you will not receive any points for the transaction.
In other words, you cannot earn points when paying through a partner’s website or app, and you cannot combine the card-linked offers with offers found on the cash-back portal — they are separate promotions.
Using this link to sign up gives you a $5 bonus.
Pei uses Plaid to link to your bank account, which is widely utilized among financial services companies and is considered the gold standard for this type of account access sharing.
In our experience, points hit your account within two days after a purchase is made.
As a general rule, no. Most of the popular card-linked loyalty programs run on a network called Empyr, which prevents you from double-dipping rewards on separate programs.
No. The card-linked loyalty purchases are only good at local retailers. For example, you don’t get cash-back when shopping via Target.com, like you would physically visiting a Target store and making a purchase.
Pei App Review Conclusion
Pei is one more in a long list of passive card-linked loyalty programs that have either shut down or switched their business models. And while that’s disappointing, the app does still offer value — as long as you’re willing to log in and activate offers.
With that said, there may be better ways to make money with Bitcoin.