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Upside Review: How Does the App Work and What’s the Catch?

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If you’re looking for ways to save money on everyday expenses, you may have come across Upside, an app that promises cashback on gas, grocery store, convenience store and restaurant purchases.

This Upside review will focus on a few key topics, including:

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Upside (rebranded in April 2022 from GetUpside) offers savings of up to 25 cents per gallon (in the form of cash-back) for filling your tank at partnered gas stations, and up to 35% back on grocery and restaurant purchases at over 45,000 participating retailers. In our test, a team member cashed out $17.26 from just three gas station visits, thanks to an initial high-rate bonus. Based on typical gas usage, regular use of the app could potentially lead to earning over $100 per year.

Pros:
  • Has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface.
  • Allows you to cash out via PayPal or bank deposit.
  • Offers great cashback rates on groceries.
Cons:
  • Gas pump printers are often broken, and no receipt may mean no cash-back.
  • The cash-back rates offered don't always equate to the lowest price available in your area.

Upside Key Facts

Upside claims that more than 30 million people earn over $2 billion in qualifying purchases each year with the platform. But before joining those ranks, take note of the following to ensure you earn money when shopping with partnered businesses.

  • Cashback is only available at select gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and convenience stores.
  • Each offer is valid for a gas purchase of up to 50 gallons.
  • You have to activate each offer by clicking a button within the app before making a purchase.
  • You have four hours after activating a restaurant, gas or convenience store offer to use it, followed by 24 hours to submit the receipt. For grocery store offers, you have 24 hours after claiming an offer to make the purchase and upload the receipt. 
  • If you forget a receipt, if the printer is out of paper, or if critical details are missing from the receipt, you will not earn anything.   
  • Some offers allow you to check in via the app rather than submitting a receipt. After you check in, you have 20 minutes to make your purchase. For check-in purchases, you must pay with a linked debit card or credit card (prepaid credit or debit cards and EBT will not work) or a digital payment method (like Apple Pay or Google Pay).
  • Different locations of the same chain may offer different rates (or no cashback at all).
  • Activating a cashback offer at one location does not activate it at others.
  • The same location may offer different rates to you and the person standing next to you; offers are personalized based on the business’s current margins and your history with the business. 
  • Your cashback may take up to 10 days to process and post.
  • Groceries or meals purchased through delivery services do not qualify for cashback.
  • Upside may deny receipts that are also processed by another cashback program (e.g., GasBuddy or Checkout 51). In other words, no double dipping is allowed.

How the Upside Gas App Works

This step-by-step graphic (provided by Upside) shows, from left to right, how to identify and activate offers.
This step-by-step graphic (provided by Upside) shows, from left to right, how to identify and activate offers.

Here’s a quick overview of how to use Upside.

Step 1: Sign up.

Download the free app for iOS or Android, then sign up.

Step 2: Activate an offer.

If you forget to activate the offer before making your purchase, you will not receive a cashback reward. To activate, click “Claim” (as shown in the image below).

Clicking “More info” will give you details about the offer, such as a minimum or maximum purchase amount.

Step 3: Link a payment card.

If you want to skip the receipt upload process (which we recommend), Upside needs to be able to link your purchases with your check-in.

To do so, you need to add at least one credit or debit card by inputting the first six and last four numbers of the card in the “My Wallet” section of the app. (Note that “My Wallet” may not appear until after you claim a check-in offer.)

Step 4: Check in when you arrive at the merchant, if possible.

Not all merchants can accommodate a check-in. Check the app for a blue lightning icon next to the business’s name to know whether check-in is available. If it is, press “Check In” when you arrive. 

Note that you will need to share your location data to use this feature; however, you can select “While Using” in your phone’s settings to limit the app’s access.

Step 5: Fill up your gas tank, eat your meal or buy your groceries.

Make your purchase within four hours of claiming your offer (24 hours for grocery stores). The app will show pertinent details for each offer — e.g., whether the discount applies to a certain grade of gas, or if there’s a cashback limit for the transaction. 

Step 6: Pay with a linked card.

When you check in, pay using a linked card (see Step 3). If Upside can’t match your purchase with your card, you will not get a cashback reward.

Step 7: Upload a receipt.

If you didn’t or couldn’t check in, don’t forget to get (and then upload) a receipt within 24 hours.

Step 8: Get paid.

Once your purchase is confirmed, the cashback for your transaction shows in your account balance.

Step 9: Cash out.

Your cashback will accumulate until you withdraw the money or exchange it for a digital gift card.

Our Upside Experience

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons based on our experience.

Upside Pros:

  • Upside offers a quick download and setup process. 
  • The user interface is straightforward and intuitive.
  • When we signed up, we specified that we use regular gas, so every offer from a participating gas station was based on our selected grade. (Note that Upside does allow you to change the grade if needed.)
  • The app never crashed and we didn’t notice any bugs.
  • Our receipt transactions processed quickly (within 24 hours).
  • We received an email clearly explaining why one of our transactions could not be processed. (Our first transaction was made on a gas pump that had run out of printer paper.)
  • Our check-in transaction was processed within 48 hours.
  • Upside utilizes your geolocation information to notify you of offers when you’re near a participating business. This is helpful if you want to maximize your savings, but you have the option of not sharing your background location if you’d rather not use this feature.

Upside Cons

  • When attempting our first transaction the gas pump did not print a receipt. We submitted a screenshot of the transaction information from the credit card company, but Upside denied the transaction as it was missing pertinent information (i.e., the number of gallons included). 
  • We attempted our second transaction two days later at the same gas station. However, no cashback offer was available. A station directly across the street was offering 4 cents per gallon, but that discount simply made their price equivalent to the station not offering a discount (so there was no overall savings). 
  • Because we specified that we use regular gas upon sign-up, all of the offers shown were based on that selection; the app did not state whether we could receive a discount for other grades of gas. (Note that offers by grade are visible online).
  • Because there were no participating restaurants within six miles and no grocery stores within 14 miles of our location, we only tested Upside on gas stations, which limited our earnings.

Our Upside Earnings

We tested Upside for just over three weeks (22 days). Our earnings were underwhelming, in large part because we only needed to fill up our tank twice.

More data! The “Potential Annual Earnings” section below shows how much the average American could earn using the app, based on data collected from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Our earnings are summarized here:

Our total GetUpside earnings

Potential Annual Earnings

Our testing may not accurately represent the average American household. Therefore, we got a bit creative to approximate the earning potential. 

Below, we calculated potential earnings for gas purchases by using average annual use numbers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s most recent Average Annual Fuel Use by Vehicle Type report. 

Similarly, we estimated potential food-related savings using cost-of-living estimates for Maryland (where we tested), provided by MIT’s Living Wage Calculator. The calculator can provide average annual food cost in your area and for various family sizes, to give you a sense of what your earnings could be.

Potential Earnings When Using Upside Only for Gas

According to the most recent Average Annual Fuel Use by Vehicle Type report from the DOE, the average car uses 474 gallons per year while the average light truck or van uses 660 gallons per year. 

Assuming every gallon of gas is purchased using Upside with earnings of between 1 cent (the lowest rate we found while testing) and 25 cents per gallon (the highest advertised rate), you could conceivably earn between $5 and $119 per year (for the average car), or between $7 and $165 per year (for the average truck or van).

If your offers align with what ours were during our testing, the annual earnings will likely be toward the lower end of the range. After two transactions we expanded the search area to view all gas offers in our test county and saw the following:

Potential GetUpside gas earnings for the average American family.
Total potential savings based on average rates offered.

Offers change regularly based on merchant margins and the app user’s history with a particular gas station. If we calculate annual savings based on the average savings of 7 cents offered in our test county at the time of publication, the average driver would earn $33 per year filling up with Upside. 

Potential Earnings When Using Upside for Groceries and Restaurants

To determine potential food-related earnings, first calculate your yearly expenditures. Many free budgeting apps offer spend analyzers that bucketize your charges, which makes identifying relevant purchases easier.

If combing through your statements sounds overly tedious, use MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to determine the average cost for a family your size in your area. 

Based on the calculator, the average two-adult, two-child household in Maryland can expect to spend $9,305 per year on food. To estimate the maximum cash-back potential, we assumed that all food is purchased through participating grocery stores and restaurants with earnings between 13% (the lowest rate we saw while testing) and 35% (the maximum rate advertised by Upside).

Note that this is unrealistic given how limited grocery and restaurant partners are: we only found 21 restaurant partners and four grocery partners in our test county. 

For the sake of this exercise, using those assumptions you could conceivably earn a substantial amount: $1,210 to $3,260 per year in cash or gift cards on food purchases. 

The average savings in our county was 15% for restaurants and 17% for grocery stores. If we use 16% for our potential savings across both categories, and assume all purchases fall within offer parameters, we would earn an impressive $1,490 cashback per year on food purchases.

Getting Paid

Unfortunately, we were unable to earn enough money during our trial period to cash-out. 

When you do have enough to cash-out, Upside offers a decent selection and relatively fast payment processing, though whether there is a fee (and how long it takes to receive your money) depends upon the cash-out amount and method.

Redemption Options

The available redemption options are:

  • Cash via PayPal: A $1 fee applies if the cash-out amount is under $15.
  • Cash via Bank Transfer: A $1 fee applies if the cash-out amount is under $10.
  • Digital gift card: No cost, but the cash-out amount must be rounded to the nearest whole dollar, and most cards have a minimum threshold (typically $10).

Estimated Time to Cash-Out

Per Upside’s Terms of Service, a request for funds to your bank account or PayPal may take up to 10 business days.

Upside Referral Program

Upside’s referral bonus changes frequently, but it tends to be one of the most generous you’ll find. At the time of publication, the referral bonus was a solid $7 per user + 1 cent on all of their future gas purchases. 

A graphic showing the payouts of the GetUpsdie referral program.

Plus, your referrals earn an extra 15% bonus on their gas purchase.

Upside Gas App FAQ

Is Upside legit?

Yes. The app has very positive overall ratings from users on the iOS and Google Play stores and a good reputation within the personal finance industry. However, we should note that our opportunities to test the app were limited and we didn’t earn enough after three weeks to test the payment process.

How are the Upside app reviews from users?

Upside app reviews from users are overwhelmingly positive. As of the last update of this article, Upside had a 4.8/5 rating from over 290,000 users on the iOS App Store, and a 4.6/5 rating from over 200,000 users on the Google Play store.

What is an Upside promo code?

Upside regularly offers promo codes that will give you an additional discount on your gas purchase, ranging from a few cents per gallon to as much as an additional 50 cents per gallon. Here is a page that keeps a relatively up-to-date list of Upside promo codes.

Does your Upside balance expire if you don’t cash-out fast enough?

Upside provides mixed messages on this. The in-app “help” section states, “We don’t delete funds from the app.” However, Upside’s Terms of Service states that cashback rewards expire if your account is inactive (which means you have not earned any cashback) for a period of six months.

Can you combine Upside with other card-linked cashback apps?

Technically, you can. You can’t use Upside with Fuelman or Fleetcor loyalty cards, and receipts that were already processed by an affiliate program like GasBuddy or Checkout 51 will be denied (cash-back for a receipt can only be issued once).

However, you can use Upside with other promotions. Note that Upside will reduce your cash back to account for the cost of the other promotion. If the other offer is more than the Upside offer, you will not earn any cash back.

How does Upside make money?

Upside utilizes transaction histories to create personalized offers that fall within margin parameters of participating merchants. Consumers make their typical purchases but adjust where they purchase based on the current incentives.

Winning businesses enjoy greater sales and Upside receives a small fee from the merchant for each transaction. For specifics about what information Upside collects, how they use it, and with whom they share it, refer to Upside’s privacy policy.

What is the GetUpside app?

The Upside app uses to be called GetUpside. The name and branding were simplified in 2022.

Upside App Review: Our Final Verdict and Recommendation

Getting cash-back on the things you were already going to buy is one of the easiest ways to get free money. So the idea of getting cash-back on fuel purchases is enticing, to say the least.

We wanted to love the Upside app, and we do — kind of. We see a clear benefit to using the service while traveling. Highway travelers stopping for gas in unknown areas are subject to whatever the price is at the pump closest to the offramp. Any discount on gas is welcome in this scenario. 

While we intend to continue to check the offers, our experience to date indicates that Upside’s cash-back rates don’t always result in the lowest possible prices.

Of course, if you regularly fill up at a nearby gas station that happens to partner with Upside, then this app represents an easy win.


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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.

    23 Comments

    1. I have a claim that is still shows “processing” from December 13th from a grocery store. I usually only use the app for gas, but they had a promotion named Tic Tac Toe that if you made purchases from a qualifying gas station, restaurant and grocery store by a certain date, the 17th I think, that you could earn an extra $20. I made a concerted effort to visit each of the three by the cut off date and submitted my receipts in order to cash in on the extra $20. I feel like my grocery store submission is still “processing” in order for them to avoid paying out the extra $20. Not happy with that. I also have a nephew that submitted a payout request for a Lowe’s card and never received it. He said he sent them an email regarding the matter and got no response. He has since deleted the app and I know others who have done the same.

      1. Hi Kevin! It’s been a few weeks since you left this comment, and we just wanted to follow up and see if your promotional credit ever hit your account. If not, did you reach out to the app’s customer service team (and if so, what was their response)?

    2. This article is biased! I used the app with no problems, no printed receipt required. Your article is way too negative!

      1. Thanks for the feedback. Some offers allow you to check-in and bypass the receipt requirement, but for others, a paper receipt is required.

    3. This app must be some kind of a joke. I checked for deals around us in Southern Alabama. All that’s available is a few gas stations & they all have the same offer, a single penny discount per gallon. That’s an insult.

    4. This app works spotty at best. Out of the 15 + times I’ve purchased gas and Claimed the offer thru the Upside app, I’ve yet to get cashback on any of them. I’ve contacted their customer support and just got scripted a sorry it didn’t work for you reply and asked me to upload a receipt for only one of them. It has worked somewhat for dining, but be ready for a hassle.

    5. This app works most of the time for gas purchases because it doesn’t require a receipt to process the cashback. It simply verifies the purchase on the credit card you add to your account. However, do not use this app for restaurant cashback. They may offer 30-40% cashback on weekends, holidays, or other occasions, but then they will ask for a receipt. If there’s any issue with the receipt, you won’t receive the increased cashback. Instead, you’ll only get the everyday cashback, which will be applied only after you complain to customer service about not receiving your cashback. It’s not worth the headache. Stick to the non-receipt cashback offers only, which are for gas purchases.

    6. I’ve been using the app for almost two years without any issues. I have a fleet card that my employer pays for the gas. I had no problems until our fleet cards were replaced with new ones. Now, most transactions expire without payment. Occasionally, one will go through.

      I’ve contacted Upside through their ticket process(no way to speak to anyone) but have yet to hear back. I’m ready to find a different rewards program for my team. Too bad, I received over a thousand dollars in 2 years.

    7. Where can the gift card be used if that is my choice for pay out? Also how long can you wait to get your pay out?

      1. There are over 30 different retailers, plus PayPal and bank transfer, where you can cash out. Worth mentioning are Amazon, Apple, Walmart, and Starbucks.

        My gift card was delivered within a few minutes.

    8. Tried the app at Texas Roadhouse evening of November 3, 2023. Manager knew nothing about the Upside App and didn’t want to try it. I think she thought I was trying to scam her out of a free dinner for my wife and myself. Chain restaurants need to tell their Managers about Upside if they want to get new business from Upside App users. Texas Roadhouse supposedly requires us to pay using the app. The Manager wasn’t confident her Texas Roadhouse was going to get paid.

      1. Sorry to hear Robert. Were you trying to use Upside Pay, where you have to purchase a gift card, then present the gift card to the restaurant? Or were you simply going for cash back?

    9. Can you check into your app account using your computer?

      1. Unfortunately, it’s only available via mobile app. There’s no desktop version.

    10. I have used it for almost a year for gas purchases and have accumulated $120. My problem is I can’t link my bank account to transfer the balance. They say they are aware of the problem and the engineers are working on, but it has been 3 weeks.

      1. That’s frustrating. Have you tried to transfer to PayPal, then to your bank account?

    11. I can’t figure out what all the negative remarks are about. If the program fails you in any way, you simply pay for your gas, food, or whatever at the price you would normally pay if you weren’t in the program. It’s not like you’re paying more than anyone else for the same thing. If you follow the instructions on how to redeem your savings, it works every time. For instance, the report mentioned that at some gas stations, when you get gas, the receipt printer won’t dispense a receipt. This is true, it does happen, but all you have to do is walk into the store and request a receipt, as long as you haven’t moved your car from the gas pump, so no one can clear your transaction before you get that receipt.

      Some people say you don’t need a receipt for buying gas and others say you do, which is confusing, but it doesn’t work either way like that. The way it works is, at SOME gas stations you need no receipt and at others, you do. For example, I use Circle K gas most of the time because it’s near where I live. I can go to any Circle K gas station and not worry about getting a receipt because they validate my purchase by the transaction on the card I use. However, Spinx always seems to have better prices on gas than Circle K, and when I get gas from them, you need to upload a receipt. So, it’s not true that buying gas from any of the gas chains does not require a receipt, and it’s also not true that every gas chain needs a receipt. This is why people get upset because the information they are receiving is inaccurate. The app instructs you to make sure you get a receipt, even at stations where you don’t need it, I guess they say it that way to reduce confusion. But if you can’t get the receipt from the pump, simply walk into the store without moving your car away from the pump and ask for one inside, and you will get the receipt that you need. The program works flawlessly if you follow the instructions properly, and you get savings on your gas.

      How many times have you come to a corner where there’s a gas station on each of the four corners, and you decide which one to get your gas from based on which one is selling their gas at a cheaper price? I’m pretty sure we all do that unless you are loyal to a particular company. And this program kind of works that way; you gravitate towards where the gas is cheaper. We’re not talking a 1 or 2 cents difference, although some people have said that’s all the savings they were given. In my city, it’s more like 9 to 12 cents cheaper per gallon, which to me, is a pretty good saving.

    12. The attitude I sense from everyone is that there are these “hoops” you must jump through to get your savings. However, it’s not that they make it difficult for you to receive your savings on purpose; rather, they do it to prevent dishonest people from abusing the system. Unfortunately, there are individuals who try to exploit programs like this, attempting to cheat the system. Without these measures, none of us would be getting the savings we do, because the company would go bankrupt due to constant theft by those trying to get rich quickly.

      I read a response about someone waiting on the $20.00 they’re entitled to, and I don’t blame them for being upset. We’re talking about a $20.00 bill, so that’s a legitimate complaint. I hope they get their money. But others are like, “Well, they didn’t parachute down from the sky to deliver my 12 cents per gallon savings, so the app sucks.” And about the people making the report… they only got gas three times during their review of the app. How much money were they expecting to save from just three fill-ups? And why would anyone only use the program that briefly and then stop? Even if I subscribed just because I was reporting on the program, I wouldn’t cancel my enrollment afterward simply because my reporting ended. The savings continue even after the report is completed. Who would give that up?

    13. What grocery stores do you use upside in? I found no deals from grocery stores where I live in Florida.

      1. Grocery stores are typically few and far between. There’s only one in all of Chicagoland, where I live. A few in Northen Illinois. Its strengths are gas and restaurants.

    14. When I first got the App, it said to upload a copy of the receipt. Then, for some reason, it did not. It is hit or miss whether I get credit for the purchase. In my last six purchases, I only got credit for 4. The rest said expired. Need proof of purchase. It needs to be clarified. I always used a linked credit card. Also, usually, the same gas stations in my area.

    15. I have been very pleased with the cash back I earn at our local grocery chain stores in Missouri.

      Over the holidays, I received between 7-9% cash back every time. It really adds up. I have cashed out twice and received Texas Roadhouse gift cards. I had no trouble spending the gift cards. I originally started using the app at gas stations, but the cash back there is very minimal.

    16. We used to be very satisfied with Upside until they updated their site/map. We, along with some of our friends, have decided Upside is not worth the trouble to use their on-line map/fuel discounts. The map constantly shifts back to the users location before you can locate where you are checking prices. The map locations on a cell phone are nearly impossible to read even when enlarged to the max. This forces you to have to click on the stations in the vicinity of where you are looking. The old map application was a joy to use. This one is pathetic. Despite being a lover of the service, we just can’t stand the aggravation of using the app upgrade map.

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