A look into money back apps: Is it the answer to smart online shopping? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I hate to admit it but will do it for a lifestyle review and in the hope of helping another individual: I love online shopping. It’s beginning to be a problem. I find myself getting stuff I don’t need just because the prices are a bargain. Don’t forget how I can’t resist the lure of  free shipping.

Aside from the bouts of giving into capitalism (insert related memes here), online shopping is part of every day life. It’s how I book my airline tickets along with accommodation and tours. It’s how I surprise my long-distance boyfriend with his birthday gift and vice-versa. There’s also the apparent option of buying online items from labels which don’t have a physical presence yet here, often best for buying niche items and professional gadgets.

It’s because of these factors that I looked into various money-back options floating about. If I fall victim to membership and discount cards at supermarkets and restaurants all the time, what’s the harm of a plug-in which does the same thing for my online purchases?

My first try was with Honey. I gave into downloading Honey on my browser after seeing enough ASMR vloggers do sponsored videos for them. There’s something quite compelling about telling a consumer what to do when they’re relaxing and just about to fall asleep. I see you, Honey!

I found that there’s isn’t much to Honey as you don’t need to make an additional purchase or pay a membership fee, an advantage considering what I’ve given other establishments for their rewards card. Or how I’ve experienced collecting a gazillion stickers for a freebie.

Honey automatically detects which websites it can score discounts from. So far, it’s only worked for my The Outnet purchase. It helped with finding a useful 15 percent discount but only gave me credits in my Honey account to use on my next purchase from the same online store.

There aren’t a lot of online shops geared to the Philippine market that Honey can work with just yet, however.

It’s good but, to quote the one-time teenage sage Stacie Orrico, there’s gotta be more to life.

A friend of mine then told me about Shopback. The Singapore-based company is geared to the southeast Asian market and connects to our popular shopping domains such as Sephora.ph, Shopee, Lazada, and Zalora. Instead of credit, you get actual cash that you can transfer to your bank account.

At first, I was a bit hesitant. Maybe I have to fulfill a million conditions to get the discount. Or it only works for discount or clearance items, meaning you don’t get to use it for essential purchases.

It turns out, Shopback is very straight up. Photographer friends of mine have used the app to get a significant cash return on their recent studio equipment splurge. Will it work on small-time purchases? I gave it a go on Shopee for a few Bath & Body Works candles (a guilty pleasure, don’t judge me) and I found that you get the discount immediately. The app tells you exactly how much money you get back from the transaction once you’ve received and confirmed you purchase.

Shopback is both a browser plug-in and an app on your phone. It works for a lot of popular online services, aside from fashion and beauty sites. You can apply it to your Foodpanda order along with bookings for hotels via Agoda, Hostelworld, and Trip.com. They’re also other online brands under their roster like Under Armour, Zilingo, and Freyja.

What you need to remember is to make a habit of accessing your chosen site or merchandiser via the plug-in or the app first. Tip: This way, you can easily see which one offers a bigger discount via Shopback and if they have an ongoing promotion. You are also privy to sales that are only applicable to Shopback patrons.

One of the best advantages of Shopback is how you get actual cash, as I mentioned earlier. Once you collect at least PHP200, you can transfer this to any of your existing bank accounts. There’s a bit of a waiting period, of course, as it makes sure you don’t cancel or return your purchase. If you also don’t spend that much, you don’t get to the minimum amount that quickly. But this is but all to subject to your shopping discretion.

Is it then worth it to give Shopback and similar applications a click? With just a caveat that you are helping these apps track your online consumer habits then I would say go for it. Is it going to make you a smarter shopper or help you save more? Yes, it will indeed help if you’ve got big (but responsible!) purchases lined up.

Still, when it comes to clicking “Add to Cart” and “Checkout,” the decision (and the blame) is all on you.


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