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A meat counter in a Montreal grocery store in April 2020.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Before she goes shopping, Kalleigh Lane loads up offers on the cash-back grocery app, Checkout 51. “I currently have 123 Checkout 51 offers which vary from 50 cents all the way up to $10,” she says. “You can claim some of these offers up to five times.”

Ms. Lane, managing editor of the moneyGenius blog, is one of the many Canadians looking for a reprieve from ever-soaring grocery prices. According to the newly released Canada’s Food Price Report 2023 from Dalhousie University, food prices will climb by 5 to 7 per cent in 2023, with the biggest spikes in vegetables, dairy and meat.

Grocery cash-back apps are downloaded on a computer or phone and give shoppers the ability to earn money back when they make purchases – either in person or online. Many apps list weekly deals. When those items are purchased, money goes into an account and the user can redeem. According to Checkout51, its members earn an average of $30 cash back a month.

And as personal finance blogger Enoch Omololu points out, using cash-back apps with other savings programs can max your savings. For example, he uses Koho, a free spending and savings account that involves using a prepaid Mastercard to get up to 5-per-cent cash back at select stores. “You’re doubling up,” he says, adding that he typically receives cash back within a few hours.

But cash-back apps need to be used judiciously, especially if shoppers end up buying a lot of products they don’t need. Plus, there’s the issue of sharing a lot of personal information.

“On top of encouraging you to buy certain products, the data about what you buy is also being sold to marketing agencies so they can tailor the ads you see toward your preferences,” says Ms. Lane.

She says that many apps require users to upload their grocery bills for rebates, giving the app information about your purchasing habits, shopping preferences and location. “That makes many people uncomfortable,” she says.

Here are five popular cash-back apps, and how they measure up.

Checkout 51

The perks: A free app, Checkout 51 has an easy-to-use layout, with earnings listed at the top of the page, followed by this week’s offers, bonuses and deals listed by category. The user simply has to click each deal and add it to their list.

Once the items are purchased, the grocery receipt needs to be uploaded to the app. Mr. Omololu likes that the review of the receipt is fairly quick, and is usually completed in 24 hours or within a few days.

When a shopper wants to redeem their cash, which can happen once they earn $20, the app issues a cheque or deposits money online in a bank account. A redemption usually takes a few weeks.

The downsides: Shoppers have to remember to download their bill to redeem their deals. Plus, they may feel compelled to shop for brand-name products, which could cost more than no-name brands.

As well, users need to be on the ball, as some offers are limited in quantity. “They go live on Thursday at 12 a.m. and expire Wednesday,” says Ms. Lane.

The verdict: A valuable addition for shoppers who are organized, like to plan and buy a lot of brand-name grocery products.

Get the app here.

PC Optimum

The perks: Using the PC Optimum app is a no-brainer if you’re a regular shopper at a Loblaws-affiliated grocery store. The app, which involves scanning a barcode when paying at checkout, allows you to load a number of customized deals each week that are based on your previous purchases.

It also has exclusive offers that are based on how much you spend – for example, you can earn 20 times the points when you spend $75 or more in store. The products are a good mix of brand-name, no-name and produce, with an emphasis on PC-branded products.

Plus, you can redeem your points – starting at $10 – on anything at any Loblaws, Loblaws affiliate, or Shoppers Drug Mart or Pharmaprix. The points accumulate quickly.

The downsides: If you’ve had a few out-of-the-ordinary shops, stocking up on items that you usually don’t buy, you’ll see those in your next list of deals. Plus, you won’t get a cheque or direct deposit using this app – the points can only be redeemed at a Loblaws-affiliated store. And each shopping trip needs prep work – you need to load all of your offers in advance.

The verdict: A great tool for loyal Loblaws shoppers who want points to redeem every couple of weeks on groceries and pharmacy items.

Get the app here.


The perks: Rakuten offers cash back for many different products through a variety of retailers. When it comes to groceries, it has attractive cash-back offers on online purchases made at Walmart, Instacart, Hello Fresh, Keurig, Voilà by Sobeys and We Cook. The app also offers cash back on the purchase of gift cards for Walmart, Real Canadian Superstore and Loblaws.

The way it works is a shopper acquires cash when they make a purchase at one of these retailers though its website; Rakuten’s logo on their sites identifies these merchants. Rakuten pays shoppers by cheque or through PayPal.

The downsides: You won’t be able to use Rakuten’s deals in-store at any grocers, unless you’re paying with a gift card you’ve purchased through the grocer’s website.

The verdict: Ideal for online grocery shoppers who like to purchase directly from retailers.

Get the app here.


The perks: Ampli, backed by Avion Rewards, connects with your debit and credit cards. Once a shopper makes a purchase at an Ampli-affiliated retailer (listed in the Earn section of the app), they earn cash back within five business days. These include and DavidsTea.

Offers are customized to the user’s shopping habits. Once their balance hits $15, they can send themselves a free Interac e-transfer. Payment is usually within three to five business days.

The app is best for high-ticket items, says Mr. Omololu, adding that members earn cash back on top of any rewards they earn with their credit card or other loyalty programs.

The downsides: Ampli requires that users connect their Canadian debit and credit cards to the app, which some users may not want to do for privacy reasons. As well, its list of grocery retailers could be larger.

The verdict: A great option for shoppers who don’t mind linking the app to their bank account and who want the cash-back process to be automatic.

Get the app here.


The perks: Caddle is one of the most popular grocery coupon apps in Canada, with more than 100,000 downloads on the Google Play store alone, according to Mr. Omololu. The app lists offers every week, as well as where they can be found. After the shopper buys a product, they have to take a photo of their receipt and upload it.

They can receive a cheque once they earn $20 in cash back. Caddle offers cash back at stores such as Dollarama and Costco, which aren’t always included on other apps. The app also allows users to participate in surveys for cash back, and pays $1 per referral to its site.

The downsides: While Caddle is free to sign up, the company warns users that it may share their personal information with other companies for their own marketing purposes. As well, it only pays by cheque, and that payment can take weeks to arrive.

The verdict: There are many opportunities to earn money on Caddle, whether it’s through cash back, referring others or by doing surveys.