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With very few exceptions, there is no reason to pay retail price when you shop. With all the tools, websites, loyalty programs, gift cards, and technology in existence today, I'd argue there is always at least one way to save at any retailer you visit. When you combine multiple savings techniques into one purchase, we call that a “stack.”  I try to at least double stack on every household purchase, including the mundane. Today, I'll give a few examples of stacking techniques I use to save as much money as possible.

Tools of the Trade

Many stacking techniques use apps or rewards portals that you need to be familiar with. Here are some of the most common ones: (Links are my referral links if available. Thanks for your support.)

DOSH — A cash-back app that allows you to link a debit or credit card and earn cash back when you use your linked card at a participating merchant.

TopCashBack — A cash-back portal that often has good payout percentages. I've had very few problems with this site tracking my purchases.

Ebates — Perhaps the most popular cash-back portal. It also has a mobile app and offers in-store cash-back deals when using a linked credit or debit card. Right now you can sign up through our link and be entered to win a $250 Visa gift card. You can now also earn Amex Membership Rewards through Ebates—check out this post for details.

United MileagePlus X — A mobile app that lets you earn United miles by purchasing eGift Cards, dining at participating restaurants, or shopping online.  MileagePlus routinely offers 5X–10X United miles per dollar at many merchants and restaurants.

Swych — A mobile app that often sells merchant gift cards at a discount. You can also enter gift cards from any merchant into the app, and it will generate a barcode for an easier checkout process in store.

SPENT Money — Another cash-back app that works by allowing you to link a credit or debit card and shop at participating merchants. SPENT often has some very attractive payouts—like 6% currently available on Home Depot purchases made online.

Fetch Rewards — Take a picture of your grocery receipt and earn cash back (or even free items). Search the listing of current items offering bonus payouts and add them to your account before uploading a receipt. This clever app gets me lots of cash back on my grocery shopping.

Bumped — An incredibly interesting new app that rewards you not with cash back, but with stock in the participating merchants when you shop with a linked credit card. I am currently earning AT&T, Kroger and Spotify stock with my monthly cell phone, grocery and Spotify purchases.

Ibotta — A cash-back app that works by offering you discounts on specific products. Add the discounts to your Ibotta account and upload a picture of your receipt or link your grocery-store loyalty card to give Ibotta your purchase information. This is an easy way to save cash on your next trip to the grocery or drug store.

Cashbackmonitor — A great website that aggregates the earning rates for a particular merchant on all of the different shopping portals. Quickly compare who is offering the most points or cash back for an online purchase before you buy.

There are two items you need on top of these programs:

First, you'll want a solid rewards-earning credit card that ensures you earn more than 1X points (or more than 1% cash back) on every purchase. We like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card as personal cards. For business spending, the clear winner is The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express.

Second, sign up for merchant-specific loyalty programs like Kroger Fuel Points or Chipotle Rewards. You'd be surprised by the merchants that have a loyalty program.

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Stacking Examples

The Kroger Sextuple Stack — My largest household expense outside of the mortgage is our grocery bill. Saving at Kroger has been an obsession of mine ever since I saw the rising bill as my two kids continue to grow and as we continue to make our diet healthier. Here are the six ways I save every time we head to Kroger:

  1. The American Express® Gold Card earns 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). The card comes with a ton of benefits that easily justify the $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees.) I value these points at 2 cents each, so the earning rate works out to an 8% rebate on my Kroger purchases.
  2. Kroger App Coupons — We get some nice discounts on the items we buy often. Make sure to add these to your Kroger account before checking out in-store.
  3. Kroger Fuel Points — Typically you earn 1X Fuel Points for every dollar spent. Often there are coupons in the Kroger app (like currently) for 2X Fuel Points on all purchases, and about once a month, you can get 4X Fuel Points on gift cards. 100 Fuel Points will save you ten cents per gallon on up to 35 gallons of gas. Through buying and reselling gift cards, I always earn enough Fuel Points to save the maximum $1 off/gallon when I fill up at Kroger.
  4. Ibotta — Before shopping, I do a quick scan of the Ibotta app and save offers for specific items to my Ibotta account. Since my Kroger loyalty card is linked to Ibotta, I earn cash back automatically on the items I added to Ibotta before checking out.
  5. Fetch Rewards — I upload my receipt and earn a receipt scan bonus plus additional savings on any offers I've saved on Fetch Rewards for specific items bought.
  6. My Amex Gold is linked to the Bumped app mentioned above, and I earn 1% of my checkout total in Kroger stock every time I shop.

The Absent Power Bill — Arcadia Power is a green energy company that acts as an intermediary between you and your power provider. Although I’m not 100% sure how their finances work, it seems that the company uses its buying power to negotiate better rates and uses part of the surplus to purchase renewable energy credits. When you refer others, they get up to $25 for signing up, and you’ll get a $5 referral credit. Even better, they sometimes offer targeted referral bonuses. I recently took advantage of an offer for a $1,000 credit for referring 10 people in a month, and I haven’t had a power bill since February.

Haircut Triple Stack — With my receding hairline now negating the ability to get stylish, all I need is a quick clipper trim at my local Super Cuts salon.

  1. If you sign up for the Super Cuts e-mail list, you'll get a coupon for $2 off your first haircut.
  2. Several of my Chase cards are frequently targeted with a 10% discount when I activate the deal through Chase Offers.
  3. Then, I use my Chase Freedom Unlimited® card to earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards on the purchase.

With frequent $1-to-$3-off coupons by email, a 10% discount from Chase Offers, and 1.5X Ultimate Rewards on the remaining cost, I score an easy 20% off my “dad haircut” every time.

Triple Dip(stick) Oil Change — There are a few ways to save on oil changes, but here's my personal favorite:

  1. I wait for a Groupon offer to come up for a national chain like Jiffy Lube.
  2. I go through a cash-back portal to buy the (already discounted) oil change.
  3. I pay with my Freedom Unlimited card.

You save with the Groupon, earn cash back through the cash-back portal, and earn Chase Ultimate Rewards on the purchase. You can regularly find a Groupon promo code as well for local deals and turn this one into a quadruple stack.

The Gas Triple Stack — I've covered this in detail a few times here on the AwardWallet Blog, and you need a few additional apps to reach the triple or even quadruple stack with fuel savings.

  1. Use the Shell Fuel Rewards program to drop the price at the pump.
  2. Pay With Gas Buddy to earn Shop Your Way points based on how many gallons you pump.
  3. Upload your receipt into TruNow and GetUpside to earn additional savings.

You can find my detailed review of the Fuel Rewards program here. You can also earn even more fuel savings if your company pays for your gas with Fuel Rewards Pro.

 

Bottom Line

Although it's true that stacking can be a fair amount of time and effort at the beginning, I think it's well worth making the investment. Once you learn the basics and set up your system for a particular category of purchase, it becomes second nature rather quickly. There's a bit of a learning curve, but once you get going, it's surprisingly easy to continue saving with minimal time.

With automatic earning on apps like Ibotta or DOSH, you may even forget you're saving money until you look at your account at the end of the month. It's worth noting that there are a few highly lucrative stacking techniques that save up to 50% at certain retailers. Dig into the stacking world, and you'll soon be finding new opportunities everywhere.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees)

The Critical Points: If You Don’t Stack, You’re Wasting Money
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Comments

  • RoseMarie says:

    This is an excellent article with an important message- if you put in the effort to look for a discount before you purchase something online or in store you will probably find a discount. Match this with a good points card earning more than one point per dollar and you are coming out way ahead and on your way to free travel and/or cashback.

  • good article on the benefits of stacking benefits

  • Good advice, but I will note that I had lots of problems with TopCashBack in the past, eventually leading to them locking my account for no apparent reason and the concurrent loss of my earned rewards, and I am not alone in this, so be forewarned.

    • Have used cashback sites seemingly forever. I play the long game. That means I use multiple popular sites, enabling me to usually get the best or very close to the best cashback % at the time. Of course, it definitely takes longer to accumulate on one site and cash out then, but I think the math works in long term. (My only concern is if I did rather concentrate on one and thus cash out sooner, the money is mine sooner, which has some value to it, especially if I turn around and invest it say. We’re talking pennies there, but I have never bothered to run the math. My time has a values, too. LOL.)

  • Great article and very informative. I only wish there was something similar here in the U.K.

  • Andrea Kalli says:

    Oh my gosh what a great article! So many real world and real life examples I’m going to implement myself. Thanks for sharing your efficient strategies.

  • The Bumped app shows a waitlist to be approved.

  • I love the idea of this, but I’m skeptical of the rewards on some of these apps. I have cc’s and am a reward member to some restaurants and coffee shops, but I never thought of the grocery receipt app before. I’m wondering if it’s really indeed worth it or if it’s more of a hassle than it’s worth.

  • Great rundown. I also like using apps for restaurants that offer their own deals for each visit, thereby adding yet another layer of value.

  • Patrick B. says:

    This is an excellent article with great tips and advice for saving money when shopping! I plan to follow many of these ideas!

  • .. except that you are assuming the time you waste [“spend”] following up on all these has no value: for most people, their time is literally more valuable.
    Second, most/many of these only apply to US residents – certainly nobody else gets nearly the same credit card benefits.
    Finally, each of these take their own little percentage. For example, TopCashBack which you say you have never had problems with, involves installing a toolbar, disabling adblockers, endless follow-up and charge their own annual fee. After 1 year I got perhaps $10 total – and they automatically took their annual fee…

  • great post! I love some of the sites mentioned!

  • My typical stack for online shopping: Get discounted gift card to merchant from Raise, clicking through TopCashback or another portal and paying with my BoA Cash Rewards card; then, go through another portal to the merchant’s site to buy, adding coupons and logging in with my loyalty account if applicable. Be careful, some portals don’t give cash/points back on purchases made with gift cards, and pretty much all will exclude purchases made with promo codes not found on the portal.

    For in-store, it’s either portal+Raise purchased with BoA, or MPX purchased with BoA or certain other cards*, or card-linked offers from the issuer + other card-linked offers (e.g. Ebates). Then coupons + loyalty as well.

    *some cards will categorize an MPX purchase based on the merchant whose GC you’re buying. See DoC’s Payments Workshop for more.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    Whoa… triple stack. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

  • THIS. You have inspired me to stack, I just got A dollar off my fuel per gallon!!!! Now I am sighing up for bumped, DOSH, ans Ibotta, I am nervous giving such personal info thou….

  • The stack with FuelRewards and upside generally doesn’t work. Upside in Maryland at least adjusts down your cash back if it sees another discount such as with FuelRewards on the receipt.

  • At least double stack is perfect goal nowadays!

  • I use some of these tips and tricks myself. Just when you think you can’t save any more money, you more than likely can! Helpful article.

  • It can drive you a bit crazy though, so don’t feel too bad if you miss a saving sometimes

  • I should be happy to see all the ways to get more points but I’m also sad knowing I’ve been missing all these extra point opportunities

  • Michaelj1 says:

    Great listing of available stacking methods. I find Cashback Monitor and Ebates are extraordinarily helpful and rewarding.

  • Maryjane says:

    Great article. Although this level of stacking described takes a bit extra effort, with the right credit cards and a shopping portal, double stacking on everything takes no time at all. Thanks for the hints to help us take it to the next level!

  • Love stacking with topcashback! I’ve gotten some hefty bonuses there – sometimes as much as 10%. You didn’t mention AAShopping portal. They have Bonvoy on there. Book Marriott with them and you get AA bonus points + Bonvoy bonus points.

  • Great article! I need to do more stacking of benefits.

  • Wow so many things to consider…I have been missing out A LOT so far.

  • The Arts Traveler says:

    I shop at Kroger and this is a very useful post! I can’t wait to stack, stack, stack.

  • euromannn says:

    Nice to comment about reward points spending money but the only people who WIN sign up for CC bonus 100,000.

    As for web sites that save you money I agree:
    1. Amazon
    2. Ebay
    3. Kayak, Expedia, Hotels.com, Travelocity, etc all save on travel.

  • Marlin Seevers says:

    I thought I was aware of what was available, because I usually try to stack benefits. But in this article I learned some new ways to stack benefits.

  • Thanks for posting. Something new for me to work on. Do you have suggestions as to which program to try first?

  • Thank you for highlighting the paramount importance of stacking.

  • Great info. Thanks

  • This is a neat list. I’d like to see a comprehensive list like stackable list like this for points accrual rather than cash back.
    For example, linking SkyMiles and trueBlue accounts to Lyft for airport rides, or booking an open-table reservation via IHG.

  • Liu Sheng says:

    Thank you for the summary!

  • Wow, I knew about some of these but there are many I did not know. Will be checking them out. Thanks!

  • Nice info. Def have to get more focused to take full advantage.

  • arshi007 says:

    thanks for the info in this. Its been a while since i’ve read an article where i found resources i didn’t know about before 🙂

  • The_Bouncer says:

    Stacking is THE key to accumulating points on every day spend. As a barest minimum, use a rewards card via a Cashback portal.

  • Nice, informative article. I would love to see an article on ways to liquidate gift cards.

  • very eye-opening. I’ve done a couple of these but never knew about the other options.

  • Anyone else not able to get fuel rewards to ever work properly? I always end up getting half the discount that the app says I will get. And their/Shell’s support is a joke.

  • I am amazed at how difficult it is to buy something for a good price. It’s a major time suck for me, and part of why I dislike shopping.

  • Stacy Liu says:

    I love these stacking tidbits! Some I had no idea you could do (triple and quadruple stacking). Great information I will definitely be using from now on!

  • gotta stack, stack, stack. Sometimes its hard to remember.

  • I am like WOW, seems like impossible to know all these opportunities unless someone takes the time to compile them all like the one who wrote this post !Thank you!

  • Thanks so much for this!

  • I have used TopCashback (UK version) since some time and I can say that especially the last year the majority of transactions are not tracked.
    Sometimes I use some airline shopping or Marriott activities to earn miles or points.
    And of course I use the most appropriate credit card.

  • One more thing, does anyone know if i can use this to flight Iberia? (BA partner).

    • Hey Joaquin, I’m not 100% clear on the question. You can book Iberia flights with British Airways Avios points and you can also transfer miles directly to Iberia Plus from Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Marlin Seevers says:

    I like to stack. And I don’t like to waste money. Thank you for explaining the simple and convenient ways to stack even more.

  • If the products you are buying are worth something to you that’s great, but if they are not then it’s the tail wagging the dog.

  • Good article until the Jiffy Lube part. If you value your car, avoid this place! They will replace your oil/filter and forget to screw the oil pan bolt into place and your engine will bleed dry! I know of two people personally that this has happened to!

  • This article remids us that stacking is a must today!

  • I love this! I love Ibotta! I use Kroger also and get my savings there and on gas.
    I will have to look at the cash back apps or maybe Bumped.
    I do several apps to get cash back by scanning my receipts. I use Shoparoo (to help support my kids school) and NCP Mobile (I get points that I can use towards items or gift cards) and Receipt Hog (points that I use to go to Amazon). It’s just that these do take a little bit more time to earn for me and I usually use them to help sup my Xmas shopping.

  • miskocina says:

    Some interesting terminology in this article!

  • Wow….thought I knew most of the ways to stack but a few in the list are new to me. Thanks for the great article!

  • This is awesome. I can’t believe I didn’t find this sooner – I’ll be stacking for groceries and everything else. Brb, I’ll be reading all these articles for the next 10 hours! Thank you!

  • Lots of stacking opportunities. Thanks for the synopsis.

  • Brittney says:

    Great article about points. Lots to think about.

  • good tips, thanks! 🙂

  • ToothMiles says:

    Thanks Richard.
    The Bumped app shows a waitlist.

  • Gilberto says:

    Let’s encourage more people to disclose other and more possibilities of stacking by expanding this article or a complement of it;

  • Double-dipping was like 101 of frequent program schemes.
    CC points for spend, cashback sites and offers from the programs.

  • Marlin Seevers says:

    I like the idea of stacking, and always try to stack benefits if possible and convenient enough.
    DOSH seems simple, but not finding vendors in the program yet.

  • Fantastic information. Thanks for sharing!

  • Fantastic information. Time for me to get started!

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