Shopping online is something we all do these days.
This competition is great news for savvy shoppers looking to save more money.
After all, we could all use a little discount once in a while to cut back on those online expenses. I mean, who’s going to say no to that?
Some of the larger apps in this space, such as Honey and Rakuten, offer exactly that. You make an account in 2 seconds and earn cashback or discounts when you shop at an eligible online store.
These platforms vary from how much you save, how you get paid, and what rewards they have to offer.
Today, we’re going to be talking about Shop Smarter, a membership based rewards platform that approaches cashback rewards a little differently than the rest.
If you want to see if it’s worth the membership to earn 10% cashback at stores, stick around until the end of this Shop Smarter review!
Want To Try The Best Money-Saving Extensions? Checkout:
- Capital One Shopping – Automatically apply coupon codes at checkout and earn free gift cards for shopping at eligible partners!
- Rakuten – My favorite cashback browser extension that lets you earn at thousands of partners.
What is Shop Smarter?
Shop Smarter is an online shopping platform that allows you to browse through thousands of popular brands and earn cash back through a membership program.
You are essentially shopping through their platform in order to reap the benefits of the cashback.
It’s not a browser extension or an app, but you can search through it on your mobile device.
The shopping part itself is fairly simple since you just shop through websites as you normally would. Shop Smarter then tracks your purchases and adds the cashback to your account.
If you’ve ever used Rakuten or TopCashback before, this model will feel very familiar.
However, unlike Rakuten and TopCashback, Shop Smarter comes with a cost, which can make it very unappealing to most users who just want to save quickly. More on that later.
How Does Shop Smarter Work?
Shop Smarter works in 4 steps:
- Sign up and join with your email address.
- Browse stores for cashback.
- Shop and earn.
- Cash out.
Each of these steps will be discussed in detail below. There are also a few other ways to earn cashback on top of everyday online shopping.
They have up to 20% cash back specials for solo brands, during holiday seasons, and for seasonal occasions (summer, back-to-school, etc.)
This sounds pretty good on paper, but as we’ll discuss throughout our Shop Smarter review, things aren’t always what they seem.
1. Sign Up and Join
If you head over to Shop Smarter’s website, you will see a big orange “Join Now” button in the top corner.
When you click “Join Now”, you’ll be prompted to fill out some information such as your email, address, and credit card info.
They need your address to send you cash back checks every month and they need your credit card info because Shop Smarter is a membership-based platform.
A Shop Smarter membership costs $9.97 per month!
That’s a lot of money just to earn 10% cashback for basic purchases. There is also a 7-day trial for $1.97 if you want to give it a test run.
Clearly the membership will draw away a lot of potential users, and for good reason. You would need to spend $100 a month at eligible stores just to break even!
However, this is the first step to using the platform, so there’s really no way to avoid this upfront cost if you want to test if Shop Smarter is legit.
2. Browse Stores for Cashback
There are 1,000+ stores to shop at through Shop Smarter across a range of categories like apparel, electronics, and home goods.
We’ll get into all the specific categories and stores later on in this review, but know there’s no shortage of options.
If you are signed up for their membership, all you need to do is shop at those stores through the Shop Smarter website. That’s how they track your purchases in order to give you cashback.
Shop Smarter states you will earn 10% at any of those stores, year-round, with chances to earn a little more during special seasons like the holidays.
They also update their coupon list everyday to ensure that you’re getting the best and most accurate deals at all times.
In case you’re wondering, you can use those coupons on top of the 10% cashback.
3. Shop and Earn
If you take a look at Shop Smarter’s website, you’ll see the company works with plenty of major retailers, so you have numerous online shopping options.
Earning cashback from these thousands of partners might seem like a walk in the park.
But, remember: you have to spend over $100/month to make the Shop Smarter membership fee worth it in the first place!
Otherwise, you’re actually down on your money. If spending over $100/month at these stores seems like a piece of cake to you, then you might enjoy these benefits.
If it seems like a hard goal to reach, then you just might be better off with a free cashback platform like Rakuten or Ibotta.
Plus, websites like Rakuten still pay a pretty competitive cashback rate at most stores, which is why it’s so popular.
Shop Smarter includes a “buy online, pick up in-store” feature for brands that allow it, if you’d prefer to get your items a little faster than usual.
Extra Reading – Rakuten Review – Earning $400+ From Using Rakuten.
4. Cash Out
Your total cashback amount is calculated at the end of every month. Shop Smarter takes all the money you’ve spent and simply gives you back 10% off it (unless you’ve combined other cashback rewards with it).
That cashback is sent to you every single month, which can be used for whatever you want.
Unfortunately, the only current cash out option is through a mailed check. Meaning, you don’t have any gift card or Paypal options to choose from like other platforms do.
Cashing out is completely legit, and there hasn’t been any issues with users not getting their check mailed to them.
However, offers don’t credit 100% of the time, and if you read other Shop Smarter reviews online, you’ll find some people complaining about this fact.
This is unfortunately true for pretty much any cashback reward site, and it seems like some purchases don’t credit randomly for no apparent reason.
Shop Smarter Membership – Cost & How To Cancel
Again, you can’t use this platform without paying a monthly membership. And the Shop Smarter membership fee is $9.97/month.
Some other cashback platforms offer a free version and a paid version. This platform only offers a paid version which comes with all the benefits for earning rewards.
You can sign up for the membership by clicking the “Join Now” button and filling out your information.
This isn’t a terrible idea if you’re a serious online shopper and want to try the cheaper free trial, but again, I’d stick with Rakuten or Capital One Shopping.
Anyway, if you decide to give this platform a try, you should also know how to cancel your membership (which you’ll probably want to do in the end, honestly).
If you want to cancel your Shop Smarter membership, follow these 4 simple steps:
- Sign into your Shop Smarter account.
- Click “Account” in your main menu dropdown.
- Select “Cancel Membership.”
- Click “Finalize Cancellation Request” to confirm.
Your account should immediately be canceled after following these steps and your billing should stop after the next full month.
Remember, you can give this platform a try for 7 days at $1.97. You can also refund your first monthly fee with no questions asked if you don’t like it.
Shop Smarter Stores
As stated earlier, you can shop at over 1,000 stores through Shop Smarter to earn your 10% year-round cashback.
Here are all the store categories offered on Shop Smarter:
- Baby & Kids
- Clothing & Accessories
- Groceries & Household
- Health & Beauty
- Home Improvement
- Parties & Gifts
- Sports & Recreation
- Travel & Vacation
As you can see, they have pretty much any category you can think of and more. Most of these categories include some of the largest brands out there.
Here are a few examples of the eligible online stores:
- Old Navy
- Neiman Marcus
- Under Armor
- Best Buy
- Home Depot
You can browse for these stores from A-Z on their website so you can find specific stores that you’re looking for.
This is a pretty competitive list, which is a plus for Shop Smarter.
However, just keep this membership fee in mind! I can’t stress that part enough.
Extra Reading – Bumped App Review – Earn Stock Cashback Rewards!
How Much Does Shop Smarter Pay?
According to the website, as long as you shop through eligible stores on Shop Smarter, you’ll earn at least 10% cashback on your total monthly spending.
There are a few extra ways that you can earn more than that:
- Cashback Specials.
- Stack & Save.
- Discount Codes.
Cashback specials are deals where you can earn up to 20% cashback during certain occasions (holidays, seasonal deals, and surprise solo offers at specific brands). Some of these eligible stores have included Target, Overstock, and JC Penny.
Stack & Save is a way for you to earn extra savings on top of your normal 10% by applying coupons on top of your cashback.
That’s right, your cashback is still eligible for use even if you use an online coupon.
Discount codes are pretty self explanatory….Shop Smarter includes discounts codes for you on their website so you don’t have to go looking somewhere else for them. Plus, they get updated everyday.
Just make sure you’re factoring in your membership fee when calculating your cashback rewards.
Is Shop Smarter Legit?
Yes, Shop Smarter is legit and pays members the amount that they claim to pay and there’s online proof of payment for different users. Furthermore, Shop Smarter has a 4.2 out of 5 score on Trust Pilot, and a decent percentage of the reviews from users look genuine.
The membership fee will dig into your earnings, however, so keep this in mind. And in our opinion, it’s not worth paying for Shop Smarter over using free alternatives like Capital One Shopping or Rakuten.
Additionally, some users state their accounts get banned after they make a large purchase that’s eligible for cash back.
If this is true, Shop Smarter isn’t legit and you should be very careful with this site.
In any case, always cash out your balance as soon as possible if you use this website, and tread with caution when making large purchases (again, Rakuten is probably a better alternative).
Pros & Cons
I thought it would be helpful to also include a brief list of the pros and cons of Shop Smarter so you can decide if this platform is right for you.
- Fixed cashback rate so you can calculate your rewards easily.
- Earn real cash – this isn’t a pure gift card rewards platform like Fetch Rewards or similar apps.
- Thousands of partner retailers and diverse shopping categories.
- A steep monthly membership fee.
- No free version available.
- Cashback is sent via check which takes time.
Extra Reading – How To Earn $150 Fast.
Other Shop Smarter Reviews
One good way to see if a service is legit or not is to see what real users have to say about a platform.
And, if you look up other Shop Smarter reviews on Reddit, the main thing that stands out is definitely the membership cost.
For example, in this Reddit thread, two users state they prefer using Rakuten over Shop Smarter because they don’t have to pay for a membership:
- Reliques says: “I use Rakuten personally, since has the option to give you cash back in Amex MR points.”
- DAM091 says: “I’ve used Rakuten and ebates, but this one requires a paid subscription. That’s what’s so sketchy about it. Supposedly, the payout is way better, but I’m wary of taking a chance.”
I think this is also the main downside to using Shop Smarter, so again, calculate how much cash back you can earn before paying for the membership to see if it’s worth it.
As for other Shop Smarter reviews, the platform has a 1.46 star rating out of 5 on Sitejabber, and one main complaint people have is that your account can get shut down if you make a large transaction.
The fact that some users state their Shop Smarter accounts get shut down after spending a lot is extremely concerning, so be careful with this website.
Shop Smarter Alternatives
I’ve already mentioned this several times throughout this review, but let’s centralize some of the best websites like Shop Smarter you can use if you want to avoid the hefty membership fee.
Some of the best websites like Shop Smarter include:
Even apps like Fetch Rewards that pay you for scanning receipts are pretty similar, albeit they pay a bit less.
The point is, there’s so many ways to get paid to shop, and you don’t need to pay a monthly membership to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re still hesitant to give Shop Smarter a try, hopefully these FAQs will help you make your decision…
Is Shop Smarter a Scam?
While Shop Smarter isn’t necessarily a scam, some would consider it a money-grab website because it takes advantage of the users that spend less than the profit threshold.
I’ll give Shop Smarter a slight benefit here since they do offer a cheaper free trial and your money-back if you don’t enjoy the platform.
However, in my opinion, it’s just not worth paying money for a cashback site. Free platforms like Rakuten are 10,000 times better.
What’s the Shop Smarter $10 Bonus?
When you make your first purchase through the Shop Smarter site, you will earn a $10 welcome bonus.
This bonus essentially offsets your first month’s membership fee.
This is another plus for trying out Shop Smarter, but again, unless you’re a serious online shopper it’s tough to outspend your monthly membership.
Extra Reading – The Best Ways To Earn $2,000 Fast.
Earning 10% cashback sounds amazing, but it comes at a cost. And it wouldn’t be a legit Shop Smarter review without my honest opinion…
This site just isn’t worth the monthly membership. I think $10/month is a lot to ask for from everyday shoppers who just want to save some money.
If the membership was around $3 per month, then I think more people would be interested in the platform because you can make your money back after spending around $30.
This is not only reasonable, but it would also give you some room to actually make profit. Regardless of the large cashback amount, other platforms are just better.
I would recommend checking out some other Shop Smarter alternatives like Rakuten, Honey, Dosh, and Ibotta. They are completely free and offer amazing rewards for how passive the whole process is!
You can always give the Shop Smarter site a try for $1.97, especially if you think you can spend around $200/month or more to actually make it seem worth it.
For now, I’m sticking to my free and easy cashback apps and browser extensions. Hopefully our Shop Smarter review helps you decide if this cashback platform is worth it!
Again, my suggestion is to either try Capital One Shopping or Rakuten, but the decision is up to you!
Want other ways to earn rewards for shopping? Checkout:
- Drop app review – my favorite rewards app!
- Pei app review – earn passive cashback and Bitcoin for shopping!
Note: Capital One Shopping compensates us when you sign up with the provided links.
Daniel is a 22 year old blogger from Los Angeles with a huge love for everything entrepreneurship, finance, and investing. When he’s not blogging at Modern Teen, you can catch him playing volleyball, shooting archery, or finding new ways to make money.