Dosh: Is This Cash Back App Your New Best Friend?
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The Dosh app allows you to automatically earn cash back at specific stores and hotels — simply by using your linked credit card. Since Dosh doesn’t require you to sign up for offers or scan your receipts, it can be a convenient way to put your cash back earnings on autopilot.
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But I’ll be honest: Sometimes I get sick of registering for and tracking all the offers. So I’m always looking for tools that let me kick back while they do the work.
That’s why I was pumped to discover Dosh, an app that helps you automatically earn cash back at some of your favorite brands.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Dosh?
Dosh, which launched in October 2017, is available as a mobile app for U.S. users of both iPhone and Android. According to the company, Dosh paid out $60 million in its first two years — and has continued to see significant growth during the pandemic, when merchants have needed new ways to reach customers.
Once you download Dosh, it’ll ask you to enter the information for one or more of your credit cards. Then, any time you use a linked card to make an eligible purchase at one of Dosh’s partners, you’ll automatically receive cash back.
Dosh works with a who’s-who of brands that includes Dunkin’, Sephora, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, and Uber. Offers are targeted to you, which means you’ll also see local stores and restaurants. (Yay!) To pump up your rewards, check out some good cards to use for grocery stores or dining out.
Wondering how Dosh makes money? Companies pay Dosh an advertising fee to be listed on the app. Dosh also receives a commission when you shop at one of its partner retailers — a portion of which it shares with you in the form of cash back.
In the fall of 2020, Dosh also announced partnerships with some major financial players. Through its new program, “Powered by Dosh,” users of Venmo, Jelli, and Betterment will be able to see and receive Dosh cash back offers from directly within their accounts.
How Does Dosh Work?
To get started, you’ll need to download the Dosh app from the App Store or Google Play store. You’ll then input your email address and phone number, and add your credit cards. (After the first one, you’ll get a $1 welcome bonus.)
Luckily, adding your cards to Dosh won’t interfere with your regular rewards earning. If your card earns 2% cash back on everything, for example, it’ll still earn that when you’re shopping at Dosh’s partners — any Dosh cash back will be a cherry on top. Say you shop at a store offering 1% cash back through Dosh: You’ll get a total of 3% back on the purchase (2% through your card plus 1% from Dosh).
Dosh works with credit cards issued by Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. You can use debit cards, too, though you’ll need to select “credit” at checkout in order to qualify for cash back. Discover cards, prepaid cards, and department store cards will not work with Dosh.
Double dippers beware: If your card is registered on another cash back site, Dosh says it won’t work on its platform. (Though some report otherwise.)
Earning Cash Back
The next step is pretty simple: Make a purchase at a participating retailer with one of your linked credit cards.
As you’re scanning for offers in the app, look for the lightning bolt symbol, which signifies automatic cash back. If you don’t see that symbol, you probably need to click through a special link to earn your rewards.
Within 10 days (for in-store purchases) and 90 days (for online purchases), a percentage of your transaction should appear as cash back in your “Dosh Wallet.” If it doesn’t show, Dosh says you can send a receipt to remedy the situation. You’ll need to submit your receipt within 30 days for in-store transactions and within 90 days for online purchases — so it might be wise to set a calendar reminder!
To cash out, you’ll need to have at least $25 in your Dosh account. Once you’ve met that threshold, you can request a payout via Venmo, PayPal, or direct deposit, and will usually receive it within five days. Alternatively, you can choose to send your earnings directly to your favorite charity.
Want to quickly meet that $25 threshold? Consider referring other users to the Dosh app. At the moment, you’ll earn a hefty $10 referral bonus per user (though that amount fluctuates).
You can also refer businesses to Dosh; if you do, you’ll earn 20% of that company’s Dosh fees for two years following its registration.
Head’s up: If your account is inactive for 12 months, Dosh may begin debiting a maintenance fee of $4.99/month from the balance in your Dosh Wallet.
Is Dosh Safe?
While we can’t guarantee any app’s security — after all, huge companies have been breached in the past — here’s what Dosh promises:
- It never has and “never will” sell your data to businesses or third parties.
- It doesn’t store your bank or credit card information; instead, it uses Braintree, “a PayPal service where over 1 billion cards are stored by leading institutions” via “highly secure tokenization and vaulting systems.”
- It features “bank-level security (256-bit encryption),” as well as multi-factor and two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access.
If you choose to add your cards to Dosh, we recommend using credit cards rather than debit cards, since they have better security in case of fraud.
Booking Hotels on Dosh
Besides offering cash back on retail purchases, Dosh also claims you can get up to 40% cash back on more than 600,000 hotels when booking through its platform.
I decided to check for myself, using one night at the Bellagio in Las Vegas as a test. Not counting taxes or resort fees, Dosh’s rate was $127 with $22 cash back.
When compared to Booking.com’s base rate of $139, I’d save $34 by going with Dosh. And that doesn’t even count the additional $15 bonus I’d get from making my first booking with Dosh.
However, there’s one huge drawback to booking hotels on Dosh: Reservations are non-refundable. (Though Dosh offers refundable bookings at some properties, the rates are much higher and don’t include cash back.)
In comparison, Booking.com offered free cancellation up until a few days before check-in. So you’ll have to decide whether you value the flexibility or savings more. In my case, I’d probably use Dosh for last-minute reservations, when I’m confident my dates won’t change.
Also note that if you have elite status at a particular chain, you probably won’t get your normal benefits, like free WiFi and breakfast, when booking with Dosh — which could negate the value of the cash back you’d earn.
Pros and Cons of the Dosh App
Still wondering if Dosh is worth a download? Here’s a quick review of its pluses and minuses.
- Easy and automatic; in most cases, no need to use special links or submit receipts
- Fast payout via direct deposit or your Venmo or PayPal accounts
- Can earn up to $10 per referral
- Can get serious cash back on hotel bookings
- Must trust the platform with your credit card numbers (though it says it doesn’t store them)
- Must hit $25 before you can cash out
- Can’t change or cancel most hotel bookings
As for reviews, Dosh currently has a 4.5-star rating on Google Play and a 4.7 on the App Store. On the Better Business Bureau, it has a rating of 2.11/5 — mostly due to complaints about Dosh’s customer service. (If you have a question or concern, we recommend contacting Dosh Support directly.)
How Dosh Compares to Competitors
Although Dosh seems like a pretty useful app, it’s not alone in the field. Here’s how it stacks up to several competitors.
- Swagbucks: This well-known site allows you to earn cash back with more than just shopping: You can also take surveys, play games, and watch videos to earn a small number of points.
- Drop: Like Dosh, this app offers set-it-and-forget-it cash back, but you must pre-select the stores at which you’ll earn it — and can only choose a few. Furthermore, you can only redeem your cash back points for gift cards, rather than direct deposits.
- Rakuten: This website, formerly known as Ebates, offers a much bigger welcome bonus than Dosh: $10. Its Chrome extension allows you to automatically add cash back and coupon codes while online shopping, but its in-person experience isn’t as hassle-free.
- Ibotta: Though this rose to fame as a cash back app for groceries, it has expanded to many other categories. Unlike Dosh, however, you need to scan your receipts if you want cash back on in-store purchases.
When shopping online, I always check Cashback Monitor to see which platform’s offering the highest cash back rate.
Is Dosh a Legit Cash Back App?
If you’re wondering “Is Dosh a scam?” or “Is Dosh legit?” we’re happy to report it’s the latter.
Although Dosh has complaints on the Better Business Bureau site, it has managed to maintain an overall rating of A+. We’re also reassured by its recent partnerships, since a massive company like Venmo probably wouldn’t partner with a scammy site.
The bottom line? If you’re comfortable giving Dosh access to your credit cards, we’d say it’s a worthwhile way to amplify your cash back earning. (Worried about fraud? Learn more about credit card security.)
Best Cash Back Credit Cards of October 2021See them here!
Susan is a freelance writer who specializes in turning complex financial topics into engaging and accessible articles. She's been writing about personal finance for six years, and was previously the senior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Her personal finance writing has also appeared in publications like MarketWatch and Lifehacker.
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