11 Apps Everyone Should Have Before Christmas

Disclosure: We’re letting you know that this post contains sponsored links which The Smart Wallet receives compensation for, which may impact their order of appearance because talking about money should always be an honest discussion.

There’s nothing worse than realizing you missed out on an awesome holiday deal or knowing after the fact that you could’ve used a promo code to get that extra discount. Like, what, I could’ve saved an extra $10 on that skincare set? 

According to the National Retail Federation, people on average spend just over $1,000 on shopping. Yea, I’ll take whatever savings I can get! Especially when retailers are moving up sales to make all of November and December crazy shopping months.

Whether you’re a super planner or a wing-it type of person, these apps will help you get more money back than without. Don’t go shopping without them!

1. Don’t Toss That Receipt! Do This First for Free Money

Before you crumple up that receipt in your pocket or forever lose it in the abyss of your purse, scan it into the Fetch Rewards app, and earn points towards free money. I repeat, free money.

It’s ridiculously simple and actually fun to use.

Shop at any grocery store, convenience store, club store, neighborhood store, or big box store, take a picture with the app, and that’s it. (Favorites include Target, Kroger, and Walmart!)

Unlike other apps, you don’t have to go to specific stores, there’s nothing to pre-select prior to shopping, and there’s no minimum spend. Just scan in any receipt from a store that sells groceries (even when you didn’t actually buy any groceries) and boom, points for money.

You can start cashing out as soon as $3 (3,000 points) and you can grab a $2 welcome bonus on us (2,000 points) when you use promo code REWARD before scanning your first receipt!

Welcome bonus: $2 Average savings a month (depends on purchases): $25 What it could add up to in a year: $302 Additional referral earnings: $2 per referral

2. School Competitors in Solitaire and Ca$h In to Pay Rent

When you want to take a 5-minute break, check out Solitaire Cube, which is like regular Solitaire, except you get to play for real cash. Is there a catch? Yes but not really. I tried playing for free when I first started but I realized it would take me forever to get the tickets I need to play for real cash. I gave up and deposited $25 last week and I’ve already won $120. The game matches you with players of the same skill level, so you have a solid chance of winning. If you’re a good Solitaire player, you could win some serious cash, like Katie Nguyen who took home $380,984 last year as one of the Top 10 Solitaire Cube players! So if you think you can handle playing some Solitaire Cube to win legit cash, definitely download this game for free. It’s a nice but potentially profitable break to pay your rent! Cash tournaments aren’t available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, FL, LA, ME, MD, MT, SC, SD, TN, IN but residents can still play the free games for swag up to a real car!

3. You Gotta Eat! Get Up to $240 Cash Back in Grocery Savings 

Grocery Shopping

Ibotta has grown a lot over the past 8 years. They started with groceries cash back, and now they’ve expanded into other destinations like Best Buy, Kohl’s, Costco, Amazon, eBay, CVS, Sephora, Priceline, almost anywhere that’s popular. (Target and Walmart are still my favorite spots).

Even restaurants and bars! Currently, there are over 750,000 locations that you can get cash back on.

That’s why it’s essential to keep the Ibotta app in your cash back arsenal when you’re holiday shopping. With it, you can earn cash back on every purchase, whether it’s in-store or in-app. On average, active users can get up to $25 a month cash back!

And it’s simple.

  1. Add cash back offers in the Ibotta app
  2. Go shop at your fav stores, restaurants, and apps
  3. Redeem the offer via uploading picture of receipt or online
  4. Get cash back via PayPal, Venmo, or gift cards

A Facebook fan, Claudia Z. told us she’s earned $1,672.36 since using Ibotta! Teammate Kelsey B. has earned over $500 since starting too.

Ibotta is free to download and you’ll also get up to $20 in Welcome Bonuses when you sign up so stop leaving free money around!

4. Make Extra Holiday Shopping Money by Cashing Out on the Everyday Stuff You Do Online

If you’re looking for an easy way to snag a little extra cash by being online, look no further. Inbox Dollars has a wide array of ways to make some money on the side.

Founded in 2000, Inbox Dollars has been around and paying customers for their opinions for over 19 years and counting! They are one of the most trusted survey sites with fun, multiple ways to earn extra cash that sets them apart from the others.

You can stick to sharing your opinion and take surveys, but you can also watch videos, play games, and even read email for some extra cash. Who wouldn’t want to watch movie trailers for money?

They also offer cash back for online shopping and coupon cash rewards to use at the grocery store too!

So if you’re looking for some extra cash and enjoy a wide array of options to earn, Inbox Dollars is a great platform to make a little side money. It’s free to sign up, so give it a try today!

More Surveys, More Cash

When you have the downtime, there’s nothing easier than answering some questions in return for cash. If you want more surveys in your life, head over to MyPoints to sign up for free and similar to Inbox Dollars, you can participate in surveys, watch videos, and even read emails for points!

Points turn into gift cards from Amazon, Walmart, Starbucks, as well as PayPal Cash.

Get a $5 bonus when you complete your first 5 surveys!

5. Buy Stuff = Get Gift Cards You Actually Want

If you have room for 1 more app on your phone, then it needs to be this.

Actually, delete another app to make room for this one. It’s that good.

It’s called Drop, a free app that gives you gift cards on stuff you already buy from your favorite stores and brands.

Your everyday purchases from Amazon, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart? You’ll get points for that. Points translate to gift cards so the more you collect, the more you can redeem!

The only thing you need to do is link any credit or debit card you usually use for buying stuff and that’s it! Drop will automatically recognize when you buy from your activated offers to reward.

There’s literally no downside to using this free app to get more gift cards. Use it on top of your loyalty points and credit card points for even more rewards!

LIMITED TIME OFFER: Use promo code SMARTWALLET to unlock 5,000 points ($5) automatically when you link your first card on Drop!

6. In Line? Play Games and Boost Your Savings

Look, we know saving money is boring, but it’s just one of those non-negotiables in life. 63% of Americans don’t even have enough to cover a $500 emergency. Yikes.

That’s why Long Game Savings is actually making saving fun by just playing free games on their app. Games are light and easy-to-play (think lotteries, scratchers, slots, and more) and you can win daily cash prizes up to $1M (yes, million) and crypto!

When you set up a savings account, you access the games. The more money you save, the more you can play and now, their new debit card lets you earn more rewards just by spending normally. It has a RoundUp feature that lets your purchases be rounded up to the nearest dollar with the change going towards your savings. So every time you’re buying a meal, getting stuff at Target, etc, you’re contributing to your savings and earning interest!

Long Game Savings is completely free-to-use as banks pay them, not you. There’s no way to lose money, but plenty of ways to earn and win! Plus you can withdraw your money at any time.

7. Up To 40% Cash Back Automatically? Sign Us Up! (Here’s $10 to Start)

Saving money and getting cash back on purchases always sounds like a great idea – until you completely forget to take the steps to get the savings. There are SO many ways to save money while shopping, who can remember if it’s not automatic?

Rakuten (previously called Ebates) can help you get cash back on everyday shopping as well as apparel, beauty, restaurants, and more, automatically. With Rakuten, you don’t even have to upload your receipts after your purchases. They’ll send you simple push notifications when your favorite stores increase their cash back deals or have a good sale.

Offering simple one-tap savings with no points or fees helps ensure that you get the most out of your purchases. So, before buying anything, hop into the app to see if you can get up to 40% cash back at over 2,500 stores.

They also have an amazing referral program where you can earn $25 for each eligible friend. New members get a $10 bonus too!

8. Never Wait 2 Weeks for Your Paycheck Again – Here’s How

“People should have their money once they earn it. That’s how businesses work. When you buy something, you have to pay at once. But when you work, you wait two weeks for your own pay.”

If you agree with this statement, then you’re on the same page with Ram Palaniappan, the CEO, and Founder of Earnin, an app that’ll fast forward your paycheck to today.

In order words, if you worked today, you get paid today with Earnin.

Not everyone is eligible, but most are. If you have the following, you’re golden:

  • Direct deposits from your employer into a checking account
  • A regular pay schedule (like weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly etc)
  • A fixed work location OR an online timekeeping system at work

That’s it. And after you connect your bank and employment info, you’ll get immediate access to your earnings.

You then choose what portion of your paycheck you want to Cash Out. Then, when your normal paycheck arrives via direct deposit, Earnin will just debit the amount you had previously cashed out. Simple!

It’s like having an advance payday loan but without the fees or interest. There is no charge to use Earnin as the app runs on tips by the community. Pay what you wish!

Even if you have a side gig of on-demand jobs, like Uber, Grubhub, Instacart etc, Earnin will work!

9. Fun Times in 3 Minute Increments – A Classic Game for $


3 minutes.

Make as many 21s as you can within that time or until you run out of moves.

That’s the basic gist of 21 Blitz, a modern take on a classic game where you’re no longer just playing against the dealer but with actual people around the world.

It’s fast-paced and it basically does all of the math for you. This game is great for killing time and earning cash all at once.

You can play for free against real people for prizes or switch over to cash games to win…well, cash! Cash game winners can win up to $7,000 or more in the mini-tournament.

Cash tournaments not available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, FL, LA, ME, MD, MT, SC, SD, TN, IN.

10. Get a Personal Loan Fast This Holiday Season Even if You Have Bad Credit

The holiday season can get tense with gift-giving, traveling, family bickering and in general spending more money than usual.

If after budgeting and trimming down your gift list, that you might find yourself in need of more cash, consider a low-interest rate personal loan for the holidays instead of a high-interest rate credit card.

Even if you have a poor credit score you could still get a personal loan for your short-term financial needs. OppLoans can help.

Submitting an application doesn’t affect your FICO credit score and you’ll be able to get the best personal loan that you may need for car repairs, medical, family, rent, major purchase, etc. Here’s who can qualify:

  1. Residents of AL, AR, AZ, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KY, KS, LA, ME, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, ND, NE, NV, NM, OH, OK, OR, RI, SD, TN, TX, UT, SC, WA, WI, WY, VA
  2. Employed at your current job for at least 3 months
  3. 18+ years old (19 if from AL or NE) and cannot be an active duty service member
  4. A traditional bank account in your name that’s been open for at least 90 days
  5. You get your paychecks via direct deposit

Qualified borrowers will be able to borrow $500 to $4,000 depending on their state & underwriting criteria.

And when monthly payments are made back on the loan, OppLoans will notify the 3 credit bureaus to build up your payment history! (except TX residents**)

11. Make 1.92% Interest On Your Money with Fee-Free Banking 

No fees banking with Varo

Traditional banks seem to take every opportunity they can to squeeze more money out of you. With everything from a monthly service fee to various hidden fees nibbling away at your account balance. Enter Varo which was founded to provide a fee-free banking service2.

Yep, Varo has no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM withdrawal fees. On top of having no fees, Varo lets you make more money on your money. Varo provides a high-yield savings account that starts at 1.92% Annual Percentage Yield (APY)1 that can move up to 2.80% APY1 based on qualifying activity. To put this into perspective, the average APY of the 5 biggest national banks is 0.09%.*

Varo has a few sweet extra features too:

  • Get your paycheck up to 2 days earlier4 (super helpful for rent!)
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Over 55,000+ AllPoint® ATMs worldwide to use your Varo Visa® debit card
  • Offers personal loans to pre-qualified customers who want to consolidate debt
  • Varo will send any paper check to anyone in the U.S. on your behalf
  • Varo Personal Forecast tracks your spending to manage your cash flow
  • “Save the Change” rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and saves the difference to your Varo savings account

If you’re sick of being charged banking fees and want to make more out of your money, check out Varo. It takes less than 5 minutes to learn more and apply for free.