Upside Review 2022: How Does It Work?

GOBankingRates Score

4.5
Quick Take: With the Upside mobile app, you can earn money back on retail purchases at more than 45,000 merchants across the United States. Businesses can also earn profits through the app, creating a win-win experience for themselves and their customers. If you're looking to earn money buying the things you already need and want, try Upside to take advantage of numerous savings opportunities on your gas station, grocery store and restaurant purchases.
  • Availability
    4.5
  • Ease of Use
    4.8
  • In-App Help
    4.5
  • Fees
    4.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Upside is available at thousands of U.S. locations.
  • It's easy to get started.
  • There's no fee for bank or PayPal cash outs if you refer another person.
  • No separate cards, PINs or coupons are needed.

Cons

  • There is a $1 fee for small dollar amount cash outs.
  • Verifying purchases can take up to three business days.
  • You must receive an email to verify that your offer is processed.
  • Unlike coupons or rewards cards, you do not receive a discount at the time of purchase.

What Is Upside?

Upside, formerly known as GetUpside, is an app that lets you earn money back on gas, grocery and restaurant purchases. It uses customer data, such as debit and credit purchase history, to determine consumer purchase behavior to curate personalized promotions near your location. These personalized promotions are delivered through the app, helping direct customer behavior and creating profit for participating businesses.

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The creators of Upside developed the app to help consumers increase the value of their purchases and help businesses see measured improvement in their profit margin — all with the goal of growing stronger communities. Gas stations first began doing business with Upside in May 2016. Grocery stores followed in June 2018. 

As an Upside member, you can:

  • Save up to $0.25 on every gallon of gas you buy.
  • Earn up to 45% cash back dining out.
  • Get up to 30% cash back on your grocery bill in select cities.

Although you may incur fees in some instances, Upside still makes saving money easy and convenient.

How Does Upside Work?

Using Upside is easy and takes just five steps.

How to Use Upside

  1. Download the Upside app from the App Store on iOS or the Google Play Store on Android devices.
  2. When you purchase gas, groceries, convenience store items or food at a restaurant, simply open the Upside app.
  3. Claim the best offer from a merchant near your location.
  4. Use your debit or credit card to make your purchase.
  5. Check in or take a photo of your receipt on the Upside app.
Make Your Money Work for You

You can start earning cash back on your transactions directly in the app. Cash out your earnings through an e-gift card, bank account or PayPal.

Upside App Features

The Upside app lets you earn money back on your everyday purchases at any time. Here are some of Upside’s key features.

Availability

Upside works at over 45,000 merchants across the U.S. — including Shell, Burger King, Cub Foods and Dunkin’ Donuts, among many others. Whether you’re looking for a restaurant or filling up the gas tank on a long drive, you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding a nearby offer.

Unfortunately, Upside’s grocery offers are only available in select cities for now.

Ease of Use

Using Upside is simple: download the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store — it has excellent ratings on both. Then use the app to find an offer, pay with your usual credit or debit card, and submit your receipt or Check In to earn your cash back. You’ll receive an email when your purchase is verified.

Make Your Money Work for You

You can also sign up on their website.

In-App Help

Although Upside does not provide a customer service phone number, making it difficult to get help in the moment, it does have a comprehensive Using Upside page with the answers to most questions. Users encountering issues with the app or having trouble claiming an offer can reach out by submitting a request and waiting for a response.

Fees

Unfortunately, Upside does charge $1 fee for cashing out smaller amounts. Cashing out with a bank account for amounts under $10 or with PayPal under $15 will both cost the $1 fee. However, there is no fee for cash outs over those amounts. Users will want to consider whether the fee is worth it before they cash out.

This fee can be waived by referring just one person who is actively using the app.

Additional Features

Some of Upside’s other features include:

  • Secure transactions: Upside never has access to your full debit or credit card number or any of its security information.
  • Additional bonuses: Merchants provide customized offers and bonuses when cash back offers are limited. You receive email notifications of these special offers.
  • No receipt is necessary at some locations: Previously, you had to snap a picture of your itemized receipt and upload it to the app to show proof of purchase. Now, you only have to check in your merchant’s offer to verify your purchases at participating locations.
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What Makes Upside Stand Out?

Upside prides itself on impacting communities by transforming routine activities into significant change. Here are some examples of their change efforts.

  • Of all revenue, 1% goes toward sustainability work. In 2020, the company offset more emissions than Bank of America, Disney, and Salesforce combined.
  • Users of the Upside app have reaped $200 million in cash back from their purchases.
  • Upside raised over $350 million in net profit for merchant partners. The company’s performance-based pricing model ensures that merchants make money first. Upside: 
    • Invests in user acquisition
    • Acquires users on the platform
    • Personalizes incentives to increase merchant profitability
    • Shares profits with merchants to further invest in more acquisition.

Good To Know

Every Upside app transaction benefits the world at large. It offsets carbon emissions resulting from users fuel purchases by investing in projects that work to reduce carbon emissions. Upside is also committed to rescuing food — taking food that would be otherwise wasted and feeding those in need. It partners with restaurants, grocery stores and organizations like MEANS and Food Rescue US to decrease food insecurity.

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Potential Downsides

No app is perfect, and Upside is no exception. Aside from its fees, Upside does have a few drawbacks.

  • Security: Although Upside never has access to your full card number, it does require the first six and last four digits in order to verify your purchases. This combination also indicates the type of card you’re using.
    • Upside invites users to report security vulnerabilities by emailing them the details — and even provides an encryption key to do so — but it also requires that the information be kept confidential for 90 days to allow them to resolve the issue.
  • Verification time: It can take up to three business days for your purchases to be verified. Once they are, you receive an email.
  • No discount at time of purchase: Upside does not work like a coupon or discount code – it doesn’t offer any money off your purchase up-front, so you do have to wait for your purchase to be verified to receive your cash back.

How Does Upside Compare With Competitors?

Here are a few competitors with similar features that help you pay less at the pump, just like the Upside app.

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All are available on Android and iOS smartphones:

  • Gas Guru: Gas Guru allows you to find cheap gas prices nearby, compare gas prices near your favorite locations and see the amenities available at gas stations before you make the trip.
  • GasBuddy: The GasBuddy app offers exclusive deals and rewards and challenges to win free gas, as well as enabling you to search for local gas prices.
  • Receipt Hog: With Receipt Hog, you can submit pictures of your receipts to earn rewards, track your budget, keep receipts for returns and offer feedback to brands.
  • TruNow: TruNow offers cash back on gas, restaurant purchases and other categories. You can also spend your rewards on later purchases.

These apps all save you money on gas — and other categories in some cases. Compared to the others, Upside seems to be the most comprehensive and user-friendly. Saving up to $0.25 per gallon of gas — without having to produce receipts — equals more savings compared to apps like GasBuddy, which only helps you find and compare the lowest gas prices near your location.

Is Upside Right For You?

A little cash back at a time adds up fast, especially with frequent purchases like gas and food. If you’re confident in Upside’s security procedures and shop frequently at participating businesses, you could end up saving some extra money — just don’t expect it to appear in your bank account immediately.

However, if you’re concerned about the security risk of Upside keeping your partial card number on file and don’t often shop at locations it works with, you might be better off saving money another way.

FAQ

If you're still contemplating whether Upside is the right earnings app for you, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions to help you decide.
  • How much will I have to pay in fees when I cash out?
    • Upside charges a $1 fee when you cash out small dollar amounts. For cash outs with a bank account, the fee is $1 for amounts less than $10. With PayPal cash outs, the fee is $1 for amounts under $15. There is no fee for cashing out with a gift card.
  • Where can I use Upside?
    • Upside is available at thousands of grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations across the U.S. You can see a full list of available Upside locations on the app's website. You can also search to find an available location near you using the app's interactive map.
  • What types of payment does Upside accept?
    • Use your debit or credit card to make purchases and earn money back with Upside. Cash, prepaid debit or credit cards, EBT and gift cards are not accepted.

Amber Barkley contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of May 9, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Upside. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Upside.

About the Author

Kathy Evans is a personal finance freelance writer and entrepreneur with a technical writing and instructional systems design background. She holds an MS in technical writing and informational design and is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University. Through work experience in the federal government as well as commercial and nonprofit industries, she has focused her freelance writing on finance, investing and economic content with a specialization in budget coaching.  

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