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What could be better than finding an app that helps you put your finances in order? An app that gives you cash back on purchases and travel! We found just such an app. We checked them out, here are our Spent and Spent Travel apps review.
What is Spent?
Spent is primarily a cash back app but it does more than put extra money back in your pocket. Spent also helps you manage your finances and is especially useful for small business owners. Spent is even a travel booking app.
Spent is free to use and the sign-up process is fast and easy. You’ll choose whether you are a business owner, employee, or freelancer.
You’ll be sent a verification code to confirm your email address. My code went to my junk folder so if you don’t see it in your inbox, check your spam folder.
Next, you will enter your first and last name and create a password. If you created your account online, you have to go to the App Store or Google Play store, depending on the type of smartphone you have. Here you will connect Spent to your credit or debit cards.
The New Offers page is where you can see a list of the cashback offers. Some of the ones I saw were 1% back at Netflix, Walgreens, Uber, Starbucks, and Amazon.
For business owners, you can get 3.75% back at Staples and 30% at efile which is software for doing your taxes.
If you see a retailer, you patronize under the offers, just tap on it to activate it. That’s it! You will get the cash back when you use a linked card to make a purchase.
Some offers apply when you buy in-store or online, and some only apply to one or the other. If you are looking for something specific, you can search the offers.
If you already have a cash back credit card and use it for a purchase you make at a retailer offering cash back through Spent, you get the cash back from your card, and the money back from Spent provided you have linked the card. You are also still eligible for any loyalty discount programs offered by a particular retailer.
This can really make your savings add up fast especially when you consider that Spent has partnered with more than a million retailers. If you spend money at name-brand retailers online or in person, the odds are good that they are a Spent partner.
This was made crystal clear to me right after I signed up for Spent. The app had gone through my recent purchases, and it showed me that I could have netted $21.26 in cash back if I had downloaded Spent sooner!
I was kicking myself. And that was only for the month of May which we were only 17 days into at the time.
Your cashback will be sent to your PayPal account, and you need a minimum of $20 in your Spent account to cash out.
The Review Transactions section shows you recent transactions from the accounts you have connected. Here you can categorize them as business or personal by swiping right or left.
This is invaluable for small business owners and freelancers who understand what a mess you can make when you don’t keep business and personal expenses separate.
In this screen, you can also take a photo of a paper receipt if you have one for a transaction which really comes in handy at tax time.
You can create folders and move transactions and receipts into the appropriate folder.
When a new expense hits your account, Spent will send you a notification to let you know it needs to be categorized.
The Summary Page shows you an overview of your spending for the month.
Spent uses bank-level encryption to protect your data, and all data it receives is read-only. A hacker could see your accounts but not transfer money out of them.
Pros of Spent
Spent has a pretty unique place among other budgeting tools. It allows business owners and freelancers to manage their finances in one place rather than having to set up separate tools for business and personal spending.
The interface is clean and easy to use. I almost always prefer to do things like budgeting and going through my transactions on my laptop rather than my phone and while that remains true, as I used Spent in order to write this review, I didn’t get annoyed or frustrated as much as I have trying out other phone-based budgeting apps in the past.
But of course where Spent really stands apart is the cash back aspect. We spent a lot of money even if we are careful with our money. We all have to buy things like food and towels and light bulbs. Why not make those expenses a little cheaper? Spent helps you do that.
Cons of Spent
It can take as many as 30 days for merchants to release your cash back which is frustrating and not something Spent can do anything about. You will still see the amount but until it clears it will be marked as Pending. Once released, it will show as Available.
On the What’s New page, Spent writes that they have added more than 5,000 restaurants as cash back partners. The only one I had on my list of offers was for McDonald’s which I don’t eat.
I was disappointed because I love eating out and am always looking for ways to make doing so cheaper. Still mad that Seated is no longer available in New Orleans!
When I use a new app, I like to read the FAQ section because it saves a lot of time. Kind of like reading the instructions before you put together a piece of furniture from Ikea.
Can you figure it out on your own? Maybe, probably. But I’d rather not guess and learn by trial and error, so I check out the FAQ section. Spent doesn’t have one. They have a Help section, but it doesn’t provide a ton of information.
This may be oddly specific to me, but I’m the one writing the review, so I’ve included it, ha!
Spent is pretty good for managing finances, especially if you are a small business owner or a freelancer.
The ability to separate business and personal expenses just by swiping is a great innovation, and the feature that allows users to photograph receipts right in the app rather than using a separate service to do so and then figure out how to integrate two different apps is excellent.
In the past, I have had to scramble at tax time to go through the app I was keeping digital receipts in and get them organized because I hadn’t bothered to do it at the time I photographed them. Spent has made my life easier with their integrated approach.
I love the cashback aspect of Spent. I have been hit or miss with cash back apps in the past. Sometimes I used them and sometimes I couldn’t be bothered. But when I first set up my Spent account and saw that if I had had it earlier, I would have been eligible for more than $20 in cash back, I was sold. It encouraged me to use the app consistently, and it’s one of the easier cash back apps to use.
You don’t have to photograph and upload receipts or jump through any other kinds of hoops. All you have to do is take a look at your available offers and activate them.
If you only need budgeting software for personal expenses, I prefer Mint. I have used lots of programs over the years and always come back to Mint. But if you are a business owner or freelancer, I definitely recommend Spent. It’s great to finally be able to keep track of business and personal expenses in one place.
If you want effort free cash back, Spent is the easiest app out there to get it, and with more than one million partners, many of your purchases will be eligible.
Spent Travel App
Spent Travel is a separate app made by the same company. You install it separately but don’t have to create an individual login. If you have the Spent app, when you download Spent Travel, your information will already be there.
Finding this app was really timely because I am going back to New York for work and to visit friends soon. I have already booked a hotel, but if Spent Travel finds me a better deal, I’ll cancel my existing reservation and book a new one through the app.
You can enter the name of the city you are traveling to, and the dates and Spent Travel will show you a list of possible hotel choices. If you’re not familiar with a city, this isn’t going to tell you much as far as location goes so you can look at your choices on a map.
You can also filter your results by Recommended, Price, Cash Back, and Star Rating. Before I applied filters, oddly, I got no choices on the Upper West Side where I want to stay. Once I filtered by price, I got some hotels in that area.
The closest location to where I wanted to stay was $158 per night with 7% cash back. That is just slightly less expensive than the room I booked so I kept my original reservation.
Well, New York City is expensive. Maybe Spent Travel will give us more savings in less costly destinations. I played around closer to home and looked at the rates for hotels in New Orleans.
Spent Travel did a little better in New Orleans. They offer a room in the International House for $109 a night with up to 41% cash back. The cheapest room I could find at the same hotel with other hotel booking sites was $171 per night.
Spent’s rates on the Hotel Indigo were just $2 cheaper than other sites. The Le Pavillion rates were again, just $2 cheaper than I found on other sites.
So the big savings were not applicable across the board but you can find better rates at Spent Travel. If you don’t have your heart set on staying in a particular neighborhood, it’s worth seeing what offers are available.
Spent Travel claims that you can book flights on the site, and I do mean site. The only travel aspect available on the phone based app is the hotel booking.
So that already seemed a little strange to me. I logged into the site on my laptop. Right at the top, there is a little airplane icon next to the words “Book Flights.”
But you cannot book flights through Spent on the app or on a desktop. When you click on “Book Flight,” you will see cash back offers from airlines.
I only had three offers, and none of them was anything to write home about. Hawaiin Airlines offering 0.75% cash back, Virgin Atlantic offering 1.25% back, and Air France offering 0.5% back. Boo!
I’m happy enough getting 1% back on Uber, but if I’m spending several hundred dollars on an airplane ticket, I want a bit more!
I clicked on the Air France offer and was just directed to a Spent page showing a few of their cash back partners. It doesn’t even take you to Air France’s site where you could book a flight!
The best I can gather is that getting cash back on flights with Spent Travel works just the same as getting cash back from Amazon or Target with Spent.
The page also shows a few more cash back, travel-related offers. I saw offers for 20% and 10% cash back on airport parking, 6.5% back on luggage, and 5% back on “Priority Pass.”
I don’t know what Priority Pass is, so I clicked on the box. Nothing. That took me again to the same Spent page I saw when I clicked on the Air France box. (I looked it up.
Priority Pass is a company that sells memberships for lounge access at airports around the world. Might be worth checking out if you fly a lot!).
There is no way to book a flight through Spent Travel, so it is very disingenuous to have the words “Book Flights” right on the top of the homepage.
You can’t book your car rental through the Spent Travel app, but unlike flights, the app doesn’t claim you can. The car rental section works the same as the flight’s section works. You will see a few cash back offers for car rentals.
My offers were for 2% back at Avis, 2% back at Hertz, and 1.5% back at Budget.
Pros of Spent Travel
You can find some reasonable prices on hotel rooms when you search on Spent Travel app.
Cons of Spent Travel
I don’t understand why the app makes it seem like you can book flights through it. You can’t, and even if you click on a cash back offer, it doesn’t take you to the airline’s site where you could book a flight.
The cash back offered on flights, and car rentals are negligible.
While I can give a hardy recommendation for the Spent app, I’m feeling pretty lukewarm on the Spent Travel app.
If you only need to book a hotel room, I would certainly consider it, but if you need a flight and or a rental car as well, it’s much easier to use one of the better-established travel booking sites where you can book everything in one place and get a discount for doing so.
I think rather than billing itself as a travel booking site; Spent Travel would be better off just rolling the hotel booking portion of the business into the regular Spent app.
People could get cash back on hotel rooms and book them there too but wouldn’t feel misled as I did when they find out that booking a hotel room is the only thing you can do through the app. Sorry, Spent Travel. Back to the drawing board.