Those of us who drive for a living are hit the hardest by rising gas prices. Independent contractors especially, since we're on our own for our expenses. Those of us who are delivery drivers for Doordash, Instacart, Grubhub, Uber Eats, etc., or rideshare drivers for Uber and Lyft and others, gas comes out of our own pocket.
Maybe you've heard about the GetUpside cash back app. Maybe you saw the reviews and thought it seems too good to be true. Is GetUpside a scam? Are the reviews legit or are they less than objective?
I've used GetUpside for several months now. I've earned some decent cash back from GetUpside. Sometimes I paid too much for gas because of Upside. My experience is, there are some good things about GetUpside.
There are also some real issues. In my experience it's not all that it's made out to be. Am I the only one seeing these things? I don't know, but I don't see them mentioned much in GetUpside reviews. I prefer to let you see both sides of the coin.
Here's my review of GetUpside in a nutshell: It can be a tool that helps manage costs. But I'm pretty underwhelmed. In fact there's some things I really dislike.
Even so, I continue to use GetUpside. In fact they're only about a sixth of my gas purchases. It's a good tool at times, however most times it's not the best option for me.
What we'll cover in this review of GetUpside:
I write primarily about the business of being an independent contractor for third party delivery companies. Much of my perspective is on how things impact deliveries with Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Instacart, Postmates and other gig platforms.
This GetUpside review will have that perspective. However, much of this applies for anyone who drives much.
Here's my philosophy about money savings apps: Too often we focus more on the savings than on what's left in your pocket when all is said and done. Apps like GetUpside can be appealing because the savings look great.
In the end you have to ask, is it the best option for this particular point in time?
Let's talk about GetUpside in this review. Is it a great app for you? Will it actually leave more in your pocket in the end? Read on as this review will discuss the following about GetUpside:
- What is the GetUpside app?
- How does GetUpside Work?
- Is GetUpside legit or is it a scam?
- My review of the Pros of GetUpside
- My review of the Cons of GetUpside
- What's my overall review about GetUpside?
- What's the best way to use GetUpside?
What is the GetUpside app?
GetUpside is a cashback app that provides bonus rewards to users for every day purchases from local businesses (primarily gas stations and convenience stores, but also some restaurants and grocery stores in some markets.
While GetUpside offers cash back incentives for some restaurant and grocery purchases, the markets are more limited than the gas/convenience store selections. I won't really touch on those particular everyday purchases much, since in the gig economy world the real issue for us is the cost of driving.
GetUpside is NOT a discount program. You will pay full price at the gas pump, for restaurant purchases or grocery prices when you use GetUpside. Technically, you don't even get any real savings. What you do get is a cash back bonus.
You can download the app from Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, or you can request the link directly from the GetUpside website. The app identifies GetUpside locations on a map where bonuses can be earned. Bonuses are added to your earnings balance, which can be redeemed in a number of ways
GetUpside is an innovative marketing concept. It attracts new customers to a business. For those of us who are making a lot of gas purchases, GetUpside's bonus can offset some of that expense.
How does GetUpside Work?
We'll focus here on how it helps us manage gas prices, especially for those of us who drive for a living.
You earn a bonus for your gas purchases. When you purchase from a participating gas station, you earn a cash back amount for all those gallons of gas you put in your car. GetUpside advertises that it can be as much as 25 cents per gallon.
While they advertise up to 25 cents cash back for every gallon of gas, I notice in my area the majority of offers range from 3 to 11 cents/gallon. As I look at the map today, I do see one store offering 30¢ gallon cash back. I should not that the particular station sells gas for 60 to 70 cents per gallon more than other stations in the area.
On the screenshot above, the Conoco station with the red markings is offering 30¢ per gallon cash back. But here's the perfect illustration of how savings is secondary. Even after taking 30¢ off, the end price is still quite a bit higher than other stations. It's not exactly cheap gas.
1. Getting started with GetUpside
There's an easy way to start: Download GetUpside.
If you're going to use the GetUpside gas app, it's best to use a promo code. If you click my referral link, my code will be applied. Otherwise if you download the completely free app for iPhone from the App Store or for Android devices from the Play Store, you can use my code, ENTRE8299.
New users can register using your Google or Facebook account or create their new account using your email address. The app will ask you to turn on location services, which allows you to see a map of station locations.
Why is it better to sign up with a referral or promo code with GetUpside?
GetUpside has a referral program. If you use someone's referral code, you get a 15 cent per gallon additional bonus or cash back for your first purchase. This is a one time bonus.
If you're filling a 15-gallon tank, that's $2.25 in cash back.
Here's the other thing about referral codes. If someone uses your referral code and buys gas using GetUpside, you get 15 cents cash back for the next time you purchase gas.
Update: I'm not sure if this is a universal thing or they're just trying it out in some places. Recently I've been getting $5 added to my cash back balance for each referral, rather than getting the 15 cent per gallon bonus.
That makes it tempting for me to write a glowing GetUpside review. I convince you to use my code, I get more cash back bonuses. It's a great way to get some extra rewards.
That reward on the first purchase of gas is great. It's a good incentive for you to try them out, at least use them once and draw your own conclusions. Be warned, the second time you purchase gas using the Get Upside app, (or the first time without a referral code) the cash back offers will be quite a bit lower (I've noticed they range between 3 and 11 cents per gallon).
You don't have to use my code (of course, if I'm linking and giving you my code ENTRE8299, you can probably tell I wouldn't mind if you do. If you have a friend or family member that uses GetUpside, use their code. Help them out.
The important thing here is, if you want to at least give GetUpside a try for yourself, using a referral code is the best way to do so.
2. Link up your payment card.
Here you tell GetUpside what debit or credit card you're using.
This makes some people nervous. However, all you are providing is the first six digits and the last four of your payment debit or credit card. No CVC or expiration date. You're not giving them enough information to access your bank account.
This allows GetUpside to recognize if you used that card at the gas station. Their arrangement with the merchant lets them search the station's point of sale for a payment that came from your card. It's kind of brilliant, it's a lot easier than messing with uploading a photo of your receipt (more on that in a bit).
Click on the menu bar, then MyWallet. Choose “Add a new card” and enter the information.
3. Look for gas savings near you.
Once you've set up an account, your home screen shows participating gas stations in your area and the effective price. You can zoom in or out or drag the map to other areas of town to see offers in those areas.
If you want to get an idea of the participating gas stations before getting the app, you can search for gas station locations in your area on the GetUpside website.
I said this before, but it's really not gas savings. The price they show isn't the price you'll pay right then and there. It's the effective price after subtracting the cash back.
If the cash back ever happens. That's an issue we'll talk about.
The screenshot above shows the same general area. The Conoco with the circled price and red underlines is the same station that was showing a $3.19 price. The difference is that this reflects a bonus that's included in the offer. The little green rectangle just below the map says it's a 25¢ bonus amount.
Your first purchase after using a referral code would show 15¢ / gal cash back bonus in that green rectangle.
4. Select a station and claim your offer.
Do you see a good deal somewhere? Claim it!
Tap on the green circle on the map that shows the gas pump icon by the gas station that has the offer. That will bring up a screen like the one below.
You'll see the details for the gas station. The offer screen will display the name and address of the gas station or convenience store. It will tell you how much cash back per gallon you will receive. Then you'll see the actual price in grey with a line through it. The effective price per gallon after the cash back will show up in green.
Click the blue Claim button to claim your offer.
5. Buy your gas
Once you've clicked the blue “Claim” button, you have four hours to complete your purchase.
When you arrive at the gas station, click the Check in button at the bottom of the app. Pay for the gas with a card that's linked to your account (Step 2). Tell the app which card you used.
I say this a few times in this GetUpside review: You will pay full price. With the example above with the GetUpside offer price of $3.19, you actually pay $3.49. The 30¢ in this example is not a discount, it's the cash back bonus you earn.
There was a time when you had to snap a photo of the receipt. With most gas stations now, one of GetUpside's new features is their ability to scan the gas stations Point of Sale system and look for a payment that matches your card details. This eliminates the need to upload receipt pictures in most cases. However, some purchases may require you to upload a picture of your receipt. Just follow the instructions.
6. Wait for your cash back
GetUpside says that it can take up to ten days for them to process the cash back.
It's usually 2-3 days. You can click on the menu bar and history to see the status. Once you've received your cash back, it will be added to the available balance that shows up on the top right of the home screen.
7. Redeem your cash back.
One thing I really like about GetUpside is you have a variety of ways to redeem your cash back.
You can choose a digital gift card from a variety of retailers and restaurants or for online shopping. Google Play and Apple Gift Cards are an option. You may also elect to receive real cash through your Paypal account or have a check mailed to you (there is a $1 fee if the check is for less than the minimum balance of $50).
You can learn more about how to cash out at the GetUpside FAQ page.
How does GetUpside Work with the gas stations?
The bottom line is, GetUpside is a lead generation company. They are there to provide customers for the brick and mortar businesses they work with.
In a lot of ways I see a similarity between GetUpside's business model and that of third party delivery companies like Grubhub, Doordash, and Uber Eats.
Delivery companies claim their core model isn't delivery. GetUpside's model isn't providing discounts. The heart of each of their models is lead generation. The main selling point for platforms like Grubhub, Doordash and Uber Eats isn't delivery. It's about bringing customers in.
Another similarity is that GetUpside's main way of making money is through commissions for completed sales.
GetUpside works directly with the gas stations. In fact, that's how the GetUpside offers are funded. Here it is in the words of Getupside themselves:
Stores set aside funds specifically to support offers for GetUpside users! Our system helps merchants provide customized offers for users that are within their margins so they can continue to provide offers all year long. We also sometimes provide bonuses so that you still earn cash back when offers get lower, so keep an eye out for emails from our team!GetUpside: “How are offers funded” from their FAQ page.
The return on investment they offer to gas stations (or restaurants and grocery shopping where available) is that offering a cash back program is a cheaper and more direct way to bring in customers than some other forms of marketing.
Is GetUpside legit or is it a scam?
My experience with Getupside is that it's a legit app that can be used to manage gas costs for gig workers. It's a useful tool for delivery drivers with Doordash, Grubhub, Instacart, Uber Eats, etc., or for rideshare drivers with platforms like Uber or Lyft.
The program itself is legitimate. GetUpside has a direct relationship with the merchants, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations that they promote.
This is not a new app. GetUpside's been around a few years.
Even though they use your payment card details to verify transactions, they don't collect the total payment information from you. GetUpside only has partial payment information, not enough to put you at risk.
I don't believe GetUpside is a scam. Sometimes some things they do seem scammy. I'll get into that more in the cons portion of this GetUpside review.
GetUpside has been Accredited by the Better Business Bureau since November, 2020. They have a 4.76 customer rating based on 746 customer reviews (as of April 8, 2021). They currently have a B rating, with about 170 complaints as I write this.
The complaints tend to focus on either cash back not being applied or for difficulty redeeming the cashback balance. I will say that reading through the complaints that GetUpside does respond well, at least on the BBB site.
However, I read a lot of complaints where people can't get through to customer service. That's another similarity I see to my experience with support from Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and others.
It's not so much that GetUpside is scammy. There are some deceptive things. No one's going to be perfect in an app-based world. I'll get more into issues in the Cons.
My review of the Pros of GetUpside.
Any time you can end up with a little more left in your pocket, that's a good thing. Sometimes the effective rate after cash back is better than any cheap gas option in the area. Not bad for a completely free app.
GetUpside has done a fantastic job of making it easy to use. They make it easy to follow the steps. I think it's a stroke of genius that they can verify purchases without an uploaded receipt photo. I give complete and full credit to their engineers for creating an easy to use intuitive app that works well.
GetUpside has a great referral program. Any time someone uses your referral code and makes a purchase, you get a bonus 15¢ cash back off your next purchase. Not only that, you earn a penny per gallon cash back for any future fuel purchases made by people you referred.
A penny a gallon isn't much, but if you get a handful of people who buy a lot of gas (like gig economy delivery and rideshare drivers) it can add up. It's a brilliant move to be honest and probably why I don't see other reviews into as many cons of GetUpside as mine may.
I do like the variety of options that you can use to cash out. Whether it's going out for dinner or a movie, or reducing the price you pay for online shopping, it helps. This could be an easy way to fund that new delivery bag from Amazon.
My review of the Cons of GetUpside
When I look up other reviews of GetUpside, it's like everyone has this long list of pro's, and about all they come up with for a con is, you can't pay cash for your gas and get the cash back. The similarities are a bit striking.
It's like they had people choose one thing that is rarely an issue for anyone. I mean, who buys gas with cash these days anyway?
But it leaves me wondering if it's all just me. I just think there's a longer and more substantive list of things that make me not so impressed. Maybe some of it is nitpicky. But I think what I've figured out after giving them a try for awhile is that there are a lot of things that make GetUpside not all it's made out to be.
This is obviously my opinion. You may feel differently.
So let's dive into my laundry list. I'll tell you right now that not being able to use cash isn't on the list.
The reality is that I've spent more on gas than if I wasn't using GasBuddy.
It starts with the fact that, as I've said, GetUpside is not a discount program. You pay full price when you buy gas. GetUpside. Add to that that most GetUpside stations in my area tend to cost more at full price than other options in the area.
That means that more is coming out of my pocket initially.
Finally, the options for redeeming your balance don't make it easy to use that money for gas. When I do redeem that money, it's more likely going to be for a restaurant or something personal. The end result is that I paid more for expenses, and the reward coming back is very likely to be used on something I probably wouldn't have purchased if not for the reward.
Obviously, that's on me, not GetUpside. I should choose to use it strictly for business. But knowing myself, the bottom line is that my business expenses actuallly increased because of using GetUpside, and the reward that I receive may not actually offset business costs.
I'd be happier if there were some easier options to purchase fuel with the rewards. Maybe I use an e-gift card from Google or Apple and use Google pay or Apple pay when I buy gas or I could use a Walmart card if a Walmart station were close by. That seems like a lot of work.
A limited market makes GetUpside less likely to help me out.
In the end, it depends on how many gas stations have partnered with GetUpside. There are no GetUpside grocery stores in my market and very few restaurants. I hear they had some great restaurant partnerships in the District of Columbia, so maybe next time I visit Washington DC I can use them for more than gas.
There's a lot of places you can't use them for gas. I look at their list of locations and there are 11 out of the 50 United States missing, including Wisconsin, Oregon, New Jersey and North Carolina.
Even in my market, there can be a few miles between stations. They seem to work more with big brands. You may have to drive a bit further to get a discount and, as I mentioned earlier, you usually find them in stations with higher prices.
I don't like the misleading pricing on the map.
This might be a nitpicky thing, but to me it is one of those deceptive things. When they display a price on the map, that price is not what you will pay. You're going to pay full price, which is NOT the price on the map.
The map is showing the effective price after you apply your cash back. But this ties back to my first con. That cash back is never actually applied to gas or sent to your payment method. So in a sense, you never actually pay the price that they list on the map.
You don't always get the promised cash back amount from GetUpside.
They work a lot with major brands like Shell and Conoco. Those brands have their own loyalty programs. A lot of delivery drivers might use some of those programs. For instance, Doordash and Shell Fuel Rewards had a partnership.
The problem is, when you use other discounts and loyalty cards, that will cut into your cash back. This is one of the complaints I saw a lot on the BBB site, that people didn't get their full amount back.
I get it, because ultimately the cash back is paid for by the gas station. They also pay for the discounts and reward programs. They can't afford to have all this stack up. To be fair, GetUpside does spell it out in a couple places that this can happen, but you have to dig.
Maybe more than anything, I'd like to see a clearer disclaimer that this can happen.
It's really not a true Cash Back structure.
Usually, cash back programs just put the money back into your bank account.
With GetUpside, it goes into an earnings balance. You have to cash that out somehow with a gift card or Paypal or something like that.
I can guarantee that they're banking on the fact that a lot of people never will do that. I haven't yet. It's just sitting in my “earnings balance.” In 2019 there was nearly $3 billion in unclaimed gift cards. That was more than 3% of total gift card purchases.
I think it's safe to say that AT LEAST double the percent of cash back dollars that never get used. Think about it. 3% of the the money on gift cards that are redeemed won't get spent. And I think there's a pretty safe bet that at least 3% of the cash back won't ever get redeemed to begin with.
You may not get any cash back.
There's a high percentage of purchases where GetUpside didn't give me ANY cash back.
Their explanation is that their system couldn't find the payment details in the Point of Sale.
I said above that I thought the ability to recognize payments without uploading a photo of the receipt was a stroke of genius. Unfortunately, it leaves the door open for something like this. If GetUpside's computers aren't talking well with the gas station point of sale systems, this can happen.
I worked in tech, so I get how it can happen. That still doesn't change the fact that I feel like it was a bait and switch. I was lured into paying more at a gas station, thinking the cash back would offset the higher price. But then I didn't receive the cash back.
Which leaves me back at con # 1 again. I paid more, not less, because of using GetUpside.
GetUpside isn't always giving you the referral bonus you think you're getting.
I actually stumbled across this when taking screenshots for this article.
When I pulled my first screenshot to show how the map works, It was using my account which at the time had a 25¢ bonus amount including a 15¢ referral fee. I thought it would be confusing to explain that bonus at that point, so I decided to take a screenshot from my wife's account, which had no bonus.
These screenshots above were taken at the same time, with the different accounts.
My bonus is supposed to be 25¢, right? That would mean I should be getting 25¢ per gallon MORE cash back for each station. But when I compared the two screens, only one gas station showed I'd be getting 25¢. The rest ranged between 14 and 22 cents per gallon difference.
I ran more comparisons in different parts of town. None of those had a 25¢ difference. Some were only ten cents.
What does this mean? It means that I'm not actually getting the extra cash back that GetUpside tells me I am. They're playing with the numbers and lying to me about my referral bonus.
What's my overall review of GetUpside?
I'd love to tell you that it's a can't miss deal. You could use my code, you save money, I save money, we're both happy.
But if I know about these problems and am not telling you, you'd never trust me again.
Kinda like I don't trust GetUpside. There's just enough deceptive stuff going on here that I can't give them a whole hearted endorsement.
Despite all these cons, there are times I still use GetUpside. It's maybe one in six times. It would probably be fewer if not for a few referral bonuses. Only now I'm finding out I probably didn't get as much in referral bonus as I thought.
But I have to be honest here. When I compare the times I didn't get cash back to what I did, the net benefit isn't a whole lot more than what I'd have paid elsewhere. I can't tell you with a straight face that you'll save a ton of money.
I wish I could.
Should you still download the GetUpside app? That's a decision you'll have to make. Maybe saving a couple of bucks on your first gas purchase is worth at least using a referral code. Maybe not.
I've been kind of harsh about some of these things. I'm glad I'm not trying to write this as a sales piece, I'm failing miserably at that.
But having said all this, I still use GetUpside from time to time. One in six times I still find they are the best tool available for me for that situation.
What's the best way to use GetUpside?
GetUpside can and does save real money for many drivers. I'm pretty sure there are also a lot of drivers don't realize it's actually costing them more than it's saving.
How do you make sure you're not the latter?
The most important thing you can do is look at the big picture.
Frankly, even with gas prices increasing quite a bit lately, I think we pay too much attention to gas prices. Even with higher prices, gas is a smaller part of the cost of using your car than most people realize.
That said, anything we can do to shave a few bucks off the cost of doing business is a good thing. That's why GetUpside is still one of my gas saving tools.
Here are a few suggestions I have:
Look at GetUpside as one of many tools to help save on gas.
You can tell by now, I don't think it's the best tool. But it's a tool all the same.
Some of those tools include how you do things. Quit driving so much. Be selective about where you work and what offers you accept so that you're driving less.
Get to know all the discount programs available. Do you get fuel points at your grocery store? Is a loyalty card better? Are you using a true cash back payment method? What other discount programs are out there and how do they work?
When I look at the knife set in my kitchen, I look at GetUpside as my bread knife. Most things I need a knife for, that bread knife won't cut it. (Pun only partly intendend). But when we pull a hot loaf of bread out of the oven, nothing is better for cutting that than the bread knife.
Evaluate all the options compared to where you are. Then decide which tool best fits your situation.
1. Look at the big picture of any gas savings offer
Don't pay so much attention to the savings. Savings mean nothing if you ultimately pay more in the end. A perfect example is one of the screenshots above, with a 50¢ per gallon cash back. The effective price after the 50 cents was taken off was still higher than the non-discounted prices of the other gas stations in the area.
Take a look at where you are. What's the bottom line of the GetUpside offer? What's the bottom line of any other options you have available? Evaluate all the tools you have and decide based on what's going to leave more money in your pocket.
2. Factor in the cost of chasing a great deal
There's a killer cash back offer four miles away. After cash back, it's 20¢ per gallon less than any other options. Do you go after that?
If that's out of my way, I'm asking myself what it's costing me to go after it.
Eight miles (four out and four back) will cost about $2.40 between wear and tear, gas and depreciation. It's going to take about 25 minutes in drive time. If I can use that time to deliver, I expect to make $12.50 (50 cents a minute) during that time.
So basically I've cost myself about $15 to save about $3 in gas.
Are the small amounts you get back worth the lost earnings and the additional expense?
3. Go in with eyes wide open.
The times I've been burned have forced me to re-evaluate when an offer is worth claiming.
Two of the times that I didn't get my cash back were at the same gas station. Guess which station I'm not using again? I probably should have learned the first time. Chances are there's a formatting issue with that station's point of sale and GetUpside is having a harder time identifying payments.
Fool me once…
When I use GetUpside, I do it with an understanding I may not get the cash back that was promised. I'm not taking the bait for a much higher cost
Hopefully you never have a problem with a transaction not being recognized. That means that the advantage of the cash back has to be extremely high compared to any others. I go in knowing that a certain percent of the time I won't get the cash back. I factor that against what savings are being offered.