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Buy Burrito, Get Bitcoin: My Review of the Pei App

By DrugsandFIRE | Seeking FI | 18 Feb 2020


Over the years, I've become kind of a junkie with the cashback/points/miles game.  Thankfully though, it's a profitable obsession.  Through the use of credit card sign on bonuses, promo offers, and simply finding ways to optimize the rewards we get on our regular spending, my wife and I have been able to pay for thousands of dollars worth of travel with points instead of dollars.  But the points game is one you need to keep up on if you want to win, so I'm always on the hunt for more ways to earn.

So one day, while I was lurking on a Facebook group, I came across an app called Pei.  The premise behind the app is simple and one I was already familiar with.  You link your credit cards to the app, the app scours your transactions, and if you spend money at one of their partner merchants, you get some cash back in the app.  You don't need to do anything extra, the cashback just comes in automatically.  This is the same as other apps such as Dosh (referral link), Drop, and Bumped (referral link).  But while each of those has their own way of giving you money back (cash with Dosh, gift cards with Drop, and stock with Bumped), the Pei app caught my attention because I could get my money another way: in Bitcoin.

Now, I've always been a little crypto curious but never really got into the space.  For one reason or another I never pulled the trigger and bought some Bitcoin.  Add to the fact that my wife really didn't want me using our money to buy an asset she saw no value in, and the chances of me getting my hands on some seemed pretty slim.  Still, I wanted to get into cryptocurrencies.  Sure they're cool, but lately my interest in them aligns more with why Yale is interested in them.

But you've got to start somewhere.  Thankfully, this Pei app looked like a bit of a loophole to my dilemma.  After all, I wasn't "buying" the stuff.  I was getting free money back.  It just happened to be in Bitcoin!  And given the small amount I wanted to allocate to the stuff anyway, getting it in the form of cashback seemed like a good way to get my feet wet.

How it Works

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Step 1: Get the App

Download the app from either the Google Play or Apple App Store.  It's only available on mobile devices so there's no way to make an account on the desktop site.

Step 2: Link Your Account(s)

The app uses Plaid to link your accounts to the app.  Basically you select your financial institution and login to your account with them through Plaid's interface.  Once you login, all the accounts you have with that institution should show up in the app.  I personally haven't had any problems with Plaid security-wise (and I've used multiple apps that use their service), but I'm kind of skittish about putting an actual bank account on one of these things.  For me, I only link credit card accounts.  That way, if there are any fraud issues, it's easy to dispute charges and fix the situation.

Step 3: Check The Local Offers

On the app's main page, there's a compass icon that tells you what merchants in your area (as well as online retailers) can give you cashback.

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Step 4: Buy a Burrito (or something else)

When you use a linked card to buy something (like a burrito from a participating restaurant), the app will automatically take note of the transaction and add the cashback to your in app account.  In the case of my burrito, I paid for lunch with my sister at a Moe's and got 5% back on top of the rewards I was already getting with my credit card.

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Step 5: Get Bitcoin

Once you've accumulated at least 2500 points ($25 USD) in the app, you can make a withdrawal.  You can get your money one of 3 ways: Paypal, Bitcoin, or a gift card; but if you're reading this, I'm assuming you're gonna go the Bitcoin route.  Once you have enough to make a withdrawal, the process is really straightforward.  Just give them your wallet address and it gets sent.  Once sent, its been my experience that it shows up in your wallet within a half hour.

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Pros

  • The app runs in the background so once you've set it up, you don't have to do much with it.
  • Cashback bonuses seem to be pretty generous.  I've been to a number of restaurants that offer 10% back and even the more regular ones I visit such as Moe's or Dunkin' tend to be in the 1.5-5% back range.
  • The cashback bonuses stack with other apps and regular credit card points.  For instance, when visiting one restaurant, I got 10% back from Pei, 5% back from Dosh, 3 United miles/$ from United's dining program, and 4 Amex points/$ from my card.  Taken together, I was looking at around 20-25% back on that visit depending on how I used the points.

Cons

  • The app is kind of clunky and prone to crashing.  For instance, I wanted to get a screenshot of a recent Bitcoin payout but whenever I clicked on the transaction in my history, the app crashed.  Definitely some room for improvement on the UI side.
  • Some transactions don't show up.  At one of the restaurants near us (that just happens to be a 10% back one) the transaction never shows up.  I'll usually have to create a support ticket and send them a screenshot of the transaction on my credit card statement.  And, while there is a way to handle missing transactions in app, for some reason you need to physically be in the vicinity of the business to have it show up in app.  Made it tougher to resolve than it should've when we had missing transactions from a recent trip.  Thankfully, we've always been able to get credit for the transactions in the end, it's just been somewhat inconvenient.
  • You need to amass a 2500 point minimum in order to make a withdrawal.  While this is pretty standard for these types of apps, I still find it kind of annoying.

Conclusion

The Pei app is a good addition (or introduction) to the world of cashback apps.  Rewards can stack on top of other ones you might get and there's not really much you need to do once it's set up.  All in all, as long as you're comfortable with them knowing your transactions, it's a really easy way to earn some extra crypto on the spending you do anyway.

If you're interested in the app and want an extra 2.50 in BTC to get you started, be sure to use my referral code:

burrito

Thanks for reading!

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DrugsandFIRE
DrugsandFIRE

I'm a pharmacist pursuing financial independence, hence drugs and FIRE.


Seeking FI
Seeking FI

A blog dedicated to the things I've found interesting on the path to financial independence and my thoughts

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