Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own.
By now, you’ve probably heard of Ebates. I had been hearing about it for years but figured it was, at best, a teeny-tiny money saving tool not worth the effort and, at worst, some sort of internet scam. But after quitting my job, I have become more conscious about what and how I am spending, and decided to try it out for myself.
Launched in 1999, Ebates is a cashback website that allows consumers to shop through a portal at a variety of retailers for cash back. Why do you get cash back? Because Ebates acts as an affiliate to these retailers, who pay them upon referring a customer who subsequently makes a purchase. Ebates then splits that commission with you.
How Does It Work?
It’s surprisingly simple. Set up an account with Ebates by providing your name and email address, and then update your profile preferences to indicate whether you prefer to receive payment via check (default) or PayPal (I highly recommend changing to this in your Account Settings). Right now they have a promotion offering either a $10 Ebates Cash Bonus or $10 Walmart gift card just for signing up.
Next, do a quick search for the store or product you are looking for. Check the cash back offered (displayed as a percentage of your total purchase amount), and then click on the “Shop Now” button to be redirected to the retailer’s site. Ebates will redirect you with a message confirming that your purchases are now being tracked on that site. I do recommend installing the Ebates Chrome browser extension. This makes it easy to remember and earn cash back for all your online purchases without having to pull up the Ebates website and log in every single time.
On a quarterly basis, Ebates will send you your earned cash back. If you’ve earned $5 or less, that amount will carry over to the next quarter. And that’s all there is to it. The hardest part for me so far has been just remembering to always shop through Ebates to maximize my earnings.
Can I Really Earn Money?
This is where I was most skeptical. I assumed I could earn maybe a few dollars a year, but the hassle of going through Ebates would simply not be worth the effort.
Boy, was I wrong!
Simply by remembering to shop through Ebates vs. going to a retailer’s site directly, I have earned $17 in one week! And in truth, this is only remembering about 75% of the time. This is not additional shopping I wouldn’t have ordinarily done – it is not even for a particularly heavy shopping week (remember – I’m on a budget now). It is merely the online shopping I always do. So I have to say that I am extremely pleased to have earned that much in one week. I am bummed because two purchases in particular would have earned me an additional $10 each in cash back – so I am now even more motivated to use Ebates for ALL online purchases to maximize my earnings. And, especially with the Chrome browser extension, the process of using Ebates is easy-peasy – maybe a couple additional mouse clicks.
I’ve also seen Ebates running multiple promotions for more exposure. For example, right now they’re running a promotion where you can also earn an additional $5 for every friend who signs up. This is great for a service that I think most people would recommend anyway!
In addition to earnings, Ebates is great because all current coupons for particular retailers are listed out on the site. So I can select my retailer, quickly browse coupon codes I want to use, and then hop on over to the retailer’s site to make the purchase and earn cash back.
What Are The Cash Back Percentages?
It really depends on the retailer. For example, I am disappointed that Amazon doesn’t play ball. They do offer cash back but only on rotating categories that, so far, don’t seem to be any that I use. But – Target offers 2%, Walmart offers 1%, and Nordstrom and Macy’s both offer 6%. My recommendation is to shop around. I have found myself recently comparing prices on products from multiple stores, and then going with the least expensive once the Ebates cash back has been factored in. Target in particular is great at 2%, because when I combine that with my Red Card (5% savings) and other coupons, I am almost always getting a better deal there than elsewhere.
Also worth noting is that Groupon offers a healthy 6% cash back on top of already discounted prices, and even web hosting services such as Bluehost get involved with a flat $10 cash back for purchase. Other categories to take a look at include online travel providers (e.g. Orbitz and Hotwire), clothing retailers, electronic retailers, flower and gift retailers, and more. Certain discount retailers such as Costco and Big Lots are not included. My learned rule of thumb is to always do a quick search on Ebates before purchasing anything online.
What I Like
- Earning real money beyond just a few dollars or cents
- Earning money for shopping I would have already done anyway
- Having all retailer coupons listed together in one place (no more searching multiple sites online for coupon codes)
- Payouts available through PayPal
- Clear dashboard listing your purchases and cash back amounts
- The abundance of retailers available
- The Chrome browser extension that makes it super easy to remember and use Ebates for all online purchases
- Ability to participate in promotions to earn even more
What I Don’t Like
- Amazon offers only rotating categories for cash back that, so far, are not useful to me
- Certain low-cost retailers, such as Costco and Big Lots, are not included
- I would prefer monthly payouts to quarterly
- Payouts defaulting to check (would prefer they default to PayPal)
I highly recommend Ebates as an addition to your overall money-saving strategy. It is easy, fast, and intuitive, and allows you to earn money on purchases you already make. I truthfully wish I had started much sooner – when I used to have a much larger shopping budget. If interested in signing up, Click Here to access Ebates and get started with your free $10. Happy Shopping!