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A few years ago I was online looking for a new router to buy for our house. Being the smart consumer I am, I checked out a handful of sites and even looked at Google Shopping to compare prices once I narrowed down the list of possible routers to one.
After I found the best price online, I took the next step that I always do. I went looking for some sort of discount or online coupon.
Sadly, I was out of luck as I couldn’t find any for this particular store other than free shipping. This wasn’t a deal because I was doing in-store pickup. Why have it shipped to me when I can drive literally 5 minutes and have it in my hands?
I was about to give up hope when I stumbled upon the website Ebates. At first, I was a little hesitant to use it and get the 5% cash back they claimed. But I gave in and all I can say is wow!
I have since made Ebates a staple in my online shopping routine (and I use Swagbucks from time to time as well). New users to Swagbucks get $5 in cash for joining.
Below is my full review of the site and what it offers.
Table of Contents
How Ebates Saves Me Tons Of Money
What Is Ebates?
Ebates is an online shopping portal that you use for just about all of your online shopping to get cash back. The site has a very large selection of online stores, including Best Buy, WalMart, Amazon and Target, just to name a few. As of this writing, there are over 2,000 stores on the site that offer cash back.
Each online store has its own “ebate” amount, or cash back amount that you earn when you shop through the Ebates portal.
How Ebates Works
Here is how the site works. Ebates partners up with various retailers to get a kickback or commission on sales that come through the Ebates portal. When you shop at a retailer through the Ebates site, Ebates passes some of the commission on to you.
Here is a simplified example. Let’s say WalMart gives Ebates 10% commission on all of the sales Ebates generates. When you visit Ebates and click through to the WalMart website and make a purchase, Ebates earns 10% of your total sale price.
For shopping through the Ebates website, Ebates then passes 3% of the commission they earned back to you.
So if you spend $100, Ebates gets a $10 commission, of which they give you $3. Ebates keeps the remaining $7.
Most sites offer between 1% and 5% cash back on purchases, but some do offer more. In addition to this, there are promotions on a regular basis.
- Daily Double: every day, there are a handful of stores that Ebates offers double the cash back on. You can find these stores right on the home page.
- Black Friday: if you do a lot of your holiday shopping online, Ebates offers double cash back on all stores on Black Friday
Recently Ebates introduced in-store cash back as well. Not all retailers that offer cash back online offer cash back in store. Currently 55 stores offer in-store cash back and these stores change from time to time.
To earn the cash back in-store, you simply link your credit card on Ebates website and then when you buy anything in-store, you will earn cash back. Note that you can link your Visa or American Express branded credit cards at this time. They do not have an agreement with Mastercard.
Also with linking credit cards, if you link a debit card with Ebates, be sure to use the card as a credit card upon checkout, which means you sign for the purchase instead of entering your PIN.
The best part about in-store cash back is that you can jump online while in the store and add your credit card to make sure you earn some cash back.
How To Get Started
Getting started with Ebates is simple. You just provide them your email address and you are set to start earning cash back. I would encourage you to use the same email address as your PayPal account so that you can have your money sent over to you through PayPal. It is much faster than having a check mailed to you.
As a bonus, if you sign up through this link, you’ll get a $10 gift card! There is nothing more for you to do. Just give your email and you earned a $10 gift card!
How To Really Save Money On Ebates
I just showed you that you can earn some cash back on your purchases when you use Ebates. But you can earn even more. This trick is known as stacking. Here is how it works.
Shop on Ebates to get cash back from Ebates and use a cash back credit card. For example, if you spend $100 at WalMart and Ebates gives you 3% cash back, you just earned $3 cash back.
But if you use your cash back credit card as well, you just earned another 2% cash back or $2 for a total savings of $5. Depending on the cash back credit card you use, this amount could be more.
Now, I know this doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but it adds up over time. In the years since I’ve written this post originally (I’ve updated it as Ebates has added features), I’ve earned a total of $1,217 cash back from Ebates and my cash back credit card.
When Do You Get The Cash Back?
On average, it takes between 1-5 days before you see the cash back you earned in your Ebates account. This is due to the fact that Ebates has to verify the purchase was legit and everything is on the up and up. The nice thing here is that Ebates will send you an email when they credit your account with the cash back.
I like this because I don’t have to log into my Ebates account every day looking for the cash back to show up.
Now, once they credit your account, you don’t actually get the money. There is a holding period. This is to ensure you don’t return the item. If you do, obviously you lose the cash back. This hold used to be just 30 days, but now it is 60 days since many retailers allow for longer return periods.
How Ebates Pays You
Once the hold period passes, the cash back you earned is yours! To get your money, you can either get a check mailed to you, or you can have the money sent to your PayPal account. Ebates does stipulate that you need $5.00 in your account before they will send you the money.
Also, they pay out quarterly. This helps to keep payments organized and keep costs low so they can offer you the most cash back possible. The current payment dates are seen below.
What I Don’t Like About Ebates
While I do love Ebates and use them to earn cash back, there are two issues I do have with them.
Amazon: Amazon is listed on the site for earning cash back, but not everything qualifies. You have to read the fine print as only certain categories, like clothing and shoes qualifies. Understand they change these categories up every month, but the note here is that you don’t earn cash back on everything at Amazon.
And while I am on this topic, be sure to read the fine print on all of the retailers before clicking through to their site. For the overwhelming majority, everything on their sites earns cash back (except for gift card purchases) but a few here and there have limitations.
Missing Cash Back: This has only happened to me once. I shopped through Ebates, made an eligible purchase and was never credited my cash back. This was easily resolved by the customer service team at Ebates however.
I had to provide them with the tracking ID (this shows up on your screen for a few seconds before you go to the retailer, so be sure to write it down) and the receipt of what I bought. After review they credited my account. The whole process is laid out on their site, just follow this link.
The moral here is to just make sure you keep track of things. Again, this happened to me once. It has never happened to my sister or my wife who do more online shopping than I do, so my guess is it is rare but does happen.
Is Ebates A Scam?
The simple answer is no. When I first stumbled upon it, I was hesitant to use the site. I did some thinking before I clicked through to the retailer I wanted to use. But at the end of the day, I realized the worst thing that could happen is that Ebates wouldn’t pay me the cash back I earned.
Since I make the actual purchase on the retailers website and I don’t store any personal information on Ebates aside from my PayPal address there is virtually no risk to me.
And when it comes to paying, they pay. Aside from crediting my account cash back that one time, they have always paid me the cash back I have earned. The same can be said for my wife and sister as well.
I love Ebates. Before I buy anything online, I log into my Ebates account to see if the retailer participates and most times, they do. I then click through their site to do some online shopping and make the purchase using my cash back rewards credit card. I then sit back and wait for my cash back to show up in my PayPal account.
As I mentioned, over the years I’ve earned over $1,000 cash back using this method. I crunched the numbers and figured that I average a little over 4% cash back per transaction. That is essentially a 4% discount on everything I buy.
I know 4% doesn’t sound like much, but over time, it adds up. Do yourself a favor and check out Ebates.
To sign up for free, you can click this link. Doing so will earn you an additional $10 bonus!
And if you are looking for other ways to make money, check out my post that has over 51 money making ideas for you to start today.
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.