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Do you regularly shop online?
Did you know you can make money through online shopping?
Sounds unreal, right?
But earning cash back by shopping online is not only possible, but you can earn a good amount of extra cash.
And today I am putting two of the biggest players head to head.
Swagbucks vs. eBates will help you to see which is the better option for earning the most cash back possible.
What does each platform offer? What makes them stand out from the crowd? Which one’s better than the other?
I’ll cover all this and show you my strategy for earning the most cash back possible.
Table of Contents
Swagbucks vs eBates: The Best Cashback Sites
What Is Swagbucks?
Swagbucks is a giant in the world of online rebate platforms.
Its interface is similar to a standard search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
Added to that, you earn points called SB.
These are redeemable as coupons, gift cards, or even direct PayPal deposits.
Essentially, you are getting Swagbucks to pay you for doing various online tasks.
So how can you earn money with Swagbucks?
There are many ways, but the most popular is completing online surveys.
You get paid a certain amount of SB based on the length of the survey and the need of the marketer.
Another popular way to make money on Swagbucks is online shopping.
Here you visit Swagbucks and see if they partner with the retailer you want to shop at.
If they do, you click on the link from Swagbucks which takes you to the online retailers website.
Shop as you normally would and you will earn cash back.
Swagbucks will let you know how much you will earn before you shop.
To make it easier, you can install the Swagbucks extension in your browser so you won’t have to go to the Swagbucks website every time you shop online.
You can also download and use the mobile app to earn cash back on the go!
In addition to these options, you can also make money other ways too.
- Watch videos online
- Answering a daily poll
- Play games
- Searching the internet
- Completing daily goals
- And more!
Because Swagbucks offers so many ways to make money, it is one of the most popular websites out there.
In fact, they have paid out over $360 million dollars!
If you are interested in trying out Swagbucks, click the link below.
After signing up, you will get $5 for free.
How Swagbucks Makes Money
Swagbucks earns money from advertisers and partners who pay to be introduced to users.
Like you will see with Rakuten, most money is made through affiliate marketing.
Here, Swagbucks earns a referral fee and passes some of their earnings to you in terms of rewards points.
Rakuten (Formerly eBates)
Take Swagbucks and make it simpler and the result is Rakuten.
(Note in 2019 the parent company of eBates, Rakuten, decided to change the site name from eBates to Rakuten. In this post, I will mainly use Rakuten. Just know they are the same as eBates as only the name changed.)
The basic principle of Rakuten is that you earn cash back through online shopping.
Simply visit Rakuten before you shop online and search for the retailer you are looking to buy from.
Click on the link and you will be redirected to the store you want to shop at.
Make your online purchases and you earn cash back.
Rakuten doesn’t give you points either, it’s straight up actual cash.
If you are interested in signing up for Rakuten, click the link below.
New members get $10 for free.
How Rakuten Makes Money
Rakuten is essentially an affiliate site.
This means they partner with brands and earn a commission when they refer someone and that person makes a purchase.
Rakuten simply takes a portion of this commission and passes it onto you.
For example, if Rakuten earns 10% of every sale they refer to Walmart, you might get 2%.
Rakuten keeps 8% and you get the other 2%.
Swagbucks vs. eBates Head To Head
Sign Up Process
Signing up for either site is easy.
Just provide your email address and you are set to go.
Of course if you want to be paid, you will need to offer some more personal information.
And if you want to complete surveys on Swagbucks, they recommend you fill out a questionnaire so they can better match you with surveys.
Rakuten boasts over 2,000 partner stores as its clients.
You’ve probably already been a regular at many of these.
The most popular retailers include Old Navy, Home Depot, Best Buy, Disney Store, Walmart, and Amazon.
Swagbucks does not disclose the number of stores it has.
But I found that most of the Swagbucks stores are also on Rakuten, however each site does offer some different stores.
Rakuten offers cash back rates from 2% up to 25%.
They also offer double cash deals where certain retailers will have double cash back on random days.
My favorite is Black Friday when they have special offers.
Just about every store offers double cash back on this day.
Swagbucks offers anywhere from 1% cash back to 25% cash back.
They also have random special deals where the cash back amount is higher for certain stores.
It can be double cash back or more.
Both also allow for you to earn cash back when you shop in brick and mortar stores too.
With Rakuten, you link your credit card and if you pay using that card, you automatically earn cash back.
With Swagbucks, you open the mobile app and have the cashier scan a QR code.
Both Swagbucks and Rakuten offer browser extensions to make online shopping more convenient.
As of this writing you can download the Chrome extension or the Firefox extension.
In fact, this makes the ease of use of these sites literally effortless.
While you can go directly to either site and choose to shop through their portals, the easier option is to install the extension.
In both cases, if you do an online search for a product or store, the cash back will be listed in the search results.
And if you go directly to the retailer website, you will get a pop up letting you know the cash back amount and if you want to opt in.
Finally, both extensions offer coupon codes as well, to help you save more money.
Swagbucks offers many additional ways to earn SB that you can redeem for cash or gift cards.
As I mentioned earlier, this includes things like playing games, watching videos, and surfing the internet.
Rakuten on the other hand only offers cash back through shopping.
The majority of people will earn cash back from shopping online, but there are some stores that you can earn cash back from when you shop in store.
Here you simply need to link your credit card or debit card to your Rakuten account to earn cash back.
Redeeming Cash Back
All your earnings from Rakuten are in dollars.
As you make purchases through the Rakuten portal, your cash back accumulates in your account.
Then every quarter Rakuten will pay out the cash back you earned.
You can either get paid via your PayPal account or with a check mailed to you.
Swagbucks has you accumulate SB, which you can redeem for cash or free gift cards.
One SB is equal to $0.01 so for a $25 gift card, you need to have 2,500 SB.
You can redeem your SB anytime you want, assuming you have enough for the reward you are after.
In many cases, you can redeem as little as 500 SB for a $5 gift card.
And here is a little secret.
They usually offer an Amazon gift card at a discount, so your SB goes further when you redeem for this option.
Swagbucks offers a referral bonus of 10% SB of whatever your friends earn throughout their lifetime.
For example, if your friend earns 100 SB on a purchase they made, you will get 10 SB credited to your account.
With Rakuten, you earn $30 when a referral makes a purchase of $30 within 90 days of joining.
Swagbucks vs. eBates: Which Is The Better Option
At the end of the day, both Swagbucks and Rakuten are great at what they do.
Depending on what you want will determine the better option for you.
If you like the option of earning cash back from doing other activities, then Swagbucks is for you.
If you like just earning cash back from online shopping, then Rakuten is best for you.
Or you can do what I do, which I think is the best way.
I joined both.
Before I shop online, I check both sites to see which one has a better deal.
Many times they will offer similar rewards, so I just pick one.
Usually I defer to Rakuten since I get paid quarterly, but if I am close to 2,500 SB I’ll opt for Swagbucks so I can get cash via PayPal.
Sometimes though, one of them will be running a bonus and offer a higher cash back rate than the other.
Doing this takes me a few extra seconds to finish my online shopping, but it works for me.
Below are the links to sign up for each site so you too can benefit from the strategy I use.
Making Sure You Earn Cash Back
One final note about earning cash back.
You have to shop and make the purchase through the Swagbucks or Rakuten link if you want to be credited with earning cash back.
What I mean by this is in the past, people would shop on an online store, put items in their shopping cart, then go through Swagbucks or Rakuten to complete the transaction.
You can’t do this anymore.
If you add something to your shopping cart before you go through either site, you won’t get credit for the purchase.
Also, as you are being redirected to the retailers site, you will see an authorization code to confirm your shopping trip.
I like to keep this number in case I ever have an issue with cash back not showing up.
I’ve never had an issue, but I like to keep it just in case.
Alternative Cashback Apps
There are a handful of other cashback apps out there that allow you to earn money for shopping.
Here are a few of the most popular ones.
The Ibotta app started out as a way to earn cash back when shop at a grocery store.
It has since expanded into other areas.
Like with Rakuten, you earn cash back, not points.
Once you earn $20, you can have your earnings sent to your PayPal account.
This app has you take a picture of your receipt and you earn coins or spins based on the amount you spent.
Earn enough coins and you can redeem them for Visa gift cards, Amazon gift cards, or cash to your PayPal account.
The Mr. Rebates site is very similar to Rakuten in that you earn cash back shopping online.
Many of the same stores are offered and the cash back is similar as well.
At the end of the day, if you aren’t earning cash back when you shop online, you are leaving free money on the table.
In the few years I’ve been using these sites, I’ve earned close to $2,000 cash back.
For very little effort, I make extra money which is totally worth it.
When it comes to which is the better option between Swagbucks vs. Rakuten, the choice comes down to what you want in a cash back site.
But ultimately, I recommend you join both so you can ensure you are earning the most cash back possible.
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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.