Sunday, October 5, 2014

Earn CASH BACK (or other rewards) or REFERRAL BONUSES on everything you buy online!!

You may or may not be aware of websites like FatWallet.com or Ebates.com (or the shopping portals of your favorite airlines), where you get cash back (or rewards) for every purchase that you make online.  If you're not, you should be.  If you're not already, you should be earning cash back or rewards (think of it as a discount) on everything you buy online.

I have to admit that this is not an area I have spent enough time thinking about or utilizing, but I intend to going forward.  What amazes me is the sheer number of these websites out there.  So what should be your strategy for earning from these websites?  Read on ...
[UPDATE (December 2014):  My blogger friend, Shawn, did a very nice (much more concise than me!) job HERE of education newbies about shopping portals.]

Most online retailers will pay other websites for directing potential customers to them, at least when those people end up actually buying something.  This is true of search engines (like Google), as well as these many cash-back/rebate websites (see below).  The nice thing about using these websites is that they SHARE their proceeds with you!

For example, here's the cash-back percentage you can get via just one of the websites (Ebates.com), just for the purposes of example (note that the percentages can change over time and sometimes they run special promos where they give you higher percentages):

NewEgg.com - 2%
Nordstrom.com - 6%
HomeDepot.com - 4%
Groupon.com - 6%
Kohls.com - 6%
Sears.com - 6%
OldNavy.com - 2%
etc.!!!

Again, this is a bit of a new area for me.  So please let me know if you have an experience.  But, so far, I have made a few KEY OBSERVATIONS ...

A) There are a few different types of these websites - CASH back vs. Rewards vs. Travel miles/points.  The cash back websites tell you a certain percentage you can expect to earn back at certain online retailers (sometimes for anything you buy on those websites and sometimes for only specific items or categories).  Some of these websites will cut you a check, while others will pay you via PayPal.  Some will require you to build up a certain balance before they pay you, while others will pay you back any amount.  It is common that they will wait some period of time (like 90 days) before they make the cash-back available to you (to protect the retailer against you returning the item after you get your cash-back payment).  The rewards websites work similarly, but let you rack up dollars or points for use towards merchandise or gift cards.  The travel miles/points websites also work similarly, but are typically run by very reputable airlines or hotels (or bank/credit-cards tied to their rewards programs) and allow you to earn miles or points for their rewards programs.  Then there are even more specialized sort of rewards programs out there, like Upromise.com - where you earn funds for a college 529 plan savings.

B) You MUST BE CAREFUL to always use these websites properly (or else you will NOT earn your cash/rewards)!!  The way that most of these websites work is that you must START your shopping from the website (make sure you're signed into the rewards website - then follow a link from the website to the retailer where you intend to purchase an item).  SO BE CAREFUL.  If you do a bit of research first ... on what item you want to buy (reading reviews, etc., on multiple websites) ... and where to get the best price ... and which cash-back/rewards website to use (see item "C" below for finding the best one for any given purchase) ... then AFTER you've done all these things, CLOSE YOUR BROWSER WINDOW (and maybe even clean your browser cookies).  Then go to the cash-back/rewards website ... link to the retailer ... and buy the item.  This will help to assure that you get "credit" for the purchase.  There can be no guarantee that you'll get the credit, but the more careful you are to follow these steps - the better your chance will be.

C) Find the best cash-back/rewards website for any particular online retailer!  The best tools I've found so far for finding the best cash-back/rewards website to use are www.cashbackholic.com or www.cashbackmonitor.com or www.evrewards.com.  As you will see when you get there, you can look up ANY online retailer and it will list the websites that offer the best cash-back/rewards.  Of course, I'd appreciate it if you'd sign up for any of these programs using my referral links (below - item "F") before shopping via any of these portals! :)

D) You probably want to focus on a few of these websites.  While the search tool (in item "C" above) could literally list a different "best" website to use for every different online retailer, you probably want to focus on a small handful (or even just a couple?) of these cash-back/rewards websites.  Otherwise you run a few risks.  If you have too many of them going at any time, you'll probably find them all too difficult to keep track of.  Some of these websites also require that you get to a certain level of cash-back or reward thresholds before they will "pay out" your earnings.  Also, while there are LOTS of these websites, I have read enough reviews of some of the lesser-known ones to know that it is not uncommon to get ripped-off and never get paid as promised.  So, again, you should probably narrow down the list of websites you're going to use.  For example, maybe you just want to focus on building up miles using the shopping portal of your favorite airline(s).

E) Just by signing up (and sometimes making a first purchase of a minimum size) at some of these websites you can earn a very nice bonus.  For example, Ebates.com will give you a $10 gift card (to stores including Target or Walmart) after you make one purchase via their website of $25 or more ... plus the normal percentage cash-back you're earning for using Ebates to begin with.  For example, Ebates pays you 6% back for linking though their website to buy something at Groupon.  So if you buy a $25 item at Groupon (the first time you use Ebates), you'd get 6% back ($1.50) plus a $10 gift card to Target or Walmart!

F) Please use my referral links (below) for signing up at these websites.  As you can read about at each of these websites, many of them not only give you a sign-up bonus (in addition to the cash-back or rewards), but also reward me (or whoever refers you) with some sort of bonus for sending you.  Once you've signed up, feel free to get your friends to sign up using your own referral link ... or feel free to send your friends here to use my referral link! :)  I'll be adding more websites in the future (let me know if there's one you like that I haven't listed).

FatWallet.com (my referral link) - One of the most reputable websites out there and a great website for finding "deals"

Ebates.com (my referral link) - Another very reputable website, and earn a $10 Target or Walmart (or other) gift card for your first $25+ purchase via Ebates

BeFrugal.com (my referral link)

MrRebates.com (my referral link) - Earn $5 on your first purchase (I think of any size)

SimplyBestCoupons.com (my referral link) - Earn $5 on your first purchase (I think of any size)

TopCashBack.com (my referral link)

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