Have you discovered Ebates yet? I’ve been with them 5 years. Ebates is a website that pays you cash back on purchases from lots of online vendors.
Ebates: How it works
(Yes, I’m using a referral link for their Tell-A-Friend bonus. More on that in a minute.)
Getting cash back for purchases couldn’t be simpler. You sign up, which involves giving them your contact info and whatever information they need to pay you. The payment options are:
- Paypal account
- Charity/friend (basically, you can defer the payment to whomever you like)
You are not charged a fee for any of these methods. You get every penny you have earned in your account through whichever method you like.
Then it’s time to shop. Instead of going directly to the website – let’s say Sears.com – you go to Ebates and find Sears in their list. Click on Sears, and Ebates starts a ticket. Then it sends you to Sears’ website like normal, and you shop like normal, and you pay for your items like normal. Ebates will keep the ticket going a few days, so if you don’t immediately make your purchase, you’ll still get credit (but if you want to play it really safe, you can always just go through Ebates again right before making your purchase – that starts a new ticket, so there’s no question Ebates will track this purchase).
So let’s say you spend about $100 at Sears. Your cash back rate with each merchant varies from around 2% to 8% in most cases – the vast majority I’ve come across are 4%. Sears has a 4% cashback reward, so a few days after you make your $100 purchase, Ebates credits your Ebates account with $4.
Normally, you get one payment per quarter, unless your balance is lower than $5.01. They have a chart showing you exactly when you can expect to be paid, and there is definitely some delay. For example, all purchases between January 1 and March 31 won’t be paid until May. In their FAQ, they state they are constantly working on ways to pay you faster. Personally, I don’t mind the wait. I mean, it’s money I would never have gotten otherwise.
Keep in mind that businesses who work as a “middle man” have to have time to get paid by their vendors before they pay you. I.E., if I buy something at Sears, Ebates can’t afford to pay me my percent until Sears has paid them their percent. And they also need a little time to make sure I don’t return the purchase or something.
The Tell-a-Friend bonus
Ebates also offers a Tell-a-Friend bonus. I just got $5 for signing someone up, and yes, if you use the link I posted above and make a purchase through Ebates, I will get another $5. That’s not why I’m telling you about this, however, and it won’t be the reason you may end up telling your friends about it either. I always test out services like this before recommending them, and this one definitely works.
How many stores?
Ebates works with about 1800 stores. This list includes Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, QVC, Ancestry.com, Home Depot, Sephora, Sears, Harry & David, Hotwire.com, the Microsoft store, etc. It’s a huge collection of both brick retail stores with websites and companies that were never anything but a website. So far, I’ve been able to use it for all my online shopping except some departments at Amazon.
Originally published November 17, 2011