I’ve been using Ebates for 6 years to get cash back on my online shopping. It really works, or I wouldn’t be telling you about it. Read on to find out how you get cash back, too – plus, a $10 bonus just for signing up!
I’m going to give you both a review and a how-to in this article. Ebates works so well for me, but instead of just telling you that, I want to show you how well it can work for you, too. It’s really easy to use. There are even browser extensions and mobile apps for Android and iPhone to make shopping with Ebates as easy as it can be.
Let’s start with a couple of questions: how can Ebates afford to pay you money when you shop online? Do they really pay you? And how does it work?
Is Ebates for Real?
Ebates may sound too good to be true, but it’s really simple. Ebates is an affiliate for all of these online shopping sites. That means whenever you buy something through Ebates, the company that sold it pays Ebates a little commission, and Ebates passes some of that money on to you. The percent you will get ranges from about 1% to 8%.
By the way, this is exactly how I, and many other bloggers, make money, too. We tell you about products and services that we love, and when you sign up through the links in our posts, we get a little affiliate commission.
How does Ebates work?
Once you sign up for an Ebates account, you just need to visit Ebates before making a purchase online. It’s easier to understand with an example. Let’s say you’ve picked out some things you want to buy from Container Store, and you’ve got them in your cart. Now you just need to go to Ebates and click Container Store from their list of stores. You can also use the search bar at the top of the page. Once you’re on Container Store’s page, take a look at the special coupons and deals through Ebates. Click the red “Shop Now” button by any offer you like. If none of them apply to your order, just click the big red “Shop Now” button.
Then you shop like normal, complete your transaction, and Ebates will credit your account within a few days. I’ll explain later how and when you get paid.
But it’s even easier to shop Ebates if you use a browser extension or mobile app. Using the Chrome Ebates extension, all I have to do is go to the Container Store website, and look what happens. I get a little pop-up in the top right corner telling me to activate 4% cashback. I click it, my browser automatically gets rerouted through Ebates and then back to Container Store. Now I shop and earn my cashback.
With the mobile app, you just shop through the app instead of going to stores in your browser.
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.
What if I have coupons or discounts?
You can absolutely still use coupons and discount codes when you’re shopping through Ebates. Once you’ve activated Ebates, the rest of it is between you and the store. You just shop like normal, and whatever amount you end up spending is what Ebates will base your cashback percentage on.
Do they really pay? On time?
I’ve never had any trouble getting my payments. The payment options are:
- Paypal account
- Charity/friend (basically, you can send 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. I’ve always used PayPal.
Normally, you get one payment per quarter, unless your balance is lower than $5.00. They have a chart showing you exactly when you can expect to be paid. For example, all purchases between January 1 and March 31 won’t be paid until May. That may sound like quite a delay, but remember: Ebates isn’t getting paid by the shop immediately. They need to give themselves time to get paid first. They also need to wait and make sure I don’t return what I bought.
Personally, I don’t mind the wait. I mean, it’s money I just wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
What about support?
The one problem I have had is when sometimes vendors don’t communicate with Ebates. It’s only happened to me twice. Somehow, the shop just didn’t report what I had spent like they should have. I contacted Ebates support and let them know about it. They contacted the vendor and started working to figure out what happened. In one case, they resolved it within a week, easy peasy. In another, the vendor was pretty useless, so it ended up taking a couple of months for me to get my cashback, and then maybe another month to get paid.
Throughout the process, Ebates stayed on top of things. They even emailed me on their own several times to let me know where things stood with the vendor. I’ve had much worse support from companies where I was a paying customer! But don’t worry – again, this has only happened to me twice in probably hundreds of transactions. And in both cases, this wasn’t the only thing the vendor got wrong and I stopped shopping at both of them for several reasons.
The Tell-a-Friend bonus
There’s one other way to make money with Ebates, and that’s by referring friends, like an affiliate. And yes, the links in this post are my referral/affiliate links. If you click them and sign up, I’ll get a bonus. And then you can do the same thing by sending your referral link to friends and family. You can also post it on social media.
How much can you earn through the referral bonus? You’ll always get five dollars for every person you refer. In addition to that, they’re usually running one promotion or another. When I took this screenshot last year, the bonus was that if I referred three friends during July through September, I would get an additional five dollars, bringing my total for three referrals to $60.
Right now (August 2017), the promotion is referred to friends and get an additional $40, bringing the total to $50. As a blogger with an almost infinite number of people I can refer, I actually make more money this way than by shopping. But if you refer just two or three people a month, you can earn a lot of those extra referral bonuses. It’s not “quit your job” money, obviously, but Ebates can bring in a significant amount of extra money.
Why I recommend Ebates
I’ve told everyone I know who shops online to sign up with Ebates. It’s a great service that has worked for me over and over. Their support, like I mentioned above, is better than I get with some stores where I’m the one paying them money instead of the other way around. I’m on my sixth year with them, and I saved so much money on most of my online purchases in that time. I do wish they did more with Amazon, but they’ve added Amazon departments over time, and I think they’ll keep adding more. And that’s as close to a negative thing as I can say about them.