Shop online? Do it right with cash back rewards!

Online Shopping Cash Back

According to Forrester Research data US online spending will reach $327 billion for 2016 with as much as 56% of the population participating at an average of over $1,500 spent per person. Wouldn’t it be great if every time you shopped online you could get paid cash back? Well you guessed it, you can and even better there are options!

How Do Cash Back Programs Work?

To demonstrate we will use a website like Groupon.com. We all know the traditional process of shopping online, you visit a website, search through their catalog, add products to your shopping cart and then progress through the check-out process. Using a cash back website is essentially the same process except instead of visiting Groupon.com directly you instead click on a link for from a preferred cash back portal. To reference our example we would find the Groupon.com link within the portal site and proceed to follow the normal steps above. After you are done, the purchase data is transmitted back to the cash back portal where you are credited a set percentage for that website. It normally takes at least 30 days or more to receive rewards in your account post purchase.

What Are My Options For Cash Back Programs?

There are a few big players in the space as well as a number of smaller ones listed below:

Ebates Logo

The first is Ebates.com, they are largest provider of cash back earnings to their members totaling $325,000,000+ to date. Ebates features 1,800 available online retailers and rank among the highest in cash back percentages for the group. They are billion-dollar company recently acquired by Ratuken in 2014 for $1 billion dollars.

Extrabux Logo

Among the group Extrabux.com has the largest database of cash back stores topping out around 2,500. They rank second among dollars earned by users at $34,526,119. Extrabux’s rate percentages rival Ebates on a majority of shopping websites.

Fat Wallet Logo

The third largest provider is FatWallet.com, with over $28 million paid out to users since 2005. Fat Wallet was acquired by Ebates.com in 2011 (was news to me); however, while their coverage of stores is pretty expansive their cash back rates tend to be lower than both Ebates and Extrabux.

Additional Providers

  • CouponCabin.com – Newer to the cash back game; Coupon Cabin has built upon their extensive coupon platform with attractive cash back offers.
  • ShopAtHome.com – Similar to CouponCabin.com with types of savings offered just smaller in scale

Signing up for all of these sites is free and easy, all you need is a valid email address to get stared.

Cash Back Potential

All of the cash back rates for the shopping websites listed in the cash back portals are specific to the participating merchant. For example, a site like Kohl’s may offer 6% back on a purchase while Macy’s may only offer 3%. The rates tend to go up and down around the many shopping holidays throughout the year. Each website has their own agreements with the shopping merchant so while Extrabux might be largest provider their agreement with Groupon may not yield more savings than Ebates or vice versa. We put together a list of cash back rate comparisons across the three major providers for a number of popular websites:

Macy's: 6.0%

Macy's: 1.5%

Macy's: 3.0%

LivingSocial: 3.0%

LivingSocial: 2.0%

LivingSocial: 5.0%

Kohl's: 6.0%

Kohl's: 2.0%

Kohl's: 3.0%

Amazon: Up to 7.0%

Amazon: Up to 7.0%

Amazon: Up to 5.5%

JCPenney: 6.0%

JCPenney: 1.5%

JCPenney: 2.0%

PetSmart: 4.0%

PetSmart: 4.0%

PetSmart: 4.0%

Advance Auto Parts: 6.0%

Advance Auto Parts: 6.0%

Advance Auto Parts: 6.0%

Victoria's Secret: 1.0%

Victoria's Secret: 1.0%

Victoria's Secret: 2.0%

Which Cash Back Site Should I Use?

To cover all your bases, I would sign-up for them all since they are free. Always do a quick look up before buying online and determine who has the best rate for shopping. Tip: Since these websites work using browser cookies and data passes I would recommend you visit your eventual shopping website on a different browser (like Safari or Internet Explorer) and then go complete the purchase on another (like Chrome or Firefox). I have experienced issues in which transactions did not report back to the portal website.

How to Maximize Your Cash Back Savings

As always, we like to provide you with as many saving opportunities as possible when we can! To maximize your savings, think about your brick and mortar shopping purchase habits. Stores like Walmart or PetSmart for example offer you the ability to pick up your online purchases in-store instead of having them shipped to you. Buying items online and picking them up in-store saves a good deal of time since you can skip the check-out line as well as earning extra money.  Here is how much I saved through my Fat Wallet account over the past year or so:

Fat Wallet Savings Example

These savings when coupled with applicable credit card reward bonuses make this shopping hack exceptionally useful. See our “Always Use Credit Cards Over Debit” article for money saving techniques using only credit cards.

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