Here is a simple guide on how to get cash back when you go shopping online via certain shopping portals known as cash back sites. In fact, once you know about this you'll wish you had known about it sooner. There is a delay - you will have to wait for that cash back on your online purchases, so when it is deposited in your PayPal account or you receive the check in the mail, you may almost feel like it is free money out of the blue. But if you shop regularly, the money keeps appearing regularly. Besides - this is some of your money that you spent 6 to 8 weeks ago on something you wanted or needed anyway. It's like - well, getting your cash back!
There are websites out there with "cash back programs" (and they are beginning to increase). These sites act as shopping portals with links to thousands of online shops and stores. If you sign up as a member, usually free - you simply go to this portal first, click on the link to the store where you would like to shop, and go ahead and make your purchase.
Because that link is specially coded, the 'get cash back' program will get a rebate for your shopping, and they will return that to you. (Mind you, they take a small percentage for their efforts on our behalf).
Because your money has to pass through a number of hands, from your credit/debit card to the merchant, then when the merchant has done all their bookkeeping, they send it to the 'get cash back' program, and when that program has done their bookkeeping, and when most periods for returns and refunds are past, the program finally gives you your rebate back. It maybe be six to eight weeks later, but you get it.
Naturally, you are welcome to go directly to the shopping site where you want to buy something. Then you pay the price, but do NOT get cash back. If your mind works like mine, you'll say to yourself, "...so what's so hard then, about joining such a cash back program, and hopping over there, to click on my destination's link before I go to buy? Especially if eventually I get anywhere from 2% to maybe 8% or even 10 and 15% cash back?"
Exactly! What's to lose? I'm all in favour of this get cash back idea! Want to find out more?
If we're the kind who will drive across our city to take advantage of a better deal or price, then surely an extra couple of clicks before you buy online is not such a hardship. If you set up your bookmarks right and get a little habitual pattern going it need only take a minute or less of time. No fuel or bus/subway tickets. No standing in line - and - you get cash back - eventually!
So far I've only tried two of them. I think I'm more partial to MainStreetSHARES.com. (Which started out as BigCrumbs.com). I use it most. I have tried out Ebates.com. However, you are really not stuck choosing just one or the other. You can choose both, and even some of the others as you discover them. It's only a question of how many do you want to get involved in. Some have a community that meets in the forums, where you can ask questions and/or give advice to others. The one at BigCrumbs looks very active and appealing, but I've stayed out of those to date, because I don't have time to add more social life to my already full life. Of course, that's optional.
For best advantage then, when I want to order my health supplements, I go to see which one offers the best rebate on my purchases at Puritian's Pride which is my favourite store for such things. I discover that Ebates gave a 5% rebate on my purchases there, but BigCrumbs gave me an 8% rebate. Now my next decision is obvious; I clicked on the store link in BigCrumb once I'm logged in to my account, and whoosh! - I land on the Puritan's Pride site and find my items, and check out in the shopping cart. Within two weeks to four weeks BigCrumbs sent me an email to say they've deposited my rebate into my PayPal account.
I break into a big grin. Oh. Right! That's some of my money coming back to me!
But there's more. These 'get cash back' sites want to attract more members, so they offer various extras to win your loyalty and help.
I want to show you the features of these sites. However, I'm finding there is so much, that I'll just cover those that are generally the same for all get cash back sites, and then take you to separate pages for those I think are safe to recommend.
As with anything else, there is a chance of getting yourself tangled up in knots if you let it get too complicated. I suggest you get into it slowly and just one such cash-back/rebate membership at one time until it becomes routine and you think you can handle more. You don't have to do or try everything that is put in your face! Keep your balance - and you'll get cash back eventually. :)
I'll review the features of those I have some experience with, but don't take this as exhaustive. Learn to research for yourself too, and make discerning decisions.
I've found one site that compares the % of rebates for a large variety of stores as offered through just Ebates, Mr. Rebate, BigCrumbs, and Coupon Cactus. Keeping that updated must be a chore, so I don't know how current that information is, but it can help you see some comparison.
now, MainStreetSHARES - It's unique features.
Ebates - It's unique features
GreatCanadianRebates.ca - It's unique features
Oh yes, Lyoness! too. Sign up for my email series to explain this exptra special one.
MoneySavingExpert.com/Shopping/cashback-websites show similar Cash Back sites in the United Kingdom
You may wonder why I don't mention Groupon. Well, for two main reasons; I didn't care for their high pressure tactics when I checked them out, and I've learned that they have no ethical problem with supporting companies that provide porn, as I saw in this article. Then I would rather not deal with them.
Oh, you are thinking like a shrewd, frugal shopper too, eh?
If you are only concerned about getting rebates for your own shopping, you could build an informative website about the products that you like to shop for online. Then you could go to the affiliate program sites, and sign up as an affiliate for each of the stores you like to shop at. In some cases you will be allowed to shop from your own sites and get the rebate. In some cases not.
Such a site would also allow visitors to your site to shop, and you could gain the rebate on their purchases. (You are not obligated to pass them on). If you are not up to the challenge of building a web business like that, then joining these other cash back or rebate sites is a reasonable option.
To tell the truth, I'm doing a variation of that web business model (no, I'm not signing up with 1000 stores!). Using the SBI suite of services makes it a very viable business indeed!
You need to be cautious and careful as with anything else that promises you lots of money. Remember, there's lots of greed out there, and almost anything can turn into something that hurts your wallet.
First, don't think of these rebates or cash-back as a given. Think of them as pleasant surprises when they do come through. Otherwise you can make your life very complicated, and you'll be under a lot of stress. But do take your money as soon as it is available to you. (You never know when this cash back/rebate site could go under or just change their mind and their rules, etc.)
Remember to keep your head and learn to research your shopping carefully before you buy. Even if you see something you want and think that to get cash back is a great bargain, if you research that product some more, you may find that another store has a far better sale with a greater discount - and hey, it might be accessible in your cash-back site too! You just had never heard of it before.
Which brings up another thing: when you research and visit a lot of sites, they will plant a tiny itty-bitty code (cookie) on your computer so that when you come back their computer system will recognize your computer, and treat you like "their" customer. So it can happen that when you go shopping through a cash back site, your computer already has the the cookie of a different site, and that site will get the credit for your purchase, rather than "your" cash back account, so the rebate never gets to you - someone else licks that treat up.
What to do?
Clear your cookies in your browser just before you go shopping in earnest. I know, that means a lot of sites that load fast in your browser right now are going to be slower for a while, and you may lose cookies that are to your advantage. It's a risk to weigh. What you could do is make a list of sites whose cookies you definitely WANT to keep, and whenever you have flushed your cookies, go back to vist them as quickly as possible, so that you are re-cookie-ed from those special sites.
By the way, you can help this site out with your own experiences and advice about using cash back or rebate sites....
Do you have an experience with cash back or rebate portal sites? Share it! Tell us where you signed up and how it works out for you. Good or bad experiences.