Last February, I wrote a piece on maximizing your points and miles by utilizing online shopping portals for the money you are likely already spending. This is one of my favorite and most underrated methods of earning travel rewards miles and points and should be a part of every thrifty traveler's points accrual strategy (especially during the holiday season).
I am often surprised at how little knowledge the average person has of these portals and ultimately how many points and miles get left on the table. When I need to make a purchase online, I am typically scouring sites such like cashbackmonitor.com to find the best option for where to make my purchase and which points and miles portal I should use.
Often times, the retailer that I need to make the purchase from does not offer a bonus through a portal. In these situations, Ebates.com, one of my favorite online cash back portals, helps bridge that gap and provides a great incentive for using their service.
How Does Ebates Work?
Ebates is an online shopping portal that provides cash back to consumers for shopping at over 1,800 of the world's largest online stores. These include but are not limited to stores like Amazon, eBay Target, Best Buy & Home Depot. The best part? The service is completely free to consumers!
All you need to do is pass through their portal before making your purchase and you will earn the pre determined cash back amount on your purchase. The easiest way to save is by installing their browser extension (see Thrifty Tip below).
Not only are you earning cash back, Ebates gives you access to store discounts, special promotional codes and shopping coupons! On a quarterly basis, they will send you cash via a paper check or a deposit into your PayPal account for the cash back you earned for the period.
Thrifty Tip #1: Download and install the Ebates cash back button here. This will provide a notification on your web browser when shopping on a site that has a cash back incentive with Ebates. This is available for both Chrome and Safari, and makes it hard to miss a cash back opportunity.
Do I use Ebates or Points & Miles Portals?
This is a question I ask myself for nearly every shopping portal eligible purchase I make. As mentioned above, before I make my purchase online, I usually visit cashbackmonitor.com or evreward.com to help me identify the retailer offering the best value for the item I am going to purchase. Many times this decision is easy as the retailer is only available through Ebates and not the points and miles portals or vice versa.
Other times, I have a choice to make between cash back (Ebates) and the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for example. Because I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at around 2 cents each, there is usually some math involved with my decision if both options are available. Take for example backcountry.com. Last week I purchased a gift from the site that cost around $100.
Using Ebates, I would have earned $4 back for my purchase (4% of $100). Because Chase was offering 6X points at Backcountry through their shopping portal, this was essentially $12 in value to me ($100 x 6 points per dollar. 600 points x 2 cents per point). I elected to use the Chase portal instead of Ebates, however, there really isn't a wrong answer in situations like these. It will depend heavily on your individual situation and what you place more value on at the time of the transaction.
Sign Up for Ebates
Signing Up for Ebates is completely free. Once you sign up and spend at least $25 at any retailer through the program, you'll get $10 additional dollars deposited in your Ebates account. Full disclosure: We will also receive $25 when you use our link.
After your account is activated, click on the ‘Refer a Friend' button on the Ebates homepage and send your unique referral code to family members and/or friends. Once everybody that you have referred has made their $25 qualifying purchase, all of the bonuses will be activated and you will receive $25 for up to 3 friends referred (total of $75)!
Ebates is a fantastic service that is completely free. It provides an effortless way to earn cashback on purchases you are already making.
Recently they even rolled out functionality to earn in-store cash back at select retailers! Make sure to take advantage of the referral bonus which offers a great incentive to get started with Ebates. Don't leave cash on the table!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.