If you shop online, chances are that you’re leaving money on the table. Cash-back websites allow you to earn money back on your online purchases without much extra effort. If you’re not using one, though, you’re missing out on extra cash.
I ignored cash-back websites for years, mostly because I never took the time to figure out how they work. And as with clipping coupons, I figured I’d rather spend my time making dollars than saving pennies. Fortunately, there’s a way to earn cash back online without jumping through hoops.
The lazy way to earn cash back online
There are countless standalone cash-back and credit card portals, but you could spend hours searching all the options to find out which offers the best cash-back rate for specific retailers.
Also, the process can be hard to remember. First, you visit the cash-back portal website and search for the retailer you want. Then you click through to the retailer’s website and the cash-back website tracks your purchase. Once you complete the transaction, the retailer notifies the cash-back website and you receive your reward. So unless you’re rabid about earning cash back, you may not remember every time you shop.
Then, when you visit an online retailer that partners with Ebates, you’ll see a pop-up that tells you how much cash back you can earn and asks if you want to activate it. You don’t have to go through the Ebates website at all.
What’s more, the Ebates extension highlights cash-back rates in your Google searches. For example, this is what you’ll see when you search “clearance sales”:
Using just the Ebates Cash Back Button extension, I’ve earned $90.81 since I joined Ebates in February 2017. It’s not life-changing, but hey, I didn’t do anything extra to get it so it really is free money.
Other ways to earn cash back online
The Ebates Cash Back Button is a great way to earn cash back online without changing your habits, but there’s no guarantee that Ebates offers the best cash-back rate every time.
Earlier, I wrote that you could spend hours searching online cash-back websites to find out which has the best cash-back rate for a specific retailer. OK, I lied. Milk before meat, right?
With Cashback Monitor, you can search for a retailer and see current cash-back rates from every online cash-back website. For example, if you search Walmart, here are the results:
The main drawback of using Cashback Monitor to get the best cash-back rates every time is that you need to sign up for and keep track of multiple cash-back websites. My life is complicated enough, so I use only two websites: Ebates and Topcashback.
Also, cash-back websites usually don’t let you cash out until you’ve met a minimum balance. So if you sign up for one website and it rarely offers the best cash-back rate, it can be a long time before you can cash out.
If you don’t mind the complexity, though, Cashback Monitor is a great way to get the latest promotions from the best cash-back websites.
Don’t leave money on the table
If you already shop online, there’s no reason not to sign up for at least one cash-back website. And with the Ebates browser extension, you don’t even need to remember to go through the cash-back site to get your rewards.
Don’t let cash back be your reason for shopping, though. Be disciplined in your online shopping and don’t get sucked into deals on things you don’t need. No amount of cash back is worth spending money just for the sake of spending money.