What is Ebates? Shortcuts? ShopatHome? Linda asked for an explanation of cash back shopping sites after reading my post on how to order the right size when shopping online. Here is everything you need to know – and watch out for – to get cash back online.
Q. Are cash back sites for real? Because they sound like a scam.
The ones I use – Ebates, Shortcuts, and ShopAtHome – are real. There may be fake cash back sites out there, but I haven’t run into any. Extrabucks and Cashbaq are two more legit cash back sites. I know these sites are real because I have used them and earned cash back from most of them.
Q. How much cash back to I get?
The percentage cash back you get is based on how much you spend. For some stores, it may be as low as 1%. For other stores, it may be as high as 20%. I once got 50% cash back on a magazine subscription during a special promotion when the percentage was doubled. Score!
Q. How do you use these sites?
Cash back sites are free to register on. If it costs money to register, do not join under any circumstances as that is a major red flag. Instead, register at one of the legitimate cash back sites I mentioned above, then log in. Type in the name of the store you want to shop at online, like Kohl’s, and see what cash back discount they are offering. If it seems low, you may want to check the cash back rebate on another site. When you are happy with the cash back rebate, click on the retailer and the cash back site will open a new window at the retailer’s website. Shop as you normally would.
Q. How does the cash back site know how much I’m spending?
Each cash back site creates a tracking ticket when you click through to a retailer’s website from the cash back site. (Log into Ebates –> click on Kohl’s –> Ebates takes you to Kohl’s website –> Ebates creates a tracking ticket for that click through). If you end up buying something, the site sends the total back to Ebates, which then credits you with the appropriate cash back rebate. You get your money in about 90 days.
Q. If cash back sites are free, how can they afford to give me money for shopping?
Cash back sites are essentially giving you part of a finder’s fee that retailers, believe it or not, pay them to bring in customers.
Q. Should I be worried about privacy?
Legitimate cash back sites use secure connections (look for https – the s stands for secure) so your information is safe. By the same token, legitimate retailers also use secure connections to process your credit card info.
Q. What’s the catch?
The catch is that it takes about 90 days to get your cash in hand. But when that check arrives in the mail, wooo does it feel good.
Q. How often should I use cash back sites?
I use them every time I buy anything online. Some of these sites even have discounts for airlines, vacation packages, flower delivery, and magazines. There is a cash back discount for pretty much every retailer that has an online presence! Amazon is one major exception.
Q. If I sign up, will I get spam?
I have no reason to believe any of the cash back sites I joined misused my email. I actually enjoy getting the Ebates Daily Double email, which tells me which retailer has doubled its cash back offer for that day only.
Q. So I get a few bucks back. What’s the big deal?
The big deal is that you can combine cash back rebates with retailer coupons (kind of like stacking manufacturer coupons with grocery store coupons for food stuffs that are already on sale). For example, say a pair of $100 shoes at Retailer X is 20% off and you have a free shipping coupon. You check the cash back rebate sites and find a 15% back offer for Retailer X. That means what would have cost you $100 plus tax and shipping, now costs you $68 plus tax. That’s a hot deal that will dramatically lower your credit card bill!
Q. Do you have an example of a real cash back deal you got?
Yes. I recently saved 41% on a over-the-shoulder purse, thanks in part to a hot cash back deal.
Do you still have reservations about using a cash back site? What else do you want to know about cash back sites? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your question.