For a long time, I had seen friends of mine posting on Facebook about money they had made through Ebates, and I signed up a while ago, but it was just recently that I actually started using it regularly. And now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long!
Note: I originally wrote about Ebates as part of an earlier post, 4 Ways to Save Money When Shopping Online, but after using it more, I decided it was a topic worthy of its own post.
Ebates is a program that gives you cash back when you shop at online stores using their links to get there. And we’re not talking about rinkydink stores you’ve never heard of; you can get cash back from a lot of places where you’re probably already shopping including Macy’s, Target, Toys R Us, The Body Shop, Crate & Barrel, Lowe’s, and hundreds more.
The cashback amount varies by merchant and may be restricted to specific products or categories. There are frequently double cash back offers, which you can learn about with email alerts, and you can still take advantage of any sales and promo codes that the merchants are offering. In fact, the Ebates site actually lists special offers for each merchant itself, making it kind of a one-stop shop to get the best deal you can.
For example, I recently booked a hotel stay in New York City. I went to Ebates and looked through their various travel merchants and found an agency called OneTravel whose regular offer is $7.50 cash back for hotel bookings. On this day, they were also offering a promo code for 10% off. So I went to their site and found a hotel that was offering its own $149/night deal, which is amazing enough for NYC, but when I include the savings from the promo code and the cash back, I really got the room for just $126.50. Woo-hoo!
Tip: If you’re thinking of getting a new cellphone, I highly recommend you visit Ebates first; you can get up to $150 cash back at major carriers for some plans.
After you sign up for Ebates, you should install the Ebates button (must be a member to see this page) in your Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browser. This way, if you go to an Ebates merchant without going to Ebates first, it will alert you to activate the cash back feature. For example, when I go to target.com, I see this:
All I need to do is click the Activate Cash Back button and I’ll get my credit for any qualifying purchases.
Important: You should activate Ebates as soon as you go to the site because after you click the button, it takes you back to the site’s home page, not the page you were on when you clicked it. Also, I learned the hard way that some merchants have a rule that anything that’s already in your shopping cart before you activate Ebates won’t count towards your cash back. It wasn’t a lot of money, but still…
Even more helpful, when I do a Google search, the results page will show me which links offer cash back opportunities. (Works for Bing and Yahoo search as well.) Here is a partial list of results for a search on “cordless drills”:
The other nice thing about Ebates is they don’t make you wait to reach a certain threshold before you get your money. You get paid every month, no matter how small your balance is. You can get paid by check or directly to your PayPal account.
Once you’ve signed up for the program, it really doesn’t involve any more effort to get your cash back. So if you do any shopping online, I definitely recommend you check it out.
Tech for Luddites participates in the Ebates Tell-a-Friend program, which means if you sign up after clicking one of the links in this post and then make $25 in qualifying purchases, I’ll get a small referral commission.