Cashback Websites Put More Money in Your Pocket

The Internet is perfect for comparison shopping – get the best price, get exactly what you want - and with a little planning, get cash back too! Here’s how!


Online shopping has surged in popularity over the last decade, with many shoppers now doing more of their buying online than they do in stores.[1]

Improvements in shipping times, numerous secure payment options, and the convenience of being able to shop in your pajamas has made buying via the internet a viable replacement for in-person shopping, even for groceries in many cases. There's one more awesome reason to consider buying online: cashback websites. You heard that right. There are online businesses that give you money and gift cards simply for coursing online shopping through them.

How does it Work?

Cashback websites require you to create an account with them before shopping. In most cases, all you need is a valid e-mail address. The good news is that signing up and using all of the options listed here are free. You'll just create that account, sign in, and connect to your favorite stores through their site. You'll receive rewards for your purchases.

How to Choose a Cashback Site

Many options offer comparable benefits, but there are differences if you look carefully. The way that your rewards accumulate and are paid out varies a great deal. You'll want one that pays you in cold hard cash: a gift card will expire eventually, but money won't. You'll want to check a site's list of affiliate stores before signing up: it won't do you any good to sign up with a venue that doesn't guarantee money back at any of the stores you frequently use.

Other factors affect your choice of site. We'll go over the features, both good and bad, of four of the major players in this business niche so that you can adequately assess which one meets your needs the best.

BeFrugal.com

The coolest part about BeFrugal is their rate-matching policy. If another cashback operator offers a higher percentage, they'll match it and add 25%; it's kind of like big box store price matching, except with a more flexible policy and an excellent bonus. BeFrugal offers rebates of up to 30%, which is pretty high. With over 4,000 participating retailers, the chances of you finding a store where you shop at are right. They also offer coupons and other special offers.

Now, the important part: BeFrugal gives you your choice of payout through PayPal, by check, or in gift cards once you reach $25 in rewards.

Ebates.com

Ebates offers up to 25% rebate rates at over 1,200 internet shopping destinations. Earnings appear in your Ebates account within 48 hours. They offer a $5 bonus just for signing up and $5 for each person you refer who signs up.

Accounts at Ebates pay out quarterly by PayPal or check. You can even give it as a charitable donation to your favorite non-profit company or as a gift to a family member.

CouponCactus.com

Coupon Cactus, as the name suggests, offers lots of special offers along with their rewards. Their return rates range from 1% to 30%, and they give flat rate offers for some purchases. Earnings go into your Coupon Cactus account as soon as the purchase is verified.

You can claim your reward by PayPal or check after earning just $10.

Ibotta

Ibotta offers an unusual range of options for earning rewards. In addition to referral bonuses and cashback offers for shopping online at their featured stores, Ibotta offers its users the opportunity to earn rewards by scanning the barcodes on their receipts with the Ibotta app to take advantage of additional offers. You can even link your existing rewards cards for particular retailers to get extra rewards.

You can transfer your balance after you earn $10 to your PayPal or Venmo account, or to gift cards with no waiting period. As soon as you make $10, you can redeem your Ibotta rewards.

What's In It for Them?

Obviously, these businesses don't do this out of the goodness of their hearts. Operating and maintaining an extensive website can be expensive. They can turn a profit while not selling anything because they get a commission from the stores they partner with for each sale made by their customers. Part of that fee goes back to you, and they retain a portion for themselves.

A Word of Warning

Getting rewards for shopping can be addictive. The rush of earning rebates is surprisingly heady, and many a budget has fallen victim to the thrill of getting money back from purchases. Once you've fallen into the rabbit hole, it's very easy to spend far more than you intended to, buying things you don't need just to earn the cool rewards. Use cashback shopping to buy things you've already planned to buy. Any more than that, and you are likely to spend far more than you earn. You might feel like you are getting great deals, but at the end of the day, you'll realize that you've come off on the losing end.

Charitable Sites

If you're totally not into the whole cashback thing, there are other ways to make your online purchases count for something more. The Amazon Smile program gives you an opportunity to give to your favorite non-profit organization (assuming they have an Amazon Smile account set up) with each Amazon purchase. Just use their unique link to ensure that Amazon's donation on your behalf gets to your chosen charity group.

Cashback shopping offers a simple deal, and it's simply irresistible: you buy the things you need, they give you back a percentage of what you spent. If you select your partner site carefully and take care to be sure that your spending stays under control, you can't lose!