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Ebates Review

This article was written by in Reviews, Shopping. 24 comments.


There is more to maximizing cash back than just using the right rewards credit cards. Many card issuers also offer marketplaces or online shopping portals where, if you use your appropriately branded credit card, you can earn 1% to 7% cash back or more. That’s in addition to the 1% to 5% cash back credit card rewards.

When you shop through your card issuer’s portal, the company places tracking information on your computer. This tracking information allows the retailer communicate back to the issuer the cost of your purchase and how much cash back you should receive. The tracking information and the online store work together to make sure you receive the cash back as described in the portal.

The system isn’t always wonderful, though. The shopping portals rarely have the specific store you’d like to shop, and it can be a pain to log into your credit card website every time you want to purchase an item online. I prefer the convenience of a shopping portal that works with every credit card, like Ebates.com, rather than a branded issuer-based portal.

I’ve been using Ebates occasionally for the past several years. By creating an account, you earn cash back at more than 1,200 stores. Membership is completely free; in fact, you can earn money by being a member by referring your friends.

The concept of spending money to save money is interesting. It only works when you’re spending only the money you would spend anyway, without the cash back incentive. If a cash back rebate is the impetus that helps you decide to purchase a product, the purchase may not be the best idea in the first place. Furthermore, you have to carefully consider the total cost of your purchase. Many times, you can find a better price for a certain product on a website that’s not included in the portal’s list. For example, if your favorite book is $10 on Amazon.com and $15 on Barnes and Noble’s website, the 4% cash back you receive for Barnes and Noble doesn’t make up for the difference. The book is still $14.40 at Barnes and Noble.

When you do find a good deal on the stores supported by Ebates, receiving your cash back is easy. I created a PayPal account and linked it to my bank account, and use this account primarily for payments from Ebates. You could also configure your Ebates account to distribute your cash back to you in the form of paper checks, if you desire. Furthermore, if you prefer to designate your cash back to a charitable organization, you can provide information for the non-profit to receive your payments.

Ebates is another option available for those who want to make the most of their everyday purchases. Sign up today for free to use Ebates to maximize your cash back. Used in conjunction with a cash-back rewards card, the rebates are unbeatable.

Published or updated May 3, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I think you have to be watchful that you don’t start buying just for the credits—–same as with rewards credit cards and such. All of these programs can backfire if you spend money you wouldn’t have ordinarily spent. Used properly, they work well, I guess—although I made an ebay purchase eligible for ebates and never got the credit.

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avatar Greg

The “cash back” program sounds similar to FatWallet, which I’ve been using lightly for a few years. FatWallet also has great deal-sharing forums.

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avatar lewischolar

Good point, Greg. I also shop there and make a point of checking it out about 2x/day as their deals update constantly. Also, TechBargains has many tech deals it aggregates daily.

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avatar E

FatWallet was bought by ebates.com, fyi

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

I have a few friends who use Ebates; they have developed a habit of going through them whenever they are doing online shopping. I haven’t developed that habit yet, I suppose, even for the 1% cash back. I also know people, who, like you mentioned above, are motivated by the cash back rather than getting true savings on whatever product they’re purchasing.

I’m a huge fan of free points websites, where you get points for clicking on ads, or entering codes, and cashing those points in for stuff. Maybe it’s the tightwad in me, or maybe it’s the thrill of the hunt, but it’s more satisfying to me to get truly free stuff than spending money to save money.

Good post!

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avatar Virginia C. McGuire

I like evreward.com for finding out which rebate site has the online retailer I’m looking for. Overall, MrRebates has better rewards on the stuff I buy than either Ebates or FatWallet.

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avatar mmproductions

Thankyou for info.Do you know if they credited points recieved prior to sale?MPro1

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avatar lewischolar

Another great site, which often provides higher rebates, is BigCrumbs. I find they provide 2-3% higher rebates than eBates and they also have a referral program. I have used them for about 4 years without any trouble. They do have a rebate for eBay, though it can be somewhat convoluted how they do the math on that one. Check them out at http://www.BigCrmbs.com

Aside from that, I certainly agree that shopping around is smart money. Your Amazon/BN example illustrates that well.

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avatar lewischolar
avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

This depends on the places you shop. i compare ebates, mypoints, swagbucks, shop at home, big crumbs, shop discover, and upromise. i almost always do the best with ebates or shop discover. or i just use my amazon card and shop through amazon.

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avatar Aryn

My strategy is usually to shop around, find what I want, then see if the store with the best deal has a rebate or coupon codes available through ebates or ShopatHome.

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avatar jim

I use Ebates and I like it. I’ve used Ebates for about 3 years now. I’ve gotten over $130 cash back so far. For me its just a matter of remembering to go to onlines stores via Ebates when I’m ready to make a purchase. Works best for me when I’m doing travel purchases since all my hotel and airfare is done online and Ebates usually has cashback for those merchants.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

that is a good use jim, i have found it is hard for me to get any significant amount of cash as i do not make enough/big enough purchases. i had just totally let travel plans slip my mind. thank you!

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

i have used and do use ebates, but to be honest, it is barely worth it for me. don’t get me wrong, i apprecaite every dollar, but i do not shop enough at the provided stores to really make it worthwhile. i also have and do use fatwallet, as another member stated, but it is the same stoy for me as ebates.

the one site that was certainly worth it for me was, the holy grail of shopping sites, bless its heart, microsoft cash back. i was sad to see that site go. when they first came on the scene, i made a killing. from buying silver from ebay (which paid off over time), to everyday things, to the TV i was going to purchase (got 350 back)….etc…that was the site. of course, it came and went.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I have used Ebates and did not think it was worth the time. I found myself using their customers and not shopping around. I missed out on the chance to save bigger by shopping. Also, I do not like to subject my friends, many who are not interested in my hobby or even saving money, to my views by asking them to join Ebates.

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avatar tigernicole86 ♦55 (Newbie)

I like to try to combine things. For instance, if I can get a gift card which will provide me gas savings and I need to make a purchase to get something(like the mass amount of wedding gifts). And then my bank card also gets me a bit of cash back so i like to do that as well. :)

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

I love that ebates usually beats all the other shopping portals in the amount they give back. at least at the stores i shop with.

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avatar Diane

Scam.

They bait you in with rewards (mine was $10 Target card)…and then send you scripted emails when you have questions, don’t post your pending rebates, basically ignore you. At least that’s been my experience. I don’t think I’m doing anything differently than anyone else using it.

Made 3 purchases on Black Friday and one on the Sunday of same weekend. Pending rebates still say $0, I don’t receive anything except a canned response when I email with questions. My “account” still looks like it hasn’t been used, even though I have all the tracking tickets needed to prove my purchases.

If you ask me, this thing is only good for housewives who have nothing better to do than to write emails and track their rebate amounts all day to make sure they all show up. Me? I am a very busy person who THOUGHT I could save a few bucks on some purchases. Not worth my time or effort anymore. I guess I won’t even see my $10 Target bait card either….

Thanks for nothing, Ebates. TRY AT YOUR OWN RISK!!

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avatar anne carcel

ebates scams people. i have been using it for years now. i noticed they dont credit me for all my purchases but never bothered complaining as it wasnt worth it time-wise . but this time they have a member get member referral program so i referred my colleagues and made my purchases and when i reached a certain amount ($300+)they just deactivated my account automatically and told me to call them as they wont entertain any questions thru email and told me to call Caleb and gave me his number and office hours. called Caleb more than 10 times during his office hours on different days and times and Caleb never picks up the phone! left several messages on their answering machine– never received a reply to those either! Ebates is a b*lls**t company and I have filed a complaint against them on the better business bureau site. I should have used F**W*****t or some other site instead!!!!

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avatar andrea1983 ♦226 (Cent)

I’ve been using Ebates occasionally for several years. I have earned lots of cash back .It’s really great.I know every member can earn money by referring friends.but it is so difficult.

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avatar Kacie

Since 2007, I have earned $1,263 back from Ebates. Yeah. One year, I received a 1099-MISC form from them. I got going on it early, and ended up with lots of referrals from my blog, but I still have earned several hundred from my own purchases.

I don’t purchase more by using Ebates; these purchases are seriously things I was already doing. My biggest rack-ups are when I buy a year’s worth of contact lenses or book a hotel or other high-dollar purchases. I pay with my 1% cash-back credit card to sweeten the deal.

Over the years, there have been a few times when a cash-back deal hasn’t credited. I’ve always been able to have customer service resolve it by forwarding a copy of my order confirmation.

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avatar Kelly

I agree! I’ve been using Ebates since 2004. It doesn’t make me shop only at their stores – it gives me lots of options and I do still shop elsewhere. I’ve earned over $1653.29 since 2004, which for doing nothing other than what I’d normally be doing, is fine with me. I have their toolbar installed so if I happen to just go to a website that is a deal with Ebates, it pops up. I use this more than actually going to their website.

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avatar ob

I have been using ebates.com for just over a year and i have already racked up over $100.00 in cash back money. Just last night i made a request for 2 purchases from macys and within minutes the cash back was credited to my accout…just by giving my order number the total of the purchse and the tracking ticket.

Also now to make it easier to remember ebates can simply be added to your browser. Now i just have to go to any site which participates with ebates and it tracks my purchases automatically.

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avatar Boater

I have been using Ebates for several years now. I’m not religious about it because the returns are usually pretty small. I just used them to find some special needs shoes for my mother and selected Ebates and ShoeBuy because they were expensive and there was a special discount coupon through ebates plus double cash back for Black Friday – making the shoes more reasonable. Equally important was the fact that I knew there was a good chance they’d need to be exchanged given the circumstances and ShoeBuy advertised Free Exchanges.

When I took advantage of the exchange to order a different size I lost the rebate!! After a couple of emails I was pointed to the bottom of the help page that had the question:

“What if I want to return or cancel an order?”

At the end of this they tell you that exchanging will also negate your rebate. Why not put that right up front? If I’d known ahead of time I would have ordered multiple sizes and returned what didn’t fit. They say, “cancel and re-order” through them but the special has expired. Seems like bait and switch to me.

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