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Cash back programs are one of my favorite ways to save money when shopping online. Today I want to share my tips for making sure you are getting the best cash back rate possible
1. Join All The Cash Back companies you can
The more cash back companies you are enrolled in the more opportunity you have to shop around and compare before you click through and buy your item.
Here is a list of those I know about
- Mr Rebate: Minimum balance for cash out is $10 by either check or Paypal.
- TopCashBack : No minimum balance required to do a cash out, and if you pick the option to receive your payment in the form of an Amazon gift card code you get an extra 2.5 percent back . TopCashBack also pays out by Paypal, or direct deposit.
- Ebates : Minimum balance for cash out is $5.01 and cash outs are sent 4 time a year by check or Paypal.
2. Consider Shop & Earn Programs as well
Various point earning programs included points for dollars spent on purchases made through links on their websites.
Here are 3 such point earning programs that I know offer points for shopping online
- My Points : Payouts are in gift cards which start at 1600 points for a $10 gift card to various stores and restaurants.
- Swagbucks :Payouts are in gift cards which start at 450 points for an Amazon gift card or 500 points of various stores and restaurants.
- Inbox Dollars : Payouts are in the form of a check or a Inbox dollars Visa cash card and you must reach $30 to receive a payout.
3. Compare rates before making a purchase each and every time
Cash back rates fluctuate from program to program and even within the program itself, since sites such as Ebates often run specials where you can receive larger than normal cash backs.
Here is an example of what I mean on the day I wrote this, here is what the various cash back sites and shop and earn sections of point programs were offering if I was to make a purchase at Walmart.com through their links
- Swagbucks was offering 2 Swag Bucks per dollar spent (works out to 2% cash back) (math explained below)
- Ebates was offering a 1% cash back
- Mr Rebate was offering a 2% cash back
- Top Cashback was offering a 4% cash back (but only 1% on video games, movies, books and photos), plus remember if you are willing to take an Amazon gift card code as payment you would get and extra 2.5% back making your total 6.5%
- My Points was offering 5.4% (8 points per dollar)
- Inbox dollars was offering a 2% cash back
I had to do a bit of math to convert Swag Bucks to percentage (My Points provides it in both points and percentage). Basically 500 Swag Bucks equals a $5 gift card (yes I know Amazon cards are 450 but they are an exception), that means one Swag Buck is worth a penny. If you purchased $100 at Walmart you would get 200 Swag Bucks back which is the equivalent of $2, or a cash back rate is 2% .
If you are willing to take a Amazon gift card code as payment and you are not buying video games, movies books and photos then your best deal would be Top Cashback with a total of 6.5 % cash back when you add in Amazon bonus. Your second highest cash back option the day, that could work out to be the highest if you either were ordering the reduced rate cash back items or wanted payment in Paypal or direct deposit instead of an Amazon gift card code would be My Points.
Please note though that these figures change often day by day as the different companies run promotions with special rates at certain stores. So don’t just check once and decide that a certain company always has the best rates for a certain store, instead check before each purchase.
Using these figures, if I had gone through Ebates and spent $100 at Walmart I would have earned just $1 back but since I spent one to two minutes checking all 6 programs I would have earned $6.50 back from Top Cashback , that is a $5.40 difference on just one online order. I know our family makes at least a few online orders a month of varying cost from various stores. By spending those extra moments before each order to check out the best cash back rates I estimate we are saving $100 to $200 over the course of a year.
4. Check All Stores On All Sites
I think most people know to shop through a cash back site or a shop and earn link found in point sites when they are shopping at well known stores like Walmart or Old Navy but it doesn’t hurt to try for a cash back on lesser known sites too. For instance I shop at Lucky Vitamin and was happy to see when I punched it in at Top Cashback that a 2% cash back came up. Top Cashback is the only site I have found so far to offer cash back for Lucky Vitamin.
Another cash back deal I use over and over is ThredUP found at Swagbucks as a shop and earn option now and again. Nothing like getting great deals on NWT clothes and earning Swag Bucks at the same time.
5. Don’t Forget Your Daily Deal Shopping
If you are like me you have daily deal programs like , Groupon and my favorite for clothes for the family Zulily send you an email with the latest deals, however to maximize your savings, don’t shop through the links in the emails. Instead take an extra few extra minutes to search the cash back sites and shop & earn programs and check and see who is offering the best return for money spent on daily deals. This is a great way to double dip on savings.
Apply these rules above and you should see great savings with cash back programs.
For a list of 52 different websites, apps, and stores our thrifty family uses to help us keep our expenses low, click here to visit our Thrifty Tools Resource Page.