Back in 2006, my friend Michelle walked into my office and asked if I’d heard about this site called Ebates. I had not. She explained the concept to me, and it was at once so simple and so wonderful that I thought for sure it must be a scam: before you go to whatever website you’re most likely already going to shop, you go through Ebates first. They will take you to that website, maybe even provide you with some coupon codes first, and you will earn an assigned percentage cash back from Ebates. So basically you’re getting paid to do shopping you were already going to do. I thought she was making it up. But she didn’t.
I signed up for Ebates completely doubtful of how well it would work, even though my friend had already earned $50 from her weekly Sephora purchases alone. I was afraid I would find myself the subject of many spam emails after Ebates sold my email address, so I signed up with a dedicated email address. After two years of receiving nothing except Ebates emails through that address, I was finally satisfied that my name had not been and never would be sold (as is Ebates’ online policy).
In the six years I have been an Ebates member, I’ve earned $648.93, which has been sent to me every quarter. I did the check option the first two quarters, but later opted for the instant gratification of being paid via PayPal. I could probably earn more, but 70% of my online shopping is through Amazon.com, which is not an Ebates member. I’m guessing it does not need to be.
So what kind of stores can you find on Ebates? Pretty much everything imaginable (except, of course, Amazon). In this year alone, I have earned cashback from iTunes [kicking myself for just discovering iTunes on the Ebates store list this month], Old Navy, Zulily, eBags, Kodak Gallery, Snapfish, Priceline, Walmart, Personal Creations, Expressionery, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Diapers.com, Shari’s Berries, StrideRite, Bed Bath and Beyond, Naartjie Kids [a new edition, and not a moment too soon!!], Teavana, Sephora, HP Home [5% back on a new home computer—do that math!], Danskin, JC Penney, ProFlowers, and Victoria’s Secret. I’ve even earned cash back throughout the years for electronics and other items I have purchased online but pick up in the store later that day.
Whenever I have to purchase anything, I look on Ebates for coupon codes and stores that carry what I want or the particular stores I have in mind. For example, when I have to buy new contacts, the first thing I do is check Ebates and comparison shop the different contacts suppliers by both price and cash back. I have now installed the Ebates toolbar on every computer available so that I don’t forget to login before making a purchase. Unfortunately for my purchase made via iPad/iPhone, not every store is Ebates-enabled for Safari (sorry, Mac users).
I have referred many friends over the years and have noticed that the best time to sign up for Ebates is when you are pregnant. Cribs, strollers, baby gear… it all adds up quickly. I had one friend sign up the same day she was purchasing all of her twins-to-be’s gear, and in one day, she had earned half as much as I had on three years on Ebates [that’s what I get for having my registry on Amazon instead of getting 4% cash back through Target].
So how much can you expect to earn on Ebates? Well, that depends on you. Every store carries a different percentage cash back. Magazines.com (a site I have personally never used), one of the highest percentages, is 26% cash back. Walmart.com, one of the lowest percentages, is only 1% back. Some travel sites, like Jet Blue, offer dollar amounts instead of percentages (Jet Blue is $1.50). And then there are things like the Verizon Wireless store on Ebates where you can earn up to $95.00 [I’m thinking Pop Culture Dad would have wanted to know this before he bought me an iPad from Verizon for my birthday. Yes, he uses Ebates, too.]. So where you shop and how much you shop makes a difference. You also get bonuses for referring a friend. And the best part? They get a bonus too ($5 for each of you).
When you think about it, though, does it really matter how much you get back? These a things you are already purchasing. Even the measly one percent from Walmart.com is one percent more than the zero percent you are getting right now.
I realize this reads like an ad for Ebates. It’s not. No one at Ebates has contacted me. I’m not getting paid (unless, of course, someone signs up for Ebates through my link, then we both are). I was just chastising a friend this afternoon for making a huge purchase and forgetting to go through Ebates first and thought, “Hey! This would make an excellent subject for this week’s ‘I’m loving…’,”.
So, go ahead and sign up. If you’re feeling nice or charitable, use my link above, or this one, so we both earn $5. Use a dedicated email address if you’re not feeling particularly trustworthy. And go get yourself some cash back in purchases you were already planning to make. You won’t be sorry.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad, so please forgive any ducking typos