Ebates Review - Should You Use It?
Do you like to shop online? If you’re not taking advantage of Ebates yet, this review will help you consider the pros and cons of shopping through Ebates.
There are a lot of similar sites that give you cash back for your purchases, but Ebates is one of the oldest and most well-known (they've been around since 1998).
What is Ebates?
You already know you can shop for pretty much everything imaginable online.
Ebates isn’t exactly a shopping portal on its own. Rather, they give you cash back if you shop through their affiliate links to various websites, including the big-name retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Lowe’s, and many more.
What is an affiliate? It means Ebates get a commission for referring you to merchants you shop from. Then Ebates split that commission with you, paying you a percentage. It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved; merchants get money from you, Ebates get money from the merchants, and you get money from Ebates.
Ebates is affiliated with over 2,000 online stores (as of May 2017). While you might not shop from all of them, you sure have a wide range of choices.
Best of all, it’s free to use and you don’t have to pay a thing to Ebates. And if you sign up through this link, you'll get a special $10 sign up bonus.
(If you like making free money, Ebates isn't the only site you should use though. If you want some more free cash, click here to check out Swagbucks)
How Ebates Works
All you have to do is sign up for Ebates with an email address. Right off the bat, you’ll be given a choice to pick a gift card that's worth $10. Your gift card will be sent to you once you complete a purchase of $25 or more.
When you sign up for Ebates, consider getting paid in PayPal. In order to do that, the email address you sign up on Ebates should be the same as your PayPal email address.
When you log on to Ebates, you’ll have a variety of places you can shop from online. If you don’t see what you like, click on “All Stores” to see the exhaustive list of all the places you can shop from.
You can click on a link to an online shopping mall directly, or you can install an Ebates Cash Back Button on your browser. The first way requires you to sign in to Ebates each time you shop.
After you complete your shopping, your points will be automatically added to your account, typically within a day.
How You Can Get Paid on Ebates
The payment scheme on Ebates is hassle-free, but do note that you only get a payout 4 times a year. That’s really slow in the age of the internet, when you’re used to getting everything instantly in your PayPal account. Alas, that’s how Ebates operates.
Here’s the payout chart:
You can either get a check mailed to you or get paid through PayPal. The latter is highly recommended since it’s faster and the chance of a lost check in the mail is reduced to nil.
If you’re feeling extra charitable, you can have your payout sent to a charity organization or a family member.
Ebates handles all mailing and transaction fees (in the case of PayPal).
You can also refer someone and earn money. Ebates’ referral scheme is pretty generous. You can get $50 for referring two friends, and $5 for additional friend.
The Pros & Cons of Ebates
Cash Back Rewards
Is there a better reason to shop through Ebates? You get cash back for shopping you would’ve done anyway! The best part is that it doesn’t cost you anything except a little bit of time logging in and filtering where you can earn cash back. If you install Ebates Cash Back Button, the shopping is less intrusive and after a while, you won’t even know you’re shopping through Ebates.
There is no question how much cash back you’re going to get. The list of stores clearly displays the cash back percentage you get, and the amount is reinforced when you click on the link to a shopping portal.
For example, if you click on the link to book a hotel on Hotels.com, this is the page you see:
Good Customer Service
When you go on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, you’ll see some complaints against Ebates. What’s remarkable is how they’re resolved. A vast majority of the complaints are about not getting payouts. It takes time but Ebates does seem to do their best to resolve any issues.
Ebates has been around since 2000. In the age where things disappear fast if they don’t live up to people’s expectations, they wouldn’t have survived for so long if they were out to scam people.
Despite the glowing positives, Ebates is just like any other website and bound to have some negative things.
If the company only pays you four times a year, you would think they should do their best not to miss any payouts. Unfortunately, this does seem to be an issue for some members of Ebates.
As mentioned above, missed payouts make up the bulk of the complaints on the BBB website. You’ll also see a lot of reviews online centered on this issue.
The good thing is that Ebates seems pretty receptive in handling the complaints regarding missed payouts. It’s a hassle nonetheless, especially since you only get paid four times a year.
Just because Ebates is affiliated with a lot of stores doesn’t mean you can shop from every category of those stores.
Take Amazon.com for example. You probably know by now that you can get virtually anything on Amazon. It makes sense to do a bulk of your shopping on that website.
Say you want a new computer. Amazon offers competitive prices on major brands of computers. But if you wanted to shop on Amazon through an Ebates link, you wouldn’t get cash back on your purchase. Why is that? Because you can only get cash back for the following categories:
(Pro Tip: Swagbucks currently pays out 7% on products in Amazon categorized as "Home Services")
You can’t even get cash back on books, which is what Amazon was first known for!
Depending on where you shop online, your shopping categories might be severely limited. Some retailers like Apple aren’t even eligible for cash back.
How to Maximize Your Earnings on Ebates
You shouldn’t spend your money needlessly if you don’t regularly shop online. But if you do, it’s definitely worth taking a few seconds to check on Ebates to see how much cash back you can get.
One way to maximize your earnings on Ebates is by having their Cash Back Visa Credit Card. Needless to say, only apply for this credit card if you know your credit score is good.
On many purchases you back through Ebates, you get additional 3% cash back with the credit card. There are some restrictions, especially on shopping related to hotels and travel, so do read the FAQs carefully.
Usually, this type of “stacking points” only works if you’re disciplined enough to play the game. It makes no sense to apply for this credit card if you:
- Have trouble paying off the balance every month
- Have a low credit score
- Have too many credit cards
It’s a well-known research that having a credit card makes you shop more. So be sensible and only use Ebates if you know you’ll get some decent cash back. Otherwise, it’s better to stick with credit cards you already have that offer big rewards in their own way.
Ebates is a simple to use online cash back website, that rewards you for shopping through their links. It doesn’t cost you a thing to use Ebates to make purchases. While getting a 1-6% cash back seems minuscule, if you’re a big shopper, the amount adds up overtime.
The best thing about Ebates is that it doesn’t consume your time, other than the time you would spend shopping anyway. Unlike survey sites where you have to spend time answering questions just to see if you qualify, with Ebates, you’re simply taking advantage of your existing habit.
The most common complaints are missed payouts, which you can solve with Ebates’ customer service or BBB, and the fact that the payouts are only four times a year. You also only get limited categories to shop from on certain shopping websites.
To optimize your experience on Ebates, it’s best to stay organized and not shop unnecessarily just for the sake of getting cash back. It makes no sense to spend a dollar so you can get a nickel back, wouldn’t you say?
You also have to keep in mind that some cash back amounts are “up to” a certain percentage. Just because you see “up to 6% cash back” doesn’t mean you’re going to actually get 6% back.
It seems a little confusing and down right deceptive, but Ebates is clear in their wording. Just assume you’ll get 1% on everything and you’ll avoid disappointment. If you get more, it’ll turn out to be a nice surprise!
If you can get past these shortcomings, Ebates offers an incredibly easy and painless way to earn a little bit of cash. It’s completely legitimate and many people online have reported successes.