How to cash in on your online purchases

Posted by Amy Dunn on June 19, 2014 

If you’ve done any amount of online shopping over the years, you’re probably familiar with Ebates.com -- the site that gives you cash back on your Internet purchases.

The granddaddy of rebate sites, Ebates.com is well-known for its “Big Fat Checks,” which it mails out on a quarterly basis to folks who use the site as a launch pad to online shopping.

But just as it pays to shop around for the best price, it pays to shop around for the site with the most generous rebate checks.

Thanks to a tip from the penny-pinching author of The Frugal Girl blog, I’ve recently started doing some of my online shopping through TopCashBack.com.

Instead of splitting commission fees with shoppers, as most rebate sites do, the TopCashBack site says it makes its money on advertising and incentives from retailers so the rebates, in most cases, are bigger.

That’s good for consumers like you and me who keep tabs on the bottom line.

Keep in mind that cash-back deals are constantly changing, but here are a few of my recent comparisons.

At Ebates.com:

1.5 percent cash back at SamsClub.com

2 percent cash back at LLBean.com

1 percent to 2.5 percent cash back at Target.com (depending on type of merchandise)

3 percent cash back at Sears.com

17.5 percent cash back on Entertainment.com

At TopCashBack.com:

4 percent cash back at SamsClub.com

4 percent cash back at LLBean.com

2 percent to 5 percent at Target.com (depending on type of merchandise)

2 percent to 7 percent at Sears.com (depending on type of merchandise)

22 percent cash back at Entertainment.com

If you’re an online shopper and haven’t yet tried Ebates, TopCashBack or another rebate site, you’re leaving money on the table.

They’re easy to use and require almost no effort on your part. Instead of going directly to the online retailer to make your purchase, start at Ebates or TopCashBack, choose your retailer and the site will automatically take you to the retailer’s website. Your purchase information is electronically reported to the rebate site.

Both sites are free to join and offer referral bonuses when friends sign up and use the sites.

How you’re paid is a bit different on each site.

Ebates issues old-fashioned checks -- mailed to your home -- four times per year, if you’ve earned $5.01 or more. PayPal is also an option.

At TopCashBack, once the rebate has been deposited in your account, you can request a payout -- no minimum is required. The company doesn’t issue checks but will deposit rebates into your bank or PayPal account. If you’re an Amazon shopper, you can choose to be paid in Amazon credit and receive a 5 percent bonus through mid-July. Beginning July 14, the Amazon bonus will drop to 2.5 percent.

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