Everyone loves shopping online. What used to take a few hours (leaving the house, darting between stores, comparing prices) now can take just a few minutes, with no more effort than a few clicks of the mouse. With almost every single major retailer adding ecommerce to their service and Amazon taking the world by storm, it’s never been easier to shop online. After all, why wait in line for Black Friday deals when you could just stay on a website until midnight, place an order, and then go to bed while it’s brought to you, crowd-free.

Now what if I told you that you could actually earn rewards for taking advantage of the convenience of shopping online? Would you ever go to a retail store again?

That’s just what this Ebates review will show you.

What is Ebates?

You’ve probably seen the commercials for Ebates on TV. Their promise of allowing you to earn money by shopping online sounds amazing, and with so much of retail happening through ecommerce, there’s huge cash back potential for frequent shoppers. But is it legitimate? The answer is Yes!

ebates logo on green backgroundEbates is a type of affiliate marketing website that connects brands and customers together. Started in 1999, the company has been helping customers save money and brands increase sales with their “middleman service.” With more than 2,500 stores (including Nike, Walmart, Michael Kors, Overstock, and more) in their rewards network, they make a pretty good case for using them whenever possible.

How It Works

Ebates works by offering exclusive cash back or rewards to any customers who makes a purchase on one of their in-network brands’ sites. These companies pay Ebates a specific percentage of each purchase made with their links (a commission), and in turn Ebates provides you a portion of their commission earned.

To get started with Ebates, you’ll need to create an account on the website, providing some basic information and receiving an account login. This will be used to track purchases, rewards, and more. You can also put in a referral code to earn you and your referrer a bonus, in addition to your free $10 Walmart or Ebates gift card you’ll receive for confirming your account.

Once you have an account, you’ll be presented with a catalog of offers available from various retailers. To earn your rewards/cash back, you’ll just have to use the link provided to go to the site with the referral token from Ebates and make a purchase. Once they receive a notification of your purchase with their referral, you’ll be credited your cash back. That cash will be held for 60 days to prevent returns or chargebacks, and then afterwards it is released.

To claim your money, you will have to wait until one of the quarterly payout days (February, May, August, and November 15th) after providing your PayPal address or mailing information to receive a check.

Is It Worth It?

If you’re a frequent online shopper, Ebates is absolutely worth it. While there is the danger of being motivated to spend more than you would like due to the rewards you can earn, as long as you only use Ebates when you planned to make a purchase anyway, it’s hard to go wrong. It won’t work everywhere, but if it works where you’re shopping, you’d be foolish not to take advantage of it!

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How to Make the Most Of Ebates

While Ebates is a free, risk-free way to earn cash back on your purchases, it isn’t the most lucrative way to earn a little extra shopping money. However, there are ways to make it more rewarding.

Use an Ebates or other rewards card for purchases

What’s the best way to improve a cash back program’s effectiveness? More cash back! If you have a credit card that offers you 1,2, or even 5% cash back on purchases, the combination of your rewards and the Ebates rewards can earn you a 10% or higher discount on purchases. If you don’t have a rewards card, Ebates offers one for 3% extra cash back.

Use an extension to alert you of Ebates eligibility

Can’t remember if a specific website is in Ebates’ network? With the “Ebates Cash Back Button,” their Google Chrome add-on, you can automatically be notified if the website you’re on can be used with Ebates. This way you can maximize the rewards you earn on purchases you planned to make anyway.

Compare prices at other stores

While the cash back can be tempting, it can also be deceitful. Always compare prices across the internet before simply making a purchase through Ebates because of the rewards you earn. It is possible that even with the cash back, the product is cheaper elsewhere.

Pros

Registration and referral rewards

Who doesn’t like free stuff? With a $10 gift card for registering and $50 for getting friends to sign up, there’s more free stuff than you’d expect.

Requires no additional work

There’s no additional time investment required to take advantage of the Ebates rewards. Simply clicking a link activates the referral and allows you to earn the cash back.

Huge collection of retailers

With more than 2,500 brands in the network, the opportunities for earning cash back are numerous.

Cons

Quarterly payouts

The biggest downside of Ebates is that they only pay at specific times. That means that you could have to wait up to 3 months to earn those rewards, compared to 1 billing cycle for most credit cards.

Requires purchases

As Ebates is commission-based, it requires a purchase from the user to earn the rewards. This is much different from many other survey sites and methods of earning rewards online.

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Verdict

If you shop online, Ebates seems like a no-brainer. Cash back on purchases with no additional work from you is about as good as it gets. Using Ebates in combination with a coupon code and rewards card can lead to some big savings for the right products. However, be careful to price check elsewhere online, as even with the discounts, products can still be more expensive than on sites like Amazon.

Their biggest flaw is that the payments are only available at designated times, but with a giant reputable company like Rakuten supporting them, you can at least be sure that Ebates will pay. To put it simply – sign up!