There are a variety of strategies that can be used to save money while shopping, but the easiest is getting paid cash back to shop online.
When you need to make a purchase, you can either visit your local retail store or shop online. There is nothing at all wrong with choosing to shop in-store, but you will miss this easy money making opportunity that is only available when shopping online.
In the last decade, a number of shopping portals (websites) were created as “middlemen” between consumers and retailers. When you are ready to make an online purchase, you can visit one of these shopping portals before placing your order and get paid cash back. There are no hoops to jump through. Simply create a free account at the cash back portal, click the link to your chosen retailer’s website, and then complete your shopping as usual. After making a purchase, the cash back portal verifies the transaction and credits your account with the stated cash back amount.
How to Earn Cash Back While Shopping
Earning cash back while shopping is a simple, straightforward process. There is a little bit of upfront work required to create the necessary accounts, but after that, you will get paid every time you make an online purchase.
1) Create free account(s) at the best cash back websites
There are a variety of different cash back portals in existence today. They all provide the same exact functionality, but often pay differing levels of cash back for each participating retailer. If your goal is to maximize the amount of cash back earned, you should take a couple of minutes and create free accounts at each of the largest cash back shopping portals.
There are dozens of portals available, but there is no reason to waste time signing up for every single portal because the smaller portals usually offer lower cash back rates and many are untested and unproven in the market. The last thing that you want is to earn significant cash back, then lose it all because the portal closes before you can request a payout.
Below you will find a list of the largest and most established cash back portals. Some of the portals are currently offering an additional cash incentive when you sign up through our links:
- Ibotta – $10 Bonus
- Ebates – $10 Bonus
- Be Frugal – $10 Bonus
- Swagbucks – $10 Bonus
- Go CashBack – $5 Bonus
- Coupon Cactus – $3 Bonus (+ $5 more with promo code CC2010)
- Giving Assistant – $5 Bonus
- Extrabux – $5 Bonus
- Mr. Rebates
The Discover Deals shopping portal is also excellent, but only Discover credit card holders can access the portal. If you don’t yet own a Discover credit card, I’d highly recommend reading my Discover Bank Review.
2) Choose the best portal for your chosen retailer
After creating your accounts, it’s time to get paid to shop online. When you are ready to make a purchase online, you should try to determine which portal is offering the most cash back at your chosen retailer. For example, I recently needed to make a purchase at Walmart and noticed that I could earn 7% cash back through the BeFrugal shopping portal. Many of the other major portals listed above also include Walmart as a retailer, but the next best rate was 4% cash back.
Instead of comparing each portal manually, Cashback Monitor allows you to compare the cash back rate currently offered by each shopping portal. When you are ready to shop, simply visit Cashback Monitor, select the merchant where you will be making a purchase, and choose the portal that offers the most cash back.
Although Cashback Monitor can be useful, it’s still a pain to manage separate accounts at each online shopping portal. This problem is exacerbated by the minimum payout threshold imposed by most portals. In an effort to encourage (or force) consumer loyalty, most of the cash back portals require a minimum level of cash back earnings (often around $20) before you can request a payout. If you use a dozen different portals, you could be left with a few dollars in each account, which means you won’t get paid.
One way to avoid this problem is by using portals which offer a “Highest Cash Back Guarantee.” This means that the shopping portal will match a higher cash back rate offered by a competitor, similar to a price match. Given my past experience, there are only two portals that I would recommend using for this – Topcashback and BeFrugal. Of those, I’ve never had a problem with Topcashback approving multiple cash back guarantee claims, while BeFrugal will only approve one claim per retailer (per 10 years).
3) Go shopping!
After creating your cash back accounts and figuring out how to secure the highest cash back rate, there is very little ongoing work.
When you are ready to make an online purchase, visit your chosen cash back portal, search for your chosen merchant, then click the direct link to begin shopping.
Each shopping portal uses an internal tracking system to record your transaction and credit your account with the promised cash back amount. To avoid any tracking errors, make sure that you adhere to the following guidelines:
- Disable your ad blocker and any other browser extensions which could interfere with the process. When you click through from the portal to your chosen merchant, you don’t want anything disrupting the tracking.
- If you are using a coupon code, make sure the portal allows it. Some portals maintain their own list of approved coupons and using an outside coupon can void the cash back earnings.
After making a purchase, your portal account will be credited with the cash back total. If the transaction doesn’t track correctly and you aren’t automatically credited the cash back, all of the major portals allow you to submit a “missing cash back claim” through your online account interface. I’ve had to submit several claims over the years for unknown reasons, and very rarely have a problem. After you submit the order details, your account will be manually credited the correct cash back amount.
4) Withdraw and enjoy your cash back
After meeting the minimum payout threshold established by each portal, you can withdrawal your cash back earnings via bank account, Paypal, or gift card.
The available payout method varies by each portal and some offer a bonus for choosing a specific payout method. For example, Swagbucks offers 10% off your first $25 gift card purchase each calendar month. Topcashback occasionally offers a 6% payout bonus when you request your cash back via American Express gift card, which can be spent anywhere that Amex is accepted for payment.
I hope this article helps you better understand the process of earning cash back through online shopping portals. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.