Our regular readers know that we are big advocates of affiliate marketing as a way to earn steady, passive income. Choose the right niche, do the marketing required as a publisher and see regular targeted customers following the path to your vendors’ sites. With each sale, you get a commission. It’s a great thing, but there is another way that affiliate marketing can net you some big returns, and that is through Ebates.
First, What Is Ebates?
If you do a simple Google search for it, you see a lot of people wondering whether it is a scam, if it really works like it says, and all other kinds of concerns. These are unfounded worries because Ebates is a simply a well-designed, albeit massive, affiliate site that steers you to savings at some of the most frequently shopped websites and stores. In fact, the Ebates stores list is impossible to reprint in an article because it is just so expansive.
It is an affiliate marketing site because it has partnered itself to more than 2000 different vendors, and whenever someone clicks the link at the Ebates site to do shopping at a particular store, Ebates is rewarded with is affiliate commission. That’s the precise nature of all of the affiliate marketing we encourage our readers to do – align yourself in a niche and find affiliates that can generate interest, an audience and sales. This is exactly how Ebates works!
The amazing thing is that they give you around half of the commission as a reward. So, it is one of those win-win-win scenarios! The vendor wins because you come and shop, Ebates wins because they get cash for leading you to the vendor through their own portal, and you get savings and rewards in pretty great abundance.
Do you need an example? Okay, so you go to Ebates, create an account and register your PayPal account with it, as well as a credit or debit card. You want to buy electronics at Best Buy (Ebates and Best Buy are a wonderful pairing because it lets you make cash back very fast due to the higher prices of the items sold there). Let’s say you spend around $1k on a laptop and some accessories. Because Best Buy has a 4% commission arrangement with Ebates, they take in $40 for brokering the transaction. They split it with you, giving you $20 as a cash back reward.
Even better is that Ebates is one of the very few rewards portals with a real world component. Because you have a credit card linked to your account, you can use their “offline cash back” page and find the stores you want to visit at a local mall or other area. You find what you want on the site, click the “link offer” button and it actually tiesthat deal to your credit card. When you make the purchase at the brick and mortar store, it registers as an Ebates purchase and you will get the rewards.
Now, here is where we have to take a hard look at why some people have an issue with Ebates. Actually, some people have a few issues with it, and while understandable, the problems are not enough to steer you away from the site and its many rewards.
First is the issue of online shopping. If you are not a predominantly online shopper, it can take a while to earn a lot through the site. As an example, the person who spends $500 or more per month is an ideal candidate, but the person who spends less than $100 per month online is not likely to take in much in cash back rewards.
Another issue is that it encourages registered users to recommend the site for cash rewards, sort of like an affiliate but not as much. It is more of a basic referral plan that sends a $25 commission to the registered user who gets someone else to sign up. They also toss a nice $10 reward to that new account holder, and if there are any active contests, both are entered to win.
Many people take issue with this, but referral programs are everywhere! If you have ever used Grubhub or Uber, you will get prompted to refer friends and it is the same as what Ebates does.
Some people dislike that the Ebates indicated for a specific vendor may be very narrow. As an example, one huge advocate of Ebates said this, “Amazon is where I buy everything. Unfortunately, only a few categories on Amazon are eligible for cash back. And they’re normally categories I don’t care about.” They then went on to cite the categories yielding rewards for that time period, and they included shoes, handbags and home services.
Now, there is some validity to such a complaint, but really think about it. If you are a strategic shopper, and most people who want to get good deals are strategic shoppers, you know that there are certain times of year, certain seasons and specific periods in which it pays to purchase goods you do use and which you may not need at that moment. The old fashioned “white sales” of January and February are a good example. Maybe you don’t need new sheets and towels right now, but the savings you enjoy if you purchase them at that point in time are so substantial that it is foolhardy to skip the sales.
This is a good way to look at the Ebates Amazon scenario – while the categories being rewarded may not seem like something you need at the moment, such as handbags or shoes, it could be that you will need new boots for the coming winter or a family member has a birthday and really covets a particular brand of handbag. It is beneficial to use outside of the box thinking here, and that applies for all of the stores.
Some have complained that the links work only for a fixed window of time, and that you have to make a purchase within 24 hours of clicking any link. The reality is that you have 30 days to use any link you activated in your account (online and offline), but if you want to make it a certainty, “re-clicking” is totally allowable.
Finally, many dislike the fact that your cash back rewards have to sit in your account for 60 days before being released to the registered PayPal account. Getting only four payouts per year is also an issue for some, but free money is free money…even if it arrives only a few times each year.
So, if you take all of the complaints or issues that people have, they add up to non-issues. The savings are there and that means one thing – free money just for registering with the portal and making a point of always shopping through it.
Now, Apple users don’t have it as easy because Ebates made a Chrome button that applies coupons automatically at checkouts where they are available, sparing you the hassle of going through the Ebates site and looking for coupons with your preferred vendors.
Coupons and Ebates Stores List
In addition to your cash back percentages with Ebates affiliated stores, there are also pages with coupon codes. You simply look at the specific category, such as Women’s Clothing Coupons, and the site shows you vendors with coupon codes available. You can click on the links to see what a site offers.
For example, a recent travel deal through Cheapo Air applied a coupon code that knocked $12.50 off any booking (airfare, hotel or car rental). If you had the Google Chrome button installed, you would be able to skip the step in which you looked for travel deals and clicked the coupon link. Instead, you would just use the main page, enter the portal, do your shopping and at checkout, “boom”, the coupon code automatically appears.
Without the button, you just click the link that shows how many coupons are available for that vendor and use the link associated with the deal you want to accept it. For example, a website like Ancestry.com might have two coupons – one for discounted membership and one for a discount on the DNA kits. You choose which deal you want and continue shopping through the portal.
Unfortunately, there are also some listings that feature a code that ends on a specific date, and you must click and use the “copy” button to enter it manually in your shopping cart. This is true regardless of your use of the Chrome button. In other words, be sure you read the deals closely and take all steps possible to maximize your returns from the site.
Other Ways to Save
There is also the Ebates app that you can get by entering your mobile number at the site. They send the link and you install to the device. Through it, you enjoy exclusive “app only” offers, daily deals, and extra cash back opportunities.
The site also has “double cash back stores” that offer temporary deals in which their usual commissions are doubled. For example, if Sephora usually supplies you with a 3% cash back option, it will go to 6% for the duration of the limited time offer.
Keep in mind that there are already websites with extraordinary deals making themselves available to Ebates customers. Groupon, as a prime example of this, has an endless array of deeply discounted deals and offers. You might find them in the regular pages or the double cash back choices. Either way, you are being rewarded for purchasing items, activities and services that are priced at rare bargain rates – it is an amazing opportunity.
As is the case with so many vendors, Ebates also makes a cash back credit card available through Visa. The Ebates Cash Back Visa will give you 3% cash back on all of your Ebates shopping (online) and another 1% on your use of the card anywhere Visa is accepted (i.e. everywhere!)
The site also makes its hottest deals available in its aptly named “Hot Deals” section. This shows you the vendors offering free gifts with each order, free shipping, BOGO offers and even reduced pricing if you buy online and pickup in a nearby store. They even make gift cards available at discounted rates or with excellent cash back rewards for the purchase.
Maximizing Your Outcomes
Now, you are probably ready to go and register for Ebates, get whatever signup bonuses they offer (in December of 2017, they paid $10 if you spent $25 within a two-month window), register your credit card and PayPal, and dive into savings. In addition to that, you will also want to boost your rewards options through an entirely different site.
Ev’reward has a tagline of “one search. every reward” and they mean it. It is an entirely different tool, but one that can lead you to the best deals on the entire Internet. It does this in a remarkably simple way.
You go to their home page and type in the store you intend to shop. Once you do, it opens a main page labeled “All Offers”. Here you see a section for Cash Back Rewards, and Ebates often appears there. You see what the current percentage being offered might be. For instance, Amazon.com in December of 2017 offered 5% through Ebates, but Mr. Rebates also offered the same cash back rate as well as a bonus.
There is another section that shows you the returns for College Savings Plan and Other Savings Rewards options, such as Upromise.
Other sections listed include Special Offers from Credit Cards and Loyalty Programs, such as Visa’s $5 off with $50 spent at Target in December of 2017. There are the regular Loyalty Program Rewards, as already noted, Points Programs, and Frequent Flyer Miles & Hotel Rewards.
In other words, you use this site to get the very best deal for you. While Ebates represents real money and cash back earnings, it might not be exactly what you want or need. For instance, you may be an American Airlines member who wants those miles for every dollar or a Citi Bonus Cash earner eager to get 1% on your card’s transactions.
The good news is that with Ebates and Ev’reward, you can make real money. You know how Ebates works, and that the Ebates stores list is massive, but don’t overlook the flexibility of a site like Ev’reward to make the most of your online shopping. And to be totally comprehensive, don’t forget to checkout Ibotta, Swagbucks and Dosh to complete the picture.