Ebates Review: Extraordinary Cash Back or Epic Scam?

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Do you shop online?  Chances are you do, as this recent shopping study says 96% of the U.S. population is shopping online. Now imagine getting paid to buy things that are already on your list? Sounds like a fantasy, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Ebates is an amazing rewards program that gives you cash back for purchases you make online from a variety of popular stores.

While it’s not the only program of its kind, Ebates is definitely in a class of its own thanks to some unique features that we’ll discuss below. In short, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to free money online. It’s free to get started with Ebates and you even get a $10 bonus when you sign up and start shopping!

Read this review to find out everything you need to know about this cash-back website so you can take advantage of the Ebates offer and save money every time you do your shopping.

What is Ebates?

Ebates is simply a cash-back app and website. On its own, Ebates isn’t a shopping portal, but it acts as an affiliate and allows you to earn cash back from thousands of stores. An affiliate is someone who gets a commission whenever they refer a customer to a merchant.

Simply put, if you buy stuff online through any of Ebates’ links to supported stores, they get a small percentage of that sale, which they then split with you. Simple, right? With this system, everyone wins:

  • The merchant gets a sale
  • Ebates gets a commission from the merchant
  • You get cash back from Ebates (and that’s actual CASH – not points, or gift cards, etc.)

Ebates is one of the most successful cash-back programs in the world. It allows you to earn from over 2,500 stores from popular retailers like Amazon, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and many more. While you may not shop at all the stores affiliated with Ebates, it certainly does give you a massive range of choices.

In addition to getting between 1% and 40% cash back, you can also increase your savings by combining your rewards with hot daily deals, special offers, promo codes, and coupons. You’ll find these listed on the Ebates app or website.

Having been around since 1998, and with over 10 million users currently, it’s safe to say this is a legitimate, well-established program that offers online shoppers a lot of benefits. The best thing is, it’s totally free to use – you’ll never have to pay a dime.

Let’s take a look at how you can get started with Ebates right now.

How Does Ebates Work?

Ebates works in just a few easy steps:

  1. Sign Up For Free with Ebates
  2. Activate Ebates Shopping Trip (clicking a link from the Ebates website or app)
  3. Validate Your Shopping Trip (this is really just sitting back while the link you clicked takes you to your chosen retailers website)
  4. Go Shopping
  5. Get Paid

Now, for a deeper look at the process of making money with Ebates:

Signing Up

This is FREE, easy to do, and takes just a couple of minutes. All you need is a valid email address. You can also opt to use your Facebook or Google+ account to sign up for Ebates. Simply click this link to get started. Enter your email, select your choice of signup bonus between a gift card and actual cash, and just like that, you’re a member!

Activating Your Ebates Shopping Trip

After signing up, get ready to earn rewards by activating a shopping trip on Ebates. Each time you want to make a purchase online, start the Ebates Shopping Trip to ensure that you get your cash back reward. To do this, simply select a store from the Ebates list, then click on the link to that store prior to making an online purchase.

To find the store you want, type the name into the search bar or click on the shopping categories like Electronics and Computers’, Men’s Clothing’, or whatever it is you’re searching for.

Validating the Shopping Trip

When you click an Ebates link to your chosen store, a pop-up will appear confirming your selection. This shows you that everything is set and that you can now earn cash back from that retailer. And that means it’s time to go shopping!

Simply complete your purchase as you would, normally, and at that point, your Ebates Shopping Trip is also going to be automatically completed. Going through Ebates to the retailer’s regular website makes it easy for the rest of the process to be automated. You don’t need to do anything else like uploading receipts or filling in any forms.

Once you’re done shopping, Ebates takes care of all the rest. As soon as your purchase is complete, your cash-back reward will be on its way to you. So, for instance, if you spent $100 at Old Navy and they were offering 6% cash back, you would get $6 in your Ebates account after your purchase.

And that’s it!

Oh, wait. You still need to get paid.

Getting Paid

As previously mentioned, the money you earn from your purchases appears in your Ebates account within 5 days. However, it’s kept there for a certain period of time (typically 60 days) to ensure that you don’t return the things that you bought.

Ebates makes payments 4 times a year, on the 15th day of February, May, August, and November. So if, for instance, you posted your purchases between January 1st and March 31st, you would get your payment on May 15th. You can choose to receive payment via Paypal or have them mail you a check.

All this happens automatically, and there’s nothing you have to do like submitting a request for payment. The money that reflects in your Ebates account will be paid to you on these dates as long as you’ve reached the minimum threshold of $5.01 each quarter. Keep in mind that this does not include the sign-up bonus.

Also, in order to qualify for the $10 sign-up bonus, you have to have made your first purchase within 90 days of signing up, and you need to have spent $25 within that time to earn the bonus.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Does Ebates Make Money?

Ebates makes its money by using the affiliate business model. This is a system where online stores pay people a certain amount of money for any sales they refer to them. Ebates makes a commission each time you buy through their links.

How does Ebates pay you?

When Ebates gets their commission, they split it with you. You get a percentage of the amount that they get for referring you to the merchant. The amount reflects in your Ebates account and is kept there until the day of the payout, which is once every quarter.

What is the Ebates cash back button?

The Ebates cash-back button is simply a convenient extension that you can add to your browser to make things easier. It automatically notifies you of any cash-back offers and discounts whenever you’re visiting your favorite stores online. This is sometimes referred to as a plug-in or add-on.

How does Ebates work with Amazon?

Ebates works with Amazon in pretty much the same way that it does any other store on its list. Your cash rewards will be added to your Ebates account within a week of making a purchase on Amazon. However, it’s important to note that not all categories on Amazon are eligible for cash-back. You can check which categories are supported on Ebates.com.

How does Ebates work in store?

Now you can earn cash back even when shopping offline with Ebates In-Store Cash Back. All you need to do is add a credit card to your Ebates account, follow the prompts on the site or app to link an offer, and then make your purchase in-store using that credit card. Your cash-back will automatically reflect in your Ebates account.

How does Ebates work with returns?

This depends on the store’s policy.  But any goods you return may void cash-back and be deducted directly from your cash-back account balance. When exchanging goods, if they are processed as a cancellation and the store creates a new transaction, then Ebates will also treat it as a canceled order.

What stores are on Ebates?

There are over 2,500 stores on Ebates, and they cover a wide range of categories. You can find the exhaustive list on the Ebates website. Some of the more popular names include Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Ebay, and Macy’s.

Ebates Review Summary

As with everything else in life, Ebates has its pros and cons. Some people are immediately put off by the fact that the company only makes quarterly payouts, but this is something that is easy to live with if you do a lot of shopping online. After all, it’s costing you nothing to get the rewards, so why not go for it?

It’s going to be worth the wait when you see that Big Fat Check with all the money you saved in the past three months!

All in all, Ebates is an easy and painless means of earning cash doing things that you have to do anyway. It offers many benefits and comes with no risks at all. You even get a $10 bonus just for signing up. If you’re ready to earn cash back next time you shop online, sign up here get started with Ebates!

Looking for more ways to earn cash back? Check out our review of Ibotta.

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Hi, I'm GP. A personal finance expert with a mission to help Entirely Money readers break free of money worries. Combining a finance-focused education background (B.S. in Finance and MBA with Finance focus) with over 15 years of personal and corporate finance experience to help you achieve your financial best life!