A Powerful Tool to Save Money: Shopping Portals

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After you’ve got credit cards it’s time to do some shopping! Online shopping, of course, is preferred by most.

It is very common to many people who see something at Macy’s and happily pay for it with their Discover credit card. 5% cash back is a good deal but you can get an ever better deal if you keep reading!

I. Brief introduction to shopping portals

Shopping portals for merchants is similar to advertisements which promote their businesses. When you enter an online shop through the link in a shopping portal, the shopping portal will receive compensation from the merchants and then give some of that compensation to you, the customer. Isn’t it extremely simple? Everything’s the same except you access the online shop through a shopping portal and wait for cash back. It doesn’t require much more time or effort at all so we might as well take advantage of this!

II. Types of shopping portal

1. Cash back shopping portal

Such as TopCashBack, Ebates, UpromiseSimply Best Coupons, Mr. RebatesFat WalletBeFrugalGiving Assistant, etc.

2. Airline/hotel shopping portal

For example shopping portals by airline companies like UA,AA,Delta will give you miles, and shopping portals by hotels like Marriott, Hilton will give you hotel points. These miles/points can expend the expired date of the former points.

3. Bank shopping portal

Such as Discover Deals, Shop Through Chase (UR Mall), etc, they usually require the customers to buy items with their own credit cards.

4. Virtual currency shopping portal

Such as MyPoints, you can transfer virtual points to gift cards, cash or airline miles.

III. How to make choices

First of all, you should figure out what currency you prefer. For any given retailer your “cashback” may come in the form of cash, airline miles, hotel points or Credit Card points like UR points for Chase. Of course you can always equate everything to cash by valuing  the points according to our point value estimates and obtain the best reward.

Through a website like CashBackMonitor you can clearly see the earning rates of each portal.

Please see the picture below as an example of Macy’s:

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This website can also observe the changes of the best reward rate over time.

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As you can see, there are some shopping portals now and then that change their reward rates very drastically. For example, the best reward rate from Ebates was 16% cash back. Add that to rewards from your credit card and you can effectively get a 20% discount!

CashBackHolic is another website which provides more comparable websites than CashBackMonitor. It is sufficient to just pick out one or two websites like this to properly compare the reward sites. After all, it takes time and effort to track all your spending and some portals have a minimum withdrawal requirement.

IV. Cautions

1. Website cookies

After accessing the shopping website through the reward site, you shouldn’t click other coupon links, which would clean the cookies of the shopping portal. Also you shouldn’t spend too much time shopping on a site. To solve this problem, here’s a tip: put everything you want in the cart and then go ahead and click through the shopping portal.

2. Terms

For different goods of one merchant, a shopping portal could sometimes return less than the listed reward rate or even nothing. Before you make a purchase, please take a look at the terms. For instance, it’s common for the terms to exclude gift cards or to exclude something specific like any Apple products. eBay is also a popular site that has a variety of earning rates depending on the product category.

3. Other coupons

It is almost always claimed in a shopping portal that one can not earn cash back if they use any coupon codes. For now, it seems that the websites still issue cash back even when cash back is used. However, if you used a coupon and need to request cash back to the customer representative, you’d likely be turned down. YMMV.

4. Patience

Shopping portals sometimes take time to track your records and pay you cash back. To avoid issues we suggest that you document the spending history and reward rate yourself.

5. Asking for cash back

Sometimes you fail to receive cash back even though you have stuck to the above four rules. In this case you can file a claim to ask for cash back. As long as you are reasonable and followed the rules you should have no problem!

V. Features of each shopping portal

1. TopCashBack

New users will receive a $10 sign-up bonus which is applied by getting $10 cash back total on their website (the $10 dollars bonus is under the condition that you sign up through the referral link sent by us or your friends).

They typically have the best reward rate of nearly all the shopping website and is one of my favorites. However, according to user’s comments, customer service is poor and they often fail to track their cash back. By the way, I get every cash back by following the cautions mentioned above, so YMMV. The cash back could be sent to your bank account as direct deposit with no minimum amount.

2. Ebates

New users will receive a $10 sign-up bonus which is applied by spending $25 in total through their website.

Ebates is a reliable company lasting for 16 years. Their browser plug-in is convenient to use and one can activate cash back by a simple click and all the coupons by another click. Their customer representatives are very helpful in case you need to claim cash back. One would earn an extra 3% of cash back if you paid the items through Ebates credit cards. Every quarter, a check will be sent to you or you can withdraw from PayPal at any time. Both of these require a minimum amount of $5 cash back.

3. Upromise

New users will receive a $20 sign-up bonus which is applied by spending once in its website within 45 days (the $20 dollars bonus is under the condition that you sign up through the referral links sent by us or your friends).

It runs slowly but one would earns an extra 5% cash back with a Upromise credit card, which puts it’s reward rate ahead of all the other shopping portals. Its minimum withdrawal amount is $10 cash back.

4. Simply Best Coupons

New users get $5.

Its reward rate is next to TopCashBack. Various coupons are available too. Its minimum withdrawal amount is $15 cash back.

5. Mr. Rebates

New users get $5.

There are selected merchants paying high cash back each week. Its minimum withdrawal amount is $10 cash back.

6. Fat Wallet

Its customer service sounds good according to the comments. Its minimum withdrawal amount is $10 cash back.

7. BeFrugal

$5 dollars for new sign-ups but it requires you to get $25 cash back in total for that bonus.

It is also one of the highest cash back suppliers and have selected merchants to provide additional cash back. Its minimum withdrawal amount is $25 cash back.

8. Discover Deals

Be sure to follow its rules! On the surface, it typically shows it has the highest reward rate, especially with double cash back, and many other attractions. However, it can be stingy and Discover can close your card if you are not following the rules. You have to purchase with its card and YMMV with using coupons.

9. Shop Through Chase (UR Mall)

Its cash back rate is typically on the lower end and the terms demand that Chase credit cards must be used for payment. However, we’ve seen datapoints that non-Chase cards will still earn the points and if they don’t post, you should be able to contact them and get your points but you may have to fight hard. If you need UR points, shop through it!


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