Earn Cash Back When Shopping Online

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Do you shop online? If so, maximize your money by shopping through an online portal. Online shopping portals reward you for using their portal as the starting point for your online purchases. This reward comes in the form of cash, airline miles or other reward currencies. I recently did a post on earning frequent flyer miles by using an airline’s online shopping portal. In this post we’ll look at earning cash back.

Earning Cash versus Airline Miles Through Online Shopping

Our blog is about travel, so why would someone who likes to travel, consider earning cash instead of airline miles? One reason is flexibility. Let’s say you’ve racked up Southwest Airline points by shopping through the Southwest portal. You get ready to book your ticket, and Southwest doesn’t have a flight that fits your schedule! Bummer! What now? You search online and find out that United Airlines has perfect flight.. One problem, United Airlines does not accept Southwest points, but they do accept cash!   Cash provides options and flexibility.

Cash Back From a Portal is in Addition to Credit Card Rewards  

Cashback rewards

Portal cash back is nice, what makes it even nicer is that portal cash back in addition to whatever points or miles you earn via the credit card you use for the purchase.

Example 1 – Using a Cash Back Credit Card.  Let’s say you’re planning on buying a $100 printer at Target.com. You will pay for the printer with a credit card that earns 2% cash back.  The first stop is an online shopping portal.  Let’s say the shopping portal is paying 3% cash back for purchases at Target, when everything is said and done, you’ll earn a combined total of 5% cash back or $5.  Your credit card will pay $2 (2% cash back), and the portal will pay $3 (3% cash back).

Example 2 – Using a Credit Card that Earns Airline Miles.  What happens if you purchase the printer with a credit card that earns airline miles? You earn miles and dollars. The cash back portal will pay 3% for purchases at Target.com. If you use an airline card that earns one mile per dollar spent, your purchase will earn 100 airline miles from the credit card and $3 cash back from the portal. Miles and dollars.

Three Cash Back Portals to Consider

There are dozens of cash back portals, Here are three that I’ve used. I’ve had a positive experience with all three when it comes to tracking purchase, paying out in a timely manner, and helping out when issues pop up.   As in all things, your mileage may vary.

1. Rakuten

Rakuten.com site

Rakuten is the primary online shopping portal I currently use.  You may recognize it by it’s former name, Ebates. The site has a nice design and purchases tend to track in a timely manner.  Rakuten is my “go to” site, but one drawback is the frequency of their payout.  Rakuten pays out quarterly, other sites pay out more frequently.

Rakuten’s payout schedule

If you decide to sign up for a Rakuten account, you are welcome to use my referral link.  By signing up via the link both you and I earn a bonus.

2. Befrugal

Prior to Rakuten, my main online shopping portal was Befrugal.  Befrugal pays out more frequently than Rakuten. If you don’t want to wait for a quarterly payout with Rakuten, Befrugal is an option  If you decide to try out Befrugal, you can use my referral link and both you and I will earn a bonus.


3. Topcashback

Another option is Topcashback. If you sign up, using my referral link will earn both you and I a bonus.


Pick the Cashback Site That Is Best For You 

I’ve listed three cash back sites, but there are certainly many more.  There are also shopping portals that payout in airline miles and other reward currencies. Spend time researching your options and pick the site that’s best for you.

Check Portal Rates Via Cashback Monitor

I have an active account at all three of the above sites. With accounts at multiple portals, I can direct my spending through whatever portal is currently offering the highest payout. A tool for researching payout rates is Cashback Monitor. Cashback monitor does just what the name says: It monitors rates on different cash back (and points earning) sites.  Thinking of shopping at Walmart.com? Go to cashbackmonitor.com, do a search on “Walmart”, and the site will show what different portals are offering in terms of cash back or points for shopping at Walmart.

Comparing Cashback for Walmart on Cashback Monitor

Getting Started

  1. Sign up with a cashback site (or sites) that fits your needs.
  2. Start each online shopping trip at the cash back portal.  Get in the habit of starting each shopping trip at the portal of your choice.
  3. Follow up to make sure your purchase tracks- Each shopping trip that successfully tracks will earn you points and miles. See below for successful tracking tips.
  4. Wait for the payout.  Each site has a different frequency for paying you the cash back you’ve earned.  Check with the online shopping portal site for details.

Guard Against Glitches

cashback portal frustration
If a purchase doesn’t track, file a support ticket with the portal

A key to earning miles is making sure the shopping trip correctly tracks.  There are different reasons the process might misfire and malfunction. Examples Include:

  • Glitches with your browser, the presence of ad-blockers, or navigating away from a website prior to completing the purchase.
  • Some vendors have terms and conditions that exclude certain types of purchases from earning points.
  • Online stores may void shopping portal miles if a discount code is used.  In that case you may have to choose between earning points through the portal, or using your discount code.  See the terms and conditions of each site.

If you make an eligible purchase, and the purchase does not correctly track, reach out to the shopping portal and open a support ticket.  I’ve experienced success in tracking down missing purchases.

In Conclusion

If you’re already shopping online, why not earn something along the way.  Using a cash back portal doesn’t cost anything, and it can result in savings.

Do you use an online shopping portal?  If so, what are you favorites?

Earn cashback when shopping online

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