This is a complete Ebates review. I’ve explained ebates in the past but I never really gave it a full review. In all transparency, I’m slightly biased and you’re about to find out why. Let me be the first to admit it: every time a company or organization promises to save me money, I throw up my shield faster than I can swipe a credit card. I become VERY skeptical, to say the least, so when I heard about Ebates and their promise that I could actually earn money by shopping online, I almost instantly dismissed it without another thought. However, being the frugal girl I am, I couldn’t pass it by without at least checking it out. If you’ve heard of Ebates but you’re just as skeptical as me, this in-depth review will help you see just how surprisingly helpful Ebates can be.
What is Ebates?
Okay, so if you still haven’t heard of Ebates (where HAVE you been?) or you’ve heard about it but you’re just not totally sure what it is, here’s the skinny. When you use Ebates to shop online the way you normally would – whether it’s purchasing holiday gifts or getting a little something extra for yourself – you can actually earn money. Instead of a normal purchase where you pay with your credit card and receive only your item as a reward, you can check to see if there are offers available for the item you’re purchasing and receive cash back for your purchase.
Different offers are available for different stores, different items a store carries and these offers change often. I recently needed to purchase a gift for a friend’s baby shower and of course I logged into my Ebates account to see if there were any excellent cashback offers available. Nearly every one of my “go to” stores had offers available for baby items, so I was able to get an excellent gift and earn 2.0% cash back on my purchase. Now, it’s true that it doesn’t seem like a whole lot of money to earn at any given time, but the thing is, it’s free money. You’d be surprised how quickly that money adds up.
Earning just $10 a month from Ebates gives you an additional $120 at the end of the year, and this is assuming you don’t shop online often. If you’re an online shopaholic, you can earn some serious cash back. I don’t know about you, but if someone walked up to me right now and said, “Hey, you’ve been doing some great online shopping lately. Here’s $120,” I’d certainly take it. Well, that’s kind of what Ebates is like – you receive money for doing the things you would do anyway, so why not?
How Is It Possible?
Now, if you’re naturally suspicious like me, you’re probably wondering why a company would do that. I mean, no one just gives anyone free money. So, what’s the catch? Well, there’s no catch, so don’t worry about that. The reason Ebates does this is because they’re actually making money on the deal as well. Ebates is an affiliate of more than 1,500 stores, meaning they have agreements with these stores and receive a commission for referring people. Here’s how it works:
- Store A offers Ebates a percentage of the sale when Ebates referres a customer.
- Ebates takes that percentage and uses it to figure out a certain percentage of cash back to offer you, the customer.
- You use Ebates to shop for things you’d buy normally, then Ebates receives their slice of the pie, while you receive your cash back.
- Everyone wins! There’s no catch and nothing for you to purchase other than the things you would be purchasing anyway.
Does Ebates work With My Favorite Stores?
Because Ebates has partnered with over 1,500 stores, there is a good chance that you can find your favorite store using the Ebates platform. They work with huge, popular retailers like Walmart, JC Penney, Amazon, Kohl’s, Aeropostale, Fisher Price, Hallmark and more. They also work with many stores that are less well known, so if you have a favorite store that might not be nationwide or well known, there’s a good chance Ebates offers cash back through that store as well.
In addition to stores that sell goods, you can take advantage of stores that offer other services as well, like rental car companies, hotels, and even medical items, such as glasses or contacts. It’s definitely worth browsing through the list of stores that Ebates works with, so you can see for yourself just how comprehensive that list really is.
The Review: Is Ebates Really Worth It?
Now that you know how Ebates works, let’s really dive into the review of all aspects of Ebates. After all, some things really sound amazing but when you jump into it, you find out that it’s simply not all it was cracked up to be. Also, while something is great for one person (like cutting coupons all day in order to get 12 packages of Tide detergent for $.35), it just doesn’t make a lot of sense for another person. Knowing all the pros and cons and all of the little intricacies of Ebates will help you determine whether it’s for you or not.
I’ve rated the following aspects of Ebates using a star scale, which works as follows:
One Star – Difficult, Worthless, Just Not Good
Two Stars – Okay, Nothing to Brag About
Three Stars – Fair, Neither Excellent nor Horrible
Four Stars – Really Good, Could Still Use Some Improvement
Five Stars – Perfect, Easy, Would Definitely Recommend It
Signing Up – Five Stars
I’ll be perfectly honest with you. In addition to being frugal, I can sometimes be very picky about what I spend my time doing. If there isn’t a fantastic reward involved, I don’t want to spend time doing something that is going to be tedious or difficult. The great thing about Ebates is that it’s not difficult at all. To get started, the only thing you need to do is create an account. This takes less than two minutes, and you can create the account using your email address or you can use your existing Google or Facebook account to create your Ebates account. It’s that simple – as soon as your account is created, you’re ready to start shopping!
The great thing is that there are always sign-up offers that will give you rewards and incentives immediately. For instance, sometimes Ebates will offer to put $5.00 in your account just for signing up. Other times, they will offer $10 cash back if you make qualifying purchases within the first 90 days of being a new customer. I love the fact that you can get rewards just for creating an account!
Ease of Use – Five Stars
It truly couldn’t be easier to shop with Ebates. You simply locate the store you’re interested in shopping at, click on it, and then check out which offers are available through that store. If you find an offer you’re interested in taking advantage of, you simply click the link at the right side of the offer that says “Shop Now.” You will be taken to the store website, where you will be able to shop just like you normally would. Once you pay with your credit card and the store notifies Ebates of the purchase you made, you will receive your cash back right into your account.
Cash Back Offers – Four Stars
While I have to admit that I love being able to earn cash back just from doing the shopping I would be doing anyway, I found that it bugged me slightly that there are some things you can’t earn cash back on. For instance, I can shop at Amazon and earn cash back on various items for my home, from electronics to home decor to clothing, but during the particular time I was shopping, I couldn’t earn cash back on books.
This was slightly annoying to me, since I equate Amazon with books first and foremost. However, I circumvented that problem simply by going back to Ebates and shopping through BooksAMillion rather than Amazon. So, although I did feel a little irritated at this particular hiccup, I will admit that it seemed more like a spoiled brat issue than an actual problem with the website or the cash back offers.
Getting Your Cash Back – Three Stars
When it comes to getting your money from Ebates, I’ll let you determine whether it’s an actual issue or if once again, I’m being a spoiled (and impatient) brat. You can only receive payments from Ebates four times a year. So, no matter how much cash back you accumulate, you will have to wait until the approved times to receive your payment. These payments take place on May 15, August 15, November 15 and February 15, and there will be a delay in the cash back you’re receiving from the purchases you made. For instance:
- If you make purchases from January 1 to March 31, you will receive your payment on May 15.
- On purchases made between April 1 and July 31, cash back will be paid August 15.
- For July 1 to September 30, cash back will be received November 15.
- For October 1 to December 31, cash back will be received February 15.
So, there is quite a bit of waiting involved. However, I do have to admit that this is money I wouldn’t be receiving otherwise; it’s free money. So, again, if someone walked up to me and said, “Hey, I’m going to give you $500 but I’m not going to give it to you now. I’m going to give it to you in 3 months,” I certainly wouldn’t refuse it. In fact, I’d be grateful that I was receiving the money at all. This is what leads me to believe this may just be an issue for me because I’m impatient rather than an actual problem.
Understanding What Cash Back Amounts You’re Receiving – Five Stars
One thing I do love about Ebates is that there’s simply no question as to what amount of cash back I will receive on my purchases. As soon as I select a store from the list, Ebates makes it clear what items they’re offering cash back on and exactly how much cash back they’re offering. I know before I even spend the money exactly what I’ll be getting back on the purchase. I feel like this is a huge benefit and advantage over other services that just aren’t so clear on what you’re actually receiving.
The Value of Offers – Five Stars
Another thing I truly love is the value of the offers Ebates provides. It’s not all super small cash back offers, like 2.0% on your purchase from Walmart. In fact, the offers change all the time and you can really score some amazing benefits. For instance, a recent deal offered 3 t-shirts from a particular store for $15.00 plus 6.0% cash back! Offers like this exist all the time for different stores and on different items. I could spend a lot of time just checking out what offers are available from my favorite stores. It’s definitely one of the huge advantages of using Ebates.
Overall, I personally find that Ebates benefits me and my family a great deal. Heck Look how much cashback I’ve gotten in the past 4 years, I love getting my “big fat check” during the payment periods and I especially enjoy seeing how my lifetime earnings have accumulated and just how much I’ve earned over the period of time I have been a member. Most importantly, I don’t have to do anything special; I earn the cash back just by doing what I would normally be doing anyway.
Ebates even offers excellent incentives for those who refer their friends. In my opinion, it’s an excellent opportunity and more than worth the few minutes it takes to sign up and sign in before shopping. While I realize this type of service won’t necessarily be as appreciated by everyone, I can’t imagine a person who can’t benefit from free cash and discounts at their favorite stores. As for me, I will definitely continue to shop with Ebates!
In full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links to help support The Budget Diet girl! My advice will always be unbiased and free, but free won’t pay the bills! Thanks!