Rebate sites are a popular way to earn cash, points or credits by simply doing your online shopping. You’re likely going to make these purchases anyway, so why not get a little something back at the same time?
All of these sites are free; they make money by earning a small commission of each purchase you make via their direct link. Then they pass a portion of these earnings on to you.
But with so many sites out there, which one should you use? Should you go with one that offers cash-back, or one that gives points you can redeem for gift cards? What about other special deals and coupons?
To help you determine which site is best for you, here’s a breakdown of how each one works, complete with information on the types of rewards, how often you get paid, and more.
Swagbucks pays you in points called “SBs” when you make a purchase from your favorite store using its links. Generally speaking, you’ll earn 1 SB for every dollar you spend at participating stores. Other stores offer a flat number of SBs for any purchase.
The best way to utilize Swagbucks is to download the Swagbutton, that way you’ll get an alert on your browser reminding you to get cash-back every time you’re on a retailer’s site.
You’ll see the SBs in your account within two to seven business days, and you can redeem them toward gift cards or coupons. The closest thing to redeeming for cash is to choose PayPal gift cards. One SB is equal to $0.01, so 100 SBs works out to $1.00. You can choose to redeem your rewards at any time, as soon as you have enough SBs to earn the prize you want. Check out our guide to Swagbucks to learn more.
Earn up to 30% cash back from more than 4,000 stores by making your purchase through this site. You’ll see your earnings in your account within a few days. Once your balance reaches $25 or more, you can request a payment via PayPal, gift card or by check (U.S. only). BeFrugal processes payments on the 15th of each month. PayPal deposits are immediate while gift cards and checks take seven to 10 days to reach your mailbox.
The great thing about BeFrugal is that if you make a purchase through their site and find another site that offers a higher percentage of cash back, they will apply the higher rate to your purchase plus an extra 25% to your account. It’s like price matching, but for cash-back rates!
For extra savings, you can also print off coupons for discounts at stores and restaurants. “BeFrugal has coupons available for over 40,000 stores, and saves shoppers an average of $27 per order,” explains the company’s founder, Jon Lal. Using a coupon or promo code doesn’t earn you additional cash back, but it does help you save money on items you planned to purchase anyway.
The site also has several handy calculators for determining whether or not it’s cheaper for you to fly or drive for your next trip. My husband and I use this calculator on a regular basis for saving money while we travel.
The Coupon Cactus team offers cash-back rewards for every order that’s made through their site at participating online stores. Cash back earnings range from 1-30%, with some earnings being a flat rate of as much as $63.
Once your purchase is verified, your cash-back earnings are deposited into your Coupon Cactus account. When the balance reaches $10 or more, you can choose to be paid via PayPal or have a check issued on a quarterly basis.
In addition to earning cash back, you can browse coupons, discounts and sales at more than 4,000 stores and online retailers.
Ebates offers up to 25% cash back at more than 1,200 online stores, though the average earnings are usually closer to 5%. Search the site to find your favorite store, then click the “Shop Now” link to make your purchase. Your cash-back earnings will show up in your account within 48 hours.
Ebates sends you a payment each quarter based on your account earnings of at least $5 or more. You have three options for redeeming your earnings: a check in the mail, a PayPal deposit, or a gift to a charity or family member.
You can earn a $5 bonus right off the bat by signing up as a new Ebates user or by referring a friend or family member.
When you click through Extrabux to do your online shopping, you’ll earn a commission on your purchases. The amount you earn per purchase varies from 1% to 30%, depending on the store. For example, right now they’re offering 7% cash back at Drugstore.com, 11% at Bloomingdale’s and 12% at Kiehl’s.
You’ll see your earnings in your account within one to seven days. Once your balance reaches $10 or more, and 90 days after your purchase, you can redeem your account balance. Choose from a PayPal deposit, a credit card payment (which will appear on your next statement), a check in the mail or a donation to the charity of your choice.
Two awesome bonuses: Extrabux offers thousands of money-saving coupons and discount codes, and they’ll give you an $8 reward when you join.
FatWallet wants you to think of it as your “one-stop shop” for all things online shopping, cash back and savings. When you shop at hundreds of online stores through FatWallet’s links, you’ll earn up to 25% cash back, though some retailers pay a flat amount.
View your FatWallet balance in your account at any time. If your account has reached the $10 minimum at the end of a quarter, you can request your payout as a check, bank transfer or PayPal deposit.
FatWallet also offers coupon codes to more than 1,600 stores, as well as a community forum where you can chat with other online shoppers and deal finders.
Earn cash-back rewards from Ibotta in several different ways:
- Shop online through Ibotta links to certain stores: For example, if spend $100 at Macys.com, you’ll earn $10 in cash rebates (or 10%). You can even purchase certain products from Amazon.com and receive up to a $20 rebate. Once your purchase is verified, usually within five days, the cash rebate is deposited into your Ibotta account.
- Download the Ibotta app: This app lets you submit an in-store receipt to unlock cash rebates. When you’re shopping at Wal-Mart, seeing a movie or eating at a restaurant, simply scan your receipt with the Ibotta app. The app verifies the purchase from the receipt’s barcode, which prompts a cash deposit into your account within 48 hours.
- Link a loyalty card from participating stores: Connecting your points cards from grocery stores, gas stations and local markets will earn you additional cash-back rewards. Before you go shopping, complete a list of simple tasks and then use your loyalty card or phone number at the checkout. You’ll see your rewards in your Ibotta account within two days.
Once your balance reaches $10 or more, you can transfer it to a PayPal or Venmo account. Or if you’d rather convert the cash rebates into gift cards, you can choose from Best Buy, Amazon or Starbucks.
You can earn Ibotta cash rewards even faster by connecting your Facebook account and asking your friends and family to do the same. If they join through your link, they’ll automatically be added to your “team.” The bigger your team, the more rewards you’ll earn each month, including Teamwork bonuses for completing certain tasks together.
When you make an online purchase through MyPoints, you’ll earn a certain amount of points per dollar, depending on the store. For the sake of comparison with other cash-back sites, MyPoints also includes an estimated cash-back value. For example, buying online from Macy’s earns you 5 points for every dollar, or 3.4%.
Your points will usually show up in your account within two to five business days, though it can take up to 30 days. You can redeem them for a Visa prepaid card, a PayPal deposit, gift cards or frequent flyer points. If you choose a physical gift card, it will usually arrive within two weeks, while an “egift card” will be in your inbox within 30 minutes. You should see frequent flyer points in your account within six to eight weeks.
In addition to earning points for online shopping, you can add to your balance by filling out surveys, printing and redeeming coupons, referring friends or family members or playing games.
Shop online through ShopAtHome to earn cash back at more than 3,000 online retailers on everything from clothes to accessories, books, toys, travel and even groceries. The site offers up to 70% cash back, though the typical percentage is closer to 5%.
Occasionally it may take up to 30 days to see your cash back bonus added to your account, but usually it will post within a few hours. Once your account reaches a balance of $20 or more, you can request payout via a check in the mail.
Your Turn: Do you earn cash back when shopping online with any of these sites? Which one is your favorite?
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Carrie Smith (@carefulcents) is a writer and business consultant for freelancers and entrepreneurs. In 2013, she quit her accounting job to pursue full-time writing and blogging.