There are a variety of strategies that can be used to save money while shopping, but the easiest is getting paid cashback to shop online.
When you need to make a purchase, you can either visit your local retail store or shop online. There is nothing at all wrong with choosing to shop in-store, but you will miss this easy money-making opportunity that is only available when shopping online.
In the last decade, a number of shopping portals (websites) were created as “middlemen” between consumers and retailers. When you are ready to make an online purchase, you can visit one of these shopping portals before placing your order and get paid cashback. There are no hoops to jump through. Simply create a free account at the cashback portal, click the link to your chosen retailer’s website, and then complete your shopping as usual. After making a purchase, the cashback portal verifies the transaction and credits your account with the stated cashback amount.
How to Earn Cash Back While Shopping
Earning cashback while shopping is a simple, straightforward process. There is a little bit of upfront work required to create the necessary accounts, but after that, you will get paid every time you make an online purchase.
1) Create free account(s) at the best cashback websites
There are a variety of different cashback portals in existence today. They all provide the same exact functionality, but often pay differing levels of cashback for each participating retailer. If your goal is to maximize the amount of cashback earned, you should take a couple of minutes and create free accounts at each of the largest cashback shopping portals.
There are dozens of portals available, but there is no reason to waste time signing up for every single portal because the smaller portals usually offer lower cashback rates and many are untested and unproven in the market. The last thing that you want is to earn significant cash back, then lose it all because the portal closes before you can request a payout.
Below you will find a list of the largest and most established cashback portals. We personally hold an account with each of these recommended cashback portals and use one of them every time we shop online.
- Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
2) Choose the best portal for your chosen retailer
After creating your accounts, it’s time to get paid to shop online. When you are ready to make a purchase online, you should try to determine which portal is offering the most cash back at your chosen retailer. For example, I recently needed to make a purchase at Walmart and noticed that I could earn 7% cashback through the BeFrugal shopping portal. Many of the other major portals listed above also include Walmart as a retailer, but the next best rate was 4% cashback.
It’s a pain to manage separate accounts at each online shopping portal. This problem is exacerbated by the minimum payout threshold imposed by most portals. In an effort to encourage (or force) consumer loyalty, most of the cashback portals require a minimum level of cashback earnings (often around $20) before you can request a payout. If you use a dozen different portals, you could be left with a few dollars in each account, which means you won’t get paid.
One way to avoid this problem is by using portals that offer a “Highest Cash Back Guarantee.” This means that the shopping portal will match a higher cashback rate offered by a competitor, similar to a price match. Given my past experience, there are only two portals that I would recommend using for this – Topcashback and BeFrugal. Of those, I’ve never had a problem with Topcashback approving multiple cashback guarantee claims, while BeFrugal will only approve one claim per retailer (per 10 years).
3) Go shopping!
After creating your cashback accounts and figuring out how to secure the highest cashback rate, there is very little ongoing work.
When you are ready to make an online purchase, visit your chosen cashback portal, search for your chosen merchant, then click the direct link to begin shopping.
Each shopping portal uses an internal tracking system to record your transaction and credit your account with the promised cashback amount. To avoid any tracking errors, make sure that you adhere to the following guidelines:
- Disable your ad blocker and any other browser extensions which could interfere with the process. When you click through from the portal to your chosen merchant, you don’t want anything disrupting the tracking.
- If you are using a coupon code, make sure the portal allows it. Some portals maintain their own list of approved coupons and using an outside coupon can void the cashback earnings.
After making a purchase, your portal account will be credited with the cashback total. If the transaction doesn’t track correctly and you aren’t automatically credited the cashback, all of the major portals allow you to submit a “missing cashback claim” through your online account interface. I’ve had to submit several claims over the years for unknown reasons, and very rarely have a problem. After you submit the order details, your account will be manually credited the correct cashback amount.
4) Withdraw and enjoy your cashback
After meeting the minimum payout threshold established by each portal, you can withdrawal your cashback earnings via bank account, Paypal, or gift card.
The available payout method varies by each portal and some offer a bonus for choosing a specific payout method. For example, Swagbucks offers 10% off your first $25 gift card purchase each calendar month. Topcashback occasionally offers a 5% payout bonus when you request your cashback via American Express gift card, which can be spent anywhere that Amex is accepted for payment. The current bonus cashout offers are clearly listed in your account with each cashback portal, so it’s easy to decide if a bonus is worth it.
I hope this article helps you better understand the process of earning cashback through online shopping portals. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.