Tips for Online Shopping: Using Cashback Websites to Earn Cash While You Shop - EgapGO
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Tips for Online Shopping: Using Cashback Websites to Earn Cash While You Shop

Some of you may have heard about using “cashback” websites to earn cash (yes, actual cashback on your purchases).

In this post, we wanted to share our experience with one of them.  We tried Rakuten over the Black Friday Sales as a trail.

Your first question probably is, are they for real?  Yes, we actually earned cashback (and the money has already been paid into our PayPal account). We earned ~10% on our purchases from several different merchants during November.  We could have earned more if we had read the fine print so we want to share a few points with you before you try one of them.

How do they work?  You install a browser extension (we used Chrome).  Before you shop, you open the extension to go to Rakuten’s website to use their link to go to your favorite merchant to shop.

Why their link?  Rakuten has established affiliate relations with 1000’s of merchants and splits the money they earn with you. Since they are so big, they are able to negotiate a bigger “reward” than individuals who sign up for affiliate programs.   Most people know Amazon has an affiliate program, but today, almost every merchant has an affiliate program where they reward users who refer customers to their site (look in the footer of your favorite merchant’s site you will see a link to how to sign up and the T&C for their affiliate program).

For those of you who don’t know what an affiliate program is, anyone can sign up to essentially be an ambassador and promote an online merchant and their products.  The affiliate is given a unique code they embed to any link to the merchant’s website (there is a way to automate this process of embedding the code) they share.  Any person who buys something after using that link, the link creator earns a commission.  So pretty much any reviews or recommendations you read of products/brands, if you read the fine print, the reviewer will state somewhere (legally they are required to state this), they may earn a commission if you purchase the product in their article.

Key learnings from our trail:

  • You must access the merchant’s website via Rakuten’s website before you start shopping
  • You must finish your shopping session within a reasonable amount of time (not defined).  Essentially, you can’t put something in your cart today and go back tomorrow, add more items, check out and expect to get the cashback.  Probably a few hours from start to finish is ok.  The next day is not ok to earn cashback
  • You cant put things in your cart then activate your Rakuten.  If you shop than activate, you won’t be eligible for cashback.  You need to put everything in your cart after activating your Rakuten account, or Rakuten does not get credit for “referring” you so you cant get your share of the cash.  We checked with customer services, they said one option was “saving” items to a wish list, but cautioned that does not always work.  It is best to shop and put items in the cart directly after activating Rakuten to guarantee you earn your cashback.
  • Not all items are eligible for cashback.  For example groceries and electronics on Target are not eligible.  Also, sites like Amazon, Kohl’s, and Macy’s have different rebate amounts for different departments (and there is lots of fine print for all merchants what products qualify and which don’t).

The bottom line is you can get money back using these websites when you shop.  It was not on everything, but some money is better than none?  Depending on your shopping habits, it will depend on how much you can earn.  You just have to have the discipline to activate your Rakuten account each time before you shop.  Now we notice, there is a pop reminder so it makes it easier to remember to activate our Rakuten Account

Two other companies we have heard about are (but have not tried) are:



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