(Updated 8/04/18) While I’ve talked about the power of cashback websites in the past, I figured it was time for a stand-alone Ebates review. After all, they are the granddaddy of all cashback sites and have been around the longest. So in this review I talk about how Ebates works, how you get paid, along with some insider tips to help you get the most out of using Ebates when shopping online as well as in-store.
Exactly How Does Ebates Work?
In a nutshell, Ebates is a cashback website that pays you whenever you shop online.
The cashback rate varies from 1% all the way up to 40% depending on the retailer. Expect somewhere between 4%-8% as that seems to be about the average.
Is Ebates Legit? How Do They Make Money?
Ebates is absolutely legit and has been writing checks to shoppers since 1998.
Founded in San Francisco, Ebates currently has close to 3 million registered users.
So how does Ebates make money? Whenever a user goes through their website or app to make a purchase at one the retailers they list, Ebates gets paid a referral fee by the retailer.
The fee could be 8%, 12%, or 2% of your order total. Depends solely on the affiliate contract in place. Ebates then uses this fee to give their users “cashback”.
Based on some of the cashback percentages they offer, it appears they keep somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of their referral fee as profit and gives the rest to their users in the form of cashback.
Popular Store Cashback Examples
To give you can idea, here are some current cashback rates at these popular retailers:
- Amazon (up to 10% back)
- Dell Consumer (8% back)
- Kohl’s (3% back)
- Nike (8% back)
- Petco (4% back in-store)
- Expedia (up to 10% back)
- Target (2% back)
- Macys.com (3% back)
- American Eagle (2% back)
- Lowes.com (2.5% back)
- Lancome (8% back)
- Sears (8% back)
- Walmart (1% back)
- Barnes & Noble (up to 3% back)
I’ll be sure to keep this list updated.
How Often Does Ebates Pay Me?
Ebates pays out your cashback on the above payment schedule.
So basically Ebates will pay you once per quarter, 45 days after your earning period ends.
Not the best system as it would be nice to get paid immediately after you request a payout, but we can live with it. Look for Ebates to improve this in the future.
How Does Ebates Pay Me?
Ebates currently has three forms of payment available to its users:
- Big Fat Check – When it comes to my cashback earnings, I’ve always opted for the direct mailing of a Big Fat Check. Ebates will pay for the stamp so make sure you have the correct mailing address in your account settings.
- PayPal – You can also opt to be paid directly to your verified PayPal account with Ebates picking up the sender fees.
- Charity/Organization/Family Member – If you’d rather donate your cashback to a deserving charity, organization, or even a family member in need, Ebates gives you the option to do so.
Is Ebates Only For Online Shopping?
While most cashback websites focus only on online shopping, Ebates has reached out to those who prefer to shop in-store via their In-Store cashback program.
They’ve done this through their In-Store Cashback Program.
It works by adding your credit or debit card to your Ebates account. Then you simply peruse the in-store cashback offers currently available and when you find one you like you just link it one of your cards.
Next, just pay with your linked card when in-store and the cashback will automatically head your way.
How Do You Make Sure You’re Earning Cashback?
Once you go through Ebates and place an order, your cashback should show up in your Ebates account within 2-3 business days.
If for some reason you don’t get your cashback within that time window, you can can file a ticket with Ebates and they’ll investigate the issue for you.
What Popular Stores is Ebates Missing?
As of this writing, Ebates doesn’t provide cashback at these stores:
- Home Depot
- Pottery Barn
- American Apparel
Ebates is always working on new affiliate contracts so hopefully these stores will start earning cashback in the near future.
BONUS: Ebates Tips for Success
Here are some insider tips and hacks to get the most of your Ebates membership.
Beware of “Up To” Wording – Some retailers offer a tiered cashback schedule. So when you see Amazon offering “up to 10%cashback”, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get 10% back, or anything close to that. As a matter of fact, the only thing that actually pays 10% is “Home Services”.
The Power of Being a “Giant” – Because Ebates is such a large player in the cashback field, with over $15 million in annual profits, they have a fat cash-roll which they can use to give you cashback even when your purchases do NOT track properly. This is a big plus when comparing Ebates to their competition.
Look for Double Cashback Stores – On a recurring basis, Ebates offers approximately 20 retailers with double-cashback. Makes for a great way to double your cashback at popular stores like Nike, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, and Neiman Marcus.
Don’t Forget the Cashback Button – If your browser of choice is Chrome, Firefox, or Safari you’d be wise to add the free “Ebates Button” browser extension. It’ll allow you to automatically activate cash back at store sites without visiting Ebates.com first.
It will also allow you to “double dip” your savings by adding any available coupon codes to your purchase for even more savings. The button is a great tool for those, like me, who’d often forget to go through the Ebates site before shopping online.
Check Out the Ebates Visa – Apply for the Ebates Visa and if you get approved you’ll earn an extra 3% cashback with Ebates and 1% everywhere else.
They Have a Handy Smartphone App Too – It’s also worth mentioning that Ebates has a clever smartphone app for Android and iOS. It’s free to download and allows you to shop via you phone and still collect your cashback.
Did I Convince Ya?
The bottomline is that Ebates is free money on shopping you’ll be doing anyways. You might as well take advantage as the cashback you’ll earn will go a long way towards paying for your Christmas shopping every year.
If this review convinced you to give it a try, remember that they’ll pay you a $10 bonus when you sign-up and spend $25 or more at any retailer they list. You have exactly 1 year to spend $25 in order to collect your $10. Gotta love free money.
By Kyle James
Disclaimer: While I didn’t get paid a cent to write this Ebates review, and all opinions are my own, I do get a small kickback (referral fee) if you give Ebates a try and create an account. Money I use to keep this blog running and feed my Krispy Kreme addiction.