Shopping Cash Back Programs

Today I became interested in the various cashback programs available online. The idea is very simple. I need to buy something from an online store. Those stores will pay a commission to any site that will send me their way. A cashback site sends me to online shopping sites like Buy.com or Amazon using their affiliate link. When I complete a purchase on the shopping site the cash back site get a percentage of the sale. Then the cashback site that referred me shares their cut with me.

I found a few cashback sites that seem very straight forward (Bigcrumbs, ExtraBux, Ebates, FatWallet, and Bing). I am not interested in earning points that can then be redeemed so there were a few sites that I am leaving off my list. I want money :) All the sites have a minimum amount you must earn before you can cash out. Its pretty low though so it seems like this will not be a problem for most people that do some occasional online shopping.Here is an example of the percent cash back you can earn by using these sites.

Buy.com purchase Cashback comparison

Bigcrumbs

ExtraBux

Ebates

FatWallet

Bing till Dec 2, 09

Shoes, Baby and Pet Supplies 7.2% 1% 1% 2.66% 10% after markup
Jewelry, Watches, Apparel, Health & Beauty 6.3% 1% 1% 2.33% 10% after markup
Books, Music, DVDs, Games, Sports, Toys, Bags, Home & Outdoors 4.5% 1% 1% 1.67% 5% after markup
Computers, Electronics, Software, Clearance .99% 1% 1% 1.0% 5% after markup
Gift Cards 2.7% 1% 1% * **
Wireless 0% ** 0% 0% 5% after markup

* Gift Card Details: Cash Back available on purchase, not redemption, of gift cards.
** Unable to find details, or unsure of details

I signed up and went through some purchases all the way up until I had to actually pay. All the sites I tested seem legitimate with the exception of Bing Shopping. To put it bluntly Bing is a scam and I would not recommend it. After searching with Bing.com Cashback and using a second browser that is not using Bing I was able to find more items on Buy.com and better prices. Maybe this is not the case for all items but it certainly seems suspicious. I did not find these price differences with the other sites I tested. My advice is to avoid Bing or at least be sure to check prices with out Bing cashback. I was also presented with a “This item is sold out” message when searching for some items through Bing but the same item was not sold out when searching with out Bing.

This is a big shame from a user interface perspective because Bings shopping search is very well integrated with their normal search. When you search for a product on the regular Bing search they will show you a small cashback icon  next to items in stores that will give you cash back through their program. All the other sites require you to go through their portals that are elusively for shopping in order to redeem their cashback awards. Not a big deal but you have alter the way you shop a bit to get a little money back.

Here is what bing told me a Nokia phone was going for on Buy.com
bing-scam

This is what happened when I clicked to buy the phone.
bing-buy-com-result

And here is the exact same search in a  different browser not logged in to the bing shopping program.
buy-com-search

You can tell its a different browser because Safari renders the text slightly differently then Firefox. This is why print designers often have troubles on the web.

I have enrolled in all these programs and may try them the next time I need to buy something online. I’ll update this post at that point. For now this seems like a nice way to get a small kickback. Why not, I shop online any way. On top of that I can get points back from my credit card. Feels like a win win to me.

  1. Rosie888 says:

    I love cash back sites. When I need to buy something online, I find it best to compare the cash back sites. I can’t live without cashreporter.com