Ebates.com: a great way to save on your online purchases

What if you could earn money by making purchases online that you were planning to make anyway? Sounds too good to be true. Essentially, that is what Ebates.com allows you to do.

What is Ebates.com?Ebates.com

Ebates is a web site where you can earn cash back when you make purchases at a variety of online stores. I only discovered Ebates a few months ago, but the company has actually been in existence since 1998. It was founded by a pair of attorneys in California who used to prosecute online fraud and wanted to provide a better solution for online shoppers.

Essentially, Ebates has relationships with hundreds of online retailers. When people are referred to their stores through Ebates and then make a purchase, they send Ebates a percentage of the purchase. Ebates then shares that with you the consumer in the form of cash back.

What retailers are supported by Ebates.com?

But does the retailer I am looking for work with Ebates? Chances are very good the answer to that question is yes.

According to the banner on the Ebates web site, currently there are over 1,600 retailers that are supported by Ebates. In fact If I have a “complaint” with Ebates, it is that there are so many stores that it can be difficult to find the one you are looking for. You’ll want to use the search box to look for your store as browsing the list can be overwhelming.

Be aware that not all stores provide rebates on all items. For example, the behemoth of online retailing, Amazon.com, does work with Ebates, but only certain categories of items are eligible for cash back.

How does it work

The process for using Ebates.com really couldn’t be simpler. You sign-up for a free account on the Ebates.com. To start with, you need only enter your e-mail address and a password to create your account.

Then when you are planning to shop online, instead of going directly to the retailer’s web site, you go first to Ebates.com and click on the link there for the retailer. It will redirect you to the retailer’s web site and automatically include a tracking code that identifies you as coming from the Ebates service. You then do your shopping as you normally would and any qualified purchases you make automatically earn you cash back from Ebates.

How do I get paid?

Currently, Ebates offers two options for receiving your cash back rewards. If you have a PayPal account you can connect that to your Ebates account and then your cash back rewards will be deposited directly into your PayPal account. If you do not wish to use PayPal then Ebates will send you a check with your rewards.

Cash back awards accumulate and are paid out on a quarterly basis. If you have accumulated less than $5.01, then your amount will simply carry over to the next quarter.

One additional option they provide if you don’t really need the money is that you can designate a charity, and your cash back bonuses will be sent to that charity.

Additional ways to save

That’s all pretty cool, but there are actually several additional ways to save.

Free shipping

Ebates has a link that lists free shipping codes for many of the retailers on the site.

Additional coupons

In addition to free shipping, many retailers offer coupon codes for a percentage off, or things like $10 off an order of $50 or more. Ebates provides a list of all these coupon codes that you can use in addition to the cash back percentage you already are getting.

Printable coupons

Most of what I’ve talked about so far applies to online orders. Ebates also has a section where they provide printable coupons as well.

Daily Double

One of my favorites is the daily double e-mail. Each day Ebates will send you an e-mail listing one retailer that is offering double or more their rebate for that particular day.

I have used this one to buy ink for my inkjet printer and received cash back bonuses of more than half my purchase! That’s a great deal.

My experiences with Ebates.com

I have been using E-bates for almost a year now, and have found it to be a very handy service. It’s simple to set up. Once the initial setup is done it only requires a couple of extra clicks to go to Ebates.com first and then click on my retailer. Rebates are usually somewhere between 3% to 10% of your purchase with some stores providing even more.

As with any “deal-type” site, the key is to make sure you don’t get carried away. It’s easy to get caught up in the savings high and order even more since I’m “saving so much money”. You aren’t saving anything when you buy stuff you don’t really need.

But, if you have something you need and are planning to make the purchase regardless, then you want to get the best deal possible. Ebates.com provides a very easy way of squeezing a little extra savings out of those purchases.

Have you used Ebates.com? What experiences have you had?

Disclaimer: If you click on one of the Ebates.com links on this article and sign up I will get a small affiliate fee. Any fees I receive go toward the upkeep of this site. I wouldn’t recommend the site though if I had not personally found it very useful.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.