Is Ebates the best online shopping tool out there? Is it a scam or a legit way to get paid to shop online?
In this full Ebates review, I’ll go over what Ebates is, how it works, and my experience with getting Ebates cash back for home online shopping, travel, and more, complete with walkthrough screenshots from my personal account.
What Is Ebates?
The first step in an Ebates review, of course, is explaining what this tool actually is. Ebates is not an Internet shop or regular coupon site. Instead, it’s an online shopping portal (and it’s 100% free to use).
What is an online shopping portal? Essentially, it’s a “gateway” through to other home online shopping websites.
Just like how in fiction or video games, characters enter portals to be transported to another place, you go through Ebates’ online shopping portal to be transported to other Internet shops.
These sites pay Ebates a percentage for the traffic, and in turn, Ebates pays you.
How to Get Ebates Cash Back
You can get your first $10 in cash back just by signing up for Ebates and making one purchase through the online shopping portal, so you’re already coming out ahead. You don’t have to put in credit card information or pay anything to use it, ever, so there’s zero risk.
Then, you earn more cash back by shopping at thousands of Ebates partner stores. You can either manually go to your Ebates profile and click their links to the stores, or simply use the easy browser button (more on this below).
Each site offers a different amount of cash back. If I made a $100 purchase on a site offering 10% Ebates cash back, I’d get $10 free just for accessing the site through Ebates.
After you make a purchase, the Ebates cash back amount gets calculated and automatically added to your account.
From there, you can choose to be paid online via PayPal, or receive a paper check. Ebates distributes payouts four times a year.
This is my PayPal transaction history for the four quarterly payments last year. (Of course, it’s highest in February, after the holidays!) I don’t do a ton of home online shopping, but even so, it really adds up.
That’s an extra $100 I can invest in the stock market so it can grow.
Ebates Cash Back Browser Button
By far the easiest way to use Ebates is with their convenient browser button. It’s available for three major web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Once you sign up for Ebates, it should give you the option to install it.
When you install the Ebates browser button, you’ll be alerted any time you’re on a site offering Ebates cash back. Then, you can simply click the button to be redirected back through the Ebates shopping portal, thus activating your cash back eligibility.
As a test, I’ll go to Nike.com to show you how the button works. I’m not clicking through any links in this case–just typing the site name into my address bar. Immediately, you can see the button pop up in the top right corner of the page:
When I click the button, I get redirected back to the same Nike homepage through the Ebates shopping portal, and earn cash back once I make the purchase:
Using Ebates this way basically requires zero extra steps on my end other than clicking the button. I can do regular web shopping for the things I need, and if extra cash back is available, it’s just free money for an online purchase I’d have to make anyway.
Getting Ebates Cash Back Without the Browser Button
Even if you don’t use one of the eligible browsers or don’t want the button, you can still do your web shopping through Ebates. Here’s an example of doing it the manual way.
Let’s say I want to buy something on Shoes.com (which I just did this spring, so I can recommend them too).
So, I’d go to Ebates.com and sign in. The Shoes offer is right on the home page, but if it wasn’t, I could find it using the search bar at the top.
Clicking that homepage box brings me to the site’s individual Ebates page. On the right, the page also lists coupons or special deals you can use for even more savings.
From here, all I have to do is click “Shop Now” in the box at the left, and it opens up a new tab taking me to the Shoes site through the online shopping portal (just like the button):
Once I’m on the site, I just find what I want, check out, and sit back to wait for the cash!
What Stores Are on Ebates?
So, where to shop online in order to get these extra rewards? Honestly, almost anywhere. Ebates partners with thousands of the best online shopping retailers across a variety of industries.
Here’s just a tiny sample of the biggest names on the Ebates online shopping list right now:
- Best Buy
- Jos. A Bank
- Under Armour
- Ace Hardware
- Home Depot
- New Balance
- The North Face
Like I said, that’s just a small fraction; they really do cover most of the best online shopping options. I’ve gotten Ebates cash back on everything from backpacks to weekend getaway bookings to new tires for my car.
Sometimes I wouldn’t even have thought to check if a store was on the Ebates online shopping list, which is why installing the button is so amazing–I can be browsing stores and it will just pop up in the corner to let me know if they have a cash back deal.
Special Ebates Cash Back Days
Throughout the year, Ebates offers special cash back days where you can earn even more than normal. This often coincides with holidays.
For instance, at time of writing, they’re having a Double Cash Back week for Father’s Day, so a lot of stores are offering between 8-12% extra cash back. On Black Friday week, I’ve seen percentages go as high as 20%.
If you have a big purchase in mind but don’t need the item immediately, consider waiting for one of these days, because the savings can be really significant.
What if I Don’t Get My Ebates Cash Back?
I’ve had a few times where I was positive that I’d gone through the Ebates online shopping portal, but my online purchase didn’t register for some reason, so I didn’t see the Ebates cash back added to my account.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to fix this. First, sometimes it just takes time, so give it about a week. If the Ebates cash back still hasn’t been added after that, take these steps:
- Log into Ebates and click Help in the upper right corner on the home page.
- Select Track My Cash Back.
- It will ask for details of your purchase–the store, date of purchase, order number, and subtotal. To get these, search your email for the order confirmation.
- Click the Find My Cash Back button to submit the request. Usually, the funds will be added to your account right away.
Ebates has always resolved these issues quickly for me, which makes me like them even more as a company. They’re user-friendly and don’t want to put their users through unnecessary hassle.
Ebates Review Conclusion: Best Online Shopping Tool
Given how easy and effective it is, I can’t really think of a reason not to sign up for the Ebates online shopping portal. Again, it’s literally free money for things you’d be buying anyway. My Ebates review is definitely a positive one based on my experience, and I have plenty of friends and family who love it too.
Using Ebates in combination with other strategies, you can save a lot of $$$ by being a savvy online shopper. Check out my full guide for saving money while shopping online here.
Further reading: 70 Simple Ways to Save Money
Kate owns and operates content and editorial businesses remotely, which allows stints of globetrotting as a digital nomad. So far, her laptop has accompanied her to Europe, Asia, and around the U.S., mostly thanks to credit card points. Years of research and ghostwriting on personal finance led her to the FI community and Selleratheart. In addition to traveling and outdoor adventure, Kate is passionate about financial literacy, compound interest, and the Oxford comma. Visit her website.