There is no time like the present to start using cash back sites to get a couple dollars and cents back on your online purchases.

What’s a cash back site, you ask?

It’s pretty simple actually.  After you sign up for an account with the cash back site, you can use the cash back site as a starting point before making your purchases.  The cash back site opens up a tracking ticket, then after the purchase is completed, the retailer reports back to the cash back site and you earn a percentage of the purchase amount in cash. Confusing? Here’s a little graphic I threw together:

Note: you don’t have to start at the retailer site – that’s totally optional.  You could always start out at the cash back site instead.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Shop at your favorite sites as usual, adding items to your cart.
  2. Before you check out, open a new browser window or tab and navigate to the cash back site.
  3. Log in and search for the retailer where you’ve been shopping.
  4. Click through to the retailer using a “shop now” or similar button.
  5. Complete your purchase at the retailer’s website.
  6. Voila!  The cash back website and retailer work together to process the purchase on their end and all you have to do is sit back and wait for the dough to start rolling in!

Before I make a purchase online, I check the following three sites:


I’ve been pleasantly surprised by aspects of each these sites.

I think BigCrumbs is poised to be the best of the three listed here. It’s easy to use, there is no minimum payout amount, they pay every month, and the community aspect is great. If you have a question that isn’t answered in the forums, their customer service department is very timely and usually quite adept at solving problems . You also earn based on how your referrals shop, which is great if you can get lots of your friends/family to sign up and shop. (Why wouldn’t you?)

One downside to BigCrumbs is that quite often, the retailer you’re looking for is not a participating member. Also, sometimes the answers you’re trying to find in the forums aren’t easy to locate.

Ebates offers more retailers than BigCrumbs — including some of my favorites, Ann Taylor and LOFT — and sometimes the cash back percentage is higher than BigCrumbs. The downside to using Ebates is that they only pay quarterly and there is a $5.01 minimum to receive payment. However, you get $5 cash back when you sign up, so you only need to earn one cent in cash back rewards to get paid. If you refer a new member, and they make a qualifying purchase of $20 or more, you also get $5 as a “finder’s fee” – this is great if your referrals shop right away, but it stinks when they wait a while or don’t make any large purchases.

I am most iffy on ShopAtHome, but they actually have the best cash back promise – a 110% guarantee that their cash back rate will be the best!  The good thing is that you get $5 at signup, but unfortunately ShopAtHome does not pay you until your account reaches $20. They also only pay by check, while the others pay via PayPal (which is way more convenient for me). I’ve only gotten one check from ShopAtHome in the year of being a member.

What cash back sites do you use? I have heard that credit cards (Mastercard Marketplace for example) and Upromise work very similarly. Any recommendations? I am always willing to try out something new!


Links in this post are my personal referrals to the cash back sites.  You can click any of the links to sign up as my personal referral.  The blog post outlines how referral commissions are paid.

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2 Responses to Cash Back Explained

  1. […] referral links for Ebates and Mr. Rebates. To learn more about how cash back sites work, visit this old ShopHappens post. // 0savesSave If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or […]

  2. […] forget if you shop online, use Cash Back sites to get the best bang for your buck. My personal favorite is BigCrumbs – sign up and refer […]

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