If you are a bargain hunter and you are not using cashback websites and apps, then you’re seriously missing out! There are dozens of cashback websites, but after years of use, we highly recommend Rakuten, TopCashback, and RebatesMe.
Cashback websites and apps are online platforms that offer consumers a chance to earn back a percentage of their spending when they shop through specific links provided by these platforms. Think of it as a reward or a rebate for your shopping: you spend money, and a portion of it comes back to you.
How Do Cashback Websites Work?
- Sign Up: Start by creating an account on any cashback platform of your choice. It’s free!
- Browse & Shop: After registration, explore a variety of retailers and their offers. To make a purchase, simply click on the link of your choice. For added convenience, there are browser extensions and apps that enable one-click cashback activation while shopping at countless retailer websites.
- Earn Cashback: Once you’ve made a purchase, a certain percentage of your total spend is credited to your account as cashback. This percentage differs based on the retailer and specific offer.
- Redeem Cashback: After your cashback is verified (this can take time due to return policies and other verifications), and once it reaches a set minimum amount, you can cash out. Different platforms offer various withdrawal methods, from bank transfers and PayPal to gift cards.
The foundation of this system is affiliate marketing. Retailers pay a commission to cashback platforms for directing shoppers and sales to their websites. In turn, these platforms share a fraction of that commission with you, the user. In order to stay competitive and attract more users, these platforms work hard to secure the highest cashback deals for you!
The best part? IRS treats these cashback rewards as a rebate, not an income, so they are completely tax-free! You don’t have to pay any income tax on cashback rewards!
Formerly known as “Ebates,” which established in 1998, Rakuten stands as one of the pioneers in the cashback platform arena. Not only is it one of the earliest, but it’s also the largest based on traffic volume and is arguably among the best.
Rakuten rewards users with cashback for both online and in-store shopping —including at 12,000 restaurants and over 3,500 online retailers. To access these offers, one can use Rakuten’s web portal, its browser extension, or the iOS/Android app.
A particularly user-friendly feature is Rakuten’s browser extension: once it’s installed, it automatically notifies you of available cashbacks and coupons while you’re shopping online or even just searching for a product on Google.
For instance, when I searched for “sneakers” on Google with the Rakuten extension enabled in my Chrome browser, I was immediately informed that Nike currently offers 8% cashback and Foot Locker provides up to 6% cashback. It’s worth noting, however, that cashback rates can fluctuate frequently.
Currently, new users can earn a $30 sign-up bonus if they spend $30 within the first 90 days of opening their account. Moreover, if you refer someone to Rakuten and they spend $30 within their initial 90 days, both of you will receive a $30 bonus.
For those who shop frequently online, rewards can stack up quickly. And if you have a social media following to whom you can refer Rakuten, the potential bonuses can be significant.
I can personally attest to this: Our team has been a loyal member of Rakuten (previously known as Ebates) since 2013. To date, we’ve earned a total cashback of $128,137.25. To put this in perspective, just during the last Black Friday season, we received $15,870 in cashback from Rakuten!
Rakuten partners with over 3,500 online stores. Typically, you can expect to earn between 4-10% cashback when shopping via Rakuten. However, the rate can vary considerably based on the retailer and current promotions — occasionally, cashback rates can soar to 40% or even more!
Rakuten distributes cashback on a quarterly basis, either through PayPal or a check sent by mail. For American Express customers, there’s an additional option: they can opt to receive their rewards as American Express Membership Rewards points. Notably, these points can be valued at up to two cents each, as highlighted by the renowned travel blogger, the Points Guy.
- Opportunities for substantial cashback percentages
- Cash payments either via PayPal or a mailed check
- Cashback is paid out on a quarterly schedule
- The platform does not support receipt scanning for cashback
- Payment methods are limited to just PayPal and mailed checks
TopCashBack is a prominent cashback site with 11 million members worldwide, featuring major partners like Amazon and eBay. Unlike most cashback sites that earn by taking a cut from the commission received from retail partners, TopCashBack claims that it gives the full commission back to its customers.
With TopCashBack’s “Highest Cash Back Guarantee”, users are assured of getting the best cashback rate out there. If you spot a better rate on a different platform for a particular retailer, TopCashBack will match it!
TopCashBack generously offers up to 10% on a lot of brands. Their extensive network encompasses over 7,000 retailers, featuring renowned brands like Adidas, Macy’s, and The Home Depot. While the platform is primarily tailored for online shopping, they haven’t overlooked in-store shoppers, introducing the Snap & Save offers for physical store purchases.
When it comes to payouts, TopCashBack offers plenty of options. Users can opt for PayPal, bank transfers, virtual rewards cards, or even gift cards. Impressively, for widely-used methods such as PayPal and bank transfers, there’s no waiting game; users can cash out with a balance as minimal as $0.01.
To top it all off, TopCashBack occasionally offer payout bonus opportunities, where certain payout methods come with an enticing 1% to 5% cash back bonus. Their referral program is another feather in their cap, allowing users to earn $10 for every successful referral they make.
The platform’s accessibility is further enhanced with its mobile app, available for both iOS and Android users, and browser extensions compatible with Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.
- Features over 7,000 participating retailers.
- Highest cashback rate guarantee.
- Transparent business model.
- Immediate payout once you have a cashback balance.
- Some payout methods have minimum thresholds. For instance, Amex rewards cards require a $10 minimum, and Visa rewards cards need at least $5.
RebatesMe is a cashback shopping portal that allows users to earn rewards when shopping at various online retailers.The platform is similar to other well-known cashback sites like Rakuten. The platform caters to a diverse audience, offering its interface in English, Chinese, and Korean.
Every day, a few stores are selected for a “double cash back” special, and new ones are added regularly. They offer impressive rates of up to 55% across over 3,000 stores, spanning categories like beauty, clothing, electronics, food, and more. New users can receive a bonus of up to $40 when they earn at least $10 in cashback within first 90 days.
To enhance the user experience, RebatesMe offers a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS, making it easier for users to activate cashback sessions and track potential savings.
When it’s time to redeem, users have a variety of options, including PayPal, credit cards, checks, and gift cards, with a modest redemption threshold of just $10.
- Partnerships with over 3,000 retailers, covering a diverse range of categories.
- A whooping $40 sign-up bonus.
- Various ways to cash out cashbacks, including credit cards.
- To cash out sign-up bonus, users need to accumulate at least $10 in cashback within the first 90 days.
- A $1.99 monthly fee is charged after 365 days of inactivity.
- The platform is relatively new and has mixed reviews.
- They often offer competitive sign-up bonuses, though the requirements sometimes can be complex.
How to Choose the Right Cashback Platform
- Reputation and Reviews: Always opt for platforms with a solid reputation. Check online reviews, ratings, and user testimonials. A platform with a history of timely payouts and good customer service is a safer bet.
- Cashback Percentage: Different platforms offer varying cashback percentages. While some might offer higher rates, others might have better reliability or a broader range of retailers. It’s essential to strike a balance based on your shopping habits.
- Payout Methods: Ensure the platform’s payout methods align with your preferences. Whether it’s direct bank transfers, PayPal, or gift cards, choose a platform that offers your desired method.
- Minimum Payout Threshold: Some platforms might require you to accumulate a certain amount of cashback before you can withdraw it. Check this threshold to ensure it’s reasonable and achievable based on your shopping frequency.
- User Experience: A user-friendly interface, easy navigation, and a seamless experience, both on desktop and mobile, can make your cashback journey much more enjoyable.
- Customer Support: A responsive customer support team can be invaluable, especially if you run into any issues or have queries about your cashback.
Too Many Sign-Ups Might Be Tricky
Signing up for multiple cashback websites might seem like a good strategy to maximize savings and sign-up bonus, but there are several reasons why it might not always be the best approach:
- Overwhelming Management: Keeping track of multiple accounts, each with its own set of rules, minimum payout thresholds, and promotional offers, can become overwhelming. Checking multiple platforms to find the best cashback deal before every purchase can be time-consuming. The time spent might not justify the potential extra savings.
- Reduced Earnings: Spreading your purchases across multiple platforms means you might not reach the minimum payout threshold on any single platform quickly. This can delay your ability to redeem your cashback.
- Increased Risk: The more platforms you sign up for, the more personal and financial information you share online. This increases the risk of data breaches or falling victim to scams if one of the platforms isn’t secure or reputable.
- Potential for Confusion: With multiple accounts, you might forget where you made a particular purchase or which platform owes you cashback, especially when the cashback system misses your shopping trip. This can lead to missed opportunities to claim your rewards.
Disclosure: We are an Amazon Associate. Some links on this website are affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission or receive a referral fee when you sign up or make a purchase through those links.