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There are a lot of shopping portals out there, and they all give different rates depending on where you shop at. If you don’t know which one to look to, we’re going to examine the top two on the market: TopCashback and BeFrugal.
What Is A Shopping Portal?
Before we get into our comparison of the two contenders, let’s give a brief description of what a shopping portal actually is. In short, it’s a website that allows you to get cash back for your online purchases across thousands of different retailers.
These portals partner with these retailers and work out affiliate deals, and then they post their affiliate links on their website. When a user like you or I clicks on one of their links, the retailers will track the purchase and pay the portals the appropriate amount of commission. The amount of commission earned depends on the company that’s paying them.
For example, if a portal puts an affiliate link to an Amazon page and I click on it to buy something, they can earn anywhere from 4% – 8% depending on the product and quantity bought.
In order to incentivize consumers to use their site, portals offer to give back this earned commission in the form of “cash back.” The amount of cash back they give depends on the store. Using a link to Raise only gets me 2% at TopCashBack, but if I want to buy something at Walmart I can get up to 4% in cash back.
Now that we have that covered, let’s get started on comparing the two portals.
The Referral Rates
For the longest time BeFrugal and TopCashBack had the same referral bonus. Each time you refer a friend that earns at least $10 in cash back, you receive a bonus of $10 in your portal account. As of just a couple of weeks ago this changed.
Now TopCashback offers the highest referral bonus at $15 in your cash back account each time you refer a friend that earns a minimum of $10 in their account. Both portals may take up to 30 days before they award the bonus to your account.
One thing I particularly like about TopCashBack is that you have the option to keep track of your referrals’ progress and “nudge” them in case they don’t earn $10 in cash back so you get your bonus. Let’s say your friend only spends $9. This means they can’t cash out and you don’t get a bonus. You have the option to send them a reminder email up to one time per week.
Since TopCashBack has the reminder email, ability to check current referrals’ progress and a higher referral bonus, they definitely come out on top when it comes to referrals.
The Cash Back Rates
This is probably the most important factor when comparing any two shopping portals on the web. Since it’s a bit difficult to compare across all of their retailers, we made a small table to show you the rates compared across ten popular retailers at both stores.
As you can see from the table above, most of the rates across the two contenders are almost identical. If you’re curious enough to know, in terms of total cash back across all 10 stores listed above, TopCashback came out at 60.1% and BeFrugal came out at 55.8%.
Keep in mind that these rates are the maximum amount you can receive at any given retailer. Sometimes they apply to only certain product categories. For example, you can get 10% cash back on Amazon Home Services, but only 4% back when you purchase from the Cell Phones & Accessories category on Amazon.
Since these two are so close in overall cash back, we recommend that you use whichever one you prefer using, or you can do what I do and use whichever gives the highest rate for a particular retailer.
Both portals give the same offer of $10 as bonus just for signing-up as a new member. You can’t withdraw this amount until you’ve earned a minimum of $10 in cash back with TopCashBack, and a minimum of $15 in cash back with BeFrugal. The registration bonus is awarded to your account immediately.
Withdrawal Bonus & Times
You can make your savings go a bit further by changing your cash out method. Let’s take a look at TopCashback first.
There are four methods of redeeming your cash back: PayPal, Amazon Gift Cards, American Express Gift Cards, or an ACH bank transfer. If you cash out to Amazon Gift Cards, they’ll throw in an additional 3% bonus to your cash back amount. The same goes for an American Express Gift Card. Cash outs can take up to 10 days, but in my experience they usually come a lot quicker.
With BeFrugal, you can get a check, deposit to PayPal or Amazon Gift Cards. They also give an additional bonus of 3% in cash back when you choose the Amazon option. Cash outs can take up to 10 days as well, and they’ll usually take anywhere from 7 – 10.
It’s rare, but sometimes I find an offer that gets me 100% cash back or even more, meaning I actually make money on a given purchase plus the item I’m buying. TopCashBack tends to have more of these offers overall.
There’s one that’s been up for a while now on Fiverr.com. When you purchase a total of $7 or more, you get $7 back. If you make a purchase below this amount, you only receive the amount spent. I’ve also had experiences in which I bought a phone for $20 and received $30 in cash back, netting me a profit of $10.
BeFrugal does have bonuses every once in a while, but they’re usually only increased cash back offers, and I’ve yet to get a freebie from them (and it could be that I’ve just never noticed).
I haven’t had a problem with any of these portals in any way, and any time I have questions they always respond to me in a prompt and polite manner. This is why I suggest that if you’re only going to use a couple of portals, let it be these two.
The one thing that may be important to some is that TopCashBack is international. They have sites specifically for the United States, Japan, China, England and India. If you’re an international user, you’re definitely going to want to stick with this portal.
How Do I Find The Portal With The Best Rates?
There are so many portals on the web now, and even more are popping up, making it more and more tedious to find the portal with the highest cash back rate at a given retailer. Fortunately, there’s a tool called CashBackMonitor that allows us to search for the best rate. When you go to their site, there’s a search bar for a retailer’s name.
The results will yield a short list of the portals with the best rates for that particular store. If you click on any of the percentages, you’ll see a more detailed list, including portals that will offer you miles and other rewards instead of just cash.
Shouldn’t I Always Just Use The Portal With The Best Rate?
This depends. A lot of these cash back portals require a minimum amount before you can withdraw your cash back. With that being said, if you don’t make a lot of online purchases but only go for the portal with the highest amount of cash back, there might be times in which you use a portal only once or twice.
Since there’s a minimum amount you have to earn before you withdraw, you might never get that cash at all. However, if you’re a frequent online shopper and are confident that you’ll be using portals over and over on a regular basis, then you probably could do this. For those of you who don’t shop much, it’s usually best to stick to either one or two so that you’ll frequently reach the minimum withdrawal rate, and that’s why we decided to compare the best two.
Furthermore, there have been times in which I’ve used portals and have never received a dime. Here’s a current list of portals I’ve personally used and have always received cash back for a purchase:
While it may seem a bit lengthy to always go through a cash back portal when making an online purchase, I assure you that the process will get easier and easier the more you do it. Eventually you’ll get to the point in which it only takes an extra 30 seconds, and you’ll want to do it to earn a few extra dollars on every online purchase.
If you know of a portal that’s not featured on our trusted list mentioned above, we’d love to know and add it. Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them down below. Thanks for reading and happy shopping!
My name is Jason Wuerch and I'm currently located in Madrid, Spain running a personal finance blog called Frugal For Less. My goal is to help everyone and anyone willing to make and save money through easy and simple ways that don't require much effort. Just because you're frugal doesn't mean you have to give up life's luxuries.