Ebates Review: Legit or Scam? (Earn 10%+ Cash Back Shopping Online)

Ebates is one of the more popular shopping portals on the web. When you shop through their website, you can easily earn 10% or more in cash back at one of their partnered retailers.

In this Ebates review, we’re going to cover how much you can earn with Ebates, the Ebates referral program, whether Ebates is a scam or legit and also tips and tricks to maximize earnings.

Ebates also has an in-store cash back feature, and they’re currently the only shopping portal that has this.

Keep in mind that Ebates if 100% FREE to use, and they’ll never ask for your payment information. You also get a free $10 bonus when you sign-up as a new user.

If you’re currently using Ebates already, we’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below. With that said, let’s get started.

What Is Ebates?

As mentioned above, Ebates is an online shopping portal that pays you to shop online. You’re probably wondering how this works, as no site would give away free money.

What Ebates does is partner with thousands (currently over 2,000) of retailers across the web and place their affiliate links onto one page.

When you click on one of these links on the Ebates page, you’re automatically redirected to one of their partner retailers. Make a purchase and Ebates earns a commission.

However, instead of keeping all of this commission to themselves, they give a large portion of it back to you in the form of cash back.

The amount of cash back you earn depends on the retailer. I’ve seen cash back amount for as little as 1% and as high as 20%. During the holidays, the amounts tend to increase.

How Does Ebates Work?

Ebates is incredibly simple to use. All you have to do is use their search bar to type in the retailer of your choice.

For example, if you wish to shop at WalMart, type in ‘Walmart’. They’ll tell you how much cash back you’ll earn.

When you click on the “Get Cashback” link on each retailer, you’ll be redirected to that retailer’s page – in this case, WalMart’s page.

From there, Ebates automatically tracks your purchases and gives you a cash back percentage based on your total purchase price.

If you get 5% cash back at WalMart and spend $100, you get $5 back in your Ebates account.

The best part? You get a free $10 bonus when you register as a new user. You can view their quick introduction video below.

Let’s take a look at a quick list of pros and cons of Ebates:

Pros:
  • Chance to earn cash back for free when shopping online
  • One of the best referral programs on the web
  • $10 registration bonus
  • Double Cash Back Feature to earn 2x the amount of cash back
  • Often have higher cash back during holidays when comparing to other shopping portals
  • Free to join – never join a shopping portal that requests a payment
  • Not a scam – they always pay on-time and the right amount
  • Payments are made automatically
  • Only shopping portal with an in-store cash back feature
Cons
  • On a daily basis, typically not the highest amount of cash back when compared to portals
  • Sometimes can take up to 30 days to receive cash back
  • Payments are received only once every 3 months
  • Only payout methods are by check and PayPal
  • Only cash back on certain categories when shopping through Amazon

We’ll be covering most of the things on this list in more detail below.

When Do I Receive Cash Back?

When you make your purchase, Ebates typically deposits cash back into your account within 48 hours. However, it can take up to a maximum of 30 days.

I’ve used Ebates for a large majority of my online purchases, meaning I’ve used Ebates nearly 50 times or more. There’s only been one instance in which I had to wait 30 days.

In any case, I’ve always received the right amount of cash back in my account. It’s rare that you’ll have to wait more than a few days.

What Are The Payout Methods And When Do They Pay?

One of the best parts about Ebates is that when you earn cash back, you don’t have to manually cash out. They do this for you.

Every quarter, Ebates looks to see if there’s a minimum of $5.00 in your cash back account. If you have this amount, Ebates will pay you via check or via PayPal.

If you have less than this amount, Ebates will carry over this amount to the next payment period.

Below you can view an image of the Ebates payout schedule.

ebates payout schedule

Your payment isn’t sent until roughly 2 months after each quarter finishes. In other words, you should receive a payment every 3 months provided that you have a minimum of $5 in your account.

Why You Should Always Use Ebates Or Another Shopping Portal

There’s absolutely no reason not to use an online shopping portal. They’re 100% free to use and to join. They earn cash, you earn cash back, and you both win.

In fact, before every purchase I intend to make, I always check to see if I can go through Ebates first.

I can either choose to make my purchase like I normally would and receive 0% in cash back, or I can use Ebates and receive 1% – 20% in cash back.

Ebates has partnered with over 1,000 retailers across the web, so they’re most likely going to have the retailer I’m looking for – especially the more common ones.

Furthermore, it literally only takes me an extra 30 seconds each time I wish to shop. All I have to do is log-in, search for my store, click my cash back link and shop.

Ebates Double Cash Back Feature

Ebates has a page featuring rotating double cash back stores. Instead of the normal cash back rates, the amount you receive is doubled.

I just did a quick check and right now they’re holding a Columbus Day sale.

Instead of 5% cash back at New Balance, it’s now 10%. Instead of 1% cash back at Barnes & Nobles, it’s now 4% – quadruple the normal amount.

ebates review double cash back stores

Keep in mind that the double cash back stores in rotation change frequently, almost on a daily basis. Usually these deals rotate when a special event or a holiday is over.

You can find the double cash back stores by logging-in and clicking on the ‘Double Cash Back Stores’ tab at the top of the page.

How Do I Get Started With Ebates?

Getting started with Ebates is incredibly simple. However, in order to ensure that you don’t miss anything, we’ve broken it down for you into a few steps.

1. Register.

You can register for a free Ebates account by clicking this link here. Get a $10 bonus as a new user. Choose to receive this in the form of a gift card.

In order to join, you can link your Facebook or Google account, or you can enter your email and create a password. Be sure to confirm your email once you finish.

ebates review register

2. Search for your retailer.

Use the Ebates search bar to search for the retailer of your choice. You’ll see how much cash back you can earn as well as available coupons that you can use.

Note: Using a coupon outside of Ebates may result in a void of cash back (more information below).

ebates review walmart cash back

3. Shop.

Click on the “Shop Now” button to be redirected to the retailer’s page. Make your purchase like your normally would.

Ebates will automatically track your purchase. All you have to do is wait up to 48 hours (rarely will they use the full 30 days) to receive cash back in your account.

ebates review cash back history

4. Wait for your payment.

The great thing about Ebates is that you never have to request a payout – they handle this for you.

All you have to do is type in your PayPal email address or choose to have a physical check delivered to you.

From the image below, you can see that in the past 3 years I’ve earned a lifetime cash back amount of $891.73 by shopping through Ebates.

ebates cash back history

Ebates Referral Program

The Ebates referral program is definitely one of the best out there when comparing with other shopping portals.

How much you will earn? No one really knows, because they frequently change their referral program. In any case, it always turns out to be a great deal.

Right now until the end of December 31st, 2017, here’s their current referral program:

  1. Invite friends using your referral link. You can do this via email or any other form of communication.
  2. When your friend signs-up and makes their first purchase through Ebates, you earn a $25 bonus. Your friend also receives $10 just for signing-up.
  3. In addition, when you refer a friend you’ll automatically be entered in a drawing to earn $50,000 (maximum of 5 entries).

ebates review current referral program

As mentioned above, their referral program is never consistent. Before October they had it where if you referred one friend, you’d get $5. Refer a second friend and you’d get $25, and third friend for $50 in total.

In any case, it’s usually a great deal. A great way to quickly spread the word is by posting your link on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t forget to mention to your friends that they get a free $10 bonus as a new user. This is usually a great incentive to get started.

If you’d like to support FFL, you can use our referral link. We’d greatly appreciate it!

How Does Ebates Compare With Other Shopping Portals?

Ebates isn’t the only contender out there when it comes to earning cash back for shopping online.

There are plenty of other shopping portals out there, which lead us to put together this top 10 portal list.

However, the most important thing to consider when viewing Ebates is how their cash back rates compare to other shopping portals.

My favorite shopping portals aside from Ebates are TopCashback and BeFrugal. These portals also give a $10 bonus for signing-up as a new user.

Let’s take a look at a few comparisons. Sephora will be our first example:

  • Ebates – 4% cash back
  • TopCashback – 5% cash back
  • BeFrugal – 5% back

It looks like in this case Ebates is slightly behind. Now let’s look at WalMart:

  • Ebates – 2% cash back
  • TopCashback – 4% cash back
  • BeFrugal – 7% cash back

In this case, BeFrugal wins by a landslide. Let’s finish the comparison with Groupon:

  • Ebates – 6% cash back
  • BeFrugal – 6% cash back
  • TopCashback – 5% – 10% cash back

Again, Ebates falls behind. However, not by much, and there are some stores in which Ebates comes out ahead.

The thing to remember is that while Ebates falls behind the more popular shopping portals in terms of cash back rates, they often have double cash back bonuses that rotate in and out different stores.

If any one of the stores mentioned above had a double cash back bonus, Ebates would easily pull ahead.

Furthermore, during the holidays they typically increase rates on all stores. For this reason, Ebates is still a good shopping portal to keep on your list.

Note: Keep in mind that if you have the Ebates Credit Card, you should add an additional 3% to you cash back amount to all Ebates purchases (more information on this down below).

Is There A Way To Quickly Check Cash Back Rates Across All Three Portals?

When comparing cash back rates across these portals, you have to log-in each time, type in the store, and see the cash back amount.

While it isn’t much effort, it is a bit tedious to have to do this each time you wish to shop online.

Fortunately, there’s a quick way to compare across all 3 portals. In fact, this method allows you to compare rates across multiple online shopping portals.

We present to you Cash Back Monitor. This website allows you to check the cash back rates across portals for any specific retailer of your choosing.

Simply type in the retailer you wish to shop at, and you receive a list of cash back portals and their cash back rates for that particular store.

Let’s take WalMart as an example. We can see from the image below that the current portal with the highest amount of cash back is BeFrugal at 7%.

Ebates Review Cash Back Monitor Walmart Comparison

Be sure to check this site every time before making an online purchase. Cash back rates at each portal change incredibly frequently.

While BeFrugal is currently in the #1 spot right now for Walmart, it could easily be TopCashback tomorrow.

Why You Might Only Want To Use One Portal

You may be thinking that you want to always use the portal that has the highest amount of cash back for your particular retailer.

Yes, this will help you ultimately save the most money. However, you might not always be able to use that money.

Shopping portals usually require a minimum to cash out. If you’re only earning a few dollars at each portal, you may not be able to cash out at any of them.

This is why we recommend the following:

  • Frequent online shoppers should shop at the portal that gives the highest amount of cash back. You’ll most likely reach the minimum cash out balance at each one. This way, you’ll receive your payments somewhat quickly.
  • Somewhat frequent online shoppers should shop between three or four portals. If you come across a portal with a high cash back rate but you use it infrequently, it may be the only time you shop with it. You may not meet the minimum balance to cash out. Instead, go to a portal that you usually use so your savings can add up and you can cash out.
  • Infrequent shoppers should only use one portal. If you don’t shop online, pick a portal that you like and enjoy using with fairly high cash back rates. This way you’ll at least receive a payment every so often. Ebates isn’t a bad idea for your portal of choice.

For me personally, I don’t shop online that much. Therefore I rotate between Ebates, BeFrugal and TopCashback as my three shopping portals.

Ebates Is The Only Portal For Shopping In-Store

And that’s because Ebates is the only shopping portal that actually offers this feature.

You can easily check if they offer cash back at a certain store when shopping by downloading their free mobile.

Let’s go ahead and cover this feature.

Get Cash Back With In-Store Purchases With Ebates

If you’re only going to choose one shopping portal to use, we highly recommend Ebates. This is because they’re currently the only shopping portal that has an in-store cash back feature.

Let’s take a quick look at how this works.

  1. In order to use their in-store cash back feature, you’ll need to download their free mobile app. If you’re not a member already, sign-up through the app and you’ll still get your $10 registration bonus.
  2. Click on the ‘In-Store’ tab on the home screen of the app. You’ll see a list of stores that currently offer cash back. When you see a store you like, click on ‘Get Deal’
  3. You need to link your credit card to receive cash back. Keep in mind that you can only link either Visa or American Express.
  4. Now that your card is linked, simply click on ‘Link Offer’ for that store to link your card to the offer.
  5. Make your purchase at that store and receive cash back. You’ll receive your cash back usually within 48 hours, but may have to wait up to 30 days.

ebates review in-store cash back express

Ebates originally started with just a few stores with in-store cash back, but now they have roughly 50 last time I checked. They’re constantly adding new ones, so be sure to check back often.

You can also have Ebates detect your location and send you notifications of when you’re near a store that has in-store cash back.

Earn A 3% Bonus In Cash Back With The Ebates Credit Card

Want additional cash back to your purchases on Ebates? Simply apply for the Ebates Visa Credit Card.

It gives you a 3% bonus with your purchases through Ebates, and 1% in cash back at all other retailers outside of Ebates.

The card comes with no annual fee, and you even get a $10 bonus when you use it for your first purchase.

ebates review credit card cash back rate

If you do have the Ebates Credit Card, be sure to take this into consideration when comparing cash back rates across multiple shopping portals. You should be adding an additional 3% to whatever Ebates gives you.

We saw from above that TopCashback is currently giving 4% in cash back at WalMart and Ebates only 2%. With the credit card, Ebates surpasses this amount for a total of 5% in cash back.

Is Ebates A Scam Or Legit?

From my personal experience, I can honestly say that Ebates is not a scam and is a legit site. I’ve always been paid the right amount and on time.

However, don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a look at what some other Ebates reviews.

  • Magnify Money states that Ebates is great to use in additional to credit cards. This way you can stack cash back bonuses from both places. As mentioned above, using the Ebates credit card gives you an additional 3% bonus.
  • Quora is one of the most popular online forums out there. Every once in a while you’ll find someone that says that they don’t pay out, but for the most part the majority of people say it’s not a scam.
  • Reviewopedia doesn’t give Ebates the best rating, but they do state that they’ve always received their cash back every few months.

I’ve also attached an image below of Ebates payment proof to my PayPal account:

ebates payment proof

Is Ebates Worth It?

Ebates is 100% free to join and gives you free cash back by shopping through their site. It’s hard to say that it’s not worth it.

The only reason you might not want to use Ebates is if you feel that you’re better off just using other portals such as TopCashback or BeFrugal.

Things To Keep In Mind

Here are a few things you should keep in mind when using Ebates and other shopping portals.

Returning A Product Means A Return In Cash Back

Unfortunately, you can’t just purchase a product, get cash back and return the product. If Ebates detects any return, they’ll also take the cash back out of your account.

It may take a while before they do this, but eventually they will.

Be Aware Of Cookies

The entire reason that Ebates is able to give you cash back is because they track your purchases using browser cookies.

If they have no way to do this, then they have no way to give you cash back.

Furthermore, if you’re currently have a cookie in your browser from somewhere else (maybe you clicked on an ad to be redirected to a store), you might not receive credit from Ebates if someone else installed a cookie in your browser instead.

Therefore, we recommend the following steps to ensure that you’ll always get cash back.

  1. Clear all of your browser cookies.
  2. Only go to the Ebates site or any other shopping portal. Don’t go to another page in case you get a cookie installed.
  3. Do not use an incognito window just in case Ebates is unable to track you.
  4. Make your purchase through the Ebates portal by clicking on their links. Be sure to make the purchase immediately, not going to any sites in between from when you go to Ebates and are redirected to the retailer’s page.

By following these steps above, you should always receive your cash back. If for some reason you don’t, contact Ebates customer support as they’re highly responsive.

Some Products Are Not Eligible For Cash Back

Not all products are eligible for cash back. For example, Ebates almost never gives cash back for gift cards.

If you shop for a product that gives you cash back and one that doesn’t, you’ll only be given cash back for that one product.

For more details, Ebates states on the retailer’s page which items are ineligible for cash back. There will usually be a box on the sidebar with their cash back terms.

Below is an image for cash back terms at Walmart.

ebates review cash back terms walmart

Using Coupons Can Hurt You

Sometimes using coupons in additional to cash back at Ebates can make you ineligible for cash back. Therefore, we suggest only using Ebates-approved coupons.

These coupons can be found on the retailer page on Ebates. By using a coupon outside of the ones listed, you may not receive your cash back.

Sometimes You’ll Only Receive Cash Back On Certain Categories

The best example I can think of for this is Amazon. You can earn 3% in cash back, but only when you shop for clothing, jewelry, furniture, tablets and a few other things.

ebates review amazon policy

Keep in mind that these categories also frequently change. If you’re looking for more ways to save on Amazon, check out our Amazon cashback article.

Use The Ebates Browser Extension

I sometimes forget to use Ebates before making an online purchase.

The Ebates browser extension reminds you each time you’re on a retailer’s page how much cash back you can earn by first going through Ebates.

In fact, a pop-up will appear on the retailer’s page that says “activate up to __% in cash back.” Click accept and Ebates will automatically track your purchase – without the need to go back to Ebates.com.

Ebates Doesn’t Like Ad Blockers

If you’re using an Ad Blockers. Be sure to whitelist Ebates if you’re using any.

Final Thoughts

Ebates is a great program that gives you free cash back for shopping online. Furthermore, Ebates is currently the only shopping portal that offers in-store cash back.

To quickly check if a store gives you cash back, install the Ebates Chrome extension and a pop-up will appear on the retailer’s page telling you how much cash back you can get.

Aside from Ebates, be sure to check out BeFrugal and TopCashback, two of my other favorite portals. Otherwise, check out our top 10 list of portals for more options.

If you have any comments or questions regarding Ebates, we’d love to hear about them down below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!

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