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If you do online shopping of any sort, you should always be using an online shopping portal to increase your savings. Depending on which retailer you’re shopping at, you can easily save anywhere from 1% – 20% or more in cash back on a single purchase.
What Is A Shopping Portal?
Shopping portals – also known as cash back portals – are websites that offer incentives each time you do any sort of online shopping, usually in the form of cash back. Some portals will also give you bonus hotel points, airline miles, and more. Registration is costs nothing, and if you ever run across a portal that costs money to use, there’s no need to sign-up with so many free ones.
These portals have partnered with these retailers and placed affiliate links on their page, and there will usually be thousands of them since there’s so many retailers. Each time you click on an affiliate link to the retailer of your choosing to make a purchase, they earn a commission. The majority of this commission is then given to the shopper, you.
Let’s take the shopping portal TopCashBack and the Walmart Store as an example. If you log-on to the TopCashBack website and search for Walmart, you’re going to see that they’re offering up to 4% cash back on Walmart purchases.
The reason that portals are willing to give you such a high amount of cash back is because of one of two reasons:
- The affiliate commission is greater than the displayed amount of cash back to the shopper. As in the Walmart example, they could be earning a 5% commission, but be giving you 4%. There’s 1% leftover that they take as profit.
- Some portals don’t make any commission off of the links they have, but rather earn money just by displaying a retailer’s links. A partnership is worked out in which the retailer pays the portal a certain amount of money just by having their links, coupons and deals posted on their page.
Do We Get Cash Back On All Purchases?
When you click on a portal link, most of the time no matter what purchase you make you’re going to be getting cash back on the total purchase price. However, this isn’t always the case. Usually there are some exceptions, but it entirely depends on the fine print.
Before making a purchase and clicking a link, read the portal rules and see what items are excluded from receiving cash back. The image below shows what’s excluded for Walmart shoppers through TopCashBack.
As you can see, they don’t offer cash back on the following:
- Gift cards
- Cellular purchases
- Prepaid phone cards
- Sam’s Club
- Financial services
- Wal-Mart Connect Internet Service
Most portals are extremely strict about Amazon purchases. They boast up to 10% cash back at Amazon, but that usually applies to one category while the average is at 6%. Furthermore, this only applies to a few select categories, and anything outside won’t give you any cash back:
- Beauty and Grooming
- Luxury Beauty and Grooming
- Women’s Clothing
- Men’s Clothing
- Patio, Lawn & Garden
- Amazon Home Services
Take note that while this is only the case for one portal, the rules tend to be similar if not exactly the same for most portals across the web since it’s the retailer dictating these rules. Sometimes you’ll also find a lower amount of cash back depending on the category. This image shows that you can only get 1% cash back when you purchase electronics at Walmart.
Be Careful On The Coupons
The reason that cash back portals are willing to pay such a great amount is due to the fact that they work out a specific agreement between retailers. One of the regulations within their agreement specifies the use of coupons and promotion codes.
When you use coupons or promotion codes that aren’t listed on the shopping portal website, you won’t receive any cash back. For American Express Gift Cards, you can get 1.5% in cash back. But if you use any sort of promotion code during checkout, you won’t receive it.
The promotion codes that you can use must be approved by the portal, and usually there’s a list shown below the cash back amount. Again we use Walmart as an example. The image below shows promotions that can give you free shipping. While it’s not the greatest offer at the moment (Walmart has been offering this deal for a while), it is a good idea to check before you make a purchase so you know which discounts are eligible for cash back.
Sometimes you’ll be able to sneak by the portal and use a coupon code that’s not listed on their page and still get cash back. However, I’ve had a few instances where they were able to track it and I didn’t get paid, losing around $20 – $30 dollars in potential cash back. Your mileage may vary.
Be Aware Of Your Cash Out Options
Each time you make a purchase and the portal successfully tracks it, within 30 days your cash back will appear in your portal account (usually shows up much sooner). Usually this amount isn’t available, until 30 – 60 days out from your purchase date. A lot of portals require a cash out minimum of around $20 and the highest I’ve ever seen is $25. If you use a portal for all of your online purchases, this shouldn’t take you any time at all.
Be aware of what options you have available to cash out as this can greatly affect your total savings. On TopCashback, requesting a direct deposit to PayPal will give you the amount you request, but some portals charge a convenience fee for using this service.
TopCashBack will even give you a bonus of 2.5% if you request a cash out in the form of Amazon Gift Cards, and a 3% bonus if you request it in the form of an American Express Gift Card. When you select options like these, you’re increasing the total amount of cash back that you receive.
Clear Your Cookies
To ensure that the portal successfully tracks your purchase, we highly suggest clearing your cookies immediately before logging-in to your portal account. This is because if you have a cookie stored in your browser from a previous click on a link or ad, the portal might not be able to track your shopping.
As long as you clear your cookies first and then click on a portal link without clicking on another link or ad to that particular retailer, you should receive your cash back. If there’s ever a time in which you don’t get it, contact support and be aware that cookies need to be enabled.
Refer Your Friends
The best way to earn a lot of cash quickly through online shopping portals is by referring friends. The BeFrugal and TopCashback portals give you $10 for each friend that you refer that earns $10 or more in cash back. Your friend also gets a $10 bonus.
Ebates has one of the best referral programs (although usually the lowest cash back rates). When you refer 3 friends that sign-up and make their first purchase through their site, you get a $50 referral bonus. Sometimes they have other bonuses such as a bonus plus a free entry into a sweepstakes. Last time I checked they were doing an all-expense paid vacation to Hawaii for two.
In any case, once you figure out how to use portals efficiently and get into the habit, send your friends your referral link and convince them to use it. A great way to spread the word is through Facebook and Twitter. This has personally helped me get a lot of referral sign-ups.
There Are So Many Portals – How Do I Find The One With The Highest Cash Back Rate?
With so many portals around, if you’re trying to find the best rate by searching through all of them it can take quite a bit of time. Fortunately there’s an online tool that does the searching for you called CashBackMonitor.
All you have to do is type in the retailer that you’re interested in shopping at and the portals that are partnered with the retailer will appear alongside their cash back rates. Keep in mind that if a portal is fairly new, it might not show up on their list.
For example, the Jet Portal is very good but has yet to appear. This is mainly because they only offer cash back in the form of Jet.com credit. I personally don’t mind this since they often have prices cheaper than Amazon.
Be Aware Of Specials And Changing Rates
We suggest using the CashBackMonitor tool each time you’re about to make a purchase since the rates tend to fluctuate very frequently. It only takes a second to search.
Furthermore, sometimes portals will hold special promotions for specific retailers such as doubling the amount of cash back. This will usually reflect on the cash back rates shown on the CashBackMonitor Page; I’ve only encountered one instance where it didn’t reflect properly.
Which Portals Should I Use?
Just because a website is listed as a shopping portal doesn’t mean you should trust it. I’ve tried a few of them only to be disappointed in never receiving my cash back, even long after contacting customer support.
For that reason, here are the ones we’ve verified to have given cash back. If we haven’t had any experience with the portal, it won’t be listed here. Therefore, if you know of one that’s not on the list that’s legitimate, let us know so we can try it and then add it.
- Discover Deals
- Giving Assistant
If you’d like a more in-depth explanation of each of these portals, we’ve compiled a top ten list.
How Do We Use A Portal?
If you’re still confused on how a portal works exactly, we’re going to walk you through an example of using the TopCashBack Shopping Portal and making an Amazon purchase. We’ll explain everything in clear detail in just 6 easy steps.
1. Register. You can register for a new TopCashBack account for free by clicking here. You’ll need to enter in your email address and verify it to get started.
2. Clear Cookies. Before you do any shopping using a portal, we highly suggest clearing your cookies beforehand. This will ensure that the cookie that is tracking you definitely belongs to a portal and not from another link or ad that you’ve clicked on.
3. Search. Use the search bar to search for a retailer of your choosing. Here we’re searching for Amazon. Take note that the amount of cash back you receive is entirely dependent on which category you’re purchasing. This isn’t usually the case, but here we have an exception.
4. Make a purchase. Click on one of the “Get Cashback” links. From there you’ll be redirected to the retailers site – in this case Amazon. Make your purchase like you normally would.
5. Get credit and cash out. It can take up to 30 days for cash back to appear in your account, but usually it will be there much sooner. Once you hit the minimum you can cash out for a payment method of your choosing. We suggest cashing out for Amazon Gift Cards on TopCashBack since you get a 2.5% bonus.
6. Refer a friend. Be sure to check out their referral programs. There are some great incentives, earning anywhere from $5 – $25 per referral. Thanks to all of you who use our referral links on this page!
These portals are powerful tools. On average, expect to save an average of 7% on all shopping purchases. Be sure to check CashBackMonitor before every purchase in order to maximize savings. Otherwise, you’re missing out on some serious cash. If you have any questions about portals or want to leave your feedback, feel free to do so down below. Thanks for reading and happy shopping!