Ebates Review

ebates cashback logo

Ebates is one of the best cashback sites on the web. I recently wrote a review of Mr. Rebates. They are my favorite cashback site, but for all practical purposes, Ebates is just as good. The deal with cashback loyalty websites is that the site with the highest cashback will vary over time. For example, cashback for Groupon might be 6% on Ebates, 3% on Mr. Rebates, and 10% on Shopdiscover. This same equation can be completely switched the next month.

How Cashback Sites Work

My day job is as a marketing affiliate manager. As a result, I work closely with many cashback websites and have a strong understanding of how they work. Here is the short version:

  • Cashback loyalty sites join the affiliate program of a merchant, like Kohls, Groupon, or Living Direct.
  • The cashback site is given unique tracking links. Most of these links work by using browser cookies, so you don’t want to use incognito mode or blocks cookies when you try to earn cashback.
  • After you click on the affiliate link, a pixel fires on the confirmation page reporting your purchase to the affiliate network.
  • The cashback site displays the purchase and splits the commission with you.

 

How To Use Ebates (With Graphics)

1. When you first go to Ebates.com, a popup will appear asking you to register. You will have the choice between $10 gift cards to stores like Walmart and Target or you can take $5 back to be paid with your first payment. The only information required to register is your email address and a password.

ebates registration

2. After you register, you are then ready to start shopping. If you have a specific store in mind, it’s easiest to use the search box. Otherwise, you can click Shop All Stores tab at the top left to see a table with all the stores and the corresponding cashback rate.

ebates step 2

3. When you have found the page for the store where you plan to make a purchase, click the shop now button.

ebates step 3

4. You will then see a popup and be redirected after a few second to the selected merchants site. It is very important at this point not to click links from other websites since they could override the Ebates tracking cookie.

ebates step 4

Caveats

  • As I mentioned above, most affiliate tracking uses cookies. Cookie tracking will fail a small percentage of the time. It tends to be even less accurate on mobile devices.
  • Merchant affiliate tracking sometimes breaks. At my last job, their were huge tracking problems when I started. It took months to find and resolve all the possible causes. This problem is less common with large merchants, but I’ve even seen sites as large as Living Social report inaccurate data. Fortunately, in the cash of Living Social they over reported since their pixel configuration wasn’t subtracting for coupon usage, so it just meant extra cashback and slightly guilty conscious.
  • Don’t use coupons not found on the cashback site. The majority of the time you can get away with this, but if you are counting on the cashback, it isn’t wise to surf for a better coupon. Flower delivery sites are one of the most likely categories to void the cashback if you use an outside coupon.
  • Don’t add the items to your cart and then click on the cashback link. This component is becoming more critical. Merchants pay commissions because they are trying to find partners that will bring incremental sales. Affiliate networks, like Impact Radius, are starting to offer tracking options that won’t give an affiliate credit if the customer already has the items in the cart. The theory is that the customer would make the purchase with or without the affiliates assistance.
  • Gift cards can void cashback. I made a purchase from Rockler wood working for my father’s Christmas present this year. I added a gift card to increase my order value to qualify for free shipping. Rockler ended up voiding the entire commission because a gift card was part of the order. Personally, I thought this was bullshit, but it is a warning for you.

 

How Much Can I Save With Cashback Sites?

I usually save around $1300 a year using my various cashback tactics. About half that comes from my grandfathered Citi Fowards card that gives me 5% back at restaurants and Amazon. Cashback sites like Mr. Rebates and Shopdiscover account for about $300 worth. Obviously, your experience will vary based upon where you shop, how much you shop online, and how much you spend. Regardless for someone at my very average income level, using cashback sites is well worth it. I tend to the enjoy the experience though. If you view the process as tedious work, it might not be worth it for you. We all elect to spend our money in the way to that makes the most sense to us.

 

Advantages of Ebates

  • Ebates has been around since the end of 1998. They are well respected and trustworthy. Trustworthiness is always an important factor for anyone that owes you money.
  • They give a $10 signup bonus gift card.
  • They have a generous refer a friend program – after you register, you will be provided with a unique link to send your friends.
  • Ebates tends to be near the top in how much cashback they offer for most merchants.
  • There is a Canadian version for our friends to the North.

How Does Ebates Pay

Ebates sends quarterly payments to customers with at least $5.01 worth of cashback pending. Amounts under this value rollover to the next payments cycle. This is a difference between Mr. Rebates. They pay at the first of each month, but you have to request payments. Cashback won’t become available in Ebates until the transaction has locked in the affiliate network. The waiting period is usually between 30 to 60 days.

ebates payment schedule for 2014

Ebates pays users by check, PayPal, or to a charitable organization.

 

How to Find the Site with the Most Cashback

If finding the absolute maximum amount of cashback is your number 1 aim, you will not want to exclusively use Ebates. I recommend reading my article about the best cashback monitoring sites. If you don’t have the time for that now, you might want to look at a site like Cashback Holic to compare the cashback and bonus rates of different loyalty sites. These sites can usually help you quickly and easily maximize the amount of cashback you receive from a given merchant. My only advice is to be wary of cashback sites that are new or lack reviews. That might spell trouble regarding your likelihood of future payment.

 

Is Ebates A Scam?

I was surprised to see how many people search for whether Ebates is a scam. I assume it goes back to the old saying, “if it seems too good to be true…” Fortunately, Ebates is completely legit, and you will be paid if you follow the steps correctly.

On the off chance you have some issues, Ebates offers timely and competent support. Ebates has an A+ BBB rating. They will go out of their way to try to make sure you are pleased with their company. They have been accredited since 2000.

ebates bbb rating

If you have a problem, I would reserve going to the BBB as a last resort. Your best bet is to go the help section of the site first. They have an extensive FAQ. The customer service contact form is here. Even if your purchase doesn’t show at first, Ebates can do an order inquiry to ask the merchant to look into the issue. At that point, it is a crap shoot though. I’m usually pretty lenient about approving inquiries from loyalty sites as long as another affiliate didn’t also receive credit. The merchant doesn’t want to leave a bad taste in the mouth of someone who has already shown they are willing to make a purchase.

 

Complaints

In an attempt to have an unbiased review, I searched for complaints about Ebates. Ripoffreport had 34 complaints. Given how long Ebates has been in business, I didn’t think this number was very high. The majority of the complaints were from people claiming they weren’t paid. Unfortunately, this is an inevitable problem with a last click tracking system that relies upon cookies. A few of these people claimed Ebates support didn’t reply. I personally find this hard to believe both based upon my experience and the fact that Ebates support replies to the complaints on Ripoffreport. I take this as a definite sign that they are legit and committed to customer satisfaction. Here is one of the replies from Ebates support on the site:

ebates reply on ripoffreport

 

 

Mr. Rebates Review

mrrebates logo

Mr. Rebates is my favorite cashback website. The site was founded in 2002 by Craig and Bret Cassata in Illinois. Home base for the company has since been moved to Indiana to avoid the nexus legislation that is the bane of the affiliate industry.

 

How Do Cashback Sites Work?

Cashback sites like Mr. Rebates work by splitting affiliate commissions with the consumer. Said another way, when  you click on a link from Mr. Rebates, the merchant pays Mr. Rebates and they split the commission with you. As a rule of thumb, the split is around 50%. This percentage is frequently increased during holidays. I find this amount fair since the cashback website has to manage to the API to track sales and provide customer support.

Here is how the Mr. Rebates account appears in Commission Junction:

mr rebates in commission junction

Network earnings of 5 bars means that they are pushing significant sales. EPC refers to the earnings per 100 clicks. The three month average here is $2.71 in earnings per click. If you know PPC rates from Google or Bing, you’ll recognize how significant this amount is.

How Long Does It Take?

Purchases should show as pending within a day. Most will show much faster. Cashback changes from pending status to available status after 90 days. This period is long enough to account for more merchants return period.

 

How Do Payments Work?

$10 is the minimum payment threshold. Payments are made through either PayPal or by check. Requests are processed at the start of the following month. Requesting payment is a convenient process of only a couple steps.

mr rebates request payments

 

How Many Merchants Are Integrated with Mr. Rebates?

There are currently a little over 2400 stores integrated with Mr. Rebates. The number of stores with cashback available is one of the biggest advantages to this site. For reference, 2400+ stores is more than 10x the number of stores integrated with Discover Deals.

mrrebates integrated stores

 

Is Mr. Rebates Legit?

I have used Mr. Rebates for over 5 years. I’ve never had any trouble using the site. Support is timely and courteous. Payments are sent as scheduled. The fact that they adopted PayPal years before some of their prominent competitors meant I received most of my payments because I wasn’t left trying to cash a check for $1.88 or some other obscure amount.

mr rebates first purchase bonus

Referral Program

One of the best aspects of Mr. Rebates is its generous referral program. When you refer friends, family, co-workers or readers of your blog, you can earn 20% of their cashback! In fact, I highly recommend you click on my referral link should you decide to register.

Caveats

Tracking is usually cookie based. Make sure that cookies on enabled in your Internet browser to ensure proper tracking. Do not use incognito mode or any equivalent or the sale will not be tracked. It is better to use a desktop platform as opposed to mobile. Always make sure Mr. Rebates is the last link clicked before placing the order. Many sites, particularly coupon sites, are affiliate sites without this association being obvious. Orders can be submitted for review if tracking fails. This is a method of last resort though, and largely depends on how benevolent the merchant is. The first item they check is whether or not another affiliate has received credit for the sale.

Coupons found outside of the Mr. Rebates website might void the purchase. This isn’t a big deal for most purchases since they publish a thorough list of coupons. Lots of times you can get away with using coupons from another site. It is a crap shoot though, and not worth the risk if you are relying on receiving the rebate.

Some products, like gift cards or phone cards, might not be eligible for cashback. These restrictions are determined by the merchant and having nothing to do with Mr. Rebates itself.

 

Alternative Cashback Sites

Any number of cashback sites now exist. Ebates and Fatwallet are my favorite alternatives to Mr. Rebates. Ebates and Fatwallet merged a few years ago, but the cashback rates on Ebates still tend to be a little higher than Fatwallet. Fatwallet is better at finding a deal that might only be available for a short term or require several steps to maximize the discount.

Contact Information

I’ve personally only had to contact Mr. Rebates a couple times. During both of these occasions, they replied the same day.

  • Email: support@mrrebates.com
  • Phone: (877) 658-910-89445
  • Address: Indianapolis Blvd Ste A # 102, Highland, IN 46322-2649
  • Better Business Bureau Page

Here is a screenshot of the manual adjustment from one of the times I’ve contacted Mr. Rebates. The error in this case had nothing to do with Mr. Rebates. Rockler Woodworking incorrectly reverses an entire affiliate commission if part of the order contains a gift card. It makes sense to not pay commissions on the gift card since cashback could both be paid when the gift card is purchased and when it is used. To void the entire order is bad form on Rockler’s part and demonstrates low regard for affiliate partners.

mr rebates manual adjustment

 

Mr. Rebates Signup Link

Mr. Rebates, Inc.

(877) 658-91089445 Indianapolis Blvd Ste A # 102, Highland, IN 46322-2649

– See more at: http://www.bbb.org/northernindiana/business-reviews/internet-shopping/mr-rebates-in-highland-in-90074720#sthash.A7Tt6v6y.dpuf

Mr. Rebates, Inc.

(877) 658-91089445 Indianapolis Blvd Ste A # 102, Highland, IN 46322-2649

– See more at: http://www.bbb.org/northernindiana/business-reviews/internet-shopping/mr-rebates-in-highland-in-90074720#sthash.A7Tt6v6y.dpuf