I recently wrote reviews of Mr. Rebates and Ebates. They are both excellent sites to take advantage of the cashback opportunities afforded by affiliate marketing. Shop Discover does exactly the same thing, but the rates are often higher because merchants are often willing to offer more cashback to Discover Card customers. Another reason that the rates are higher is that Discover Card is less interested in taking a cut for themselves. Their main objective is to add cashback as an attractive feature to current and prospective customers.
How Does Shop Discover Work?
Cashback sites work by passing affiliate commissions on to the consumer. That means that the folks at Shop Discover join a merchants affiliate program through one of the major networks (Commission Junction, Shareasale, Linkshare, etc.). After they join, they are provided unique tracking links. A cookie is placed in the users browser when the link is clicked. When the user makes a purchase, a pixel on the merchant’s confirmation page sends the sale data back to the network. The cashback site, Shop Discover, has an API setup to match that data back to the user on their side.
You can test what I say by clicking on most any merchants link. When I click on the Art.com link at Shop Discover, I see this popup:
After the link resolves, I see this URL:
Pretty much anytime you see AID in a link, that stands for affiliate ID. We can also see that Art.com puts the PID and SID from Commission Junction. Here is a classic example of a merchant willing to pass on more cashback to Discover Card customers than they would through the traditional affiliate channel. When I look at Art.com’s listing in Commission Junction, their standard commission rate is 5%. They are passing on twice this amount to consumers that use Shop Discover.
Something interesting I’ve noticed about Shop Discover is after I login and click on the affiliate link, their system doesn’t actually make me use my Discover Card to receive the Shop Discover cashback rate. This can be particularly handy when a different credit card is offering a higher rate. E.G. my Bank of America credit card gives me 2.5% on all purchases.
How Does The Cashback Rate From Shop Discover Compare
A big difference with Shop Discover compared to other cashback sites, like Mr. Rebates or Ebates, is that the latter sites work with almost 10 times as many merchants. Shop Discover currently only works with roughly 200 of the largest merchants. Shop Discover cashback rates go in increments of 5%. Stores offer cashback rates of 5%, 10%, 15% or 20%. The reality is which site offers the most cashback with a given merchant will vary over time. On average, Shop Discover is typically better than most other sites.
Mooosejaw currently offers 5% cashback through Ebates.
Cashback for Moosejaw from Mr. Rebates is currently at 10%.
Cashback for Moosejaw from Shop Discover is currently at 10% too.
The Moosejaw example illustrates the need to check out the individual rate amongst several cashback sites if you are dedicated to finding the highest cashback rate. My article on cashback monitoring sites can help with this.
What Merchants Are On Shop Discover?
Shop Discover currently works with slightly over 200 different merchants. Compared to your average cashback site, this is a rather small number. You can download a spreadsheet of all the merchants they work with as of July, 2014 here.
Some merchants of note are Walmart (5%) and Target (5%). They work with other cashback sites, but 5% is the best rate I know. Since that is the minimum amount of cashback a merchant can offer to work with Shop Discover, their rates are likely to stay this generous too.
Shop Discover is a great cashback site if you have a Discover Card. Many merchants offer more cashback through Shop Discover than you will find from competing cashback sites. The biggest problem with Shop Discover is the fact that it works with relatively few stores (a little over 200). Fortunately, they continue to add merchants every year and the largest sites already participate.