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4 surprising ways to get money back


Getting money back for your purchases has never been easier.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Do you remember how painful it used to be to get a discount? For $ 20, for example, for a new printer, you had to fill out a form (sometimes several), cut out a UPC, send everything to the manufacturer, wait eight to 1

2 weeks, and hope that maybe, just maybe, this discount check would end up in your mailbox.

The horror. The horror.

It is much easier to get discounts these days – unless they are now called cashback and the process is almost entirely automated. Automated so that it almost seems too good to be true.

Good news: No. Using one or more cashback tools and services can save you money or earn rewards – not just for a few items, but for almost everything you buy. Let's take a look at the different options.

Cashback credit cards

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Use a cashback -Credit card for your purchases to double the discount savings.


I'm not going to spend much time here, except to say that you literally throw money away if you don't use a cashback card. This is the easiest and most direct way to regain a percentage of almost everything you buy.

Suppose you are using a card that gives you one point for every dollar you spend. In most cases, you can redeem these points for travel, goods, services or the like. You can also convert them to "cash", which usually takes the form of a billing credit. You probably won't get a check in the mail, but you'll get a credit to your account – which is similar. It's money, however you look at it.

When looking for a cashback card, pay attention to the percentages you get back – and the annual fees. For example, there is the Uber Visa card that gives you 4% for purchases in restaurants and bars, 3% for hotels and flights, 2% for online purchases (including Uber trips) and 1% for repay everything else. There is no annual fee.

These points may not sound like much, but they add up. For example, let’s say your monthly credit card statement is $ 2,000. Assuming you always pay the full amount and get only 1% back, that's $ 20 more in your pocket every month – or $ 240 more a year. For doing nothing.

If you shop frequently on Amazon, I highly recommend signing up for one of the company's credit cards. You get 5% cashback on almost every purchase on Amazon. There is the Amazon Store Card, which is only good at Amazon and offers interest-free financing for various purchases. (You currently receive a $ 60 gift card when you sign up.) There's also the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, a more traditional credit card that you can use to get money back for third-party purchases.

Cashback for online purchases

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Rakuten (formerly Ebates) offers cash from a variety of online shops, but also offers some options in the shop.

Screenshot from Rick Broida / CNET

Here is a hypothesis: You need a new refrigerator. You research, find a model that you like, and then go online to find the lowest price for that model. It turns out it's at JCPenney.

If you remember the wise advice of Rick "The Cheapskate" Broida, go to the Rakuten (formerly Ebates) cashback service, where you get a 3% discount on JCPenney purchases. So click through from Rakuten to the JCPenney online shop and order your refrigerator as usual.

A little later, you’ll receive $ 51.42 in credit. You will then receive a check (or a PayPal deposit). For almost nothing.

Full disclosure: That was not a hypothesis. It happened to me. And that's why I've been working for online cashback services for years. They are easy to use and are delivered without cords. (In fact, there is probably a string: Rakuten and similar services collect data about where you shop and what you buy. Some people are bothered by it. I am not.)

Over the years I would have received hundreds of dollars back otherwise expire. Small purchases here, big ones there. That adds up. Here are two services I recommend to check out:

  • Rakuten: Rakuten is probably the best known service of its kind – or at least before the inexplicable name change. I like it for its simplicity and reliability. With the browser plug-in, I can easily check if there is a cashback option for a particular store, and the apps support mobile cashback shopping. (Many, if not most, cash back services require a desktop browser.) The service is also one of the few that support cash back in-store purchases. Every 90 days, Rakuten pays your discounts in the form of a check or PayPal deposit.
  • Honey Gold: This feature is based on a browser plug-in that finds discount codes at the checkout counters and price trends in stores like Tracked At Amazon and Best Buy, Honey Gold takes a different approach. "Every reward is a surprise," it says, the cashback percentage remains a mystery until after the purchase. That could be 1-5% on eBay, 1-10% on Walmart and so on. However, this is not a direct cashback. Points can only be redeemed for gift cards and only in about a dozen shops. Use Honey Gold only if you don't find a cashback option on any of the other services.

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One important note: if you use any of these tools in a desktop browser, you will need to disable any ad blocker you use – at least for the service itself and the store you are visiting. Using an ad blocker can interfere with the required tracking, which means that you may not get a discount.

Cashback Services for Credit Card Purchases

A growing number of services offer a computer-free way to get cashback. By linking your credit card, you can achieve these additional savings by shopping as usual. Go to restaurants, book hotels and shop as usual. And yes, they work even if you already get money back from the card provider. Double diving, someone?

The only catch is that you don't get rewards everywhere, only from stores that participate in the specified program. You may need to do a small preliminary reconstruction.

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Dosh and Yelp Cashback link to your credit card to automatically give you additional cashback savings on participating businesses, restaurants and services.

Screenshot from Rick Broida / CNET

Here is a look at three of these services that I have tried and that I can definitely recommend.

  • Dosh: Dosh was launched in 2017 and has become one of my favorite cashback services. Simply link one or more credit cards to your account and then search through the available offers. This usually includes not only local restaurants and companies, but also national chains (such as 5% at Sam & # 39; s Club) and online shops (e.g. 3% at Old Navy). The app recently added cashback for hotel reservations. Withdrawals can be donated to charity or sent directly to your bank or PayPal account.
  • Drop: Similar to Dosh, but with a system for gift cards instead of cash, combining current and one-time offers. You can choose from up to five favorites from Starbucks, Walmart, Whole Foods and Uber, with which you can collect points with every purchase. The one-time offers include "30 points for every dollar you spend at Zenni" and "15 points for every dollar you spend at Apple". In general, I don't like this type of structure, but it's so easy to automatically collect points (and therefore rewards) when shopping at your favorite stores. I definitely recommend Drop.
  • Yelp Cash Back: I would call this "Dosh for Restaurants" because it works in a similar way: Linking a credit card, eating in selected restaurants, earning cash back. Unfortunately, a single credit card cannot be linked to Dosh and Yelp, as both use third-party e-commerce company Empyr for actual payments. And that explains why I noticed a big overlap between the two, both in restaurants and in cashback percentages. As a result, you can save more overall with Dosh. However, if you focus on restaurants, take a look at Yelp Cash Back.

If you're not keen on assigning services like this to your credit card number (s), I can understand that. However, keep in mind that your numbers are encrypted, all credit cards are protected against fraud, and your card is already stored in any number of shops and stores. What else is there, especially if there is money in it for you?

Post-Purchase Cashback Services

There is another option to enter the cashback checkout. Post-purchase services offer discounts retrospectively – usually based on your receipts. (And if this raises privacy concerns, I'm surprised you even got it this far. But keep reading.)

Let's look at two remarkable options, one of which improves your value for money without refunds You lift a finger.

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You can use an app like Receipt Hog to convert your receipts into cash (or gift cards).

Receipt Hog

  • Paribus: Many online shops offer price adjustments and purchase protection. So if you buy something and the price goes down, you can refund the difference. Paribus will track your purchases and, if a lower price is found, contact customer service on your behalf to receive this refund. The service is free to use, but you need to have your email monitored so that it can automatically search for evidence. Fortunately, there is this big disclaimer: "We don't sell your data or pass it on to third parties."
  • Receipt Hog: Would you like to pass on your receipts for market research purposes? If not, scan them with Receipt Hog. With every bet you will receive coins that you may be able to redeem for cash or gift cards. You can also earn coins by completing surveys, connecting email and Amazon accounts, and playing the "hog slots". Frankly, I don't love this app, mainly because it requires full-time location access. There are apps similar to ReceiptPal that can also work with electronic receipts. Still, I find it too much work for too little reward. But it is another form of cashback and therefore worth mentioning.

If you are wondering why I did not include the popular Ibotta in this story, it is because the app requires a lot of bouncing. For example, to get money back for grocery purchases, you need to get offers before you shop. Then don't forget to submit your receipt afterwards. And to receive offers, you need to answer questions about your household, your education, etc. You can definitely save money with Ibotta, it just requires more effort.

There are also many other tools and services that I have not covered here. If you use any of them and consider it worth mentioning, definitely do so in the comments!

Originally published last year and updated with new information.

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