Cashback sites are on the rise, and it’s easy to see why. If I told you that I could save you money without changing your life whatsoever, wouldn’t you do it? “Here’s $80 just cause.” That’s precisely what it’s like with a cashback site.
There are many now and each function a little differently, but they’re all focused on either giving you cash for your purchases or helping you save right now. I’ll do a general overview of the significant cashback services, what they do, why it’s legit, and then cover some of the myths of these programs.
What Is The CashBack Sites?
Isn’t the name enough? Basically, these are sites dedicated to saving you money in one way or another. Most of them are focused on getting you cash back from your purchases, as the name implies, but some save you money on your investments instead (namely the Honey extension).
There are many providers, but we’re going to focus on four:
- Rakuten: cashback for online purchases, find stores on their website
- Honey: browser extension, searches for available coupons and applies them to online orders; also has some cashback offers after purchase
- Swagbucks: cashback for using their browser and making purchases (along with some other actions)
- Ibotta: cashback for physical purchases, load their coupons onto your phone before shopping
The name of the game is savings. You’ll get money or discounts based on your purchases. For example, let’s say that Rakuten has an offer for 5% cashback on a $100 purchase. That means you get $5 just for shopping. This is perfect on routine purchases that you’re going to make anyway.
How Does It Work?
People think cashback sites are a scam, and I get it. Why would you get something for nothing? It all boils down to affiliate marketing. Each site has different redemption steps and ways of rewarding you, but they all follow the same basic principles.
Most people know what affiliate marketing is, but I’ll explain it, so we’re all on the same page. An affiliate marketer is tasked with promoting a business or product. When someone clicks on their link and then buys a product from the business, the affiliate makes a commission.
What does that have to do with cashback sites? Everything. This is why you’re getting money back, and it’s also why these websites can offer you the cashback opportunity. The commission amount differs based on on-site, product, time of year, and many other factors, but let’s use a quick example.
Let’s go back to our 5% cashback on a $100 purchase example. In most cases, these websites offer you half of their commission. So, they are getting 10% on that $100 purchase you’re making, and they split the commission with you. Are they making money off of you? Yes, but they’re sharing that money. It’s a win-win-win. They win, you win, and the business you’re buying from wins.
What Are The Downsides?
There are a few, but they’re all minor. Perhaps the biggest downside is that it can take a while until the money is transferred to your Paypal or Venmo account. For example, Rakuten waits 60 days to ensure your purchase is real and that you won’t return the item. After that, they will send the payment on one of their payment dates (February 15, May 15, August 15, November 15).
That’s a long wait, but it ensures that Rakuten doesn’t get screwed out of payment, so it makes sense. Most of these services will have a waiting period, and it might feel like they’re stalling, but this is the safest way to protect their business model. Yes, you will get your money, it just might take a few months.
Sometimes the cashback amount is vague. This is mostly an issue with Honey. Their coupons are straightforward, but the cashback amounts are along the lines of: “This store is offering 1-10% cashback on your purchase!” So, is it closer to 1% or 10%? This isn’t common, but it comes up sometimes.
The cashback rates might sometimes change for certain stores or categories. This is most common with Rakuten. It seems like a way to rotate interest from one store to another, but it can be annoying.
Lastly, sometimes the cashback doesn’t work. You might follow all the rules, but for some reason, the purchase isn’t in your account. You can often contact the provider and get this straightened out, so it’s annoying but not that bad.
Cash Back Myths
Cash Back Only Works Online
While online shopping is usually the priority, many providers are moving towards supporting physical stores. For example, Ibotta is entirely dedicated to physical stores (you scan your receipt after purchase and upload it to them), and Rakuten has some limited physical support.
No “Double Cash Back”
Some people believe you can either get cashback from these providers or your credit card (if applicable), but not both. While you’ll want to check the terms of your credit card to verify this, there should be no problem getting double cashback, helping you save even more.
Cash Back Is Fake
It’s affiliate marketing that benefits three parties: you, the online store, and the cashback site. The cashback sites sacrifice some of their earnings to encourage you to make purchases through their platform.
Cash Back Is Illegal
Again, this is entirely legal and very real. I’ve made money back, thousands of other people have, and it’s super simple. It’s not going to make you rich (you are making less than you put in), but it will give you some extra money to play around with depending on how much you spend.
Cashback services are excellent because they help you save money on your purchases, plus who doesn’t want money for their regular purchases? If someone was standing outside Target or Walmart giving you money after you shop, wouldn’t you keep going back?
While I can see why some people are skeptical, this is a genuine service that I and many others have benefitted from. At this point, the services are so easy to use there’s no reason not to get cashback for your purchases.
If you are interested in even more business-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.