In our last article, we talked a bit about what Ebates is and how it works. We explained that Ebates is an affiliate revenue-sharing website, which basically means that it pays you for shopping at certain websites when you use referral hyperlinks (so that those sites know that you came to them because of Ebates).
In this lesson, we'll allay your fears on whether or not Ebates is safe and legitimate, or is an outright scam. We'll also weigh the pros and cons of using it.
Just to be clear… Is Ebates a scam?
Ebates is not a scam; it is an affiliate revenue-sharing program. Basically, it's a way for advertisers to say "thank you" to consumers like you for proving to people who sell stuff that their advertising works really well. Other advertisers who work this way include Swagbucks.com and MrRebates.com.
So, Ebates is safe and legitimate?
Yes, Ebates is a perfectly safe and legitimate affiliate revenue-sharing website. However, there are a few quirks to be aware of, most of which will be covered in the "pros and cons" section below. Basically, you have to make sure that you shop through Ebates and not directly at the store, or you won't get cash back.
The pros and cons of Ebates
Keep more of your money, for free! — Ebates is completely free to sign up for and use. Just start your online shopping there, and you will earn a percentage of what you spend at Ebates's affiliated online stores as cash back rewards. Ebates will then send you that money later in the year.
Pick where the money goes — You can have Ebates send your money through a cheque in the mail, or you can have them send it directly to your PayPal account (if you have one).
Lots of stores to save at — Ebates is partnered with over 1500 stores around the world, so you're bound to find one that you can get cash back while shopping at!
It's right there in black and white — Ebates is one of the better affiliate revenue-sharing websites when it comes to simplicity of use. It tells you exactly what percentage of money you will earn back when shopping at a particular store, and it will give you clear instructions for avoiding any technical problems that you may encounter. Plus, it's safe to use, and has relatively good customer service.
Some restrictions apply — Some popular brands, such as Apple, do not have affiliations with Ebates, so you can't get cash back while shopping for their products. Other retailers have conditions on getting cash back, such as having to shop in specific departments. Be sure to read the fine print on the deals.
Waiting is the hardest part — Ebates only sends out your payments four times a year, and they are spaced out so that you have to wait two months after your purchase deadline to get cash back. Some users have also had problems getting their payouts, but fortunately, this is often because they haven't earned enough money on a payout yet (so it's carried over). And if it's not, its customer service is pretty good about resolving the problem.
You may have to get a bit technical — There are certain technical quirks that may cause Ebates not to work, such as if you have an add-on to your web browser that blocks advertisements, or you shop directly at the store or its website instead of clicking through to it through Ebates. Be sure to start at Ebates and be careful about closing web browser windows or tabs to make sure that it works!
The bottom line: 8.5/10
The value of Ebates fluctuates greatly, depending on how often you go shopping online and what stores you shop at. If you like the convenience of purchasing things online and having them sent right to your door, then Ebates is a great way to get money back for doing shopping that you would have done anyway. It's free to sign up for, has lots of shops that you can get money back for, and you can choose where you get your money: in person, or through PayPal. The amount of money that you get back per purchase may not be much, but multiple purchases can add up to lots of extra money for you!
On the other hand, if you're not a fan of online shopping, or of the stores that the company is affiliated with, then it isn't going to be all that useful to you. It requires you to shop through Ebates in order to get cash back, and there are some technical privacy tricks that may accidentally prevent Ebates from working (though they can usually easily be fixed). Again, Ebates isn't a scam; there may just be some precise things that you need to do in order to get it to work properly.
Anyway, you're probably curious to see how Ebates works in practice, right? Well, that's what our next article is all about! We'll show you how to use it by signing up for an account, choosing where you get your money, and finding affiliate stores to shop at so that you can get cash back!