I plan to write a series of “How to…” that discusses how to save more without quitting shopping. This first post is on how to maximize your cashback from online purchases.
Step 1: Google the item you want to buy and find the shop you want to buy it from.
Step 2: Use the cashbackmonitor to see which online portal offers you the most cash back for the online shop.
For example, assuming Nordstrom.com is where I plan to buy the item, then I search for Nordstrom in the cashbackmonitor. I got the following search results, suggesting Tobcashback as the best portal:
|Store||Best Rate||BeFrugal||Big Crumbs||Coupon Cactus||Ebates||Extra Rebates||Fat Wallet||Mr. Rebates||Shop At Home||Top Cashback||More Sites|
|Nordstrom||5%||3%||1%||6%||Up to 2.5%||6%||up to 12%||6.5%||…|
Step 3: Go to the cash back portal, access your shop from the portal, and then make the purchase
I have personally used BeFrugal, BigCrumbs, Ebates, MrReates, TopCashback, Lucky Rewards. They are all pretty reliable and pay you the cash back in 2 to 4 months. You can choose to receive a check or have them send the payment to your paypal account. I have never had any issues with receiving my cashback from any of these sites.
a. Stack with your cash back credit card: Use your cashback credit card to pay for the purchase. For example, if you have the Fidelity 2% cash back American Express Card, you can use it to pay and get a total of 8.5% cashback assuming you buy from Topcashback.
b. Stack with gift cards bought from an office supply store using the Chase Ink Plus credit card: The deal gets even sweeter if you have a Chase Ink Plus card. You get 5 chase ultimate reward points for every dollar you spend on office supplies. The office supply stores (officemax, office depot, and Staples) carry many store gift cards. You can first buy the store gift card from these stores and then use the gift card to pay for your purchase. Using Nordstrom as an example, if I want to buy a $200 item, I can first purchase $200 worth of Nordstrom credit card and then use it to pay. In total, my cash back would be 5×200=1000 chase points and $200*6.5%=$13 (from topcashback). I value chase points at about 2 cents each, so effectively, my cash back total is 1000*0.02+13=$33 dollars (a 16.5% discount, sweet!).
Because these cashbacks are normally not available in stores, I prefer to buy online whenever possible. This preference brings a couple of unintended bonuses:
a. You are going to the stores less, saving gas and time (more time with my kids, YAY!).
b. If you do go to the stores, you end up buying less because you would be asking yourself why should I pay 5-15% more for the same item?
Word of Caution:
Remember the goal of doing this is to maximize your cash back on the purchases you are going to make anyway. By doing this, you can add extra $$ to your savings account. It totally misses the point if you start backwards, meaning start buying because there are cashback deals.