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  • I’m not sure where I first heard about Ebates.com…it might have been from Catherine over at frugal-freebies.com. But I’m not sure. Anyways, this holiday season was the first time I really got the opportunity to test it out, and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here. Namely because I wanted to really dig into the BEST way for me to maximize my dollars, ie. how I can get the most money back into MY pocket.

    Really, when it came to shopping online, it was between Ebates.com and my trusty Wolf Discover Card and purchasing through the ShopDiscover website. It seemed like both of these sites were the leading options to offer me the most cash back or rewards back for purchasing through the websites. Here is a break down of my experiences and logic for a few of the purchases that I made this holiday season.

    Gift #1: Netflix.com Subscription for Mom
    Ebates.com offers $13.00 Cash Back for Netflix
    ShopDiscover does not offer any cash back
    Conclusion: I purchased the subscription through Ebates.com. I haven’t received the credit back to my account yet, but I’m hoping it’ll show up in the next 30 days.

    Gift #2: Northface Metropolis Parka for ME! (Hey…it’s snowing! I’ve got to keep warm.)
    Ebates.com offers 8% cash back = $22.32 back
    ShopDiscover has a holiday bonus for The North Face and is offering 15% cash back = $41.85 back
    Conclusion: I purchased the parka through ShopDiscover. The credit will be received in my next billing cycle.

    Gift #3: Up and StarTrek Blu-ray DVDs for Brother through Amazon
    Ebates.com does not have any offers for Amazon.com purchases
    ShopDiscover is currently offering Double Cash Back on all online purchases (standard is 1%) so I’ll get 2% cash back = ~$0.76. Now that I think about it, I’ll be getting an additional 2% back on all of the purchases I made through Ebates.com as well. Sweet!
    Conclusion: If there aren’t any discounts being offered, then use the option that at least gives you something back. In this case, it was the cash back that’s standard with the Discover Card purchases.

    Gift #4: Gap Clothing for ME! (Hey….it’s winter now! I need warm clothes too!)
    Ebates.com is currently offering 2% cash back, but at the time my purchase, it was 10% cash back = $6.12 back
    ShopDiscover offers 10% cash back with their holiday bonus = $6.12 back
    Conclusion: This was actually a little trickier. On the surface, it seems like both of the offers are the same. However, if you look at the fine print, you’ll notice that you can’t combine the ShopDiscover cash back with any other offer. There isn’t the same condition with Ebates.com. Also, I have a Gap Card which earns me points for  gift certificates. I can’t earn those points if I use my Discover card. I went with Ebates.com. That way I got the 10% cash back discount, used a discount code (15% off), used a gift certificate I had ($10), and earned points towards my next Gap reward.

    Final thoughts. Compare, compare, compare. In my opinion, there wasn’t a hands down winner between the two options. Here are a couple of tips to make sure you’re maximizing your rewards back.

    1. Double Check the Cash Back Reward – Ebates.com sometimes offers special deals on certain vendors and Discover Card may have promotions as well. Check both sites to make sure you find the one that’s offering the most cash back.
    2. Can you use discount/promo codes? – If you can find a promotion code or discount that reduces your price even more, it may be best to go through Ebates.com so you can use the promo code to get the discount and still receive the cash back.
    3. Can you earn rewards? – If you use a store-specific credit/rewards card, consider whether you’d like to earn rewards or (potentially) get cash back through your Discover card.

    These are just a few thoughts of my own shopping experiences. Your credit card may have different offers that are better/worse than what my card offers. In general, I think that having an Ebates.com account is an excellent idea and you should check the site before pretty much every online purchase to make sure you’re getting the most cash back that you can.

    If you have any other websites or strategies to maximize cash back, then please feel free to share!

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