If you are interested to save some money on travel, you probably have signed up for one or more hotel and airline rewards programs, maybe use hotels.com or Agoda to book your travel and even use a rewards credit card to get 1-2% cash back or up to 5% in points on every purchase. What if you could save an additional 5-7% on hotels and even more on non-travel related purchases online? Are you pretty much ordering everything for your family online – than you really need to read this!
With online search being such a common way to find something, companies are now paying a big portion of their marketing budget for online advertising and commissions to bring you to their web site. There are many “deal sites” that show you the best deals in technology, clothing or anything else – and make money of the commissions they get for you to click through that link! Now, you can get a share of those commissions back for your online purchases! There are a number of cash-back portals that target people who pretty much know what they want to buy and offer an online directory of online shops and the cash-back they offer for going through this portal. I will use TopCashBack as an example and will provide you with a list of portals at the end of this article.
How does this work? You have to sign up for an account with the portal to track your purchases and the cash back you earned. There is minimal information needed and you can get started quickly. Once you know what to buy, let’s say booking a hotel, you go to the portal, sign into your account and search for the merchant. That will bring up a link to the merchant and the cash back offer.When you click on the link, TopCashBack will record the click through and bring you to the site to complete your purchase. Once the purchase is complete, the portal will keep a record of that transaction and link it up with the merchant confirming it. Once the portal receives its commission from the merchant, it passes all or some of it on to you as cash back. This whole process is automated between you, the portal and the merchant and it can take several weeks for the cash back to be payable to you. Once it is, you can claim it via PayPal, an Amazon gift card or as a transfer to your bank account!
Why should I care? Just think about your travel and other online spent! You can easily get 5% off all your hotel bookings – that’s more than any credit card or rewards program will give you. And even better, you can double or triple dip: The cash back is in addition to your hotel rewards and credit card points! In the case of the hotels.com example, you can get 10% of with the WelcomeRewards program (read here), 7% with TopCashBack and another 1-3% with your rewards credit card – that’s almost 20% off your next vacation in total! And this works for many other merchants as well – from macy’s to Walmart and even Apple!
What else do I need to know? The whole process is automated and relies on tracking your purchase information across multiple systems – that’s complex and error prone, so sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. You can track it yourself and follow up with the portal – or you can just view this as an extra saving whenever it works and not worry about the transactions that don’t. I’ve done the latter and the vast majority of transactions was recorded properly. One (large one) took a very long time, I followed up and was paid out promptly! You can increase your chances by simplifying the process: I figure out what to purchase and where and log into my merchant account (and enable the browser to safe my account information). I then close the browser tabs, go to the portal, start the purchase process and try to complete it with few clicks. That has worked well for me.
There are plenty of cash back portals and they all have different cash back rates for each merchant. So, which one should you sign up for? Fortunately, there is another site than can help you: CashbackMonitor compares a large number of cash back portals, travel and credit card programs. You can search by merchant and find the portal that offers you the best return! Check out the online vendors you buy the most from and you will get an idea which portal will work best for you! Good luck with cash-back on your online purchases and let me know, what you were able to save!
If you do want to sign up with Topcashback, feel free to use this referral link – both you and me will receive $10 cash back after you earn a total of $10 in cash back from purchases through the portal.