Get easy cash back when shopping online

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Dollar bills through a laptop screenI'll admit. I love shopping online. I feel a sense of excitement when the brown boxes show up on my doorstep. I also love the rush of getting a great deal online. However, it can be frustrating when there just seems like there's no great value to be had. Take heart. There's an easy way to save beyond what the price may be in your digital cart.

Last week, I shared how you can buy discounted gift cards to save money on everything you buy. Using the gift card and what I'm about to share can allow you to double dip on savings. It's all very easy… and it works!

A number of websites offer cash back rebates or rewards when you shop through them. After a quick account set up, you really can think of this as free money for making the same online purchases.

Best cash back sites for online shopping

Three of the most popular cash-back reward sites that you should start using are:

This is probably the largest and oldest cash back site on the web. Ebates was founded in 1998 and boasts coupons and rebate offers for more than 1,700 stores. To earn cash back, go to, log-in and search for your favorite store. Then click the link to shop. Within 30 days, you should see your cash back credited in your account. Every three months, you'll get a check or Paypal deposit from Ebates so long as you have at least a $5 balance.

I don't find ShopAtHome to be quite as straightforward to use as Ebates although it works under the same premise. You log in, search for a store, click the link and shop. However, you can't use any coupon codes other than those issued by ShopAtHome when making your purchase. Doing so will cancel your cash back. Checks are issued every month for balances with at least a $20 minimum. The website also has a ShopGold Rewards program that lets users earn points toward gift cards.

I don't personally use Mr. Rebates, but this site has been around for years and seems to have many happy customers. It works the same as Ebates and ShopAtHome in that you click through the site, shop at your favorite stores and get cash back. However, it looks as though you can't pay with discounted gift cards if you want to get cash back through Mr. Rebates. In its FAQs, the site answers a question about whether cash back is granted for purchases made with gift cards by saying “probably not.” In addition, you have to wait 90 days for a rebate to become available and then you can only cash out if you have a $10 balance.

Don't leave money on the table when shopping online! Cash-back sites are worth the extra step and can save you significant money each year if you shop online much – particularly during the holidays.

If you want one more avenue for online savings, make sure to catch my column next week for the best websites offering rewards for taking surveys, completing offers and shopping online.

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