Thursday, February 18

My newest love: Mr. Rebates

I have, in the past, sung the praises of Ebates. It's a cash back site that offers you percentages (in cash) for your purchases made through its portal. It also features online coupons.

That was then, and this is now. I've discovered a far better cash-back site: Mr. Rebates. What is it? Well, I say it's a bucket of cash-back goodness. But apparently the company has a slightly more official explanation:

"Mr. Rebates is a cash-back shopping website that offers over 2000 stores plus money-saving online coupons that you can stack with the every day cash-back savings. Some of the top name brand stores include favorites like Macy's, Sears, Travelocity and more."

Hopefully everyone got that. Essentially, it's similar to Ebates, but it goes one step further. It has over 2,000 merchants, compared to Ebates' 1,200. And it still offers coupons, discounts and sales information for any store in its merchant list.

Even better, Mr. Rebates offers higher percentages of cash back. For example, we used to get 5 percent back from The Body Shop, through Ebates. But Mr. Rebates offers 7 percent back!

In fact, having used the site for a couple of months, I have consistently found higher cash back amounts on the site, compared to what Ebates offers. I think that'll get just about any frugal person's heart a'thumpin!

But there is also the matter of payouts. Ebates pays you quarterly, so you wait three months in between checks, no matter when your purchases are made. Mr. Rebates allows you to cash out monthly, so long as you meet the $10 threshold. You can also opt for Paypal rather than a traditional check.

There are a couple of caveats here. First of all, you don't automatically get a check, like you do with Ebates. Mr. Rebates won't send you money until you request it. So be sure to keep an eye on your balance!

In addition, the payout threshold is a little higher: $10 instead of Ebates' $5. On the other hand, you're getting more money back, and you can get your check faster. I think that balances things out.

Finally, the sites treat referrals differently. Both will give you $5 for signing up. But Ebates also provides you with $5 once your referral has made a purchase through the site. Mr. Rebates takes a slightly different tack.

Instead of a flat $5 fee, the program allows you to earn 20 percent of whatever your referrals earn. (Their cash-back amounts stay the same.) So for every $10 that your referrals make, you'll make $2. While it's not quite the immediate gratification offered by Ebates, I think the 20-percent back is a much better deal.

In short, I really cannot recommend Mr. Rebates highly enough. If you choose only one cash-back program, choose this one.

Of course, in the end, I always recommend keeping your options open. While I think you'll end up favoring Mr. Rebates, I do advocate checking the other cash-back sites to be sure you're getting the best deal. Each program has periodic special offers. Ebates, for example, will double certain stores' cash-back percentages for short periods of time.

So to be your most frugal, do a quick comparison on stores and percentages earned. By and large, though, you'll find Mr. Rebates has the best rates. I know I have!

In the interests of full disclosure:

I actually contacted Mr. Rebates to say how delighted I was with the program. I also mentioned that I was going to recommend it to my readers as the primary cash-back program to use. The company was delighted and agreed to donate an Amazon gift card for a contest. It did, however, want a post about the merits of the site. Since I was going to write one anyway, I had no moral qualms about accepting the conditions. Still, I want to be open about the proceedings.

As for the contest itself, I'll give more details on Friday.


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