Ebates Review: Is it A Scam or A Legit Way To Get Paid To Shop Online?

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Ebates Scam or Not

Update: EBates rebranded to Rakuten after merging businesses in 2014. Rakuten, Inc.; a Japanese electronic commerce and online retailing company based in Tokyo acquired EBates in a $1Billion takeover deal. They just recently completed the rebranding process. But don't worry; besides the name change, the cashback and rewards company still operates the same way as before.

I wouldn't consider myself a big shopper. But when I do shop, I tend to do most of it online because I want to find the best deals. Furthermore since I don't really like dealing with people, shopping online helps me avoid pesky things called human beings. So I'm a big fan of sites like Amazon because of this. Now imagine if you could actually get paid for shopping online? Well apparently you can and you'll learn how in my Ebates Review below. It's not perfect but I think you'll still like it!

What is Ebates?

Ebates is a website that offers its members the opportunity to earn cash back from their online purchases. ebates.com is the official website and it was started back in 1998 by two Deputy District Attorneys in Silicon Valley. Not what you'd expect but what's interesting is that these two attorneys used to prosecute online fraud and identity theft, before they started Ebates. So you should feel safe doing business with Ebates. But check this out. In 2014, Rakuten, Japan's largest e-commerce firm acquired Ebates for a staggering $1 billion cash! Ka-ching, ka-ching! Those attorneys are sitting pretty, that's for sure.

How does Ebates Work?

Ebates is managed as an affiliate marketing site, which has over 2,000 affiliate stores, including Ebay, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, just to name a few. These stores pay Ebates a commission for sending customers their way and in turn, Ebates shares some of this money with their members for using their affiliate links to these stores to shop. So think of Ebates as the ‘middle man' between you and your favorite online store.

So instead of going directly to your favorite online store, you go to Ebates.com, find your online store, make your purchase and you'll get cash back. It's that simple. You earn cash back on your net purchase amount, and you can use in-store coupons as well. However, specific cash back amounts vary by store and product category.

What are the Ebates Stores?

As we mentioned above, ebates is just a middle man to you favorite stores. You don't actually buy from them. You just visit their site first and click on their affiliate links to your favorite stores. They need you to do this so they can get paid and track who they need to share their money with. That said, there are too many stores to list and they're constantly updating them. But some of the popular ones you may know are as follows:

  • Amazon.com
  • Kohls.com
  • Macy's
  • Walmart
  • RiteAid
  • Nordstrom
  • Priceline
  • Petco
  • Orbitz.com
  • Expedia.com
  • Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Old Navy
  • Dicks (Pause)
  • Many more.

If you'd like to see all the latest stores you can click here to visit.

How to earn money with Ebates?

Well, apart from the cash back you receive from your online purchases, you can also earn money referring your friends and family to Ebates. You earn one referral bonus per individual person referred, providing that your referral keeps an active account. That means your referral has to make a qualifying purchase of at least $25 within ninety (90) days of becoming a member.

Another way you can make money with Ebates, is with the Ebates Cash Back Visa Credit Card. With this Visa Card, you can earn an extra 3% cash back when you use it to make your purchase, as well as an additional 1% if you also use it where Visa is accepted. Hey, and this credit card is absolutely free; no annual fee or anything. But you need to have a good credit score to apply for it.

How Do I Get Paid by Ebates.com?

Ebates sends you cash on a quarterly basis and offers three ways in which you can receive payment. Once your balance exceeds $5.00, payment options include them sending you a check to the address you have on file; depositing your payment in your PayPal account; or they can send your check to an individual of your choice, even your favorite charity.

How to Join Ebates?

Ebates.com is totally free to join. On the sign up page, select your sign up bonus; you have a choice between a $10 Walmart Gift Card and a $10 Ebates cash bonus at the time of this review. It may change by the time you read this. Step 2 is the sign up process. You can sign up with your Facebook or Google account, or you can use your email address and a password. Once you've entered your information, simply confirm that you are not a robot then hit the “Join” button and you're good to go. Anyone can join, even if you live outside of the U.S. or Canada; just make sure the store you're purchasing from, ships to where you are. Of course, members must be 18 years and older. If however, you are looking for more than a cash back every quarter, then you might want to consider my Top Free Work At Home Recommendation.

Ebates Hacks and Tips

Use the cash back button

The cash back button lets you know the items associated with the cash back, as well as the percentage being offered. So it can save you some time looking for cash back items. On checking out, it will also allow you to add associated promo codes.

Complete your purchase in the same shopping session

To earn cash back, complete your purchase during the same shopping session you start after clicking on the Ebates link. If you visit other sites before completing your purchase, your purchase might not be associated with Ebates. In such a case, you won't earn any cash back. Bummer.

Don't disable ‘cookies' on your computer

Cookies are used to authenticate the user and to make sure that cash back is assigned to your account. So if you disable cookies, you won't be able to earn your cash back on your purchases.

Use PayPal

If you can, you may want to consider using PayPal as a payment option. Sometimes things can and do get lost in the mail, you know, and you don't want your quarterly check being one of those things now do you?

Ebates Complaints and Concerns

On the internet there is never a dull day when it comes to people complaining. As with anything else in life, some people will either like, love, or hate ebates. While more people report having success with Ebates, there are some who, well, let's just say, don't have as much success. So let's just check out some of the complaints associated with this opportunity.

Cancelled cash back

What? Yep. If the Affiliate store neglects to report a transaction or withholds affiliate payment to Ebates, Ebates reserves the right to cancel the cash back associated with that transaction. Translation? In a nut shell, your cash back is cancelled.

Missed payouts

Oops. This is one of the more common complaints about Ebates. Payments are quarterly, and some people fall through the cracks, for one reason or another. It can certainly be disappointing missing out on your payment, when you've met the requirements and you really should have been paid. I feel your pain.

I thought you said 5% cash back?

Just because you see “up to 5% cash back,” that does not mean that you are going to actually get 5% back on your purchase. It's like when the car dealership says “up to 20% cash back!” There are conditions to satisfy to actually get that entire 20% back. It's no different with Ebates. You just have to know what those conditions are.

You know what they say about assuming…
Don't assume that every purchase you make within an Ebates affiliate store will count towards a cash back. If your transactions do not meet the cask back criteria, they will automatically be wiped from your account.

More Ebates Complaints…

Large purchases doesn't mean more money…
So check this out, ” there is a maximum of $50 cash back may be earned on any single purchase.” So if you thought purchasing a big ticket item like a mattress would earn you hundreds or thousands back you can forget about it. There is a cap of $50 per single purchase.

I never received cash back or the sign up bonus

Yep, there have been a few complaints about this as well. To be sent a gift card bonus, you need to have a valid U.S. or Canadian address. Even so, gift cards can take up to 4 weeks to be mailed, after you qualify; making that minimum purchase of $25 within the first 90 days of joining. So you need to play the waiting game here.

The customer service used to be so good

“I have sent at least three emails about friend referrals and why my account is reading $0, and I've had absolutely no response. I feel like I don't even exist to them.” Sounds familiar? There have been a number of complaints regarding customer service and we all know that not getting the customer service when you need it the most, can be frustrating, to say the least.

Quarterly payments

If you were looking at ebates as a way to make money on a regularly weekly or monthly schedule, you can forget about it! Because ebates is paid by affiliate networks there can a be a lag of 30+ days before they get paid. So that means you have to wait on that. So they have 90 day waiting period which I understand from their point of view. But it sucks if you want to see that money sooner.

So Is Ebates Legitimate or a Scam?

Ebates is absolutely legitimate. Despite the complaints, they've received an A+ rating with the BBB, so that may count for something for some of you. If you are a regular online shopper, it just might make perfect sense for you to use Ebates. Why not get some cash back for shopping online? Now, it might be tempting to you to join, as it seems like a really cool opportunity, but if you are not a regular online shopper, don't simply join and spend a bunch of money just to get some cash back. The math may not add up.

Furthermore you can't really use ebates as a way to earn consistent regular income. For that you may want to check out my Top Free Work At Home Recommendation and my Work At Home Courses. With multiple streams of income, you can earn way more than quarterly cash back.

So that's it from me. As always, I hope this was helpful to you and I look forward to hearing from you. What's your experience with ebates?

Feel free to chime in below. Until next time,

Eddy with a y

38 thoughts on “Ebates Review: Is it A Scam or A Legit Way To Get Paid To Shop Online?”

  1. Rakuten (ebates) does not pay the cash back as promised. This cash back program is the worst.I requested my Available Cash Back on July 2018. In spite of repeated requests they didn’t give money back.

    Also I have a pending Cash back on my account since May 2018 and every time request them, they copy and paste the same verbiage as reply, blaming the merchant.
    Also I requested that I will call them at their convenience to clarify. They rejected my request out right.Very bad service.
    I had over 800 dollars and then it went down to zero and informed site will not allow you to transfer your money. All they say, is sorry for the inconvenience and this will be corrected shortly. Well, I don’t know their definition of shortly, but its been 3 months now.
    My sincere request to one and all. Please do not use their service.

    • Sorry to hear you’re having issues. I’ve used them for years and never had an issue. Hopefully the change in ownership doesn’t mean they start to be doing what you experienced often. But I guess time will tell. Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s the norm from what I’ve seen for all these years.

  2. I’ve been using Ebates for many years as my sole cashback program and have referred a few people to them. I haven’t had issues in the past properly-getting cashback. For the last 30 purchases from different companies, I have not received any cashback now they want me to give detailed information (dates, invoice # detail of each item purchased on each invoice) that would take forever, plus I did that once for a few invoices and never got the cashback.

  3. While it certainly is $ you wouldn’t otherwise have, I use eBates 99% of the time, buying for resell. Around 2.5-3k a month and on average am shown 5% cash back, sometimes 10%, occasionally 3%. These purchases tend to be $60-$100, sometimes $35. So no $50 cap large ticket stuff. One would expect a few to several hundred $ each quarter, but I don’t even make it to $100. I’m averaging 1%, sometimes 2%, but rarely the 5% or 10%. I’ll take it, just not what I was expecting and may try the competitors for a quarter to compare.

  4. ebates (rakuten) is scam friend do not use it when you earn some money you banea accuses you of fraudulent and does not say anything else or explanations and will not pay you the accumulated.

    • I’ve been using ebates for years and that has never happened to me. I also have friends and family that have never experienced this either. Either way that sucks this happened to you.

  5. I love Ebates now! I used it a long time ago when I still living with my parents and really didn’t get much out of it. I signed out and forgot about it for many years. Just over a week ago I signed up again and have been raking in cash back and savings. I’ve earned $53.53 in less than a week!

    It’s probably my favorite app right now. I had to share about it on my blog because those who do their own shopping are really missing out on the cash back opportunities!

  6. Signed up for ebates and had some money in my account for 3 months. Even got the awarded email. then one day all of a sudden it was gone, they said I had to re-submit all of this information for a way old order…. Huh What… Anyway they took the money back and kept it. What a joke.

    • That’s weird. I’ve never had this issue and I’ve been using them for years. And I have friends and family that never experienced this either. So I’m not sure why it would happen to you.

  7. Ebates is such a great website, I had my personal experience on the website and earned so much money during placing order. The best thing is you have several choices, you can select from. Thanks Buddy.

  8. I joined E-Bates last week and am thoroughly confused about what I need to do when I am in a store that participates in E-Bates. Hoping you can help. If you can’t help me, can you point me to someone or someplace where I can get this information?

    • Hi Patti,

      It’s pretty simple. Visit ebates.com and make sure you’re logged in. Then search on ebates.com for the store you want to shop at. So for instance maybe you want to purchase something from walmart.com. You just do a search for walmart in ebates.com. Once you see the link to walmart.com then you click on it from ebates.com. You’ll be redirected to the walmart.com website. But now ebates knows to give you cash back on certain items you buy. Log back into your ebates account a few days after paying for whatever item you bought at walmart.com. You’ll see the cash back amount you earned in your ebates account. They’ll send you a check 90 days afterwards. Ebates has an faq section you can read as well if you’re still confused.

    • I’ve downloaded their app (by the way, using the app on your phone usually gives out more cash back than using it online). But, in order to receive the “In-store” cash back, you have to select that option in their menu bar. That will show you the retailers that you can earn cash back while in a brick and mortar store. Now, retailers like Walmart or Target aren’t on their in-store platform (it may change one day), but for now, stores like Charlotte Russe, World Market, Best Buy, and Buy Buy Baby to name a few are able to earn cash back in the store.

      I’ve used it for Charming Charlie once in the store. Simply, link your card that you’ll be using to make the purchase and you’ll earn the cash back. It’s like how some banks do with their cash back cards. You just have to use the card that is linked in order to earn the money back on your purchase – plus of course, follow any conditions they have set to get the cash back.

    • Thanks for sharing the tip Tiffany. I was aware that there was an in store option now. I’m wary of linking my card but at this point ebates has proven to be legit for many years.

    • Oh yes! I was actually nervous about linking my card, but I figured to give it a shot and see what happened. If you can earn money back on the card that you’re already using on top of Ebates, it’s totally worth it.

      Groupon also does cash back sometimes and I’ve actually earned double from my card and from using their cash back incentive at Starbucks. My co-worker got me hooked on Ebates. She’s earned over $1,000 cash back from their app and since I’ve been actively using my Ebates app since Sept (I signed up last year and forgot to use it) so far, I’ve earned $430 total. I definitely agree with your review and the complaints. I’ve had to actually email them several times about my cash back, but they were generally quick to getting my questions resolved. I was very surprised when my $300 cash back appeared shortly after my order without any issues.

      Have you ever heard of Giving Assistant? They do the same thing, but you can also give your cash back to charities if chosen.

    • Well, thanks for confirming it all works just fine and agreeing with my review. I’m not surprised by how much you have earned. I’ve earned several hundred. I would probably have earned more if I remembered to use it more and installed the web browser extensions and the smartphone app. I haven’t heard for Giving Assistant but I’ll take a look.

  9. I have been using Ebates for a good while now. It was great in the beginning as I’m a constant online shopper, but the cash back is too low. I still use it though because it’s better than nothing. Is there other good cash back websites?

    • Hey Nichele,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I guess any cash back is better than none. What you might want to do is use a site like Raise.com to buy
      gift cards at a discount and then use ebates to visit those stores and make a purchase with the gift cards which saves you even more money. So
      for instance you may be able to buy a Target gift card of $50 for only $40 at Raise.com which means a 10% savings. Then go to ebates and click on the target link there and get an additional 2-5% when you shop. When you check out, just use the gift card you got at a discount. And now you’ve save a total of anywhere between 12%-15% when you factor in the discounted gift card and the rebates from ebates. So that may be a strategy to try to get more out of your shopping from ebates. Some credit cards also have a rewards program. So if you use a credit card that gives you cash back while shopping using ebates, you’ll save more money combined that way as well. Swagbucks allows you to earn gift cards for free that you can use to shop. So you may want to try that too. I hope this helps.

  10. Didn’t know there was a maximum $50 cashback to a purchase! That is great info to know. I just started my Ebates journey and I’ll have to update my Ebates Review now. Thanks for the great review, I’m checking out more of these Ebates conditions now!

    • I just received $300 back recently on a Groupon purchase. I used the Groupon coupon which the max discount was $50, however, I received 11% back on my order via my Ebates app on my phone.

      This is the message I received since I do have their Chrome extension: “You just earned $302.39 Cash Back from your purchase at Groupon!”

      Now, I am not sure if there used to be a max of $50 per order, but as of Dec 2017, I can attest that I’ve earned more than that on just one purchase. I spent around $2700 so saving that $300 helped out A LOT! If you need any screenshots Eddy, I am more than happy to share them with you. 🙂 I never knew they had a max payout per order until I read what you said today and wanted to share this in case you ever needed to update anything.

  11. Good post Eddy! But i have to say the $50 limit per purchase with Ebates is a little annoying, if that wasn’t there i would be more inclined to use it all the time, and while it does seem like a lot of effort for minimal payout, it does still sound legit so i may just give it a go sometime.

    I presume it becomes pretty natural to use after a while just getting a few dollars here and there whenever you make online purchases, might get me a few beers here and there i guess 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Hey Marley,

      Yeah despite the limits, I still think it’s worth it since you’re giving yourself cashback for something you’d be doing anyway. So it’s a no brainer.

  12. Hi Eddy,
    thanks for your thorough review on Ebates. Glad you included the good and the bad about the program. I am a big online shopper myself and can see that I can surely benefit from this. I don’t know if I missed it but is there a minimum payout? Thanks for your review and I look forward to your response.

    • If you’re a big online shopper then you’ll definitely benefit from ebates even if you weren’t it’s still money back in your pocket. I believe the minimum payout is $5

  13. Hi Eddy, good review of Ebates. I see commercials all the time on television about it, and have been considering joining. After your review, I may hold off. I know that you gave Ebates basically a positive review, but you don’t seem overly impressed. I trust your judgement on this, it seems too me that it’s too much downside for the effort. And after you stated that there is a $50 cap per purchase, that sealed the deal for me. Very precise review, I enjoyed reading it. Your scense of humer comes out at times during the review, which is refreshing! Thanks!

    • Hey Eric, I’m glad you liked it. Honestly I still use it and never really had any issues. But I can’t speak to everyone that tries it. All I can say is that I will continue to use it to get some cash back for something I would probably do anyway. So you may want to reconsider.

  14. Hey Eddy, I’m just like you where shopping is concerned, it’s much better to shop online in your own time than battle through the crowds in the shopping mall.

    Ebates sound legit and a great way of receiving cash back for purchases you make. Sounds like one huge affiliate marketing program, joined up with a load of online stores and share a portion of commissions with members.

    Like you say, it’s unfortunate regarding their poor customer service, to perceive yourself as non existent in the company’s eyes is pretty bad and does put you off somewhat.This is something you hear too much of these days.

    Maybe not such a good idea to earn regular income but as far as cashback is concerned if you are a regular online shopper, why not, sounds ok.

    Are you still a member?



    • Hey Simon,

      Yes I am still a member and have earned several hundred dollars back. It would be more if my wife and I remembered to use it more. But it definitely works well despite some of the complaints I listed. It’s a nice added bonus for something you would do anyway.

  15. This was all news to me. I’ve never heard of Ebates before. It is nice to know about this as an option for the future. It sounds like with a little thought most online purchases can be had with a discount.

    I found myself wondering if you need to register a credit card with them? Also, how much is the referral bonus?

    • You should definitely sign up since its free. No you don’t need to register any credit card. You just use it as a I described above. Sign up for an account, then visit their website and click on an online store you want to shop at and everything else is handled in the background. You don’t really have to do anything really different except for remembering to go to ebates first. The referral bonus varies. Visit their website to see the latest bonus.

  16. Hey Eddy

    Ebates sound really cool! As I am also a keen online shopper (as I also don’t like dealing with people :)) this sounds as a great option for me. I don’t care actually that sometimes it will not pay back – as I am buying online anyway, any cash back will be a benefit for me.
    Cheers, Arta


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