Is Ebates A Scam? – My Honest Review

Ebates: Scam or No?

You’ve probably seen the TV commercials for Ebates.com. Blissful people showing off the “big fat checks” they got just for shopping online.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Plus, they give you $10 just for signing up.

The TV Commercials Are Right

Using Ebates is easy. Create a free account on Ebates, login and you’re off! Do whatever shopping you would normally do.

  1. Browse the huge list of Ebates stores
  2. Pick the stores you normally shop, and then click the link Ebates provides to those stores.
  3. Then, stay in that screen on your browser and shop normally.

Once you buy your TV from Best Buy or your shoes from Footlocker or your lipstick from Sephora, Ebates will know you made that purchase, and you’ll get a kickback in your account, sometimes immediately but usually within a few days.

How big exactly are these big fat checks?

Rebate percentages vary by store, usually between 1%-25%. Because 25% cash back on something can be such a significant kickback, especially for expensive items, it pays to have a membership, even if you only use it occasionally for those purchases.

So if you’re buying a high ticket item, Ebates will put your comparison shopping on a whole new level. You can compare available rebates, in addition to shopping for the lowest price.  Sometimes it will make more financial sense to buy something from one vendor at a higher price if they also have a higher percentage rebate.

Example: You want to buy a Plasma TV. Best Buy has it for $2000, and Sears has the same one for $1950. But today, let’s say that Best Buy is offering 10% cash back on Ebates, and Sears is offering just 2%. So your net price for the TV at Best Buy would be $1800 (because 10% of $2,000 is $200), and the price at Sears would be $1911 (because 2% of $1950 is $39).

So even though the TV price is LISTED as cheaper at Sears, when you’re using Ebates you get a much better final deal on the TV. Starting to see how this will add up yet?

My Experience With Using Ebates

I’ve used Ebates for two years, on and off, sadly only when I remember it (but I just downloaded their browser plugin so now I’ll always use it). I’m really kicking myself for not doing this earlier, because of all of the extra money I would have saved over those two years. But, ok, lesson learned – do what I say not what I did 🙂!

Even when used just sometimes (because I am a lazy scatterbrain) this is my lifetime total earnings from Ebates:

$868.85 isn’t bad for stuff I was already buying.

Included in that $868.85:

  • about $40 back for a new clothes dryer
  • $70 back from airline tickets to Amsterdam
  • tons of smaller rebates for my purchases at places like Groupon, Walmart, Ebay, and Amazon
  • A few referral bonuses for telling people about Ebates

Remember This Key Fact

You can get money back for your purchases with using Ebates pretty much anywhere you normally shop and anything you normally buy, because they have a really extensive advertiser network.

So, just for shopping as I do normally, I got back enough money for airline tickets somewhere else. Wooot! This is how it actually works. The Ebates TV commercials, while amusing and borderline insane, aren’t false advertising!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

A+ Referral Program

Ebates also has a great referral program. You normally get $5 per referral, but they often have promotions to drum up new referrals. Sometimes, they even have pretty incredible promotions where you get $25 or even $50 per referral.

So, say you sign up for your free account on Ebates, collect your $10 sign-up bonus, and then share your referral link on Facebook or Twitter or your own website.  Or just email it to your family and friends. Any new user who clicks your Ebates link and sets up their own account becomes a new passive source of income for you.

Ebates can be quite profitable for high volume referrals, so BLOGGERS pay attention!

Below, you’ll see the current (as of March 2017) “additional bonus” kickbacks offered when you reach various referral thresholds, and have told this number of people about Ebates (who then went on to sign up).

You can literally make $45,000 for getting 1,000 people to sign up. $45,000 is almost the median annual income in the USA – and telling people about a good program is hardly any work at all. More importantly, you can feel good about shouting it from the rooftops!

Feeling Good is Good

I mean it. I feel good about Ebates! Ebates is a free program that literally improves the shopping experience by saving us money on things we’re already purchasing online. As I showed above, with the example of someone looking to buy a new plasma TV, it also helps us make better choices as customers when buying high ticket items.

Money is valuable. We work like dogs for it, and when we spend it, we want to spend as little as possible to get as much as possible. Ebates is one tool in the toolshed to help advance this goal.

And since I (and most of the civilized world) have moved much of our commerce to the internet, this is just one more perk and strategy to get the lowest price of goods.


Overall: Ebates Is An Awesome Source of Passive Income

  • If you only shop online occasionally, it’s true that you’re won’t make massive sums on Ebates, but you will get some of the money you spent back in your pocket.
  • If you only shop online occasionally, but buy high-ticket items like electronics or airline tickets or appliances, you will make significant kickbacks when strategically using Ebates in your shopping.
  • If you shop all the time online, but on small-ticket items, your Ebates account balance will add up faster than you can say MONEY. Most of my $868.85 came from small purchases made over two years, using Ebates only sometimes.
  • If you also refer people to Ebates, it can be a POWERFUL stream of passive income for you. Even if you’re not a professional blogger, but you’re someone with a big Facebook network, or a big family, or a huge group of friends, SIGN UP NOW and refer everyone in your network. They’ll be happy saving more money and banking the free $10 new member bonus, and you’ll be happy with the referral bonuses.

Any experiences with Ebates? I’d love to hear your comments, questions, or ideas on how to make Ebates work even better. Thanks for reading!
-Steph

41 comments

  1. Hey Steph,
    I’ve always wanted to try ebates, heard about it everywhere but I don’t have any friends who’ve actually tried it for real.

    Super excited to give it a try, I shop online a lot especially on Amazon, looking forward to saving some cash to fly for free. One question though, does it have country limitations?

    1. Hi Riaz, thanks for the question! I’m glad you asked because I should have covered that in my article! Here’s the info from ebates’ faq:

      “Can I use Ebates if I live outside the U.S. and Canada?

      Yes, as long as the store you are purchasing from will ship outside of the U.S. and Canada. All cash back payments are made in the available currency(ies) of your selected payment method.”

      So, find a place that offers a sweet deal on international shipping, and you’re good. They’ll even pay in your home currency. Sign up and get that $10 bonus!

  2. Hi Steph

    Very nice review. I actually had never heard of Ebates. I constantly purchase online since I tend to find things at a lower price. If on top of that there’s a way to even get some money back, hey I’m sold! It sounds like a solid website, so I’ll definitely give it a try.

    Do you know if Ebates works worldwide? or is it just for U.S. citizens?

    Thanks in advance,

    Luis

    1. Hi Luis,

      Ebates is for everyone on earth! as long as the vendor is willing to ship to your country. This is from their FAQ online:

      “Can I use Ebates if I live outside the U.S. and Canada?

      Yes, as long as the store you are purchasing from will ship outside of the U.S. and Canada. All cash back payments are made in the available currency(ies) of your selected payment method.”

      So, as I just said to another international reader, find a store with a good rates on international shipping and you’re good! They’ll even pay you in your home currency. Sign up, get your $10 bonus, and start referring your friends to get on that $25 referral bonus before the end of March!

  3. Hi Steph, this is a great review of ebates! I commented on another site that was reviewing ebates because they gave it a good review. I just downloaded the app on my phone and signed up, but one thing that you mentioned in your review that I didn’t know, is the referral program. I totally overlooked that part of the program, and by reading your review, I now am looking at it closer. Good deal! Well written review, thank you!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad that my article helped you see the full benefits.

      I like Ebates so much because it’s nothing but win-win. Presumably Ebates leverages their size and audience to get really good kickbacks with companies and then passes most of it on to users. Unlike most passive income opportunities, they’ve been around forever, and have brand trust and longevity on their side.

      I hope you save lots of money and take advantage of their referral program too!

  4. Hi Steph,
    Thanks for the review, I’ve never used Ebate before but it is interesting.
    I shop online with Amazon a lot and the idea of making money back sounds good to me.
    The referrer program is super attractive too. Making $45000 from showing how people can make money back? That’s cool 🙂

    1. Hi Kien, I’m glad you think Ebates can work for you! The referral program is so generous, I doubt I’ll reach the highest level of return with my teeny blog but a girl can dream. Amazon.com works with Ebates so always go through them before you buy stuff – Amazon’s rebate amount is usually between 3%-10% fyi.

  5. Great read! Definitely gave me a clear view on how ebates works and if it is worth it.
    I’ve always been curious to try it out, so this is helpful! Looking to getting some money back in the future!

    1. Hi Gabby – thanks so much for the kind and positive feedback, definitely check it out. It doesn’t hurt to save money on stuff you’re gonna buy anyway 🙂

  6. Hi Steph,

    I have never heard of Ebates before but after reading your reading you bring out really interesting point, it makes me want to look more into it.

    Getting money back for thing you were already buying sounds a like a great opportunities that I can’t refuse.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with Ebates!

    1. Hi Alex, thanks for the feedback and definitely check it out, you can’t really go wrong with one tiny extra step to save money on the things you already buy!

  7. Wow, Ebates still doing the rounds, eh? I know a lot about Ebates already and can agree that you’re able to make real money out of their system, but it is no means a viable option if you’re looking to make a full time business out of. And I’ll have to agree with you about the referral program. They absolutely do have a great one. Actually, that reminds me, I might have to jump on the Ebates wagon and start making some side cash, haha. Thanks for the thorough review 🙂

    1. Hi Brandon- thanks for the feedback! Yup, amazing that Ebates has been around forever and is still such a strong company. I’ve been seeing their cheesy commercials for years! In starting to describe all the passive income opportunities on this blog, every little bit helps and comes together in the big picture. With the referral program, Ebates has the potential to be a good contributor to the total income.

  8. Hi Steph.

    I am very excited to try Ebates. I had heard of it before; but didn’t really pay attention. I also didn’t know that there was a referral program. And wow, at $25 per referral; I better get signed up and get the word out. Even one person who would sign up would be nice.

    Thank you for a great review.

    Jeannie

    1. Hi Jeannine, thanks for the kind feedback – Ebates is awesome and I’m glad you’re gonna check it out and get your friends on board and get some $ in your pocket! The hardest thing about Ebates is remembering to use it before buying stuff, but they’ve fixed that problem with the Browser extensions and buttons.

  9. Hello Steph
    A good review and just like another of your posts on surveys I have never heard of eBates either. I usually go round the shops in my home city of Edinburgh and I have to say I can go home after saving money, especially in a store called Primark.
    Of course I don’t get any money back from these purchases but the savings more than makes up for this.
    I do notice that as I’m in the UK there would be an extra cost for shipping so this would probably cancel out those savings I make shopping overseas.
    Regards.
    Robert Allan

    1. Yes, it sounds like Ebates might not be the best fit for you, since you live overseas and prefer to shop in person at home. Totally ok! It might only make sense for you as a passive revenue stream if you can recommend it to other people in your network, who would find it more useful.

  10. Big Ebates (Canadian) lover here! I love getting those small percentages “back” because they totally add up! Getting Ebates cheques in the mail 4x a year is always fun, because I don’t watch the balances all that much.
    Unfortunately in Canada there are a few stores that have disappeared lately, Walmart included.
    I always use it to buy my regular purchases – diapers, wipes, etc. for my family. Once you get used to popping through ebates to shop, it’s second nature now!

    1. Ebates is awesome, definitely! I’m glad you use it all the time, and it’s cool that you leave the check totals a “mystery”!

  11. Great review and important:) It’s easy to be suspicious when you see or here about the big fat check. I understand that it will not come for free, but if can shop my normal things and get money back, it’s not bad. The referral program sound great, but is it completely free to sign up? Then it’s must be a great deal and easy to get others to sign up.

    1. Hi Linda, thanks for the feedback! Yes, it is completely free to sign up. You get your free $10 in cash when you make your first purchase of $25 or more. So, sign up now, and then just wait until you need to buy something, and then buy that thing through Ebates.

      Once you get into the habit of using it every time you shop, you’ll see the money add up and you’ll see your own Big Fat Check (hahah, that always cracks me up) soon!!

  12. I LOVE Ebates. I also had to make sure I set up the plugin on my laptop’s browser, as I love how it alerts you if a store eligible and if so how much percentage cash back. I wish the mobile app worked the same way, as you have to open the app first then search for the store you want in order to get the cashback. But I have made a decent amount from just cashback on purchases I was already making, which is nice. Didnt know about their referral bonuses either, that’s pretty cool!

  13. If that’s your check there, I definitely want to try out ebates. It looks like one of those things that look scammy, but isn’t! I love such finds!

    But I live outside of the U.S., and seldom buy from U.S. stores that charge a shipping fee below a minimum purchase amount.

    I wonder what they get in return for giving you the cash?

    1. Hi Regina, thanks for your comment and questions! Ebates is basically a giant affiliate marketer; they get a cut of whatever is purchased when it’s linked through their site. They share half of the commission with users, so that’s how they get paid, and why they can afford to have such a generous referral program.

      My cash back is actually now up to $880, from when I wrote this article. I don’t actually get physical checks – I prefer payments through Paypal.

      If you are a blogger you could consider joining, and then referring the service to your readers in the US and Canada. Then just use Ebates when you DO occasionally shop at US stores.

  14. Hi there Steph,

    Thanks for informing us all of this rather sweet rebates program! everyone likes cash back! don’t they? That amount that you “earned” is pretty incredible 7 hundred bucks! And to think that money would have been a gonner had you one your normal shopping!

    Is Ebates available for people living outside of US and Canada? UK for example?

    (fingers crossed the answer is yes!!)

    1. Hi Derek, glad you liked the post, and thanks for the feedback! Ebates is available to use and promote for users worldwide. So if you know a lot of people in the US or Canada who would benefit from it, you can still join, refer them, and reap the benefits of the referral bonuses.

      If you are going to be using it for shopping from the UK, just check the international shipping rates. This quote is from their official website FAQ:

      “Can I use Ebates if I live outside the U.S. and Canada?

      Yes, as long as the store you are purchasing from will ship outside of the U.S. and Canada. All cash back payments are made in the available currency(ies) of your selected payment method.”

  15. Hello Steph!

    Great review! I never heard of Ebates until now and this makes me sad since I just traveled by plane for 6 times in the last 5 months… I could’ve had so much cash back… damn… Thank you for your review, I will definitely sign up!

    1. Hi Andrei, thanks so much for the kind comment. I’m glad you’re signing up, better late than never! There really aren’t many other ways to save money on airline tickets so hopefully this will help in the future 🙂

  16. Very interesting read! I have never heard of Ebates.

    I definitely do like the money back for my purchases and of course we all spend money anyway just for necessities and plus so why not do this…

    Nice to know Ebates has a referral program. I really enjoyed reading this as it’s a way of creating additional income. People need to buy things so we can help them too.. even better is I don’t have to pay for my FREE account?? Nice..

    Thank you for this wonderful review! I’m bookmarking this and will sign up this coming week…

    Monica

    1. Hi Monica,

      Thanks for the comment! Yeah, we all shop online now, it’s nice to have this extra layer of savings on top of the coupons we use.

      Yeah, ebates is completely free! Just sign up, and then when it’s time for you to buy some necessities, do it by routing first THROUGH ebates, and you’ll see your first commission plus your bonus $10 for signing up.

      I guess the easiest way to describe Ebates is that it’s a giant affiliate marketer, but they give half of their cut to the members which is why they’re so successful.

      happy shopping!

      Steph

  17. Hi Steph,

    Great review on Ebates. I have heard of a similar program before, called Shopback having the similar concept.

    I didn’t know you can earn that much just be referring people. I always make online purchases from Amazon every end of the year when there are Black Friday sales or Boxing day sales.

    I will sign myself up for Ebates and use it when I need it.

    Thank you for sharing this awesome program!

    Regards
    Kevin Lim

    1. Hi Kevin – thanks so much for the great comment. And funny, I’ve never actually heard of shopback! But yeah, definitely check it out because you can get money back on stuff you’re already buying. take good care and happy shopping!

  18. Oh wow, I had no idea ebates was even a thing and if I didn’t learn about it through your review, I would definitely have felt it to be too good to be true. I don’t know if I shop enough to use ebates though. I still live home and don’t have much to buy on my own as far as groceries, furniture, and household appliances go. But it’s definitely something to consider. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the great feedback! Totally understand where you’re coming from. But Ebates is good even for occasional shopping; I hardly used it every time I bought something and still managed to rack up over $800 back in two years. I’d suggest signing up and bookmarking it, and just try it out the next time you buy something – you never know when it might be useful and save you some scratch!

  19. Pretty cool product, who doesn’t love to save money and make money? Lol, a great honest review really appreciated how you weren’t being biased, thanks for sharing.

  20. While I never saw the TV commercials as I don’t own or watch TV (I stream), I have seen it mentioned so many times on YouTube. Like many others I was also wondering if this was good to be true and whether YouTubers where simply affiliates or just sponsored to promote it as they made it seem like it’s the best thing ever.

    I’m really curious how Ebates earns their money with this system. I guess companies don’t lose out on profit so much as (some) people will shop more when they see that they will be saving money?

    Thanks for the review. I think I’ll be signing up after all as every saved dollar counts in my book.

    1. THanks for the great question! Ebates is like the ultimate affiliate marketer; they negotiate terrific affiliate commissions with all of these vendors, and then keep some of the savings from the member’s purchases. It may be a 50/50 split; I’m not sure. It’s a completely brilliant business model.

  21. Hi, Steph. Great article on eBates. I always thought of eBates as being up there with Deal Dash or one of those auction programs. Your explanation make perfect sense to me. I think to truly be of value, you should use ebates on items you actually plan on buying. Shopping online just to shop can leave you with a lot of stuff. Thanks for the info. Time to give this a try.

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