Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cashback Websites

A lot of websites offer affiliate and referral programs that will give a certain percentage of their sales to their "advertisers". Well someone along the line thought figured it would be a great idea to take all these programs and create a new type of online shopping experience, the cashback website.

What makes these sites awesome is instead of them keeping all their affiliate revenue for themselves, they share with you, the person who is actually spending your money! You can earn anything from 1% up to over 30% off, all just for shopping online like you normally would.

These sites are popping up all over the internet and offering different stores and discounts. Some sites are better then others when it comes to offerings, cashback, payment methods and referral programs.

Today, I'm going to break down 3 of my favorite cashback sites: Jellyfish (now Live Search Cashback), Ebates, and Fat Wallet.

Alright, I'm refusing to call this by it's new name (Live Search cashback). I like what Microsoft has done with Jellyfish since they bought it, however, they moved the cashback portion to a different site and renamed it, HOW RUDE!

Jellyfish offers the most payment methods out of the 3. You can be paid via PayPal, Direct Deposit, or by receiving a check in the mail. Additionally, you can receive payment after your account reaches $5, you can request this payment at anytime. It will take about 14 days before you see the money in your account or the check in your hand.

Your cashback funds will be pending for up to 60 days which can be annoying, but all the sites have this delay period to protect themselves against people making returns and them losing money.

Jellyfish offers a social shopping service called Smack Shopping. This is similar to a reverse auction, where the price drops slowly (it will drop more quickly during different shows) until all the items are purchased. You can chat with other Jellyfish users and play games like SmackPot and Outwit the Smack, where you are awarded coins and guru points. Coins can be used to purchase Jellyfish merchandise and get extra cashback. Guru Points will get you more coins when you reach certain Milestones, which are shown below:

Additionally, you will receive 500 more coins for ever 50 guru points after the 100 marker (150, 200, 250, etc). Jellyfish is also so kind as to give you an even bigger bonus of 1000 coins when you reach 500 guru points and 10000 coins when you reach 1000 guru points!

As for the games, Smackpot is simple, for the first few minutes of each item, you are allowed to bet up to 10 of your coins on the percentage off range the item will sell at. The less people that guess a certain range, the bigger your coin payout can be. Outwit the Smack is even easier; after each item, you register to play. Outwit is similar to playing Trivia, except the questions are silly and the answers are even more bizarre. Your goal is to guess the one that the least number of people will pick. For Outwitting the Smack, you are awarded 1 Guru Point. They will also pick one random person in the audience to play and have a chance to win 3 Guru Points and the Jackpot, which starts at 1000 coins and goes up by 1000 more for every round there isn't a winner!

There are a few other games, like the Smack Wheel, but they are played at various times throughout the day. Once you sign up and start playing, you'll learn to love the community, just as much as the money you'll save!

Ebates is nicer in the sense that your cashback will be credited in as little as 48 hours, but can take up to 30 days. However, unlike Jellyfish and Fat Wallet, you cannot request payment at anytime you reach the required minimum balance. Instead, Ebates pays you every quarter (January 1 - March 31 is quarter 1 and you get paid on May 15). If you don't make the minimum balance of $5, they will transfer your funds into the next quarter, so you don't have to worry about losing that hard earned cash. Payments can be made via PayPal or by check, no direct deposit here.

They also have a store they feature daily where they give you double the cashback, meaning you can save up to 50% off at certain stores. You can search by store or by the item you are looking for and it will tell you where it will be cheapest to buy.

Like Jellyfish, Ebates offers a whole slew of other services. It's the only cashback program of the 3 I'm discussing that has a referral program. For every person you refer that signs up and makes a purchase, you and the other person receives $5! Get free money for helping others save money, I like it!

Additionally, they offer coupons for different stores, online or local, which you can browse and save for use later. These coupons can be used on top of your cashback that you receive, which can save you hundreds of dollars in a year easily!

Fat Wallet and Ebates are pretty similar. They both offer the cashback and the coupons for a bunch of online retailers. It will also allow you to compare prices between different vendors so you save more.

The one problem I do have with Fat Wallet is the time it takes for the cashback to put added to your account. It can take anywhere from 91 days, up to 120 days. I'm sorry, but 4 months to get some money back kinda sucks, especially when other places will do it in as little as a month! Also, they have a $10 minimum balance before you can get your money back. However, like Jellyfish, you can get your money back at anytime after you reach the required minimum balance.

There is one thing I do like about Fat Wallet more then the other 2 places, their forums! Throughout the day, Fat Wallet users will list deals they have found online or in store. You can do a quick search for something your looking for and see if anyone has found a good deal recently. If you want to save some extra dough, you'll combine these deals with cashback programs from other sites!

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