Cyber Monday steal: Ebates offers double the cash back
Get 10 percent back from Barnes & Noble, 14 percent from Lancome, 20 percent from Snapfish, and more inflated bonuses from 500 online stores.
If you shop online a lot, you need to know about Ebates. And FatWallet Cash Back. And RewardsRunner.com. These and other sites give you back cold, hard cash on your purchases--kind of like a Discover card on steroids.
Update: This deal is long since over, of course, but I still think Ebates and other cash-back sites are great for saving money on almost everything you buy online.
And in some cases, more than double. When you shop at Sears, for example, you typically get back two percent of the purchase price. Today only, you get back 10 percent. Doesn't matter if you buy something that's on sale or apply a coupon code--you still get your rebate.
Other noteworthy (meaning gift-friendly) Ebates include 12 percent back from the Body Shop, 10 percent from Golfsmith, 10 percent from Hammacher Schlemmer, and four percent from Toys 'R' Us (not huge, granted, but you normally get only one percent).
In case you're not familiar with cash-back sites like Ebates, they work like this: You sign up for an account, which is free, then just click through from that site to the store where you want to shop. From there you make your purchase like you normally would. There are no codes to enter or forms to submit; all the tracking is handled via specialized links.
What varies from one site to another is how long it takes to get your rebate, which usually comes in the form of a mailed check or PayPal payment. In most cases, it's 90 days, though this can vary from one site to another.
Want to know which cash-back site is offering the biggest payout for a particular store? Start your search at CashReporter.com; it aggregates the rebate info for the various cash-backers.
Needless to say, a few percentage points here and there might not seem like much. But if you buy a lot of stuff online (and, be honest, you do), it's almost crazy not to start with a site like Ebates or FatWallet. After a few months' worth of your regular shopping, you might be surprised by the size of the rebate you get.
If you've had any experience with a cash-back service, pro or con, tell me about it in the comments!