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Earn free Bitcoin when you shop online

You've heard of cashback? Get ready for Coinback. Among other things, it's a way to dip a toe into cryptocurrency with little risk.

Coinback works much like Ebates and other cashback services, except your rebate is provided in the form of Bitcoin.
Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

For years I've urged online shoppers to use a cashback service like BeFrugal, Ebates, Honey or TopCashback. With little effort, you can score cash rebates from many, if not most, online stores.

Cash? Phbbblltt. How 20th-century. These days, it's all about cryptocurrency, right? So wouldn't it be cool if you could get your online-shopping rebates in the form of Bitcoin?

You can, thanks to the aptly named Coinback. It works very much like Ebates and its ilk, but instead of cash rebates, you get 'Coin rebates. It's extremely simple to use and a great way to dip your toe into the roiling waters of cryptocurrency.

Read more: Bitcoin buying and selling explained

Now playing: Watch this: How to earn free bitcoin while shopping online

Why bother with Bitcoin?

Why do that? Why choose Bitcoin payments instead of cold, hard cash? Because putting your money into the former is a bit like investing in the stock market: The value of your digital currency could go up. (Of course, it could go down as well.) If you've been tempted to see what the Bitcoin fuss is all about, Coinback lets you do that with virtually no risk.

To get started, you'll need some kind of digital wallet. Coinback recommends Coinbase (no affiliation), though you can use any service that manages Bitcoin currency. That wallet is how you'll receive your Coinback payouts.

From there you'll need to install the Coinback extension in Chrome. With that done, you'll be directed to create an account. (A Firefox version is due in about a month, according to a Coinback representative. The service also plans to expand into countries beyond the US in the next two to three months, he said.)


The Coinback browser extension notifies you when there's a rebate option. Click to accept it and then just shop like normal.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Now just shop online like you normally would. When you visit a store that has an accompanying Coinback option, the extension will alert you, then you just click to engage the purchase-tracker. Finish your shopping trip, keeping in mind that you won't see any evidence of Coinback on the checkout page or anything like that. Like other cashback services, it works behind the scenes.

How much can you make?

So what kind of, er, coin are we talking about? The cashback percentage varies from store to store, but can range anywhere from 1 percent to 10 percent or even higher. If you're thinking a point or two isn't worth the hassle, remember your cashback credit card: it adds up.

It's also an effectively risk-free proposition. Yes, you'll want to peruse Coinback's privacy policy and terms of use, but I don't see anything different than what you find at most cashback services. Services like these typically make money through referral links and, in some cases, sharing or selling marketing data.

Me, I'm excited at the prospect of making a few Bitcoin bucks without having to invest any actual money. But if cryptocurrency isn't your cup of tea, I still recommend using a cashback service.

Bitcoin explained: Here's everything you need to know.

My cheap bitcoin buy in 2014 has driven me bonkers: A saga of frustration, forgetfulness and jackpots.