Maximize Your Online Shopping With These Cashback Apps

Earn Points & Save Money With These Cashback Apps When You Shop Online

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How many of you are online shoppers? I have to admit, I will do anything to avoid fighting weekend traffic at the mall. My mother used to beg me to shop with her anytime I needed new clothes. In fact, shopping became a punishment for me. When my sisters misbehaved, they went to time-out. When I misbehaved, I went to the mall.

Not much has changed - I still much prefer to shop online. But now I have a nice collection of cashback sites and coupon code apps to maximize those purchases. Here's how you can join me in saving money and getting paid just for spending money online!

What are cashback websites?

Cashback sites, or online shopping portals, are one of my best kept secrets (until now). A lot of people don't know about them! They essentially incentivize you to shop at participating retailers by offering extra cash, miles, or points for spending money. There are several types of portals out there:

How do cashback sites work?

Let's say I watched Jaclyn Hill's latest makeup tutorial, and now I want to make a purchase at Sephora. Instead of going directly to Sephora's website, I would first navigate to one of these cashback sites.

Let's use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Mall as an example. I type "Sephora" into the search bar and discover I can earn 4 Southwest Rapid Rewards points for every dollar I spend. I click the "Shop Now" button, which directs me to the Sephora website, and I continue making my purchase as usual. If I spend $100 at Sephora, I have earned 400 Rapid Rewards points just by clicking through a shopping portal first!

But here's the million dollar question: How do I know that Southwest offers the highest return for Sephora purchases?

How to compare cashback apps

There are multiple cashback sites out there, and it would take a lot of time to click through every single one. That's where Cashback Monitor comes in. Cashback Monitor is a platform that automatically compares retailer incentives across every cashback site, so you don't have to. In this case, I search for Sephora and find that Ebates is offering 10% cash back, and the American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping mall is offering 10 miles per dollar. Both of these options are more lucrative than the Southwest Rapid Rewards mall.

Do I need a specific credit card to use certain shopping portals?

Many people don't realize that you can use any credit card to make a purchase through a cashback app or airline shopping mall. Said differently, you don't need a Southwest-branded card in order to use the Southwest Rapid Rewards portal (you just need a mileage account). On that same note, you don't need to use a Wells Fargo credit card in order to earn incentives through the Wells Fargo Rewards portal. However, using the same card does make it easier from a customer service perspective if you run into issues.

In the example above, I might make the $100 Sephora purchase through the American AAdvantage portal with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Not only would I earn 1,000 AAdvantage points, but I'd also earn 100 Chase points just by booking through that card (assuming 1x points on all purchases).

How to find and use coupon codes

Cashback apps are the best way to earn rewards for online shopping. But coupon codes are the best way to save money on your actual purchase.

RetailMeNot is one of the best-known platforms for finding online coupon codes. For the last few years, anytime I shopped online, I would check if RetailMeNot suggested any coupon codes for that retailer. I would then manually test several codes during the checkout process, hoping that one would work. This saved me money, but it was pretty time consuming.

Now that Honey has entered the scene, I never have to manually test coupon codes again! Honey is a browser extension that automatically searches for coupon codes and applies the best one. No more wasting time!

Honey Coupon Codes

Price Comparisons

A lot of us default to Amazon when we make online purchases. But I hate to break it to you...Amazon doesn't always offer the lowest prices. I like to use Wikibuy, a browser extension that activates when you shop on Amazon, to cross-check Amazon prices. While you browse, the program searches for the same product at the lowest price available across other sellers. Wikibuy presents you with a lower price offer and delivery date. If you accept the Wikibuy offer, it will purchase the product on your behalf at the lower price.

On top of the price comparison tool, Wikibuy also offers a cash-back option for some retailers (similar to an Independent shopping portal) and also tests for coupon codes. With that said, I still like to check Wikibuy against Cashback Monitor, Honey, and RetailMeNot to ensure that I'm getting the best promotions and incentives available. All of these platforms have different retailer relationships and vary in their offers.


Double Dipping

The best part about cashback sites and coupon codes is that you can often double dip. This means that you can combine a cash back (or points or miles) option with a coupon code. Using my Sephora example, I might shop through a portal that offers 10% cash back and also find a coupon for 20% off. My transaction would look like this:

  • Pay $80 (20% off of a $100 purchase)
  • Earn $8 cash back (10% on $80)
  • With my $20 discount and $8 cash back, I would effectively pay $72 for a $100 value!

I do want to caution you to be careful when double dipping. Some cashback sites will only let you use coupon codes that they advertise. Make sure you check their terms & conditions before applying an external code. For example, the Ebates portal may not allow you to use a RetailMeNot exclusive promotion code and still earn cash back.

The Bottom Line

I think I have made my aversion to in-person shopping pretty clear. And now, tools like Cashback Monitor, Honey, and Wikibuy offer even more incentive to make purchases online versus in store. These applications make it so simple to find discounts and earn rewards with the click of a button.

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