I just wanted to post this for anyone here who does a lot of Ebay shopping... especially if you do BINs!
Ebay recently went to their own in-house affiliate program, and Microsoft Live Cash Back just got them as a merchant. They worked out a SWEET deal where if you use the Microsoft Live search engine -- http://www.live.com -- and search for something available on Ebay, a "sponsored ad" will pop up that you can click for between 10 and 35% cash back (through Live Cash Back) on a Buy It Now!
Example! My son's been driving me NUTS wanting an ipod Touch. He's been saving his money but he was still way short. I went to Live.com and did a search for ipod Touch and saw the sponsored ad. It said something like, "Buy iPod Touch. Get 35% cash back if eligible." And it had a little icon next to it for Live Search Cashback. I clicked through and it showed me Ebay search results that included "ipod Touch." Found one that had a good price, seller had good feedback, etc., and clicked to BIN. The sale page gave me my total with shipping, and then showed me what I'd get in cash back from Live Search Cashback:
Item cost: $249.99
Out of pocket: $259.99
Live Cashback: $87.50 (appeared in my Live Search Cashback account the next day, and is available to withdraw by check or PayPal in 60 days)
So the total cost after rebate was: $172.49
PriceGrabber says the best price online including shipping and tax where charged is $255!: http://electronics.pricegrabber.com/mp3 ... 15/st=zip/
So, my son did pretty good, huh?
Now, this is the thing I found, though. The percentage that you're offered in cash back depends on the item (it's really hard to find products with 35% cash back!), and it depends on WHEN you're searching for it. Right now, when I search Live.com for an ipod touch, I only get offered 10% cash back for Ebay purchases. So you'll have to be patient... try searching at different times of the day, different days of the week... it may even vary depending on the search term (ipod touch, ipod touch 8gb, mp3 player ipod, etc.).
But in any event, 10% cash back for Ebay BIN's is, to my knowledge, the best rate you're going to get anywhere! If you're able to get 20%, 25%, or 35%...even better!
If you're not familiar with them, Microsoft Live Cashback is what used to be the Jellyfish.com cash back shopping site. You can join it here: http://search.live.com/cashback
I just wanted to post this for anyone here who does a lot of Ebay shopping... especially if you do BINs!
Everyone wants a piece of your economic stimulus tax refund.
Kroger stores (including King Soopers and City Market) will give you a bonus 10% for turning in your IRS stimulus check for a Kroger gift card... but I understand they'll give the bonus 10% to anyone who writes a personal check for $300, $600, or $1200, too.
Sears, Kmart, LandsEnd, and Fry's grocery stores will all give you a 10% bonus when you turn in your stimulus check with them.
Other companies like Walmart, Apple, and Expedia, are planning promotions designed to appeal to the "like winning the lottery" mentality that some, particularly younger Americans, will consider the rebate.
Consumers really need to spend the stimulus check wisely: is it better to get $300 to $1200 more stuff just because you'll get 10% more for free, or is it wiser to pay this toward a credit card where you're paying 21% interest? Duh!
If you're determined to spend your rebate rather than socking it away in savings or paying off a bill, be smart about it, okay? It does no good to get a 10% bonus at Sears when their regular prices are probably 10% higher than at Walmart anyway.
Consider spending your money online, shopping through a rewards program. You'll get cash back (or points that you can convert into a gift card to spend later), and at many online merchants you won't pay sales tax...which, where I live, saves me almost 10% right there, especially when you can combine the cash back with free shopping promotions or coupon codes.
I review many of these shopping rewards programs on CompareRewards (see my link on the left-hand side of the page). I ALWAYS start my online shopping session with a rewards program. All those 3%'s and 10%'s and 15% cashback rewards add up...so you can, in essence, spend your tax rebate check TWICE!
I do an annual review of shopping rebate rates at various online rewards programs, which I post on my website at CompareRewards.com. This year, in connection with the release of the study results (and to celebrate my site's 6th birthday), I'm co-hosting a chat with the management of many of these rewards programs.
The chat is open to the public and FREE. It's a chance for you to talk to the people behind the scenes at your favorite rewards programs -- want them to add a merchant? Want to know why a shopping order doesn't credit sometimes? Want to hear how one program is different from another? Just want to say hi and that you enjoy one of these sites?
The following people have RSVP'd (most are providing prizes to chat attendees as well):
* - Rebecca Faulkner, Marketing Content Editor of Ebates
* - Eric Shoemaker, Director of Marketing for Jellyfish.com
* - Charles Berman, CEO of BondRewards
* - Miriam McDermott, Senior VP of BondRewards
* - Dmitry B., founder and CEO of QuickRewards.net
* - Tricia S., founder and CEO of SunshineRewards
* - Jonathan Trieber, co-founder of iBakeSale
* - Jeff Nobbs, co-founder of Extrabux.
Unable to attend but sending prizes:
Unsure but will try to attend:
* Christopher Basista, founder of CreationsRewards.net
* Mitch Wander, founder of MyTroops
I hear you saying, "Whoa, hold up there, Becky, what's this thing about prizes?" Yes, we're going to be giving away prizes throughout the chat! Quite a few prizes, actually, well in excess of $500 worth!
"How do I get in on this chat?" Easy! Sign up for a free account on Gabbly.com and visit CompareRewards.com between 7pm and 11pm on Saturday, 11/3, for the chatroom name and password.
Come armed with any questions you might have for these folks -- they want to hear from YOU!
Rewards programs have been through the proverbial wringer in 2006. In fact, the only constant seems to be that everything is changing.
Take uPromise. It was sold to student loan provider Sallie Mae.
Take MyPoints. It was sold to United Online, owner of the NetZero and Juno ISPs.
Then there are the lawsuits.
Ebates is being sued for unwanted adware downloads. Trespassing, the plaintiff says.
Memolink is being sued is being sued for, among other things, copyright infringement from its "Get Free Levi's 501s" campaign and violating CAN-SPAM.
There have been some closures in the industry as well.
Parade Magazine shut down their ParadePerks rewards program, due to "logistical difficulties."
The off-line Betty Crocker Points program announced it is phasing out its long-time catalog.
And Experian's Metareward portal, their incentive program side of the business, closed down...which in turn shut down rewards programs that licensed the portal, like Netflip.
Rewards program sales, lawsuits, and closures...oh, my.
Meanwhile, the programs still in the game are scuttling to increase, or keep, their piece of the pie.
uPromise announced it will offer points for debit card purchases.
ClubMom, which operates the ClubMom Rewards program, introduced a manner in which members can earn points without spending by posting tips and stories to the site. Adding a strong social element, including Mom Blogs, ClubMom is attempting to build on the social networking craze which apparently extends to mothers as well. ClubMom Rewards also announced extended offerings in their points-for-vehicle-purchase category.
Greenpoints, the online descendent of the S&H Green Stamps program, redesigned their website, added more merchants, and doubled (they say temporarily) their shopping rates.
Instant win games, extra points for your first purchase, double points on certain days, free points for reading their emails...you name it, there has been a promotion for it.
What's yet to come for the remainder of 2006 remains to be seen, but if the first half of the year is any indication, hold on tight -- it's going to be a bumpy ride.
If you're looking to add a few dollars a month to your savings without a whole lot of effort, you might want to consider trying a few PTR programs.
PTR stands for Paid to Read (email). These sites send email to your inbox, or you can choose to log into the site and read the messages there, and within each email is one or more links you can click on for cash. The amount varies by program, but anywhere from 1 cent to 1/10 of a cent isn't unusual. When you click on a link that takes you to a search page, you are sort of expected to do a "complete search" -- to click on a search term, like "cruises" or "payday loans" and click on one of the websites that come up in the search results... and let that page fully load. Sometimes the ad isn't for a search engine but is for a new PTR program or even someone's Ebay page.
There are timers in place to make sure you actually spend some time on the site you're paid to visit. These timers vary by site, but 10 to 45 seconds isn't unusual. So, earning something like 1/2 a cent every 30 seconds isn't going to amount to Oprah Money, but if you're just sitting in front of the TV anyway, it's almost like getting paid to watch TV.
There are some scam programs out there, and you have to look out for those. Realistically, an advertiser isn't going to pay a PTR program 25 cents for each member that clicks on his ad. So any site that promises to pay you a ridiculous amount per email is full of baloney. You also want to take into account the minimum you have to earn to cash out. A site might have a $100 cashout minimum... but will they even still be in business when you finally get $100 in your account? Another thing to look at is whether the site charges enough for its ads -- if on their rate page they charge $1.00 for a 2 cent ad to 7,000 people, obviously there's something wrong!
Luckily, there are some websites set up to help you find reliable PTR programs and help you avoid the scams. GetPaidForum.com is a huge message forum where you can read member posts about which programs have paid them and which ones are known scams. GPTBoycott.com also provides this type of information but they go a step farther by maintaining a list of programs users have reported to be scams. And last, BeenPaid.com issues a seal of approval to those sites with a reputation for paying their members.
Now that you've been duly warned that there are some scam PTRs out there, how much can you realistically earn with these programs?
I easily earn a couple of dollars per month, per program. If I'm good about keeping up with the emails, and clicking the links before they expire (some emails are only good for x number of clicks, or for x number of hours), I earn more. If I just click while I'm watching my soaps, or when I'm bored, it's a little less.
The programs that I've participated in for a while and I can recommend, include CashForAction.com, NetsReward.com, DollarForAction.com, Time-Mails.com, YeahCash.com, and GG-Ads.com.
These sites send out a good number of emails, valued at about 1/2 a cent each, and they pay you promptly when you reach the minimum amount ($3 or less, depending on the program).
I have a separate checking account set up for the PayPal address I use for these programs, and periodically I transfer my PayPal earnings into this checking account. Between the PTR programs I do, the survey sites, and the rewards programs, I've earned about $700 so far this year.
Next goal: To transfer this money into an interest bearing account.
Mother's Day is fast approaching and you don't want to wait too long to get in on some of the great online deals available on gifts for your mom.
Of course, the traditional Mother's Day gifts include flowers and dinner. By shopping online, using rebates and coupons when available, you can save a substantial amount of money.
FatWallet.com's FatCash program has a 15% off coupon available for 1-800-Flowers.com, plus they offer an 8% rebate on top of that.
GreenPoints.com offers 100 points per dollar (equivalent to a 12% rebate) for purchases at FTD.com. However, there is a clickable coupon available elsewhere (which means it can't be combined with a rewards program rebate) for $10 off any purchase at FTD.com. For purchases under $60, you'd be better off using that coupon. (Google around for it, it'll turn up.) Or, if you're a Discover cardholder, this link will give you 20% off at FTD: www.ftd.com/discovershopcenter/
Ebates.com is offering a 12% rebate on purchases at Proflowers.com.
Restaurant.com sells printable gift certificates for local restaurants at a discount...plus you can use coupon code 78440 for an additional 60% off (expires 4/30).
Have an Entertainment Book? These coupon books are available by city and include restaurant coupons. You may not be able to order one and receive it before Mother's Day, but when you buy online, you can access printable coupons on-site. The 2006 Entertainment Books are now 50% off, plus if you shop through FatWallet's FatCash program, you'll get $5 cash back.
Some restaurants won't accept these discount gift certificates and coupons on holidays -- take Mom a day early or call ahead to be sure.
~-Other Gift Ideas-~
Magazine subscriptions make great gifts that Mom will enjoy year-round. I love MagazinePriceSearch.com, which compares prices at 24 magazine discounters and shares online coupons to help you find the best deal. Some good deals right now include 17 issues of Woman's Day for $3.55, $2.75 for a year of Redbook, and $3.99 for a year of Ladies' Home Journal. No, the first issue won't arrive before Mother's Day, but a copy of the current issue and a note explaining that you've signed her up would do the trick.
Some moms like perfume. Where can you find it on the internet for less? Two of the biggest online perfume stores are FragranceNet.com (free shipping on $60 orders, get a 15% rebate with FatWallet's FatCash, plus save an extra 10% with code MDAY2006) and Perfumania.com (free shipping on $59 orders, and a 6.5% rebate through QuickRewards.net).
What about a personalized t-shirt? Spreadshirt.com sells a ladies' heavyweight tee with one line of text for $22.89 shipped (orders ship within 48 hours). Go through QuickRewards.net for a 7% rebate.
Moms love pictures. Another personalized idea within most people's budget is the Snapbook, by Shutterfly.com. Upload 50 of your favorite photos, choose a theme, and personalize the photos with captions. The final product, a spiral-bound album, is $9.99 for the 4x6 size and $14.99 for the 5x7. Shipping starts at $2.50. Shop through Ebates.com for an 8% rebate.
~-Mark Your Calendar!-~
Whatever you decide to give Mom for Mother's Day, whether it's flowers, dinner, a store-bought gift, or even a handmade card, the important thing is that you don't forget the date! On behalf of mothers everywhere, I thank you.
-~For More Information~-
If you'd like more info on how rewards programs like FatCash, Greenpoints, Ebates, and QuickRewards.net work, as well as reviews of these and other programs, please visit CompareRewards.com.
If you're a member of more than one rewards program that pay your rebates in the form of points earned, you may be tempted to compare points at one program to those at another. This is very tricky territory!
"I want to shop at Overstock.com. I see from Sdrawer.com's listing of rewards programs by merchant that I could earn 10 points per dollar by shopping through Greenpoints or 10 points per dollar by shopping through MyPoints. But wow, I could do much better by shopping through Freeride -- they pay 30 points per dollar -- or Memolink, that pays 48 points per dollar! ClubMom stinks, they just pay 4 points per dollar!"
What's wrong with this picture?
It makes an erroneous assumption, that the point value at each of these programs is the same.
All points are NOT created equal. What determines point value is how many points it costs to cash out. One program may offer a lot of points per dollar, but it may also charge a lot of points to cash out for the same value gift card.
In this example, so we can be consistent among programs (since some rewards programs give you a point discount for saving up for a higher value gift card), let's look at the value of a point based on the cost to cash out for a $25 GC.
- At Greenpoints, the cheapest $25 GC costs 19,000 points.
- At MyPoints, the cheapest $25 GC is 3,000 points.
- At Freeride, the cheapest $25 GC is 26,500 points.
- At Memolink, a $25 GC costs 43,200 points.
- And at ClubMom, a $25 GC is 5,000 points.
So this will tell you one bit of information at a glance: of these five programs, a point at MyPoints is worth the most, since it takes fewer of them to buy the same value GC.
But this doesn't tell you what you really need to know -- how do the points compare? A point at Memolink is worth the least of these 5 sites, but they do pay the MOST points per dollar for Overstock. Does that make up for the difference in value?
The only way to tell is to do a little math and work out how much ONE point is worth. If you know how many points it takes to buy a $25 GC, you can figure out how much ONE point is worth, right?
Don't turn that dial! It's not hard math. I'll show you how to do it:
$25 divided by the number of points it takes to buy the $25 GC = the dollar value of one point.
Example -- Greenpoints: $25 / 19,000 = $0.00132. That means one point is worth about a tenth of a cent.
Now, let's do the others.
- MyPoints: $25 / 3,000 = $0.00833.
- Freeride: $25 / 26,500 = $0.00094.
- Memolink: $25 / 43,200 = $0.00058.
- ClubMom: $25 / 5,000 = $0.005.
All these decimal places, all these digits, what to do with this information?
What comes next is easy. Now that you know how much ONE point is worth, multiply that amount by how many points the rewards program will pay you for each dollar you spend at Overstock.
We just calculated that, at Greenpoints, a point is worth $0.00132. They're paying 10 points per dollar for Overstock. 10 points per dollar * $0.00132 (the dollar value of one point) = $0.0132 (the dollar value of 10 points). In other words, when you spend $1, you get $0.0132 worth of points. That's the same as earning 1.32%. (Just move the decimal place to the right two spots.)
Aha! Percentages! That's something you CAN compare across different rewards programs!
Doing the math for you really quick:
- MyPoints pays 10 points per dollar * $0.00833 = $0.0833, or 8.33%.
- Freeride pays 30 points per dollar * $0.00094 = $0.0282, or 2.82%
- Memolink pays 48 points per dollar * $0.00058 = $0.0278, or 2.78%
- ClubMom pays 4 points per dollar * $.005 = $0.02, or 2.0%
Now we can see that MyPoints' 10 points per dollar is worth more than 10 Greenpoints, 30 Freeride points, 48 Memolink points, and 4 ClubMom points...a LOT more, in fact!
And, now armed with this information, you can return to Sdrawer.com and compare what these points programs pay to what the straight percentage rebate programs are paying for Overstock.
Why do some rewards programs INSIST on using points? There are a couple of reasons. For one thing, paying rebates in the form of points confuses the consumer and hides what a program really is offering. In this example, it seems like the 48 points per dollar Memolink pays would be the best option...yet, when you calculate what the points are worth, you find that two other programs actually paid a higher percentage rebate. And ClubMom, with its "measly" 4 points per dollar, was really paying more than the 10 points per dollar Greenpoints offered.
Another benefit rewards programs have in offering points for their purchases is one I've mentioned before -- with a couple of keystrokes, they can increase the number of points it costs to cash out, instantly and retroactively devaluing your points (and thus, dropping the percentage rebate you earned on prior purchases). Sticking with a straight percentage cash rebate program takes that power away from the rewards program owners and keeps the cash in your account. If you'd prefer to go this route, you might want to stick with sites like Ebates, QuickRewards.net, and BabyMint, who tell you in clear percentage terms exactly what they pay for shopping.
If you're a U.S. resident with a Visa debit card issued by a U.S. bank, you may be eligible to receive points on your purchases that you can cash in for gift certificates.
Check to see if your issuing bank participates in the Visa Extras Rewards program. This program pays you one point per dollar for all purchases made with your Visa debit card that are not completed with a keypad and PIN -- in other words, if you use your debit card online or by phone, or if you choose "credit" at the keypad at checkout and then sign a receipt.
This is a free service offered by many banks (though the site says some banks may charge a fee for participation). You can enter your debit card number on the site to find out if your bank participates, without any obligation to enroll.
You'll get 1,000 points for signing up. Earn 1 point per dollar thereafter (remember, purchases you pay for by "debit" and use a PIN don't qualify). There are some bonus point offers available on their site as well.
Rewards include merchandise (Olympics pins, hats, and the like), magazine subscriptions, and gift cards to a variety of stores and restaurants.
A $5 GC costs 2,000 points... so you're not going to get blown away by your return, but if you were going to use your debit card anyway, at least you have the option of signing for your purchases and getting a little something back for your trouble.
If you are shopping online and not earning rebates on your purchases, you are throwing money away!
I've written about rewards programs, where you can earn shopping rebates (or points you can convert to cash or free gift certificates), for several years on my main website, CompareRewards.com, and I've been a member of these types of programs for about ten years.
I've put together a quick list of a few alternatives to MyPoints.com for people who might be concerned about their recent sale and want to try out something different.
ClubMom Rewards - earn gift cards or merchandise for shopping online and offline, with competitive rebates. Co-founded by Meredith Vieira of The View (and soon to be of The Today Show), ClubMom is one of the few sites that allows you to earn rebates on the purchase of gift cards. (If you like to eat at Chili's or Applebee's anyway, why not pay for it with a gift card you bought through ClubMom, earning 10 points per dollar, equal to a 5% rebate?)
Ebates - earn cash paid quarterly (by check or PayPal, when you've earned $5 or more) for shopping online, with pretty decent rebates. They have a great coupon center arranged alphabetically by merchant, so you can combine discount coupon codes with your rebate for extra savings.
QuickRewards.net - earn gift cards or cash for shopping online or completing various offers like signing up for newsletters. Plus, like MyPoints, earn cash for reading their daily email. Shopping rebates are very competitive and credit to your account very quickly (often within 24 hours). You can cash out to PayPal with no minimum and get paid usually the same day... or save up your earnings for a gift card or Disney Dollars.
These are just a few of my favorite rewards programs, but I've received rewards from all three, multiple times, and unlike MyPoints, I have a lot of confidence that they will be around a while (Ebates was launched in '98, QuickRewards in '03, and I think ClubMom's rewards program was also launched in '03).
Last week, United Online (owner of Classmates.com, Juno, and NetZero, among others) bought MyPoints from United Airlines for $56 million.
How is this going to affect MyPoints members? Well, MyPoints has 1.4 million active members (around 4.5 million total), versus around 50 million for United Online (which isn't related to United Airlines, by the way). I imagine they'll try to roll some of their members into MyPoints. But then what?
So far they're not laying off MyPoints' staff, so it's not like they're walking into an empty office building with no knowledge of the rewards program business. They have money; there's no reason they'd shut the program down. But it's still a big question mark how things might change somewhere down the road.
Of course nothing's certain in life or in rewards programs...but points programs are more uncertain than straight cash rebate programs. Why? Because at a touch of a button, the points you earned can be devalued retroactively.
Example: Say you made a purchase at Overstock.com for $100 and earned 10 points per dollar for it, for a total of 1000 points.
Right now, at the current number of points to redeem, that's worth about $8.33. But if, say, they doubled the number of points required to redeem, all of a sudden, you just earned $4.17 worth of points. They halved your rebate...retroactively.
I'm a fan of MyPoints, don't get me wrong. I've been a member since 1999. But MyPoints has clearly been on a downhill slide.
MyPoints was bought by United Airlines in 2001 for $112.5 million, when it had 16 million members. United Online picked it up for $56 million with just 1.4 million active members (4.5 million total members).
Online shopping has exploded since 2001 -- yet MyPoints' membership base went from 16 million to 4.5 million (with under a third of those actually active members). Where did those 12 million+ members go? Why didn't MyPoints' membership GROW instead of shrinking, with so many more people shopping online?
I don't have the answer, just posing the question. There could be a lot of reasons -- competitors like uPromise, which does a much better job of marketing its program... Could be that early entrants into the rewards program scene, also fairly early internet subscribers, were younger, better educated, tech-savvy, and more adventurous online -- understanding the advantages to using a rewards program as a middleman between themselves and the merchant in order to get a rebate. Maybe MyPoints' members just had it with having the number of points required to cash out get increased once or twice a year.
Whatever the cause of its problems, I do know that MyPoints needs a serious investment in marketing if they plan to succeed. People need to know MyPoints is out there, what the benefits are to joining, and how to use the program properly. (Shut down the popup blockers before you shop, don't use coupon codes you got elsewhere, etc.) And customer service has GOT to be improved -- people submitting support tickets in FEBRUARY were getting a canned response about how things were busy from the holidays and response time would be delayed. That's just unacceptable, from a customer service standpoint.
It'll be interesting to watch how this all plays out, but for now, I don't have enough confidence in the program to do any business with them except clicking those BonusMails and doing their occasional surveys.