Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saving through portal shopping...

Reward programs have been around for years, remember S and H Green Stamps? They were started in the 1930s by the Sperry and Hutchinson company (S and H), founded in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and Shelly Hutchinson, and given to customers at grocery stores, department stores and gas stations. During the 1960s, the rewards catalog printed by the company was the largest publication in the United States and the company issued three times as many stamps as the U.S. Postal Service.

Now with the Internet there are some great reward sites for shopping online, and while there are a lot of good ones I am going to go over the four I am the most familiar with today, starting with My Points. When I first ventured into reward sites on the Internet in the 80s this was the first site I joined.  Originally started by United Airlines, the company was purchased by a private corporation in 1996 and has been handled very well.  They payout points for shopping, points are awarded after a one month waiting time, this insured that large products are not returned and point credits reversed. If you choose to subscribe to their email list you also earn 5 points for almost every email read, this adds up very quickly.  You only need 1,500 for a $10 gift card to Olive Garden or Red Lobster, there are also a lot of other payout options, most in gift cards.

The next site is Quick Rewards, this is the second site I joined.  The things I really like about this program are the extremely fast customer service, the speed the cash back is credited to my account, (sometimes with in minutes but usually with in a day) and the fact that it is a cash system, not a point system so I know exactly what my account is worth at all times and there is no minimum payout.  When you want your money you have the option of cash to PayPal, or store and online gift certificates.  Like MyPoints you can also earn cash for reading email and doing surveys as well as for shopping.

Third I joined Ebates in 2005, this site is specifically for shopping online and aside from offering the cash back also lists all the coupons available, which is a general time saver.  Like MyPoints your cash earned will show as pending in your account until they are sure you are going to keep your purchase, and like Quick Rewards your balance is all in cash.  You earn $5.00 to your account just for signing up with them, then every 3 months, they send a cash back payment for purchases posted during the previous quarter based on their posted schedule. But if you've earned less than $5.01 cash back, they carry it over your money to the next check.  You can opt for a check  payable to you, your child, a charity or any organization of your choice, and of course there is always the option for PayPal.

Finally I recently joined Market America, I have a friend who has used this site for years and loves it.  He does probably all his shopping through this site.  You earn cash for your purchases of both their own branded products as well as their partner sites.  Their site has a great feature that allows you to type in what you are looking for and it will find it for you at multiple stores as well as find comparable products.  It works a little like the shopping feature on Google but has more options.  When your account reaches $50.00 you can cash out for a check to yourself or like Ebates, a child, charity or any organization of your choice, if your balance is under $50.00 you can use it to spend on their own branded products.  This is a fantastic way to try something new to see if you like it, who knows it could save you a ton of money in the long run! 

When I use my cash back shopping portals I always check to see where the best deal is, so for example if I want to order a book through Target for $20.00 I will check them all and find that...

MyPoints will pay 10 points per dollar, that's 200 points or about $0.13
Quick Rewards will pay me 4.20% or $0.84
Ebates will pay me 4.00% or $0.80
Market America will pay me 2% or $0.40

In this case I would use Quick Rewards, but that isn't always the case.  Each retailer is willing to pay each portal provider different amounts and in some cases is will only go through a certain provider so its worth while to check which sites offer what rewards.  I was able to earn thousands of dollars when we built our house a few years back, I used shopping reward sites combined with my reward credit cards for an even better deal.  So remember when you shopp on line to check for rewards and cash back though at least two portals to maximize your discount.

Have a great weekend everyone!


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