eBates 15% Cash Back Extreme Stacking game plan


15% Cash Back

As we reported last week, the cash back portal eBates is celebrating their birthday week by offering 15% cash back at over 250 stores.  Shawn had received an email from eBates with sample 15% back offers:

15% Cash Back All Week

  • American Eagle
  • Groupon
  • JCPenney
  • L’Occitane
  • LivingSocial
  • Lord and Taylor
  • Nike
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Travelocity
  • +250 more stores

15% Cash Back One Day Only

  • Kohl’s – 5/9/2016
  • Neiman Marcus – 5/9/2016
  • Priceline – 5/11/2016
  • Macy’s – 5/10, 5/11 & 5/16/2016
  • eBay – 5/11-5/14/2016 [it is likely that 15% is just for specific categories of items on eBay]
  • Barneys NY – 5/15 & 5/16/2016
  • Bloomingdale’s – 5/9 & 5/10/2016
  • ULTA Beauty – 5/9 & 5/16/2016

15% Cash Back: Is it a good deal?

For many stores, 15% cash back is a great cash back payout, but some stores routinely offer 15% cash back or more.  An easy way to gauge a deal is to look it up on CashBackMonitor to see today’s alternative portal rates and, importantly, to view the Best Rate History.  For example, eBates is offering 15% cash back at Kohl’s, today only.  As of yesterday (when this post was written), CashBackMonitor showed the following portal rates (you can find an updated list here):

Kohls portal rates

After viewing the current portal rates, I clicked “View Best Rate History” to find this (I squished it to make it fit):

CashBackMonitor Kohls Best Rate History

As shown above, Kohl’s is occasionally available for 10% cash back, but it is usually around 6%.  So, 15% back is excellent.  The last time we saw a rate this high was when eBates ran a similar 16% cash back promotion last year.

Stacking Deals (going beyond 15% cash back)

If a store you want to shop at is available for 15% cash back, and you determine that 15% is an unusually high rebate, don’t think you’re done yet!  There are many ways to increase your savings:

  1. Gift cards
  2. Credit card category bonuses
  3. Opt-in credit card rebates
  4. Link to credit card rewards
  5. Earn merchant rewards
  6. Apply coupons (make sure to use a different browser to search for coupons)
  7. Take advantage of membership discounts (employees, students, military, AAA, AARP, etc.)

Check our Extreme Stacking page for specific examples of stacking deals with various merchants.

1. Gift cards

Buy gift cards, get cash back: It is often possible to earn points or get cash back through portals when buying gift cards, even when the portal’s terms & conditions say otherwise.  Check the Frequent Miler Laboratory to see if anyone has reported experience with the store in which you want to shop.  Even if eBates isn’t specifically reported, results are usually (but not always) the same across portals.  Pay particular attention to the date in which experiences were reported since things can and often do change over time.

Buy gift cards at a discount: It is often possible to buy gift cards at a discount, or at least to earn extra rewards when buying them.  Please see: Merchant gift cards, best options for stacking deals.

Double Dip: If you’re able to buy gift cards at a discount (or to earn rewards), you can then “double dip” by clicking through eBates to get 15% cash back when using the gift card.

Note: Few stores offer portal payouts when you buy gift cards (again, check the Frequent Miler Laboratory for the store you’re interested in), but most do pay out when you use a gift card to buy merchandise.  A couple of notable exceptions are Barnes & Noble and Lands End. Both have been known to payout when buying gift cards, but not when using them.

2. Credit card category bonuses

Some credit cards offer bonuses for purchases made in certain categories of stores such as drugstores, bookstores, office supply stores, etc.  It’s possible to boost your rebates simply by using a credit card offering, for example, 5 points per dollar for certain types of purchases.  See also: Best Category Bonuses.

3. Opt-In credit card rebates

Some credit cards and credit card related programs offer statement credits for certain purchases.  American Express often offers excellent Amex Offers (such as the recent Staples offer: Spend $100, get $25 back).  Discover, Citibank, and Bank of America (and probably a few other banks too) occasionally have similar deals.

4. Automatic credit card rewards

A few rewards programs offer automatic rewards when you use a linked credit card with certain merchants…

All American Express small business cards are automatically enrolled in Amex OPEN Savings.  Currently, that means getting automatic rebates when you use your card at 1800Flowers, Barnes & Noble, FedEx, Hertz, and HP.

If you have any small business Visa or MasterCard credit cards, you can also enroll them in Visa Savings Edge and MasterCard Easy Savings for automatic rebates from a variety of retailers.  Visa Savings Edge offers rebates at Alamo, Chevron, Go Daddy, Lenovo, National, Texaco, TigerDirect, Wyndham and a number of other merchants.  MasterCard Easy Savings offers automatic rebates at a number of gas stations, a number of hotels, and specific merchants such as Avis, Budget, and Rakuten.

Sears’ Shop Your Way Rewards program offers automatic point earnings from a number of retailers when you link a Visa or MasterCard credit card to your Shop Your Way Rewards account.

Similar to the Shop Your Way program, the Fuel Rewards Network (Shell’s rewards program) lets you link a Visa or MasterCard credit card for automatic fuel rewards.

Microsoft Earn is another program that works the same way as Shop Your Way and Fuel Rewards.  Link your credit card and you’ll earn rewards when you shop at various retailers.  Unfortunately, this program is still being Beta tested and is only currently available in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washington.

In addition to the above, there are many variations of Rewards Network Dining programs which offer bonus points/miles when eating out at certain restaurants; and Thanks Again offers automatic rebates at certain airport shops.

5. Merchant rewards

Many merchants have their own rewards programs and usually these rewards stack along with all of the other rebates and discounts described here.  One good example is Sears which has its Shop Your Way Rewards program.  Usually, Sears offers the equivalent of 1% back in points for each purchase (points can be used to pay for future purchases), but often they’ll have deals or coupons offering far more points.

6. Coupons

No matter how many forms of rebates you stack together, your goal should still be to spend as little as possible.  One way to achieve that is to look for coupons and other discounts for the things you want to buy.  In general, searching the web for coupons is a reliable option.  I highly recommend, though, that you look for coupon codes in a different browser than the one you use to buy things.  The reason is that many of these coupon sites will override any portal tracking you have in place for earning portal rewards.

7. Membership discounts

Another common source of discounts is through various forms of membership:

  • Employee discounts
  • Student / faculty discounts
  • AARP discounts
  • Military discounts
  • AAA discounts

Here’s one quick example: when shopping for a computer a couple of years ago, I learned that Sony has a student store.  While I’m not a student, my son is, and they allow parents to join!  With the student store, I saved 10% off the list price of the computer, and then another 35% by stacking rebates.

Kohl’s Example

The timing isn’t great for this one day Kohl’s deal.  Here’s why:

  • The latest Kohl’s Cash offer just ended (they tend to run promos twice per month offering $10 Kohl’s Cash with each $50 purchase).
  • The next site wide 20% off coupon code (FASHION20) is not yet valid.
  • Discounted Kohl’s gift cards often take more than one day to arrive.  For example, if you have the Spend $100, Get $25 Staples Amex Offer, you might be tempted to order a $100 Kohls e-gift card, but Staples usually doesn’t deliver these until the next day.  Similarly, Incomm on eBay is currently offering a $10 bonus with each $50 Kohl’s gift card purchased (found here), but these are sent via US Mail, so they definitely won’t arrive in time.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Earn points or save money buying Kohl’s gift cards:
    • Buy an e-gift card from a reseller for up to 15% off face value (search GiftCardWiki) [but there’s no guarantee that the gift cards will be sent immediately]; or
    • Earn 5X points by buying a Kohl’s e-gift card from Gyft.  The trick: pay with Paypal and a Chase Ink card that is linked to your Paypal account; or
    • Download and use the United MileageX App to buy a Kohl’s gift card and earn 3 bonus points per dollar (plus credit card rewards). Some credit cards count these purchases as airline fees and automatically offer additional bonuses (if they bonus travel, for example).
  • Or, instead of buying a gift card, pay at Kohls.com with the Citi AT&T card to get 3X points.
  • Get 15% cash back by clicking through from eBates.
  • Spend Kohl’s Cash earned through May 8th.
  • Earn Kohl’s Yes2You Rewards (Kohl’s rewards program) on the portion of your purchase paid for with a gift card or credit card.
  • Apply one or more coupons (hat tip: SlickDeals):
    • ALLDAISIES: 15% off site wide (through 5/14)
    • MAYTHE4TH: 20% Off Hasbro Star Wars Toys (through 5/10)
    • BABYSALE10: $10 off $30 select baby apparel & more (through 5/22)
    • Also check eBates to see if they list any new coupon codes today on their Kohl’s page.
  • Get free shipping by selecting to pick up in store, or with a purchase of $75 or more (after coupons and Kohl’s Cash is applied).

Overall, if you need to buy something from Kohl’s today, the above steps offer decent stacking options, but we’ve seen better.  if you have time you might do better overall by buying discount Kohl’s gift cards in advance and waiting for the next Kohl’s Cash offer combined with better coupon codes.

For more details about stacking Kohl’s discounts and rewards, see: Kohls: Extreme Stacking coupons, gift cards, portals, and more.

Reader stacking suggestions?

Do you see any great stacking options available this week to take advantage of the eBates 15% back deal?  If so, comment below.  I’ll follow up with additional extreme stacking examples as the week progresses.

Name / LinkOfferFrequent Miler Notes:
RakutenYou'll earn $10 after making a qualified purchase through the portal. We'll earn a bonus too (details vary depending upon promotions).This is one of our two favorite portals (the other being TopCashBack). We love the Rakuten portal because it gives you the option of earning valuable Amex Membership Rewards points instead of cash back!
Fuel Rewards NetworkI’ll earn 5 cents per gallon savings if you signup with my link and earn rewards.Save at least 3 cents per gallon at Shell. Save more by earning rewards through spend at various merchants.
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