New Online Shopping Portal with the Biggest Cash Rebates

Whenever I’m doing any sort of online shopping, I search EV Reward to find the best deal. Most online shopping sites offer some sort of rebates, for instance if I’m going to buy something at Target.com I search Target.com at EV Reward and find that I can get 3% cash back through Ebates (which offers a $5 bonus after your first purchase), 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, 3 American miles per dollar, or several other options.

Given this information, I’d probably choose 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at Target.com.

EV Reward is a useful tool, but it isn’t updated in real time and offers from the various cash back and mileage sites change all the time. So what they list as currently-available offers may vary from the offer you see when you click through.

And the site isn’t totally comprehensive, not every single cash back site and mileage mall is listed. One that isn’t, for instance, is the new Top Cash Back.

In fact, the site has only been up in the U.S. for about 6 months, and I had just heard of it when reading up on the Radisson/Club Carlson monster promotion, Top Cash Back was providing a 5% rebate on Radisson bookings — and given the excitement around the Club Carlson 55,000 bonus point promotion they upped their cash back offer to 10%.

After I posted about Top Cash Back and the Radisson promo, the Top Cash Back folks reached out to me. They explained they are a 100% commission rate cash back site — a contrast to the usual model for these things which is that merchants pay a commission on sales driven to their site, and cash back websites generate volume by offering to rebate some of their commission to the consumer.

For instance, instead of pocketing the full 3% they might get paid by a merchant, most sites might keep 1% and pay 2% to the consumer. They get less on each transaction, but encourage a whole lot more transactions. And the mileage malls operate on a similar principle, buying miles from airlines or points from hotels and crediting those to consumers rather than cash, but in any case effectively paying out a portion of the commission they’ve received.

I’ve written in some detail about how these mileage portals work, how poor customer service they usually offer, and how little transparency there usually is.

But since they effectively offer you something for nothing — miles or cash rebates for things you are going to buy anyway — it makes sense to click through the links and hope for the best, but not get too exorcised if you don’t get the mileage or cash back credit you’re hoping for.

Since the margins on any given transaction are low, and since the site only wants to pay out once it gets paid — there’s a long trail of things that have to happen, and lots of opportunity for technical glitches along the way — customer service tends to be quite bad. Once a site starts providing customer service, it becomes more costly to service a transaction than the site will make off that transaction. (At the same time, a site with a reputation for poor service will lose customers or undermine the brand of the mileage program they’re associated with, so there’s still some pressure for customer service).

Top Cash Back claims to change all of this.

  • They promise to rebate 100% of the commissions they receive, and make money off of display ads on their website. If they offer more cash back than anyone else, they’ll drive traffic and serve up more ads. They claim to offer the most cash back of any rebate site for 90%+ of the stores they cover, with oversights accounting for those stores where they aren’t.

    It does strike me as strange that their rebates would be lower any time if they’re rebating 100% of commissions, unless they’re getting lower commissions than some other sites, and also seems strange that they could double cash back on Radisson bookings if they were already paying out 100% of what they were receiving, unless they’re losing money on each booking in exchange for some buzz. But that’s what they say they’re doing, and that as a matter of policy they do things like 101% on their U.K. site. So there ya go!

  • They promise better customer service. I’m told they intend to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours (outside of weekends and holidays).

  • There’s no minimum to cash out. Some sites only pay you quarterly. Others require you to make a certain amount of purchases first. For instance, ebates won’t give you your referral bonuses for signing up members unless you also have a minimum of cash back earned from purchases yourself. Top Cash Back says there’s no minimum to cash out, and no wait, you can request funds whenever you wish.

Looking back at the Target.com example, they’re paying 3% on electronics, books, entertainment and home office .. 2% on baby care… and 9.5% on everything else (gift cards excluded).

Referring a new member earns the existing member $10 after the new member earns $10 in rebates. (Up until yesterday the website said the bonus was $5, I had heard that through beginning of July it was supposed to be $10… so I emailed them and they had this fixed within a day, most impressive.)

You can sign up with my link. If you sign up, feel free also to leave your own referral link in the comments, and readers are welcome of course to use signup links they find there.

Here are some travel provider cashback highlights:

  • 16% on Intercontinental Hotels Group (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, etc) bookings
  • 12% on bookings made at HotelClub.com
  • 3% on Starwood hotel reservations (Sheraton, Westin, W, Four Points, Le Meridien, etc)
  • 3% on Choice Hotels
  • 5% on Fairmont
  • 10% on Radisson and Country Inns
  • 5% on Best Western
  • 2.1% on Marriott and Renaissance, 3.5% on Marriott Courtyard, 4.5% on Fairfield Inn
  • 1.2% on Air France, 2.6% on Virgin Atlantic, 2% on Qantas
  • 8% on Sixt car rentals, 5.5% on Avis, and 4.5% on Budget

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Customer service with them is awful! I sent a request two weeks ago and have still not received a response even after sending a nudge. So good luck and proceed with caution, it seems they promise a lot of things to the bloggers and are helpful to them but have not been at all helpful to me.

  2. @D Olsen – I haven’t even used them yet so they haven’t done anything for me, I saw they upped their commissions on Radisson and that caught my attention so I asked them a few questions…

  3. RE: strange that their rebates would be lower any time

    Affiliate programs are under all sorts of performance based pay schedules or privately negotiated pay schedules. Just because one firm makes X on a sale it doesn’t mean that other firms make X also.

    You should see something like that if you are running cc affiliate links where you get an increased payouts once you pass a certain number of applications in a month. (If so then the boarding area bloggers should band together be under one account and have someone manage the payout so that your overall payouts are larger per card. Usually there is the capability to do sub site tracking under one account.)

    For example Amazon starts out at 4% payout but once you pass 7 products sold via referrals your payout for the month increases to 6 percent (that being said Amazon has some coupon sites at 2% and doesn’t pay most of the cash back sites).

  4. The IHG commission is back down to 6%, but the inside scoop says we’ll probably see something bigger soon.

  5. This model is unsustainable – They will try make their $ off the ads and have no responsibility towards the consumer. If they go belly up doubt you will get your cash back, meanwhile they have their revenue from the ads fully paid for albeit net 60 days. I would tread carefully with sites that do not have a aota of responsibility to you.

  6. @Gary – Sorry didn’t mean to imply they promised anything to you I have just noticed a lot of the boarding area group blogging about them and have received emails and phone calls from them which is great…just want everyone to know not to expect that because their response time is seriously lacking.

  7. Well, just be cautious guys. I signed up three months ago. Got three cash backs. Two of then are ‘confirmed’ but still not payable to me after three months. The other cash back is confirmed with a $0, which is unbelievable. No reason given. I ended up with nothing back from them do far. Just pay attention to this uk based site… I will NEVER use them again until they make some real improvement.

  8. I’ve been using topcashback for a few months and they seem as good as the others as far as payment goes. Several years ago, when there was a particularly lucrative Expedia UK promo, I used their UK site and was always properly paid.

    Overall, though, the new wrinkle in cashback programs is “tiers.” On sites like evreward, they advertise a large cashback percentage, but if you read the fine print, you’ll see it only applies to certain limited merchandise “categories”. So instead of the 6% your expecting, you only get 2% — and you would have been better off picking another cashback site!

  9. I’ve used the UK site of Topcashback. It does take time to have the cashbacks confirmed and paid, but so far all paid out – though many had to be claimed.

    The % on the US site are generally better than on the UK site and they do not require a local bank account as they do in the UK.

    The 101% Gary refers to is simply a 1% extra cashback on their normal cashback rate, not 101% of the cashback they receive.

    I have no experience with the US site, as I just made my first few bookings with them.

    And as some others said – all cashback sites carry an inherent risk, as your receivables are not protected in any way. If they go belly up or just close shop, you’re out of luck. So cash out as soon as cashbacks become payable.

  10. I haven’t used them a lot, but my experience has been positive. Sold some cards to Plasticjungle through them for 4% cashback. Transactions showed as pending almost immediately. Approx 45 days later they were payable, payment was through an electronic check that was processed through Paypal. I give them a thumbs up.

  11. From what Daraius has said, booking a room for the Radisson/Park/Country deal on anything BUT the Radisson website will not be eligible for the bonus points.

  12. @Ken going through this site TAKES YOU TO the Radisson website to complete your booking but provides you a cash rebate for doing so

  13. They are missing some merchants I use through FatWallet such as Hotwire and Hotels.com but the Marriott links look better especially for the lower end chains. It’s worth a try.

    I missed out on the comment train (don’t see comments in Google Reader) and used Gary’s link.

    http://www.topcashback.com/ref/mhoeffner

  14. Some very good points are made here, and a very interesting article. As pointed out, cash back rates do vary from site to site for a number of reasons; incoming commissions vary, costs of offerings including customer service, payouts, and more.

    Take BeFrugal.com for example, we strive to provide the best cash back rates – backed by our 125% Best Cash Back Rate Guarantee and excellent customer service including Live Chat from our Boston office. Here are a few examples of our rates:

    18% on Intercontinental Hotels Group (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, etc.)
    High rates at HotelClub.com, Fairmont, Best Western

    If you want high cash back rates and great customer service, including Live Chat, from a US based site, take a look at http://www.befrugal.com.

  15. Can anyone advise what wego is? They appear to be a hotel booking site – but they offer 40% cash back, which is enormous.

  16. I used Mike’s link to join, would appreciate it if someone would use mine-

    http://www.topcashback.com/ref/member594041325

    @jfh- wego is just a referral site for other on-line travel portals. So the 40% (to 70%!) referred to on the Topcash site is just 40-70% of the referral fee they make on your click through – something like $0.15 – $0.30 a click. Here’s the details from the Topcash site-

    “Please note: this is a percentage revenue from the listing, as reported to us, when using the merchant’s search facility and clicking through the results. It is not a percentage of the final price that you may pay.

    As a rough guide, historically cashback between $0.15 and $0.60 is earned per search”

  17. Well, as you said Gary – customer service on these sites tends to be poor.
    I sent a question via the Topcashback website 3 days ago and still no reply….can’t say I’m disaapointed (because I was’t expecting much:))

  18. TopCashBack is one of the worst services I have ever encountered. They reduced the amount of rewards I had in my account without notice or explanation. When I tried to investigate, I found that my login/password didn’t work and I could not access my account. I tried their online form to get a password reset, but never received the email link that it promised. So I contacted customer service to alert them of these problems and was told that their membership team would follow up with me shortly. A month later and four additional follow up emails and I’m still awaiting resolution. Since then, I have read innumerable online complaints of similar behavior from other TopCashBack customers. AwardWallet and others should disassociate themselves with such a shoddily run organization.

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