Critical steps to earn cashback

Today i received an referral email from a cashback website that i didn’t know about before. It looks like the cashback business is really getting hot these days. The business model of giving cashback is difficult to understand to most consumers. I like the way the perplexity is put across in this article – “Why are they offering me free money to shop at stores that I’m shopping at anyway?”. The article goes on to explain that the cashback business is about “affiliate marketing”.

Cashback sites does constant (daily) marketing of all the brands and merchants that have signed on with them. I receive an email per day from each of the cashback sites i have signed up with, and i actually don’t mind receiving these emails, since they tell you about good deals happening currently. Compared to advertisement emails from merchants which normally end up in your spam or trash folder before you even read them, well, affiliate marketing works. And some of these emails actually managed to entice me to spend. If i can fall for it (it takes a lot of convincing to make me part with my money), i can imagine a lot of people will fall for it too.

i had a look at this new cashback website, called Giving Assistant, and i think they have some pretty good deals – 5% cashback on items shipped and sold by Amazon (ebates only offers cashback for a very small range of product categories), US$2.25 on flight bookings on Expedia (vs US$1.25 on ebates, but Shopback is even better, offering 1% cashback). I think the idea is to mix and match cashback sites.

Anyway, I learned about 4 critical steps to earn cashback from the new cashback site Giving Assistant today, quoted below in its entirety:

  1. Start with a cookie free browser session.
  2. Completely disable AdBlocker or Privacy extensions on all websites. 
  3. Begin shopping with an empty shopping cart.
  4. Complete your purchase in the same browsing session within 24 hours.

Now that I am use 2 different cashback sites, and am adding a third, i have to be careful to ensure that only one cashback site is activated at any time, so step 1 above is a good suggestion. Either that, or i can use a different browser for each cashback site. Also, i do use AdBlocker, which i never thought could interfere with the cashback mechanism. Point 3 is an important point to take note. Instead of adding items to the shopping cart, i add them to the wish list first, and only add them to the cart when i have initiated the cashback shopping session. Even if you have been careful to follow these critical steps, i suspect some sites don’t track the cashback very well (whether intentionally or unintentionally), such as booking.com. I suppose you can treat any cashback you get as a bonus and not be too serious about it. Definitely avoid “spaving” (spending to save) as brought up in the article.

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