Whether you’re clipping coupons, shopping at thrift stores, or lining up at Costco to save on gas, the mark of a good saver is someone who is willing to go the extra mile to save a buck or two. While some frugality traits can border on the extreme, others require less effort than you might think.

Take online shopping, for instance. Websites such as Ebates.ca and Great Canadian Rebates offer consumers the chance to earn cash back from purchases made online. Simply pass through these ‘portals’ on your way to retailers like Amazon.ca or TheBay.com, or before you book a hotel room on Expedia.ca, and you’ll not only earn cash back but also often get access to special coupons and discounts.

Here’s how they work:

Ebates.ca

Ebates.ca cash back site

Ebates.ca launched in Canada in 2012. It now has 4.1 million members across Canada and offers access to over 750 retailers. In the last six years Ebates.ca has paid out over $49 million in cash back.

Members earn cash back when they begin their online shopping at Ebates.ca, click through to one of the partner retail sites, like Amazon.ca, Indigo.ca, Ebay.ca or Expedia.ca, and then complete their purchase on that site.

Or you can download the Ebates Express Cash Back Button, which hangs out in your browser and provides automatic cash back notifications when you visit participating websites.

Ebates.ca tracks your purchase and you receive a percentage of everything you buy back in cash.

Every three months, Ebates.ca sends members cash back in the form of a cheque or PayPal payment.

Some unique features that help Ebates.ca standout from other cash back shopping sites:

  • Gift Card Shop, where members can earn cash back on more than 75 gift cards including gas, groceries, dining, and travel.
  • Ebates In-Store Cash Back, which gives members the ability to earn cash back when shopping at participating stores nationally.
  • Buy online, pick up in-store.

You can join Ebates.ca by clicking here.

Great Canadian Rebates

Great Canadian Rebates

Great Canadian Rebates was founded in 2008 and serves an estimated 120,000 customers across Canada. The site lists approximately 500 retailers and up to 700 merchants in total.

Members earn cash back when they begin their online shopping at GreatCanadianRebates.ca, click through to one of the partner merchants, like Amazon.ca, TheBay.com, Microsoft.com, or Hotels.com, and then complete their purchase on that site.

Or you can download the GCR Browser Extension, which sends automatic notifications when you visit participating merchant websites.

Once your online purchase is verified then cash back gets deposited into the member’s account and paid out monthly via PayPal or Amazon.ca gift card. Members can also request a cheque anytime their cash back balance exceeds $30.

Some unique features that help Great Canadian Rebates standout from other cash back shopping sites:

  • It’s Canadian owned and operated. (Japanese firm, Rakuten owns Ebates.ca)
  • It offers a large marketplace for members to sign-up for credit cards from the likes of American Express, Tangerine, MBNA, or Scotiabank and earn $30 to $75 in cash back rebates.
  • A generous referral program. Sign up a friend and collect 15 percent of all Cash Back Rebates your referral collects (per transaction) for the next five years.

I’ve been using Great Canadian Rebates since 2010 when I first heard about the cash back shopping site. I visited the GCR portal on my way to purchase new blinds for our home, and also to purchase a laptop from Dell. I’ve been earning cash back for my online purchases ever since – sort of a habit ingrained in me now whenever I shop online.

GCR payment

You can join Great Canadian Rebates by clicking here.

How do cash back sites make money?

How do Ebates.ca and Great Canadian Rebates make money? Simple. They get a commission from the store whenever their customers make a purchase. These sites then pass along a portion of that commission back to their members in the form of a cash back rebate.

Think of it as a finder’s fee for sending a purchaser (you) to a vendor (the online retailer).

The Verdict

Cash back websites like Ebates.ca and Great Canadian Rebates allow you to shop at all your favourite online retailers and get money back on purchases you would have made anyway.

Ebates.ca offers a greater selection of retailers. For example, my wife quickly noticed Lululemon on Ebates.ca’s list of retailers, but they’re not listed on Great Canadian Rebates. GCR, on the other hand, has a bit of a cult-like following in the credit card churning community for offering applicants up to $75 cash back in addition to any sign-up bonuses offered by the card issuer.

Average savings could get you 1.5 percent back on electronics, 3 percent back on apparel, 5 percent back on hotels, not to mention the deals, coupons, and promo codes added to each site daily.

By making a habit of stopping by these sites first before you make an online purchase, or by using their web browser extensions, a savvy shopper can easily put money back into his or her pocket for very little effort.

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