This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links. All opinions are my own.
There are some things everyone has to shop for, like food. I tried coupons for a while–I even did an extreme coupon shopping trip once. What a rush that was! But it’s a lot of work, and I don’t have a lot of free time. So I finally found 3 ways can make money shopping without putting in lots of work. These are all free to join/use and only take a few extra minutes at the most. None of them are scammy, get-rich-quick schemes either.
Make money shopping with Ebates
Ebates opened for business in 1998 and is free to sign up. You just create a login and password and give them information like your name and mailing address. Not only that, but when signing up you have a choice of gift card. When you make your first purchase through Ebates, they automatically mail you a $10 gift card of your choice in addition to whatever money you get for shopping through them.
Ebates is the easiest to use and the most versatile as far as what you can use it for to make money shopping. This web-based browser extension installs on your desktop computer’s browser (I use Chrome) and runs in the background. Then you simply use your browser as usual to do your shopping. Ebates partners with tons of well-known retailers, including Petco, ebay, Target, Macy’s Walmart and more. Just go to your favorite site and Ebates recognizes a partner site automatically.
When you open a site that is Ebates-eligible, the browser extension puts a little pop-up window in the corner that looks like this:
I snipped this after going to the ebay website. All I did was type in ebay’s web address and when the page loaded, the window popped up in the top right corner. You can simply click the button that says “Activate Up to 5% Cash Back” and when you check out, it registers you made a purchase. Other websites pay up to 40% and sometimes they have double cash back. These are specials where the site used to give you 5%, for example, and now pays 10% for a limited time.
If you don’t like shopping online, you can still save money in person at some stores. Simply go to the Ebates website, find the store where you plan to shop, link your credit or debit card to the store, and you’re ready to go! If you forget and need to link a card when you’re already in the store, you can download the Ebates app for your phone.
You can also file a claim to get paid if you don’t see money in your account when you know you earned it. For example, I noticed that 2 different stores didn’t show any payments. You can see all the places you visit by going to your account and clicking on “Shopping Trips”. I put in the requested information and the money was added to my balance right away.
You must have a minimum of $5.01 in order to get paid. Cash back is paid out every 3 months to my PayPal account. You can also have them mail you a check, donate to a charity or other organization, or have the money sent to a family member.
Another way to earn cash back is refer friends. Ebates will send a single email to your friends inviting them. If they sign up and make a purchase through a partner retailer for at least $25, you get a $5 bonus payment.
So far I’ve used Ebates 3 times: once at H&R Block to order a copy of last year’s tax return, once at FSA Store for prescription sunglasses, and once at Bluehost to renew my web hosting. None of it was “extra” shopping; all things I needed to buy anyway. Yet I earned $18.47 with very little effort.
Make money shopping with ibotta
My second favorite way to make money shopping is with ibotta. Ibotta has both an app and a website.
Ibotta‘s main focus is grocery-related, but they also partnered with many other businesses to help you save money. For example, you can buy a Groupon through ibotta and save money twice. There are grocery stores and other brick-and-mortar retailers like JoAnn Fabrics, Family Dollar, CVS and even Military Commissary eligible for cash back. Online they partner with Jet, Boxed, Hotels.com, and iTunes, just to name a few.
You also choose whether you want payment via PayPal, Venmo or via gift card. You can even create/join teams with people you know to increase your earnings.
One thing I especially love about ibotta is not having to buy particular items. They often have deals where you can get $0.25 to $1.00 for anything you buy at particular stores. Or for buying produce. So I can buy the bananas I was going to buy anyway, and get $0.25 credited to my account.
You can select your cash back items before you get to the store, but I don’t usually have time. So when I get home, I take out my receipt and search for items on the app. I select eligible items. To redeem cash back, the app usually asks you to scan the bar code for your item plus take a picture or scan the QR code on the receipt. It can all be done with your smart phone and you’re done!
You can also link your shopping loyalty cards. The information on purchases sends automatically to ibotta and you don’t even have to scan a receipt.
If you use my ibotta link, you can also get a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up. Go visit ibotta to sign up and get your $10!
Make money shopping with shopkick
Shopkick is a smart phone app that lets you earn points “kicks” for different activities. What’s great about it is you can earn kicks without having to spend a penny of your money.
As with the others, the app is free to download and available for Android or iPhone. You want to download it and set up your account before you start shopping, because you get kicks just for walking into a store.
You read that right. It’s possible to walk into a store, open your app, claim your kicks, and then walk out.
You can also get kicks for scanning the bar code on certain items. This is also free, because you don’t have to buy the item to scan it. You can take it off the shelf, scan the bar code and put it back.
Some items even allow you to scan them and buy them to get even more kicks, while others you have to buy to earn kicks.
For purchases, you can scan your item and receipt, or simply link your credit/credit-eligible debit card securely to the app. Card purchases are tracked and you receive kicks automatically for items without scanning them.
You also receive kicks for inviting friends. If they sign up from your invitation, you get kicks when they earn them (and they get their kicks too).
If you are really good at this and get tons of kicks, you can use them to buy things like an iPad or even a Vespa scooter! That takes a lot of kicks, though.
You can change your reward anytime before you reach a goal, and there are several rewards to choose from at each level. The one downside is kicks add up for gift cards, not actual money. And you need a lot of kicks to get a gift card–500 of them gets you $2 and 1250 earns a $5. For this reason, shopkick is third on my list. But it still makes the cut because I usually forget to use it, I rarely buy any products that qualify and I still have 405 kicks.
The website for more information and to download the app is https://www.shopkick.com.
Do you use any apps/websites to make money shopping? If so, please share them in the comments so we can all save more money!