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I’ve never been one to get caught up with sales and gimmicks to get you to buy things you don’t need. I love apps like Ibotta and Ebates but they’re full of rebates that can cost you more money than store brands if you don’t do the math.
A lot of people use Ebates to justify their Macy’s and Kohl’s splurges but buying secondhand is still cheaper no matter how many coupons and rebates you use.
The real hack is to find ways to save on the cheapest price of things you’d buy anyway.
It’s not possible everywhere but surprisingly, Ebates allows us to do that on a few unusual but necessary things.
For those unfamiliar with Ebates, it’s essentially a portal for online shopping (and now in-store as well.) You head to Ebates, select the store you want to buy from and hit Shop Now. Then whatever you buy will qualify for the percentage of cash-back that Ebates deems.
Cash-back rates range from 1-40%, which is better than most rewards credit cards. You can also get cash-back by shopping in-store but there aren’t many budget-friendly stores on that list.
An awesome perk that Ebates gives its users is the opportunity to earn $15 for every friend you refer. It’s the best referral program on the internet and I love that you don’t have to be a blogger or influencer to get it.
Not only will you get $15 but your friend will also get $10 on their first purchase of $25 or more. You’ll see my referral link in this post but feel free to share it on Facebook with your own referral link attached.
And if you haven’t signed up for Ebates yet you can use my referral link (shameless plug) to get $10 off your first purchase of $25 or more from any store on Ebates!
My Favorite Ebates Hack
Before I get into my favorite ways to maximize Ebates I’ll let you know a little hack that isn’t just gold on Ebates, but almost anywhere. I shop through Ebates and pay with discounted gift cards.
I find discounted gift cards on Gift Card Granny and use them to pay for purchases through Ebates. Ebates can’t tell how much you paid for the card so it doesn’t care and you get a discount with cash back!
This hack won’t work for most of the websites on this particular list because they’re smaller retailers but Gift Card Granny has cards to over 1,000 retailers so there is a ton of overlap between her and Ebates.
But with further adieu, here are my favorite unusual ways to Ebates saves me money.
1. Air Filters
DiscountFilters.com sells super cheap filters for your air conditioner, refrigerator, furnace, humidifier, and more. We used to use the cheapest filters from Home Depot that ran us about 2.99 each but turns out I have horrible allergies with those.
But the allergy filters (MERV 10) are $20 each. At discountfilters.com the MERV 11 filters are $5.75 each. And when you shop their store through Ebates you get 5% cash-back on your purchase.
2. Contacts & Glasses
I’ve worn glasses since 3rd grade and contacts since middle school so I’ve spent my fair share on eyewear. And I don’t plan on getting Lasik anytime soon so I see that expense staying with me.
I always buy glasses and contacts online because they’re way cheaper. I get my contacts at DiscountContactLenses.com because my Acuvue 2 Oasys contacts are a whopping $60 cheaper here compared to 1800Contacts.com. And I get 5% cash-back through Ebates.
You also know I love EyeBuyDirect for my glasses. You can read more about it in my review here and you can 5% cash-back there as well.
3. Shampoo & Conditioner
Disclaimer: I include this one, not because it’s the most frugal use of my money, but because it’s the honest truth of where I spend my money.
I have very fine, curly hair and I live in one of the most humid states in the USA… 15 minutes from the beach. Needless to say, it cheap hair products are what kept me single for 24 years.
Four years ago I started using Smooth Infusion shampoo and conditioner from Aveda. It’s what keeps my hair manageable day-to-day. I haven’t had a haircut in over a year and I’m confident that my shampoo and conditioner has a part to play in keeping my hair healthy enough to not really need one.
But they aren’t cheap, an 8.5 oz bottle is $22. Which makes the 4% cash-back I get from Ebates a sweet treat. Not everything about frugality is about getting the cheapest product, sometimes it’s about getting the biggest discount on the things you love most. And I love my hair.
4. Bed Bath & Beyond
If you’re engaged you’ll love this one. We got so many Bed Bath & Beyond gift cards for wedding that we had trouble spending them all (thank God for the “beyond” section.)
I like Bed Bath & Beyond for their liberal allowances in the use of coupons. And you can use those 20% off coupons with 2% cash-back when you shop in-store. Normally I’d say buy your appliances used but there are some things I liked buying new from BB&B.
We got some nice clearance towels for our Airbnb room and a thin trash can for our little kitchen. They were both affordable with the coupon and the cash-back was a bonus because we would’ve bought them anyway.
There’s going to come a time where you’ll have to pay to do your taxes. If it hasn’t hit you yet, just wait. If you’re in the tax boat with me Ebates has a sweet deal with e-file.com.
Ebates has a 30% off coupon for e-filing through e-file.com AND 31% cash-back. It’s hands down the best deal on Ebates at the time I’m writing this. I’ve used HR Block just because they have all my data saved but I’m not loyal to them if I can get this deal somewhere else.
Ebates has several deals with websites that sell ink cartridges. It’s not an expense I have often but those things can be pricey. InkCartridges.com is the cheapest on Ebates and offers 11% cash-back.
7. Car Stuff
A lot of mechanics will just charge you for labor if you provide your own part(s). If you’re inclined you can run down to the salvage yard and find what you need or you can find it online.
Ebates offers 6% cash-back at AutoBarn.net but I’ve found their selection to be limited. Auto Parts Warehouse only gets you 3% cash-back but has a lot more to offer.
Another thing I never buy new are tires. I’ve gone to sketchy storage units and random people’s houses for used tires. But if you’re not as adventurous as I am, you can actually get used tires online.
BestUsedTires.com is a legit website you can buy used tires on and get 4.5% cash-back on through Ebates. Best Used Tires offers free shipping and a 90 day money back guarantee so don’t be nervous to try them out. I saw a set of 4 Bridgestone tires with less than 50k miles, usually over $600 with shipping, for $287.54.
8. Cell Phone
Ebates offers cash-back from a number of phone companies. From Verizon and AT&T to NET10 and Total. You should check out cell phone deals through Ebates especially if you want to switch carriers. They have up to $150 incentives for opening new lines at AT&T and $75 at Verizon.
9. Pet Meds
I can’t speak to this one as I don’t have pets but I do know one thing, responsible dog moms keep their dog babies protected from fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Total Pet Supply offers these meds for the cheapest I could find and you’ll get 7% cash-back for shopping them through Ebates.
Bonus: Anything on Amazon
If all else fails and you spend money on nothing I’ve mentioned above, I’m still sure you buy stuff on Amazon. Right now you can get 3% cash-back on Amazon purchases. It’s not much but it’s still free money.
If I’ve convinced you through this 1,300-word homage to start using Ebates then use my referral link to get $10 off your first $25 purchase at any of their online retailers. It’s a win for both of us!
Do you use Ebates? What’s your favorite store to get cash-back at?