My Bio and Qualifications
“Who is this person, and what qualifies her to recommend any kind of website?” Who am I? Well, that’s a fair question and one I’ll try to answer coherently (but in my typically long-winded manner, of course!).
I’m a work-at-home mom of two, living in south Louisiana. I have a bachelor’s degree in economics, and an MBA with a management concentration. I’ve been using online rewards programs since 1997, and have covered them on the web since 1999, establishing CompareRewards.com in 2001 — a website solely dedicated to rewards programs of all types: cashback and points-based shopping sites, survey sites, search-and-win programs, and offline loyalty programs — providing news, tips on maximizing earnings, interviews with industry insiders, and other comparisons of rewards programs to give you the information you need to make informed decisions — information that was not available when I started out.
Site Development History
In December of 1996, my son was born and I made the decision to go from being a full-time healthcare strategic planning analyst to “just” being a stay-at-home mom. Going from two incomes to one was a financial adjustment, so at first my contribution to the household finances was in the savings I found by coupon clipping.
In 1997, I discovered that there were some websites you could go to and get “points” for watching ads, or for shopping online, or reading emails, and then after you had so many points, you could “cash them in” for gift certificates, movie tickets, or merchandise like CDs or electronics. Saving money and making money (or money equivalents) while being a stay-at-home mom? Now I was really contributing to the family income again!
In joining more and more points programs, though, I started getting confused. I found that each program had a different value for their points — 1,000 points might be worth $10 at one site, but at another site it might take 25,000 points to get a $10 gift card. While it seemed like I was earning more at the second site, when you looked at the value of a point, I wasn’t earning any more than at the first site! Where could I go to find out which was the better program, how much a point was worth, and most importantly, whether a site would actually pay me or if it was a scam? I searched the ‘net and no one was actively doing this type of comparison.
By 1999, I was doing these comparisons and posting news on rewards programs as a sub-page on my personal website. But two years later, I felt that the content was substantial enough to deserve its own domain, and in September of 2001, CompareRewards.com was born. CompareRewards’ first version was a FrontPage powered website, but I soon discovered that the type of news that I posted about was too dynamic to keep updated with FrontPage.
I unveiled CompareRewards v.2 on the then-new Movable Type blogging platform. While it served its purpose for a long time, to my disappointment, MT never evolved into the much more user-friendly platform that WordPress has become, and finally in October 2010 I cut ties with Movable Type and converted to WordPress.
I don’t try to cover ALL of the points and rewards programs on my site. In particular, I don’t deal with airline and hotel rewards programs. I focus on online shopping portals, with my preference being those programs that pay a cashback percentage — because points sites can devalue your earnings at any time, just by saying, “Okay, now it costs an extra 500 points to get that $10 gift card.” Cash is cash. I do an occasional write-up on other merchant- or brand-based programs such as Borders Rewards as well.
When I recommend a program, I’m coming from a decade of experience as a rewards program user and reviewer/analyst. My annual shopping rebate comparison chart (due for an update this month), which has garnered excellent reviews (ProBargainHunter, BrutalClarity, OrdinaryExtraLife, et al), converts points to their equivalent cashback percentages, and compares programs’ shopping rewards for specific popular online stores — so you know where to shop to get the best rebate for your purchase. My site has enjoyed some very nice media coverage (Good Morning America Now, the Chicago Tribune, CBS4 in Boston, a mention in the book Spending Smart, et al), which was very bad for my already overblown ego.
As for the son I originally stayed home to raise? He’s now almost 16 and a straight-A student in high school. He was joined in 2000 by a sister, who’s now almost 12, and in the gifted program for academics and drama. Finding time to balance my hobby/job and raising a family is sometimes a challenge — family will always come first, but as time permits, I enjoy doing the math on these programs, following their ups and downs, establishing professional relationships with their management, and occasionally bringing in a little income when people join a site on my recommendation or buy something through an ad on one of my sites.
Cashback/rewards/points programs — call ‘em what ya like — have saved me a tremendous amount of money over the years, and if you shop online and don’t shop through one of these portals, you are throwing money away. It may take an extra click or two to go to the cashback site, then click through THEIR link to Target or FTD or wherever, but when you get that cashback check for your effort, it’s definitely worth it.
Please note that links found on this website are in some instances referral or affiliate links which help generate income to subsidize the costs of this website. However, please know that I only promote websites that I believe in, that have good buzz, and that I have personally researched and believe to be legitimate programs that abide by the terms of service they promise to their membership.
For media inquiries, rewards program assistance, post-worthy tips, or for any questions, please email CompareRewards at yahoo dot com