Bing “Hidden Cashback,” “Secret Key Words,” and First for Women

April 22, 2010 · 1 comment

A few months ago, I was interviewed by First for Women magazine for a piece running in the current (May 3rd) issue entitled, ” The high-tech strategies that saved us $$$.” My part of the article is about using Microsoft’s Bing Cashback program, and due to space limitations, few of the details that I gave on how exactly to maximize your cashback shopping reward at Bing actually made it to print. So…I want to clarify how Bing Cashback works, particularly regarding using the “secret key word” method and finding “hidden cashback.”

Before you can get started with Bing Cashback, you’ll need a Hotmail email address
if you don’t have one already. Hotmail is a free web-based email program. Sign up for your Hotmail account here if you don’t already have one, before you shop through Bing!
Three Ways of Getting Cashback for Shopping Through Bing
1. (The easiest!): Go straight to (or use this link that takes you straight to the list of cashback rates by store).
You’ll find an alphabetical listing of stores and their corresponding cashback rates. Just click “Go to store” to activate your Bing cashback reward.
This is the traditional “click through a store listing to get cashback” kind of setup that other rewards programs use. (Yes, Bing Cashback is just one of many cashback shopping sites, and it’s not always the best. More on that later.)
There are two problems with using this method, though: 1) Sometimes cashback rates are provided in a range, like Target, listed at “3-7%.” That’s a pretty big range. How do you know what exact percentage you’ll earn in cashback? It depends on which product you purchase. And using this method, you won’t know until AFTER you shop. 2) You may be passing up a higher cashback rate by not using the hidden cashback / secret keyword method (see number 3 below). Plus, sometimes a store may not be listed at ALL here although they may be eligible for Bing Cashback using the hidden cashback method (again, that’s number 3 below).
2. Search for a specific product you want to buy on
In the white search bar at the top of the page, enter the item you want to buy, for example, Nikon Coolpix S4000. Click “Compare prices” and you’ll see your out of pocket price with a line through it, and the after cashback price displayed. You’ll see which stores, and whether free shipping’s available. Going back to the Target example, you’ll see Target pays 7% cashback on this particular item (the upper end of that 3-7% range).
This is great, but if you click “Go to store” and end up buying other items, you may not get that same cashback rate applied to every product in your order. There’s still some question about how much you’ll earn…plus again, you don’t know if you’re passing up getting a higher rate using the Secret Key Word method.
3. Find hidden cashback or extra cashback using secret keywords in searches.
This method involves skipping the site and going straight to Search for the general description of what it is you want to buy. Depending on the term (and the time of day, and just general randomness Bing throws in to make life interesting), you may or may not find sponsored results with a golden coin beside them. If you do, click through the link and it should say, “Your purchases on eligible products during this visit to [Store name] will earn you x% cashback.”
In the Target example, I went to and searched for electronics and got a sponsored link for Target, which I clicked through and was offered 10% cashback.
Not only will I now get 10% cashback on that camera I wanted, but — and here’s the cool part — that rate will apply to ALL products in my order…even if I end up not buying any electronics at all! This is a much better deal than the “3-7%” range in the alpha list, or the “7% on one specific camera model” in the product search area.
This trial and error of search terms on Bing can also turn up cashback available for merchants that aren’t even on that master alpha list of merchants (in #1 above). An example is T-Mobile, not on the alpha list, but go to and search for tmobile and the sponsored ad pops up offering 35% cashback!
The secret keywords to trigger higher than listed cashback rates on Bing Cashback change often. As of this writing, a search for vitamins is triggering 25% cashback at GNC (not in the alpha store list at all) and 20% at (10% in the alpha list). A search for jewelry brings up a sponsored ad for for 40% cashback (in the alpha list as 15-30%). Or, search for netbook to get 12.3% at Tiger Direct (on the alpha list at 8-10%), 5% at Best Buy (on the alpha list at 2%), or 5% at Dell (not listed at all).

Always Read the Details

This is a good place to mention the age-old adage, “Always read the fine print.” During the click-through process, on the landing page, or at checkout, you may see the Bing Cashback logo and a small link saying, “See conditions” or “See details.” Click the link to see if there are any exclusions listed on cashback available from this merchant. You may also want to read the Bing Cashback FAQ. Some important things to know:
1. The use of coupon codes *may* void your Bing Cashback. They suggest you check with the store to see if the coupon code is compatible with cashback from Bing. If you’re like me and you don’t have the restraint or the patience to email and wait for a response, figure out what’s worth more, the coupon code, or the Bing cashback — and if it’s the coupon code, TRY using it after clicking through Bing. Maybe you’ll get the cashback, maybe you won’t…but the coupon code discount is a given. (Or, shop through another rewards program that tells you up front whether you can combine the code with their cashback reward.)
2. Gift card purchases aren’t eligible for Bing Cashback. And you won’t earn cashback on the portion of your purchase paid for with a gift card. The “no cashback on GCs” rule is a major drawback to Bing compared to some of their competitors that at least allow cashback on GCs purchased through certain merchants.
3. Google Checkout may invalidate Bing Cashback. The jury’s still out on this one but evidence is mounting. This one is easy enough to work around — just use a different payment option.
4. You can earn a max of $2,500 of cashback savings in a calendar year. Let’s face it, if you’re earning more than that in a year, you’re probably buying products for resale which is another no-no in Bing’s terms.
5. Bing Cashback is only open to US residents 18+. Sorry, rest of the world. :(
How Bing Stacks Up to Its Competition
I’ve been posting news and reviews of rewards programs like Bing on since 2001, so I have a fairly good understanding of the major players and their pros and cons. While Bing Cashback is a highly competitive program, I suggest that you sign up for, and use, multiple rewards programs to be sure you’re getting the best deal every time you shop online.
Bing Cashback (formerly named “Live Search Cashback,”) did offer the highest overall cashback rates in my last annual Shopping Rebates Comparison Analysis. Bing also has the best cashback hands-down for buy-it-now purchases at eBay (currently 8% but it’s been known to go higher). The drawbacks? Explaining how to use it, they don’t provide coupon codes and leave it to the shopper to find out whether the coupon codes they find on their own will invalidate cashback, and a lack of some of the big-name retailers that other programs reward for (such as Disney Store, JCPenney, and Victoria’s Secret).
Other cashback sites that I recommend for shopping:
MrRebates (aff): Also super cashback rates for shopping, with a great always-updated database of combineable coupon codes and occasional promotions raising cashback rates even higher. (aff): Cashback rates that are slightly lower but they waive the 90 day “pending period” that most cashback sites have in place. They’ll pay your cashback to PayPal with no minimum account balance required and payments are processed within 48 hours — you can shop and get paid your cashback the same week. If it’s a matter of 7% cashback in 90 days or 6% cashback in 48 hours…sometimes I go with the faster payment.
Extrabux (aff): Very good cashback rates and product price comparison search tool similar to Bing’s but BETTER — not only do they tell you the price less the cashback, they provide coupon codes where available and factor THAT savings in to your total, and they add in tax and shipping charges…giving you a full picture with no hidden costs.
FatWallet: Also excellent cashback rates, and no minimum to request payment by PayPal (after a pending period). They provide coupon codes for you, and what I like even more is FatWallet’s forums, where deal-hunters share their greatest finds. (You don’t have to be a FW member to access their forums, though. I use it to read up on where the deals are, then I shop through the rewards program that will pay me the highest cashback.)
There are other great cashback shopping sites on the internet; I review many here on CompareRewards. If you’re in a rush, remember that ANY cashback is better than none at all! Clicking through a cashback site’s link to your favorite merchant only takes a few extra seconds, but it can result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year in savings — totally worth it!
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P.S.: Need to renew your subscription to First for Women? Sign up for MrRebates with my special referral link and you’ll earn 30% cashback from PLUS a $7.50 bonus from MrRebates for making your first purchase. Your total cost for 17 issues of First for Women: $6.48! (38 cents an issue!)

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jacky April 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I found that also gives a list of search keywords/terms that result in bing cashback.


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