2011 Annual Chat Recap

November 14, 2011 · 0 comments

If you missed out on last night’s annual rewards program Chat Bash, you missed quite a lot!  It was an amazing 5-hour marathon chat and our 9 rewards program reps in attendance did not disappoint, with insider tips on holiday promotions and great tips on shopping before, during, and after Black Friday!  Pull up a chair, kick up your feet, and get all the highlights here!

Starting things off, Craig from MrRebates said that, knowing so many people start their Christmas shopping early, MrRebates started their “Cash-Back Christmas” promo early, too!  This promotion features increased cash back rates for a record 486 stores…including Groupon at 8%!  Plus, from Black Friday through Christmas Eve, MrRebates will give away five daily $100 cash prizes at random just for clicking through to visit qualified stores.   Two interesting tidbits of trivia Craig shared with us:  the artist that does MrRebates’ illustrations is named “Beach,” and the original name of MrRebates.com (back in 2002) was AskMrRebates!  Lucky prize winners:  vardoin and Betsy ($25 Amazon GCs), and MK (a $100 Amazon GC)

Annmarie from Memolink was next, telling us that they’re continuing to add more ways to earn free points including tasks, games, and the new Pick 6 Lotto.  Many of their top merchants will be participating in surprise double points days throughout November and December.  And, their Holidazzle Days Sweepstakes gives members the chance to earn up to 10,000 free points each week by shopping through specific participating Memolink merchants (and they’re adding new ones daily) or by taking a survey each week!  Lucky prize winners:  Monique and Mildred ($25 gift cards), Janet (a $50 gift card), and Kevin (a $75 gift card).  Everyone received 1,000 free points thanks to a special MemoCode, and Annmarie will choose one member at random who entered the code to win a $100 gift card!

Swagbucks fans were out in full force, and Hal told us there are 4 million of us!  We talked about the Swagbucks Pays For Your Holidays promo where on Cyber Monday one lucky member will win $2,500 in Amazon GCs.  To enter, members must add items to their wish list; a checklist helps you meet the requirements.  They’re also giving away Swag Store prizes each weekday until then.  Interesting tidbit many did not know:  sometimes Swag Store items drop in price, and you’ll be notified if that item’s on your wish list.  Hal gave chatters a special registration SwagCode for new members to get a bonus 100 SB when they join Swagbucks RewardsChat10 is good through 5pm PT on Wednesday.  Hal invites bloggers interested in promoting Swagbucks to get in touch with him (email me for his address, or look for the banner at the bottom left sidebar on Swagbucks).

Natasha from TopCashBack introduced us to her site, whose UK counterpart is over six years old and is known as Britain’s most generous cashback rebates site.  Their aim, she said, was to become the US’s most generous cashback rebates site as well (with 36% cashback on Restaurant.com, for example).  They hope to reach the estimated 250 million US residents unfamiliar with cashback programs.  TopCashBack sends payments by ACH (bank draft) or PayPal any time you want them with no minimum payment threshold.  Natasha offered a chance to win one of ten $15 prizes to chatters who joined and emailed her with their 10 favorite cashback stores and an interesting tidbit about their state.  They’ll also get a $10 bonus for making their first purchase.  (She’ll choose the most interesting submissions to win, some time after 11pm CT tonight.)

Dmitry of DailySurveyPanel and QuickRewards.net talked about an upcoming milestone:  QR’s 10th anniversary next year.   DailySurveyPanel, a new project, is solely devoted to surveys.  Dmitry said he was fairly certain that Ebay would be returning to cashback sites, according to a conversation he had with someone there recently.  An interesting tidbit not everyone knew:  Guess My Number game hints are posted on the QuickRewards Facebook page.  Another factoid:  the site was originally a sweepstakes site called FreeDVDForYou and was started as a high school project.  Now the company is international with several market research sites in Europe and a new international survey site that’s going live any day now.  Chat attendees who joined QR during the chat were told QR would match their first $5 earned, and all chatters had a chance to win one of five $10 prizes by answering a trivia question by email.

Next up, Schuyler from Extrabux, which had the overall highest cash back rates in my recent survey.  She gave prospective members the basics:  shop online, then cash out to PayPal or check when your available balance is $10 or more.  They have a generous referral program, where you receive a $10 gift card when you refer a friend who places at least one order of $10 or more.  (You’ll need to have made at least one $10+ purchase through Extrabux yourself.)  A handy feature for holiday shopping is their price comparison tool, which calculates the lowest price on a specific item taking into consideration coupon codes and cashback, and also tax and shipping if you enter your zipcode.  And their blog has received media attention for a recent report on the best days of the week to shop.  Interesting factoid:  Delaware is the best state for online shoppers (no sales tax)!  Lucky winners:  Denise, Karen, and Donna ($25 Extrabux shopping sprees)

Heather from ShopAtHome, second in my recent cashback rate comparison, told us about their 110% best rate guarantee:  let them know if you find a higher rate before you shop, and they’ll match it at 110%!  The company started in 1986 as a catalog of catalogs, and they went online as a cash back site in August 2001.  US and Canadian residents can join and there’s a $20 cashout minimum.  Heather told us about WILD, where one product a day is offered at a deeply discounted price (after cashback), and their daily increased cashback merchant.  She gave us a sneak peek at tomorrow’s (today’s) double cashback merchant.  Upcoming:  a 100+ store extra cash back event on Black Friday!  She told us that ShopAtHome is active on Twitter and FB, where there’s a giveaway currently going on.  And, CompareRewards was given an exclusive link good through Wednesday for 8% Target cashback!  Lucky winner:  Donna ($100 Target GC)

Joining us again this year was Bo from FatWallet, who told those unfamiliar with the site about their avid deal-finding community, the staff’s choices found on the Best Deals page, and their cash back program.  We also talked about their Black Friday Deal Finder available online or as an app to help shoppers find BF deals on specific products or at specific stores so they can make shopping lists in advance.  Helpful tip:  when you click to see a particular store’s deals, you can filter it to show items that will be free or free after rebate.  (Thanks, Donna!)  I learned something new:  “I am the revolution” is FatWallet’s official slogan.  Lucky winners:  Janine and Donna ($10 Best Buy GCs), Robert ($25 Best Buy GC), and Kevin, Monique, Janet, Noose, and Rhonda (FW tees)

And our final honored guest, Allison from Ebates, noted that they’ve been in the biz since 1998, with quarterly payments whenever your available balance hits $5.01+, in the form of PayPal or the members’ favorite, the Big Fat Check.  Their November promo is live now, with big cashback increases on 18 merchants (chatters remarked on 20% cashback at Snapfish and 10% at Banana Republic and Piperlime).  Allison told us to expect some huge promotions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday at Ebates, with increased cashback at hundreds of stores and thousands of coupons available.  Speaking of coupons, all of their coupon codes can be sorted by type (i.e., free shipping, free gift with purchase, etc.), and some are exclusive to Ebates with savings of up to 40% off!  Interesting fact many didn’t know:  Ebates offers a second daily double cashback merchant on their Facebook page (plus the one on their site).  Chatters also talked about Ebates’ commercial now on TV, featuring real Ebates shoppers.

Finally, I closed things out with a few giveaways of my own:  lucky winners were Kristine and Donna ($5 Amazon GCs), Trunkschan ($10 Amazon GC), Barb ($10 Target GC), Nelda (two movie tickets), Craig (holiday wreath), Donna, Janet, and Kevin (subscriptions to ShopSmart magazine), Cathi and Rhonda (calendar/organizers), and Jane and Susan (2 lb. tins of David’s Cookies).

It was a long evening but a very informative one, and I want to thank everyone who participated:  my friend and co-host Ginger of AttentionDealShoppers.com, my readers (some of whom have been with me from day one), some new friends (who I hope will be back next year), and last but not least the NINE rewards program representatives that took time out of their weekend to visit with us, to answer our questions, to give us great insider scoop on what’s ahead, and to very generously award prizes.

There are plenty of rewards sites out there, but if you’re looking for a program that cares, that’s truly interested in being partners with their members for the benefit of both sides, you don’t need to look further than the attendees list for last night’s chat.  Thanks for making CompareRewards’ 10th birthday chat bash a success, and I hope to see you all back next year!

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