Last night was the CompareRewards.com / AttentionDealShoppers.com annual rewards program chat, a five-hour-plus event that was chock-full of great information on some familiar rewards programs, as well as a few that are fairly new on the scene.
First up, we visited with Bob Longmire from Plink. Plink began 1.5 years ago, but has been actively marketing and building members since July. An “online to offline marketing platform,” co-founded by Memolink founder David Asseoff, Plink rewards its members with points redeemable for gift cards when they use a registered debit or credit card at:
- Restaurants (Red Robin, Burger King, Taco Bell, Arby’s, Quiznos, Outback)
- Movie Theaters (the Regal Cinemas/United Artists/Edwards Theaters chain)
- 7-Eleven (excluding fuel purchases, at 7-Eleven’s request, however Plink is bringing on several new partners where fuel IS included; watch your Plink email for more information in the next few weeks)
- Dunkin Donuts, and
- 1800Flowers, their latest merchant, eligible for Plink rewards on phone, internet, and in-store orders.
Bob said that there are currently over 35,000 locations to earn Plink points in their network. Will other movie theaters be added? “Plink gives its partners exclusivity in their vertical. IE we have Regal so we won’t do AMC.” What new partners may be added to Plink? Bob teased us with this: “We are expanding into Retail. Watch your email in the next 15 days. It will be huge!“ When I pressed him about whether that might include Target, which recently had a very limited in-store trial with Plink, he responded that, “we are speaking with Target, it is my hope to make that great retailer available to Plink Members.” He said that plans are in the works to add several travel partners as well. When asked if supermarkets might be added on, he said that “supermarkets are hard. They have a very low margin and work on an EDLP model. We have some opportunities but they will take a little longer to develop.”
At the current time, members may only link ONE card to Plink, because there is a cost per card and they want to keep costs low to issue more rewards. Bob said that over 95% of all cards in the market are supported by Plink, but they’re working on a migration to add more.
Why do people have to provide access to their debit or credit card accounts when they register? “We use the bank information to see the purchases you make in order to issue rewards,” without your having to carry around a separate membership card. Bob mentioned that programs like Mint request the same information in order to provide you with one single access point to all of your financial accounts, where only Plink simply links up one debit or credit card. Is Plink safe? “Plink never stores a CC number or the user’s information. We don’t keep login information for obvious security reasons.” He added, “We NEVER give or sell your information to anyone. Our team takes privacy extremely seriously and is always the first thought in any new development efforts.”
Plink rewards are in addition to the points, miles, or cashback that your card may already offer. And if you use your Plink-linked card to buy at 1800Flowers through a cashback site, you’ll get THAT reward as well.
The minimum purchase at Plink merchants in order to receive a reward varies by merchant. Spend $10+ for 100 Plink Points at 7-Eleven, spend $15+ at Burger King or Regal Cinemas for 150 points, spend $20+ at Outback Steakhouse for 200 points or $60+ for 600 points. In addition to their regular rates, they have frequent short-term higher rate / bonus opportunities. Tell a friend about Plink and earn 100 points when they sign up, and if you’re a contributing member on their Facebook wall, you can earn additional Plink Points.
Plink’s lowest level redemption is $5 gift cards, for 500 Plink Points. Amazon is a popular redemption, Bob said, as well as Facebook credits and Walmart GCs. I noted having earned and been paid $25 in Amazon gift cards since 10/1.
The site also has a mobile app in development (available at the end of the year). It will tell you where the nearest Plink location is and, “You are going to be able to earn additional Plink Points for a check in AND a purchase.” Watch out, Jingit!
Next up was Brent Shelton from FatWallet, described in his words as, “an online resource for deals, coupons and cash back shopping from more than 1500 top stores. Our forums are well-known for hosting some of the best deal hunting content for great deals, tips and tactics for stacking discounts, anywhere.”
What’s new at FatWallet? Brent repeated what I had reported on earlier in the day, that eBay cashback has returned — at 1% for FatWallet members, with eBay cashback increases as well. How long can we expect eBay cashback to stick around? “As far as I know, they’re back, no timeframe.” Another fairly recent development at FatWallet is their refer-a-friend program, launched in July of this year (and there’s a customizable widget for bloggers that’s pretty handy). And the site also has ongoing giveaways (the current prize is for a $250 Adorama gift card!). Like giveaways? On Thanksgiving, FW will have a twelve hour Lenovo giveaway — “big stuff every hour!”
There are a ton of features on the site to help shoppers find deals. There’s a page dedicated to PRE-Black Friday Deals. There’s a very comprehensive Black Friday Ads page with ad scans from of all stores for which the ads have been leaked. The Black Friday Deal Finder is sortable by price range for those on a budget (over 7,000 BF deals under $20!), and it will switch to Cyber Monday Deals on Sunday night. With a very active deal forum, Brent pointed out that many diehard deal hunters will set up “topic alerts” to notify them of any posts made about specific products that you know you want to buy. FatWallet’s Black Friday app allows you to sort BF deals on your phone, also. FW’s Facebook team has giveaways all the time, and he suggested following them on Twitter to stay on top of the BF deals.
Video game deals are great on Black Friday, Brent said, and he tipped us off to look for HDTV deals with crazy prices including a 50″ 1080p for $299 at Sears.
I noted that FW’s site listed $38,829,236 in cash back earned by shoppers. Brent said that FW would “easily eclipse 40 million by Cyber Monday.”
Thanks go out to Brent and FW for some great prizes, too, for answering various questions about different parts of FatWallet’s site. Lucky winners included Ansvi S. (who won a $50 Amazon gift card and a $10 one), Abby P. (two $10 Amazon GCs), and Jeff W. (a $10 Amazon GC, I think).
Next up was Ashley from Swagbucks! Most chatters were already enthusiastic members fairly familiar with the site (though if you’re not, you can use the special Swagbucks signup code she gave us in chat: SBrewards2012 will give you an additional 70 SB when you join with my link before midnight Monday night).
One chatter asked for advice on the best ways to earn on Swagbucks besides searching and shopping. Fellow members were quick to step up to answer with their favorite Swagbucks-earning methods: surveys, videos, polls, No Obligation Special Offers, Swag TV, and codes from the blog and Facebook.
There was unanimous approval of the lower prices in the rewards store, making those Swagbucks worth a little more every day! And Ashley reminded us to keep an eye out on the Braggable Bargains on Twitter for any other deals they have on discounted redemptions.
Someone asked if there was a way to see all hourly winners, and Ashley said there was no current way to show it. I pointed out that there is an hourly winners Twitter account that posts the names, and people could go back and search that account’s old tweets. Most chatters said that they’d rather not know if they had been chosen as a winner but had missed the window to claim their prize!
There are some great things happening for the holidays at Swagbucks, Ashley said, including the “Holiday Hundreds” which is going on now: For every Shop & Earn purchase you make, you get an entry into a daily $100 Amazon GC giveaway. Entries are unlimited and the first drawing is on Monday at noon PST — any shopping purchases made from Thursday the 15th onward are eligible for an entry. No other action is needed to enter the drawing… just shop through Swagbucks! Additional $100 a day Amazon GC giveaways will be held daily through December 14th. Collectors bills will be available starting Tuesday, and if you collect all five, you’ll get a bonus. In addition, on Black Friday, Swagbucks will DOUBLE Swagbucks earned across all of their Shop & Earn retailers! This promo will return on Cyber Monday, but between 6am and 9am PST, they’re sweetening the deal to TRIPLE Swagbucks for shopping at any merchant!
And all chatters were very grateful to Swagbucks Ashley for a special 25 Swagbucks code for all chatters in attendance (it has since expired, sorry! Be sure to attend next year’s chat!).
Next up was Dmitry Beker from QuickRewards.net. (As I’ve disclosed here before, I run the program’s shopping blog.) In Dmitry’s words, “QuickRewards.net is a loyalty site that rewards members to shop online, search, take surveys, visit sites, play videos, read emails and much more. We have a no minimum cashout policy for Paypal and over 50 gift cards… and known for paying fast and responding to emails fast.” The site is turning 10 years old in December, started as a high school project, and is now a multi-national corporation, operating the largest survey panel in Russia (with over half a million members).
Most chat attendees were familiar with QR and complimented the site for its customer service and fast rewards. When one chatter asked what the best ways to earn on QR were, others responded with their preferences: daily clicks, searches, surveys, shopping, paid emails, and daily trivia.
Dmitry teased that QR would soon be releasing an addictive new feature, but wouldn’t provide any more details. Stay tuned, he said. An exclusive new daily paid video click would be added soon, too, he promised. We also discussed QR’s upcoming holiday shopping promotion, which goes live on Thanksgiving Day and rewards shoppers with bonuses based on the number of orders they place through the site. QuickRewards doesn’t require members to wait through a pending period after shopping before cashing out their cashback, and they pay nightly all PayPal requests starting at just $.01. Dmitry added that it’s his goal to continue to add new ways to help members earn without spending money on QuickRewards.
While QR offers many daily router surveys, Dmitry said that QR is working on adding more $1 to $5 surveys, which pay more because they are contracted for directly and not through a router, and which are easier to qualify for since they’re targeted to the member’s demographics.
Dmitry gave out a $10 account credit to chatter trunkschan90 for correctly answering a question about the site. He also offered a $5 signup bonus to any new members joining the site during the chat and earning a penny or more, redeemable immediately. (See, it pays to attend these chats!)
Our next chat guest was Bret Cassata of MrRebates.com. He got us started off right away by giving out a $25 Amazon gift card to Janine for correctly answering the question, how old is MrRebates… ten years! (The website, not the person, LOL.) Other $25 Amazon winners included Theresa N. and Mary B. (Mr. Rebates is headquarted in IN, and the creator of their site’s logo is from the UK, interesting trivia tidbits we learned!)
Bret reminded us that MrRebates is one of the cashback sites now rewarding for eBay. He said he didn’t know if it would be available past 12/31 as this was a test with the loyalty sites. The site has over 2,500 cashback stores to choose from with very competitive rates, and there are frequent increased cashback promotions and a different merchant of the week each week with additional cashback. They are working on adding Amazon to the fold.
MrRebates has already started its increased holiday cashback promotion, and Bret said to look for a five $100 winners a day contest running from Black Friday through Christmas Eve.
Our next guest of the evening was Jon Lal, founder of BeFrugal.com. He told us that his site, based in Boston, started in 2009 offering online coupons, but it had since expanded to include grocery coupons, weekly ads, restaurant coupons, and cash back shopping, with over 3,000 participating online stores including Amazon.
Their cashback rates are competitive — “We work very hard to make sure our rates are the best,” he said — and they also offer a 125% best rate guarantee. And, they have a $5 guarantee that the majority of the online coupons they provide will work. BeFrugal also offers customer service via live chat during business hours, and same day email support. They have a referral program, too, where you earn $5 for referring a friend, or $30 for referring three, once your friends make qualifying purchases of $25 or more.
Jon gave a $10 account credit to the first five to join BeFrugal if they weren’t already a member and to email him with the name of their favorite participating cashback merchant (the winners were Theresa N., Nancy L., Abby P., Mary B., and Karen M.). Winners would need to reach the site’s minimum of $25 in cashback to cash out their prize, and this brought up some discussion about $25 perhaps being a bit high of a cashout threshold. Jon seemed willing to give this some consideration. Like giveaways? BeFrugal has one on their Facebook page (it was for a Pfaltzgraff dinnerware set, up now is a giveaway for two necklaces from Dogeared).
Chatters were all very impressed with the comprehensive collection of money-saving tools offered by BeFrugal, including their coupon and weekly ad widgets, their discounted gift card finder, and many great printable coupons for groceries and retailers, too.
Last, we talked about GiftHulk, which had to cancel due to a last-minute conflict but did provide two $5 Amazon gift cards to give away, as well as a special signup code for new members joining with my link (good through 11/30): join here then go to the “Fountain of Youth” and enter code rewardschat for 75 free Hulk Coins…in addition to the regular 50 Hulk Coins for joining!
GiftHulk offers coins in various ways, and they can be cashed in for gift cards. According to Victor, their PR director, the fastest way to build up coins is through completing surveys on the site. You can also earn coins when completing the daily poll, tasks, and offers (look for EZ Coins), and you may win coins randomly while using their search engine or when trying your “key” in the treasure chest lock.
Chatters were a little frustrated at the learning curve on this site (what’s a “key” and how do you earn them) and about how infrequently the search engine awarded prizes compared to Swagbucks. Another member had the same issue I had when I joined with being unable to take the daily poll until you completed a survey that we had trouble finding on the site. But GiftHulk did sound like a site folks were willing to consider given the recent apparent demise of SuperPoints and the long, downward slide of Freeride.
Ginger and I ended up the night by awarding a couple of prizes of our own: A beautiful, handmade wreath valued at over $50 went to Janet P. (Didn’t win but still want one? Order a similar one from Ginger on Facebook! See the pic here if you missed it… gorgeous! Contact her for pricing as no two wreaths are exactly alike.) A $25 cash prize went to Janet P. (again, lucky girl!), $15 to Kevin B., and $10 to Janine. A free magazine subscription of their choice went to Julie S., Julia H., John D., Debbie L., another Debbie L. (different ladies!), Shelly P., and Barbara M. ShooShoo and one of the Debbie L.’s both won a 2013 Pocket Family Planner, and Robert C. won an (as seen on TV) aluminum credit card holder.
Funny Stuff From Chat
Our annual chats are always a lot of fun, and this year I’m adding a new section to the recap post, with some of my favorite quotes or exchanges among chatters from Saturday’s five-hour-plus chat, in no particular order.
After advising members that the chat was scheduled to run until 11pm CT:
kathee: till 11? that’s gonna require a much bigger snack.
Discussing the many forms of the word “Plink” with Plink rep Bob Longmire:
Me: I think Plink lends itself to being a verb. ‘I’m Plinking at Burger King right now!’
Bob: That is what our app will say when you check in. We spent several hours documenting how to properly use Plink as a verb. Was the funniest conversation I have been involved in.
As Bob prepared to leave chat to see the new Twilight movie:
Bob: I wanted to see ‘Lincoln,” but last time he was in a theater that didn’t end well.
Johncee Darrow: ‘Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?’
Donna Freedman: I’d go see Twilight, but I have to wash my hair. Then I have to dry it. The weekend is just packed.
As chatters lamented the demise of the Twinkie with FatWallet’s Brent Shelton:
Brent: Twinkie prices on ebay are going through the roof, at least you can get cashback now.
Wrapping up Brent’s segment of the chat:
Me: Any more questions for Brent?
Donna Freedman: Brent, what are you wearing?
Brent: Leather, always!
Donna: If you’re commando, I don’t want to know.
Brent: Oh, that’s too close to me.
Donna: Or maybe not enough.
As Brent prepared to leave chat:
Donna: Bye, Brent. Sorry I scarred you emotionally.
Brent: I’m tough, Donna, those deal-hunters can be ruthless.
After discussing QuickRewards’ Dmitry’s love of the island of Aruba, he asked for suggestions for new redemption options:
HalifaxRobert: How about paying in Aruban Timeshare stays?
After being repeatedly booted out of the chat room throughout the night:
Nancy LeBlanc: I wonder if Santa will bring me a new computer for Christmas. Old computers don’t like chats.
At the end of the chat session:
Abby Perry: I think I may have actually OD’ed on rewards/cashback info tonight. My head feels kinda full.
Saturday’s annual chat featured some very gracious guests who shared a lot of new and interesting information on their rewards programs, patiently fielded questions, and offered some nice prizes to our attendees. There are many rewards programs out there competing for your attention and your shopping dollar. When you’re deciding which ones to use, please consider these sites, as they have involved and receptive management working hard (even on weekends to attend a late-night chat) to reach out to members and prospective members. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t have taken the time to be there. Thank you for attending, Bob, Brent, Ashley, Dmitry, Bret, and Jon!
Always taking the time to be there is my good friend Ginger of AttentionDealShoppers.com. She’s a great moderator, a great deal-finder, and just a wealth of useful information on earning and saving money online. (If you haven’t read her post on clearing cookies — how to do it and why it’s important — be sure to read it now, and go friend her on Facebook for other great tips and deals!) Thanks, Ging, for being my second brain and second pair of hands in an always fast-paced chat!
And I have to close by thanking from the bottom of my heart my long-time site supporters who showed up to help me celebrate 11 years online. Many of you guys have been with me since PrimaRewards (my first big advertising push), the daily trivia newsletter, and way too many rewards programs that have come and gone to list. Thank you for your support and your friendship, and you can always reach me by email if you have questions, a new site to suggest, if you need help getting paid by a program, or if you just wanna say hi. Glad you could make it out on Saturday! Saw some new faces in chat on Saturday, too — thanks also to you guys for coming out and I hope you found it to be useful and fun!
Want to be sure you don’t miss another chat? Sign up here for reminders of future chats. We may just set up some smaller chats throughout the year in 2013. You’ll know as soon as WE know if you sign up here.