How to Choose a Rewards (Rebate) Program

October 25, 2007 · 0 comments

The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and maybe you’re finally deciding to get in on this whole “online shopping rebate site” thing…but you have no idea what programs are out there or how to choose. For the uninitiated, it can be overwhelming — there are a lot of rebate programs these days and it’s hard to know which are “good.”
Every year I release a Shopping Rebates Comparison Chart, which shows the rates paid by a selection of online shopping rewards programs for some of the more popular online merchants. This year’s analysis contains 21 of these rewards programs.
Some rewards programs pay in the form of a percentage cash rebate, while others pay in points, redeemable for checks, PayPal, gift cards, or merchandise. Comparing percentage rebate programs and point rebate programs can be tricky — what’s better, 5% at one program, or 10 points per dollar at another? That was what the chart aimed to simplify for you.
But while the chart helps you see which programs pay the most for shopping, that’s not the only criteria you should use when deciding on a rewards program. Other things to think about include how much you have to earn before they’ll send you a check (gift card, etc.), do they reward you with a percentage cash rebate or with points (which can be bad if they increase the number of points to buy the gift card you want), and the company’s background (how long have they been around? What do their members say about them? Do they have a bad rating with the Better Business Bureau?).
New online shoppers may find it helpful to see a side-by-side comparison of rebate programs so that, armed with a little more information on the programs, you can decide which one (or ones) to use and which to avoid.
So, here is my newly revised for 2007 Rebate Program Snapshot. I hope that it will help you decide on a rewards (rebate) program. Additional information, including links to news articles on each program, can be found by returning here after viewing the chart, then clicking the review for each program on the right-hand side of the page.
I am always happy to answer questions — just send an email to

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