What’s a Rewards Program?

October 19, 2001

Updated, May 2009
There are a lot of different rewards programs out there and while they may look and feel different, they basically operate the same way.
Each program is signed up as an “affiliate” with various online merchants. That means it is paid a commission anytime someone clicks through their link to an online store and makes a purchase. The rewards program shares part of their commission with you — in the form of points, miles, or percentage cash back rebates.
After you reach a certain minimum of cashback or points, you can cash out for PayPal, a check, gift cards, or merchandise, depending on the program.
Some programs allow you to earn in various other ways without spending a dime, by doing other activities like completing surveys, printing coupons, reading emails, visiting websites, making searches, signing up for newsletters or contests, watching videos, or even playing games! See the Rewards Program Reviews section on CompareRewards’ homepage for details on each program.
You should not have to pay a fee to join a good rewards program — the vast majority of these websites are totally free to join.
Are they worth it? You tell me: an average family can easily earn $500 a year just from the cashback shopping sites (perhaps much more if you shop for a business)! And those rewards you can earn without spending a dime? I’ve routinely earned $75-$100 a month on one program alone from just doing surveys, entering contests, printing coupons, etc. So yes, to my family, rewards programs are a total life-saver, especially in tough times like these!
Next section in Rewards Program Basics: What’s the Best Rewards Program?
Return to CompareRewards Home.
Updated, May 2009.

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