As promised here is the long-awaited, highly-anticipated review of my year-long experience with a whole bunch of cashback / points back programs. My other blogpost: "Review of Cashbaq, Fatwallet, Shopathome, Bigcrumbs and Ebates cashback rewards" received great feedback, with requests for more. So here's one more - my honest-to-goodness opinion on which programs I liked (the ones the paid!) and the ones I didn't.
Summary of Review
The programs were legit, and I actually got back slightly under $200 in cash (mostly), gift cards, and stuff. Pros: Got to try new products and services (and got $ for that), got some $$$ kickback for buying stuff online that I was planning to buy anyway. Cons: Was time-consuming, needed to read lots of Terms & Conditions fineprint and keep track of trial offer end dates. Some programs were more worthwhile than others, having a bigger payback for surveys or offers completed. For some, I haven't yet gotten anything back for my time spent - read on for the lowdown...
What I did
I signed up for a slew of these cashback and survey sites around April last year, and was an active participant for a year. When I say 'active participant' I mean that I clicked on the 'paid emails' that I received, signed up for trial offers of products and services that struck my fancy, and responded to all of the barrage of survey invites that flooded my inbox. By the way, if you are thinking of trying this out, I suggest having an email account dedicated solely for receiving emails from these sites. Trust me, you are going to get slammed ;). I spent about an hour a day on this.
Programs offering cash back or points back for online shopping, trying out products/services and /or reading emails (ahuh yes...get paid to read emails...): Mypoints, Inboxdollars, Sendearnings, Pandaresearch, and Memomail (also known as Memolink)
Thumbs up (got paid)
Mypoints: It's a snap using their website, where points received for online shopping, reading emails, responding to surveys and trying out new products and services add up reasonably quickly. Gives 1-20% cashback (in points equivalents) for online shopping, can print out Smartsource coupons and get additional points for redeeming the coupons. I've received two $10 Applebees gift cards for my time so far. To give you an idea of how easy it is to get a $10 gift card - buying two Entertainment Books gets you the 1500 points needed to redeem the gift card.
Inboxdollars: Almost the same deal as Mypoints, except that dollars and cents are awarded instead of points. It was easier to see how much I had racked up. I've received $30 so far - there's a minimum $30 before a check is issued. Quite easy to reach that amount because there's a $5 bonus for joining, and you can make up the rest with free trial offer subscriptions. E.g. taking the Zendough 7 day free trial pays $8, ordering free Vistaprint business cards pays $5 and so forth.
Sendearnings: Like the 'twin' of Inboxdollars. Both send about 10 'paid' emails (ads) a day where I get like 2 cents for clicking on the link to check out the ad. I would usually let them pile up, and every week or so, I'd go through all of them and do some mindless click, click clicking :). Every once in a while I come across a good offer, e.g. get 3 packs of Gevalia coffee and a stainless steel tumbler for $3 with free shipping, AND get paid $4 by Sendearnings. These offers normally involve subscribing for monthly delivery, but if you call to cancel the subscription before the free trial offer period ends, you won't get charged, you'll get the product, and Sendearnings will pay you. There's a $5 signup bonus and a $30 minimum for check payments.
Pandaresearch: I still find it hard to believe I actually got paid the $101.17 that I racked up from trying out products and services like freecreditreport.com ($8 payout). Their website is neatly laid out and gives the estimated time it would take to take the 'surveys', and the $$ payout for them. Most of these aren't surveys, but are trial subscriptions and product offers. E.g. signing up for a Discover card will get you $45 cashback. Actually you'll find that all these programs (Pandaresearch, Sendearnings, Mypoints etc) feature the same merchants (Discover, Gevalia, Zendough, etc) but their kickback/payout varies. E.g., Pandaresearch gives $10.50 back for trying out Zendough whereas Inboxdollars gives $8 back. There's a $100 minimum for payout, and you'll need a Paypal account. They called me to verify my identity before they sent the $$ to my Paypal account. Wow these dudes are serious...
No thumbs yet (haven't reached the minimum required for payout)
Memomail: Very similar to Mypoints, point system, except there's a minimum of 10,000 points to get paid $10 or redeem gift cards of equal value. I've faithfully responded to survey invites, clicked on paid emails and tried offered products but my points are taking quite a while to get to that 10,000. So far I've only managed to accumulate 4206 points *sigh*. I guess that would be $4 that I didn't have before, but I still don't have it!
That's my two cents! Remember if you sign up for their trial offers, make sure you have some sort of Excel spreadsheet to keep track of when to cancel - that will keep the free trial FREE. Also, it's advisable to use one of those nifty prepaid online credit cards so you're not giving away your regular credit card info plus that limits the amount that can be charged on the card. :)
I've also compiled in one handy location (for myself anyways!), links with discounts and coupons to all the places where I shop online. Check out Where Gracie Shops!
P.S. It would be AWESOME if you could click on any ad here - my sponsors give me a few cents per click. Thanks for supporting my blog!